Most visitors to Granada come to explore the fascinating and beautiful Alhambra, with good justification, but you shouldn’t skip the chance to stop by Granada’s Cathedral as well. In fact, it’s most pleasant to walk through the relatively compact historic core of Granada.
After the expulsion of the Moors from Granada and take-over by Spanish Christian forces, it makes sense that a new Cathedral was called for, but that did not happen right away. The war had been very expensive and other conflicts were diverting the monarch’s monies away from Granada.
It was not until 1523 (31 years after the conquest) that construction on the Cathedral began atop the site of a mosque. The project was not finished for 181 years (in 1704). Such a long period is not unusual for the construction of a magnificent church, and during this time (and with a total of 18 supervising architects) the design of the church changed from classic Gothic at its base to a Renaissance influenced structure (so called “Spanish Renaissance cathedral”).
Some of the architectural features of the Cathedral include:
– An open design encouraging people to look in all directions, rather than just be focused on the main altar.
– The whitewash lends a bright cheery atmosphere.
– The cupola is moved from its usual location above the crossing in the apse to above the main alter, where it provides a rich source of light to the area.
The Cathedral of Granada has a nice façade and a lovely grand altar, several chapels of different ages and styles, one having been converted into a museum. But its most striking feature is its spacious feel.
The Cathedral was intended to be a royal mausoleum by Charles I of Spain, but Philip II of Spain moved the site for his father’s and subsequent kings’ tombs to El Escorial outside Madrid.
When you visit:
I’m sure that like me the first impression you’ll have when entering the Granada Cathedral is one of openness and space. Not unlike walking into St. Paul’s in Rome (though Granada’s is a much simpler and brighter church). The columns supporting the high ceiling are truly massive! The stained-glass windows are beautiful and the structure is much more impressive from the inside than from its exterior. It is said to be the 4th largest Cathedral in the world, that size not being apparent to me when I walked around its periphery. Perhaps this is because it is surrounded by so many buildings, rather than being separated from the city somewhat.
Your admission includes a free audioguide which is informative and worth following. You can purchase your tickets at the cathedral
- General admission, individual or groups: 5 euros (with a helpful audioguide included).
- Students: 3,5 euros.
A few more sights from this grand building and its museum:
(Click on thumbnails to enlarge, right arrow to advance slideshow)