Here’s something you probably don’t know about Granada. The city is covered, and I mean completely blanketed, in graffiti. But it’s not the tacky eyesore that you come to associate with shady underpasses and gang territory. Granada’s graffiti is completely bewitching.
Graffiti isn’t the first thing that springs to mind when you think about the alluring Andalucian city that makes the rest of Spain jealous with its Alhambra, Albaicín and free (completely delicious) tapas.
And you certainly won’t find ‘Granada Graffiti‘ topping the list of attractions on TripAdvisor. They were something that I stumbled across, completely unwittingly, as I walked to my hostel. Wall after wall was decorated with graphic hues of clashing colours, all competing for my attention.
As you may have noticed, I’m a huge fan. After visiting Seville, with it’s classical, clean beauty, Granada was the perfect antidote. A little rough around the edges, offbeat, original, the naughty younger sibling who smokes, stays out late and gets tattoos.
To some people it might seem atrocious that the timeworn cobblestoned streets and antiquated walls have been plastered with street art, but I think it just adds to the grittiness of contemporary Granada.
The contrast between the evocative prints and history have created a genuinely engrossing city to explore. I’ve never seen this sort of dissimilarity in a city before, but it works so well – not to mention that it looks so, so cool.
Like the destitute refugees squatting in the hill caves at the top of the city, the graffiti is a reminder that Granada isn’t just a monument to the past, but an actual living, breathing city.
The graffiti is mainly confined to the winding streets of the labyrinthian Albaicín district, a UNESCO world heritage site. Its fans are fierce in their admiration for the artwork, even setting up Facebook pages, blogs and Flickr accounts in its honour. The images are varied, from garish cartoon characters to realistic portraits, no two pieces are remotely similar.
I even found an old friend. Spongebob really does get everywhere.
And a girl with my haircut!
I’m not kidding when I say that the eye-popping street art deserves just as much attention as the Alhambra. I spent a leisurely afternoon wandering through the Moorish streets, ensnared by the vivid colours and creativity of Granada’s graffiti masterminds. I would go as far as to say a graffiti tour should definitely feature on your to-do list in Granada.
The guy responsible for the explosion of street art in Granada is el Niño de los Pinturas, ‘The Child of the Paintings’. El Niño has left his very distinctive and colourful mark on the back alleys all across the city. Entire streets are daubed with his Banksey-esque murals.
Still not convinced? You don’t need to be an art fanatic to enjoy it. I’m not a big art lover, so the fact that I was left totally enthralled really is a compliment to the talent of the city’s graffiti sleuths.
Amazing, aren’t they?
But all this graffiti – and there really is a lot of it – isn’t without controversy. Some tourists claim the images made them feel unsafe, make the city appear run down, and are an insult to the historical neighbourhoods of Granada. I disagree, this isn’t the work of amateur vandals, but of incredibly inspired artists, and actually are an attraction in themselves.
If you’re in Granada I wholeheartedly beseech you to check out these beguiling paintings.
Last one – I promise!