The snowcapped peaks of the Sierra Nevada surround the city of Granada, and a number of intriguing excursions exist in several directions. From the top of the highest peak, you can see the African coast and, on the clearest of days, even Castilla la Mancha in the central part of eastern Spain. The mountain range is also the home of the Spanish ibex. For those who like to go on trekking jaunts, the Sierra Nevada is the most rewarding territory in all of Andalusia.
The province of Granada is filled with other attractions. You can visit Guadix, known for its cave dwellers, and Las Alpujarras, one of the most remote -- and most fascinating -- parts of Andalusia. But first, here's a trip closer to Granada.
Santa Fe: The "Cradle of America"
If you head southwest of Granada along N-342, you come to the little town of Santa Fe, 8km (5 miles) from the city. This unimpressive-looking town looms large in history: It was here in the winter of 1491 that Isabella and Ferdinand summoned some 150,000 Spanish troops to besiege Granada, the last territory in Spain under Muslim control.
After the Moorish armies were defeated, it was at Santa Fe that a document of surrender was signed between the Catholic monarchs and the last sultan, Boabdil. These terms of surrender were known as "the Capitulation of Santa Fe," the final act of the Reconquista. When Isabella learned that the Turks had closed the Gibraltar Straits, denying Spain access to the silk route, an alternative route had to be found to the East. In an appendix to the capitulation document, the monarchs agreed to a "wild dream" proposed by an explorer from Genoa and sent Cristóbal Colón (Christopher Columbus) on a journey to the so-called New World. That's why the little town of Santa Fe today is known as the "Cradle of America."
Santa Fe has long spread beyond its original cross-shaped boundaries. At each of the four ends of the "cross" was a gate, emblazoned with the initials of the Catholic monarchs. The gates remain and you can explore or photograph them. In the center of the Old Town is a church that may or may not be open when you visit.
Fans of Federico García Lorca (1898-1936) can journey 17km (11 miles) northwest of Granada to call upon the Casa-Museo Federico García Lorca, García Lorca 4 (tel. 95-851-64-53; www.museogarcialorca.org), where the poet-playwright was born on June 5, 1898. He lived in this village until age 6. There are many photographs of the artist, posters of his plays, and costumes that bring back his spirit. The house contains many of the original family furnishings. A short video at the end of a visit shows Lorca in action and on tour with the Teatro Barraca.
The museum was opened in 1986 in honor of the 50th anniversary of the assassination of the artist by Franco's troops during the Spanish Civil War. These fascist assassins cited homosexuality as the reason for Lorca's death, but the real reason for his death was his outspoken defense of the Republic and his criticisms of monarchism, Catholicism, and fascism.
Today Spain has restored Lorca to his rightful place in Spanish letters. A highly revered poet and dramatist, he is viewed by scholars as one of the two greatest poets Spain produced in the 20th century, and is certainly one of the country's greatest dramatists since the Golden Age.
Temporary art shows are presented in the former barn and stables. Charging an admission of 2€ ($3.20), the house is open July to September Tuesday to Sunday from 10am to 1pm and 6 to 8pm; October to March Tuesday to Sunday from 10am to 1pm and 4 to 6pm; April to June daily from 10am to 1pm and 5 to 7pm. Guided tours are conducted daily.
True Lorca fans can also visit the village of Viznar, 9km (5 1/2 miles) northeast of Granada. Head out the N-342 and follow the signs for the turnoff to Viznar. It was here that the fascists brought Lorca to be beaten and shot in 1936 when they took over Granada. Friends had urged him to flee Spain and escape to France or even America, but he refused.
Outside the village on the road to Alfacar is the Federico García Lorca Memorial Park, 3km (2 miles) from Viznar. A marker pinpoints the spot where the poet was assassinated. Lorca's body was never recovered, so there is no grave for pilgrims to seek out.
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.