At the foot of its towering Alhambra, the city of Granada offers travellers a place full of life, art and culture. The former Nasrid capital constitutes an attractive tourist destination due to its monuments and proximity to the Sierra Nevada Ski Resort, La Alpujarra’s valleys and cliffs, and the popular Tropical Coast. But the famous “enchantment” that Granada possesses is in its neighbourhoods, its plazas, its people, its cuisine. This metropolis is a travel destination in which, especially in the winter, “we have to delve into and explore our own intimacy and secret”, as Federico García Lorca poeticised.
Granada in the winter
The Sierra Nevada mountains define Granada’s climate, transforming its winter into a season of frequent frosts. But instead of turning it into a “cold” city, it covers it with the warmth of its white coat endowing it with a unique light. In this setting, Granada employs us to wander all over the city, to get lost, to look up towards the Mountain of the Sun admiring the snow’s reflection, to fall in love with its walkways, alleys and cobbled streets. This article reveals hidden nooks and establishments in which to enjoy the Granada winter.
In the centre
Right in the centre is “Plaza Nueva”, which – in spite of its name (“New Plaza”) – is the oldest plaza in Granada. It is perhaps one the most popular starting points for touristic routes. It is located between the modern city centre and the Carrera del Darro. Plaza Nueva marks the beginning of the ascent to the Albaicín, either from the iconic street identified above or from the small streets which lead to the Calderería and its many tearooms. At one end of the plaza, facing the inception of the Carrera del Darro, is a restaurant that has existed for more than thirty years: Café Lisboa. It is a reference point for locals and tourists, where warming up while savouring in-house roasted coffee accompanied by a “pionono” (small traditional cake from Granada) becomes a memorable moment of the day. This place offers a varied yet simple menu with fresh products, and due to its location, service and schedule, it is highly recommended to anyone visiting the Nasrid city.
La Carrera del Darro
Walking along Carrera del Darro in the Granada winter is a must, as at this time of the year the murmur of the river is even more audible as it is at greater capacity. This street is considered one of the most beautiful in the world, from which the Alhambra’s majestic structure can be admired. At address number 5 is a well-preserved, interesting 17th-century Renaissance palace of great beauty – whose interior houses a museum and shop – known as Patio de los Perfumes (Perfume Courtyard). Entering it takes you on a fragrant journey where the secrets of perfume manufacturing are shared and artisan craftsmanship of such products can be learned. It could be said that these artisans managed to put the essence of Granada in a bottle, as they have developed a line of scents that evoke quintessential parts of the city. In the shop of Patio de los Perfumes, one can purchase fragrances containing the nuances that make Granada unique.
Granada’s modern city centre
One of the features of the modern city centre is that it has typically bourgeois-style architecture, with significant influence of nineteenth-century architecture embodied in numerous Renaissance and Baroque buildings. Down its main street, Reyes Católicos, one finds a cosmopolitan Granada, and among the shops and businesses there is a not-to-be-missed little gastronomic gem: La Fábula. The restaurant is housed inside a hotel located in an oldtown mansion. The entire building was restored following the architectural standards of old Andalusian palaces. Thus, it possesses a traditional garden with fountains and aromatic plants. Cuisine comes alive in this place under the direction of chef Ismael Delgado, who was awarded a Michelin star in 2008. His signature cuisine is smooth and serene in a unique and exceptional environment, transforming the act of eating into an awakening of the five senses.
A reflection of the enchanted past
Without leaving the heart of Granada, several streets reflecting the enchantment of the past and the current architectural harmony of the city lead to the popular Plaza de Gracia. In it, the establishment Puesto 43 embodies Granada’s tradition and its relationship with seafood. For more than one hundred years, this family business has been selecting the best seafood and, in 2012, finally opened a restaurant in which “to sit at a table” is to encounter Granada’s culinary culture. Recommended for four consecutive years by the Michelin Guide, Puesto 43’s chef, Blanca Sánchez, delights patrons by surprising them with the tastes of the sea, and through it, thrilling them.
«To get to know Granada well…»
Just as the poet wrote and is highlighted at the beginning of this text, “To get to know Granada well, we have to delve into and explore our own intimacy and secret”. In doing so, we allow ourselves to be carried away not by great monuments, but by scenes of intangible and indescribable beauty such as Paseo de los Tristes, the Realejo neighbourhood, the Sacromonte neighbourhood, the Cármenes (magnificent old mansions) in the Albaicín neighbourhood, the Lavadero de la Puerta del Sol (old outdoor laundry area), the San Miguel Alto and the San Nicolás vistas…, to discover that the Nasrid city, like ourselves, pulses and feels.