One of the most curious and intriguing streets for people who visit Granada is the Cuesta de los Chinos. It is one of the pedestrian access points used to enter the Alhambra and Generalife monumental complex, connecting the hill of the Sabika, where the Red Fortress rises up, to the centre of Granada and the Albayzín from Paseo de los Tristes. It’s special charm stems from being, in spite of being nestled just in the epicentre of history, seemingly immune to the passage of time. Walking almost alone between its streams, taking in the walls and letting it enchant you with the sound of chirping birds, it is a trip to a peaceful and silent past, in the heart of the most visited monument in Spain.
Cuesta de los Chinos, Granada The hill with three names, has been popularly known by Granada residents as Cuesta del Rey Chico, because Boabdil fled from here to the Albayzín after a revolt in the palace, Cuesta de los Muertos, since it was the old path to the cemetery, or the most well-known of the names, Cuesta de los Chinos. This last name may be due to the name given to little stones in Granada, since the initial part was cobbled with small cobbles from the nearby river and in Granada, these are referred to as “chinos”. Another more outlandish version states the name is due to the route that the dead took up to their final resting place in the cemetery. Since they were shoulder-carried, everyone who got to the top of the hill had a yellowish tone, either from having gone on to a better place, or from having made the effort to carry the dead individual up the steep hill. That’s why it’s the “Cuesta de los Chinos”.
The hill goes up the old Barranco de la Aikibía, a haven of peace and tranquillity separating the hills where the Alhambra and the Generalife rest. Until well into the 20th century, when the current bridge was built connecting the lower area of the Generalife and the access pavilions to the upper area of the Alhambra’s medina, there was no direct connection between the Alhambra and the summer almunia (a type of Andalusian rural building) for the Nasrid monarchs. For centuries, the natural crossing between both places was done via the Cuesta de los Chinos.
This walkway starts at the River Darro, crossing the bridge known as the Puente del Aljibillo, and startings going up the hill between some residential buildings. Once in the ravine, to the right there are remnants of a windmill and the walls of the Alhambra, while on the left we find the gardens of the Generalife up above.
The walkway provides us with some spectacular views of the Torres de la Alhambra, from the bottom. Located between the vegetation and water of the streams, the Torre de las Damas del Partal, the Torre del Qadí, and the Torre de la Cautiva can been seen, more imposing and more majestic than ever. Before getting to the half-way point of the path, we find the Puerta de Hierro, which provides access to a stable complex and to the Puerta del Arrabal, below the Torre de los Picos. In Nasrid times, it was the original exit from the Palaces if you wanted to go to the Generalife. At almost
the same height, but on the left hand side of the hill, as you go up, there is an Nasrid alley that’s closed by a gate that leads to the Palacio del Generalife, crossing through the gardens. This walkway is very well conserved.
The hill continues on following the wall, beside a stream which is excess irrigation water run off flowing down from the palace complex, until passing under the aqueduct at the entrance to the Acequia Real a la Alhambra and letting out near the Torre de los Siete Suelos, which was the common way of accessing the medina from the Alhambra, and from where the Christian troops entered after the surrender of the city, led by Queen Isabella.