The Albaycin is like a different world within Granada. This is due to the strong Muslim influence in this area. It was the place where the first Siri court was built in the eleventh century.
Granada is a city of small size but at the same time enormous in patrimony and of a multicultural wealth that in few places is given. Romans, Visigoths, Jews, Muslims, Gypsies and Christians have passed through this city and all of them have contributed to the development of this inescapable stopover enclave if you visit the Iberian Peninsula.
The city’s name may have been derived either from the Spanish granada (“pomegranate”), a locally abundant fruit that appears on the city’s coat of arms, or from its Moorish name, Karnattah (Gharnāṭah), possibly meaning “hill of strangers.” Granada was the site of an Iberian settlement, Elibyrge, in the 5th century BCE and of the Roman Illiberis. As the seat of the Moorish kingdom of Granada, it was the final stronghold of the Moors in Spain, falling to the Catholic Monarchs Ferdinand II and Isabella I in January 1492.
In the northeast of the city is the Albaicín (Albayzin) quarter, the oldest section of Granada, with its narrow cobbled streets and cármenes (Moorish-style houses). Albaicín is bounded to the south by the Darro River, and on the other side of the river is the hill upon which stands the famous Moorish palace, the Alhambra, as well as the Alcazaba—the fortress that guarded it—and the Generalife, which was the summer palace of the Moorish sultans. Nearby is the 16th-century palace of Emperor Charles V.
The city descended from Saint Nicholas to the banks of the River Darro. The Albaycin featured luxurious carmenes and public baths, like the Banuelo
At the height of splendour the Albaycin enjoyed in the last years of Nazarid dominance, the quarter comprised a population of more than forty thousand inhabitants and thirty mosques.
The streets were very narrow and small with clean houses, plus numerous wells, some of which are still in the Albaycin.
With the reconquest, the Albaycin was left for Muslims as their own place of residence. But soon the population dwindled.
The 5 Best Things To See In Albaicín
Church of San Nicolas and views
The Church of San Nicolas is well worth the steep hike through Albaicin to reach the most spectacular view of the Alhambra. Set against the charming mountain range of Sierra Nevada, the Alhambra palace perches on the top of a hillock with the spectacular glory of its Moorish architecture. Admired by many travelers and frequently depicted on paintings, this stunning view has the power to make an imprint on the soul of every visitor.
Church Of San Salvador
The Church of San Salvador, built in the 16th century over the Albayzin mosque, is known for its extraordinary horseshoe arches, the Arab-style ceilings and the old traditional water tank. The ensemble came together to convert the Morisco population who had remained in Granda after the revolt. The church has a very interesting architectural style that reflects the blend of strict Classicism with Moorish elements. This is a perfect place to contemplate the effects of history on architecture.
Paseo De Los Tristes
Paseo de los Tristes, also known as the Promenade of the Sad, runs parallel to the river Darro. The place takes its name from the fact that funeral carriages used to pass through that part of the city on their way to the Alhambra cemetery. Today, this is one of the most lively places in Albaicín, redesigned to incorporate a magnificent fountain and temporary stages for small bullfight performances, dances and music festivals. Pretty stone bridges straddle the river Darro and Moorish-style houses rub shoulders with flower clad convents and market squares. This is definitely the perfect place for an inspirational afternoon walk.
Plaza Larga, or long square, is the most vibrant square in Albaicín, characterized by its attractive cobblestone paving which holds the vegetable and fruit market every morning. Saturday morning is the best time to visit this plaza for the chance to explore the city’s flower market. The streets glow with pink, blue and white colors with stalls selling the most exotic flowers and turning the city into a festival of colors. Plaza Larga also has a growing culinary culture with many restaurants and cafés serving delicious tapas with original Arabic touches.
The number 31 on the Carrera del Darro houses the 11th-century Arab Baths which used to be part of the Mosque of the Walnut Tree. One of the oldest and largest baths of the kind in Spain, this was once a popular place among locals who frequented the baths to get a haircut or a massage. Today, this historic site is one of the biggest tourist attractions in Albaicín and it is certainly worth the visit for its exquisite architectural style. The highlight are the octagonal holes in the roof that acted as a natural ventilation system.
The Albayzin is a neighbourhood where you can experience the atmosphere of its bars and terraces, and watch a red sunset over the Alhambra.
This is a district to explore. Walk through all its narrow streets and discover things that you cannot find in a guide book. No visit to the Albaycin can be complete without seeing the district from the Alhambra.
Discover the most authentic Muslim quarter through a local guide with Be Local Granada Private tours.