We start with the geographic heart of the city of Granada, visiting one of its main symbols, the Cathedral. It dates from 1501, when the Catholic Monarchs began the process of transforming the city of Granada, with the firm idea of Christianizing this city that was until that time considered Muslim. A combination of three different styles, it was conceived as a Gothic cathedral, but built in Renaissance style with a baroque facade by Alonso Cano. The cathedral is incomplete because the foundation was not strong enough to hold the two towers that were initially planned.
Behind this impressive and imposing facade are incalculable works of art hidden in the form of grand altarpieces, high altars, chapels and other pieces from different periods and styles. A few highlights include the High Altar for its spectacular dimensions and its round configuration, which was unprecedented in the history of architecture.
Sharing this baroque style, and next to the Cathedral is The Royal Chapel, La Capilla Real. the chapel’s construction was commissioned by Queen Isabella before she died and King Ferdinand, for their own burial chapel. In addition to the Catholic Monarchs, their daughter Joanna of Castile, known as Mad Joanna, and her husband, Philip I of Castile, or Philip the Handsome one, are also buried there. After passing through several stages of austerity, it regained its splendor during the eighteenth century when Fernando VI ordered: “Restore as much as possible my Royal Chapel in Granada, and its remarkable property, so that in it the memory of the Catholic Monarchs, its glorious founders, may be perpetuated in a more decorated manner”. The Royal Chapel has a separate entrance. The imposing ironwork is well worth contemplating as it is considered one of the most important mausoleums in Spain. Another attraction of this monument is the amount of personal belongings of Queen Isabella that are found in the sacristy of the chapel, such as as her crown, her jewelry and her gorgeous missal, which was her pocket-sized one, along with an important collection of Flemish paintings exhibited here.
If we continue walking through the surroundings of the Cathedral and the Chapel we will run into another uniquely special building, The Lorca Center - a cultural space dedicated to the memory and work of this genius of Grenadian humanities. It is nestled in the heart of Romanilla Square.
Once we leave The Lorca Center, we find the modern market, the Alcaicería, which was once the center of the Muslim city and the seat for the trade of major products that arrived here. Currently it is a maze of narrow alleys that remind us of the splendor and overwhelming Arab souk that was located here. This is a great place to make purchases from the most diverse varieties of tea to the most soughtafter souvenirs from Granada, in addition to enjoying the winding streets and charming squares.
Leaving the Alcaicería leads to the famous Reyes Católicos street, the true main street of the city, under which lies the Darro river after being modernized during the vaulting projects that took place in the nineteenth century. At the end of this street we reach the Plaza Nueva, which despite its name, is the oldest in Granada, from the Christian era. It lies between the modern Granada and the path of the Darro river and has a peculiar history: it was built to cover the Darro river, replacing the al-Hattabin Bridge (loggers bridge), so as to create more space in the city. Eventually it became one of the most important centers in Granada and is said to have been the center for leisure as well as a host to tournaments, bullfights and public executions.
In the surrounding area we find monuments such as the Royal Chancery, today used as the headquarters of the High Court of Andalusia and its archives, which was also a judicial body founded by Queen Isabel. In addition you can find other religious monuments like The Church of San Gil and The Church of Santa Ana, built to replace the old Almanzora mosque.
Finally we end this fantastic day strolling through La Carrera del Darro and enjoying a tapa on one of the terraces from which we can enjoy the wonderful views of the Alhambra illuminated at night.