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World > Spain > Granada
City Guide Granada
General Information
Granada is the capital of the province with the same name, situated in the eastern part of the region of Andalusia. Geographical and scenic diversity charactizes the land. There is the coastal area with its warm climate; the extensive, fertile Genil plain; and the mountainous regions with a colder climate, where we find the 3,481 meter Mulhacén, the biggest peak on the peninsula of Spain. The city of Granada is located at the foot of the sierra Nevada mountains at the confluences of the Darro and Genil rivers. Its unique history has bestowed it with an artistic grandeur embracing Moorish palaces and Christian Renaissance treasures. As the last Moorish capital on the Iberian peninsula, it also holds great symbolic value. The city of Granada has been shaped by the hills, where the old districts in the Albaicín and the Alhambra were founded, brimming with steep, narrow streets, beautiful nooks and crannies, and marvelous landscapes. The new part of the city is situated on the plain, crisscrossed by the large arteries of Gran Vía de Colón and Calle de los Reyes Católicos, and where the busy streets around the Cathedral are found. The Moors crossed the strait of Gibraltar in 711 and settled in what was then a small Visigoth town perched atop the Alhambra hill. Here they settled, erected walls and laid the foundation for the prosperous civilization that would follow. It was in the 9th century when Granada rose to importance after the fall of the Caliphate of Córdoba. Its splendor was reached in 1238, when Mohammed ben Nasar founded the Nasrid dynasty, and the kingdom of Granada stretched from Gibraltar to Murcia. This dynasty bore twenty kings until King Boabdil was forced to surrender Granada to the Catholic monarchs, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, in 1492. During three centuries, a magnificent and rich Islamic culture flourished, leaving Granada with architectural marvels of the caliber of the Alhambra, declared a World Heritage Site, along with the Generalife and the Albaicín.
Granada has a Mediterranean climate and enjoys warm summers and cool winters. The best time to visit Granada is during spring and autumn when the temperature is perfect. The temperatures often exceed 30°C at midday during summer, and the average temperature in December is around 7°C. If you like to ski, however, winter is a good time to go because you can go to the mountains to ski, but it is not freezing like other European ski destinations.
The official language of Granada, as in the rest of Andalusia, is Spanish. English is not as common as you would expect it to be due to the amount of tourists that visit the city. You will find that goodwill and hand gestures help the local English skills.
95% of the residents are Catholics and 5% are Muslims and Jews.
The Euro is the official currency of Spain. Euro (€) = 100 cents. Notes are in denominations of €500, 200, 100, 50, 20, 10 and 5. Coins are in denominations of €2, 1 and 50, 20, 10, 5, 2 and 1 cents.
Tipping is not obligatory and has no fixed rules, but it is common to tip 5% to 10% if you had a good service. It is also common to tip hotel porters and taxi drivers.
The VAT of 16% can be reclaimed by visitors from outside the EU as long as the purchase exceeds €90,15 (VAT included) and was purchased at one store on the same day. In order to do that, you have to ask in the store for a tax refund cheque containing the description of goods, the personal data of the non European resident as well as the particulars of his passport or of any such equivalent document. At the airport your purchased items need to be taken to the customs clearance before checking the luggage in. In order to get the VAT refund, you have to cash the stamped cheque at any Bureau de Change in your chosen currency. Tax refund information line: +35 45 64 64 00
To call Granada from abroad, first dial +34 for Spain and then 95 for Granada. There can be high charges on calls made from hotels, restaurants and bars and it is generally cheaper to use a calling card. Public telephone boxes take coins or phone cards for local and international calls, which can be bought from tobacconists and post offices.
There are some bars and cafes that offer Internet access. Most hotels offer Internet access to their guests. Some good cyber cafes are: Hecho Granada on Calle Mulhacen 9, Madar Internet on Caldereria Nueva 12, Web Café on Gonzalo Gallas 1 and Relaejo Net on Calle Sta Escolastica 13.
Emergency numbers
Police: 092 Medical emergencies: 061 Fire Service: 080 Centralized emergency line: 112 Emergency Doctor: 1003 On Duty pharmacies: 900 171 727
Opening times
Banks are usually open Monday through Friday from 8.30 am to 2 pm. From October through April, banks are open also on Saturdays from 8.30 am to 1 pm. Most shops, churches, museums and businesses close for a siesta of two hours at midday. Usually, working hours are 9.30 am – 1.30 pm and 4.30 pm – 7.30 pm from Monday to Friday. Large department stores and shopping centres usually stay open from 9 am to 9 pm.
Public holidays
· January 1 New Year’s Day (Ano Nuevo) · January 6 Festival of the Reyes (Dia de los tres Reyes) · February 28 Andalucia National Day · April Good Friday (Viernes Santo) · April Easter Sunday (Dia de Pascua) · May 1 Labour Day (Dia del Trabajo) · June 24 St. John’s Day (San Juan) · August 15 Assumption (Asuncion) · October 12 Columbus Day (Dia de la Hispanidad) · November 1 All Saints Day (Todos los Santos) · December 6 Constitution Day (Dia de la Constitucion) · December 8 Immaculate Conception (Immaculada Concecion) · December 25Christmas Day (Navidad)
Granada is a pretty safe place, however, petty theft such as bag snatching is quite common especially in the touristy places. Make sure to carry valuables under your clothes and watch people who try to get close to you, mainly at crowded places.
Monasterio de La Cartuja
This impressive Christian answer to the Alhambra is located about 2km from the city centre and was built between the 16th and the 18th centuries. Even though the origin design of the church was medieval style, it ended up completely baroque. The interior of the church is quite surprising decorated with gold, silver and ivory. As to the long construction period of the church, various artists worked on it. Most notable among them were Bocanegra and Sanchez Cotan. You can reach the church with bus number 8 from Gran Via de Colon. Opening times: April – October: Mon – Sat: 10 am – 1 pm and 4 pm – 8 pm, November – March: Mon – Sat: 10 am – 1 pm and 3.30 pm – 6 pm.
Monasterio de San Jeronimo
This 16th century monastery is one of the grandest buildings designed by Diego de Siloe. About 500 meters from the cathedral is the burial place of the great captain, Gonzalo Fernandez de Cordoba, who used to be the right hand man of the Catholic Monarchs. The monastery was severely damaged by Napoleon’s troops. Opening times: Daily: 10 am – 1.30 pm and 3 pm – 6.30 pm.
Capilla Real
There is no doubt that this is Granada’s most outstanding Christian building. It is the burial site of Catholic Monarchs Isabella of Castile and Ferdinand of Aragon. The architect, Enrique Egas, began working on the Capilla Real in 1506, two years after the death of Isabella and till it was accomplished (fifteen years later), she was buried in the convent of San Francisco. The underground crypt contains the coffins of the monarchs beneath a marble monument. The coffins are of Felipe El Hermoso, Ferdinand, Isabella, Juana la Loca and Miguel, who was the eldest grandchild of Ferdinand and Isabella. Opening times: April – October: Mon – Sat: 10.30 am – 1 pm and 4 pm – 7 pm, Sun: 11 am – 1 pm and 4 pm – 7 pm. November – March: Mon – Sat: 10.30 am – 1 pm and 3.30 pm – 6 pm, Sun: 11 am – 1 pm and 3.30 pm – 6 pm.
This cathedral is one of the architectural highlights of Granada. Its construction began in 1521 and was completed only in the 18th century. The entrance to the cathedral is through a small door at the back. The main façade faces Plaza de las Pasiegas with four support poles and was designed by Alonso Cano.Diego de Siloe designed Capillo Mayor, which is covered by a 45 meters dome. Opening times: April – October: Mon – Sat: 10.45 am – 1.30 pm and 4 pm – 8 pm, Sun: 4 pm – 8 pm. November – March: Mon – Sat: 10.45 am – 1.30 pm and 4 pm – 7 pm, Sun: 4 pm – 7 pm.
Parque de las Ciencias
This science park is an open – air museum. It has many interesting attractions, where you can learn about certain scientific principles and phenomena. The park has over 270 activities, two exhibition buildings, a tropical butterfly house, an observation tower, and an astronomy garden. Parking is free and you can also reach the park with buses number 1 or 5. Opening times: Tue – Sat: 10 am – 7 pm, Sun: 10 am – 3 pm. Closed on Mondays, 1st January, 1st May, 25th December and from 17th to 28th September.
Many tourists visit Granada every year to enjoy its rich history and the influence of old Moorish rulers, from the wonderful Alhambra palace to the Albaicin with its old narrow streets and to many other exciting sites. There is plenty to see in Granada and the relatively compact size of the city makes it quite easy to walk through its different districts.
Patio de los Leones
Beautiful 14th-century courtyard. You''ll pass through this courtyard in the heart of the harem section on your tour of the Alhambra. The Oriental atmosphere created by the architects moved the American writer, Washington Irving, to compose lofty romantic prose about it during his visit in 1826. It was built for sultan Muhammed V in 1378 with a central fountain supported by 12 tame-looking lions. Ibn Zamrak''s poem, engraved on the fountain, praises the sultan and this beautiful palace garden, planted with trees and aromatic herbs. It''s surrounded by a gallery with 124 marble columns that overlooks three of the most attractive rooms in the complex. disabled access. 8:30a-6p M-Su, 8:30a-8p M-Su
The Alhambra & Generalife
The most famous attraction of Granada is the Alhambra. The Alhambra is a stunning collection of buildings and gardens set on the background of the Sierra Nevada that used to be a palace and home of the Nasrid sultans between the 13th and the 14th centuries. After the Christian conquest the Alhambra’s mosque was replaced with a church and the Convento de San Francisco was built. In the 18th century the Alhambra was abandoned and was taken over by beggars and thieves. It was declared as a national monument in 1870, and since then was heavily restored. Today, this impressive monument is divided to four main areas; the palaces, the Alcazaba (the military area), The Medina (the city) and the Generalife. Tickets can be purchased at the Alhambra ticket office in the Entrance Pavilion, or via Internet. For visits till the 31st of July:, for visit as from 1st of August: Opening times: November – February: Mon – Thu: 8.30 am – 6 pm, Fri – Sat: 8.30 am – 6 pm and 8 pm – 9.30 pm, Sun: 8.30 am – 6 pm. March – October: Tue – Sat: 8.30 am – 8 pm and 10 pm – 11.30 pm, Sun – Mon: 8.30 am – 8 pm.
This is Granada’s old Muslim quarter famous for its picturesque maze of narrow and twisting streets. A wander around these streets set on a hill facing the Alhambra is a must while visiting Granada. In 1227 many Muslims from Baeza moved to this hill after their own city was conquered by the Christians. The quarter had survived as a Muslim quarter for many years. In your wandering you will come across beautiful plazas, carmines (large villas with walled gardens), old churches and fountains. It is easy to reach the Albaicin area by bus number 31 or 32 that depart from Plaza Nueva.
Tourist Information Office
Granada’s official tourist information office is located at St. Santa Ana, 4 Bajo (tel. +34 95 8575202) and is open Monday to Friday from 9 am to 7.30 pm, on Saturday from 10 am to 7 pm and on Sunday and holidays from 10am to 2 pm.
The Bono Turistico Pass
Granada’s tourist voucher is called the Bono Turistico Granada, and it includes entry to several major sights such as the Alhambra, Capilla Real San Jeronimo monesteries and La Cartuja ,as well as a ticket to the Bus Turistico, which provides ten rides on city buses. The Bono Turistico can be purchased at the Alhambra and Capilla Real ticket offices or at Caja Granada bank, Plaza Isabel La Catolica 6 (Tel: 902 100 095).
Paseo Padre Manjon
This park is also known as Paseo de los Tristes due to the fact that in the past many funeral processions used to pass through it. It is located in Albaicin area with many cafes and bars around it and the most stunning view of the Alhambra.
Banos Arabes
Hot baths (Hammam) had an important role in the Muslim life in Granada during the middle ages. They were normally located near masques as resting places and as meeting points for social and political activities. The modern baths are usually simpler than the original, but still try to maintain the style and characters of original baths. They include three main rooms that gradually immerse the bather into different temperature environments. The trick is to pour hot water on different parts of the body. If you feel like treating your soul and body as the Muslims in Granada used to, you can relax in the re-created baths and even enjoy a massage.
Casa de Castril
This is a very nice Renaissance palace that belonged to Bernardo Zafra, who used to be queen’s Isabella secretary. The façade from 1539 is carved with beautiful figures of shells and a phoenix. In 1869 the palace was converted into the Museo Arqueologico with an impressive collection of Egyptian vases, artefacts from provincial caves and from Moorish times. Opening times: Tue: 3 pm – 8.30 pm, Wed – Sat: 9 am – 8.30 pm, Sun: 9 am – 2 pm.
Casa del Chapiz
This beautiful Morisco house is actually made up from two 16th century Arab houses. It is considered to be the largest and most famous Moorish house in Granada with a wonderful garden. Since 1932 it houses the school of Arabic Studies. Opening times: September – June: Mon – Fri: 8 am – 8 pm, July – August: Mon – Fri: 8 am – 3 pm. Closed on Saturday, Sunday and public holidays.
Huerta de San Vicente
Located a 15 minute walk from the city centre is the house where poet Federico Garcia Lorca (author of The House of Bernarda Alba, Blood Wedding and more) spent his summers in his vacation house. The house contains some original family memorabilia such as furniture, Lorca’s desk, piano and drawings and portraits. Opening times: April – June: daily: 10 am – 1 pm and 5 pm – 7 pm, July – August: daily: 10 am – 2.30 pm, September: daily: 10 am – 1 pm and 6 pm – 8 pm, October – March: Tue – Sun: 10 am – 1 pm and 4 pm – 7 pm.