Granada, Spain

Granada in Andalusia, Spain, is a captivating time capsule of the transition from the late Middle Ages to the early Renaissance period. Two travel guides are required to show you all of the places to see in Granada. This first one covers the city’s historic core plus Albaicín, the old Muslim neighborhood. The second guide is an introduction to the world famous Alhambra. Both Albaicín and Alhambra are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

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1 Granada Cathedral, Epicenter of Granada, Spain

1492 was a monumental year in Spanish history. While the Catholic Monarchs financed Columbus’ discovery of the New World, they also conquered Granada. This final defeat of the Nasrid Kingdom in the Iberian Peninsula ended the 700 plus years of the Spanish Reconquista. Granada remains a visual testament to the historical events from the mid-13th century though the 16th century. One of the most significant is the Cathedral of Granada, built on the foundation of a grand mosque. This epicenter of Granada is a great place to begin your tour of the city.

Granada Cathedral, Plaza de las Pasiegas, 18001 Granada, Spain

2 Main Façade of Granada Cathedral in Granada, Spain

Construction of the Cathedral of Granada began in 1523. It was not finished for over 180 years. The Catholic church was initially given a Gothic design by Enrique Egas. Five years later, on the orders of Charles V (the Holy Roman Emperor and Spanish king), Egas was replaced by Diego de Siloé. This famous architect and founder of the Granadan school of sculpture spent 35 years giving Catedral de Granada a Spanish Renaissance style. In 1667, Alonso Cano was tasked with building this main façade. He added Baroque features. The project was completed in 1704. Each of the cathedral’s entrances has a name: Ecce Homo, San Jerónimo and El Perdón. Above them are intricate reliefs sculpted by Diego de Siloé.

Granada Cathedral, Plaza de las Pasiegas, 18001 Granada, Spain

3 Bell Tower of Granada Cathedral in Granada, Spain

The initial plans for the Granada Cathedral specified two, 265 foot bell towers. These would have been incredible accents to the fourth largest cathedral in the world. Unfortunately, only one belfry was finished at the north end. Although handsome in appearance, it is considerable smaller than the pair intended by the first architect, Enrique Egas. Each of the three tiers has a different type of capital on the columns or pilasters: Doric, Ionic and Corinthian.

Granada Cathedral, Plaza de las Pasiegas, 18001 Granada, Spain

4 Archangel Statue atop Granada Cathedral in Granada, Spain

On the right side of Granada Cathedral is a spire. On top is a sculpture of an archangel holding a sword and an olive or palm branch. Some resources suggest this is Michael while others say it is Uriel. The imagery seems to connote the conquests of the Moors followed by the initial (albeit short lived) offer of peace to live with religious freedom. This spire also marks the demarcation between the cathedral and the adjacent Church of the Sagrario. Iglesia del Sagrario was added to Plaza de Alonso Cano in 1704.

Granada Cathedral, Plaza de las Pasiegas, 18001 Granada, Spain

5 Royal Chapel of Granada in Granada, Spain

The second cousins Isabella and Ferdinand were teenagers when they wed in 1469. During their 35 year marriage, they unified Spain. Queen Isabella I wanted a marvelous church built in Granada to be her final resting place. In 1504 – a few months before she died – she hired the talented architect Enrique Egas to create an architectural masterpiece. The result is the Royal Chapel of Granada. The façade is a flamboyant blend of Islamic, Gothic and Mudéjar elements. The design style is named Isabelline in honor of the queen. Capilla Real de Granada was finished in 1521, five years after the death of Ferdinand II. The highlight inside are the marble mausoleums of the Catholic Monarchs.

Capilla Real de Granada, Calle Oficios, 18001 Granada, Spain

6 Museum of the Royal Chapel in Granada, Spain

If you are fascinated with 15th century Spanish history – one of the country’s most important eras – then you must visit the Museum of the Royal Chapel. The museum was established in 1913 inside the Sacristy of the Royal Chapel. The exhibits are captivating. Among the items displayed in Capilla Real y Museo are the personal effects of the Catholic Monarchs. These include their crowns, jewelry of gold and silver, furniture plus religious artwork collected by Queen Isabella I.

Calle Oficios, 1, 18001 Granada, Spain

7 Madrasah of Granada in Granada, Spain

Yusuf I was the Sultan of Granada from 1333 until 1354. Toward the end of his reign over the Nasrid Dynasty, he founded Madrasah of Granada. In Arabic, a madrasah is a religious school. This was a Muslim institution of higher learning until 1500 when it was converted into city hall. Casa del Cabildo housed local government for almost 250 years. Since 1976, Palacio de la Madraza has been owned by the University of Granada. Inside is the Royal Academy of Fine Arts

Calle Oficios, 14, 18001 Granada, Spain

8 Alcaicería Arab Market in Granada, Spain

While Muhammed V was the ruler of the Emirate of Granada in the late 14th century, an Arab market was established to supply him and other elite with the finest merchandise crafted from silk, gold and silver. Despite the evolution of the Alcaicería over the centuries, the old souk is still crammed with merchants eager to haggle for their wares. The bazaar bustles with activity. Mercado de Artesania (Craft Market) is a cultural shopping experience you will not want to miss.

Calle Alcaiceria, 1, 18001 Granada, Spain

9 Corral del Carbón in Granada, Spain

Admiring this horseshoe arch? The honeycomb design in the ceiling is exquisite. This is a form of Islamic architecture called a muqarnas vault. Beginning in 1332, this was an entrance to a place for traveling merchants to sleep and eat while selling their wares to commoners during their stay in Granada. The Muslim name was Alhóndiga Nueva. In the early 16th century, the Christian’s renamed it Corral del Carbón. Now walk inside. Sense the commotion that once surrounded the fountain in the courtyard. Look at the three levels of rooms. Imagine staying at this merchant hotel during the Middle Ages.

Calle Mariana Pineda, 10, 18009 Granada, Spain

10 Equestrian Statue on Granada City Hall in Granada, Spain

This bronze, equestrian sculpture was created by Ramiro Mejías to commemorate the 500th anniversary of Granada’s liberation from the Muslims in 1492. It adorns the rooftop of Granada City Hall (Ayuntamiento de Granada). Housed here is the mayor and the City Council of Granada. Where you are standing is Plaza del Carmen. This square was previously occupied by the old cloister of a Carmelite monastery. It was demolished in the mid-19th century. The convent also had a larger building called the new cloister. Sections of this were preserved when creating City Hall. If you need help planning your tour of Granada, walk through the door beneath this clock. Inside is a great tourist office. Their staff is eager to help you.

Plaza del Carmen, 18009 Granada, Spain

11 Old Café Granada at Puerta Real in Granada, Spain

Unless you are hungry, you would ignore this building housing a Burger King and Dunkin’ Donuts. Stop and look. This is the Old Café Granada. Café Suizo was a former haunt of the city’s intellectuals and artists. It was built in 1865 on the site of Alhóndiga Zaida, an Islamic marketplace. During the Muslim occupation, this intersection was a main gate into the city called Door of Bib-al-Rambla. It was designated the Royal Gate (Puerta Real) after King Philip IV walked through this portal in 1624. This event sparked centuries of neighborhood prosperity until it became a center of wealth during the 19th century. Puerta Real de España was the main esplanade.

Calle Puerta Real de España, 4, 18001 Granada, Spain

12 Bibataubín Palace in Granada, Spain

Ibn al-Aḥmar was the first ruler of the Emirate of Granada. During his reign (1232 to 1273), he commissioned Bibataubín Palace. This was the southern demarcation of the Islamic city protected by a wall and two watchtowers. In the early 16th century, the Catholic Monarchs had the castle strengthened and encircle by a moat. 250 years later, the citadel was in severe disrepair and worthless as a defense. In 1752, the former palace was converted into a military barracks. It served this role on and off again until 1932 when it became the headquarters for the Provincial Council. Since 2010, this historic edifice has been the office for the Consultative Council of Andalusa.

Plaza Bibataubin, 18009 Granada, Spain

13 Basilica of Our Lady of Sorrows in Granada, Spain

The Baroque façade of this basilica is the masterful work of Bernardo de Mora crafted from Sierra Elvira stone. In the center is the Crucifixion of Jesus created by Francisco Gómez Moreno. It portrays one of the seven anguishes of Our Lady of Sorrows. Construction of this Catholic church began in 1617 and was finished in 1671. Inside is a central nave, four chapels and a sculpted image of the Virgin of Sorrows on the altar beneath an ornate dome. The Spanish name for this patron saint of Granada is Virgen de las Angustias. The religious artwork is carried through the city on the last Sunday of September.

Carrera de la Virgen, 42, 18005 Granada, Spain

14 Fountains at Plaza del Humilladero in Granada, Spain

Plaza del Humilladero is a large, tree-lined square. It is defined by a lovely boulevard named Paseo del Salón (Walk of the Hall) and the bend in the Genil River. At the west end of the plaza is the Fountain of Four Lions. At the other extreme is this Fuente de las Granadas or Pomegranate Fountain. The pomegranate is the heraldic symbol of the city. In Spanish, the word Granada means pomegranate. The bronze fountain was created by Grenadian Ramiro Megías and erected in the park in 2007

Plaza del Humilladero, 18009 Granada, Spain

15 Genil River at Plaza del Humilladero in Granada, Spain

Have more time to explore the delightful public spaces of Granada? From the Pomegranate Fountain, walk west along the Genil River. Consider sampling the Mediterranean cuisine served on the terrace of a restaurant resembling a greenhouse. This is Las Titas Kiosk. On the right, you can cross the Bridge of the Sacred Heart (Puente del Sagrado Corazon). Better yet, keep going to enter Paseo de la Bomba. This boulevard has plenty of benches so you can admire the two acres of diverse species of trees and bushes at the Gardens of Genil.

Plaza del Humilladero, 18009 Granada, Spain

16 Royal Quarter of Santo Domingo in Granada, Spain

Muhammed II was the Nasrid ruler of the Emirate of Granada from 1273 until 1302. During his reign, he commissioned the Palace of Almanjarra (Huerta Grande de la Almanjarra). The royal estate remained in the Nasrid dynasty until 1492 when Aixa, the mother of Muhammad XII, was vacated and sent into exile after the Muslim capitulation to the Christians. It was then gifted to the Dominicans. They renamed it the Royal Quarter of Santo Domingo. It is free to walk among the gardens and tour the Royal Room’s central hall and side chambers decorated with a Nasrid motif. This splendid historical property was declared an Asset of Cultural Interest in 1919.

Plaza de los Campos, 6, 18009 Granada, Spain

17 Church of Santo Domingo Dome in Granada, Spain

This elevated view of the Church of Santo Domingo only begins to portray its magnificence. Iglesia de Santo Domingo de Granada has a blend of Gothic, Baroque and Renaissance styles. The design evolved during construction in the first half of the 16th century and again from 1690 until 1740. Beneath this ribbed dome is the Greater Chapel encircled by ten more chapels. In addition to the Catholic church, this enormous religious complex consists of the Convent of Santa Cruz la Real and the 18th century Shrine of Our Lady of the Crowned Rosary. The latter is also called the Dressing Room of the Virgin of the Rosary.

Plaza de Santo Domingo, 1, 18009 Granada, Spain

18 Church of Santo Domingo Entrance in Granada, Spain

The three-arched loggia at the entrance of the Church of Santo Domingo portrays its origin. The F and I reliefs are the initials of Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella I of Castile. The Catholic Monarchs gifted this property to the Order of the Preachers (Dominicans) in 1492. Their coat of arms is above the doorway. The three-dimensional painting (trompe l’oeil) by Manuel Maldonado dates from 1915. In the upper center is the Virgin of the Rosary. She is the patron saint of the Order of the Preachers and the city of Granada. On either side are the standing images of Saint Thomas Aquinas (right) and Santo Domingo de Guzmán (founder of the Dominicans).

Plaza de Santo Domingo, 1, 18009 Granada, Spain

19 Convent of Santa Cruz La Real in Granada, Spain

In the shadows of the Church of Santo Domingo is the Convent of Santa Cruz La Real. Prior to the start of the 16th century, this property was two gardens named Almanjarra Mayor and Almanjarra Menor. In 1492, Queen Isabella I degreed the orchards be converted into a Dominican monastery. The cloister was not finished until 1624. Standing in this 98 foot courtyard lets you appreciate the two-story arcades. Convento de Santa Cruz la Real was confiscated in 1835, along with other monasteries in Spain. Most of the structure was then demolished and not restructured until the mid-20th century. After the Dominicans reclaimed the building in 1966, they founded Colegio Mayor, a high school for boys.

Plaza de Santo Domingo, 1, 18009 Granada, Spain

20 High Court of Justice of Andalusia in Granada, Spain

From 1505 until 1834, the Royal Chancery of Granada was the highest court for the Kingdom of Granada. Much of this courthouse was constructed during the 16th century. The clock also dates to the mid-1500s. After Andalusia was constituted as an autonomous government, this became the Tribunal Superior de Justicia de Andalucia in 1989. The High Court of Justice of Andalusia has final jurisdiction over all court decisions in Andalusia. It is only subject to the powers of the Supreme Court of Spain.

Plaza Nueva, 10, 18009 Granada, Spain

21 Church of San Gil and Santa Ana, in Granada, Spain

The early 16th century Church of San Gil and Santa Ana is a superb example of Mudéjar architecture, especially the bell tower. Notice the blue and white, decorative alfiz (rectangular panel) above each of the four-stage arches. The pinnacle is crowned with glazed tiles. This tower was previously the minaret of the Mosque of Almanzra. The brick replacement by Juan Castellar was finished in 1563. Iglesia de San Gil y Santa Ana is a Roman Catholic church.

Plaza de Santa Ana 1, Granada 18009

22 Portal of Church of San Gil and Santa Ana in Granada, Spain

The Renaissance façade of the Church of San Gil and Santa Ana deserves a closer look. This marvelous portal facing Plaza Nueva was designed by Sebastián de Alcántara. The entrance is flanked with fluted columns with Corinthian capitals. On top is a medallion of the Virgin with Child. Within the niches are statues of Santa Ana (center) plus María de Santiago and María de Salomé. On either side are busts of angels. All of these were crafted by Diego de Aranda. Inside are more works by this master from the Granadan school of sculpture.

Plaza de Santa Ana 1, Granada 18009

23 Sweets at Convent of Santa Catalina in Granada, Spain

Granada has an abundance of churches and monasteries founded in the 16th century. Why visit another one? How about something for your sweet tooth? The cloistered Dominican nuns at the Convent of Santa Catalina are master bakers. They sell butter cakes, almond cookies, roscos de vino (sugar donuts with brandy), marzipan confections (think sugar pastry with pumpkin filling) and more tempting treats. This is also called the Zafra Convent because the benefactor was the widow of Hernando de Zafra. He was the secretary for Queen Isabella I and King Ferdinand II. Hernando de Zafra is best noted for signing the Alfacar Capitulations in December of 1491. This Muslim concession was a major step towards the Reconquista (liberation) of Granada a couple of weeks later.

Carrera del Darro, 39, 18010 Granada, Spain

24 Church of St. Peter and St. Paul in Granada, Spain

The Church of St. Peter and St. Paul was the last Catholic church built in the 16th century. The blend of Mudéjar and Renaissance styles was drafted by Juan de Maeda. He was a prolific designer of churches in Granada during the mid-1500s. He was also the master architect for the Cathedral of Seville. The façade of Iglesia de San Pedro y San Pablo was sculpted by Pedro de Orea and finished in 1589. In the niches are statues of St. Peter and St. Paul. The relief above them portrays Simon Peter’s keys of heaven.

San Pablo, Carrera del Darro, 18010 Granada, Spain

25 House of Castril in Granada, Spain

The grandson of Hernando de Zafra, the former royal secretary for Catholic Monarchs, commissioned architect Sebastián de Alcántara to design an elaborate mansion. When Casa de Castril was finished in 1539, it displayed one of the most ornate facades in Granada. The style of this incredible ornamentation is called plateresque (plateresco in Spanish). This means intricate, silversmith-like details. In the semi-arch embraced by two lion regardants is a Phoenix rising from the ashes. This is now the Archaeological Museum of Granada. The exhibits include artifacts from the Stone and Bronze Ages through the start of the Middle Ages.

Carrera del Darro, 41, 18010 Granada, Spain

26 House of the Chirimías in Granada, Spain

This 82 foot, three-tier brick tower is Casa de las Chirimías. The House of the Chirimías was commissioned by the city at the start of the 17th century for musical performances during festivals. The Baroque structure is named after a type of oboe (woodwind instrument) called chirimía in Spanish. The adjacent Bridge of Las Chirimías spans the Darro River. This landmark is part of Paseo de los Tristes. The lovely promenade provides excellent views of Alhambra on the other side of the river valley.

Carrera del Darro, 16, 18010 Granada, Spain

27 Church of Saints Justo and Pastor Entrance in Granada, Spain

In 1544, the Jesuits founded the College of St. Paul of the Society of Jesus. Work on this adjacent church began in 1575 and was completed in 1621. The Jesuits were expelled from Spain in 1767 by order of Charles III. By 1799, this became the parish Church of Saints Justo and Pastor. Both saints were children when they were executed by Roman Emperor Diocletian (reign 284 to 305) during his persecution of Christians. The equestrian relief in the center represents the conversion of Saint Paul. Set into the broken pediment is a statue of Saint Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits. Flanking the doorway are marble carvings of San Francisco de Borja and San Francisco Javier.

Plaza de la Universidad,18001 Granada, Spain

28 Church of Saints Justo and Pastor Dome in Granada, Spain

Did you enjoy examining the entrance of the Church of Saints Justo and Pastor? Then step back into University Square. Now you can admire the Baroque bell tower and the hemispherical dome crafted from Alfacar stone. The dome is accented with sixteen ribs and topped with a cupola. Inside the church, this dome creates a stunning crown over the 17th century altarpiece created by Francisco Días Ribero.

Plaza de la Universidad,18001 Granada, Spain

29 Former Palace of Ansoti in Granada, Spain

From the 16th until the 18th centuries, wealthy merchants and their descendants from Genoa, Italy, lived in elaborate mansions along San Jerónimo. One of the best examples is the Palace of Ansoti. The estate dates from the 17th century. The Baroque building now houses the Notarial College of Andalusia (Ilustre Colegio Notarial).

Calle San Jerónimo, 50, 18001 Granada, Spain

30 Church of Perpetual Help Façade in Granada, Spain

The Oratory of Saint Philip Neri is a society of Catholic priests founded in Rome in 1575. In 1671, a congregation was formed in Granada. They contracted architect Melchor de Aguirre to design this church dedicated to the Virgen de los Dolores (Our Lady of Sorrows). It was finished in 1699. In 1835, Juan Álvarez Mendizábal, the Prime Minister of Spain, ousted the Oratorians (as well as several other religious orders). He seized the church’s assets and sold them at auction to pay the government’s debts. The structure was abandoned and badly deteriorated until acquired by the Redemptorists in 1913. These Catholic missionaries are devoted to Our Lady of Perpetual Help.

Calle San Jerónimo, 35 A, 18001 Granada, Spain

31 Church of Perpetual Help Altar in Granada, Spain

Step inside the central nave of the Church of Our Lady of Perpetual Help and you will marvel at the abundance of carved white marble. Beneath the commanding dome is this sanctuary. The altarpiece was created from red pine by Francisco Romero. Above the Crucified Christ is a framed portrait of Santa María del Perpetuo Socorro (Our Lady of Perpetual Help).

Calle San Jerónimo, 35 A, 18001 Granada, Spain

32 San Juan de Dios Hospital in Granada, Spain

Juan Ciudad was born in Portugal in 1495. At the age of 40, he was considered insane and committed to the Royal Hospital of Granada. He was horrified by the atrocious treatment the asylum patients received. After being released in 1538, he vowed to create an alternative medical facility characterized by competent and compassionate care for everyone. It was named the Hospital of John. In 1630, Juan Ciudad was canonized as Saint John of God. He is a patron saint of the sick, hospitals and the Granada. This then became the San Juan de Dios Hospital.

Calle San Juan de Dios, 11, 18001 Granada, Spain

33 Basilica de San Juan de Dios in Granada, Spain

Attached to the old hospital founded by Juan Ciudad is a church named in his honor: Basilica de San Juan de Dios. The Catholic church was given a Baroque design by architect José de Bada and opened in 1757. This 164 foot dome is impressive, one of the best in the city. Notice the green crosses. They represent the Hospitaller Order of Saint John of God. But the exterior pales in comparison to the interior. Encircling the central nave, altar and side chapels is abundant gold and silver ornamentation plus paintings, reliefs and statues. It is incredible! Be sure to see the ornate sepulcher containing the remains of Saint John of God.

Calle San Juan de Dios, 15, 18001 Granada, Spain

Elevated View of Albaicín District in Granada, Spain

The labyrinth of narrow streets and historic edifices in the Albaicín District richly deserves its UNESCO World Heritage Site designation. The neighborhood was founded by Berbers of the Zirid Dynasty in 1013. Despite its walled-in defenses, it fell to the Almoravids in 1090 and the Almohad Caliphate in 1166. This became a Muslim neighborhood when the Nasrid Dynasty seized control in 1238. The area grew in prosperity for over 250 years until the Catholic Monarchs won Granada. Initially, they allowed the Muslims to continue living here. Then they began converting mosques into churches while expelling the Arabs. Come explore this fascinating old Moorish quarter. El Albaicín is seen here from the Alhambra. On the left is the Church of El Salvador (1594). On the right is the Church of San Nicolás (1525).

34 Forced Conversion of Muslims in Albaicín District of Granada, Spain

After the Muslims were conquered in 1492, they were guaranteed religious freedom. Despite the Treaty of Granada, this tolerance was short lived. By 1499, Cardinal Cisneros began forcing conversion to Christianity. Those who refused were imprisoned or excelled. Within two years, all remaining Muslims were considered converted. The next atrocity was the destruction of mosques. They were replaced with churches. Among the first to be built was Iglesia de San Cristóbal in the Albaicín Quarter.

Plaza de San Cristóbal, 18010 Granada, Spain

35 Church of San Cristóbal in Albaicín District of Granada, Spain

During the Muslim occupation of Granada, Aljama al-Xarea mosque was perched high on a hill overlooking the city. At the start of the 16th century, it was torn down. Most of the mosque’s building materials plus tombstones were repurposed to construct the Church of San Cristóbal. It was considerably expanded by 1559. The goal of the bland façade and bell tower was to not further alienate the Muslims. The church is dedicated to Saint Christopher, a martyr from the mid-3rd century.

Plaza de San Cristóbal, 18010 Granada, Spain

36 Mirador de San Cristóbal Overlook in Albaicín District of Granada, Spain

Three Albayzín landmarks are visible from the Mirador de San Cristóbal overlook near the Church of San Cristóbal. In the center is Palacio de Dar al-Horra. During the 15th century, this palace was the residence of Aixa (mother of Granada’s last king) and then Hernando de Zafra (royal secretary of the Catholic Monarchs). Then it became the Monastery of Santa Isabel la Real. The convent’s bell tower is in the middle. The white belfry is the Church of San Miguel Bajo (built in the 16th century). From this viewing platform, you can also see the 11th century wall surrounding Albaicín plus the Palace of Charles V in the Alhambra.

Plaza Mirador de San Cristóbal, 18010 Granada, Spain

37 Outdoor Market at Plaza Larga in Albaicín District of Granada, Spain

Plaza Larga means Long Square. This is the place to go if you want to experience local life in the Albaicín Quarter. Every morning, people inspect and squeeze fruits and vegetables before carrying them home. Saturday morning is the busiest when stalls of flowers are everywhere. Sip a beverage or have a meal in one of the surrounding taverns or restaurants. Outdoor seating on the brick and cobblestone plaza is available in the summer. On the side streets are groceries, fish stores and bakeries.

Plaza Larga, 18010 Granada, Spain

38 Church of San Nicolás in Albaicín District of Granada, Spain

Iglesia de San Nicolás has dominated a summit of the Albaicín Quarter since 1525. This is a very popular destination for tourists. They do not come to visit the Church of San Nicolás. The attraction is a plaza out front named Mirador de San Nicolás. This overlook offers outstanding views of the Alhambra across the valley.

Calle Mirador de San Nicolás, 1, 18010 Granada, Spain

39 Cisterns in Albaicín District of Granada, Spain

During your exploration of Albaicín, you will notice several small brick buildings and standalone rounded arches. These are cisterns called Aljibes. The Muslims built an elaborate irrigation system to capture, store and distribute portable water throughout the Albaicín. The fountains also allowed the Muslims to wash before praying. 25 of these cisterns still exist. This is Aljibe de San Nicolás. The underground tank could hold over 16,000 gallons of water. As its name implies, it is adjacent to the Church of San Nicolás.

Calle San Nicolás, 9, 18010 Granada, Spain

40 Great Mosque of Granada in Albaicín District of Granada, Spain

Prior to 1492, there were over 30 mosques in the Albaicín Quarter. By the end of the 16th century, most had been destroyed or converted into churches. So imagine the excitement when the first Muslim place of worship was built in the neighborhood in over 500 years. The Great Mosque of Granada opened in 2003. Outside of the Mezquita Mayor de Granada are a lovely garden, fountain and viewing platform of the Darro river valley. The new mosque is next to San Nicolás Church.

Mezquita Mayor, Plaza de San Nicolás, 0, 18010 Granada, Spain

41 Church of the Savior History in Albaicín District of Granada, Spain

Beneath your feet is part of the land where the Muslims built the Great Mosque of Granada in the 13th century. Within a few years after the city was conquered in 1492, an aggressive campaign was launched to convert the Muslims to Christianity. This did not go well. The Muslims living in Albaicín revolted violently from 1499 until suppressed in 1501. In response, most of their prized mosque (Mezquita Mayor del Albaicín) was leveled and replaced with the Church of the Savior. Nearly a century later, Iglesia del Salvador was rebuilt based on the plans of Juan de Maeda.

Placeta de Abad, 2, 18010 Granada, Spain

42 Bell Tower of Church of the Savior in Albaicín District of Granada, Spain

When the Church of the Savior was rebuilt in 1594, it maintained elements of Mudéjar design as seen in this bell tower resembling as Islamic minaret. This Islamic style of architecture was intended to appease the Muslims who still lived in the neighborhood. In addition, part of the old mosque’s courtyard was preserved inside of Iglesia del Salvador. The open square is called Patio de los Naranjos (Court of the Orange Trees).

Placeta de Abad, 2, 18010 Granada, Spain

43 Aljibe del Rey in Albaicín District of Granada, Spain

The largest cistern in Albaicín is Aljibe del Rey. The Grand Well of Alcazaba was built during the 11th century. It had a capacity of over 79,250 gallons of water. What makes this equally exciting is the informative Water Interpretation Center managed by the AguaGranada Foundation. You will be amazed while walking through the ancient storage chambers and learning about the ingenious water supply and irrigation system engineered by the Muslims.

Placeta Cristo Azucenas, 2, 18010 Granada, Spain

44 Gate into Monastery of Santa Isabel la Real in Albaicín District of Granada, Spain

After the Reconquista of Granada in 1492, Queen Isabella I confiscated a mosque and the adjacent Palace of Dar al-Horra. In 1501, she founded the Monastery of Santa Isabel la Real for the Poor Clares. This is a Catholic order co-founded by Saints Clare and Francis of Assisi. In 1504, the queen commissioned her favorite royal architect Enrique Egas to design a convent and chapel for the nuns on the seized property. The church was finished in 1592. You are standing at the front gate. You will not see any of the cloistered sisters during your visit. But do not leave without tasting their mouth-watering pastries.

Calle Sta. Isabel la Real, 15, 18010 Granada, Spain

45 Reliefs on Monastery of Santa Isabel la Real in Albaicín District of Granada, Spain

Most religious facades in Granada have meaning. The door of the Monastery of Santa Isabel la Real is no exception. The eagle in the center is the coat of arms of the Catholic Monarchs. The yoke on the left represents Queen Isabella I of Castile. The crossed arrows indicate Ferdinand II of Aragon. The knotted cord symbolizes the Franciscan vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. The Poor Clares tie a fourth knot showing their dedication to secluded prayer.

Calle Sta. Isabel la Real, 15, 18010 Granada, Spain

46 Mirador de la Lona Overlook in Albaicín District of Granada, Spain

Another marvelous viewing platform in Albaicín is Mirador de la Lona. The overlook reveals eastern Granada. Four major landmarks are visible. On the left is the dome and bell tower of the Church of Saints Justo and Pastor (Parroquia de Santos Justo y Pastor). In the center is the Church of Our Lady of Perpetual Help (Iglesia del Perpetuo Socorro) and behind it the Royal Monastery of St. Jerome (Real Monasterio de San Jerónimo). The dome on the far right is the crown of Basilica of San Juan de Dios.

Mirador de la Lona, Carril de la Lona, 23, 18010 Granada, Spain

47 Royal Hospital of Granada in Albaicín District of Granada, Spain

The Catholic Monarchs founded the Royal Hospital of Granada in 1504. After the medical facility opened in 1525, it initially served the poor, people with syphilis and wounded soldiers. Later it treated insane patients. The impressive Baroque entrance was added in 1632. The ensemble was crafted from Elvira stone by Alonso of Mena. Flanking the statue of the Virgin Mary in the middle are sculptures of the benefactors, King Ferdinand II of Aragon (left) and Queen Isabella I of Castile (right). Since 1979, Hospital Real has been part of the University of Granada.

Av. del Hospicio, 1, 18012 Granada, Spain