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Spain Inland Locations-Guide

Information about Granada

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(245.640 inhabitants) Capital of the province


The origin of this city is an Iberian village which with the name of Ilbyr occupied some five thousand years ago the Albayzìn neighbourhood. Two thousand five hundred years ago, the population had consolidated and traded with Greeks and Phoenicians who arrived here from close coast. Under the dominion of the Carthaginian, the wars between them and the Romans deeply affected the village, which radically after the roman victory.Ilìberis, name which now appears in the coins of the age. Christianism arrived soon to what it was already a city. In year 62 depended on the close Episcopal seat of Acci( Guadix), but not for long. After the defeat of the Roman Empire and the invasion of the barbarians, the Visigoths take the city making it larger and fortifying and turning it into a powerful military fortress.
The arrival of the Arabs produces a big change in its situation. Opposite Ilìberis, at the other side of river Darro, river that together with Genil runs through the actual town, at the foot of the Torres Bermejas there was a small Jewish village with the name of Garnatha Alyejud which will be the origin of the later Granada. Arabs settled in Garnatha and when, afterwards, both villages get together in one, is the name of this one which remained for history. The city depends then first on the emirate and later to the caliphate of Còrdoba, but in 1013, when this one falls, the Berber Zawì ben Zirì situated the capitality of one kingdom of Taifa on it which reaches the actual provinces of Granada and Màlaga. Zirì kingdom lasted only until 1090, year of the defeat of the almoràvides, who will have to surrender later to the almohades in year 1156. It followed then a long period of fights which ended in the entrance in the city of Muhammad in Nasr, called Alhamar de Arjona in 1238 and took the throne, founding the nazarì dynasty which gave Granada its biggest splendour and the configuration kept until our days. Alhamar consolidated the nazarì kingdom in 1246 by the agreement with Fernando III, declaring himself his vassal, thanks to whom the nazarita dynasty lasted along almost 250 years and 20 kings, the last was Boabdil.
In 1489, the whole kingdom but its capital fell to the power of the Catholic Kings. The capital fell too, after a long siege on the 2nd January 1492, day in which Boabdil handed over his keys to the new Christian kings. The capitulations between Christians and Muslims respected the customs, the religion and Arab language. But this was not true. Straight away the situation hardens for the Arabs who didn’t abandon Granada. The cardinal Cisneros demanded even the baptism of all the people of Granada not baptised. Juana La Loca, Carlos I and Felipe II are more and more demanding mostly on the taxes, getting to be even unbearable, until 1568 when the revolts in Las Alpujarras broke out.
The Christian Fernando Valor proclaimed himself as king of Làujar of Andarax with the name of Abèn Humeya and during 4 years he kept in check the Christian army, until Felipe II sent there his illegitimate brother Juan de Austria, who ended the revolt in 1572. Felipe II proclaimed the throwing out of the Moorish and as result of it, Granada gets into a long decay and lethargy time that hardly could get out of it for some short periods in XIX century.
At the beginning of XIX century, Granada remained as the Catholic Kings found it originally. The French stayed in it from 1810 and 1812 and, although they provoked many inconveniences and damages, the Granada people didn’t react. In the city were growing to opposite tendencies which will divide it: the liberal tendency and the absolutist tendency. The liberal ideas were developing for some years. In 1772, for instance, there were two Masonic lodges, La Vigilante and La Discreta, which had as members mainly, business men, militaries and canons. The liberal revolts, which had with main head the general Torrijos, produced in Granada an emblematic victim: Mariana Pineda. She was accused of embroider a subversive flag, the young woman was executed in may 26th 1831.This act ended up in a military revolt in 1936, in which a brief  resistance by the work and popular forces in the Albayzìn, the city went to the nationals who carried out the killing of the poet Garcìa Lorca.
From 60’s in the XX century, the tourism and incipient industrialization have modernized the city, which keeps in its streets, neighbourhoods and buildings all the flavour and picturesqueness of the all times that are not to come back.


In the gastronomy of Granada there are dishes very traditional like the potajes, from the beginning centuries of our era, with dishes coming from the Jewish, Arab and Christian culture following the conquer in 1492.Most of them have in common  2 points: they are prepared with country products and they are mainly spoon dishes. Apart from the cultural influences, the cook in Granada stands out in first place for the quality of the products and secondly for being very imaginative. Besides the olla podrida, the Hebrew origin, prior even to the Muslims arrival, where it is mixed pork, beef, hen, lamb, ham, blood sausage, chorizo or belly pork, the dishes where we find sweet and sour flavours are of Arab origin, the rest, Christians. The “national” dish in Granada is habas con jamòn, a fried dish made of excellent ham from the Alpujarras with soft kidney beans. Between stews and hotpots, the main are the olla de San Antòn, eaten on the 17th January and it is made of head of pork, bacon, blood sausage, careta and spinaches; the cazuela de habas verdes, made with the green beans with pod and fried eggs¸the cazuela de hinojos, made of pork ribs and fennels; the cazuela de cardos and the guisaìllo cateto, with lamb, beef, chicken, pine nuts and almonds.
The meat dishes are made of pork and in stews. Like these are the manos de cerdo, the andrajos de liebre, the arroz liberal, made of hare, rabbit and partridge, or the gallina granadina, with spinaches, bananas and sweet potatoes, Arabs dishes are the boronìa, fried dish with marrow and pumpkin and it was added later tomatoes and peppers; the albòndigas de cordero, the cordero con Granada, and the very famous tortilla sacromonte, made of brains of lamb.
Soups are the gazpacho and the ajo blanco where bread is changed for kidney beans flour. There is too a gazpacho caliente, with toasts and orange juice, and of course, the salmorejo or gazpacho cream made with tomato.
The Granada confectioner’s reputation comes from the numerous convents where the nuns practice this art, famous desserts are the pastelòn de perdiz, the torrijas, the piononos and the compota de membrillo.


Two are the specialities in Granada and both are of Arab origin and tradition. These are the taracea and the ceramic. The taracea (marquetry) consists of the inlay in the wood of other woods, ivory, mother pearl, etc and it is made in all kind of objects, from cases or chess boards, to picture frames, furniture and even in tables. This is a profession that the Christians learnt from the Arabs and it was transferred traditionally form fathers to sons. The ceramic is very important and varied. In the capital it is well known the one called Fajalauza, place in the Albayzìn where first were the workshops. Its main characteristic is the vegetal decoration in blue and green colours.
But in Granada it is practiced the artistic furniture making and the carving. The musical strings instrument making, mainly the guitar, has in Granada one of its most important centres.
The gold/silver works as well as the marroquinerìa (leather goods industry) are works of old tradition with a large number of artisans still practising it.


The Semana Santa in Granada is serious and full of colour. The processions start on the Domingo de Ramos to the Sàbado Santo and it is one of its most important moments the rise to the abbey of the Sacramonte of the Cristo de los Gitanos on the Holy Thursday; the shutting in in San Miguel del Albayzìn of the Cristo del Perdòn an Marìa Santìsima de la Aurora, the same day, and, finally, on Holy Saturday, the going out of Santa Marìa de la Alhambra.
The Fiesta de la Cruz, celebrated the 1st week of May is of long tradition, it has its origin in the festivities to honour the spring. In the squares the people decorate them with flower pots, copper pots, etc and create big crosses with flowers and people sing, dance and drink around them till late hours.
Between end of May and mid June it is celebrated el Corpus, in Granada has a great solemnity. The day before, Wednesday, announcing the festivity comes out the Pùblica, parade with giants and bigheaded and commanding this: the “Tarasca”, women who rides an enormous dragon. The next day takes place the procession de la Custodia. And following this starts the feria, which lasts for a week. Along June and July it celebrates in la Alhambra the Festival Internacional de Mùsica y Danza, which year after year gathers the most important in cultivated music and ballet. Last day of September celebrates the Fiesta patronal de la Virgen de las Angustias and on the 12th October, the Descubrimiento.

Urban life
University and tourism shape the way of life in the city. The university puts its seal in the variety of cultural activities as well as leisure and parties. The tourism is obvious by the number of restaurants and hotels in the city and on the commercial character that comes from long time ago. Tourism is not a modern phenomenon, the geographic centre of the city is the large bazaar, visited quite often by an important and renewed flow of buyers. The Gran Vìa, Reyes Catòlicos, surroundings of the cathedral, the square of Bib-Rambla,the Alcaicerìa, Mesones, Recogidas,  Àngel Ganivet and Acera del Darro are  full of shops where to find a large variety of products of good quality, from clothes to furniture or electrical appliances, shoes, souvenirs, etc.
Besides all this, Granada has a good offer in flamenco. The tablaos of flamenco are scattered around the city, mainly in the Sacromonte or in the Campo del Prìncipe, in the mirador de San Cristòbal, in Sol or in the Glorieta Arabial.


El Castillo rojo (the red castle)

The square of Isabel la Catòlica is the geographic and economic centre of the city. Very close to here are the two most emblematic monuments of Granada: the Alhambra and the cathedral, both represent 2 styles which lived together in the city: the Hispanic-Arabic of Muslim execution and the renaissance, of Christian execution after the reconquest.
The nazarì Arabs called the alcazaba on top of the hill al-Qalà al –Hamrà, which means “the red castle” for the colour of the clay used in the construction. The adjective al-Hamrà gave the Spanish name Alhambra, an enormous civic-military ensemble that occupies a surface of 720 m long by 220 m wide. On spite of the decay that the nazarì kingdom lived, la Alhambra sums up and enlarges the rich architectonic tradition taking it to the highest of the delicacy.
The characteristic of the Arab architecture does not consist of creating new solutions, but a mixture and combination of the pre-existing ones until getting prodigious results that, at the end, are full of newness. At the same time is to remark the total lack of unity in the Alhambra, very common in the religious Arab buildings. The Arab builds paying attention to the immediate demands, adding later buildings to cover the new necessities.
The Arab building unity is the patio, usually with a fountain, around which the living and service area comes up. This lack of unity is one of the biggest virtues of the Alhambra, the one that gives it the qualities of haunted palace or romantic labyrinth. The building of the Alhambra lasted along the nazarìdynasty, it was started by Alhamar de Arjona, Muhmmad in Yusuf in Nasr, in 1238, who raised the alcazaba, (citadel) and followed by Muhammad II, Muhammad V, who reigned between 1354 and 1391.
The best way to get to the Alhambra is by the Cuesta de Gomèrez, at the end of which are the puertas de las Granadas, they take their name from the 3 pomegranates in the front, which give way to the thick forest called Alamedas de la Alhambra and to the right are the Torres Bermejas, remains of the old wall which fenced in the enclosure of Garnatha Alyejud..
One of the attractive of the ensemble is the water, it runs everywhere through irrigation ditches, fountains or jets. The music of the water runs the parks and buildings refreshing the atmosphere and enlightens the heart of the visitors.
As the fortress that it was, the Alhambra is surrounded by walls and it has 4 doors, de las Armas, de la Justicia, del Vino and del Hierro. The visit starts in the door of  the Justicia which takes us the alcazaba, defensive palace and military, independent from the rest of the building, we can find here the torre de la Vela, or of the Campana, opposite are the torres del homenaje and Quebrada.
From the alcazaba we pass to the Palacio Real through the puerta del Vino, beautiful entrance with double horseshoe arc from Muhammad II years. Following this we cross a small patio to the patio de Machuca and after this to Mexuar, the sala de audiencia (audition room) which in Arab constructions is situated at the entrance of the palace. This mexuar is from year 1365, it had two rooms that ended finally in one. It has a wood ceiling, tiles from XVI century, the floor of brick and large balconies to the patio de Machuca.
From the Mexuar we pass to the Cuarto Dorado, small patio to east of the audience room, its name comes from one room at the north side, very much restored in the Catholic Kings years.
Through a lateral hallway we get the magnificent patio de Comares, also called de la Alberca and de los Arrayanes.
After the north portico of this patio is the curious sala de la Barca, name that comes from the shape of the wooden vault, similar to an upside down boat, although others think the name comes from the contraction of baraka, which means “bendiciòn”( blessing).
A passageway takes the visitor to the spacious sala de Comares, name that comes from the Arab word qamariyya, the name used for the lattice windows of several colours very much used in El Cairo. This is one of the biggest rooms in the palace, with 9 balconies, it was some time ago the throne room, place where the king received the ambassadors from other courts, that’s why it is called to sala de Embajadores. All its decoration is geometric.
A stairway with its walls covered in painted plaster takes to the sala de Baños, which consists of sala de las Camas and sala de Baños itself. The sala de las Camas shows sumptuous decoration in gold and colours, and the sala de los Baños shows only an efficient tiles decoration.
From the sala de Comares we get through a passage to the patio de los Leones, this ensemble was built in the age of Muhammad V and here the nazarì architecture gets its top in beauty. The patio, with the famous fuente de los Leones, which gives name, is a prodigy of building knowledge, subtle, balance and imagination. The light, the water, the archways and the shadows get here the top of creativity and emotion. The patio has around 440 m², it is rectangular shaped and surrounded by corridors with 2 temples with 124 very thin white marble columns which bear complicated arcs, in the centre, the fountain with 12 lions, and over their backs rest the fountain.
On the northern side of the patio it is opened the sala de las Dos Hermanas, which name comes from two huge stones in the centre of the room. It has marble floor, plastered walls, mocàrabes ceiling and a small circular pond. A door connect this room to the mirador de Daxara, name that in Arab means “los ojos de la casa de la sultana” (the eyes of the house of the sultana), what would certify that in this area was the queen’s living accommodation.
In the south wall of the patio de los Leones is opened the  sala de los Abencerrajes,  called so because it was the place where there were beheaded, one by one, the warriors of this important family. It is similar to the Dos Hermanas, square plant, twin arcs, tiles and square fountain in the centre. To the far east of patio de los Leones it is situated the sala de los Reyes.
Toward the north side of the wall are situated the jardines de El Partal and the torre de las Damas, building in Arab brick and tile with an atriumformed by 5 stilted arcs, in the central one bigger than the other four, and the mezquita, built over the wall and formed by a small chapel with windows decorated with atauriques (vegetal decoration) and celosias
Inside the Alhambra it was built after the conquer the palacio de Carlos V, a strong building in 2 floors, the ground one made of stone blocks fitted in coussinets and the top one with ionic pilasters and balconies,  large circular interior patio in 2 floors, the ground one over Tuscany columns and the top one over ionic columns. Nowadays there are placed in it the Museo Nacional de Arte Hipano Musulmàn and the Museo de Bellas Artes. The iglesia de Santa Marìa, from the end of XVI century, was raised in the plot of the former mosque of the Alhambra. Finally, the convento de San Francisco, founded in 1495, hosted the remains of the Catholic Kings until their removal to the Capilla Real in 1521. Today, it is occupied by the Parador de Turismo. The Alhambra was proclaimed by the Unesco Patrimonio de la Humanidad in 1984.
Adjoining the Alhambra it is the palacio del Generalife, built at the beginning of XVI century as summer residence of the nazarìs kings. It has a beautiful combination of gardens, fountains, reservoirs and jets and in the ensemble is remarkable the patio de la Acequia, the ciprès de la Sultana and the escalera del Agua.

El Albayzìn
Opposite the Alhambra, in a large hill, it extends the famous barrio del Albayzìn, place where, in the XI century, established their court the zirìes kings. Of the former alcazaba, there are only some remains of its walls by the puertas Monaite, of Elvira and arco de las Pesas. The origin of this neighbourhood is uncertain. It could be the place where the al-Bayyasin, “ los de Baeza”, settled. .Others think that the name al-bayyazin, “los halconeros” because the neighbours practiced the falconry. Some researchers think that al-Bayyazin means “en pendiente” (sloped) and the neighbourhood takes the name from where is placed. Anyway, the neighbourhood is a beautiful labyrinth of narrow paved streets, squares, carmines (houses with garden) and picturesque corners which keep a good part of the personality of Granada.
Over the Albayzìn is situated another of the most characteristic neighbourhood of the city: el Sacromonte, it is inhabited, mainly, by gipsies, in which caves takes place the famous Zambra, very original flamenco show. On top of the hill is raises the abadìa del Sacromonte, with the colegiata de San Cecilio and the colegio de San Dionisio Aeropagita, founded after the discovery in 1595 of the Libros Plùmbeos, collection of  lead sheets in which it was told the torment of the saint, which ended to be a lie.

The ways of the Renaissance

The cathedral is situated opposite the square of Isabel la Catòlica, to the right of the Gran Vìa deColòn as we go up, in the heart of what it was the Muslim Medina. In 1523 were started the works of the cathedral by Enrique de Egas, the cathedral is the main renaissance work of Diego de Siloè and Alonso Cano. It is remarkable its magnificent, 115 m long by 67 m wide and its height. It has 5 naves separated by gross Corinthians pillars, the fachada principal is formed by 3 ample streets inlaid between big buttress and on top semicircular arcs, which really are vaults.
The Capilla Mayor, circular plant, with 22 m diameter and 45 m wide, in it Diego de Siloè used very skilled architectonic solutions to combine the circularity with the height. The Museo Catedralicio, situated in the sacristy, keeps an extraordinary paintings and religious objects treasure; the Custodia del Corpus, an Inmaculada de Alonso Cano; a Virgen con el Niño conferred to Leonardo Da Vinci and an Anunciaciòn, equally of Alonso Cano.
Adjoining the cathedral is the Capilla Real, where it is the mausoleum with the remains of the Catholic Kings. It was built between 1505 and 1521, it is the lat temple raised in Spain of flamboyant Gothic style. It has a beautiful plateresque doorway built in 1527 by the master Garcìa de Pradas, it was integrated in the cathedral. The church has a Latin Cross plant and it is to remark the extraordinary reja of wrought iron which separates the transept from the mausoleum of the kings, work of the master Bartolomè Jaèn, and the mausoleum itself was built in Gènova by Alejandro Fanceli, in Carrara marble.
Situated in the proximity of the cathedral is the palacio de la Madraza, former Arab University founded by Yùsuf I, totally reformed in baroque style to hold the Casa de los Cabildos. The patio has a beautiful archway and the top floor has the sala de Caballeros, of XVI century, decorated in plateresque style, with the emblematic colours of Granada: red and green.
In the square of Isabel la Catòlica is situated the monumento a las Capitulaciones, work of Mariano Benlliura. On a high pedestal, with historic inscriptions, are situated the images of Colòn and the queen Isabel the moment he presented her his projects.
To the square of Alonso Cano opens the Alcaicerìa, real Arab zoco, although the edification, due to a fire, is later to 1843. It keeps its origins of Muslim character even after the restorations.
The Alcaicerìa gets to the street Zacatìn, which goes to the plaza de Bib-Rambla, nice place and oasis in the middle of the labyrinth of streets, in which the flowers sellers are concentrated, little artisans offer their goods.
Coming down from Bib-Rambla we reach the plaza de la Universidad, where the University is situated, it was founded by Carlos I in 1526, today Facultad de Derecho; the  iglesia de los Santos Justo y Pastor, temple built in 1575, and the Colegio Mayor de San Bartolomè y Santiago, old building from XVI century.
In Gran Capitàn is the iglesia de San Jerònimo, temple from XVI century and renaissance style, restored in 1916 and where the remains of the Gran Capitàn are kept. Very close to here, in San Juan de Dios is located the basilica de San Juan de Dios, temple of the hospital with the same name, baroque style from XVIII century.
Up San Juan de Dios we get to the large plaza del Triunfo with the fountain with the same name, behind this is situated the Hospital Real, today is the Rectorado de la Universidad. The hospital was founded by the Catholic Kings and is a beautiful building, plateresque gothic style built from 1511 by Enrique Egas and finished by Garcìa de Pradas.
Almost opposite the hospital, at the end of the Acera de San Ildefonso, it is opened the puerta de Elvira, it was the biggest and most important that the city had and its origin comes from IX century. The Acera de San Ildefonso goes up by the Real de la Cartuja, from where we get to the monasterio de la Cartuja, founded by the Gran Capitàn in 1495. Of the original building, only the patio is kept. The rest was raised in XVII century and is an explosion of baroque style which gets to its top in the churrigueresco style.
Around the square Nueva we can find the Real Chancillerìa, building of XVI century. Opposite is the iglesia de Santa Ana which represents a simple doorway with a semicircular arc, several niches with images and a medallion with the Virgen and the Niño.

The route of the centre
The administrative centre of Granada is situated very close to the square of Isabel la Catòlica. It is the square of Carmen, where the Ayuntamiento is, placed on the old convent of the carmelitas calzados. Behind the Town Hall, in the street Mariana Pineda, it raises the Corral del Carbòn, Arab building of great importance and beauty, which originally was, from XVI century, a store and inn for traders and later, after being auctioned in 1531, coal store, corral de comedias ( playhouse) and living accommodation. Nowadays is a craftsmanship of Granada trade place. It is a beautiful building, it consists of a doorway with a large horseshoe arc and a hallway, both decorated with the traditional geometric shapes, and a patio surrounded by a gallery.
From here, to the east, under the Torres Bermejas, there exist some interesting monuments. One of themed the Casa de los Tiros, a fortress built between 1510 and 1540, today is the  Museo de Turismo e Historia de Granada. By this is the Casa del Padre Suàrez, and close to it the plaza del Realejo which turns day by day in a colourful market place.
A bit ahead we get to the Campo del Prìncipe, nice urban area where is placed the Cristo de los Favores.
Down the square of the Realejo raises the iglesia de Santo Domingo, built from 1512 with a Gothic start, but followed and ended in Renaissance style.
From the square of the Carmen, down by Reyes Catòlicos, we can reach the Puerta Real, cosmopolitan and mixed area, from here to calle de Recogidas, the street Àngel Ganivet which takes to the square Mariana Pineda and the Acera del Darro which goes down to the Genil.
The best place to get a panoramic view of the city and surroundings, including the tops of Sierra Nevada, is the torre mirador, 50 metres high in the Parque de las Ciencias. This park is only 10 minutes from the paseo del Salòn, crossing the river Genil to the Palacio de Congresos. It is an educational and interactive museum of 31.000 m², designed for adults and children, where we can follow the most important scientific discovers of mankind along the history. Through different rooms it can be verify, for instance, the rotation movement of the earth by Foucault pendulum, the Archimedes principle, the gravity, the greenhouse effect, etc. The Sala Explora, set aside for children from 3 to 7 years old, is the paradise of the well thought game, even with robots.
The Planetario takes the visitor to the universe from a comfortable seat through spectaculars projections. The Mariposario is a wonderful garden where an amazing collection of tropical butterflies live in their natural environment.


Around 35 kms to the south, by the highest road in Europe, it is situated the Sierra Nevada, beautiful mountains which hold the highest peak of Spain, the  Mulhacèn, declared by its ecological value Parque Nacional. Besides this, it counts with the Sky centre Solynieve, with magnificent sky pistas. From here, during summer, 50 kms more it is possible to pass the Alpujarra by Capileira. The Alpujarra is a separate world, at 2.000 m high; it extends by the skirt of Sierra Nevada and has a lot of small villages very picturesque.
From the Alpujarra to the Costa Tropical there are only 40 kms by Lanjaròn and Motril road.