Granada Things to Do Tips by suvanki Top 5 Page for this destination
Granada Things to Do: 946 reviews and 1,708 photos
Stone Bridge over River Darro, Granada
The River Darro used to flow through the city, but due to flooding and in order to make more room, the river was dammed, and covered over - forming Plaza Nueva.
The River gets its name River of Gold, due to the fact that people used to pan for gold along the banks.
Aurus being the Roman name for gold, the Arabic name for the river was Hadarro, The Christians then named it Dauro, eventually becoming the River Darro.
The river is crossed by 5 bridges, mainly small stone arched designs.
These are named the Puentes de Aljibillo, los Chrimias, Cabrera and Espinoso.
The ruins of the 11th century Puente del Cadi can be seen near the bus stop for Sacromonte on the Carrera del Darro, which runs parallel to the river bank.
This bridge used to connect Albaicin with the Alhambra Palace. After being demolished in the 17th century, only its base and part of the bridge wall can still be seen.
This river was all dried up when I visited, and appeared to be a bit of a local rubbish dump, plus a few characters were laying about sleeping off the contents of the empty bottles strewn nearby! Not quite the image of a River of Gold!
However, the street running parallel to the river (Carrera del Darro) is one of the prettiest in Granada, with its concentration of palaces, churches, houses and the old Arabic baths
Address: Rio Darro, Carrera del Darro
Directions: From Plaza Nueva, With Cathedral behind You, head forward, passing Iglesia Santa Ana. Just after the church , you continue onto Carrera del Darro, the river bed is on the right hand side of the road
Elvira Gate from Plaza Triunfo Granada
The Elvira Gate was originally part of a fortification, which comprised of a massive monumental outer door, behind which was a smaller door, that led onto L shaped corridors.
This design wasn't so practical in the event of invasion, where the army would have difficulties in leaving en masse. So the fortress was demolished, during the French occupation to leave only the Monumental gate standing.
The actual wooden gate/door was destroyed in the 19th century.
Locals now call this Arcoa de Elvira - The arch of Elvira, rather than Puerte (Gate)
There is evidence from a 17th century engraving, that the gate dates back to the 11th century.
This gate was the Triumphal Archway, through which invaders of the city marched.
The Catholic Monarchs, Isobel and Ferdinand rode through, then centuries later Napoleonic troops entered the city this way.
Apparently rotting heads of executed criminals were displayed from this gateway!!
Passing through the gateway, takes you onto Calle Elvira, with its many shops and bars.
Address: Plaza del Triunfo
Plaza Triunfo Granada
This square is next to the Elvira Gate, with roads leading off its central roundabout. (it was surprisingly quiet) As you can se from my photo, it is next to the old walls and Elvira door/ gate
Small cafes are to be found here.
to be continued..
400 Year old Graffitti, Granada Cathedral
While admiring the outside of the Cathedral, either for its' vastness (try squeezing it all onto a photo!) or its' decorative architecture, You might miss this example of ancient graffitti!
It's 400 years old and was painted in honour of Juan Latino - the first Black Professor in Europe and the first known Black author of literature
Born in 1516, possibly in Ethiopia, he came to Cordoba aged 12 with his slave mother, who served the daughter of the eminant General Gonzalo Fernandez. Aged 14 he moved to Granada, where he attended the Duke of Sessa.
One of his duties was to carry this Latin scholars books. Later he took lessons with him. Juan showed an exceptional talent in Latin - hence his nickname, and he studied at the Catholic school, then the new University of Granada.
Juan soon became known as an expert in latin - he was now teaching his master!, and as a talented musician and poet.
He was also famed for his wit and graceful manners. Plays were written about him (Lope de Vega and La Famosa Comedia de Juan Latino) and Cervantes even mocked him in one of the prefacing poems of Don Quioxte.
He gained his BA in 1546 and 10 years later his MA, when he became professor of Grammar.
His students celebrated his achievement by writing these slogans and messages on the walls of the Cathedral. They used a mix of red clay, pepper, olive oil and bulls blood, to make their writing material. Probably a bit more environmentally friendly than aerosol paint spray!!
In 1565 he was bestowed the prestigious honour of giving the opening exercise of the Academic year in Latin.
Juan Latino was well regarded and respected, which is an achievement in a country that at the time was undergoing religious fanaticism and nationalist fervour.
He had also fallen in love with Dona Ana, the daughter of the Dukes Estate manager - they wed and had 4 children
I think this graffitti was on the wall to the right of the main facade on Plaza de las Pasiegas. I was too engrossed in the story of Juan Latino to take much notice.
Address: Cathedral, Granada
Phone: + 34 958 22 29 59
Hospital San Juan de Dios courtyard
This was one of those unexpected treasures! I'd just wandered through the stone doorway, not knowing what to expect. I was stunned to find myself in a courtyard, of Moorish/ Andalucian design. A central courtyard with orange trees, surrounded by a covered walkway, above which was a second storey. On the walls were old paintings, each with writing underneath (in spanish).
Even though I'd spotted a wheelchair, I hadn't realised that this was a hospital, let alone one that was still in use! I continued to wander around, and up the staircase, which led to good views of the adjacent Iglesia San Juan de Dios, and over the courtyard.
It was as I was heading towards a sign to the mortuary, that I realised I'd walked past the kitchens, where food was being prepared, and that I was in a hospital. However, a man with a camera appeared and walked past me, so I continued wandering into another, more overgrown courtyard with a fountain. Well I decided not to wander too near the mortuary, and re traced my steps to the 1st courtyard.
I now know that this hospital was founded in the 16th century, by Juan Ciudad Duorte, who having been a shepherd and soldier, came to Granada in 1536 as an itinerant bookseller.
On reading Holy works, he took up a religious and humanitarian lifestyle. Finding helping others such as the sick and unfortunate, made him feel good, he dedicated his life to helping the sick, and encouraging others to do so. Renting a house, with room for 46 beds, he began his work.
Initial hostility, was replaced by others wanting to follow his example, or donating funds. He was able to set up a charitable fund, before his death.
The paintings in the courtyard are 17th century and depict aspects of Juans life. The writings underneath are poems relating to the pictures.
A silver urn in the church contains his remains.
Juan was later canonised - becoming San Juan de Dios. Saint John of God
0800 - 1500 daily
Address: Calle San Juan de Dios 23 Granada 18002
Directions: From the Triunfo Gardens. Cross Ave de la Constitucion at the junction with Ave. Hospicio, C/San Juan de Dios should be in front of you, slightly to the right. The hospital is next to the church with the green dome
Phone: +34 958 202101
Calle San Juan de Dios, Musicians and dancers
I came upon this street as I was wandering around.
I'd spotted a few small groups of smartly dressed people, and was curious to see where they were all going. As I turned into this street, the mystery was solved- They were going to a wedding, well 2 weddings, as two churches on the street were holding wedding services.
I watched as a bride arrived and entered the Iglesia del Perpetuo Socorro, surrounded by a large crowd. Outside the Iglesia de San Juan de Dios was a crowd, including a group of musicians and women dressed in pink and black polka dot dresses in the Sevilliano style.
As the bridal party stepped out of the church, a shower of flower petals, rice and streamers erupted over them, as the church bells rang out!
While I waited for the 2nd wedding to finish, I wandered through a stone gateway, and was stunned to find an Andalucian style courtyard, with orange trees and frescoes. I was even more stunned to find that I'd stepped into a hospital, that wasn't a museum. I later learned that this was the Hospital of San Juan de Dios.
I wandered back to the church across the road, and saw that a few people were still entering. Curiosity got the better of me, I looked fairly presentable, so I followed them in and enjoyed watching the wedding, and listening to the choir!
Nearby is the monastery of San Jerome, which I was originally aiming for, before I got distracted. I never got the chance to visit, as after witnessing these weddings, and having a look around the churches and hospital, I continued wandering towards the University Square, where I saw another wedding, and lots more interesting buildings.
One of those great times, when you come across something unexpected, which makes your trip special!
I'll cover these churches etc in individual tips
Address: Calle San Juan de Dios 23,Granada 18001
Directions: South of Triunfo Gardens. Cross Ave de la Constitucion at the junction with Ave. Hospicio, C/San Juan de Dios should be in front of you, slightly to the right.
Puertade las Granadas from Cuesta de Gomarez
Halfway up Plaza Nueva on the right hand side, is a steep narrow road, that leads to the Alhambra gardens and Palace. This is Cuerta de Gomarez. It is the route that the Granada tour bus and the public mini buses take upto the Alhambra. Cars and other transport have to enter from the opposite side of the Palace, where the car parks are situated.
Lining the road are some of the cheaper hostals, and shops - This street is particularly noted for its Guitar workshops, I think there are about 5! all dedicated to making these fine hand crafted instruments. I've read that some well known guitarists have purchased their instruments here!
Cuerta de Gomarez is straddled at its far end by the impressive 3 arched gateway to the Alhambas' gardens and forest of elm trees.
This is the Pomegranate Gate (Puerta de las Granadas), or Granada Gate, named for the 3 large bursting fruits made of stone that are displayed on the huge lintel.
The Pomegranate being the symbol of Granada. (Its spanish name is granada).
This gate is one of the many places that You can see pomegranate symbols as you walk around the City.
The gate was built in 1536 by Pedro Machuca to honour Emperor Charles (Carlo) V, and for a while it was known as the Puerto de Carlos Quinto.
Continuing through the gate, You have entered the grounds of the Alhambra Palace and the Bosque Alhambra woods. It has only been since the Christian conquest that the lush vegetation and many trees have been grown. The Moors deliberately kept the slopes below the palace walls bare, so that invaders couldn't hide amongst shrubs or long grass.
This gate was the preferred portal to and from the Alhambra by the Christians, who generally avoided using the old Moorish gate below the Alcazaba.
(Those with tickets to the Nazeries Palace can continue up the path to the left and pass through the Gate of Justice, otherwise continue straight ahead for just under 1km to the ticket office )
Address: Cuerta de Gomarez, Granada
Directions: Buses 32 and 33 every 5 - 10 mins from Plaza Nueva to the Alhambra 07.15 - 23.00hrs daily. This route is also on the Granada City Sightseeing tour - please read my transport tip for more info
Plaza Nueva, Granada
My first encounter with this square was on the evening of May 3rd, during The Festival of The Crucifixes- It was crowded and full of life!
It felt like all the young people of Granada had gathered here to party- most were enjoying the festivities, armed with bottles of wine or cans of beer. Many were dancing, singing or just chatting/ laughing with their friends. Food stalls were doing good business, and music was blaring from loudspeakers. There was also a lot of litter!
Next morning I wandered into the square and it was as if I'd entered a different place- no litter, and people were going about their daily business.
In the square are fountains and pavement cafes, to pass a pleasant hour or so. It's a good spot for people watching! During the evenings, its' bars and clubs are popular
This is the area to catch buses to Sacremonte, Alhambra etc.
Lots of souvenir shops and food shops surround the square, as well as travel offices etc.
The building at the end of the square with flags outside is the Royal Chancellery, partly built in 1530, by Diego de Siloe, behind this building, a prison was built, and was in use from the 17th to 19th century, it is now the High Court.
Originally, Plaza Nueva was built to cover The River Darro, that flowed through the city, to help prevent flooding and create more space for the city. It has been an arena for bull fights, jousting and public executions.
Address: Plaza Nueva
Directions: Centre of Granada. From the Cathedral, head towards the statue of Christopher Columbus, pass the Plaza Isobel Catolica on the left side, continue up Calle Reyes, and you're in Plaza Nueva. (less than 5 minute walk)
Miradour St. Nicholas, Granada
This is the recommended spot to see the sunset over the Alhambra, It's also recommended to keep your valuables hidden, as it's allegedly a prime pick- pocketing site.
Well, I arrived here early afternoon, and there was no-one else here- So I was half expecting to be jumped on by hidden nee'r do wells!
Luckily I had an undisturbed time viewing The Alhambra from this vantage point.
I took a few pics, had a wander around the streets and squares of Albaicin, then returned here about an hour later. I found an assembled gathering of tourists taking pics of the Alhambra, plus a small group of 'the great unwashed' gathered around a loppy looking guitarist, who proceeded to wail something which I guess was supposed to be a variation on a flamenco lament, with an accompaniment of a few half hearted strums of his guitar- his glassy eyed mates were far more impressed than I was!
The 16th century Church of San Nicholas stands at the back of the mirador. This church, like many others, was set on fire during the Spanish Civil war, as the impoverished inhabitants of Albaicin supported the Republicans, who rose against Franco.
The Granada tour (mini bus) stops near here, as do the 'donkey buses'
Address: Plaza de San Nicolás (Albaicín)
Directions: Buses 32 and 33 leave Plaza Nueva for Albaicin and Sacromonte which stop near here.
Or head along Carrera del Darro and follow the crowds!
Mariana de Pineda statue, Granada
This pleasant square is dominated by the statue of Mariana de Pineda.
May 26th each year, this square is the focus for people commemorating the death of this young heroine, with cultural events and entertainment.
Mariana de Pineda was born 1st Sept 1804, into a minor aristocratic family. Married at 15 to Manual Peralta Volte, a liberal army officer, she was widowed at age 18 with 2 young children.
She became involved in the Liberal cause, assisting her cousin to escape from prison in 1828.
In 1831, she was arrested, after a search of her home revealed a hidden flag, on which she'd embroidered the slogan 'Equality Freedom and Law'. She escaped her captors, but after 10 days was recaptured, and held in Santa Maria Egipciaca Convent along with other political prisoners.
The trial Judge offered her leniancy in exchange for betraying her accomplices, which she refused to do.
On 26th May1831, aged 27 she was publically garrotted in the Jardins de Triunfo, and buried in an unmarked grave.
Her remains have since been exhumed and reburied.
A plaque marks the house on Calle Aguila, 18, where she spent her last years.
Her life was commemorated in - Lorcas' (one of Granadas most famous residents) first plays, and has been immortalised in theatre and flamenco performances ever since.
Address: Plaza Mariana de Pineda, Granada
Directions: Down Reyes Catolicos turn L. along Acera del Casino. At the Bibataubin Fountain/ Pl Bibataubin turn left up the narrow street, and You should be at the statue.
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