Motril (Granada), Spain

This city of the Mediterranean coast is the second largest on the so-called Costa Tropical. But for us it is the port from which to ascend the slopes of the snow-capped Sierra Nevada to the ethereal Moorish city of Granada and the astounding complex of the Alhambra, the most beautiful display of Islamic architecture in Europe. Dramatically sited overlooking the city, the walled series of halls, courts, gardens and colonnades drip with airy carving and elaborate decorative reliefs that embody the term Arabesque. The sprawling Generalife Gardens adjoining the fortress are a memorable site unto themselves. Elsewhere in Granada, the Capilla Real is a purely Spanish Gothic building, holding the marble tombs of the Reyes Catolicos Ferdinand and Isabella behind a gilded wrought-iron screen.