Since living in Andalusia since 2006 I have been to many Flamenco festivals. Over the years I have seen performances in varied locations around Southern Spain. Some thrilled others have disappointed. One March evening I went to the Templo del Flamenco in Granada.
My expectations weren´t high. The most well known area to see Flamenco in Granada is the Sacromonte quarter. A windy road lined with caves opposite the Alhambra. The Camino de Sacromonte is known for the generations of families running the tablaos for decades. Their businesses often span several generations of the same family.
The Templo del Flamenco, well I hadn´t heard of this place. It´s is situated a short walk from Puerta Elvira. Close to the Jardines del Triunfo or Gran Via. This was the lower part of the Albaicin, certainly not typical a Flamenco district at all.
Templo del Flamenco
To reach it I climbed some unlevel cobbled steps. At the top of the steps, just to the left, was the Templo del Flamenco. From outside it didn’t look much. A small wooden door and a little sign were the only indications that we were in the right place. Once we walked inside I was not disappointed. This building used to be an old chapel many years ago. In fact it was easy to imagine it being set up for religious services all those centuries before. It also reveals why its called The Temple of Flamenco, due the buildings religious past.
As we walked inside the coolness of the natural cave enveloped us. A large entrance hall lead into the bar area. The host for the evening greeted us. He took us through the main part of the cave towards the stage. Here our tables were set for dinner. The stage is tastefully lit and all set, ready for the performance.
At first glance the Templo del Flamenco looked like a typical gypsy cave. Red polka dot curtains hanging and copper bowls lining the walls. Although on a closer look, I began to notice that decoration was carefully curated in a tradition style but with modern details too.
Dinner + Flamenco in Granada
Not long after the opening dance the food arrived to our tables. The portions were more than generous. When I saw my starter, I realized that just that dish would be enough for my dinner! All the food was delicious, much better than I´d expected. One of the specials that night was a shellfish soup that everyone raved about. I made an effort to finish my three courses.
In Flamenco tablaos offering food the focus is usually on the show rather than the food. Quality can be mediocre or substandard. Here I didn’t have that problem. My attention was divided between good food, wine and the breath taking flamenco just a few meters from me. Also vegetarian guests can be catered for when requested in advance.
Purists would argue that eating while flamenco is being performed isn´t really the best way to enjoy this artform. However you may have little time in Granada when you travel to Andalusia. So enjoying dinner while seeing the show maybe the only way to add it into your travel plan.
One of the highlights of the performance that night was a solo piece sung by a young singer, just 16 years old. He sang a tribute to the recently deceased Paco de Lucia. A Spanish guitarist known worldwide. Silence fell in the room and the music was quite moving.
This kind of spontaneity is what makes an evening of Flamenco so special. Improvisation is an important part of this dance too. Recognised in 2010 as UNESCO’s list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity this long-standing tradition in Andalusia creates a unique atmosphere.
The piece was a composition by Pepe de Lucia, the brother of Paco de Lucia. If I remember well, the song was Al Alba. I have to say that this show was authentic flamenco. Not the standard dances set up for tourist groups which I have seen in some places.
As the show continued we saw all four dancers in different styles of songs, a few upbeat ones we added too. There were even costume changes. Some of the moves are pure improvisation. Moves created by the artist as they react to the music there and then. Sharing with the audience a performance with soul. The Spanish call this Duende. Not just mechanical dance moves practiced and repeated over and over. The moves were vibrant and full of sentiment.
Flamenco Show Review
Later on, after the show, I managed to speak to the owner Antonio Vallejo. I found out that the Templo del Flamencohad been running for 2 years. They had taken a lot of care in the building work and furnishing to set the place up. Antonio, is also the Creative director at La Chumbera in the Sacromonte. Another place with a great reputation in Flamenco circles.
I know that the shows there are authentic and good value for money too. So clearly I was in good hands. The Templo del Flamenco is a recommended stop for anyone wanting to see real Flamenco, whether you have seen it before or are proper Flamenco expert.
- Address: Calle Pernaleros Alto 41, Granada
- Please note that the nearest location to arrive in taxi is Puerta de Elvira.
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