Granada: A Dirty Sevilla?

A Dirty Sevilla.

This is how a friend once described Granada to me. Now, I have a deep, undying, unwavering love for the City of Granada, and as you can imagine, I was slightly offended by this remark at first. I had been studying and living in Granada for almost 6 months at this point and loved everything about the city. While I traveled many weekends like most study abroad students, I was always excited to return to Granada. There was something that always pulled me back, and even since I left 3 years ago, I’ve wanted to return every day.



After thinking for a while about Granada being a “dirty Sevilla,” I got to thinking about my daily routine: what I did, saw, ate, and experience every day, including the sights, sounds, and smells. I couldn’t think of one aspect that I would have described with the adjective dirty. I had been to Sevilla before and thought it was a gorgeous, enchanting city. However, it did not reach out and tug at my heart the way Granada did. I understand that I was a visitor and did not live in Sevilla, so I know that it probably would have been different if I had.

Each of the two cities has their own endearing characteristics that make them unique and desirable. Granada has the Alhambra, Sacromonte, and the Albaicín, whereas Sevilla has the Plaza de Toros de la Real Maestranza de Caballería de Sevilla, Torre del Oro, the Guadalquivir, and Santa Cruz. I realize that this is not every single sight or part of either of these cities, but my point is that they are each one of a kind. In fact, nearly every city I have visited is, especially in Spain. All cities bring their own distinct personalities.

Torre del Oro - Sevilla

Torre del Oro – Sevilla

Once I thought about both Sevilla and Granada for awhile, I ended up being fine with the comparison. While I still wouldn’t describe Granada as “dirty,” I can see how someone who hasn’t lived there may. Maybe I just got used to dodging the dog poop on the streets walking to school, which I don’t remember doing in Sevilla. Outside of the Alhambra, Granada is certainly less polished than Sevilla and has much more of a gypsy culture. I believe that having lived there for a semester gave me the time to learn, understand, and appreciate all of these things that make up the culture of Granada that someone who may have just been on a visit and not expected to encounter them did not have time to fully appreciate.

Plaza in Granada across from my homestay in 2010.

Plaza in Granada across from my homestay in 2010.

Graffiti in Sevilla

Graffiti in Sevilla

Granada is and always will be near and dear to my heart, calling for me to return whenever I find myself lost…even with the dog poop.

18 responses to “Granada: A Dirty Sevilla?

  1. I actually let out a small gasp when I saw the title of this post. My Granada DIRTY? No way. But, thinking about it more and more I agree with you. Though I haven’t spent much time in Sevilla, it is certainly a bigger and more polished place. Granada is just so much smaller, so the most enchanting spots are not as far reaching and visible as those in Sevilla, I think. Once you get outside of the .5 mile radius of Plaza Nueva, Granada has become quite modern and lost a lot of its charm. I’m thinking specifically of the areas down by the centro comercial and the bus station. With Sevilla, the whole city is pretty well conserved, and has always just been bigger as a whole and therefore was more developed centuries ago. Granada was largely limited to the boundaries of the rio Darro to the puerta del sol to sacromonte, so I guess I could see how someone would think the rest of Granada was dirty since that now makes up such a large part of the city. I’d still pick the city of pomegranates over Sevilla any day 🙂

    • I lived down by Camino de Ronda and I can see how someone would say its dirtier. Although, I wouldn’t classify it as dirty. I agree with you about Granada’s development area being more restricted by natural impediments than Sevilla’s though. Both are unique, but there’s a larger polished, touristy area in Sevilla.

  2. I completely agree that Seville is a bit more “glossy” than Granada, but I live in the “boonies” of Seville, far from the Giralda and Triana’s flamenco bars. It’s definitely a bit gritty and full of less-than-perfect sevillanos you see in the center! Granada is very near and dear to my heart, and even though my ambition to live there didn’t pan out, I’m glad it’s so close!

    • I think because Sevilla’s a larger city it has more polished areas, so a visitor is less likely to encounter the “dirtier” areas. In the smaller Granada it’s more likely one would see a less touristy part of the city. I know that I probably won’t be placed in Granada for teaching, but I can always keep my hopes up. However, I’ll just be happy to be anywhere in Spain!

    • I also never thought of Granada as dirty until my friend put it that way to me. It’s not as glossy though, but I certainly wouldn’t say dirty. Thanks for reading!

  3. I’ve only ever been to Granada, but I feel like pretty much all of Spain could be described, maybe not as “dirty” but definitely gritty—it was one facet of culture shock I ran into when I first got here. Granada never came across to me as particularly dirty when I visited, so I’m looking forward to a spotless Sevilla! hahaha

      • Wayell, after visiting Sevilla 2 weekends ago, I have to say it was definitely a very clean city—but not necessarily in comparison with Granada, just generally litter- and dog-poop-free, and it seems like public workers do a lot to keep plazas in tip-top shape by washing them down every morning. I’m heading back to Granada for a night next week so I’ll see if I notice the grittiness more or less.

        I’m interested in what parts of Granada your friend visited, because perhaps it had to do with the old town vs. new/“Franco”-era town. In my experience the apartment blocks that sprung up over the past few decades are usually pretty ugly parts of town and much of Granada is “new,” so perhaps that influenced your friend’s impression?

      • Thanks for remembering my post and commenting Trevor! My friend lived in the newer Franco areas of Granada that are not cleaned as often as the center city, tourist areas. I believe that’s what influenced her impression since she was probably in more of the touristy areas of Sevilla. Have fun in Granada! I cannot wait to be back in Spain.

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  5. Cool post! I have been to Granada twice on vacation and live in Barcelona and found it to be an inspirational place! I think some people have an argument when it comes to the grit but as for dirty, I didn’t find this to be the case either.

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  9. the title is an eyecatcher. Considering that Granada and Seville are my favorite cities, my thoughts about your friend’s opinion might be biased 🙂

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