WILL YOU VISIT GRANADA and don’t know what to see in the Albaicin?
Here you have a complete guide to the Albaicin with the most important places and some lesser-known corners. Later on we will make guides of the rest of the historical neighbourhoods of Granada so that the information is complete.
At the end of the post we include a Google Maps map where you can locate all the places we are talking about.
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Downloadable guide only available in Spanish
LET’S GET TO KNOW THE ALBAICIN!
What you will find here
WHICH IS ALBAICIN
The Albaicín is the oldest quarter of Granada. It was inhabited by Iberians, Romans, Muslims and Christians. It is characterised by its narrow streets, steep slopes, whitewashed walls, Arabic tiled roofs and bucolic cármenes (typical Granadian dwellings, which we will explain later). Being built on a hill, it has excellent views of the Alhambra, which was built on the hill opposite.
However, there is something that sometimes goes unnoticed by tourists. We are referring to its neighbours, authentic granadinos. Although the richest families in Granada have lived and still live here, the Albaicín is a neighbourhood of humble people. A few decades ago, life was similar to that of the villages, the neighbours knew each other and got to know each other. There are no large shopping centres and shopping is usually done in small establishments. Although things are changing, it still maintains that human dimension that has been lost in other places.
It has also been a refuge for artists dedicated to painting, sculpture, writing and, of course, flamenco. It is common to hear flamenco in its streets and to find painters with palette in hand in its viewpoints. In 1994, the Albaicin was declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco along with the Alhambra.
SIGNIFICATION OF “ALBAICIN”
Albaicín is its Spanish name, which comes from the Arabic rabad al-Bayyīzīn and means suburb of the Falconers. It was originally a neighbourhood to the north of the Alcazaba Qadima, the centre of the city and seat of power between the 11th and 12th centuries. Although not everyone agrees, this is the most widely accepted theory.
BASIC TIPS FOR VISITING THE ALBAICIN
- A fragile space. The Albaicín is under heavy tourist pressure. Interact with respect by avoiding noise and crowds and respecting the heritage and neighbours
- Drinking water fountains. There are numerous water fountains in the neighbourhood. If you bring your own reusable bottle you can refill it at the fountains.
- Water fountains.
- The Albaicín is located on a hill. Almost all of its streets have more or less steep slopes and steps.
- The Albaicín is located on a hill.
- Pedestrian streets. Almost all of its streets are cobbled and pedestrianised. It is a place to visit on foot.
- Circulation prohibited. Access to motor vehicle traffic is restricted to residents only. There is no parking. The use of conventional and electric bicycles is permitted.
- If you don’t have much time. The Albaicín is a very large neighbourhood. It is not possible to visit all its monuments in a single day. Take it easy and spend your time strolling through its narrow streets, small squares and viewpoints. The Albaicín will still be here when you return.
- If you have plenty of time. We recommend that you combine your visit with other neighbourhoods such as the Realejo, Sacromonte or the Sagrario (Cathedral quarter).
- If you have plenty of time.
- At lunchtime. Especially if it’s the weekend, organise your lunch. The bars and restaurants in the Albaicín are usually full.
- To find out more about the Albaicín. If you want to delve deeper into the history of this neighbourhood, book a quality guided tour with local guides.
- Andalusí. You will frequently read this word in many places. “Andalusí” is the gentilicio of al-Andalus. And al-Andalus does not exactly correspond to Andalusia. It is the name that Arabs and Berbers gave to the newly conquered land on the Iberian Peninsula.
BEST TIME TO VISIT THE ALBAICIN
As in Granada in general, spring and autumn are the best times to visit the Albaicín. Although there may be the occasional rainy day, temperatures are mild and pleasant. At this time of year the sunsets are the pinkest of the year.
In spring everything is green and the water flows freshly from the springs. In addition, Sierra Nevada usually has snow until well into the season. Autumn dresses the neighbourhood in ochres and reds. Deciduous trees abound and the skies are covered with fluffy clouds that give volume to the sky.
Summer and winter also have their charm. The first one because everything remains green and fresh. The high temperatures are softened by the proximity of the Darro river and the shade of the narrow streets. In winter there are fewer people and you can enjoy the tranquillity of the neighbourhood more, besides the kakis on the bare trees and the sierra is completely snowed in.
LET’S GO THROUGH A BIT OF ITS HISTORY BEFORE WE GET TO KNOW THE PLACES TO SEE IN THE ALBAICÍN.
HISTORY OF THE ALBAICIN
THE ALBAICIN IN THE IBERIAN PERIOD
The attention of this neighbourhood is usually focused on the “Andalusí” (medieval Islamic period), but if we were to go back several centuries we would arrive at the Iberian culture. The Iberians were one of the peoples who inhabited the Iberian Peninsula before the Roman conquest (at least from the 6th century B.C.) and their culture evolved through contact with the Phoenicians and Greeks.
An Iberian oppidum called Ilíberis or Iliberri was located on the Albaicín. It was a small city surrounded by walls and with a cemetery on the outskirts. The oppidum extended over the highest areas of what is now the Albaicín. With the exception of the water tank in the placeta del Marqués del Álamo and some fragments of the wall, very little remains that can be visited today. We know of the Iberian presence from archaeological research and written sources.
THE ALBAICIN IN ROMAN TIMES
The Roman period in Granada is not usually given much importance. However, in recent years villas, walls and a possible baths have been discovered. Julius Caesar granted the status of municipality to this place, which became known as Municipium Florentinum Iliberitanum.
Although not all researchers agree, the most widely accepted hypothesis is that the city was built in the same place as the Iberian city, i.e. in the upper part of the Albaicín. Florentia, as is often cited in the sources, minted coins, cultivated the fertile plain and held the Council of Elvira or Iliberis at the beginning of the 4th century AD.
There are no Roman remains to visit in the Albaicín, except for a pair of columns reused in the Andalusian period. They are located in the cistern of San Miguel. However, the map shows the location of the most important finds.
From the late Roman and Visigoth period less is known. Besides, no archaeological remains have been documented. The city must have fallen into decadence, a common occurrence in this dark period of history.
THE ANDALUSIAN ALBAICIN
The first Muslims who arrived in Granada did not set their sights on the hill of the Albaicín. They founded their city 11 km to the west. This was known as Madinat Ilbira. However, in the 11th century the Zirid dynasty came to power. The new rulers transferred the capital to Madinat Garnata. They settled in what is now the Albaicín. They supplied it with water with irrigation channels, baths and mosques and a walled enclosure.
What we know today as the Albaicín district, in the Andalusian period was a group of neighbourhoods. At the top was the al-Qaṣaba al-Qadīma (or Old Alcazaba), where the Zirids established their centre of power. Around the Alcazaba were the Rabat al-Bayda, Axares, the neighbourhood of Coracha, Badis, al-Bayyīzīn and many others. They were often separated by walls. The Albaicín was never completely populated, as there were areas of market gardens inside the walls.
At that time the Jewish and Muslim communities lived together peacefully. Things changed in the 12th and early 13th centuries with the arrival of the Almoravids and Almohads. The new governors carried out persecutions and imposed punishments and high taxes on the Jews. During this period the city grew slowly, several suburbs were added and the walls were reinforced.
In 1238 the Nasrids arrived, the Muslim dynasty responsible for building the Alhambra and the last of al-Andalus. This was the moment of greatest growth for the city and also for the Albaicín. The advance of the frontier due to the push of the Christian kingdoms provoked large movements of Andalusians. The city of Granada grew rapidly and the Albaicín reached its highest population. This was the period of splendour of Madinat Garnata. Great works were undertaken in the Albaicín, such as the Maristan (hospital), several hammams, mosques, cisterns, etc.
THE CHRISTIAN ALBAICIN
The Catholic Monarchs took Granada in 1492. After the conquest, but especially from 1502 onwards, the mosques of the Albaicín began to be replaced by churches. The Christians also provided the city with numerous fountains and public pillars.
The Andalusian population remained in the Albaicín until their definitive expulsion at the beginning of the 17th century. Before that, in 1499, the “Levantamiento del Albaicín” (Uprising of the Albaicín) took place. This rebellion by the Muslims of Granada occurred because the agreements reached at the surrender of Granada were not being respected. The main problem was religion, which led to the pragmatics of forced conversions in 1502. This year Muslims were given the choice between exile or Christianity.
Christian noble families also settled in the Albaicín. One example is the Casa de Castril, owned by Hernando de Zafra, who played a key role in the negotiations for the surrender of Granada. Another magnificent example of a Renaissance palace from the 16th century is the Casa del Almirante, which was ordered to be built by Doña Leonor Manrique. The Casa de Porras is another of these early Christian buildings in the Albaicín. These three palatial dwellings can be visited free of charge.
At the beginning of the 16th century Granada still conserved a certain prestige and he emony. Charles I of Spain and V of the Holy Roman Empire planned Granada as one of the seats of the Spanish Empire. However, Granada fell into oblivion and neglect from the mid-16th century onwards. Incredible engravings from the 19th century show a decadent Albaicín. Although it must be said that these artists, like good romantics, exaggerated what they saw.
PRINCIPAL MONUMENTS OF THE ALBAICIN
There are many places to visit in the Albaicín and we can’t tell you about them all because this guide would take forever. We have made a selection of the most interesting from our point of view.
DAR AL HORRA PALACE
This is a Nazarian palace from the 14th century. It is located in the area that centuries before was the Alcazaba Qadima (centre of power between the 11th and early 13th centuries). It conserves its main elements: courtyard, pool, north and south galleries, belvedere, vegetable garden and much of its original decoration.
Here lived court figures such as Isabel de Solís, a Christian woman kidnapped by the Nasrids who found love with Muley Hacen, the famous monarch of the Alhambra, whom she married. Also Aixa al-Horra, from whom she receives the name of “House of the Honest or Lady”.
It is a fantastic option to get to know Nasrid art without having to go to the Alhambra. It preserves several wooden frames on its ceilings. Its small size allows a closer look at the ataujerado, apeinazado and polychrome work.
Extended opening hours. 1 May to 14 September: M to Sun. 09:00 – 14:30 and 17:00 – 20:30.
Reduced opening hours: 15 September to 30 April: Mon to Sun. 10:00 – 17:00.
Price of the Golden Double: 5 € pax (includes several monuments).
CONVENT OF SANTA ISABEL LA REAL
This convent was especially promoted by Queen Isabella of Castile. She herself ceded the land and appointed its founder Dª Teresa de Torres. Although it was initially planned for the Alhambra, it was finally built in the Albaicín. It is located within the area of the Alcazaba Qadima and on the grounds of the Palace of Dar al-Horra.
It is a cloistered convent where the sisters have lived uninterruptedly since its foundation. This convent was spared the confiscations of the 19th century and the reforms of the Second Republic in the 20th century. Inside, spectacular Moorish armour awaits, as well as a fantastic landscaped cloister and a church full of works of art. If you can’t organise a visit, it’s worth going to its “compass” to see the Gothic façade of the church. It is one of the few examples of this art in Granada.
As is customary in Andalusia and other places, the nuns of the convents make delicious handmade sweets. In the convent of Santa Isabel la Real the specialities are hojarascas, Santa Isabel chestnuts and marzipan.
Hours. M to S. Only with guided visit arranged in advance. 10 pax min.
BAÑUELO OR BAÑO DEL NOGAL
Of the 3 Arab baths that remain in the Albaicín, this is the only one that can be visited. It is a hammam dating from the 11th century that reuses earlier capitals on its columns. The vaults have skylights to illuminate the rooms, creating a curious play of light. It is a must-see if you want to see what an Andalusian hammam was like.
It also has a 360-degree virtual reconstruction that you can view on mobile devices installed in the rooms. It is located next to the Darro River. Remember that you can find the location of this place as well as the rest of the monuments on the map at the end of this guide.
Extended timetable. 1st May to 14th September: M to Sun. 09:00 – 14:30 and 17:00 – 20:30.
Reduced opening hours: 15 September to 30 April: Mon to Sun. 10:00 – 17:00.
Price of the Golden Double: 5 € pax (includes several monuments).
CASA DE CASTRIL. ARCHAEOLOGICAL MUSEUM OF GRANADA
This is perhaps the best Renaissance palace in the Albaicín. It is also located in the lower part of the Albaicín, next to the Darro. This area was called Axares and after the conquest the Christian nobles built their homes here. The house of Castril belonged to Hernando de Zafra, who we have already mentioned as one of the key figures in the surrender of Granada. For services rendered to the Crown he was granted the noble title of “Lord of Castril” (a beautiful village in the north of the province of Granada).
The main attractions of this palace are its emblazoned façade, the wooden roof trusses and its fabulous porticoed courtyard. Today this building houses the Archaeological and Ethnological Museum of Granada. It is worth noting that this museum houses the legacy of all the cultures that have passed through Granada. The best archaeological pieces from all over the province can be seen in this museum.
Discover also all the museums in Granada.
Hours: M to D. from 09:00 – 15:00. Mondays closed.
Price: free access for EU citizens. Other countries: €1.50.
CASA DEL CHAPIZ
The house or houses of Chapiz give their name to the street in which they are located, the cuesta del Chapiz. Lorenzo el Chapiz and Hernán López el Ferí, the owners of the houses, were Muslims converted to Christianity. These converts were derogatorily called Moriscos. They retained ownership of their houses until 1571. That year the houses were requisitioned because their owners participated in the Moorish uprising against the Spanish state of Philip II.
Inside the house of Lorenzo el Chapiz you may have the feeling of being in an Andalusian palace. However, it is a Moorish dwelling from the 16th century that maintains the Andalusian style of previous centuries.
The house of his brother-in-law, Hernán López el Ferí, is smaller. It combines Gothic, Nasrid and Renaissance elements in a typically Moorish style from Granada. Both houses are fantastic examples of the architecture of the time and are excellently preserved. They also have a beautiful garden and enjoy a unique view of the Alhambra.
Extended opening hours. 1 May to 14 September: M to Sun. 09:00 – 14:30 and 17:00 – 20:30. Extended opening hours: 1 May to 14 September: M to Sun. 09:00 – 14:30 and 17:00 – 20:30.
Reduced opening hours: 15 September to 30 April: Mon to Sun. 10:00 – 17:00.
Price of the Golden Double: 5 € pax (includes several monuments) Price of the Golden Double: 5 € pax (includes several monuments).
PARISH OF SAN PEDRO Y SAN PABLO
Just opposite the Casa de Castril you will find the Church of San Pedro. On the banks of the Darro and at the foot of the Alhambra. In this privileged location there was once a mosque, that of Los Baños, which was replaced between 1559 and 1567 by the present church.
It is surprising to enter the church through a classical Mannerist doorway and find a spectacular Moorish pair-and-knuckle armour. It is completely covered by a weave of geometric motifs made with ataujerado (nailed pieces) and apeinazado (assembled pieces). This church houses several interesting religious pieces by José de Mora, Pablo de Rojas and Alonso Cano. Although perhaps the most interesting is a sculpture of San Francisco de Paula by Pedro de Mena.
It is important to remember to extract respect in the churches of the Albaicín. They are places of worship that sometimes remain open during mass. Silence, discretion and photos for later, enjoy the moment of peace.
Hours: M to S from 11:00 to 13:30 and from 16:00 to 18:30. Sunday from 10:30 to 12:00. Monday closed.
PARISH OF EL SALVADOR
Of simple and humble architecture, the church of El Salvador is located in the upper part of the Albaicín. Its single nave houses works of art by Bocanegra, Pedro Duque de Cornejo and Diego de Siloé. If we look up we find the usual Moorish armour with geometric motifs.
Its history is similar to that of the church of San Pedro. In its place was the Great Mosque of Granada, which in 1501 was consecrated to Christian worship, first as a church and shortly afterwards as a collegiate church. However, in 1565 it was demolished and work began on a new church. A few months before the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War, the parish church of El Salvador was burnt down like other churches and convents in Granada, and a large part of its works of art were lost.
Perhaps the most peculiar feature of this church in the Albaicín is its courtyard. It is a preserved enclosure of the old mosque that formed part of the sahn or ablutions courtyard.
Hours: M to S: 10.00 to 13.00 h. and from 16.30 to 18.30 h. Sundays and public holidays: closed.
Officer’s note: these are the official opening times, but you may still find the church closed.
Price: 0.60 €.
CASA DE PORRAS
This is a magnificent example of 16th-century Granadian architecture and is one of the first Christian buildings in Granada. It has a beautiful courtyard with galleries built with wooden elements: right feet, footings, balustrades and coffered ceilings; all original elements of the house. A small water pillar added years later brings freshness and sound to the courtyard.
If you investigate a little on the upper floor you will find a small viewpoint where the Alcazaba of the Alhambra can be seen in foreshortened view. When you arrive you will recognise it by its sober façade in Plateresque style (a transitional style between Gothic and Renaissance, typically Spanish). It is currently one of the headquarters of the University of Granada. It organises courses open to everyone and access is free of charge.
It remains closed for renovations.
REAL CHANCELLERY OF GRANADA
The Chancery was the highest authority of justice south of the Tagus River. Founded by Queen Isabella the Catholic, it began to function in 1505, although the current palace was built two decades later. In the 16th century there were only two chanceries, that of Valladolid and that of Granada. Today the building is still associated with its original function, as it is the seat of the High Court of Justice of Andalusia.
The current façade of the imposing palace was built in the Mannerist style but is not the original. It replaced a more austere Renaissance one in 1584. In this way the building was embellished and dignified by adding decorative elements in serpentine from the quarries of Sierra Nevada.
As a curiosity, it is worth mentioning that some of the devices with which justice was applied are still preserved here. For example, the garrote vil, a kind of chair for painful executions.
Hours: M to F with group visits by prior arrangement and approval. Tlf: 958 982 133
Price: Free admission.
CHURCH OF SANTA ANA
This is perhaps one of the best-known churches in Granada due to its location in the Plaza Nueva. It follows the style of the Mudejar churches of eastern Andalusia: brick, austere, with a single nave, a roof of ribbon-framed framework and a Renaissance façade. Its tower, decorated with Mudejar tiles, is one of the most beautiful and popular in the city.
This is where Mariana Pineda, the heroine of Granada who became an icon of the struggle for freedom, was married.
As usual, it replaced an earlier mosque from which it reused a characteristic Muslim element, the yamur. It consists of a series of spheres strung on a vertical bar that crowned the minaret and provided protection. In the church it was used as a weather vane, but in contemporary times it was dismantled and is now on display in the Alhambra Museum.
Hours: Sun from 11:00 to 11:30 a.m. and from 5:00 to 6:30 p.m. (free visit).
CASA DE LOS PISA
In the Casa de los Pisa Saint John of God, the saint of Portuguese origin who found spirituality in Granada, was welcomed there. In this city he founded the Hospitaller Order that bears his name. Saint John of God dedicated his life to the most needy, developing pioneering methods of personalised care in his time.
Today this late 15th century mansion is the headquarters of the San Juan de Dios Museum and Archives. Despite being a small museum with a modest budget, it is one of the places most highly rated by visitors on TripAdvisor. Perhaps it is because of its excellent collection of religious art or the tranquillity of its interior.
Hours: M to S from 10:00h. to 14:00h. (last visit at 13.30h.).
Guided tour: afternoons and public holidays by telephone on request.
Price: 4 € pax.
The cisterns are water tanks to which the population used to go to get water. All of them were built between the 11th and 15th centuries. Twenty-seven are still preserved and were in use until well into the 20th century. The cisterns were filled by means of irrigation channels channelled from nearby springs and rivers. The water was distributed by a system of shifts, still in use today in rural areas.
Perhaps the one most worth seeing is the Aljibe del Rey. Apart from the beautiful carmen in which it is located, it is the only one to which the interior can be accessed. It dates from the 11th century and is the largest in the whole of the Albaicín. From here the water was distributed to the rest of the cisterns.
Times: Mon-Fri. Single pass at 12:00 A.M. (updated June 2020).
Other interesting cisterns are: that of San Miguel Bajo, because of the two reused Roman columns; that of El Trillo, for its special charm; and those of San Nicolás and Bibalbonud because you can drink water from them.
ALBAICIN VIEWPOINTS AND PLAZAS
We are going to know the viewpoints of the Albaicín, but remember that we have a post with all the viewpoints of Granada.
PLACETA DE LOS CARVAJALES
This small square offers a low view of the Alhambra, especially of the Alcazaba. It has a small fountain and a kind of irrigation channel where the Alhambra is reflected at sunset. Until a few years ago it was one of those small squares in the Albaicin where only the locals passed by. And even today it is still a quiet square. It is necessary to be extremely respectful in this square due to its small size and the immediacy of the houses.
VIEWPOINT AT CUESTA DE LOS CHINOS
On the way to Sacromonte along the cuesta de los Chinos (not to be confused with the cuesta del Rey Chico) you will be surprised by one of the best views of the Alhambra. In a narrow street flanked by houses there is a small stretch where you can take a break. This is a magical place to visit at sunset. Although it is already well known, it is a much quieter place than the popular viewpoints.
VIEWPOINT AT SAN CRISTÓBAL
At the northern end of the Albaicín is the viewpoint of San Cristóbal. It is one of those fantastic places with incredible panoramic views. From there we can see almost all the mountains surrounding Granada. It is also the best place to see the largest and best preserved wall of the Albaicín. Behind it is the church of San Cristóbal and its cistern. The church was built on the site of an old mosque and its walls were built with the graves of the Islamic cemetery. Decorations from these funerary kerbs can still be found on the exterior walls.
VIEWPOINT AT DE LA LONA
At the end of the slope of the same name there is a viewpoint overlooking the fertile plain of Granada. From there you can see the modern city with the imposing Cathedral and dozens of bell towers and domes of the churches scattered around Granada. To the southeast you will see the Sierra de Almijara y Tejeda and to the north Sierra Elvira, former location of the capital of this territory, Medina Elvira.
PLAZA DE LA VICTORIA (viewing point)
Although the square is relatively modern, it has excellent views of the Alhambra. This space belonged to the Convent of La Victoria. It is hard to believe that just a few metres away there was a church, but this is the case. This square was part of the orchard of this church which was destroyed in the 19th century. We particularly like this place for its tranquillity.
This is one of the hubs of life in the Albaicín. There is constant activity and it is a good place to get to know the life of the neighbourhood. There are several bars with “tapillas granainas”, the famous Casa Pasteles and the Arco de las Pesas, a gate in the old medieval city wall. From Tuesday to Saturday from 10:00 to 14:00 there is a market. Small fruit, vegetable and clothes stalls are set up; the typical traditional street market where the locals shop for fresh produce. Visitors are often struck by the fact that they sell peeled prickly pears.
PLACETA DEL COMINO
This tiny square offers truly extraordinary views of the Alhambra. The beauty of the place is such that it is almost impossible not to stop as you walk along the street. In springtime the square is surrounded by vegetation, partly cared for by the locals. It is advisable to keep your voice down, as it is a fragile space where you have to stop almost at the very door of some houses. It is also an ideal space for relaxation.
PLACETA ÁLAMO DEL MARQUÉS
This is a little-known viewpoint, almost exclusively used by local residents. Facing southwest from here you can see every last ray of sunlight that illuminates Granada. In the placeta Álamo del Marqués you can see an Iberian water deposit, the Cathedral of Granada, the merging of the city with the fertile plain and feel the gentle breeze of the summer evenings. Warning: this placeta closes at night at 20:00 and the neighbours have already complained several times because the opening hours are not respected.
PLACETA DE SAN MIGUEL BAJO
On sunny days, the people of Granada usually go up to San Miguel Bajo to have a drink in its bars. It is a pretty square surrounded by old houses and flanked by the 16th century church of San Miguel. On the wall of the church there is a brick building with a small metal door. This is the access to the cistern of the old mosque on which the church was built. Nearby you can visit Dar al-Horra and the Convent of Santa Isabel.
MIRADOR DE SAN MIGUEL ALTO
If there is a bajo, it is because there is a alto. And indeed, at the top of the Albaicín is San Miguel Alto. It is a small hermitage with a cobbled esplanade in front of it. It is even above the Alhambra. During the late Middle Ages this was a strategic point for the control of the territory. In the past there was a tower here that connected the wall, which is still standing today.
It is a viewpoint where there are usually a lot of young people and to get there there is a good walk uphill. We’re not going to say that it’s the best in Granada because there are different colours, but watching the sunset from up here is priceless.
PLACETA DE SAN BARTOLOMÉ
Away from the tourist routes through the Albaicín, this square remains quiet throughout the day. It is one of those strongholds in the neighbourhood that resists tourism. It is surrounded by old and humble houses and presided over by the Mudejar church of San Bartolomé. This simple and austere temple has a cistern from the Andalusian period next to its main entrance.
The square maintains the essence of the Albaicín with its cobblestone floors, deciduous trees, whitewashed houses, brick church and Christian cross in the centre of the square.
MIRADOR DE SAN NICOLÁS
This is the most famous viewpoint in Granada and we have left it for the end of the list because you probably already know it. It deserves its fame: the best views of the Alhambra, flamenco music, Sierra Nevada as a backdrop. But beware, it is also the most crowded. In fact, it is almost always full of people. Sunset is the most beautiful time to visit it, but early in the morning it has another extra charm, you will find it almost empty. Behind it is the church of San Nicolás, which has a Mudejar roof that is well worth a visit.
CRUZ DE RAUDA
Leaving the last houses of the Albaicín and starting to climb the Aceituno hill, you will find the viewpoint of the Rauda cross. This is another of the great unknowns of Granada, as it is off the usual tourist routes. Its wide panoramic views will leave you speechless. In this area there was a Muslim cemetery, hence its name, rauda, which means cemetery in Arabic.
This is a transit point between the Albaicín and the rest of the city, where the whitewashed houses with tiled roofs end and the streets with traffic begin. Plaza Nueva is the start of most visitors’ visit to the Albaicín. At weekends it is usually buzzing with people and there is always a street show going on. Here you will always find a taxi available.
The square was given its present appearance in the 16th century, when part of the river Darro was covered and buildings were demolished to enlarge its space. At that time its two main monuments were also built: the Real Chancillería de Granada and the church of Santa Ana. From here also begins the slope of Gomérez that leads to the Alhambra forest. Another thing to do in Plaza Nueva is to have a cool drink of water at the Pilar del Toro before starting to walk.
VISITING THE ALBAICIN’S CHAMBERS
WHAT IS A GRANADIAN CARMEN?
The carmen is a typology of a Granadian house that is characterised by having a green area combining garden and orchard. They are usually built on a slope due to the topographical characteristics of the Albaicín and are enclosed by a high wall. They do not necessarily have to be large houses, in fact most of them are small.
Carmen comes from karm (Arabic for vineyard), a term used to designate the farms located outside the city walls. They were small fields that could also be used for recreational purposes, as some texts refer to the presence of fountains, gardens and dwellings.
These are usually private dwellings that must be respected, although there are also several carmenes that can be visited.
CARMEN OF THE ALJIBE DEL DEL REY
This carmen is the headquarters of the Granada Water Foundation of Emasagra, the public company that manages water in Granada. This is highly symbolic, as in the subsoil of this carmen is the Aljibe del Rey, the great water deposit we spoke about earlier. It is the largest medieval water deposit in the Albaicín and was built in the 11th century to distribute the precious liquid among other smaller cisterns, orchards and palaces.
Although the spectacular cistern is the main attraction, you can also visit its gardens and there is a Water Interpretation Centre where you can learn about the use of water in Andalusian Granada.
Post covid timetable: M to F. Free guided visits for 6 people at 10:00, 11:00, 12:00 and 13:00.
CARMEN OF MAX MOREAU
The house of this Belgian painter can be visited in the Albaicín. This lover of Granada donated his home and part of his personal property to the Town Hall. His carmen is a real dream of the Albaicín. It has the usual views of the Alhambra, as it is built on the southern slope facing the monument. In its terraced gardens, water is present in the form of fountains and a small pool.
If you want to see what a carmen was really like, this is the best option. The books on the shelves, the piano, the painting studio, Max Moreau’s paintings; everything in its place. Being a house-museum revives an inhabited dwelling where we can be transported back in time a few decades.
Hours: M to S from 10:00 to 13:30 and from 18:00 to 20:00, closed Sun and Mon.
Price: free admission.
CARMEN DE LA VICTORIA
On entering the Carmen de la Victoria you enter a cool garden where the presence of water plays a major role. This lush orchard at different heights evokes peace and transmits tranquillity to the soul, especially when you can see the towers of the Alhambra rising from the green forest that surrounds it. Its appearance is not very different from its original appearance, as it still conserves the typical 19th-century Granada jardinières.
The Carmen de la Victoria is one of the largest in the Albaicín. It is the result of the union of two previous carmenes and the occupation of other houses and streets. Since 1945 it has been managed by the University of Granada and serves as accommodation for professors and researchers. However, access to the gardens is permitted and free of charge.
Hours: every day from 10:00 to 14:00 and from 18:00 to 20:00 with previous notice and in groups of 6 people maximum.
Price: free admission.
STREETS OF THE ALBAICIN
Let’s take a look now at the most important walks and streets of the Albaicín and some streets that we love for their names or their special beauty or care.
PASEO DE LOS TRISTES (The Sad People’s Promenade)
This is another of the icons of the Albaicín. Every traveller who has passed through Granada has strolled along this delightful spot. It runs alongside the river Darro and at the very foot of the Alhambra. For decades, this is where the dead were bid farewell to the dead, hence its name. Today, however, it has little to do with sadness. Some festivities are held here, it is common to hear street musicians and occasionally it is possible to find craft markets.
This space designed in the 16th century has preserved its original appearance. In the surrounding area there are many bars with terraces and some unique buildings such as the Casa de las Chirimías (17th century) or the Hotel Reuma (20th century).
CARRERA DEL DARRO
Like the previous one, this is the most visited street by travellers in Granada. Ascending along the Darro River, it connects Plaza Nueva (the nerve centre of Granada’s historic centre) with the Paseo de los Tristes.
This paved street runs about 4 or 5 metres high and parallel to the river. On the left bank, the houses hang over the Darro riverbed. On the right bank there is a succession of monuments: Casa de los Pisa, Bañuelo (Andalusian hammam), the Palace of Mariana Pineda, the Convent of Zafra and Casa de Castril among others.
Towards the middle of the route we will find the remains of a great destroyed arch. This was the Gateway of the Tableros, also known as the Bridge of Cadí. An original construction that fulfilled defensive functions, but which also served to retain water. The small dam would open, producing a flood that would allow the river to be cleaned. It was also connected to the Alcazaba of the Alhambra by means of a stretch of wall to lower protected and supplied with water.
SAN JUAN DE LOS REYES
Towards the middle of the Albaicín hillside, the street San Juan de los Reyes crosses the entire neighbourhood from east to west.
We don’t recommend walking the whole of it, as it is one of the few streets with road traffic, and the ideal way to get around the Albaicín is to walk up, down and through the streets. But it is home to such unique places as the church of San Juan de los Reyes. This was the first mosque consecrated to Christian worship and, after its demolition in 1520, a Gothic-style church with large pointed arches was built inside. The minaret of the old mosque was converted into a bell tower and has preserved the decoration of the Andalusian sebka (13th-century Almohad).
CALLE DEL AGUA
Its name is loaded with intention, as it is the site of an Andalusian hammam that is currently closed. But in addition, along this street ran the Aynadamar irrigation channel, the oldest and most important water channel that supplied the Albaicin. This water came from many kilometres further up, from the fountain of Las Lágrimas.
The Calle del Agua is charming because of its architecture and because it has a lot of life. There are small bars and food shops and it is a meeting place for the locals. The same happens in Plaza Larga, where this street starts.
CUESTA DE MARÍA LA MIEL
The street runs between private carmenes. The bushes climb over its high walls, flooding the street with green. You will see curious and unique architectural elements: old grilles, wooden gates, neo-Arabic façades, brick frames, etc.
There is no other street with such a sweet name as this one. Behind this toponym hides a story of love misunderstanding. Legend has it that a Muslim warrior, Salam Alhamar, held a Christian woman, María Inestrosa, captive. The day he went to get her, the young woman had a bouquet of jasmines that had been given to her by D. Fadrique, another character who was trying to save her. Maria rejected Salam and in the struggle the bouquet fell into the well. From then on, the taste of the water in that well was sweetened.
The remains of the city’s Roman forum were found in one of the upper part of the cisterns. Fragments of pedestals and columns and a pavement of large stone slabs were found there.
CALLE DEL BESO Y CUESTA DE LAS ARREMANGADAS
This albaicinero passageway is one of our favourites and is located next to the Casa de Porras. The narrowness of the Calle del Beso is truly amazing and in spring it is adorned with green vegetation and the scent of jasmine.
The name of this street comes from an ancient legend about a girl who lived here. The girl died suddenly a few days before her wedding. Just before closing the coffin the mother kissed her daughter and she came back to life.
At the end of the street, the street forks. If we choose to go down, we go down the cuesta de las Arremangadas. It is a short, stepped, zigzagging slope where, according to Julio Belza and Ruiz de la Fuente in their famous work “Las calles de Granada”, women had to roll up their long skirts to be able to climb it. It probably did not even have steps in the past, hence the difficulty of climbing the steep slope.
This route starts at Puerta Elvira, the gate in the medieval wall from which the road to Medina Elvira started and which was the capital of its “cora” (province). It ends in Plaza Nueva after bordering the entire Albaicín on its western flank.
It has a reputation for being nocturnal and bustling, as there are several of Granada’s legendary pubs. However, it has a very important cultural component, as it has the great Puerta Elvira, the parish church of San Andrés and the fountain or pillar of the Virgin. It was one of the main streets of the Andalusian Granada and retains almost the same layout and length.
On the downside, we have to say that it is a somewhat dirty street, where the narrowness combined with car traffic makes it difficult to walk and contemplate.
CALDERERÍA or THE STREET OF THE TETERÍAS
Calderería Nueva and Calderería Vieja are two streets in the Albaicín completely full of tea shops and shops selling Moroccan goods. Most of the owners are Muslims from the Maghreb and they are very reminiscent of the narrow streets of the medinas of North Africa.
The guild of coppersmiths occupied these streets, hence their name. In the past they were full of shops where metal objects were made, sold and repaired: cauldrons, lamps, braziers. Now it is possible to taste good teas in establishments that transport you to modern-day Morocco.
ROUTES AND GUIDED TOURS IN THE ALBAICIN
Now that you know the most important places, the best route through the Albaicín is the one you can create. The ideal is to organise the visit from bottom to top or vice versa. The Albaicín is a magical place to get lost, get out of the main streets full of people and discover new places. Choose what you want to see and start walking.
Do you want to know much more and make the most of your time, we’ll guide you. We propose you these three routes designed with care:
- For small groups
- With local guides
- And in one language
Are you looking for the true heart of the Albaicín? With this guided tour you will visit places, monuments and viewpoints away from the crowds. You will learn about the history of the Albaicín from its origins to the present day while you walk through its streets and corners full of colour, legends and pure magic. You will be able to contemplate the wonderful views of the Alhambra, Sierra Nevada and the city from several not so touristy viewpoints. Click on the banner to find out more.
4 NEIGHBOURHOODS 4 CULTURES
A guided visit to the 4 historical quarters of Granada: the Albaicín, the Realejo, the Sacromonte and the Sagrario (Centre or Cathedral quarter). It is designed for those who want to see as much of Granada as possible in one morning (4 hours). We will walk through the historic centre of the city knowing its monuments and the history of its 4 cultures: Christians, Jews, Muslims and gypsies. On this route we will visit some of the monuments and viewpoints we talked about in this guide. Click on the banner to know more.
FOLLOW THE RHYTHM
Follow the beat is a route designed to visit part of the Albaicín and Sacromonte, but above all to get to know the art of Flamenco in an experiential way. In addition to discovering the history of flamenco, you will meet artists who will show you and tell you about flamenco in first person. Click on the banner to know more.
THE GOLDEN DOUBLE
It is not a route per se. La Dobla de Oro is a ticket to visit several Andalusian monuments in Granada and managed by the Patronato de la Alhambra: Bañuelo, Casa Morisca de la calle Horno de Oro, Palacio de Dar al-Horra, Casas del Chapiz and Casa de Zafra. It can also be complemented with the General Daytime Tour of the Alhambra. You can do the tour you want passing by the monuments included in the ticket.
Extended opening hours. 1 May to 14 September: M to Sun. 09:00 – 14:30 and 17:00 – 20:30.
Reduced opening hours: 15 September to 30 April: Sun. 10:00 – 17:00.
Price of the Golden Double: 5 € pax (includes several moments).
WITH ALL OUR GUIDED ALBAICIN TOURS YOU COLLABORATE IN LOCAL REFORESTATIONS
FIND OUT HOW AND WHY.
TAXI AND BUS STOPS IN THE ALBAICIN
Use the taxi only if it is a physical necessity or an emergency. The traffic problems not only affect the residents, but also the image of the neighbourhood as perceived by the travellers themselves. The streets are very narrow and every time a vehicle passes, pedestrians have to stop and move to one side.
These are the taxi ranks in the Albaicín.
- Plaza Nueva
- Paseo de los Tristes (Calle Padre Manjón and the beginning of the cuesta del Chapiz)
- Paseo de los Tristes (Calle Padre Manjón and the beginning of the cuesta del Chapiz)
- 7 Pagés Street
- Atarazana Vieja alley (under the San Nicolás viewpoint)
- Atarazana Vieja street (under the San Nicolás viewpoint)
Locate them in the map.
There are several bus lines that run through the Albaicín. Avoid taking the bus at peak times. It tends to become overcrowded during the high season, preventing residents from taking their children to school or going to work. Many of its residents do not have their own vehicle due to the characteristics of the neighbourhood and the bus is their main means of transport.
- C31. Circular route through the Albaicín
- C32. Connects the Albaicín with the Alhambra
- C34. Connects the centre with Sacromonte and passes through the Albaicín
Go to the official Map of the Granada bus service.
Most of the streets of the Albaicín are not suitable for pushchairs or wheelchairs. If it is essential to use them, we recommend walking along Carrera del Darro, San Juan de los Reyes or the upper part of the Albaicín between Calle Pagés and its surroundings.
FOUNTAINS FOR DRINKING WATER
The environment is important for everyone. That is why we have added to the map all the drinking water fountains of the Albaicín. This neighbourhood has numerous water fountains and you don’t need to buy bottled water. Furthermore, the quality of the water in Granada is exceptional.
Go to the Google Maps map and navigate to the nearest source
THE MAP OF THE ALBAICIN
And here is the map with all the places we have told you about in this guide to the Albaicín. The contents are structured in different layers that correspond to each section of this guide.
Activate and deactivate the layers to navigate in a more fluid way.
To make this guide we have had the help of an art historian from Granada, Teresa Megías. We have also been helped by Manuel Pérez and Gaspar Aranda, archaeologist and historian respectively. Estela García, Ángel Felicísimo, Ana SweetShot and Luis Matías, artists who do and share exceptional work, have collaborated on the photographs. To all of them, thank you very much! Guide to the Albaicín