Travel Guides Spain | Guide to Granada

Guide to Granada

What to do and see in Granada?

The city of Granada

Granada is one of Spain's most spectaculaGranadar historical World Heritage cities, and millions of tourists and international students visit each year. It is located in the east of Andalucia next to the Sierra Nevada. It has an extreme climate in that it is very hot in summer and very cold during winter when it tends to snow a lot. The Sierra Nevada is very popular for skiing.

Granada is 88 kms and has a population of approximately 241,471. It is well connected by road, rail and air. Iberia-Mare Nostrum, Ryanair, Vueling and Monarch Airlines all fly to Granada's small airport.

The history of Granada

Granada flourished under the occupation by the Moors which began in the 8th century. It became one of the most important cultural and artistic centres under the Nazarí dynasty between 1238 - 1492. Its population of artists, scholars, merchants and artisans meant that the city progressed culturally. The influence of the Al-Andalus culture meant that many beautiful buildings in Moorish and Mudejar styles were built.






In 1492 the Spanish 'Reyes Católicos' reconquered the city expelling the Moors, all buildings which followed were in a Gothic and Renassaince style. In the 17th century it went through a decadant phase from which it recovered and in the 19th century it filled with artists, architects, poets and musicians who gained their inspiration from Granada's streets, and beautiful buildings.


The main Sights in Granada

As is the case of so many historical Spanish cities, the best way to appreciate Granada is by walking around the old quarters and savouring the charm of its streets and admiring the beauty of some of the historical buildings. You will need more than one day to visit Granada - a visit to the famous Alhambra takes a whole day in itself. Well sign-posted car parks are available on the outskirts of the city and traffic is limited by strict controls within the old part, so park your car and start strolling. Tour buses are available for visitors who dislike walking or are unable to do so.

The Albayzin: This is an area made up of steep narrow winding streets lined with typical old white houses. Very atmospheric. There are some great viewing points over the city and of the Alhambra with the white peaks of the Sierra Nevada in the background.


Historical Sights in Granada

La Alhambra (Alcázar, Generalífe and Palacio de Carlos V): c/ Real, s/n. This majestic building is located in the old part of the city. it was the official residence of the Emir of Granada and the Al-Andalus Sultán, founder of the second independent dynasty in Granada. He built what was an impenetrable fort on the outside but a paradise on the inside. The Alhambra is a magical place and these days visits are restricted and must be booked in advance. It was built in 1234 and was given the name Alhambra because it was built on red earth. The Sultans Yusuf I and Muhamed V were in charge of the decoration which is exquisite. There is perfect harmony between the design of the gardens and the architecture throughout. The Alhambra was both a palace and a fortress. The most outstanding parts are the Palacete del Partal, the Sala de los Reyes (a 16th century ball room), the Sala de los Abencerrajes, the Patio de los Leones the Patio de los Arrayanes, the Sala de Mexuar and the Salón de Embajadores (1335).

Granada The Generalife Gardens: Built in the 13th century as a summer garden for relaxingin for the Arabic monarchs. It is made up of Mediterranean trees and exotic flowers set in peaceful surroundings, separate from the main palace.

Carlos V Palace - This was built in the 16th century following the reconquering of the city. It now holds the Hispanic-Muslim Museum and the Bellas Artes Museum.


Cathedral and Churches

  • Cathedral: c/ Gran Vía, 5. Located in the old part of the city. Founded by the Spanish 'Reyes Catolicos' in 1505 next to the largest Mosque in the city. Its architect was Enrique Egas who designed it in a gothic style. It was remodelled and enlarged in 1563 by the architect Diego de Siloé, making it the first renaissance church in Spain.Capilla Real: c/ Oficios, 3. Built by the Reyes Católicos - this is where you can see their tombs.
  • Sagrario de la Catedral church: Plaza Bib Rambla. Originally a market place, later a Mosque and then finally the Sagrario de la Catedral church.
  • La Cartuja Monastery: Pº de la Cartuja. Gothic. Founded in 1495 by Don Gonzalo Fernandez de Cordoba, known as the 'Gran Capitán'.
  • Hospital de San Juan de Dios Basilica: Baroque - 18th century. It has a Baroque entrance marked by two towers with slate roofs.
  • San Jerónimo church: c/Rector López Argueta. Founded by the Reyes Católicos in 1492. It was moved to the capital in 1500 where it was built with Arabic stones from the Elvira entrance on the gardens belonging to the Nazaríes kings.
  • Iglesia de Santa Ana: 16th century - located in the Albayzín.
  • Sacromonte Abbey: Camino del Sacromonte, s/n. Founded in the 17th century. Granada's first bishop and patron is buried in its crypt.
  • Santa Isabel La Real Monastery: c/Santa Isabel La Real. Located in the Albayzín. Founded by 'Isabel la Católica' in 1501. It was once a Moorish palace until Isabel converted it into a convent.
  • Mezquita de Granada: Opened in 2003 in the Albayzín. It has a garden, a centre for Islamic studies and an oratory.

Museums in Granada

  • Manuel de Falla Museum: c/ Antequeruela Alta, 11. Located in the house where the composer once lived.
  • The Arqueological Museum: Carrera del Darro, 43, in the Albayzín. It has an interesting facade with the coats of arms of the Nazaríes kings of Granada. Located in a 15th - 16th century renaissance style palace.
  • Art and Popular Customs Museum: c/ Pavaneras, 19. This museum shows 19th century Granada with photos, paintings, decorative art...
  • Hispanic-Muslim Art Museum: Located within the Alhambra in the Carlos V 16th century palace.
  • The Bellas Artes Museum: Located within the Alhambra, in the Carlos V 16th century palace.
  • The Federico García Lorca Museum: c/ Arabial. Located in the house where the writer once lived.
  • The Science Park: Av. del Mediterráneo. An interactive museum.

Other monuments of interest in Granada

  • Casa de los Tiros: c/ Cementerio de Santa Escolástica, 19. Mudejar style, built between 1510 and 1540 - the Artes and Costumbre museum is housed here.
  • Palacio de La Madraza: c/ Oficios, 14. This was the headquarters of the old Arabic University.

  • Corral del Carbón: c/ Mariana Pineda. Located in the old part 'la ciudad vieja' it is an ancient merchants' inn dating back to the Arabic period (it is the oldest Arabic building that remains). Granada's Tourist Information Office is located here.

  • El Bañuelo: c/Carrera de Darro, 41, Located in the Albayzín. Arabic baths dating back to the 11th century.

  • La Chancillería: Located in the Plaza Nueva in the Albayzín. Renaissance style - founded by the Reyes Católicos in 1530.
  • La Casa de los Pisa: It has many works of art.

  • Campo del Principe: Located in the Plaza Campo del Principe in the area known as the Realejo. It has lots of bars and terraces.

  • Carmen de los Mártires: A former convent located within the Alhambra. The surrounding gardens are of particular interest and the small lake is very pretty. Only the gardens are open to the public.

Fiestas in Granada

The most important fiestas in Granada are: 1st February San Cecilio the patron of Granada is celebrated with a special procession that goes to the Sacromonte Abbey. Carnivals (usually 6 weeks before easter to mark the beginning of lent) there is a competition for the best dressed group; 28th February the day of Andalucia; Granada's Easter week celebrations have been given a national tourism award and last from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday there are many religious processions during the week; 3rd May known as the Cruces de Mayo (the May crosses) lots of altars and crosses are made using flowers and placed all over Granada in the squares, patios, streets...; 15th June Corpus Christi (Ascension day); there are local fiestas on the last Sunday in September to celebrate the Virgen de las Angustias also patron of the city.

What to buy in Granada

Craftwork, hand made guitars, ceramics...


Where to stay in Granada: See hotels in Granada

Granada Province:

  • The coast: It has a subtropical climate - good hotel and tourist facilities.
    • Almuñécar: Touristic coastal village. It has the remains of a Roman aquaduct and an Arabic castle. Botanic gardens and an interesting archeological museum with some Fenecian artefacts, given that Almuñecar was once a Fenecian settlement.
    • Salobreña: Located near Almuñécar. A popular touristic coastal village.
    • Mótril: Touristic and fishing village. It has a marina and beaches.

  • El Altiplano: A lot of archeological remains. Semi-desert areas next to fertile areas with vegetation near the Guadalquivir river.
    • Baza: Archeological remains. The Dama de Baza (dating back to prehistoric times) was found here.
    • Baza Mountain range: Good for hiking and other mountain sports.
    • The Castril Mountain range: Good for potholing and other mountain sports.
    • la Sagra: A 2,323 meter high mountain.
    • Cazorla, Segura and Las Villas Mountain range: 214,336 hectares. A lot of forests with up to 2000 meter high mountains. You get here by passing through a village called Cazorla. From the high mountains you can get down to the Guadalquivir valley. Also: Yedra castle an Arabic fort (contains an enthnological museum) and La Iruela castle. Mountain sports: hiking, climbing, potholing, paragliding...Also good for rural tourism.
    • Zújar: Thermal baths.
    • Huéscar: Thermal baths
    • Orce: Prehistoric archeological remains and thermal baths.

  • Alpujarra Granadina: A typical area for white villages built on the side of steep hills facing the sea. Beautiful in Spring.
    • Lanjarón: Well known for its thermal baths and medicinal spas. Its natural water springs come from the Sierra Nevada.
    • Fuente Agria: Known for its iron rich waters.
    • Orgiva: This is the largest village in the area. It has a Baroque church.
    • Trevelez: Located at the foot of the Mulhacén mountain. Well known for its delicious ham.
    • Sierra Nevada National Park: It has 14 peaks more than 3000 metres high. Ski station - Solynieve in Pradollano. Lots of diverse flora and fauna.
    • Cádiar: Wine flows from it fountains during fiestas in October.
    • Lecrín Valley: An area full of valleys, countryside and orange groves.

  • El Temple: Located on the coast.
    • Agrón: Remains of prehistoric, Fenecian and Cartaginense settlements.
    • El Marquesado and Guadix: Interesting contrast between its valleys and mountain areas.
    • Guadix: More than 2000 caves - some of them were inhabited dating back to the Moors. There is a cave museum which shows how people lived in them. There is a 10th century Arabic fort, a Mudejar style church, a 16th century Cathedral and a 16th century palace -Palacio de Peñafor.
    • Lacalahorra: Calahorra castle - 1509, Renaissance style.

  • La Vega de Granada: This is a fertile plain on the banks of the Genil river, located in the Alfagara mountain range.
    • Chauchina: Granada's airport is located here.
    • Fuente Vaqueros: This is where Federico Garcia Lorca was born. He had a summer house here which you can visit.

  • El poniente Granadino: Coastal, touristic, agricultural area.
    • Loja: Andalucian village located next to the Genil river. The remains of a 10th century fort. San Gabriel church, 16th century renaissance style. Good for rural tourism and moutain sports: hiking, paragliding, fishing, potholing...
    • Montefrío: Andalucian village with remains of an arabic city wall, a 16th century Gothic church by Diego de Siloé, a neoclassic church (Iglesia de la Encarnación) built by Ventura Rodríguez in 1717 and the 15th century Santa Fe church built under the orders of the Reyes Católicos.
    • Alhama: 4 Kms from Loja. Remains of a Roman settlement. Arabic thermal baths and a spa.

  • Los Montes: Located between Córdoba and Jaén. Villages set between valleys and mountains. An olive growing area since the Moorish occupation.
    • Piñar: “Cueva de las Ventanas”, A cave with prehistoric paintings.


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