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Granada | Museums

Although famous first and foremost for the great fortress and palace of the Alhambra, Granada is by no means a “one-horse town”, and has a wealth of history and culture to discover in its streets and monuments, and also in its many museums.

0228_carnero-granada-apartments-terrace-alhambra-views-spain-01view of the Alhambra from our Carnero apartment in the Albaicin

Until the 11th century Granada was a minor provincial town in the Caliphate of Córdoba, but in the mid 13th century, after the defeat of the Almohads (Moorish Kings of Seville) by the Christians, it became the capital of the Nasrids, the last Moorish rulers of Spain. They took over a small hilltop fortress called the Alhambra, and in the course of two centuries turned it into one of the most spectacular places on earth.

Two of Granada’s most important museums, the Alhambra and the Fine Arts are actually housed in the Carlos V Palace in the Alhambra complex. The Alhambra Museum has a large collection of ceramics and other objects used in the Nasrid palace complex, and of Mudejar art in general. The Fine Arts Museum has a collection of paintings and sculptures by artists such as Alonso Cano.

entrance to patio of Casa Castril

entrance to patio of Casa Castril

If you want to go right back to the beginning, the Archaeological Museum is the place to be. It has a huge collection of objects from the paleolithic era through to the end of the Moorish period. This museum is currently closed for renovations, though some of the exhibits can be seen at the Museo de la Memoria de Andalucia.

Statue of Einstein (courtesy of Wikimedia)

Statue of Einstein (courtesy of Wikimedia)

If modern is more your style you may want to visit the Science Museum. This is also a great one for the children, with lots of activities and interactive displays to awaken their interest in how things work. There’s a planetarium, and sections on the biosphere, perception and exploration, and also an observation tower that looks out over the city.

The Jewish contribution to the religious, cultural and intellectual life of late mediaeval Granada is remembered in two museums, the Sefardi Museum in the old Jewish neighbourhood of the Realejo, and the Palacio de Los Olvidades (the forgotten). Both give an insight into the daily life of the Jews in Granada, with collections of domestic and religious items and lots more.

For a closer look at the life of the Moors in Granada, pay a visit to the recently opened Casa de Zafra, a Nasrid mansion in the lower Albaicin that was incorporated into a convent. The tranquil courtyard with a pool is typical of the architecture of the period, and makes you feel as if you’ve stepped back in time.

Coffins of the Catholic Kings (courtesy of Wikimedia)

Coffins of the Catholic Kings (courtesy of Wikimedia)

Coming into the Christian period, the Royal Chapel (next to the Cathedral), has a collection of Royal and personal belongings of the Catholic monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella, while the Casa de Los Pisa is home to the Museum of Juan de Dios (John of God).

Another very popular museum is the Sacramonte, which looks at life in the “Gypsy” neighbourhood of the Sacramonte. The area is famous for its cave houses, and the museum recreates a cave house of 100 years ago, and includes lots about the history of the neighbourhood and of Granada. There are also stunning views of the Alhambra and Albaicin from the area around the museum, that are worth making the journey for all by themselves.

Alhambra Museum and Fine Arts Museum
Palacio Carlos V
Tel: +34 958 027 900/929

Archaeological Museum (Casa de Castril)
Carrera del Darro, 41
Tel: +34 958 225 603

Science Museum
Avenida del Mediterraneo, s/n
Tel: +34 958 131 900

Museo Sefardi
Placeta Berrocal, 5
Tel: +34 958 220 578

Palacio de los Olvidades
Cuesta de Santa Inés, 6
Tel: +34 958 100 840

Casa de Zafra
Portería de la Concepción, 8
Tel: +34 958 180 079

Royal Chapel
Plaza de la Lonja, Gran Via, 5
Tel: +34 958 222 959

Juan de Dios (Casa de los Pisa)
Convalencia, 1
Tel: +34 959 222 144

Sacramonte Caves
Barranco de los Negros, s/n
Tel: +34 958 215 120

Valentine’s Day in Seville and Granada

Friday week will be Saint Valentine’s Day, so unless you’re Al Capone and have other things on your mind, your thoughts should be turning to romance, a candlelit dinner, and maybe a nice bottle of wine. You could do all that at home of course, but there’s still time to organise a romantic getaway for two. And what could be sweeter than a long weekend in Seville or Granada in southern Spain, home of flamenco, exotic palaces and great food and wine?

becquer monumentdetail of monument dedicated to Gustav Bécquer in Maria Luisa Park, Seville

Explore the Palaces and Gardens of the Alhambra or Alcázar

The palaces of the Alhambra (Granada) and Alcázar (Seville) both date mainly from the 14th century, and though the first was built by the Moors, and the second by Christians, they share many of the same exotic features, with horseshoe arches, pools and fountains, and dazzling ceramic decoration. Be swept off your feet by this Arabian Nights visual feast.

Parks and Carriage Rides

Apart from the Palace Gardens, there are some other exceptional green spots. In Seville stroll through the Murillo Gardens over to the magnificent Plaza de España, but more especially go to the Parque Maria Luisa. It was laid out for the 1929 Expo and full of little grottoes and other surprises, such as the monument to Sevillano poet Gustav Becquer featuring the three stages of love. You can even take a carriage ride for two from the centre. In Granada visit the Carmen de los Martires, or take a walk along the picturesque River Darro.

Arab Baths and Massage

Go on, pamper yourself! Both Seville and Granada have their own Arab baths, the Baños Arabes in Seville and the Hammam baths in Granada, where you can enjoy the full bath and massage treatment at the hands of experts.

Eating Out

Few things beat taking some time out on a pavement terrace with a glass of wine and just watching the world go by, or having a bite at one of the great tapas bars in Seville, such as Las Teresas or Vineria San Telmo. Don’t miss the jamón and sherry, the taste of Spain. For a romantic evening dinner try Becerrita or Sevilla’s only Michelin star restaurant Abantal. In Granada La Tana wine bar is a cosy intimate spot to stop for a drink and a snack, perhaps finishing with a late dinner at the elegant Puerta del Carmen.

alegria flamencoflamenco performance at the Flamenco Museum in Seville

Flamenco

There are plenty of places where you can catch the passion of a flamenco performance, but beware. Not all of them are good. In Seville the shows we like best are at the Flamenco Dance Museum and Casa de la Guitarra. In Granada, head out to the famous Sacramonte Caves for a rather different style.

Cocktails

At the end of the day you’ll want to find somewhere special for that last drink and remembering the day. There are quite a few good rooftop bars around these days, but in Seville the Doña Maria Hotel bar with its view of the cathedral is still the place to go. In Granada, head up to El Huerto de Juan Ranas next to the San Nicolas lookout on the Albaicin hill for a spectacular view of the Alhambra across the valley.

Where to Stay

There are lots of great apartments at reasonable prices to choose from, but our favourite romantic getaway choices include, in Seville, the gorgeous view from Giralda Terrace, and Campanario Terrace for its unusual location. In Granada, Duplex Terrace overlooking the Plaza Nueva is unbeatable. For something more exotic try Sacramonte Cueva 2.

Granada | What else to do in Granada

It’s been a long, wet winter, but at last Spring seems to be just around the corner. This is the best time to come to the south of Spain, and to one of its most popular destinations, the city of Granada at the foot of the Sierra Nevada.

You will of course be paying a visit to the Alhambra, the magnificent palace fortress of the Moorish kings, and to the Generalife (top tip – have a drink on the terrace of the Parador hotel looking across to the Generalife), but what are you going to do for the rest of your stay?

albaicin markets

First option is to make your way up through the Moroccan market into the Albaicin, the old Arab quarter of the city with its picturesque steep, narrow streets to the San Nicholas Mirador for a view across the valley of the River Darro to the Alhambra and the snowy peaks of the Sierra Nevada beyond. It’s also worth walking up the river valley from Plaza Nueva, the classic Spanish square in the heart of the city. It still looks like the mountain stream it was, but now with houses perched on its high banks below the steep hill of the Alhambra. Going further brings you into the Sacramonte neighbourhood, famous for its gypsy community, cave houses and flamenco night-life (nowadays mostly for tourists, but still an unmissable experience).

On the other side of the Alhambra is the old Jewish quarter of the Realejo, now a busy neighbourhood of bars and restaurants. Between the Realejo and the Alhambra you can find the Carmen de los Martires, one of Granada’s less well known gems. Carmenes (houses with walled gardens) are typical of Granada, and there are quite a few of them, often now functioning as hotels and restaurants rather than private houses, but Los Martires is the grandest, with several acres of gardens laid out around a 19th century country house.

carmen terraceview from our Carmen Terrace 2 apartment in Granada

At the foot of the Realejo, as you get back to the centre is the Corral del Carbón, originally built as a coal warehouse way back in the Moorish period, but adapted in the 16th century for theatrical performances (these courtyard theatres are roughly contemporary with Shakespeare and the birthplace of Spanish theatre). Pay your respects at the Royal Chapel and Cathedral, then take a walk along the Alcaicería, once the Moorish silk market, but now mainly little souvenir and artesan shops, but still with a Morroccan feel to it.

Behind the Cathedral is the Plaza Bib-Rambla, Granada’s largest public square, and an important commercial space since mediaeval times, and also the location of bullfights and autos-da-fé. Nowadays it has many cafés and restaurants in the colonnades around it, and in the centre is the Fountain of the Giants, added in the 19th century. From here, take a walk up through the Bib-Rambla neighbourhood to the San Jeronimo monastery. Built in the period following the Reconquista, it’s a calm and peaceful oasis with its two cloisters full of orange trees and magnificent altarpiece. It’s also the burial place of El Gran Capitán, Gonzalo Fernández de Córdoba, who led the Spanish forces that conquered Granada.

Finally, for something completely different, pay a visit to Granada’s famous science park. The interactive displays and exhibits are child-friendly and great fun as well as fascinating, dealing with everything from the birth of the universe to the diversity of life.

For more information about Granada, and some great holiday apartment rentals visit our website.

Granada | The Sacromonte Caves

Across the valley of the River Darro from the Alhambra, and beyond the Albaicín, is the Granada neighbourhood of Sacromonte, named after the early 17th century abbey at the top of the hill. It is famous for the cave houses dug out of the soft chalky rock, which were built mainly in the 19th century by the Roma (Gitano) community. Many of the caves are still private dwellings, and the Roma are still the majority population, although the character of the area has started to change. Most of the caves now have electricity and running water, and some have become quite luxurious.

The Zambra flamenco (a local style of flamenco dance) shows that first attracted the attention of visitors still draw them today, and are still often performed by fire or candlelight with the spectators sitting in a ring around the performers. These are now supplemented by bars and restaurants with amazing views of the Alhambra.


For a really unique holiday experience you can rent a holiday apartment inside these spectacular cave houses. We now have two cave apartments available with all mod cons and furnishings (except air conditioning – the caves maintain an almost constant temperature throughout the year), adding a new dimension to our range of rental options.

Our Sacromonte Holiday Apartments

To get to Sacromonte by bus take route number 34 from the Gran Via.

The Making Of The Granada Videos

Here are some photos from our recent trip to Granada to photograph and film apartments, the city and its monuments, and tapas bars. The photo above shows the setting where we shot the introduction for the two videos of Alhambra. The builders were just amazing with us: they kindly let us in and stopped working for nearly half an hour so we could have the best possible sound conditions for the videos. A BIG thank you to all.

[click on images to enlarge]

I’d also like to take this opportunity to thank Gabrielle for her wonderful work as a presenter of veoapartment.com. It is an honour to be both her workmate and also good friends.

– Joao Garrett