Alcaicería, once the Moorish silk market, is next to the cathedral in the lower city. The narrow streets of this rebuilt village of shops are filled with vendors selling the arts and crafts of Granada province. For the souvenir hunter, the Alcaicería offers one of the most splendid assortments in Spain of tiles, castanets, and wire figures of Don Quixote chasing windmills. Lots of Spanish jewelry can be found here, comparing favorably with the finest Toledan work.
Handicraft stores virtually line the main shopping arteries, especially those centered on Puerta Real, including Gran Vía de Colón, Reyes Católicos, and Angel Ganivet. For the best selection of antiques stores, mainly selling furnishings of Andalusia, browse the shops along Cuesta de Elvira.
Marquetry the Old-Fashioned Way
Connoisseurs of the fine art of marquetry (the craft in which tiny pieces of bone and colored hardwoods are arranged into geometric patterns and glued into wooden frames) may be interested in the demonstration of this art form in the Alhambra at Laguna Taracea, Real de la Alhambra 30 (tel. 95-822-70-46; www.laguna-taracea.com).
The company was established by the ancestors of today's owner, Miguel Laguna, in 1877. Know before you buy that prices vary with the percentage of real bone in the raw materials. Marquetry work that's crafted from authentic hardwoods and bone sell for up to three times as much as clones made from colored plastic. After a few moments under the tutelage of this place, you'll be able to recognize the difference.
For sale in the shop are elaborately patterned, and very beautiful, trays, boxes, chess sets, picture frames, and more, as well as large, heirloom-quality chests of drawers, each emulating a different 17th-century Iberian design and each selling for several thousand euros.
Shopping for Spanish Guitars
Granada and the art of guitar making have always been intricately intertwined. Even if you don't want to haul a guitar back from Andalusia, you might want to check out the neighborhood where they're manufactured.
Calle Cuesta de Gomérez, a narrow and steeply sloping street that runs uphill to the Alhambra from a point near the Plaza Nueva, in Old Granada, is the centerpiece of the city's guitar-making trade. Today there are at least five guitar-making studios -- usually small shops with no more than two, and usually only one, artisan per cubbyhole. Prices for the most basic instruments might, in a pinch, begin at 325€ ($520). Costs for some of the most resonant guitars can easily exceed 3,500€ ($5,600).
The oldest studio, Casa Ferrer, Calle Cuesta de Gomérez 26 (tel. 95-822-18-32), was established in 1875. A competitor is José López Bellido, at no. 36 (tel. 95-822-27-41). At least one additional craft shop, Germán Pérez Barranco, still maintains a presence at Calle Cuesta de Gomérez 10 (tel. 95-822-70-33; www.guitarreria.com). Most business is conducted from premises at Reyes Católicos 47; the cubbyhole on Calle Cuesta de Gomérez is maintained primarily as a prestigious and highly visible link to the company's origins.
In most places along Calle Cuesta de Gomérez, expect gruff but courteous responses to your questions. Settings are unpretentious, usually in a working crafts studio littered with gluepots and tools for fine woodworking.
A Shopping Secret
There is a street in Granada that every local shopper of artifacts and cheap clothing knows about: Calle Calderería Nueva. Too narrow for cars, and evoking an Arab souk, it slopes abruptly from the Albaicín into the more modern neighborhoods of the town, a point that's close to Plaza Nueva. Either side is thickly populated with stores of all degrees of junkiness. Some of the crafts stores, especially those selling Moroccan handicrafts, are upscale.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.