The Alcaiceria#8 in Best Things To Do in Granada
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- 0.0Food Scene
If you're looking to do some serious shopping while in Granada, the Alcaiceria market is the place to go. Upon first glance, the market may seem like a tourist trap. Cheesy postcards and costumey flamenco dresses meet you at the entrance, but go farther into the bowels of its passageways and you'll find plenty of treasures difficult to find elsewhere. The reason for this is due to the market's history. The Alcaiceria was originally a bazaar established by the Moors, a group of Northern Africans, during their reign in Spain at the start of the eighth century. The Alcaiceria initially served as a hub for silk making and exchanging, and was one of the few Moorish attributes that survived the Conquest of Granada (the Catholic Spanish Monarch's push to drive the Arabs [Moors] out of Spain). Today, the market is less than half of its original size, but still flourishes with plenty of Moroccan goods.
Walking through the narrow alleyway, expect to find plenty of kitschy souvenirs but also many Moroccan goods, including tapestries, stained-glass lamps, African-style clothing, tea sets and various leather goods. Keep an eye out in particular for fajalauza, or traditionally painted ceramics, and taracea, ornate wooden inlay goods. These, in addition to leather bags sold in the market, are not only difficult to find outside of Granada, but even harder to find at a reasonable price. Genuine leather handbags in the U.S. typically come with a hefty price tag, while in Granada, you can find a sizeable leather bag for 40 euros ($44).
Recent visitors had fun wandering through the Alcaiceria and appreciated that parts of the market's original identity were still very much intact (Arabic writing on the walls and goods laid out in a souk-style spread). Those who did shop suggested bargaining. The Alcaiceria is free to peruse any time of day and is free to enter, but shops and stalls have their own hours. You can find the Alcaiceria located near the city's center right next to the Catedral de Granada.
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#1 The Alhambra
The Alhambra is the crown jewel of Granada. Perched high atop a hill in the center of the city, this UNESCO World Heritage site dominates the skyline. The Alhambra is not only Granada and Andalusia's biggest tourist attraction, it's one of the most-visited spots in all of Spain. It draws about 2 million visitors per year, with some traveling to Granada just to see the Alhambra. And for good reason – it boasts a rich history, magnificent architecture, gorgeous gardens and stellar views.
Aesthetics aside, to really appreciate the Alhambra is to understand its history. The palace was primarily built between the 13th and 14th centuries by the Moorish Nasrid Dynasty (though small parts of it were initially constructed in the ninth century by the previous dynasty), acting as a residence for royals as well as fortress. After the Conquest of Granada, Spanish rulers made the Alhambra more their own – transforming interiors, replacing the on-site mosque with a church and adding other Renaissance-style structures, including an extra palace for Charles V. Many of what visitors see today is centuries of rebuilding and restoration.
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