Tag Archives: carmen de los martires

Granada | 5 Free Things to do in Granada

view of plaza nuevaview of Plaza Nueva and Alhambra from Duplex Terrace

Granada is justly famous for its internationally famous monument, the Alhambra Palace, and also for the Cathedral and Royal Chapel. You will want to see all of these, and indeed, the Alhambra may be the reason you’re here in the first place (be sure you have booked your tickets in advance). They don’t come cheap, however, and you may find yourself wondering what you can do for the rest of your stay that isn’t going to cost you anything. In short you want a few freebies.

view of albaicinview of the Albaicin from Loft 6

Saint Nicolas Mirador (Albaicin)

The Albaicin is the hillside neighbourhood (also known as the old Moorish quarter) across the River Darro from the Alhambra. You can wander through it’s narrow streets and steep paths to your heart’s content without it costing you a dime (unless you stop for refreshments), but it’s good to have a destination, and in the Albaicin all roads (figuratively speaking, and you should expect some of them to end up in other places) lead to the San Nicholas Mirador – the lookout platform beside the church. From here, especially in the evening, you get the best views of the Alhambra, and can while away a pleasant hour wondering how on earth it was captured, or why Carlos V built that square palace in the middle of it.

carmen gardenCarmen Terrace 5 walled garden

Carmen de los Martires

Carmens are the traditional houses with a walled garden that are unique to Granada. The largest is the Carmen of the Martyrs at the end of the Realejo, south of the Alhambra, a 19th century house built on the site of a former convent, and surrounded by nearly seven acres of gardens with some fabulous views. Well worth taking the bus up and having a stroll around this delightful spot.

Bañuelo (Arab Baths) and Casa del Chapiz

Just off the Carrero del Darro, the street that runs alongside Granada’s tumbly mountain stream, the River Darro, you can find the 11th century Arab baths, probably the oldest remains of consequence in the city. They were preserved largely by chance as a private house was built over them early in the Christian period. A little further on is another stunning early Christian period house with a fabulous courtyard, the Casa del Chapiz.

cave houseSacromonte Cueva 2 cave house 

Sacramonte Abbey

Go a little further and you’re in the Sacramonte, the “gypsy” neighbourhood famous for its flamenco and cave houses. At the top of the hill is the 17th century Abbey of Sacramonte, a place regarded by some as being of mystical significance because of the Christian relics supposedly found in the nearby caves. It’s a bit of a haul if you do it on foot, but wort it for the views of the Alhambra, Albaicin and the rest of the city.


Okay, this is cheating (a bit), but it’s still common to get a free tapas with your drink in the city’s bars. Or a tapa that’s included in the price of your drink, depending on how you look at it. But if you find the right bar you can certainly get fed with decent food, inexpensively.

Granada | El Realejo

To the south and southeast of the Alhambra Palace, on the slope of the hill dropping down to the River Genil, is the district of El Realejo, one of Granada’s most important historic neighbourhoods. In mediaeval times, until the conquest of the city by the Christians, it was the Jewish quarter of the city, and was known as “Granada of the Jews”. Originally this was outside the city walls, and reached by passing through the Torres Bermejas, an impressive group of towers that protected one of the gates of the Moorish period. After the expulsion of the Jews and Moslems it was given the name El Realejo, the Royal quarter, and although it still retains much of its original street layout, its character owes much to later rebuilding of the city.

View from Carmen terrace looking over the Realejo.

View from the Almanzor Alta Carmen terrace overlooking the Realejo.

From the Plaza Nueva a walk up the steep street of Cuesta Gomérez takes you through the Puertas de las Granadas towards the palace and the upper Realejo, but its worthwhile to make a short detour up Almanzor Alta street, and with the walls of the fortress looming above you take in the views of the Albaicin and the city centre.

From there walk past the Torres Bermejas into the Realejo proper. It’s an area of picturesque narrow streets and lots of busy bars and restaurants, especially around the Campo del Principe (Field of the Prince), the main square in the centre of the neighbourhood. It is said to have come by its name because a prince died there after falling off his horse. Stop here for a drink or a bite to eat while you absorb the atmosphere.

A little further on is one of Granada’s gems, the Carmen of the Martyrs. This was the site of the first Christian hermitage in Granada, named in commemoration of the Christians who had languished or perished in Moorish jails. In the 19th century it was rebuilt as a small palace, and surrounded with gardens in various styles and a small lake. It’s a place to visit for its tranquil beauty and views of the Alhambra.

Make your way back to the city centre along the main street, the Calle de Santiago (which becomes calle Pavaneras in its lower part), which will take you past many of the grandest buildings in the neighbourhood, including a number of religious foundations, such as the Convents of Santiago and the Carmelitas, and palaces like the Casa de los Tiros, or the Casa Arabe Girones, which is unusual in preserving a Moorish house in its interior, and is worth visiting for that alone.

For a perfect base for visiting this and other parts of Granada, have a look at our apartments in Almanzor Alta and Cuesta Gomérez.