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Against the backdrop of the magnificent Sierra Nevada mountains in Granada, the Alhambra, meaning “red castle” in Arabic, was named for the reddish-golden hue of its walls.

Dating back to the 9th century, it became a royal residence of the Muslim rulers of Granada in the 13th century. Later, in 1492, when Isabel and Ferdinand conquered Granada, the Alhambra was transformed into a Christian court.

Declared a national monument in 1870, it’s a stunning example of Moorish architecture. The Patio of Myrtles, the Patio of the Lions, the Alcazaba, the profusely decorated Hall of the Ambassadors, Hall of the Boats and the Alhambra Gardens are only a few of the Alhambra’s ornate wonders.

During the Fiesta de la Reconquista (which takes place annually on January 2nd) and at Easter time, there are colorful processions in the streets of Granada. At the end of May, you can enjoy the International Theater Festival, and at the end of June, the International Music and Dance Festival takes place, with performances held in the palaces of the Alhambra and in an open-air theater in the Generalife gardens.

Granada’s Bodegas Castaneda, at Calle de Elvira 5, serves yummy tapas and local wines. Hotel Carlos V, Plaza de los Campos, 4, offers brightly colored rooms within minutes of the Alhambra, 49 euros per night.

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Bonnie Maffei Nov. 30, 2009 @ 8 a.m.

Do you know Granada? It was a few years ago. Very wonderful place!

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