24 best sights of Granada – descriptions and photos
The location of the sunburnt Sacromonte Abbey in Granada is not accidental. There is a legend that Saint Cecilio, the first bishop and patron of the city, was once killed by the Romans on this very spot. And this legend is supported by facts.
The enigmatic Red Alhambra Palace is a place where you can not just take original photographs, but also immerse yourself in several different cultures at the same time. “The Arabian Gardens have become a semblance of a true paradise” – the architecture of Islam here tells a real story as if from the fairy tale “A Thousand and One Nights”.
The Cathedral of Granada
The history of Granada is full of glorious pages: first it was dominated by the Moors, then the Spaniards came with the Reconquista, so life in the city and the local population is not quiet. But at the end of 15 century, having fallen once again to the new rulers, the Spaniards, the city got its own Cathedral.
The Mauritanian aristocrats knew how to live beautifully and didn’t deny themselves the comforts of home. Having built the majestic Alhambra fortress, they did not stop and erected a summer residence for themselves. A “summer house” for Moorish rulers turned out just right.
Once, in the romantic and cruel times of the Moors, the ancient district of the Albaycin was considered the main central quarter of the city. Much has changed since then, but its appearance, to the delight of tourists, has remained virtually unchanged.
Granada Archaeological Museum
The Archaeological Museum of Granada is one of the first in the country, it was opened in 1879 and for almost 30 years before that it was called the cabinet of antiquities, subordinate to the Granada Monuments Commission. The building was built in the 16th century and is noteworthy in itself with its beautiful staircases, porch and panoramic windows.
The Elvira Gate was in the past a fragment of the wall which surrounded the Granada district of the Albaycin and protected it from enemy invasion. Built in the 11th century during Moorish rule, it is considered to be well-preserved although it was rebuilt several times.
The Pomegranate Gate is the most famous historic gate of Granada and is the gate that leads to the Alhambra Palace, passing through a grove of poplar trees. Located on Cuesta de Gomérez, which has surrounded the palace since the 16th century, it is a structure very similar to the Arch of Triumph in Rome.
Charles V Palace
A departure from the “Alhambra Style”, this palace dates back to the 16th century when the Spanish King Charles V wished to have his own residence in Granada. The style for that century is modern, European.
The monastery of the Carthusians
The monastery of Carthusian is often described as too luxurious for a cloister. This Andalusian Baroque architectural ensemble began to be built in 1516 when the Spanish general of the Cartesian Order, Don Gonzalo Fernandez de Córdova, was attacked by a group of Moors and miraculously escaped.
Casa de los Tiros
Casa de los Tiros, which translates to “House of Shots” in Spanish, got its name from the cannons visible in its jagged walls. Today, this 16th-century building in the center of Granada houses a historical museum.
The Royal Chapel in Granada
The Royal Chapel, the tomb of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Castile, is next to the Cathedral of Granada. The city was conquered from the Moors last, where the Catholic kings celebrated their triumph, settling in the Muslim palace of the Alhambra.
Corral del Carbon
The Corral del Carbón is the only caravanserai preserved in Spain since Moorish rule. It was built during the Nasrid dynasty before 1336 (the exact date is unknown) and was then called Al-Funduk Al-Guidida.
The Monastery of St. Jerome
The Convent of St. Jerome was the first to be built in Granada by the Spanish after the conquest of the city from the Moors at the end of the 15th century. Most interestingly, the order to build it was given even before the victory. That’s how – impudently and with conviction – the Spaniards planned to begin the Christianization of the new lands.
Museum of Fine Arts of Granada
The Granada Museum of Fine Arts is the oldest art gallery not only in Andalusia, but in the whole country, it exists since 1839. Originally, the collection consisted of works of art confiscated from the monasteries.
Granada Science Park
The Granada Science Park is located in the southwestern part of the city and is considered the largest interactive park in Southern Europe. It was opened in 1995, and since then its area has quadrupled to 70,000 square meters.
San Vicente Manor
After such introductory words of the great Lorca, further information seems trivial and unnecessary. However, let us dryly clarify a couple of details for clarity. Federico Garcia came to the picturesque estate of San Vicente, which by our standards served his family as a mere dacha, every summer for 10 years.
Sacromonte is a vibrant and surprisingly distinctive gypsy neighborhood on the hill of the same name near Granada. This is where the steep streets of the old Albaycin district descend, this is where flamenco was born, and this is where the most beautiful Andalusians are said to have come out.
Spain means bullfighting, flamenco, jamón, sangria and, of course, the legendary tapas. (For those in the tank: tapas is an appetizer for wine or beer, a real art in Spanish. It’s easy to find a bar with good tapas, with noisy locals and wine flowing like a river).
Garcia Lorca Center
The García Lorca Center opened in Granada in 2015 in honor of the famous Spanish poet. Its main mission is to preserve the heritage and introduce it to the citizens and tourists. It is not a museum in the usual sense, but quite a modern hipster space.
The first thing that comes to mind when mentioning the city of Granada is, of course, the majestic red Alhambra fortress and no less majestic snow-capped peaks of the Sierra Nevada at its “back”. However, this Andalusian town, hot at noon and piercingly cool at night, has much more to offer, however unassuming at first glance
For example, the cathedral. It seems that no one has been surprised by such sights for a long time, but not in Granada. The local cathedral strikes the imagination, blows your mind, and takes your breath away. It is truly worth a visit. And also the mazes of the Moorish quarter of the Albaycin, the lost in the middle of the narrow streets sightseeing platforms, the noisy flamenco evenings in the Romany caves (yes, the real caves, today are equipped in a kind of club-cafes-bars, where the real, live flamenco dancing, not the show for tourists for 50 euros). Add to that the ubiquitous orange trees, ice-cold sangria, and the sparkling eyes of the Andalusians, and this begins an endless series of attractions of Granada, which is impossible to see at once.
Granada (Spain) – the most detailed information about the city with photos. The main sights of Granada with descriptions, travel guides and maps.
City of Granada (Spain)
Granada is a city in the south of Spain and the capital of the province of the same name. It is one of the oldest cities in the country, located in eastern Andalusia at the foot of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Granada is the former capital of the Moorish kingdom and one of the last Arabs’ strongholds on the Iberian Peninsula. Therefore, the legacy of the Moorish period can be found on almost every corner, and the city itself has a special oriental charm. Granada is the soul of Andalusia. A city that combines several cultures, with a rich historical heritage and something for everyone.
Things to do (Granada):
€163 per tour.
The Alhambra – Frozen Poetry
History and architectural features of an outstanding example of Moorish medieval architecture
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The Legends of the Moorish Quarter of the Albaycin
Geography and climate
Granada is located at the foot of the Sierra Nevada mountain system between two hills divided by the Darro River valley. The Sierra Nevada is one of the highest mountains of the Pyrenees and Europe. Some of the mountain peaks are more than 3 km high. There are ski slopes on the slopes. Granada is located 433 km from Madrid, 454 km from Cadiz, 128 km from Málaga and 251 km from Seville.
Panorama of Granada
The region offers a great variety of climates and landscapes: from the alpine vegetation of the Sierra Nevada to the tropical coast. Such natural contrasts may not be found anywhere else in the Iberian Peninsula. Granada’s climate is transitional between Mediterranean and cold semi-arid. Summers are dry and hot, while winters are cool. The average annual temperature is 14 degrees. The highest rainfall is recorded in November, March and April.
The Sierra Nevada Mountains of Granada
- The population is 232.8 thousand people.
- The area – 88 square kilometers.
- The language is Spanish. Although the local population can speak a dialect of Andalusian, which is difficult to understand even for the Spaniards. There is much more Arabic influence in this dialect. At the same time, speakers often interrupt the end of the word and immediately move on to the next.
- The currency is the euro.
- Visa – Schengen.
- The time is Central European UTC +1, in summer +2.
- The Tourist Information Center is located at: Plaza del Carmen, 9 (City Hall).
- Buses run from 7:00 to 24:00.
- Tips are usually included in the bill.
- Most stores (except large chain stores) are open from 10:00 to 13:30 (14:00) and 16:30 (17:00) to 20:30 (21:00). Stores are closed on Sundays and holidays.
- Restaurants and cafes usually serve dinner after 8 p.m.
The best time to visit
Granada can be visited all year round. But still the most comfortable time is spring and autumn. In summer, despite the heat of the day, the nights are often quite cool.
Granada is one of the oldest cities in Spain. There was already a Phoenician settlement here in the 5th century BC. After the arrival of the Romans on the Pyrenees, the city of Iliberra was founded here, which was conquered after the fall of the Roman Empire, first by the Vandals, later by the Byzantines, and then by the Visigoths.
In 711 Granada was conquered by the Moors. During this period the city was called in the Arab manner – Ilbira. The Arabs laid out a new city in 756, and the old one was called Calat Garnata. This name was later transformed into the modern name of Granada. After the fall of Cordoba, the city became one of the most prosperous in Andalusia.
In 1492 Granada became part of the Kingdom of Castile. Interestingly, until then the city remained the last Muslim stronghold on the Pyrenees. In 1531 a university was founded. After the conquest of Granada by the Christians, the old mosques were rebuilt into churches. The architectural appearance of the city was also changed and some of its historical heritage from the Moorish period was destroyed. Then the city did not experience significant changes until the mid-19th century. This was caused by natural disasters and economic decline. Granada’s further development was helped by the Industrial Revolution and industrialization, which halted after the Spanish Civil War and Franco’s accession to power.
The Alhambra is a UNESCO World Heritage Site
How to get there
Granada has a small airport located 12 km west of the city. Many more destinations are served by Malaga airport. Regular buses run from Seville, Malaga, Madrid and Cordoba. There are also trains to Madrid, Barcelona and Valencia twice a day. Málaga would be a convenient transfer point if there are no direct routes to Granada.
Panorama of the city
The main shopping area is Puerta Real Square and the neighboring streets. In the Alcaiceria area, south of the cathedral, you can buy souvenirs. Many souvenir stores are located on Cuesta de Gomerez on the way to the Alhambra.
The streets of Granada
The gastronomy of Granada is a mixture of traditional Andalusian, Spanish and Arabic cuisine. Oriental influences are noticeable in the use of spices. The main regional dishes are beans with ham, tortilla sacromonte, Andalusian gazpacho with garlic, and fried sardines (mostly on the coast).
Many places in Granada serve tapas for free with a drink. Eating here is fairly inexpensive. Almost every square or ancient street has cute outdoor restaurants and cafes with good food. Many inexpensive establishments can be found in the area of San Miguel Bajo Square.
If you want to try the local wine, ask for “un costa”. Another option is “tinto de verano” or summer wine. Granada brews an excellent beer – Cerveza Alhambra, which is found everywhere. It is definitely worth trying tea in the teahouses in the Moorish quarter of Albaycín.
In the evening in the streets of Granada’s historic center
In Granada, you can find sights that are amazing in their scope, history and architecture. And chief among them is the Alhambra.
The Alhambra is the jewel and the most famous attraction of Granada, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This majestic medieval complex stands on top of a hill against the backdrop of the snow-capped peaks of the Sierra Nevada. The Alhambra is the last Moorish fortress in Europe, which reflects the greatness of the Moorish civilization in Andalusia and offers the visitor a look at the magnificent ornate architecture, lush gardens, beautiful fountains and spectacular panoramas of the city.
The Alhambra was the palace, fortress and main residence of the Nasrid dynasty who ruled Granada for over two centuries. The construction of this huge complex dates back to the 13th-14th century.
Diagram of the Alhambra
The Alhambra is a vast architectural complex, which can be roughly divided into four groups of buildings. To fully appreciate the unique architecture and scale, it is advisable to first view the complex from afar.
The Alcazaba is the original Moorish fortress of the 13th century and the oldest structure in the Alhambra. The towers, parts of the walls, ramparts and fragments of the outbuildings are what remains of the fortress. There are excellent views of almost the entire city and the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
The Nasrid Palaces are the most splendid buildings in the complex in typical Arab architecture. There are impressive arches and windows, carved wooden ceilings, intricate plasterwork and colorful ceramic tiles at almost every turn. The rich interiors of the halls and the cozy courtyards are striking.
Charles V Palace
Charles V Palace is a sixteenth-century building commissioned after the Reconquest by Charles V as a royal residence. The square two-tiered structure is in Renaissance style with a large circular courtyard surrounded by an internal colonnade. The building houses two museums: the Alhambra Museum and the Museum of Art.
The Generalife is the former country residence of the emirs of Granada. It is the most beautiful complex of Moorish-style gardens in Andalusia, located on a hill at the back of the complex overlooking the Nasrid Palace. The Generalife is filled with shady patios, fountains, fragrant flowers and picturesque terraces.
Albaicín is one of the most charming sights in Granada, a historic Arab quarter that is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Among the narrow and winding streets of the Albaycin can be found beautiful white-washed old buildings, magnificent Arab stores and restaurants, picturesque gardens and magnificent views of Granada and the Alhambra. The construction of the quarter dates back to the 14th century. At that time, it was surrounded by fortress walls. It’s easy to get lost in the Albaycín. You’ll find that the layout of the streets, the many staircases and alleyways are literally confusing. But there is a special charm to it!
Puerta de Elvira
From Puerta Nueva to Puerta Monaita, a section of the old fortress walls remains. The Puerta de Elvira was once the main entrance to the city. Their construction dates back to the 9th century.
Church of San José
The Church of San José is one of the oldest churches in Granada. It was built on the site of an ancient mosque of the Morabites.
Church of San Nicolas
San Nicolas Square is located in the heart of the Albaycín. It is the most popular tourist spot and offers a beautiful view of the Alhambra. On the square is the 16th century church of the same name. Not far from the church of San Nicolas is the church of San Salvador, which was built on the site of an earlier mosque and is notable for its mudejar style.
Larga Square is a small and charming square in Albaycín, one of the favorite places of Granada residents, which is located away from the tourist trails. There are many restaurants and stores with traditional goods, and on Saturdays there is a market.
Carrera del Darro
Carrera del Darro is one of the oldest and most charming streets in the city, located at the foot of the hill. The narrow, winding street runs from Plaza Nueva along the winding course of the Darro River. This is one of the most picturesque walks in Granada. Along the way you will find beautifully preserved buildings, the remains of Arab houses, stone bridges and many good restaurants.
The gypsy neighborhood of Sacramonte, located on the hillside, rivals Albaycin in atmosphere. It is worth a stroll along its slopes to discover ancient gypsy houses that are decorated with colorful handmade ceramics. The surrounding area contains numerous cave dwellings.
San Miguel Church
We recommend going up to the chapel of San Miguel, which offers a beautiful view of the city and the Alhambra. This church was built in the 17th century in the Baroque style. Another notable religious monument is the 17th-century Benedictine abbey on the hill of Valparaiso.
The Cathedral or Santa María de la Encarnación is considered the most beautiful Renaissance church in Spain. It was built by Queen Isabella as a monument to Christian victory over the Moors on the site of a former mosque. The church began to be built in the 16th century in the Gothic style. There is a remarkable large relief on the 16th-century western facade above the main entrance. The northwest side of the cathedral is also richly decorated with decorative sculptures. The facade of the main entrance features statues of Catholic monarchs and bronze statues of the apostles.
The decoration of the church is a magnificent example of the Renaissance and Renaissance. The interior features massive columns and double aisles. The nave and transept are surrounded by various chapels, which are decorated with many sculptures and paintings. Each has its own artistic style. The choir boasts two impressive baroque organs.
The Royal Chapel is an impressive 47-meter dome structure that sits next to the cathedral. This addition to it was built in the first half of the 16th century in the late Gothic style. The royal tombs are located here. The interior is decorated with beautiful 16th century stained glass windows and seven large paintings by Alonso Cano. On the right is the tomb of Ferdinand and Isabella in Carrara marble, created by sculptor Domenico Fancelli of Florence. The chapel also houses the sarcophagi of other kings and princes. The highlight of the chapel is the sacristy with a masterpiece by Botticelli.
La Cortuja Monastery
The Convent of La Cortuja is a magnificent example of Baroque architecture. Construction began in the 16th century and lasted for three centuries. The single aisle church is decorated with many artistic objects.
The Arab Spice Market is a traditional oriental market in the old city. Until 1853 there was a Moorish bazaar on this site which was destroyed by fire. The entire area of Alcaiceria is a maze of narrow streets, which was once occupied by a silk and spice market. Today’s market resembles the original Arab bazaar and is a favorite place to buy souvenirs in Granada.
€169 per tour
Quarters of Granada: Arab Albaycín and Roma Sacromonte
Touch the Moorish heritage, learn the history of flamenco and admire the panoramas