Granada is sometimes known as the melancholy sister city to Sevilla. While Sevilla has a more celebratory air, Granada is still haunted by the ghosts of legends past. It was here that the last Moorish kingdom of Al-Andalus fell, where King Fernando and Queen Isabel’s forces captured the Alhambra palace without a fight. Boabdil surrendered his kingdom, and the legend goes that as he shed a tear for what he lost, his mother reprimanded him by saying, “You do well to weep like a woman for what you could not defend like a man.”
It is in Granada where the curious traveler can find the crypt of the Catholic Monarchs, the Moorish palace and gardens of the Alhambra, and a small Jewish museum where curators narrate a forgotten history. Despite the expulsion of the Moors and Jews in 1492, the eclectic mixture of cultures is still present in Spain’s architecture, in flamenco music, and even in the Spanish language through borrowed words and concepts.
Today if you were to climb the narrow, winding streets of the Albaicín, you might (either by map or by luck) come across the popular viewpoint, El Mirador de San Nicolás. From here, the Alhambra looms on top of the opposite hill, its reddish gold bricks catching the fading light. It’s not uncommon to hear flamenco guitarists and singers perform there. Flamenco is a form of music that is supposed to express the deep yearnings and emotions of the heart. The wailing melodies are evocative of past sorrows that are just as much a part of this city as its present joys.