Julie and I did some hiking in the hills and valleys near Granada.
View of the abbey from the hills above Generalife
Our first excursion was to the Sacramonte neighborhood, up the hill and into a valley heading east from Granada. Sacramonte has a lot of history: the construction of an abbey (shown above) to house the relics of Saint Cecil and venerate the discovery of lead books later determined to be a forgery (wonder if that dude in Palmyra got his idea from this?), and most interesting to Julie and me were the Gitano (gypsy, Roma) caves that were homes to exiled others during and after the Spanish inquisition. The museum showing the caves was well worth it.
Walking back down from the church above Albaicín
We did an evening hike up to the San Miguel Alto viewpoint above the Albaicín neighborhood, giving us a glimpse into what looks to be a squatter / off-the-grid community in the shacks and caves on the hillside. It should have felt routine by then, but we still gaped at the amazing views of the Alhambra and Granada.
Walking the trails in the olive groves
On our last full day I threw my sandbag weight into the backpack and we trekked up into the hills above the Alhambra and Generalife. We started by climbing up a hillside path of switchbacks approaching the Silla del Moro (Moor’s chair). We stayed on the west side of the slope and looped around above the Alhambra grounds, gaining panoramic views of the city. Then we hiked directly up and over the ridge to discover the park and trail system on the plateau above, which brought into view the snowy peaks of the Sierra Nevada mountains. Most impressive were the extensive ancient waterworks in the area: a series of cisterns, canals, and pumps designed to keep the Alhambra complex flush with water. There were groves of olive trees and plenty of trails suitable for hiking or mountain biking.