If you’re planning a trip to Andalusia, The Muslim Traveller’s Guide to Granada takes you on a journey of discovery to the Nasrid kingdom, the Alhambra and the Albaicín – the historic Muslim quarter. Presenter and guide Hanna Whiteman also introduces us to the present-day Spanish Muslim community, explores the new iconic Granada mosque and the areas of town with the best shopping, halal restaurants and atmospheric Moroccan tea houses.
Granada is one of the gems of Andalusia. The last stronghold of the Muslims in the Iberian Peninsula, it was a great metropolis and cultural centre that fostered art and science, drawing the great Muslim figures of its time.
Hanna Whiteman takes us to the magnificent and celebrated Alhambra palace and through the cobbled streets of the historic Albaicín neighbourhood, which dates back to the Nasrid period. We explore shopping in the city centre and Caldereria street, filled with Moroccan traditional arts and crafts, halal restaurants and teahouses, and speak to members of the cosmopolitan present-day Muslim community in Granada.
Living in the Albaicín herself and fluent in Spanish, Hanna competently guides us around the old Muslim quarter of Granada, which was declared a World Heritage Site in 1994 as an extension of the historic site of the Alhambra. Built like an old medina, houses, gardens, patios and fountains are hidden behind high walls on the narrow and winding side roads, reflecting the original medieval street plan. As we get to know the city, Hanna interviews local Muslims, mosque officials, academics and artisans about local buildings and traditions.
We go for a traditional breakfast of coffee and toast with olive oil and tomato in a local café, and receive some fascinating nuggets of local knowledge about the old city. Hanna shows us the Gate of the Banner, part of the old wall protecting the inner city, where a flag was flown when a new sultan rose to power in the kingdom of Granada. It is also pointed out that many churches in the area, and in fact all over Andalusia, were originally mosques – and are perfectly oriented towards Mecca.
The amazing water systems and waterways installed by Muslim engineers are highlighted in the documentary too. From the 11th century onwards people in the Albaicín had fresh water not more than 100 metres from their house, and amazingly these medieval water systems were still in use until the 1970s when town water was introduced to the area.
The beautiful and iconic new Granada mosque sits opposite the Alhambra, with the adhan called five times a day from its minaret. It was not an easy path to get the mosque built though, with lots of opposition from locals and government bodies along the way. After over twenty years of international fundraising and negotiations with authorities, the new Granada mosque, with its gardens, patio, library and cultural centre, was built in 2003 in the traditional Islamic Andalusian style, inspired by the Alhambra and the Cordoba Mosque. Its garden boasts one of the best views of the Alhambra in the city.
The Muslim Traveller’s Guide to Granada is an immersive and fun way to get a taste of the local flavour of the area and discover more about the enchanting city of Granada, its important Muslim history and dynamic present-day Muslim community. It’s the perfect introduction to the city if you are planning to make Andalusia your next halal tourism destination.