Parador Granada – History

Parador Granada – History

Located inside the Alhambra – which is one of the world’s great architectural wonders – is the stately, yet charming Parador Granada.

Put simply, a stay in this hotel is a magical experience!  You will feel as if you have somehow stepped back several centuries, and are walking in the footsteps of both Moorish sultans, and Spanish kings and queens.

The history of the Alhambra itself began around 1238 A.D. – with each succeeding Moorish ruler adding to and expanding the palaces and gardens. The most visually stunning style was achieved by the great Nasrid master builders and architects from the 14th century on – right up until the “re-conquest” by the Christian monarch Ferdinand II, and his queen Isabel of Castille at the very end of the 15 century.

The Parador Granada itself (also known as the Parador San Francisco) was constructed during the two decades between 1332 and 1354. Originally part of a mosque complex, it was later rebuilt and used by the Franciscans as a convent. It was converted into one of the Parador chain’s finest – and most requested – Paradors a few decades ago, and has recently been completely refurbished.

The Parador sits amid placid and enchanting gardens – part of the incredibly extensive gardens of the Alhambra and Generalife grounds. This was the very last stronghold of the long line of Moorish rulers in ‘El Andalus’ – present day Andalucia – and here gathered the greatest of the poets, artists, and intellectuals of the day to live out the last years of Moorish rule in this gem of the once-great kingdom.

Alhambra Granada engraving

Alhambra Granada engraving

Called “a pearl in an emerald” by poets of the day (referring to the light-colored marble and stucco buildings nestled in the vast green of the gardens), it was a place of refinement and opulence.  The Christian monarchs had their own ideas of what constituted architectural beauty, and after the re-conquest continued to add to the array of buildings and palaces. They replaced the mosques with Christian-consecrated buildings – of which the Fransiscan convent – today’s Parador Gradada – was one example.

The Alhambra will be at your doorstep while staying at the Parador, but it occupies a very large area and it can be somewhat confusing and challenging to see everything – especially if you have allowed only one day.

There are four ‘areas’ – Charles the Fifth’s imposing palace and it surroundings – the ancient old fort (the Alcazaba) with its tower ruins, and extensive walls – the exquisite Nasrid Palaces, and the Generalife gardens farther up the hill from the previously mentioned complexes which are all down at a somewhat lower altitude.

There are enchanting gardens other than the Generalife as well – including those that surround the Parador and other buildings. All are watered by snow-melt brought down from the mountains via a complex and ingenious irrigation system. Little channels of water – acequias – run refreshingly through all parts of the gardens, and give the grounds a dreamlike quality of natural tranquility.

Staying at the Parador Granada allows one to partake of this wonderful ambience, and very few places in the world are as purely “romantic” as the Alhambra in Granada.


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