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Best attractions in Granada: Top 20

This ancient Spanish city with its unusual and interesting architecture remarkably combines the achievements of modernity, ancient beauty and breathtaking scenery. All of Granada’s sights tell in one way or another of its glorious two-thousand-year history and what the people have achieved in that time. Walking through the city’s streets leaves a strong impression on any tourist, no matter how sophisticated in travel. So, what to see in Granada for those who come here for the first time?

What to see first in Granada

Every tourist’s notion of interesting places is different. We offer a list of the best sights of Granada according to people with very different interests, preferences, wealth and amount of free time.

1. Alhambra

Panorama of the Alhambra against the snow-capped mountains of the Sierra Nevada

Truly, when describing the sights of Granada, this one is impossible to miss. Everything about the Alhambra is beautiful: its location on top of a cliff, and the rich content of the complex. It includes the palaces, fortress and gardens of the rulers. The buildings have a stunning view against a backdrop of rock massifs and forest thickets. In the reviews note the magnificent terraces with graceful arches, wonderful fountains, ponds, cozy courtyards. Everywhere the eye dwells on the bright mosaics, carved ornaments made on stone and wood, beautiful ceramic tiles. This place is one of those places that simply must be visited.

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2. Albaysin Quarter

Albaicin Quarter with Moorish buildings on the hill above the Lower Town

The Moorish Quarter, part of the UNESCO list of sites, stretches on a hill. It is known for its many ancient settlements: old Moorish houses (“karmen”), ancient baths with capitals and domes, workshops and stores. If you need souvenirs, you can buy the products of local craftsmen. Very colorful and memorable place. It is because of such sites, which come to see from all over the world, hotels in Granada are never empty.

3. The Sacromonte Quarter

Houses in caves descend in terraces from all the hillsides of the Sacromonte Quarter

Another distinctive neighborhood, this time gypsy. Don’t know what to see in Granada in 1 day when you are short of time and still have few impressions? Come here! The caves at Sacromont alone are worth a visit! Interesting fact: it was the Spanish gypsies who settled here that gave the world the legendary sparkling flamenco. Today, bright and impressive shows are staged in the crevices on the hill. There is a cave-museum devoted to the Gypsy culture and life here. From the hill you can see all of Granada, including the red walls of the Alhambra.

4. Granada Cathedral

The Granada Cathedral is a symbol of the victory of Christianity in Spain

The city’s main cathedral fully justifies its status, both externally and internally, dotted with gilding. If you come here on a trip, be sure to check it out. You’ll be captivated by the soaring carved columns, paintings by eminent artists, and the beauty and sound of the two organs. With its huge stained-glass windows and high vaults, the cathedral is always flooded with light. To the side of the cathedral is the Royal Chapel.

5. The Basilica of St. John the Divine

The sculpture of John of God on the front of the church

The Spaniards have never spared money in beautifying holy places. When listing the main attractions of Granada briefly, this basilica is also worth remembering. Built in the Baroque style, it is lavishly decorated with gold and silver, decorated with beautiful altars, mirrors on the walls, and picturesque paintings. Do not be deceived by the massive austere facade - inside the temple is very beautiful.

Feel the atmosphere of Granada in this beautiful video!

6. Sacromonte Abbey

View of the male Benedictine monastery on the "Holy Mountain"

The abbey is located on top of the mountain of the same name, and only guides in Granada can most fully tell the very non-trivial story of this site. Travelers are advised to visit the museum here on the grounds. The most valuable exhibit in it, besides paintings and sculptures, is the world’s oldest map of Grenada. The abbey also includes a church, under which are ancient catacombs.

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7. The Monastery of St. Jerome

Renaissance Features of the Royal Monastery of St. Jerome

After the Spaniards recaptured the city from the Moors at the end of the fifteenth century, they pressed on to Christianize the conquered territories. It is advisable to see this monastery in Granada, which was built first. The interior is impressive with an altar of enormous size, generously decorated with relief images throughout the wall. The courtyard is also beautiful. The style of the building is late Gothic, with the inclusion of nautical motifs.

8. The Carthusian monastery

The courtyard and orange garden of the Cartesian Monastery

The monastery is in the middle of nowhere, but don’t let the distance scare you - it’s worth it. Despite the striking disparity between the modesty of the facade and the richness of the interior, we recommend a visit. The interior is a true example of Spanish Baroque. There is a bench along the wall and sitting on it you can admire the paintings on the domes and the sculptures. The collection of paintings is interesting. Somewhere in the decoration used multicolored marble. It is impossible to take photos inside.

9. The Madrasah of Granada

The Granada Madrasah is a university palace founded in the fourteenth century

If anyone is interested in Moorish art, we advise what to visit in Granada. It is in this Madrasa that the Academy of Fine Arts has found its home, with almost no changes to the prayer hall. The brightly painted stone patterns, Arabic mosaics and carved wooden ceilings are impressive. Nearby is the Royal Chapel and the Cathedral, so we recommend going there as well.

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Sightseeing in Granada: what else to see in Granada

No matter what the purpose of your trip is. Even if you do not intend to stay here for a long time, we recommend before it starts to consider the sights of Granada photos with names and descriptions on the Internet and listen to your sensations. What is the place that “caught your eye”? Which place’s photo made you want to get to know it better?

10. Arabian baths

High stone structure with domed vaults in an Arab bath

Many tours in Granada will lead you here, to the building of the former hammam. For the Andalusian Moors water played a vital role, so they treated it sacredly. Surprisingly, the 11th century building has been preserved in its original form. There is no water, though, and there are only a few rooms, but people come here to see the magnificent Moorish architecture, particularly the finishes. There are plasma interactive panels on the walls, telling the history of the place.

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11. Corral del Carbon Caravanserai

The courtyard, surrounded by galleries, in the Caravanserai Corral del Carbon

It is also called the Coal Yard. In the tourist reviews it is described as an ancient structure that was once an inn for merchants. Today tourists are greeted by a strikingly beautiful stucco arch shaped as the main entrance. The vestibule with a dome leads to the courtyard. The three floors of the building are equipped with galleries with stone columns.

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12. Science Park

The Science Park is a modern museum and experimentation site Jose Jiménez López

This park can rightly be called a landmark of Spain. The authors of the project managed to construct an organic natural ecosystem with a comfortable breakdown of the landscape. Visitors are comfortable to view animals, birds (some of them live in the open nature) and the inhabitants of underwater fauna. The museums presented on the territory are equipped with interactive exhibits, a planetarium works. The variety of exhibits is astounding: modern robots and ancient steam engines, collections of butterflies and shells and man-made accidents, a museum of toxidermy and bird shows. There are workshops and temporary exhibitions.

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13. Generalife Gardens

Long pool surrounded by flowerbeds, fountains and colonnades in the Generalife Gardens

Want to see how, tired of the hustle and bustle of the city, the Moorish rulers rested? Actually, it is the gardens that visitors attribute the high rating to, since the residence itself is quite modest. But a walk through the gardens is sure to impress anyone: bright fruit trees, beautiful fountains of the Eastern type, rare flowers, shady courtyards, where you can sit on a bench, enjoying the blooming splendor around. There is a stage in the gardens where concerts are held. Thanks to the large number of plantings, it is always cool here.

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14. Mirador de San Nicolas Lookout

A great view of the Alhambra fortress from the Mirador de San Nicolas Lookout

More advice on where to go in Granada to admire views of the city’s biggest architectural landmarks. From here you have a great view of the Generalife and the Alhambra, which rise on a nearby hill. The perimeter of the site is surrounded by old walls, from which you can easily see the surroundings. It is better to go here by vehicle, as the ascent on foot will be too long and difficult, especially in the heat.

15. Coal Yard

An open courtyard with a well, surrounded by galleries, in a 14th-century inn -JvL-

A couple of minutes’ walk from the Cathedral of Granada, the route passes through the Coal Yard, the only surviving inn in Spain whose exterior has remained intact for centuries. It was built in the 14th century during the Nasrid era and at that time was in the possession of the Muslims. Later it was sold at an auction and used as a coal-mining inn, hence its name. Then the inn changed owners several times, and at the beginning of the last century came into state ownership. It has been restored several times, most recently in 2006. The courtyard has a square shape and is surrounded by 3-story galleries, the interior of the halls is now converted into office space. In addition, plays, conferences and flamenco performances are regularly held there.

16. Bib Rambla Square

Fountain and flower stalls in the central square of Spanish Granada Martin Furtschegger

The city’s main square, which was once the site of jousting tournaments and later Christian festivals and corridas, is Bib Rambla, Granada. A 1-day itinerary should definitely include a visit to this iconic part of the city - it is not uncommon to get here during a tour after visiting the Cathedral. The location of the square was historically the location of the Alcáceria Silk Market, the Madrasa and the city’s mosque. Over the course of 5 centuries of history the Bib Rambla has changed its appearance several times until it acquired its present form. Today, all life in Granada revolves around this place and when visiting places of interest in Granada, you will at one time or another find yourself in this square at some point in your journey through the city. The lower floors of the historic buildings surrounding the square are filled with restaurants, bars, cafes, and stores. The center of the square is crowned by the 17th century Giants Fountain with a marble sculpture of Neptune.

17. The Royal Chapel

View at the Royal Chapel and the Cathedral in the center of Granada
Marble tombstones of Catholic monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella in the tomb Javi Guerra Hernando

In terms of architectural monuments, of particular interest is the ancient ensemble of structures of the 9th century called the Alhambra. Granada has another important monument of particular historical value: the Royal Chapel, one of the most important shrines of Granada and all of Spain. The fact is that here are the tombs of two monarchs who played a great role in the history of Spain - Isabella of Castile and Ferdinand of Aragon. Their names are associated with the end of the Reconquista. At the beginning of the 16th century Isabella issued a decree to build a chapel, and a short time later the beautiful structure in the flaming Gothic style was erected on the foundations in the form of the Catholic cross. The façade is interesting with a depiction of Isabella, and statues of the two patrons of the chapel, John the Baptist and John the Evangelist, greet the entrance. A key place inside the chapel is occupied by the tombstones of the great monarchs.

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18. Bullfighting Arena

A bullfighting arena of 3 floors in Granada Vitorino m

Although the birthplace of spectacular bullfighting is Seville, the sights of Granada also keep the spirit of incendiary fights alive - one such place is the Granada bullfighting arena. It must be said that the history of this competition has its roots in the ancient past, when the Iberian Peninsula was inhabited by Iberian tribes. After the Reconquista, brave warriors who used to be able to show their power in battles with the Moors, now demonstrated their courage by fighting a bull. Over the years bullfighting became an official and regulated competition. In Granada the bullring first opened in 1928 - it was a neo-mudejar structure, very original and elegant. Today it is the best place to go, where you should definitely feel the taste of gambling and the bellicose soul of Spain. The three-story arena seats 14,500 spectators, and the action unfolds during the main Spanish festivals.

19. The Rodriguez Acosta Foundation

The massive 1930s building, gardens, terraces-the Rodriguez Acosta Foundation in Granada Pepepitos

While the sunny Málaga offers its guests a developed beach holiday infrastructure, the attractions of Granada preserve the rich cultural heritage of Spain. So, against the background of other houses in Granada stands out the building of the Rodriguez Acosta Foundation, which houses the works of the talented artist, who worked at the junction of the 19th and 20th centuries. During his creative crisis, Rodríguez Acosta devoted himself to the construction of a beautiful mansion that was meant to embody his aesthetic ideals. The interior of the foundation is decorated with objects fresh from various parts of the world - sculptures, drawings, and Greek ceramics. The building is surrounded by a garden with cypresses and reproductions of ancient sculptures. In one of the courtyards you can even see a reproduction of Psyche personifying the soul of the poet - it is presented in the form of ruins, which is probably explained by the period of creative crisis of the master. Some corners of the garden offer remarkable panoramas of the old city of Granada.

20. San Vicente Manor

Home of the genius poet F. G. Lorca, surrounded by a cozy green garden, at San Vicente Manor Alimanja

In the center of the city, the Granada tourist bus stops near the San Vicente Estate, once owned by the great Spanish poet, García Lorca. Here, surrounded by greenery and blooming orchids, the poet spent every summer for 10 years, where he created a number of famous works, famous throughout the world. From the balcony of his estate, Garcia admired the magnificent scenery of his city and relaxed with friends. On one such day, the poet was arrested and later executed. The collection of the house-museum preserves some of the poet’s everyday items - you can see some furniture, including his personal desk and piano, as well as a number of other memorabilia and drawings. Here you can also see an exhibit dedicated to Lorca’s life and work. There is also a store with souvenir paraphernalia - bags, cups, t-shirts and magnets, complete with books or drawings of the poet.

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Complement this list of beauties with the friendliness and cordiality with which Granada’s residents surpass their counterparts in other Spanish cities, and you have a perfect match for your next trip. Read also about sights of Girona and be inspired for your next trip to Spain.

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