Granada, the very name is emotive and exciting and the city will not disappoint you. It lies at the foot of the Pico Veleta Mulhacen, which at 3482 metres [10,670 feet] is Spain's highest mainland mountain in the Sierra Nevada, some 430 kms due south of Madrid.

Granada was named by the Moors, though in pre-historic times it was called Llbyr, and under the Romans, Llibris. The Arabs occupied the city during the whole of their stay in Spain finally being evicted by the Catholic Monarchs, Ferdinand and Isabella in 1492, leaving the magnificent Alhambra as their bequest. Construction began in the 9th century and continued into the 17th. It originated as a Palatine City in which the Sultan and his family were protected by an elite guard in the Alcazaba fortress at one end.

The Alhambra overlooks the city and comprises a series of palaces, including the resplendent one of Charles V, courtyards and lovely gardens. Above is the Generalife or Gardens of Paradise, with miradors, cascading waterfalls, patios, dancing fountains and an abundance of flowers. On the opposite hill is the Albaicin [Casbah of Medina], a wonderfully peaceful area of fascinatingly colourful, narrow, white walled streets called CÃ rmenes [Inner Gardens].

Below in the thronged streets of the city the local populace, students and tourists mingle and enjoy the magnificent edifice above, not least when floodlit, while relaxing at one of the many Tapas Bars or cruising the shops and other attractions. The Cathedral is magnificent and houses the tomb of Isabella and Ferdinand, while La Cartuja monastery and many churches around the city are fine examples of buildings in the Mudejar style.

A favourite hotel is the Parador, which is in the Alhambra gardens and has magnificent views of the city. Needless to say it is heavily booked, but don't be put off, there are plenty more in a city, a visit to which is so rewarding.