Visiting an important city for a day and classifying it as beautiful may be a hasty subjective assessment, but it is quite a different thing to go sightseeing for a single day, guided and informed. Touring Granada, documented by its centenary history of reigns and cultural monuments, will be a unique experience. Granada, a tourist destination in Spain, is the first Spanish-speaking city to be designated a City of Literature by UNESCO, which designated three of its historic sites as World Heritage Sites: the Alhambra, the Generalife garden and the Albaicín neighbourhood.
What to see in Granada during a day's visit that you will never forget?
This historic site is Spain's second most popular tourist destination after the Sagrada Familia. It is a complex of buildings built over several centuries on the site of an ancient city of Andalusian palaces. The site is made up of several palaces and gardens that became a military fortress, which later became the residence of the Muslim emir of the Nasrid kingdom.
Here you can admire the internal art of each Muslim palace, with ornamentation representing the best of Andalusian art. In the Andalusian art museum you have the opportunity to see the most important collection of paintings in Granada. The tour passes through the old convent of San Francisco, which has been transformed into a Parador Nacional to accommodate tourists and VIPs.
The first stage of this palace complex began with the construction of a fortress-palace on the Sabika hill by the Jewish vizier Yusuf ibn Nagrela. Construction began at a time of population growth, full coexistence between monotheistic religions and economic flourishing.
The second impulse was initiated by Amir Muhammad ibn Nasr in 1238 when he took the city of Granada. He installed his government in the Badis b. Habus palace. The fortress-palace built on the Sabika hill at the beginning of the 11th century served as the base of the new defensive fortresses of Granada, called the new citadel or 'alcazaba nueva' or 'yadida'. During this period the defences were built: the Torre de la vela (watchtower) and the Torre del Homenaje (keep). Muhammad I started the palace area and extended the aqueduct that brings water from the Darro River.
Here you can tour the fortified palace under the reign of Muhammad II (1273-1302), the aqueduct and the outer walls completed at the end of the 13th century. The gardens and pavilions belonging to the Royal Resting Villa completed in the reign of Isma'il (1314-1325). In addition, visit the most important complexes of the courtyards of the Myrtles and the Lions, built by Yusuf I (1333-1354) and Muhammad V (1354-1359), where the Granada style predominates as the aesthetic culmination of Andalusian art.
The development of the complex continued under the control of the Catholic kings in 1494 with the convent of San Francisco, the palace of Charles V in 1527 and the church of Santa María de la Encarnación in 1581.
A visit to this place built in the Middle Ages of the kingdom of Granada, designed as a place of retreat for the Nasrid monarchs, leaves no one indifferent. It is a rural villa with splendid gardens, orchards and architecture complementing each other, built near the group of Nasrid fortresses and palaces.
This type of villa and royal orchard was common in the Moorish-Hispanic courts, and was the result of changes, additions and alterations made by each of the emirs. Its oldest decorative elements date its construction to the end of the 13th century, during the second reign of the Nasrid dynasty of King Muhammad II (1273-1302).
On a visit to this country villa located outside the walled enclosure of the palace and fortress complex of the Nasrid kingdom, tourists will appreciate the emirs' relaxation farm, a space also used for agricultural cultivation. During the Middle Ages it had several vegetable gardens. This rest house was a palace christened the Royal House of Happiness by the vizier Ibn al-Jayyab.
In this tour you can enjoy a great walk among flowers and multiple aromas, where the Nasrid princes enjoyed their season of rest; but while they stayed here, they also plotted the amorous and political conquests they were ready to undertake later on.
Erected as the burial chapel of Kings Isabella I of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon, it also contains the remains of their heir daughter Joanna I of Castile (the Mad) and her husband Philip I of Castile (Philip the Beautiful). It was built between 1505 and 1517 and was consecrated to Saint John the Baptist and Saint John the Evangelist. This royal chapel was conceived as a temple folded into a new cathedral, for the development and practice of the worship of the Catholic religion, after the Catholic kings defeated and achieved the capitulation of the Nasrid kingdom at the end of the 15th century.
Although its initial design presumed its construction as an annex to the building of a new cathedral, in reality the two structures are today separate; moreover, their aesthetics are completely different. The royal chapel culminated in the late Gothic style, while the new cathedral is an expression of the emerging aesthetics of the Renaissance.
Construction of the church, sacristy and the entrance band began in 1505 under the direction of Enrique Egas, who imbued it with a Gothic style at this stage. Three renowned architects of the time were also involved in its construction. On the outside, the chapel takes on the design of the Monastery of San Juan de los Reyes in Toledo, with its chapels on the sides, and a central nave with a Gothic vault with expressive ribs.
Some light effects can be seen, intended as ways of exalting the sun and light together with justice, an expressive Albertian-Neo-Platonic symbiosis of architecture at that time. The chapel presents the transept conceived for the privileged royal mausoleum, separated by a masterly, generously ornamented gate, forged by Maestro Bartolomé. Both the tombs of Isabella and Ferdinand are in the centre of the transept, the work of the Italian artist Domenico Fancelli. The tombs of Juana and Felipe are the work of the Spanish sculptor Bartolomé Ordoñez.
Called the Cuarto Real Viejo after the expulsion of the Muslims from Spain, they are the most emblematic palace complex in Granada. It is made up of a pair of separate palaces, the Comares Palace and the Palace of the Lions. Visitors to this site will see the rooms and spaces chosen by the Catholic kings to inhabit along with the Mexuar, among all the palaces, mansions, mansions, tower-fortresses and tower-palaces of the Muslim site of Granada's Nasrid power.
The residences of the Islamic kings were modified and replaced over time in accordance with the Islamic conception of not building anything that would remain over time, in addition to the tradition of each Muslim sultan demonstrating his power by building his own palace. It was the Catholic kings who decided to preserve them, unlike in other places where they were abandoned or mostly demolished, as the French did.
On a visit to the site, tourists will see palaces that were the seat of the Nasrid court. Some were used for administrative functions, protocol, residential use and the enjoyment of royalty and the court. Their construction began at the beginning of the 14th century. A significant feature of this visit will be the buildings erected over time after the Alcazaba, the Partal and the most famous nearby gardens of Granada, including the resting place of the Nasrid royalty.
Something never to forget about this place is the Mexuar, the oldest room in the entire palace complex. Its construction is attributed to Isma'il I (1314-1325). It was a courtroom and courtroom for cases of great importance. It has a concealed chamber at the top of the hall, where the Muslim king would sit and listen without being seen. The name of this hall is derived from the Arabic word maswar, which translates as the meeting place of the Sura (council of Muslim ministers).
The Santa Iglesia Catedral Metropolitana de la Encarnación de Granada is one of the stellar creations of the Spanish Renaissance. This Catholic temple is also the seat of the archdiocese of the city of Granada. Visitors will see the peculiar artistic aesthetic present in this Renaissance work, a style that responds to the formation in the kingdom of Granada of an artistic centre independent of Herrerianism, the dominant style in almost the entire peninsula except in Galicia.
It can be seen how the reign of Charles I in Spain brought new buildings to Granada. This king projected Granada as the city design to be followed in the 16th century. Due to this conception of construction, the Cathedral of Granada, the University, the Chancellery and other emblematic buildings of the city are contemporary.
The initial project for the cathedral was given to Enrique Egas in 1506, designing a temple in the Gothic style following the Toledo Cathedral as a model. Construction began under his direction, with the first stone being laid in a solemn act on 25 March 1523. In 1529, Diego de Siloé continued the work on the cathedral, which was completed in 1563, with a new and more grandiose project. He imbued the building as a whole with the lines of Renaissance art on the initial Gothic foundations, including the ambulatory and five naves, thus breaking with the customary three naves. It also combined different architectural styles in its configuration.
The cathedral's main façade was reformed by Alonso Cano in 1664, incorporating Baroque components. The grandeur of the cathedral could have been greater if the two 81-metre-high towers, projected in the plans, had been erected. The project was not completed due to the death of Alfonso Cano and financial problems.
The idea for its construction came from Emperor Charles V after his marriage to Isabella of Portugal. After the wedding, the royal couple lived for a time in the palatine citadel of the Nasrid kings of Granada, where the Catholic kings set up rooms for their residence after defeating and expelling the Muslims in 1492.
The beauty of the palace surroundings is outstanding, a fact that motivated Charles V to commission the construction of a new palace for his residence, following the Muslim monarchs to build a palace to suit his emperor's power.
Pedro Machuca was the architect who was commissioned to build it. At that time in Spain, the Plateresque style dominated, architecture was still in the Gothic style and the aesthetics and style of the Renaissance were not yet in full force. Machuca built a work identified with early Italian Mannerism. Versions place him in the workshops of Michelangelo; however, he still lacked the vigour of expression and development of his later architectural creation, at the time of starting work on the palace in 1527.
Visitors will see a building constructed in the middle of the palace complex of the Nasrid reign of Granada, on the hill of Sabika. Its construction made it necessary to demolish a pavilion opposite the Comares Tower. This decision is still the subject of debate. In the context of the time, enemy palaces were being destroyed, but the Catholic kings opted to preserve their beauty, protect them and continue the development of the complex. The new palace reaffirmed the importance of preserving the other buildings on the site. Work slowed down in 1572 and ceased completely in 1637.
During the Spanish War of Independence (1808-1814) the French turned the palace into a powder keg. This put the entire palace complex at risk. Twenty years after the end of the war, an English writer denounced the danger of not removing the powder magazine from such an interesting building, where lightning could destroy it and the whole place. In 1832 the powder magazine was removed. The local governor declared it a miracle that the walls did not collapse. The work began to be completed in 1930. Since 1958 the palace has housed the Museum of Fine Arts of Granada.