Even before the arrival of the Arabs in the seventh century, the Jews had a small city on the left bank of the River Darro. This was later known by the Arab name of Garnata al-Yahud (Jewish Granada). When the Christians took the city they destroyed the barrio of the detested Jews and renamed the area Realejo and it was appropriated by the Crown. Is is a barrio to enjoy yourself by taking tapas in one of the many bars to be found there. The important public spaces in the barrio are the Palace of the Counts of Gabia, the Alhambra Theatre and the Princes Field (Campo del Príncipe).
Tradition attributes the name to the place where a Christian prince fell from his horse and was killed. Another legend says that here lays an Arab prince and another that it was the place where King “El Zagal” ordered the bringing forth King Muley Hacen’s corpse so that the people could see he was dead. In 1513 this square hosted a celebration of a “festival of jousts because the city had a deep need of it”. In 1518, the celebration of the wedding of Duchess of Sesa, the Gran Capitán’s daughter, took place here. During the 17th and 18th centuries it witnessed several popular revolts, including that of March 1648 in which the people from Granada tried to dismiss the governor. Thanks to its location we can enjoy from here a wonderful view of the quarters of Antequeruela and Mauror and Los Mártires. In the square we can find the San Cecilio church and the Military Hospital. Today, evenings and nights are full of life thanks to the bars and pubs located nearby. The square has benches and areas for childs games.
The grand marketplace of Granada is now much reduced. It once extended from Plaza Nueva to the Plaza Bibarrambla but this was destroyed in 1843. Its name “al-Kaysar-ia” derives from the Latin and means “Caesar´s House.” The Arabs called it thus in recognition of the Emperor Justinian for his granting of a concession to a silk factory. Traditionally, these bazaars were situated in the centre of the city, with places for the merchants to lodge with doors which were locked at night to avoid the pillaging of goods. La Alcaicería is today is full of tourist shops where artifacts from Granadino artisans can be bought, such a painted ceramics known as fajalauza and items of marquetry.
This street stretches from the Plaza Bibarrambla to the Plaza Nueva, running parallel to the Rio Darro before the river goes underground. Zacatin means “Clothes Market” and was where textiles and material was sold in the lower part of the street in Arab times from shacks on the banks of the river. There were also a great number of artisans such as silversmiths, leather workers, dyers, shoemakers, hatmakers and haberdashers, some of which are reflected in the names of streets in the area. In 1491 with the aim of creating a better sense of order, each trade was assigned its own area, the silversmiths being moved to the entrance of the Alcaicería.
The Carmen de los Mártires can be found next to the woods of the Alhambra. The place took its name from the dungeons which existed there in Arab times, and where some Christians suffered martyrdom leading to the Catholic Kings erecting a hermitge dedicated to them. Later a convent was built for the Carmelitas in which Prior San Juan de la Cruz served from 1582-88. Today, one can contemplate in the gardens of cedar or cypress of San Juan de la Cruz, who tradition says planted the trees. The convent was destroyed in 1842 and the lands were aquired privately and pretty gardens of different styles were created, among them a romantic garden with a lake, island, tower and hidden springs. There is also a monastic garden, planted with aromatic and medicinal plants and an oriental garden with a fountain surrounded by palm trees and an Islamic patio with water channels and a grotto. All will surprise you with their variety and beauty and the interesting views of the Alhambra and excellent views of Granada city and the Sierra Nevada. It is a place to stroll and relax and get away from the hustle-bustle of the city.
The Albaicín or Albayzín was decarled a World Heritage site by UNESCO
in 1994. In Arab times this barrio was next to the Alcazaba, the centre
of concentration of the population. Archaeological remains, amongst them
an Iberican wall, are evidence that this place was inhabited in antiquity.
In each case, the quantity of monuments which arise in its streets, such
as mosques, cisterns and public drinking places demonstrate that it was
the most densely populated part of Granada. It stretches from the walls
of the Alcazaba to the hill of San Miguel, and on the other side from
the Guadix Gate to the Alcazaba. This privileged location makes
it one of the most picturesque places in the city.
The history of the Albaicin came to prominence when the new Arab inhabitants settled there in the eighth century. It appears that at this time the first fortification was constructed, known as the Alcazaba Alqadima. The square of Saint Nicolas is its centrepoint and it extends from the Bibalbonud, (now known as Abad Square) to the Cristo de la Azucena. A century later, towards the middle of the ninth century, the fighting between the Arabs, the Mozarabs and Muladies signalled a decline, and it was not until in the eleventh century that it recovered its brio with the Ziri dynasty. At this time the Albaicin was enlarged as far as the Puerta de Monaita and San Juan de los Reyes to link up with the Puerta de Bibalbonud. In the 13th century Alhamar, the founder of the Nazari dynasty, decided to move over the river to the mount of the Alhambra thereby making the Alcazaba Qadima the seat of power in Granada. With the Christian reconquest the Albaicin progressively lost its splendour. In the time of Felipe II, and after the rebellion of the Moors, the area became more and more depopulated. When it was almost abandoned, the romantics started to restore the area but this could not stop its general deterioration. In reality, this barrio preserves the best of Granada, and each house contains something of its Arab legacy.
Mirador de San Nicolás: From this small square in the Albaicin, close to the church of San Nicolas, thought to be the oldest in the barrio, one can find one of the best views of the Alhambra and the Sierra Nevada. The traveller can feel a special sensation when night falls, the Alhambra is illuminated and the square is lit to create a special and magical environment. Behind the mirador, travellers can recover their strength in the bars and restaurants on one of the many terrace, especially if they have walked up the hill to the mirador through the narrow streets of the Albaicin.
Mirador del Carril de la Lona: Situated on a small hill in the Albaicin it allows one to see from different viewpoints, the city of Granada, la Vega, la Alhambra and the Sierra Nevada. El Mirador de la Lona is one of the most attractive viewpoints, after that of San Nicolas.
The most charming walk in the Sacromonte follows a cobbled path called Vereda de Enmedio with magnificent views of the Alhambra and the Albaicin, in the shadow of Granada's 14th century wall.
To get to the Sacromonte you can use the Paseo de los Tristes, which goes from Plaza Nueva past La Chapiz on your right and then turns left and climbs past the Cordoba Palace which is now used as the Municipal Archives. Shortly afterwards a road to the left, the Camino del Sacromonte takes you deep into the Sacromonte, past numerous caves offering gypsy dancing. Here you can find among others, La Zambra “El Rocio” which has a world reputation for its brand of flamenco which is considereed to have great expression and quality. The origins of the zambra are from the 16th century and were the nuptial rituals of the Moors in the city.
Plaza de Bibarrambla, the name means The River Gate as the square was originally on the sandy banks of the river and was the place where you entered the lower part of the city. After the Christian Reconquest it was used as a place where acts of faith decided the fate of many citizens. It was known as the Arco de las Orejas (Arch of the Ears), as in the Middle Ages it was adorned with the ears of thieves after they were publically amputated. The Fuente de los Gigantes (Fountain of the Giants) was built in the 17th century with stone from the Elvira and was moved there in 1940. It has giants that support a bowl underneath with a statue of Neptune above. Today the place is famous for its flower stalls.
The old gateway was demolished more than a century ago, but some lovers of Granada saved the stones, and rebuilt it in the woods of the Alhambra. The Plaza Bibalrambla is the heart of the social life of Granada, full of light, with restaurants, florists and many lime trees filled with birds at sunset. It is worth going there to relax after visiting the monuments in the centre of Granada.
Plaza de Isabel la Católica is one of the most important squares in the city, and occupies a stategic position in the city as does The Lecrin Valley in the province. From the square one can access a great number of monuments and museums. In its centre is the Monumento a las Capitulaciones built to commemorate the four hundredth anniversary of the discovery of America. It has a representation of Isabel la Catolica giving Christopher Columbus the means and permission to go and discover those territories which were thought to exist on the other side of the Atlantic.
Plaza de la Universidad can be found in the University enclave, in front of the Law Faculty which has a magnificient Baroque doorway. Next to it is the church of San Justo y Pastor. The small square is overlooked by a statue of the emperor Carlos I.
Plaza de San Miguel el Bajo is a square in the Barrio del Albaicín where we find the church of San Miguel el Bajo and a cistern from the days of the Moors. The name of the square came from a hermitage also dedicated to San Miguel which was sited in a higher spot. In the south side of the square you will find the Cristo de las Lañas, a religious image which was destroyed by the Republican soldiers during the Civil War and whose remains were guarded by the people of the neighbourhood, who then reconstructed the image using staples to fix the stones, from which comes the name. This square is a good place for visitors to savour a great variety of tapas from the numerous bars there.
Plaza Nueva is the central axis of the old city: from here you can go up to the Alhambra by the Cuesta de Gomerez, to the Albaicin by the narrow streeets which run from here, to the Calle Elvira with all its attractions in the evenings or by way of the Carrera del Darro to arrive at the Paseo de los Tristes and the Sacromonte. It is a square full of variety with various terraces where you can enjoy the sun and tranquility of Granada. The Christians called it “new” because it was the first square they created, in the 16th century. They wanted to cover the river in a place where, although there were several bridges, there was insufficient room to cope with all the traffic going to and from the Alhambra. So they built a wide space covering the river which formed a large public square. In it there the Chancilleria and the church of Santa Ana.
Plaza del Carmen is where you can find the Town Hall, which was built on the site of the old Convent of Carmen, of which only the central patio survives.
Plaza Mariana Pineda is to be found just behind the Palacio de Bibataubín, and in its centre is a statue to the Heroine of Liberty which gives the square its name. The heroine was executed in the Jardines de Triunfo in 1831.
Paseo de los Tristes runs parallel to the RiverDarro and its name derives from the funeral
corteges which passed along here on their way to the cemetery behind the
Alhambra. It is also called the “Paseo del Padre Manjón”, the priest who
founded a school for the poor children of the barrio of the Sacromonte
Escuela Ave María) and there is a bust of him in the school.
The square was originally built in1609 when the area was remodelled and has always been a very lively place. Parties were held here and at other times, the river was covered with boards to form an arena for bull fights, games, books, etc. At the end of the square is the " Aljibillo Bridge" whose name refers to a cistern that was once there.
There used to be a Visigothic basilica here but it was destroyed and replaced by a Muslim cemetery. After the Christian conquest, churches and houses were built around it, along with the Royal Hospital. When Napoleon's troops invaded Grenada in the early nineteenth century this was the place where executions took place.