Visit Granada and the Alhambra
The last Andalusian city conquered by the Catholic Kings, the numerous religious buildings they built did not prevent Granada from keeping in memory the prestigious heritage and Muslim soul inherited from Al Andalus, of which it was the last capital.
Granada, situated at the foot of Sierra Nevada and at the confluence of three rivers, is the city where Muslims have stayed for the longest time in Spain and this is reflected in its urban planning, craftsmanship and gastronomy.
The Alhambra of Granada is one of the most visited monuments in Europe, in the historical centre divided into four old districts. It is a cultural and tourist place of Andalusia. Albayzín, the ancient Muslim quarter is like the Alhambra, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Realejo-San Matias, of Jewish origin, the Sacromonte, rather gypsy and the Christian Centro Sagrario complete this ancient multicultural coexistence.
Well connected to the Spanish cities, Granada is 30 km from the ski slopes of Sierra Nevada and 70 km from the Mediterranean coast.
Its geographical location on a plateau bordered by Sierra Nevada gives it a special climate with significant temperature variations. Although it is less hot in summer in Granada than elsewhere in Andalusia, it is colder in winter.
Splendid Muslim presence in Spain, the palatial complex of the Alhambra of Granada is one of the major monuments of Islamic architecture.
Standing on the reddish hill from which it takes its name, the Alhambra,’ La Rouge’, is made up of four parts: the Alcazaba, the Nasrid Palaces, the Generalife with its gardens and Charles V’s Palace.
It is in 1238 with the arrival of the Nasrids that the Alhambra will undergo its first modifications when, judged more certain than the old quarter of the Albaicin, Mohammed” El Hamra” Ben Nazar, said Mohammed the Red, founder of the Nasrid-Dynasty, decided to reside there.
Fortified, the Alhambra will be at its architectural peak between 1333 and 1354 with Youssouf Ier who built the Palace of Comares then Mohammed V” Al-Ghani” that will be at the origin of the Patio de los Leónes and the buildings that surround it.
At the Reconquista, Charles V destroyed part of it to build his own palace and a church. From fires in looting and deterioration, fallen into oblivion, restorations were not started until the 19th century.
The Alcazaba. Built in the 9th century, on the Sabika hill facing the picturesque popular district of Albaicin, the Alcazaba is the original fortress of this vast palatial complex. In the distance you can see the snowy peaks of Sierra Nevada and the’ vega granadina’, the immense plain of Granada.
A fortified stronghold, the citadel was equipped with a barracks town housing the soldiers, some of whose remains are still visible. Old hammams dating from this period are being renovated. Next door are the gardens of the Adarves with their many fountains surrounded by cypress trees.
The Nasrid Palace
The Palace is divided into three parts linked by vestibules. The Méchouar or Mexuar by which one enters the enclosure was a place of public hearings. It was transformed into a chapel in the early 17th century.
Jewels of the Alhambra: The Patio de los Arrayanes, the Court of Myrtles or Ambassador’s Lounge, is located at the foot of the Torre de Comares, the highest tower of the Alhambra with 45 m high and the Patio de los Leones, the Court of Lions which was reserved for family life.
While the exterior decoration is sober, the interior presents the components of Islamic art: calligraphy, stylised floral decoration and arabesques with geometric motifs.
The Patio of Paradise is surrounded by 124 richly decorated white marble columns, in the middle the murmur of the Lions Fountain, an alabaster basin supported by twelve white marble statues representing twelve lions symbolizing power and courage.
The Gardens of Partal that one crosses to reach the Generalife were once occupied by the accommodations of the soldiers and servants of the Palace. One will notice the beautiful colonnades of the portico of the “Torre de las Damas”, the Ladies’ Tower.
Jannat al Arif in Arabic, which could be translated as the architect’s paradise, was the summer residence of the Nasrid princes.
Of this complex made of gardens with multiple fountains dating from the 13th century, the Patio de la Acequia with its central canal bordered by flowerbeds and its water jets is the best known and most accomplished of the domestication of water and its artistic use at that time.
The Palace of Charles V
Backed by the Palais Nasrides, it is the celebration of the victory of the Catholic Kings over Muslims. Of Renaissance style, it is equipped with one of the most beautiful Spanish patios realized by Pedro Machuca, a disciple of Michelangelo and shelters nowadays two museums.
The most visited monument in Spain, it is preferable to book beforehand by Internet. A bookstore with ticket kiosks is open near the Plaza Nueva, in front of the Cuesta de Gomérez, which must be used to access the Puerta de la Justicia: Tienda Librería de la Alhambra. Calle Reyes Católicos, 40.
Please note that it is possible to download additional information on the Alhambra and Generalife via Bluetooth. a small part of this vast architectural complex can be visited free of charge without a ticket by entering it through the Puerta de Carros or the Puerta de la Justicia.
Access: Calle Real de la Alhambra. C3 and C4 buses
Timetables: Every day from 8:30 am to 6 pm from October 15 to March 14 and until 8 pm the rest of the year.
Night visits: in winter from 8 pm to 9:30 pm on Fridays and Saturdays, from 10 pm to 11:30 pm from Tuesday to Saturday during the summer.
Prices: 14 €, 10 € for pensioners, +65 years old and members of the European Union. Free for children under 11. Visit of the gardens only: 7 €. Visit of the nasrid palate at night: 8 €.
The entrance ticket is valid for the morning, for the afternoon or evening, the entrance time is mentioned above.
Opening hours, 1/2 hour before opening. Closed on 25th December and 1st January.
Cathedral of Granada
Built on the site of an ancient mosque, the construction works for the Cathedral of Santa María de la Incarnación planned by the Catholic Kings began in 1523 under Charles V’s reign and ended under Philip V in 1704. The cathedral, dedicated to the mystery of the Incarnation, has been classified as a National Monument since 1929.
Located in the heart of the city’s historic centre, between the Gran Via de Colón and Calle Reyes Católicos, the Cathedral, while integrating Gothic elements, plan and vault, and baroque facade, is one of the jewels of Spanish Renaissance architecture.
A work of Diego de Siloé, the Renaissance-style Puerta del Colegio is the oldest of its facades, while the main façade of 1667 is by Alonso Cano.
Inside, five naves separated by four rows of pillars decorated with bundles of pilasters and fluted columns with corinthian capitals.
The main chapel,’ capilla mayor’, all in white and gold, is topped by an impressive semi-circular dome 45 metres high and decorated with splendid stained glass windows. The central tabernacle, made of silver, rests on a green marble base while two imposing organ buffets line the central nave.
Access: Gran Vía de Colón.
Opening hours: Monday to Saturday from 10:45 am to 1:30 pm, then from 4 pm to 7 pm, until 8 pm in the summer. Sundays and religious holidays from 4 pm to 7 pm, until 8 pm in the summer.
Admission combined cathedral, museum and sacristy: 4 €, free for children under 10 years old.
Backed by Cathedral, the royal chapel (baroque XVI and XVII centuries) was built at the request of the Catholic Kings in 1505 after the reconquest of Granada.
Both deceased before its completion, their bodies were first deposited in the Convent of St. Francis de l’ Alhambra and then buried in the chapel in 1521 on the orders of Charles V. They were then buried in the chapel.
The tombs of Ferdinand d’ Aragon and Isabelle de Castille, the work of Doménico Fancelli, while those made later for Jeanne and Philippe le Beau de Castille were made by Bartolomé Ordòñez.
The other remains of the royal family buried in the Chapel were then transferred to the Panthéon de l’ Escurial in Madrid by Philip II.
Near the tombs located in the center of the chapel you can admire the crown, the scepter and missal of Isabelle as well as the sword of Ferdinand and a 16th century altarpiece representing 26 scenes of the life of Christ and the martyrdom of John the Baptist.
Access: Calle Oficios, 3.
Opening hours: open Monday to Saturday from 10:15 am to 1:30 pm and then from 4 to 7:30 pm, 3:30 pm to 6:30 pm in winter. Sundays and holidays from 11 am to 1:30 pm and then from 4 pm to 7 pm, 3:30 pm to 6:30 pm in winter.
Albaicín district interpretation centre
Located in the Casa de Zafra, a fourteenth-century Hispano-Muslim house with Nasrid murals and a splendid view of the Alhambra.
The aim of this cultural area is to make visitors better acquainted with this historic old quarter, which is classified as a World Heritage Site.
Palaces,’ carmenes’, emblematic Christian bourgeois houses of the Albaicín, monasteries and old walls are to be discovered along the shelves and other technological tools widely used in these places.
Three cultural itineraries are also proposed to help you in your research and discoveries.
Access: Portería de la Concepción, 8. Casa de Zafra.
Schedules: April 1 to September 15 from 9:30 am to 2:30 pm – 5 pm to 9 pm. September 15 to March 31 from 10 am to 5 pm. Open every day, free admission.
VISIT OF THE ALHAMBRA AND ALBAICIN
GUIDED TOURS OF THE ALHAMBRA
Huerta de San Vicente
Casa Museo de Federico García Lorca
The garden of San Vicente was the summer residence of the García Lorca family between 1926 and 1936, located to the south-east of the historical centre of Granada.
It was there that Federico García Lorca wrote some of his main works before his assassination by the Francoists at the beginning of the Spanish Civil War.
Opened to the public in 1995 as a Maison-museum, this space is now a cultural centre with some objects and drawings that belonged to the poet while waiting for a García Lorca museum to open behind the cathedral.
Access: Parque Federico García Lorca. Calle Virgen Blanca.
Schedules: September 16 to May 31:9:30 am to 5 pm. During the Christmas holidays, December 22nd – January 6th and during Holy Week from 9 am to 3 pm. Summer hours: June 1st – September 15th from 9 am to 3 pm. Closed Mondays and May 1st.
Admission: 3€, reduced price: 1€, free on Wednesdays.
ACTIVITIES IN GRANADA
Granada – From 50 €
Granada – From 60 €
Granada – From 60 €
Granada – From 72 €
Granada – From 78 €
Granada – From 81 €