Jul 19, 2008

Granada Tourist Attractions

Alhambra Palace

(Local Name: Casa Real, Alcázar) On the north side of Charles V's palace is the entrance to the Alhambra Palace, residence of the Moorish rulers of the Nasrid dynasty. Work on the building of the palace began in the reign of Yusuf I (1333-54) and was substantially completed in the reign of Mohammed V (1354-91). Like all Moorish secular buildings, it is externally plain and unpretentious: it depends for artistic effect on its carefully contrived ground plan and its sumptuous decoration, one of the finest achievements of Moorish art. The palace, surrounded by its walls and numerous towers, was known to the Arabs as Medinat al-Hambra, the ''Red City'', after the color of the stone.

A short distance northwest of the Plaza de Isabel la Católica is Granada's Cathedral of Santa María de la Encarnación, a memorial to the victory of Christian Spain and the country's finest Renaissance church. It was begun in Gothic style by Enrique Egas in 1523, continued in Plateresque style by Diego de Siloé from 1525 onwards and consecrated in 1561 while still unfinished. The massive west front (1667) was built by Alonso Cano and his successor José de Granados. Over the main doorway (Puerta Principal) is a large relief by José Risueño (1717). On the northwest side of the cathedral are the Puerta de San Jerónimo, with sculpture by Siloé, Juan de Maeda and others, and the richly decorated Puerta del Perdón, completed in 1537.

Architect's Garden

To the east of the Alhambra in Granada, on the slopes of the Cerro del Sol, is the Palacio del Generalife, the summer palace of the Moorish kings, which was completed in 1319, during the reign of Ismail I. From the outer gate at the east end of the Alhambra complex a beautiful avenue of cypresses (Paseo de los Cipreses) leads to the 16th century gatehouse. Beyond this is a large court planted with myrtle and laurel hedges and orange-trees through which flows the Acequia del Generalife. At the north end of this court is the Sala de los Reyes (Hall of Kings), adjoining which is a room with an enclosed balcony affording a magnificent view of the Alhambra and the Darro valley; from the belvedere above the hall there is a far-ranging prospect.


On the west side of Plaza de los Aljibes in Granada is the Alcazaba, the earlier royal castle begun in the reign of Mohammed I (13th century), of which there remains only the outer walls with their massive towers.


1km/0.75mi north of the Plaza del Triunfo in Granada is the Cartuja, a Carthusian monastery founded in 1516, the finest part of which is the church, with an interior remodeled in Baroque style in the 17th century. The ceiling paintings in the nave were the work of Pedro Anastasio Bocanegra. The most striking feature of the church, however, is the sacristy, designed by Luis de Arévalo, with a riot of elaborate stucco ornament.

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