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Granada Travel Guide

Sacromonte and Albaicín

Our itinerary starts at the Plaza Nueva and proceeds to the Plaza de Santa Ana. Here we find the Church of Santa Ana (30), built in 1537 by Diego de Siloé with considerable mudéjar influences (a mixture of Moorish and Christian styles). The mudéjar tower is especially interesting. The Main Chapel is covered by a splendid Moorish ceiling. The Darro river runs parallel to the street and the foundations of the buildings on the right-hand side seem to sink into the river bank. To the right is the Almazora district at the foot of the Alhambra.

At the beginning of the street called Carrera del Darro, on a little narrow lane, we find the Casa de los Pisa (31), the palace where St. John of God died in 1550. It now belongs to the religious order of the "Hospitalarios" and houses a rich and varied collection of art. Scultures by Pedro de Mena, Montañés and some attributed to Berruguete, along with an important collection of 16th century Flemish panels, are aprticularly noteworthy.

Opposite the first of the bridges, the Cabrera bridge, a narrow lane takes us to the beautiful spot where the Convent of Santa Inés (32) was founded in the 16th century.

The Alhambra and The Generalife
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Opposite the second bridge, called the Espinosa bridge, we encounter the 11th century Arab baths known as El Bañuelo (33).

Farther along, we come to the Convent of Santa Catalina de Zafra (34), founded in 1520. An interesting Renaissance doorway lead us to some notable carvings inside the temple. A 14th century Moorish house and a beautiful 16th century courtyard are also part of the convent.

Near the Convent of Santa Catalina, on the Calle San Juan de los Reyes, we find the Church of San Juan de los Reyes (35) which was erected over a mosque, preserving the original 13th century minaret, now converted into a bell tower.

Once again on the Carrrera del Darro at number 41, we find the Archeological Museum (36), housed in a mansion known as the Casa Castril. The façade is Plateresque and the staircase and courtyard inside deserve special mention.

Near the museum, we find the Church of San Pedro (37) with an open cloister overlooking the river, built in 1570 on land formerly occupied by a mosque. A short distance away, on the opposite side of the street, is the Convent of San Bernardo.

The Aljibillo bridge provides two interesting alternatives: the first goes straight ahead on the Cuesta del Rey Chico which separates the hills of the Generalife and the Alhambra, where we see lovely villas surrounded by gardens and cypress trees; the other to the left, follows the course of the river and leads to the Avellano Fountain.

To ascend in the direction of Sacromonte and the Albaicín, we must take the street called Cuesta del Chapiz. To the right is the palace of Los Córdova (38), a replica of the original one built between 1530 and 1592.

Nearby, we find the Casas del Chapiz (39), built in the 16th century. It now houses the school of Arab Studies of Granada.

The Casas del Chapiz are on the corner of the road leading to the Sacromonte (40). A good many of the dwellings in this popular district, traditionally inhabited by gypsies, are carved out of the hill and are good examples of popular architecture. In some of the caves, flamenco singing and dancing spectacles, known as zambras, are staged. The road continues to climb the side of the Valparaíso hill. The first stretch concludes at the Hermitage of Santo Sepulcro; the end is marked by the Sacromonte abbey, guardian of some priceless works of art.

In order to reach the Albaicín, we must retrace our steps as far as the Cuesta del Chapiz. In the Albaicín there used to be numerous textile industries, including silk and dye operations. Many of the mosques here were later converted into Christian churches. A good number of the Arab cisterns of the ancient villas are also preserved. There are several alternative routes to visit the area.

The Cuesta del Chapiz brings us to the Plaza del Salvador, center of the High Albaicín, where we find the Church of El Salvador (41) on the site occupied by the main mosque. On the highest part of the hill of the Aceituno is the Hermitage de San Miguel. From here, via the Calle de San Luis, we arrive at the Plaza de la Cruz de Piedra, where we see the Fajalauza Gateway in the wall descending the Aceituno hill. This gate provices access to the area where skilled potters lived and has given its name to the blue and green ceramic made in the district using Arab techniques.

At the far end of the western side of the Plaza de la Cruz de Piedra is the narrow street of San Gregorio where we find the Convent of San Gregorio Magno (42). A left at the Calle del Blanqueo Viejo will take us to the Calle del Conde and the Plaza of the same name. Nearby, we encounter the Placeta de las Estrellas (43), where we see the Villa of the Three Stars. On the Calle del Pagés, we come across the interesting House of Los Mascarones. The narrow street of Mataderillo and the Calle Larga de San Cristóbal run into the road to Murcia, where the San Cristóbal lookout offers one of the best views of Granada. If we continue to descend, we find the Church of San Cristóbal (44). Behind the church, an aljibe or Arav cistern from the 12th century is preserved.

Proceeding down the Calle Larga de San Cristóbal and turning at the first street on the left will take us to the Plaza de San Bartolomé. The church of the same name was built here on the site of an ancient mosque.

The Calle Panaderos brings us to the Plaza del Aljibe de Polo, back to back with the Plaza del Salvador. Here we have to walk to the Placeta del Abad, where we find the Convent of santo Tomás de Villanueva, a Moorish cistern and the ruins of two towers of an ancient fortied gate. On the Callejón de las Tomasas, the first street to the left leads to the San Nicolás lookout (45), where the 16th century Church of San Nicolás stands. In the Plaza de San Miguel Bajo (46), we find the Hermitage of the same name.

Proceeding on the Calle santa Isabel, we come to the Church of Santa Isabel la Real (47), founded by Queen Isabella in 1505 and erected over houses belonging to the Nasrid monarchs.

From the Plaza de San Miguel Bajo, we take the Calle de San José which brings us to the Church of San José (48), built in 1525 over one of the oldest mosques in the city. It houses important panintings and scultures. The coffered choir and main chapel are also of interest. If we take the Calle de San José and go down the Cuesta de san Gregorio, we come to the church of San Gregorio Bético (49), erected by order of the Catholic monarchs on the site of a Christian cemetery during the times of the Nasrid kings. From here, either the Calle Calderería Vieja or Calderería Nueva, will run in to the Calle Elvira.

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