The south of Spain is known for high-quality hand-crafted items, or “artesanía”, such as ceramics, pottery, woodwork, hand-woven rugs, embroidery and paintings, and, of course, hand-made guitars. Spanish shoes and other leather goods are also superb quality, but not inexpensive. Granada is particularly well-known for its distinctive, Moorish-style vases, jars, hand-painted ceramic pots, tiles and tableware, and there is an open-air Pottery & Ceramics Fayre (see slideshow) held every May in the centre of the city. Granada is also famous for its fine silks and textiles, and its connections to the silk industry date back to Roman times, when the city was a major producer of silk, Julius Caesar having given the Moors the exclusive right to sell the fabric. Granada was an important link on the “Silk Road”, the network of ancient trade routes between China and the Mediterranean.
Shops in the Granada region open weekdays at 9.30 in the morning, closing at noon for siesta. They re-open at 5.30pm and remain open until 8.30pm. On Saturdays, most small shops do not re-open in the afternoon. Most large department stores (“grandes almacenes”), such as El Corte Inglés, stay open all day, and close as late as 10pm.
If you are thinking of buying a gift in Granada for someone musical – or, indeed, if you are musical yourself and would like to take home an exceptional memento of your time in Spain – you can hardly do better than invest in a hand-made Spanish guitar – a purchase that will not only be a source of pleasure for years to come, but which will also improve in quality and perhaps even increase in value over time. Top-of-the-range concert guitars can cost thousands of euros, but good quality guitars can be bought for as little as €300 – a fraction of what they would cost in other countries. Click here for further information.
If you want English books that aren’t travel guides or trashy “holiday” books, head for the 1616 Books international bookshop in Salobreña. They have a large selection of English (and other) language books covering all genres. They also sell books and games for children. Location: Avenida Federico García Lorca 17, Salobreña. Tel: 958 61 07 50
In Granada city we have Libreria Praga which has a small section of used English-language books. Location: Calle Gracia, 33, Granada.
Markets are very popular in the south of Spain. There are essentially three types of market: indoor, permanent markets (called “mercados”); permanent street markets (which may be held only on certain days of the week, or during specific hours); and travelling open-air markets that move from area to area, usually in some kind of fixed rotation. Market prices can be quite a bit lower than shop prices, and haggling is not only allowed but expected. In fact, haggling over prices is the most enjoyable part of shopping at markets for many Spaniards. The most important phrase to remember is; “It’s very expensive!” (“¡Es muy caro!”, en español). This is the generally accepted prelude to every haggling session.
Markets usually open from around 9.30 – 3pm and offer a wide range of goods including meat, fish, vegetables, fruit, flowers, plants, clothing, footware, crockery, cookware, linen, ceramics, cassettes/CDs/DVDs, tools, arts and crafts, books, toys, household goods, carpets, jewellery, make-up – and almost anything else one can think of.