Just outside of Granada, Spain, where the city begins to give way to mountains, sits a cathedral. You can see this cathedral from nearly anywhere you may go in Granada, but reaching it is a bit tricky. It lies up the maze of narrow street, beyond the bustling street markets and professional street art adorning the walls of dozens of buildings, past flamenco club recently visited by Michelle Obama, and above the neighborhoods of gypsy caves set into the hills.
High above Granada this cathedral stands watch, this highest viewpoint over the city and sits facing the world famous Alhambra castle from across the divide. It is a must visit spot for travelers. They will flock to here around dusk to sit on the walls in front of the cathedral and watch the sun set into the mountains around the city, as we did one night. Even in midsummer evening, the trek up to this viewpoint breaks a sweat. The roundabout route we to reach it in the scorching heat one afternoon was hardly bearable.
I had never planned on visiting Granada, didn’t have any desire to really. The plan was to travel down the coast of eastern Spain as I worked my way to Morocco. However, when a group of of my new friends in the city of Valencia said they were leaving the coast and heading to the city in the Sierra Nevada, I decided to give it a try. There’s something intoxicating about Granada. It’s not just another big touristy city and really doesn’t feel like anywhere else in Spain. Granada is smaller and quaint. It is a place where the Islamic influences of previous Muslim rulers and nearby northern Africa meet those of western Europe to create a unique atmosphere unlike any other. It felt almost like a gateway out of Spain as I drew closer to Morocco.
And, notably, Granada is hot. Ridiculously hot. It was the hottest place I went to in Spain and had no sea to retreat to. The afternoon of this photo was the hottest day I experienced in Spain. We took a walking tour of the city’s street art and the gypsy caves, a tour that after miles of hiking around the hills, ended here. I would later return to visit the viewpoint during sunset, but there’s a particular appreciation for this place when you stumble up to the crest through more than 100 degree heat.
Here, an Australian backpacker from our hostel rests on the wall in front of the cathedral after that grueling climb and enjoys her reward, a spectacular unmatched view of Granada with Sierra Nevada in the distance. The trek into the hills, and this moment above the city is one of the most memorable of my time in Spain. I worried it was a mistake when I made the split second decision to travel to this city in the mountains, but reaching the crest of this hill and seeing this sight of Granada below put all of those doubts to rest. Much to my surprise, Granada was my favorite city in Spain and remains one to the best cities I’ve visited.