Tag Archives: plaza nueva

Granada | A Walk Along the River Darro

darro (1)If you’re visiting Granada you will certainly spend a lot of your time exploring the Alhambra and the Albaicin, but one of my favourite walks is up the narrow valley between the two, alongside the little River Darro, which is like a little world of its own.

Start from the Plaza Nueva, the “New Square” built in the decades after the fall of the Moorish city to the Christian conquerors in 1492. The river runs in a culvert beneath the square, which as well as the imposing Royal Chancellery is home to lots of tapas bars and cafes, where both locals and tourists can enjoy a coffee or a cold beer in the fresh air.

At the far end of the square is the church of Santa Ana, with the battlements of the Alhambra on the hill looming behind it. Beyond Santa Ana the river is in the open air, and despite the setting in the heart of the city tumbles between its rocky banks as playfully as the mountain stream it originally was. A pair of late mediaeval bridges lead into a small residential district perched on the side of the Alhambra hill, with some of the houses built on outcrops directly above the river. See if you can spot the remains of the Puente del Cadi, the original Moorish bridge demolished in the 17th century.

darro (2)

Take time to stop off at the magnificent Arab baths, which are among the oldest and most complete in Spain, and enjoy the cool quiet of its courtyards. A bit further up is the Archaeological Museum.

darro (3)At the top of the street you come out into an open space called the Paseo de los Tristes (the Promenade of the Sad) because beyond it is the old cemetery. Nowadays, it’s a place to stop for refreshment at one of the bars and enjoy the view of the Alhambra across the river. The rather forlorn looking building on the opposite bank was once a hotel, but because of continual problems with damp it was never popular, and was abandoned.

At the end of the Paseo you have the option of turning left into the Albaicin, or crossing the Aljibillo bridge and taking the Cuesta del Rey Chico (Way of the Little King), which leads around the Alhambra Hill between the main fortress and the Generalife Palace. There’s normally not too many people along here and the climb along the old cobbled path gives you a sense of place and time that more travelled ways often miss.

To be perfectly placed for the start of the walk rent one of our apartments in the Plaza Nueva.

The Ayuntamiento, Seville’s historic town hall

Considered to be one of the finest examples of Renaissance architecture in Spain, Seville’s Ayuntamiento or Town Hall, can be found in the city centre between the Plaza San Francisco and the Plaza Nueva, about five minutes walk from the Cathedral along the Avenida de la Constitución.

ayuntamiento sevilla

Until the end of the Middle Ages, the Cabildo (City Council) met in buildings in the Corral de los Olmos, now the Plaza de la Virgen de los Reyes behind the Cathedral, but as wealth flowed into the city following the discovery of America in 1492 the decision was taken to build a new town hall in the Plaza San Francisco, in front of the Franciscan monastery which then occupied the whole of what is now the Plaza Nueva and its adjacent streets and gave its name to the Plaza.

Work began in 1526 under the direction of the architect Diego de Riaño, and by 1556 the building was ready to hold the first meeting of the council in its new headquarters. This first stage of the building was limited to the southern end of what we see today, and is notable both for being built in stone (before this only the Cathedral had used stone, brick being the normal material), and its ornate plateresque decoration, including grotesques, symbols of justice, and representations of Hercules and Julius Caesar, regarded as the founders of the city. The arch at the end, with its Cervantes plaque, once gave access to the carriage yard of the monastery.

In 1840, already almost in ruins following occupation by the French during the Napoleonic wars, two fires, and the amortization of the monasteries, the Franciscan monastery was finally demolished, and the land passed into the ownership of the city. Three decades of planning, replanning, and lack-of-finance induced delays later, the Plaza Nueva came into being. As part of this development, the Town Hall was extended, and a new Neo-Classical facade added facing the new square. On the Plaza San Francisco side, the stonework of the extension was prepared for decorative carving in keeping with the older part of the building, but the work was never completed.

It’s now possible to see inside the building, including the Grand Staircase and the council chamber with its vaulted ceiling, with guided tours on Mondays to Thursdays starting at 4.30pm and 7.30pm and on Saturdays at 10.00am, price 4 euros (tours in Spanish only).

plaza nueva terrace

Just around the corner is our Plaza Nueva B apartment, a spacious one-bedroom flat with two terraces for up to four people.