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Granada, A Music Capital

Sometimes you just have to burst certain stereotypes which seem to hound some cities. Our case in point is paradigmatic. In effect, Granada has such a lot going for it, apart from the legendary Alhambra and the first Renaissance cathedral to be built in Spain, the imperial Santa Iglesia Catedral Metropolitana de la Encarnación (both of these must-visit landmarks, although not the sum of the city’s attractions). Located on the banks of the river Genil and towered over by the Sierra Nevada, the capital of Granada is one of the focal points in Andalusian culture, a university city where the old and new come together. Local traditional music – flamenco, cante jondo – ring out side by side with pop music and contemporary rock (all related to independent music).

Granada has fewer than 250,000 inhabitants, but is an inexhaustible academy of artists and bands. Enrique Morente, Los Planetas, Lagartija Nick, 091 and Lori Meyers, to name just some of the more famous among them, emerged from the city’s streets and corners and went on to write some of the most celebrated chapters in Spanish music. Being a small city, you can walk through it comfortably. All you need is a pair of good trainers and, above all, motivation. So, if you’re eager to find out about more than just its historical landmarks, here goes a few musical slots geared to discovering a different Granada.

As mentioned above, the old and new come together in Granada. What’s more, those two currents have merged, thanks to the work of some of the aforementioned artists, like Enrique Morente and the incombustible Largartija Nick. The first must-visit spot on any tour of the city’s vibrant music scene is Sacromonte, the cradle of Granadan folklore. Situated in the Sierra de San Miguel and with a privileged view of the city, the area is brimming with caves blessed with excellent acoustics where the gypsy community organises recitals of cante jondo and flamenco. The performances are generous and varied. Apart from Sacromonte, it is well worth strolling through the district of Albaicín – also on the upper side of the city – another cradle of Granada flamenco and one of the most acclaimed gastronomic enclaves. In the streets of this district lies one of the most celebrated flamenco schools in the country, the Instituto de Flamenco Flora Albaicín.

Moving on to wholeheartedly modern currents, Granada is the land of independent rock. It boasts a rich fabric of clubs and concert halls with programmes that also open up to styles beyond Indie (electronic, mestizaje). One of the most venerable spots is Planta Baja, a veritable cultural institution in the city which, apart from hosting consolidated bands, also gives emerging local talent the chance to make their mark. Located in downtown Granada, near the Basilica of Juan de Dios, the Monastery of San Jerónimo and Granada Cathedral – you guessed it; you might as well do some sightseeing before visiting it – it offers activities from noon onwards and DJ sessions at the weekend. Some of the big names that will feature on stage at Planta Baja in the coming months include Sex Museum, Soledad Vélez and Carlos Sadness. Another club which deserves a pilgrimage if you’re into pop and rock is El Tren, located on the outskirts of the city.

A place with so much musical activity could not fail to have a good number of record shops, too. One of the best is Discos Marcapasos, just a few metres from Planta Baja. Located at 6 Calle Duquesa, it is the nerve centre of Granada’s music scene, also offering a generous stock of CDs and vinyls covering sixties years of pop music. It provides advance ticket sales for concerts at Planta Baja, El Tren and other venues in town as well. The store also hosts such activities as ad hoc DJ sessions, record signings and acoustic concerts. Another of the city’s institutions well worth considering is Discos Bora Bora, a small store with a large selection of vinyls.

Book your Vueling to Granada and discover its music scene.

Text by Xavi Sánchez for Los Viajes de ISABELYLUIS

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