Michelle Obama visits Granada with youngest daughter

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US First Lady Michelle Obama and her nine-year-old daughter Sasha on Thursday visited Granada, the former seat of Moorish rule in Spain, during the second day of her holiday in the country.

The two had ice cream in the centre of the southern city as dozens of cameramen and local residents looked on before they began their tour of Granada amid temperatures that soared to nearly 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit).

Michelle Obama smiled and waved to the crowd before entering the city's imposing cathedral, which contains the tombs of Spain's king Ferdinand of Aragon and queen Isabella of Castile, the first stop on their tour.

Their visit will also take in the hilltop Albaicin quarter of narrow alleyways and small squares as well the Alhambra fortress-palace, Spain's most-visited tourist attraction, at sunset, the local municipality said.

They are also expected to take in a flamenco performance in one of the city's old taverns.

The Alhambra was once the residence of Moorish kings but it is now one of the world's largest open-air museums of Islamic architecture and a World Heritage Site.

The US First Lady and Sasha arrived on Spain's Mediterranean coast on Wednesday for a vacation with friends at the five-star Hotel Villa Padierna in the hills above the seaside resort of Marbella, a haunt for the rich and famous.

The White House has described the four-day visit as "a private, mother-daughter trip with longtime family friends".

Michelle Obama, 46, was however scheduled to meet Spain's King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia on Sunday at their summer palace on the Balearic island of Majorca, a short flight from Marbella, before she returns to the United States.

President Barack Obama, who celebrated his 49th birthday on Wednesday, stayed behind in the United States as did the couple's elder daughter, 12-year-old Malia, who is attending a summer camp.

Michelle Obama was cheered and applauded by several hundred onlookers on Wednesday night as she strolled through the historic centre of Marbella before having dinner at one of the city's most exclusive restaurants.

She bought two white dresses, one for herself and another for Sasha, for a total of about 80 euros (105 dollars) during her visit to the centre of Marbella, Spanish public television TVE reported.

© 2010 AFP

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