Oh my – we love Granada! So grab a cup of coffee or a glass of rioja, because I have a lot to share in this update.
We have traveled from Malaga to Granada on the bus – a 2 hour trip. Still no sunshine, and as we make our way through the mountains (which, by the way, are beautiful, with olive groves as far as the eye can see in all directions), we watch the temperature fall from 19 degrees Celsius to 12 (66 degrees Fahrenheit to 54). And it’s windy. Looks like we’ll be keeping the jackets handy for the next few days.
Our Airbnb apartment in Granada is modern and comfy, and the location is superb – convenient to all the sights on the “must do” list.
Casa Museu Manuel de Falla
Our first excursion – the Manuel de Falla House Museum – isn’t even on the radar screen until we see a brochure and book about the Spanish composer in our apartment. Since it’s only a short distance away, we go there first and immediately learn that there are no flat streets in Granada. In this case, we walk steeply uphill until Google tells us we have arrived, then we wander around for 15 minutes to find the place.
The museum is tiny, because it’s actually the house where de Falla lived for 18 years. A sign on the door advises wanna-be visitors to ring the bell (an actual bell, as opposed to a doorbell), and “someone will be with you shortly.” So we do, and a person does indeed greet us in just a couple of minutes, and for the grand sum of four euros, takes us on a 30 minute private tour.
Manuel de Falla was one of Spain’s most important composers during the first half of the 20th century. After spending his formative years in Madrid and young adult years in Paris, he moved to a small house in Granada, where he lived and worked for 18 years. In 1939 following Francisco Franco’s victory in the Spanish Civil War, de Falla moved to Argentina, with plans to return at a future date. Believing his life was in danger because of his political activities, he just up and left – closed the door to his house and walked away.
He never made it back to Granada – died in Argentina in 1946, and the house and his possessions were eventually purchased by the city and today are available for viewing by the public in this quaint museum. If advertised as a rental unit, the listing would describe it as fully furnished, including furniture, dishes, linens . . . and piano. The piano is gorgeous.
Our tour guide points out de Falla’s mundane personal items (toiletries, medications, ash trays, dishes, clothing, hats) and an amazing number of original creative works he had received as gifts from friends – Federico García Lorca, Pablo Picasso, Igor Stravinsky, and Salvador Dali, to name a few.
We could linger here for a couple of hours, but our guide has other tourist groups to attend to. Technically, photos aren’t allowed, but he says OK to just a couple. Bottom line – our visit to Granada is off to a great start!
Granada Cathedral and Capilla Real
The cathedrals in Europe are breathtaking – off the charts in size and grandeur. The experience of visiting these amazing structures cannot be conveyed in words and photos. At least not by me, but I’ll share a few mediocre pictures anyway.
As context, it’s important to understand that every city we’ve visited so far in Portugal and Spain has a magnificent cathedral. All have amazing architecture and décor, but we’re only visiting a few. Built between 1523 and 1704, the Granada Cathedral is recognized as a leading example of Renaissance-style cathedral construction, with a little Baroque thrown in for the towers, which were never completed.
We also visit the Capilla Real, or Royal Chapel, which is located adjacent to the Granada Cathedral. The brainchild of Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand, it was constructed between 1505 and 1517 with the sole purpose of serving as their final resting place. We wait in line about 30 minutes to gain entry to the Chapel.
While there is much to see inside, the highlight is walking down a few steps adjacent to the elaborate marble tombs to view (through glass) the crypt underneath that contains lead coffins with the earthly remains of Isabella and Ferdinand, as well as their children – “Philip the Handsome” and “Joanna the Mad.” No photos allowed inside, so all I have is a partial view of the outside – it’s the building in the back.
Palacio de la Madraza
Across from the Royal Chapel stands an unassuming building that’s attracting a few visitors as well as our curiosity (remember, we’re standing in line to see the chapel). Later in the afternoon, we return to investigate and learn that La Madraza dates back to the mid-14th century, when it was constructed and operated as an Islamic school until the city returned to Christian rule in the early 1500s.
The ground level prayer room was covered over with wood until the late 19th century, when the original décor was restored. The property was purchased by the University of Granada in 1976. Click here to learn more about the history of La Madraza.
Although not as grand as the cathedral, I think it’s equally beautiful.
We have two more days in Granada and big plans for learning more about this great city, which I will share in my next update. In the meantime, here are some miscellaneous photos that I hope you enjoy!