Granada: Main Sights
A City in the Southern province of Andalucia
Locating the Alhambra isn’t hard. Perched atop a hill, this sprawling castle dominates the Granada Skyline. Dating from the 11th century, the Alhambra Granada is one of the most famous architectural treasures in the world and most visitors to Granada make a beeline for the Alhambra soon after arrival. Approaching the Alhambra, you’re greeted by an enormous, imposing fortress set to the breathtaking backdrop of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. Once inside, you’re in for an extraordinary architectural treat. The Alhambra was built over many centuries and consists of lush gardens, imposing fortifications and beautiful palaces. Highlights of the Alhambra include the intricately decorated emirs’ palace, the Palacio Nazaries, the General Life, and the Alhambra’s gardens. The Alhambra is Spain’s most visited monument with some 6000 people visiting every day. If you want to avoid the crowds, get there early in the morning or late in the afternoon. Night visits can be arranged for the Palacio Nazaries. Parts of the Alhambra are free to visit but if you want to see the real highlights of the Alhambra, you’ll need a ticket. Only a certain amount of tickets are released each day. To avoid having to queue at the gate for hours (and possibly missing out), it’s advisable to book for the Alhambra in advance – especially between April and October. For full details on how to buy tickets for the Alhambra in advance, see www.Alhambra-patronato.es.
Dating back to the 7th Century, the Albayzin is the old Islamic quarter of Granada and this fascinating hill top district is a must visit. Now a popular place for students to live, this is where Granada began and you’ll want your camera at the ready as you wander the picturesque streets of this history filled area. To reach the Albayzin, catch bus 31 or 32 from Plaza Nueva. Although the area is perfectly safe during the day, pickpockets do target the area and a watchful eye is advised - particularly if wandering the quieter streets of the Albayzin after dark.
The fascinating old gypsy (Gitano) area of Sacromonte is located on an extension of the same hill that the Albayzin is on. It’s most famous for its fascinating Gitano culture and old cave houses which are dug into the hill side. Some of these cave houses have been turned into flamenco venues. A few of the flamenco venues around Sacromonte are expensive tourist traps, so use discretion if wanting to check out a flamenco performance and shop around. Sacromonte is a great place to wander and you can get some fabulous views of the Alhambra and the city centre from up there. To be on the safe side, don’t hang around the uninhabited parts after dark.
Granada cathedral is an enormous gothic and renaissance structure and is a must see. Construction of the impressive Cathedral of Granada began in 1521 and the cathedral wasn’t completed until 1704. Several notable architects were involved in the building of the Granada’s Cathedral and they include Juan Gil de Hontañón, Enrique Egas, Diego de Siloe. Admission to Granada Cathedral is 3.50 Euros
Adjoining the cathedral is the Capilla Real. Dating back to 1505, The fabulous Royal Chapel was commissioned by the Catholic Monarchs for their burial site. Both Queen Isabel and King Fernando died prior to the Royal Chapel’s completion and they were temporarily buried in the Friary of San Francisco in the Alhambra. They were then later moved to the elaborate Chapel once it had been completed. Admission to the Capilla Real Granada is 3.50 Euros
Monasterio De San Jeronimo
Walk west of the Cathedral and you’ll come across the grand Monasterio De San Jeronimo. This was the first monastery to be founded following the reconquest of Granada by Ferdinand and Isabella. Badly damaged by Napoleon's troops, it's been painstakingly restored and it’s well worth a visit to marvel at its spectacularly decorated church. Be sure to take a wander around the Monasterio De San Jeronimo’s wonderful public cloister which surrounds an impressive orange grove. Admission to the Monasterio De San Jeronimo is 3 Euros.
La Cartuja is a monastery which should not be missed on your trip to Granada. Dating back to the early 1500s, La Cartuja (which took 300 years to build) is a spectacular example of baroque architecture. The interior of La Cartuja Granada is a fabulous sight and is a must visit when in Granada. Admission to La Cartuja is 3 euros.
Corral Del Carbon
Built in the 14th century, the Corral Del Carbon Granada was originally an Inn for Merchants. Over the centuries it was used for a number of purposes including an Inn for coal dealers and a theatre. Now a government building, the Corral Del Carbon is notable for its elaborate and intricate Islamic façade. It also houses a government run handicraft shop which is worth visiting.
Alcaiceria & Plaza Bid Rambla
the modern day Acaiceria is a 19th century restoration of a great bazaar where silk was made and sold. The Alcaiceria Granada is now the home of many tourist shops, but the narrow atmospheric alley ways still make for a pleasant stroll and it’s a great spot for taking photos. Close the Alcaiceria is the Plaza Bid-Rambla. In Moorish times, this square was the scene of festivals, jousts, bull fights and inquisition burnings. These days, this pleasant plaza with its impressive fountain is best known as a great place to relax in a café.
Carmen de Los Martires
The Carmen de los Mártires is a 19th century house to the right of the Alhambra palace. It’s a pleasant place to head for some piece and quiet and its gardens allow for interesting views of the Alhambra, the city, and the Sierra Nevada.
Tired and stressed after all that sightseeing? Head for Granada’s hamman. This atmospheric Arabian style bathhouse is a great place to unwind after a hard day on the tourist trail. Relax in a hot or cold pool or have a traditional massage as the gentle background music and the fragrant scent of oils sooth your senses. If you’re peckish, you can head up to the roof top restaurant.