Declared a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO in 1994, the labyrinthine Albaicin is one of the oldest districts in Europe, and is also almost a self-contained town in itself, whose popular, intimate and welcoming character has been preserved for over a thousand years.
The best way to experience the Albaicín is to take a walk around its narrow streets, little squares, hills and tucked-away spots reminiscent of north African and old Mediterranean towns. It is easy to lose yourself, but even easier to get back: all you have to do is head downhill to get back to the city centre.
Most of the Albaicin‘s personality comes from its very typical construction: the characteristic houses with a garden that are known here as carmens: with their apparently impregnable fences and walls, once inside they have a surprisingly fresh use of water, vegetation and space. Most of them are private homes, but some of the most emblematic carmens are now hotels and restaurants where you can enjoy a lunch or dinner with splendid views, and foundationsor cultural centres. Among those that are open to visitors, the most outstanding are the Carmen de la Victoria and the Casas del Chapiz, that are today the School of Arabic Studies, as well as the Max Moreau Carmen-Museum.
To see the best of the Albaicín, you can start from the Paseo de los Tristes, going up the steep Cuesta del Chapiz, until you arrive at the Church of el Salvador, which used to be the district’s Main Mosque, and which still preserves its gorgeous courtyard. Close to this spot you will also find the Placeta de Aliatar, the Arco de las Pesas, Plaza Larga, and the lively surroundings.
Another recommended itinerary is one which leaves from Puerta Elvira, going up the Cuesta de la Alhacaba, until you reach the Mirador de la Lona viewpoint and Plaza de San Miguel Bajo, a charming square where you can stop for a rest and get your strenght back at any of its numerous restaurants. At the far end of the square, the church of the same name rises up over a former mosque, and it has kept a 13th century water well in its façade.
Source: Official guide – City of Granada – Turismo Ciudad de Granada