OCTOBER 15-18: Granada ‘I am falling under your spell…’ PART 2

Posted on Feb 16, 2012 in category



After defying all warnings about driving in Granada, we were pretty proud about successfully parking our car ‘Bomb’ close to the Albaicin area, ‘the quarter of the falconers’. Like the Alhambra, this  old Arab quarter or district of Granada was made a World Heritage site in 1984. Estimates of 40,000 Moors lived in its narrow, steep streets during the Nasrid period (A.D.1232-1492). Over 30 mosques were constructed along with many opulent ‘carmens’ or Moorish houses. Like the Jews who were expelled from Granada in A.D.1492 on the city’s conquest by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, the Moors who stayed in Granada soon found themselves on the outer and eventually were forced to convert or join the exodus from Spain (by A.D.1609 all Moors were expelled). Christian charity especially from the Dominican monks did not extend to infidels.



A map of the Albaicin quarter. Our apartment was on ‘Calle San Jose Alta’ near the Church of San Jose (9) and its A.D.1050 minaret, one of only two that survive in Granada



Minaret of San Jose Church (9)

There are several good vantage points to see the Alhambra from the Albaicin quarter which runs parallel to it. Close to our Mudejar apartment was Plaza de San Miguel Bajo (10), Church of San Miguel Bajo (17) and the Convent of Santa Isobel la Catolica (15). The latter two buildings were undergoing restoration work.


Plaza de San Miguel Bajo (10) has reputedly good tapas bars. We enjoyed occasionally buying local produce from downtown supermarkets and using our apartment’s kitchen and patio



The view of the Alhambra (Arabic for ‘red fortress’) from the Mirador de San Nicholas (6) is spectacular

For a virtual view from the Mirador de San Nicholas see: http://www.360cities.net/image/image_112765_1290980088_235104_960106#917.53,3.91,109.6


Unfortunately, Granada’s Archaeological Museum (11 on above map) was closed for renovations. It is housed in ‘Casa de Castril’ (A.D.1539) built by Hernando de Zafra who fought for the conquering Christian army in A.D.1492 . In fact, he was the main negotiator for the King.


Zafra’s coat of arms depicts the Alhambra’s Comares Tower. Legend has it that the building is haunted as Zafra threw his daughter’s suspected lover from one of the upper storey windows . The phoenix rising has a twist here!


‘Casa de las Chirimias’ (A.D.1609) had an unusual function: it was a type of grandstand for officials during the city’s main festivals in the ‘Paseo de los Tristes’. The bottom floor housed the judge and constables, on the second storey the mayor and his 24 Knights looked on whilst the top storey was reserved for the musicians who trumpeted away.


‘Real Chancilleria’ or Royal Chancery (A.D.1531-1587) was in control of southern Spain under the early Christian Kings. It faces Plaza Nueva with the Church of Santa Ana in the background (13)



‘Casa de Tiros’ or House of Cannons is truly a 16th century Christian statement! Trojan sculptured heroes add their moral support to this symbolic arsenal of Spanish royal loyalty

and Christian faith.

Talking about faith, Granada’s Cathedral owes its origins to King Ferdinand who laid the foundations in A.D.1504 only two months before Queen Isabella died. Fortunately, the Cathedral was built by A.D.1517 the year of Ferdinand’s death. Both monarchs are interned in this Cathedral. It was later extended by various Spanish Kings.


A huge central nave with double aisles either side certainly impress worshippers but the huge stained glass lit dome is the most impressive feature.



The Cathedral was finally consecrated in A.D.1561


Another church of interest in Granada is ‘Santo Domingo’. Construction began in A.D.1512 using tombstones from the Moors. The Spanish Inquisition had its first headquarters here under Tomas de Torquemada, Spain’s first Inquisitor-General. During his 15 years of purging non-believers some 2000 Spaniards were executed. The Inquisition was abolished in 1834. Note the restored frescoes on the facade.

From the Holy Sacraments to Sacromonte, the thespian quarter of Granada. A leisurely walk around this district popped up few surprises. Flamenco taverns are scattered around this area but they do not open until late, late at night.


Protest poster in Sacromonte for 15 October re: ill effects of the euro debt crisis


Granada’s 14th century defensive towers and walls still survive around Sacromonte area


Our four day ‘spell’ in Granada was most enjoyable. We had time to relax as well as see the many historical sites of this World Heritage wonder. Our next destination is to head towards the ‘Costa Tropical’ and the towns of Salobreña and Almuñécar via the Sierra Nevada or Snowy Mountains.




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