To wonder what to see in Granada, undoubtedly the most beautiful and fascinating city in Andalusia, has only one answer: everything! Perhaps, the most appropriate question is whether there is anything not worth visiting, along the steep streets of this beautiful city at almost 700 meters above sea level, known for hosting theAlhambra, the best example of Arabic architecture in Spain and, without a doubt, one of the most evocative places in all of Europe.
But just talking about this incredible Moorish complex would be a disgrace to Granada. What to see then, after returning from the hill on which, framed by the peaks of the Sierra Nevada, stands the Alhambra, the wonderful “red castle” (qala'at al-harma)? Perhaps the neighborhood of Albayzin? Or the enchanting lanes of the Generalife? Visiting Granada really means stepping into a treasure chest full of jewels, and what we will summarize here is only a small part of what you will be able to see during your trip.
With this Granada guide we want to list and briefly describe all the wonders of this city kissed by the grace of art, an emblematic place where time seems to have stopped to give rise to a fairytale dimension, which can be incredibly experienced.
What to see in Granada: on the Alhambra hill
It would take a massive monograph to tell the story and describe the architectural and artistic subtleties of theAlhambra of Granada, a proud citadel with pink walls that dominates the top of a hill, but not even a university course can take away the thrill of visiting this masterpiece of Moorish architecture in person. The Alhambra, for justified worldwide fame, is a very popular tourist attraction, and the best way to visit it is perhaps to choose the low season as the period for your tour in Andalucia.
THEAlcazaba, one of the oldest sections of the entire citadel, was the military area of the Alhambra, the defensive stronghold placed to watch over the refined royal palaces. It is worth getting on Torre de la Vela, one of the defensive towers, to enjoy a beautiful view of the city, before visiting the Garden of the Adarves, which is a perfect prelude to the wonders of the Alhambra.
The palaces of the Nasrids, built in the XNUMXth century by Ibn-al-Ahmar and enlarged by his son, are divided into three sections:
- il Mexuar, whose premises were used for administrative functions. Don't miss the geometric charm of the enigmatic Patio del Golden Room.
- il Comares Palace (Serallo) or the building where ambassadors and distinguished guests were welcomed. Among the other rooms, the Hall of Ambassadors, a majestic room, richly decorated in Mudejar style.
- il Palace of the Lions (Harem), the wing of the private apartments of the sultan, whose jewel is the Courtyard of the Lions, which is so significant that it has become the emblem of the whole Alhambra and of Granada as a whole.
Palace of Carlos V
If, after the Reconquista, the Catholic Kings Ferdinand and Isabella tried to keep the structure of the palace intact, King Charles V was not so respectful: the choice to build his palace in the heart of the Alhambra involved the demolition of an entire wing of the Moorish palace. However, although the geometric structure of the architecture of the building is very much in contact with the Palacios, the Renaissance-style building is of absolute value. We talked about it in our article dedicated to the Palacio de Carlos V in Granada.
The gardens and the palace of Generalife they could be the perfect setting for one of the fairy tales of "The Thousand and One Nights": this is where the rulers retired to relax and laze during the holidays. The Generalife gardens wind along paths and lush pools, in a harmonious succession of flowered patios, fountains and stairways with cascading water, up to the very rich summer palace.
Carmen of the Martyrs
Going down from the Alhambra hill, try the visit, before visiting the most secret Granada, do not forget to deviate towards the beautiful Carmen of the Martyrs, a complex of elegant gardens where you can enjoy a relaxing air, exploring the paths between artificial caves, statues, flower beds along a pond.
Manuel De Falla House Museum
Not far away is the Manuel De Falla House Museum: the home of the great Spanish composer is beautifully preserved, so much so that visiting it you expect him to return in the flesh at any moment.
Convent of San Francisco
Not far from the palace, where today is the Parador de Granada, originally stood the Convent of San Francisco, particularly important because it collected the remains of Isabella and Ferdinando before they were transferred to the Capilla Real. The remains of the chapel are found.
Granada what to see: the neighborhoods of Albayzín e Sacromonte
It is not only the palaces and lavish gardens that have projected the charm of Granada into the common imagination. The popular atmosphere of the neighborhoods of Albayzín e Sacromonte helps travelers immerse themselves in the rhythm and warmth of Andalusian life.
The district of Albayzín, located on a hill facing the Alhambra, rises above the river Darro, with its narrow streets and suggestive views of terraces and squares, and has kept intact its romantic medieval aspect and the ancient, convoluted structure urban, so much so that it was declared a Unesco World Heritage Site. A few examples? The Paseo de los Tristes, the arabesque Calle Calderería Nueva, the Placeta Porras, the market square Long Square, the enchanting Saint Nicholas' lookout (see below) and finally the most fascinating square in the barrio, San Miguel Bajo Square. Wandering through the streets of the neighborhood, you will come across many buildings with patios and gardens that are worth visiting: the Casa de Chapiz, the Casa Horno del Oro, the Palacio de los Cordova, the Palacio de Dar al-Horra, the Casa de Zafra ...
Bañuelo (Arab Baths)
One of the major sights of the Albayzin is the Bathtub, ancient name of the Arab baths. You will find it along the Carrera del Darro, on the northern side of the river. The Arab baths, dating back to the time of the sultans of the Alhambra, have been restored and offer visitors their rooms with starry vaulted ceilings and majestic colonnades: we talked about them in our article dedicated to this splendid and ancient hammam in Granada.
Viewpoint of San Nicolás
If you want to enjoy the most beautiful view of Granada, reach this one gazebo, from which you can contemplate the immense spectacle of the city, with the Alhambra imposing itself on the peaks of the Sierra Nevada: it is certainly an observation point that, when visiting Granada, you cannot miss. Coming down from the miradór, look for the Convent of Santa Isabela la Real, known for the Mudejar style ceiling.
Sacromonte it is the second best known and most lively district of Granada. What to see in this characteristic cluster of white houses clinging to the hill? Surely the places of greatest interest are the caves, the caves where the gypsies lived, together with all those who had been expelled from the city after the Reconquista. In these caves, which can still be visited today, the harrowing and sensual melodies of flamenco spread, and even today the district is a stage for parties and popular performances to the sound of guitars. Among other things to see in Sacromonte, I recommend the Cueveas del Sacromonte, which repays all the effort made to reach it at the top of a climb.
Other places of interest in Granada
In Granada, Arab art and culture are not a simple influence, but a very important cardinal point to understand the city, however there is no lack of interesting examples of Christian architecture: the best is that of Royal chapel, the mausoleum of the Catholic Monarchs, built in the Gothic style between 1505 and 1517. The building, characterized by a wonderful retable, houses in the crypt the remains of the royals Isabella and Ferdinando, Giovanna la Pazza and Filippo I. Here is the our insight into the Capilla Real.
Along with the Capilla Real, the most striking example of Renaissance-style Christian architecture is the Metropolitan Cathedral of the Incarnation, which has the arduous task of keeping up with the other wonders of the city. As was often the case during the Reconquista, the cathedral was built during the XNUMXth century over the structure of an ancient mosque, but remained incomplete for two centuries. Due to the time lag between project and construction, the façade style is in the Baroque style, while the majestic interiors were built by the architect De Siloe, in the Gothic-Renaissance style. For more information and advice, refer to our article on the Cathedral of Granada.
Monastery of the Cartuja
North of the center of Granada, you will find the glitzy Monastery of the Cartuja, Carthusian monastery in Baroque style, of which you will notice with amazement the magniloquence of the Plateresque portal, the impressive golden dome and decorated with frescoes, the elaborate altar in colored marble and the sacristy, also full of ornamental excesses. The patio outside instills a great sense of peace, and will allow you to rest after a long day of strenuous sightseeing.
Not far from the Capilla Real you will find the Madraza, a wonderful building that was once the University of Granada, founded in the XNUMXth century by Yusuf I. Some visitors argue that, in terms of beauty, the little Madraza is second only to the halls of the Alhambra palace, due to the presence of a perfectly preserved brightly colored mihrab with elaborately decorated Mudejar ceilings.
Corral del Carbon e Alcaiceria
What else to see in Granada, after all these exceptional masterpieces? Venture through the labyrinth of narrow streets to the south of the Cathedral and you will find this unique building, which was once a inn for merchants, not far from the silk markets. Admire the wonderful Mudejar-style portal (in the shape of a horseshoe) and the sober patio with a fountain in the center. The Corral del Carbon is located near the Alcaiceria, a small and narrow Arab market accessible through an arched door: a good place to buy some souvenirs from your trip.
Royal Room of Santo Domingo
A little known building in Granada, but having visited the other attractions it can be reached for a quick visit. Dell 'ancient Nasrid residence the gardens and the qubba, a room for the reception of guests decorated in the Mudejar style, remain the residence of the sultans in the El Realejo district. The upper floor is used for exhibitions and art installations.