At the foothills of the Alhambra, the Realejo, the former Jewish quarter, is today one of the most popular and lively districts in Granada, and it still preserves the multicultural legacy from its centuries of history.
A good option is to visit this area after the Alhambra. If you go down the Cuesta del Realejo, more of a staircase than a street, you arrive in the heart of the district.
But before you start your descent, it is a good to stop at the upper part in several of its mosst interesting places.
The Carmen de los Mártires has one of the most romantic gardens in Granada, and poetry-lovers will be delighted to discover that Saint John of the Cross wrote The Dark night of the Soul under one of its trees:
On a dark night,
Inflamed by love-longing-
O exquisite happiness!-
Undetected I slipped away.
My house, at last grown still.
The Museum-House of Manuel de Falla was the home of this great musician and composer until his exile in 1939, and it still conserves a collection of his personal belongings, as well as his piano, musical scores, furniture and other objects, all left just as they were at that time.
The impressive reddish structure of the Torres Bermejas [Red Towers], an ancient fortress that was already old when the Alhambra was built, recalls a history of knights and heroic defences.
And finally, heading towards the centre, the Placeta de la Puerta del Sol is worth stopping at, a gorgeous viewpoint that has conserved its old open washhouse.
At the centre of the Realejo is the Campo del Príncipe, a large square teeming with bars, and with the Cristo de los Favores statue in the middle: a highly venerated image that has a certain miraculous reputation in the city. Their restaurants and terraces are always busy, especially in the warm summer nights, when groups and whole families get together to enjoy the typical flavours of the local cuisine in a relaxed and popular atmosphere.
Around the Campo del Príncipe you will find some of the most interesting churches and convents in Granada: the Church of Santo Domingo, for instance, whose bells have markjed the rhythm of this neighbourhood for around five centuries. Another place worth visiting is the Convent of the Comendadoras de Santiago, the oldest convent in the city. It has a beautiful Baroque altarpiece but you can also be led into temptation by the exquisite sweet pastries made and sold by the nuns themselves.
Source: Official Guide. City of Granada. Turismo Ciudad de Granada
Picture: A beautiful watercolor of Jesús Mochón.