Reading with Peacocks
I arrived in sunny Granada just two weeks ago and whilst I knew this city to have a rich cultural history, I had no idea about it’s literary connections. Granada was the birth place of Spain’s most prolific writer, Federico García Lorca, and became a UNESCO city of literature in 2014.
Most Spaniards do their best to avoid being outdoors during the summer months (did someone say siesta?) but as this is a “cold” summer for Granada (an average of a mere 32 degrees!), perhaps some will be tempted to do some outdoor reading.
Granada’s most famous site is, undoubtedly, the Alhambra. It’s an enormous fortress that was originally constructed in 889 AD! Right next to it, however, is a lovely little park and outdoor space that remains largely unknown to tourists visiting the area. Carmen de los Mártires is a beautiful space where you’ll find lots of archways and palm trees, all of which offer some much needed shade. More importantly, however, these provide perfect spots to hide from the sun’s rays, allowing you to dig into a good book without the risk of turning into a tomato.
The gardens are made up of several different sections but the lower parts, behind the main palace, are where you’ll want to head for a spot of reading. Here you’ll find a large square with a magnificent water piece in the centre, surrounding by numerous palm trees. There are benches dotted around the edge of the square, and on one side, these look over the city of Granada. Carmen de los Martires sits atop a hill so you can expect panoramic views over the city from up here.
Take a seat under a palm tree alongside the astonishing views and you’ll feel like you’ve been transported to another time and another world. In these gardens it’ll seem like you’ve escaped Granada for a tropical paradise so it’s the perfect setting for digging into a good read. The park is also dotted with metal boards featuring works by famous authors and poets from Granada so if you’re able to understand Spanish, it’s well worth wandering around trying to find these in the gardens.
And did I mention the peacocks? A family of peacocks live here and roam around as they please. If you don’t see them when you first enter, try looking up. They are often seen strutting around the balconies of the palace.
If you’re not familiar with Spanish literature and are wondering where to start, here’s a short list of the books in translation that I’ve brought with me to Granada:
The Happy City by Elvira Navarro
A Heart so White by Javier Marias
Madame du Deffand and the Idiots by Javier Marias
The Dialogue of Two Snails by Federico Garcia Lorca
Lazarillo de Tormes and The Swindler: Two Spanish Picaresque Novels
Laura is a book, travel and lifestyle blogger based in London. She has been running What’s Hot for almost 8 years and you’ll find an array of book and film recommendations as well as literary travel guides. You can stalk her on Instagram.