BY Matthew Breen
April 13 2011 4:00 AM ET
Visitors to gay-popular spain often think of Barcelona, Sitges, and Madrid, but historic Granada in the region of Andalusia also has a thriving, if somewhat small, gay community.
There’s no better place to begin your tour than the Alhambra, a fortified complex of palaces that was built beginning in the 14th century by the Moorish rulers and stands as the symbol of the city. Named in Arabic for the red cast it takes on in the twilight hours, the sprawling network of royal residences has unparalleled views of the city and intensely detailed Moorish interiors.
Flamenco is the almost impossibly passionate style of dance, singing, and guitar playing native to Andalusia. The Sacromonte neighborhood is flamenco ground zero, with gypsy dancers performing in the hillside caves built over Roman catacombs. You do not want to leave your camera behind for this.
Tapas are plentiful and emphasize the region’s distinctive, delicious Iberian ham. The regional wines are notable too: Look for the Vijiriega, Moscatel, and Pedro Ximénez white (“blanco”) varietals, and Tempranillo, Garnacha, and Monastrell in red (“tinto”) wines. (Information on bodegas can be found at DovinosDeGranada.es.)
There are a few longstanding nightclubs (most open until 3 or 4 a.m.) and gay restaurants, but not all are populated each night of the week—except Thursdays, a consistently popular night that brings out the surrounding area’s university students. Six Colours (Tendillas de Santa Paula 6; SixColours.com) is a riotously adorned café and pub and a community staple for dining and drag. Pub Bar la Sal (Calle Santa Paula 11) is a lesbian bar that welcomes all and features weekly parties attended by women and their straight and gay guy pals. More info on LGBT bars can be found at TurGranada.es.