Gypsy Cave Homes and Moorish Palaces in Granada, Spain

I’m in a cave at the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains and I’m transfixed by a dancing gypsy woman.

She waves her long skirt like a matador fighting an invisible bull, while her feet pound the floor manically and the backing band clap in rapid rhythm.

This is flamenco, the most complex dance I’ve ever seen. It’s at the same time seductive and aggressive. Graceful and frantic. The performer looks like a woman fighting staunchly to restore her wounded pride. Her chin high and shoulders back.

Granada has had a large gypsy community for hundreds of years. Along with their music and dance, they’ve left their mark on the Spanish city in the form of white-washed cave dwellings throughout the hillside neighborhood of Sacromonte.

This is where I’ve found myself just 24 hours into my scouting tour of Granada…

And as it happens, you can buy one of these other-worldly cave homes for €135,000. They’re just a 20-minute walk from the historic center of Granada, in a beautiful and tranquil setting.

You can live in a cave in the charming hillside neighborhood of Sacromonte, just a 20 minute walk from Granada’s historic center.

But Granada has a lot more to offer than caves.

Surrounded by mountains and close to southern Spain’s coast, skiing and sandy beaches are within easy reach. Figure an hour’s drive or so from the beaches of the Costa Tropical. And skiing slopes within 20 miles of the city.

This southern Spanish city has attracted many different civilizations throughout the centuries, from the ancient Iberians to the Romans and Visigoths. All of which have left lasting echoes in the local food, architecture, and culture.

You can stroll down classically European cobblestone streets and into North African whitewashed barrios. Have a coffee under the looming Granada Cathedral, or browse through colorful stalls at the Moroccan-style bazaar of Alcaicería.

Sitting above it all, on a plateau overlooking the city is the Alhambra, the spectacular palace and fortress of the former Moorish monarchs of Granada. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Spain’s most visited attraction, with 2 million visitors year on year.

Built more than 700 years ago, it’s said that this structure still holds undiscovered secrets in its intricate symmetrical carvings and the water channels that decorate its interior.

The Alhambra attracts two million visitors each year, many of whom will spend a few days in a local rental, exploring the rest of Granada.

The palace overlooks the neighborhood of Albaicín, one of the oldest and most beautiful parts of the city, with its medieval Moorish architecture and dense network of winding cobbled streets.

It’s a place you can easily while away an entire day. You can sit in shady plaza with a vino, take in a street performance, drop in to one of the many museums, or simply take in the spectacular view of the Alhambra.

Strolling through the neighborhood, I came across a number of reasonably priced apartments, including one that offers a partial view of the Alhambra for €150,000.

But the property that really caught my eye was a historic four-bedroom house with incredible terrace views of the palace.

At €327,000 it’s not cheap, but nothing this rare will be. This is the most popular district for tourists. And the terrace would be a big draw.

Built around 1900, the owner explained that its thick walls keep it cool in the summer and warm in the winter. It features original tiling, has two bathrooms, and you have the possibility to buy it ready-furnished. Though you’d be better of starting from scratch. This home needs a freshening up.

I got the impression that the owner would be open to offers. Along with your offer you’d make a €1,000 deposit, at which point the agent would take it off the market. If the owner rejects it, your deposit is returned.

See the listing here.

Another thing worth noting about this property is that it sits right next to a big construction project. I’m told by the owner that the site is owned by the Alhambra palace itself and they’re building a public garden there. If you can open up the rear of the terrace, you’d be looking right over it. However, this is a historical building, which comes with restrictions, so you’d need to make sure this was allowed.

Another neighborhood I liked was the Realejo. This was the old Jewish quarter of Granada. Peaceful and residential, it’s close to all the city’s main attractions and offers plenty of leafy parks as well as cafes and bars.

Here I came across an even larger, seven-bedroom, three-bathroom home for €290,000. In all, it sits at 2,200 square feet, and it comes with a roof terrace—though it doesn’t have views of the palace. From the listing it looks in pretty good shape inside.

There might be potential here to serve the sector of the short-term rental market looking for big homes—for tour groups, families, etc. From what I could find on Airbnb, this niche isn’t well served in Granada, and listings are set at €400 to €600 a night for homes of this size.
You’d also have the potential to divide the building into separate apartments. Rent out one and live in the other.

Finally, let’s talk caves…

Like I said at the start, Sacromonte is one of the most unique neighborhoods you’ll find in any city in the world. It’s small and really only has one main street where cars can pass. But it offers a lot of charm and is only a 20 minute walk or so from the historic center of Granada.

You can check out a short walkaround I shot in the video below…

To be clear, I don’t think you should buy a cave home to live in. These don’t offer much in the way of natural light. However, there might be an opportunity here to turn one of these into a unique Airbnb rental.

Based on the Airbnb listing already available in this area, staying in one of these cave homes highly rated experience. They rent for between €32 and €73 for a one-bed, and one up to €114 a night for a three-bed.

Currently for sale on the market is this small one-bed for €135,000 and a large 11-bed home for €299,990.

Here’s the video (note that while recording I got a few of the listing details wrong):

Click to watch this brief video tour of the Sacromonte neighborhood.

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