Top Historic Sights in Granada, Spain

Explore the historic highlights of Granada

Palace of Charles V

The Palace of Charles V is a Renaissance building located on the top of the hill of the Assabica, inside the Nasrid fortification of the Alhambra. The building has never been a home to a monarch and stood roofless until 1957. The structure was commanded by Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, who wished to establish his residence close to the Alhambra palaces. Although the Catholic Monarchs had already altered some rooms of ...
Founded: 1526 | Location: Granada, Spain

Alhambra

The Alhambra is a palace and fortress complex located in Granada. It was originally constructed as a small fortress in AD 889 on the remains of Roman fortifications, and then largely ignored until its ruins were renovated and rebuilt in the mid-13th century by the Nasrid emir Mohammed ben Al-Ahmar of the Emirate of Granada, who built its current palace and walls. It was converted into a royal palace in 1333 by Yusuf I, Su ...
Founded: 889 AD | Location: Granada, Spain

Granada Cathedral

Unlike most cathedrals in Spain, construction of Granada Cathedral was not begun until the sixteenth century, after acquisition of the Nasrid kingdom of Granada from its Muslim rulers in 1492. While its earliest plans had Gothic designs, such as are evident in the Royal Chapel of Granada by Enrique Egas, most of the church"s construction occurred when the Spanish Renaissance style was supplanting the Gothic in Spanis ...
Founded: 1518 | Location: Granada, Spain

Corral del Carbón

The Corral del Carbón is a 14th-century monument located in the Spanish city of Granada (Andalusia). It is the only Nasrid alhóndiga (an establishment where grain was sold) preserved in its entirety in the Iberian peninsula. It was built during the Nasrid reign before 1336, and his original name was Al-Funduq al-Gidida or New Alhóndiga. Located south of the Muslim city, next to the silk market or Alcaicerí ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Granada, Spain

Generalife

The Palacio de Generalife was the summer palace and country estate of the Nasrid rulers of the Emirate of Granada. The palace and gardens were built during the reign of Muhammed II (1273-1302), Sultan of Granada, and later by Muhammed III (1302–1309). They were redecorated shortly after by Abu I-Walid Isma"il (1313–1324). Much of the garden is a recent reconstruction of dubious authenticity. The complex consists ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Granada, Spain

Arabian Baths

Tucked away underneath a private house about halfway along the Carrera del Darro are the oldest and best-preserved Arabic baths in Spain. The Banuelo dates from around the 11th century and its elegant Moorish archways and domed ceilings are still amazingly intact after a thousand years (although the baths themselves have long since vanished). Undoubtedly, after the Alhambra and the Generalife, this is the greatest surv ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Granada, Spain

Archaeological Museum of Granada

The Archaeological Museum of Granada was established in 1879. It is located in the Castril palace, dating from the 16th century. It hosts many artefacts from the many different civilizations that settled in Granada including the Carthaginians, the Phoenicians, the Romans and the Arabs. It includes a beautiful Renaissance patio. The building"s façade was created in 1593.
Founded: 1879 | Location: Granada, Spain

Albaicín

The Albaicín retains the narrow winding streets of its Medieval Moorish past dating back to the Nasrid Kingdom of Granada. It was declared a World Heritage Site in 1984, along with the Alhambra. In the Albaicín there are numerous monuments from different periods, mainly the Nasrid period and the Renaissance. The traditional type of house is the carmen, consisting of a freestanding house surrounded by a high wall that ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Granada, Spain

Silla del Moro

Silla del Moro is a small castle built in the 14th century and ruined in the 17th century. It was built to protect the water system for Generalife and Alhambra palaces and surrounding gardens.
Founded: 14th century | Location: Granada, Spain

Monasterio de San Jerónimo

The Royal Monastery of St. Jerome is a Hieronymite monastery in Granada. Architecturally, it is in the Renaissance style. The church, famous for its architecture, was the first in the world consecrated to the Immaculate Conception of Mary. The monastery was founded by the Catholic Monarchs Isabella I of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon in Santa Fe outside the city of Granada, during the siege of the latter city, ...
Founded: 1504 | Location: Granada, Spain

Sacromonte Monastery

The Abbey of El Sacromonte was founded in the 17th century. Under the church there are the catacombs where St. Cecilio, the first bishop and actual Patron of Granada, suffered martyrdom. The monument was designed by Juan de Maeda and finished in 1567. The front façade, by Pedro de Orea, is a magnificent example of the Renaissance period in Andalusia at the end of the 16th century.
Founded: 16th century | Location: Granada, Spain

Granada Charterhouse

Granada Charterhouse  is one of the finest examples of Spanish Baroque architecture. The charterhouse was founded in 1506; construction started ten years later, and continued for the following 300 years. While the exterior is a tame ember in comparison, the interior of the monastery"s is a flamboyant explosion of ornamentation. Its complex echoing geometric surfaces make of it one of the masterpieces of Churrigueres ...
Founded: 1506 | Location: Granada, Spain

Alcázar Genil

The Alcázar Genil is a Muslim-era palace in the city of Granada. It was originally called al-Qasr al-Sayyid ('the palace of the lord') and is located beside the River Genil outside the Alhambra"s walls. Today, only a pavilion of the palace is preserved. It was built in 1218 or 1219 by Sayyid Ishaq, a member of the Almohad dynasty. In 1237, Muhammad I of the Nasrid dynasty took over Granada and the dynasty ...
Founded: 1218 | Location: Granada, Spain

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Pembroke Castle

Pembroke Castle is a Norman castle, founded in 1093. It survived many changes of ownership and is now the largest privately owned castle in Wales. It was the birthplace of Henry Tudor (later Henry VII of England) in 1457.

Pembroke Castle stands on a site that has been occupied at least since the Roman period. Roger de Montgomerie, 1st Earl of Shrewsbury founded the first castle here in the 11th century. Although only made from earth and wood, Pembroke Castle resisted several Welsh attacks and sieges over the next 30 years. The castle was established at the heart of the Norman-controlled lands of southwest Wales.

When William Rufus died, Arnulf de Montgomery joined his elder brother, Robert of Bellême, in rebellion against Henry I, William's brother and successor as king; when the rebellion failed, he was forced to forfeit all his British lands and titles. Henry appointed his castellan, but when the chosen ally turned out to be incompetent, the King reappointed Gerald in 1102. By 1138 King Stephen had given Pembroke Castle to Gilbert de Clare who used it as an important base in the Norman invasion of Ireland.

In August 1189 Richard I arranged the marriage of Isabel, de Clare's granddaughter, to William Marshal who received both the castle and the title, Earl of Pembroke. He had the castle rebuilt in stone and established the great keep at the same time. Marshal was succeeded in turn by each of his five sons. His third son, Gilbert Marshal, was responsible for enlarging and further strengthening the castle between 1234 and 1241.

Later de Valence family held Pembroke for 70 years. During this time, the town was fortified with defensive walls, three main gates and a postern. Pembroke Castle became de Valence's military base for fighting the Welsh princes during the conquest of North Wales by Edward I between 1277 and 1295.

Pembroke Castle then reverted to the crown. In the 15th and 16th centuries, the castle was a place of peace until the outbreak of the English Civil War. Although most of South Wales sided with the King, Pembroke declared for Parliament. It was besieged by Royalist troops but was saved after Parliamentary reinforcements arrived by sea from nearby Milford Haven. Parliamentary forces then went on to capture the Royalist castles of Tenby, Haverfordwest and Carew.

In 1648, at the beginning of the Second Civil War, Pembroke's commander Colonel John Poyer led a Royalist uprising. Oliver Cromwell came to Pembroke on 24 May 1648 and took the castle after a seven-week siege. Its three leaders were found guilty of treason and Cromwell ordered the castle to be destroyed. Townspeople were even encouraged to disassemble the fortress and re-use its stone for their purposes.

The castle was then abandoned and allowed to decay. It remained in ruins until 1880, when a three-year restoration project was undertaken. Nothing further was done until 1928, when Major-General Sir Ivor Philipps acquired the castle and began an extensive restoration of the castle's walls, gatehouses, and towers. After his death, a trust was set up for the castle, jointly managed by the Philipps family and Pembroke town council.

Architecture

The castle is sited on a strategic rocky promontory by the Milford Haven Waterway. The first fortification on the site was a Norman motte-and-bailey. It had earthen ramparts and a timber palisade.

In 1189, Pembroke Castle was acquired by William Marshal. He soon became Lord Marshal of England, and set about turning the earth and wood fort into an impressive Norman stone castle. The inner ward, which was constructed first, contains the huge round keep with its domed roof. Its original first-floor entrance was through an external stairwell. Inside, a spiral staircase connected its four stories. The keep's domed roof also has several putlog holes that supported a wooden fighting-platform. If the castle was attacked, the hoarding allowed defenders to go out beyond the keep's massive walls above the heads of the attackers.

The inner ward's curtain wall had a large horseshoe-shaped gateway. But only a thin wall was required along the promontory. This section of the wall has a small observation turret and a square stone platform. Domestic buildings including William Marshal's Great Hall and private apartments were within the inner ward. The 13th century keep is 23 metres tall with walls up to 6 metres thick at its base.

In the late 13th century, additional buildings were added to the inner ward, including a new Great Hall. A 55-step spiral staircase was also created that led down to a large limestone cave, known as Wogan Cavern, beneath the castle. The cave, which was created by natural water erosion, was fortified with a wall, a barred gateway and arrowslits. It may have served as a boathouse or a sallyport to the river where cargo or people could have been transferred.

The outer ward was defended by a large twin-towered gatehouse, a barbican and several round towers. The outer wall is 5 metres thick in places and constructed from Siltstone ashlar.

Although Pembroke Castle is a Norman-style enclosure castle with great keep, it can be more accurately described as a linear fortification because, like the later 13th-century castles at Caernarfon and Conwy, it was built on a rocky promontory surrounded by water. This meant that attacking forces could only assault on a narrow front. Architecturally, Pembroke's thickest walls and towers are all concentrated on its landward side facing the town, with Pembroke River providing a natural defense around the rest of its perimeter.