Opening hours: Summer (1/4 - 31/10). Monday - Sunday, 8.30 - 20.00.
Alhambra was built by the Nazaris in 1238 as a fortress and residential area.
The name Alhambra comes from an Arabic root which means "red or crimson castle", perhaps due to the hue of the towers and walls that surround the entire hill of La Sabica which by starlight is silver but by sunlight is transformed into gold. But there is another more poetic version, evoked by the Moslem analysts who speak of the construction of the Alhambra fortress "by the light of torches", the reflections of which gave the walls their particular coloration. Created originally for military purposes, the Alhambra was an alcazaba (fortress), an alcázar (palace) and a small medina (city), all in one. This triple character helps to explain many distinctive features of the monument.
The greatest concern of the architects of the Alhambra was to cover every single space with decoration, no matter the size of the space. No decorative element was enough. Most of the interior arches are false arches, with no structure; they are there only to decorate. Walls are covered with beautiful and extremely rich ceramics and plasterwork. And the coverings have wooden frames that have been exquisitely carved, etc.
The Generalife palace was constructed in the 14th century next to the Alhambra as resident for the Nazari Monarchs. The palace is full of incredible Moorish architecture, sculptures and gardens. Derived from Yannat al-Arif, its name can mean the "garden of the Architect" as well as "noble garden".
This charming villa is often said to have been the summer palace of the Sultans, but in fact it was a hunting lodge and country retreat, where the rulers, accompanied by their wives, could escape the turmoil of the palace. The Moors, like today's Andalucians, did not combat the heat by seeking the open air, but rather by withdrawing into shady, secluded patios and rooms.
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The construction of the cathedral of Granada was ordered by the catholic kings in 1503 shortly after conquering the town from the Moors. The cathedral was designed by the architect San Juan Evangelista in creating a design using Gothic and Renaissance styles. The catholic kings were later in 1521 buried in the royal chapel in the Cathedral.
This cathedral with its five naves is considered to be the most important Renaissance building of Spain. Built in the transition period of Gothic to Renaissance, it shows as well elements of this earlier style. Especially remarkable are the main chapel, Capilla Mayor, the lateral chapels and of course the façade with its sculptures. Capilla Real The Royal Chapel was built between 1505 and 1521 under Spain's catholic kings. The northern front was later on integrated in the cathedral.
The royal chapel is situated on the northern front of the Cathedral and was built in the same period.
Designs for the Royal Chapel began in 1504 and it was built between 1505 and 1521 by Enrique Egas. It was commissioned by the Catholic Monarchs for their burial site. As both Queen Isabel and King Fernando died before the Royal Chapel was finished, they were first buried in the Friary of San Francisco in the Alhambra. They were then later moved to the Chapel once it had been completed, and buried alongside King Felipe and Queen Juana (known more commonly as Juana la Loca - Juana the Mad). Although their original idea was for all future Spanish Kings and Queens to be buried here, this did not happen as the monastery in El Escorial was used instead. The tombs were carved out of marble by the Tuscan sculptor Domenico Fancelli.
El Bañuelo (Arab Baths)
El Bañuelo is an Arab bathhouse from the 11th century and one of the oldest surviving Arab bathes in Spain.
El Corral del Carbón
El Corral del Carbón is a Moorish building from the 14th century, which was once suited as a storage and hotel for merchants coming to Granada. Today the building hosts the tourist office of Granada.
Monastery of Cartuje
Although work began in 1515, from the outset the project seemed as equally medieval as the order itself. However, certain delays meant its design would later acquire grandiloquent features in keeping with the time, far removed from the austere wishes of its founders. The church, sacristy and side chapel in particular attain a bewildering decoration, mixing interesting works by Bocanegra, Sánchez Cotán and other artists, with magnificent marquetry work and incrusted stone, crafts that would maintain a great tradition in Granada.
Monastery of San Jeronimo
The order of the Jerónimos was especially spoilt by the Catholic Monarchs, for this reason the founding of the monastery in Santa Fe precedes the taking of Granada. Building began on its present site in 1504, its two cloisters are complete with gardens, fountains and orange trees. Part of its great wealth lies in the fact that the widow of the Gran Capitán chose the site as the burial place for both herself and her valiant husband. The adjacent church boasts a spectacular altar piece and choir, the work of the most significant craftsmen in Granada during the 16th and 17th centuries.
This palace was constructed by the Moorish monarch Yussuf I in 1349 and was in that period used as university. Today the palace is used by the University of Granada and the only remains of the original building is the chapel.
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