As part of our tour package from Play, a tour of historic quarters of Albaicin and Sacromonte was included. We could have chosen a segway tour, but opted instead for a walking tour. It was perhaps for the best as both of the quarters were quite hilly so we were left wondering if the segway tourers actually get as much from the tour as the walkers.
Our tour guide for the 1,5 hours walk tour was a local guy, who seemed to have plenty of knowledge of the local area – and that is very important thing! Some people, like me for instance, love to have a bit of background information about the areas we are going to visit, so having a guide who has lots of quirky knowledge of the place is a must! Otherwise, why bother in the first place? And getting a chatty guide, who wants you to interact during the walk is even better, it makes all the difference.
First part of our walk took us from the Play tour office up the hill to a viewpoint near the church of San Nicolas, which used to be a mosque during the Muslim rule and like all the other mosques that were not destroyed, it was converted to a Catholic Church after the Reconquista.
(C) Two Queens Travel Blog 2018
The Church of San Nicolas was being restaured as we stood at the viewpoint, but from there we could see another tower, fairly recently built, as a next door neighbour of the church; in 2003, for the first time since the Muslim rule of Andalucia in the 1400’s, a new mosque was built in Granada. At it is located here, in the old quarter of Albaicin.
As our tour continued through the winding alleys of Albaicin, we learned about the meaning of the narrow streets, which was mainly their effect on air conditioning, and defence of Granada, the effect of the Arabic language to Spanish pronunciation, and Carmens…
…And then we came to the old city wall. There the Albaicin Quarter ended and Sacromonte Quarter began. Immediately the atmosphere changed from small winding streets to less houses, most of them built on the mountainside.
We learned that this was because the Sacromonte quarter used to house the gypsies after Reconquista (and the following centuries). In fact, the government didn’t really invest any time and money to the quarter prior to 1950’s, when tourists started coming there for flamenco shows in caves. Real caves.
Sacromonte Quarter is famous for the cave dwellings! Most of the caves are still inhabited, and have just a small house, or extension in front where they have the toilet and kitchen area. Otherwise, the people still live inside the caves!
On the way down to the new town square (where we started the walk), we passed a
street, where there were lots of cafes and restaurants, surrounded by beautiful nature! Our tour guide explained that people come here to relax, and enjoy life, and generally to be happy. Name of the street? Paseo de los Tristes (street of the sad people). And why? Because in the olden times it used to be the only road serving the city’s cemetery, which in turn meant… lots of sad people passing by.