Soaking in the History of Granada


To my Instagram followers, I’d like to make a formal apology. The number of photos that I posted over a short period of time is indeed cruel and abusive to the system. I have but one excuse: Granada is really freakin’ beautiful. And even with the ridiculous amount of pictures I posted I still believe that I haven’t done the city justice.

My host family and I recently made a long weekend trip to Granada. Granada is a city with a history. According to in-depth research (Wikipedia mostly), the area around Granada has been populated since at least 5500 BCE. Which means people were living there for thousands of years before the pyramids were built, just for some perspective.

One has to fast-forward through thousands of years to even get to when Granada was a Roman municipality in 1st century A.D.  Fast forward hundreds of years to when Granada was under Moorish control and then more until it became Catholic until finally you arrive to today. This being said, Granada is a city of the people. It’s a historical place with evidence of its past everywhere. I like to think of it as a place for humans and it’s evident. It’s evident in the beautiful graffiti, in the well worn walkways made from stones long ago, and in the narrow, steep streets, created long before cars were a concern. People walk in the streets at places, only to move to the side calling “Ciudad! Coche!” to make room for cars coming through.


We drove to Granada on a Saturday morning, leaving early and stopping for breakfast halfway through the trip. We traveled with two other families bringing our total person count to thirteen (I’m not sure if 13 is bad luck here, no one seemed very concerned on Friday the thirteenth). The drive was around five hours, luckily, I have the advantage of being a foreigner, meaning looking out the window is extremely entertaining.  A little bit before lunch we arrived at the hotel. We spend the afternoon exploring the city streets and paid a visit to the Cathedral of Granada, which is so big that you cannot fit it into a picture. It’s a gorgeous place that serves as a reminder of how much money and time the Catholic Church was willing to give. Seriously, the Catholic Church has probably paid so much money to designers and architects over the years.


On Sunday we all arose from our slumber and had breakfast in the hotel restaurant. Then we took four taxis to The Alhambra and Generalife. The Alhambra is a palace that began being built in the 9th century, only to be added on and renovated for hundreds of years by Moorish rulers. Generalife is the garden are attached to the city. And my oh my what a beautiful place. It’s only of the most visited places in Spain and I see why. It looks down at the whole city and the mountains surrounding the area.



Everywhere you look there’s another special detail. For example in some rooms poems were carved into the decor in Arabic. I took dozens and dozens of pictures of everything. We eventually found our way down the slope that the Alhambra sits on and back into the city. After refueling we went to a famous balcony that looks out at the castle and the large mountains behind it named Sierra Nevada.

To get there we climbed up those steep, skinny streets that I previously mentioned, at times hallways would be a better word to describe them. But the view was well worth the effort and we stayed for a while, marveling at the sight. This same view can be found on thousands and thousands of postcards and dozens of fotos on my camera and phone.

The next day we took on Sierra Nevada, in all its snowy majesty. We drove up the curving roads of mountains, the view getting better and better with each passing moment until we were above the clouds looking at only mountain peaks. Once we arrived at Sierra Nevada everyone was very excited and enthusiastic about the snow, even though at first the snow we were looking at was slushy, dirty snowbanks. However, to my travel gang, this is the only time they’ll see snow (live! In person!) all winter. To me, a Mainer, it took me a moment to remember that snow was cool! Not just something that messes with traffic and occasionally gives the children a day off from school. However, I digress.

maddy-in-spain-skiingPopi (my host mom), Lola (a host sister) and I got fitted for skiing gear then headed up the mountain even more in a lift. Now I know what you’re thinking (or may be thinking, I don’t actually know…): Maddy, what are you doing? Do you even know how to ski? The answer to this is… Kind of.

I think every kid who grows up in Maine knows how to ski a little bit. Even if their only experience was those few days in fifth grade where we strapped on old, half functioning cross-country skis and waddled around the school campus. However, I digress… Anyways, up on the mountain the three of worked with an instructor for two hours and more or less learned how to ski. Lola and I, were, of course phenomenal, and we’re expecting word from the Spanish Olympic Ski Team anyday now. The beautiful view of the snow, clouds and mountains matched the experience of skiing.

With the end of skiing, came an end to our weekend. This, however, allowed me even more time to gawk out my window at the Spanish countryside, including while the sun was setting. To say my visit to Granada was great is an understatement. I’m so grateful to everyone in my life supporting me from The U.S. to Spain. (I know: this isn’t funny! It’s sincere and boring! Save it for the acknowledgements!)

Living far away from home is not easy. It’s not even medium. It’s actually quite difficult. (Or at least if it was a sudoku game I’d give it that rating.) The best way to explain it is this: here I’m in a Contemporary History class, right now we’re studying how the Nazis gained power in Germany, which is a pretty complicated thing. Now imagine that all in a different language, now imagine having old documents to read and analyze in that different language then have to respond in the different language. It’s difficult.

However, I am lucky because at each step of the way people are looking out for me and cheering me on. To the people at home: I cherish your emails. To the people here: your besos and smiles mean so much to me. Thank you.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *