Albaicin is Granada’s most traditional neighbourhood. It is a place to relax, to walk and discover viewpoints that do not come in travel guide. Walk around its narrow streets, listen to its music and soak up the magic of the place. A place that will not leave you indifferent.
The Albaicin Quarter, Granada
What is the Albaicin?
The Albaicin or Albayzin is the neighborhood of Granada, Spain, situated across the Alhambra, that extends from the highest part of the San Miguel hill, to Elvira street. Known as the Arab quarter, Iberians, Greeks, Romans and Visigoths lived in its streets. This blend gives the barrio a unique cultural mix.
Origins of Granada, Spain
The Albaicin represents the origins of Granada Spain. In the 11th century the Zirid dynasty built their royal palace here, the Alcazaba Cadima. It was surrounded by sumptuous fortresses, important buildings and Islamic temples. During that time, the Great Mosque of the city was also built here (foundations of today’s El Salvador Church). The city descended through San Nicolás to the banks of the Darro River. It was populated with luxurious houses and splendid public baths like the El Bañuelo.
The Nasrid Dynasty
Even so, the Albaicin’s greatest moment of splendor took place during the Nasrid dynasty. At that time it had a population of more than forty thousand people and thirty mosques. The streets were very narrow and the houses were small. It had numerous cisterns to hold water, some of which survive to the present day.
Also, important palaces and houses of Granada’s nobility could be found. After the Conquest by the Catholic Monarchs, the Albaicin was assigned to the Muslims as a place of residence. Meanwhile, other christian neighborhoods established in the medina gradually gained prominence. These will become the new commercial and cultural center of Granada.
The Purging of Muslim Spain
At the Granada War 1482-91, the Monarchs expelled all muslims from Granada and Spain. As a consequence all mosques were demolished. The quarter of the thousand mosques became the quarter of the thousand churches. At the beginning of the 17th century the Moors definitively abandoned their houses in the Albaicin. The rich christians who lived in the medina took advantage. They came in to build their sumptuous houses and carmens.
The Albayzin is a place dreamt of by artists and kings. A destination evocative of artworks where the smell of spring and the burst of colors make anyone fall in love. Federico García Lorca describes it as that place where: “the houses are placed as if a hurricane wind had swirled them like this“. Anyone who lives here knows you need more than a lifetime to get to know it.
What to see and what to do in the Albaicin Granada…
The Albaicin is one of the essential places in Granada Spain. Therefore, you cannot visit Granada without staying in the Albaicin, or at least walking through its streets, a World Heritage Site since 1994. The Albaicin is one of the oldest neighbourhoods in Europe. We could say it is something like an independent republic within the city itself. Its narrow streets get lost and twist between the most traditional houses, the carmenes (a house construction wall surrounded with a garden courtyard in the middle).
The Albaicin is a labyrinth. So for those obsessed with maps, one thing to keep in mind is: you have to get lost. No matter how many times you have been here.
Even for those who live in the neighborhood, the route never repeats. You probably won’t go back the way you came. Besides, it will not be easy to find precise directions on any corner. For this reason we advice first-time visitors to forget the map and let yourself go. Each street, on each corner, will suggest others. Squares will appear that invite you to sit down. Have a drink, stop to look, close your eyes to feel its music, the flamenco. As a result, new possibilities will arise that you had not even taken into account when planning the route. Everything you find will be a surprise. A journey into history. But, if you’ve been away for too long without knowing where you are, the solution is walking downhill. Eventually, you’ll reach Granada city center.
Before you visit all these monuments and places in the Albaicin of Granada, let us throw in some tips to make your visit more enjoyable. We recommend you always wear comfortable clothes. If there is anything here that is slopes and cobbled streets. So forget about heels and flip-flops and wear comfortable shoes. Also mentioning, a good route through the Albaicin district can take you a whole day. With this in mind you can divide the visit in two days to mix it with other activities or experiences to do in Granada.
1. San Nicolás Lookout
With no doubt, after the Alhambra, it is the top essential place to visit in Granada. Romantic spot per se to contemplate breathtaking views of the Alhambra and Generalife with Sierra Nevada mountains, Spain, in the back.
2. Del Chapiz House
It is an interesting example of Hispanic-Muslim domestic architecture. For this reason it was declared a National Monument in 1919. The complex was built over a 16th century nasrid palace (Casa Dar-al-Baida) combining Christian and Muslim architectural elements.
4. El Salvador Church
It was raised over the former 13th century Great Mosque after the moorish were expelled from Spain. It includes some well preserved architectural structures like The Patio de las Abluciones, original columns and a water cistern for the irrigation of the Albayzin.
5. Paseo de los Tristes (Paseo del Padre Manjón)
Officially known as Paseo del Padre Manjón this is with no doubt the most romantic and bohemian street in Granada. It runs along the Darro River, in the shadow of the Alhambra fortress. This street will not leave you indifferent due to its amazing views and festive atmosphere.
6. El Bañuelo Arab Baths
Built in the 11th C, it represents a great mix of architecture periods, with brick vaulted rooms, and roman and Visigothic columns. It is the oldest and best preserved ancient Arab baths in Andalucia.
7. Hammam Al Andalus
Take some time for yourself to connect with your inner nature. This is a modern spa built in the style of an ancient Arab bathhouse. A water journey at the foot of the Alhambra that calls for tranquility and relaxation. Enjoy your Hammam Experience!!
8. Eating out
The beauty of the Alhambra in the background calls for nights out at any of the many restaurants throughout the neighborhood. Either if it is for a romantic dinner or just for having tapas, the Albaicin is the perfect place for it. Check out our selection of best places to eat in Granada.
9. Zafra House
Located in the lower Albaicin, it is without a doubt one of the best hidden treasures of Granada. It stands out for the contrast between the simplicity of the exterior and the decorative richness of its interior.
10. Carmen de la Victoria
Constructed on the grounds of the old Victory Convent from the 16th century. It represents an oasis of fountains, gardens and orchards, with spectacular views of the Alhambra. It is the only public carmen in the city, thus it maintains its original character as a garden house.