Granada Introduction Walking Tour (Self Guided), Granada

Granada is home to many beautiful spots that combine natural scene with stone forms in most intricate ways. It boasts many fountains and places to rest in, read a book, sip coffee - all while enjoying the atmosphere and planning the rest of the trip. Take a tour of Granada's plazas, landmarks and most interesting museums to see the casual life of its people, and the day-by-day events in this Mediterranean paradise.
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Granada Introduction Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Granada Introduction Walking Tour
Guide Location: Spain » Granada (See other walking tours in Granada)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 15
Tour Duration: 3 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.9 Km or 2.4 Miles
Author: anna
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Plaza del Carmen
  • Plaza Bibarrambla
  • Granada Cathedral
  • Capilla Real de Granada
  • Plaza Isabel La Católica
  • Plaza Nueva
  • Archaeological Museum of Granada (Castril Palace)
  • Carrera del Darro
  • Puerta de las Granadas
  • Puerta De La Justicia
  • Torre de la Vela
  • Court of the Lions and the Fabulous Fountain
  • The Palace of Charles V
  • The Alhambra
  • The Generalife
Plaza del Carmen

1) Plaza del Carmen

Overlooking Plaza del Carmen is Ayuntamiento de Granada, the municipal government building. The plaza holds local parades and celebrations, which makes it one of the key places in the city. Here you can find a beautiful architectural ensemble to enjoy, or just a place to relax in.
Plaza Bibarrambla

2) Plaza Bibarrambla

The Plaza Bibarrambla is a historic public square close to Granada Cathedral. Its name translates as ‘gate of the river’ due to its proximity to the banks of the Darro. It was first created in Moorish times, and has been central to Andalucía’s bloody and turbulent history. The plaza was originally used to host Moorish festivals and jousts. Under Christian rule, the square was used for violent, chaotic bullfights, which led to many deaths. The square was also used as the city’s main market, and still hosts a number of colorful and exotic flower stalls to this day. The fountain at the center, known as ‘Fountain of the Giants’, depicts two giants holding a large Elvira stone bowl, with Neptune at its summit.

The plaza is most famous as the venue for the ‘autos da fé’, or tests of faith, which were held here during the era of the Spanish Inquisition. Following the reconquisition of Spain, the Catholic monarchs arranged a brutal task force to root out those that practiced other religions, or had converted to Christianity insincerely. In Granada, those suspected of being non-believers were put on trial in the town square. The trials would last all day, with those found guilty often burned to death in the middle of the square. A notoriously brutal exercise in religious warfare, the Inquisition lasted for over 300 years.
Granada Cathedral

3) Granada Cathedral (must see)

Plans for the construction of Granada Cathedral were put in place immediately after the city was returned to Christian rule in 1492. Originally designed as a Gothic structure, it had been re-imagined as a Spanish Renaissance building by the time construction began in 1518. Local architect Egas was responsible for laying the foundations, before being replaced by Diego de Siloé. The great city planner and architect, responsible for designing many of Granada’s finest buildings, spent four decades working on what would become the city’s most important place of worship.

Finally completed nearly 200 years after the Conquest of Granada, the church was restored and reinvented by four further architects after de Siloé. Granada Cathedral is notable for its five-naved, vast main hall, with an elegant gilded dome at the center. The bell tower is visible across the city, yet it was originally intended to be much higher, and paired with another tower immediately next to it. These were never completed, as the foundations were not strong enough to support these ambitious plans. The cathedral is open to the public throughout the year, and still holds regular services. Guided tours of the crypt, which is the final resting place of many of the Catholic Kings, are also available.
Capilla Real de Granada

4) Capilla Real de Granada (must see)

The Capilla Real was commissioned by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella in 1504, following the Conquest of Granada which reunited much of Spain as a Christian nation. The couple, ruling monarchs of Spain at the time, decided that Granada would be their final resting place, and requested that a burial chapel be built in the city. The Capilla Real, or Royal Chapel, was built between 1505 and 1517 in the Gothic style, and was dedicated to Saint John the Baptist and Saint John the Evangelist. Isabella died as the chapel was being constructed, whilst her husband passed away a year before the building was completed. Their remains, along with other members of the Spanish royal family, are interred here.

Restored in the 18th century and converted into a museum in the early 20th century, the chapel hosts two civic religious ceremonies each year, on 2nd January and 12th October. These services mark the Taking of Granada and Columbus Day respectively. The chapel is open to the public from Monday to Saturday, 10.15am to 1.30pm and 3.30pm to 7.30pm, and from 11pm to 7.30pm on Sunday, with the same two hour siesta break as in the week. The chapel closes an hour earlier in the winter months. Admission is 4 Euros.
Plaza Isabel La Católica

5) Plaza Isabel La Católica

The Plaza Isabel La Católica is a popular public square in the heart of Granada. It is named after Queen Isabella, one of the Catholic monarchs that conquered the city, who is celebrated in many of Granada’s public buildings and churches. In the center of the square, a monument depicts the queen with great Spanish explorer Christopher Columbus. Designed by Mariano Benlliure and formed from stone and bronze, it depicts Columbus presenting the plans for his voyage to the West to Queen Isabella. Constructed in 1892, it originally stood in the Paseo del Salon, before moving here in 1962.

On one side of the square, you will find one of Granada’s better modern buildings. An office and apartment block with wooden paneling, it was designed by local architects Alvarez, Gomez and Ridruejo Brieva in the 1970s. The lower floors belong to Santander bank, whilst the upper floors are residential. There is a mezzanine level in the middle, designed as a public square. The plaza is best known for the city’s famous Holy Week celebrations, when around a dozen different processions pass through the square. Centrally located, the plaza is an ideal place to watch the festivities, with processions each evening during Holy Week.
Plaza Nueva

6) Plaza Nueva (must see)

This square has been one of the most important places in the city since it was built. Some time ago, bullfighting tournaments were held here. Today, the plaza houses numerous bars and cafes, as well as vendors selling jewelry and traditional clothing.
Archaeological Museum of Granada (Castril Palace)

7) Archaeological Museum of Granada (Castril Palace) (must see)

Editor's note: The museum is temporarily closed for renovation.

The Archaeological Museum is housed in the House of Castril, a villa built by heirs of the Catholic Kings in 1539. Its elegant façade was designed by Sebastian de Alcantara. In 1917, the House of Castril was acquired by Leopoldo Eguilaz y Yanguas. A keen Orientalist, Yanguas turned the palace into a museum of archaeology for the city, to better preserve Granada’s long history, and the Eastern influences that shaped it. The house has two floors, with a colonnaded courtyard at the centre, all of which is occupied by the museum. There are seven galleries in total covering a number of different archaeological eras. Visitors first pass through a gallery on the Palaeolithic period, with many exhibits on the evolution of prehistoric man. The second and third galleries demonstrate the progress of man up to the Bronze Age.

The museum’s second section, comprised of four galleries, present artefacts from different ages of the modern colonial era, including many exhibits from Roman and Arabic culture. Items on display include weapons, vases, urns and pottery. The later sections demonstrate the many different cultures which have lived in Granada throughout the city’s long history. The museum generally focuses on local archaeological finds, though exhibits from around the world are included. Admission is free to EU citizens, and costs 1.50 Euros for others. It is worth noting that the museum stays open through the afternoon, when many churches and museums in the city close for the traditional siesta period.

Operation hours: July - August: Tuesday to Sunday and holidays from 09:00 to 15:00; September - June: Tuesday to Saturday from 09:00 to 21:00; on Sundays and holidays from 09:00 to 15:00.
Carrera del Darro

8) Carrera del Darro

Carrera del Darro refers to the left bank of the River Darro, which flows through the ancient city of Granada. It is generally used to refer to a section of the river bank close to the Paseo de los Tristes town square. Lined by historic townhouses, it is one of the finest scenic walks in the city. Walking along the river bank, you will pass buildings that date from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, as well as remains of houses dating from the era of Arabic influence in the city. Across the Darro, the thick forest which surrounds the Alhambra palace begins.

Two stone bridges, known as Cabrera and Espinosa, cross over the Darro along the length of the walk, offering a diversion into the Churra neighborhood on the other side. The Carrera del Darro was constructed in the seventeenth century. Whilst the bank appears the perfect place to create a scenic walkway through the city, it is only by accident that the path came to be created. An explosion destroyed the original wall, which was much closer to the houses that stood here, in 1509. As the wall fell into the path of the river, it created a natural barrier, allowing the street to eventually be widened, creating the popular promenade that you see today.
Puerta de las Granadas

9) Puerta de las Granadas (must see)

Built in the 16th century on the site previously occupied by another gate, called Nazari, Puerta de las Granadas has been the main gateway to the Alhambra palace since. It was built in the form of a Roman triumphal arch, designed by Pedro Machuca, who dedicated it in honor of Emperor Charles V.
Puerta De La Justicia

10) Puerta De La Justicia (must see)

Otherwise known as the Gate of Justice, this complex was built by Yusuf I, Sultan of Granada, in 1348. However, it seems that its original name was Bib-Xaria, the Gate of the Esplanade, as it formed a grand entrance to the Alhambra palace gardens. Puerta De La Justicia comprises two elegant arches - a larger and a smaller one - both made from white Macael marble.
Torre de la Vela

11) Torre de la Vela (must see)

The Torre de la Vela is the watchtower found within the Alhambra palace complex. First built by the Emirs of Granada as part of the original palace design, it is now primarily used to commemorate the day that they were overthrown. On January 2nd, the anniversary of the Conquest of Granada in 1492, single women of the town race to be the first to ring the bell. Superstition dictates that the first woman to reach the bell will be married by the end of the year. The tower and its bell are not used throughout the rest of the year, although this was not always the case.

An effective watchtower for the Moors, the Torre de la Vela overlooks the Vela valley – hence its name. It also commands a superb view over the city and the surrounding mountains. The tower stands 27 meters tall, and has a solid square based of 16 by 16 meters. The interior of the tower has been modified since Moorish times, and comprised four floors supported by arches. The bell was used for centuries to chime over the Vela valley, informing local farmers of the best time to water their crops. It was moved into the western façade of the tower in 1840. Forty years later, the tower was struck by lightning, and had to be reconstructed.
Court of the Lions and the Fabulous Fountain

12) Court of the Lions and the Fabulous Fountain

It was built for sultan Muhammed V in 1378, with a central fountain supported by 12 tame-looking lions. The poem which is engraved on the fountain, praises the sultan and this beautiful palace garden, planted with trees and aromatic herbs. It's surrounded by a gallery with 124 marble columns that overlooks three of the most attractive rooms in the complex.
The Palace of Charles V

13) The Palace of Charles V (must see)

The Palace of Charles V is located on the top of the Assabica hill, within the fortified walls of the Alhambra palace. It was built in 1527 for Charles V, a Holy Roman Emperor, who wished to build a residence close to the Alhambra. It was his decision to request a brand new palace befitting his imperial status, rather than adapt the existing Alhambra palace, that prevented the original Moorish castle from being altered beyond recognition.

The palace is a Renacentist construction, designed by Pedro Machuca, a little known Spanish architect. Rather than adopt the Gothic style popular with the conquistadors of Granada, Machuca created a stunning building in the Mannerist style, influenced by Italian architecture. The layout of the palace was built around a 17 meter high, 63 meter wide square, with a circular patio area at its center – in keeping with Mannerist architectural tradition, but very unusual for the period. The rooms are laid out over two storeys and several mezzanines around this courtyard area.

A Doric colonnade around the patio’s lower portion, and a simple Ionic colonnade around the upper floors, suggests that Machuca aimed to incorporate elements of Roman Empire era design into the palace. This style is combined with the grandeur and sweeping lines of the Renaissance era to create a building that became a puzzle for architectural historians.
The Alhambra

14) The Alhambra (must see)

The Alhambra is a UNESCO world heritage building, and perhaps the best preserved building for the Moorish era, when Muslim Emirs ruled large swathes of Southern Spain. Formally known as ‘Calat Alhambra’, meaning red fortress, the complex houses a palace, a mosque, gardens and streams, contained within a fortified outer wall. The palace was built in the 14th century, as the Reconquest took hold of Andalucía. The Alhambra was one of the last Moorish buildings to be constructed, before the Emirate of Granada was captured by Christian soldiers in 1492.

Seen from the Mirador of San Nicolas in Granada’s city center, the Alhambra to the south east has been said to resemble a ‘pearl in a sea of emeralds’. Formed from dusky pink stone, it rises out of a wood that was planted in the 18th century. The grounds around the building had previously contained parkland, waterfalls and fruit trees. The Emirs of the Nasrid dynasty, who built the palace and grounds, wanted to create a walled paradise.

Much of the original architecture inside the palace was damaged during raids and later redevelopment. The palace lay derelict for many years before being rediscovered and restored. Now returned to its appearance during the last days of Moorish rule, the Alhambra demonstrates a unique architectural style, where Arabic and Byzantine art mixes with European artistic traditions. This style, known as Mudejar, is also seen in many of the Catholic Churches built following the Conquest of Granada.
The Generalife

15) The Generalife (must see)

The Generalife Gardens, together with the Alhambra palace and Albayzin district, are a designated UNESCO world heritage site, and the most popular tourist attractions in the city of Granada. The Generalife formed the grounds of the Alhambra, and both were used as summer retreats for the Nasrid Emirs of Al-Andalus. Al-Andalus was an area colonized by the Moors, roughly equivalent to modern Andalucía, from the 9th to the 15th centuries. The gardens were constructed with the palace during the reign of Muhammad III in the early 14th century. Largely untouched, they have been extended by a 20th century area, landscaped in the traditional local style.

The Generalife is one of the oldest surviving Moorish gardens. It was originally linked to the Alhambra by a covered walkway across the ravine that lies between them. The main section of the gardens is known as the Court of the Water Channel. It is composed of a long, lily covered pool framed by colonnades, fountains and flower beds. The centre piece of the Generalife, it is one of the best preserved examples of a medieval Persian garden. Another picturesque area is the Jardin de la Sultana, where tall cypress trees surround an Arabian style fountain.

Walking Tours in Granada, Spain

Create Your Own Walk in Granada

Create Your Own Walk in Granada

Creating your own self-guided walk in Granada is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Granada Historical Churches

Granada Historical Churches

The city of Granada is a fine work of art just by itself. It spans from the beautiful, round shaped, miniaturist Arabic style to the angled, majestic, solid Gothic and Baroque. This tour highlights the history of art styles blended into the history of Granada, manifested in many of the local churches, monasteries and cathedrals. Take this tour to please your eye and challenge your imagination.

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.6 Km or 1.6 Miles
Alhambra Walking Tour

Alhambra Walking Tour

One of the first places a tourist wants to visit in Granada is Alhambra. This is one of the best-known sites, and it has a long history. However, Granada has many other things to explore than Alhambra. There are plenty of sights right around this gorgeous palace. So, before visiting Alhambra, take this tour and see what most of the tourists don't get a chance to look at.

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.7 Km or 1.1 Miles
Albayzín Walking Tour

Albayzín Walking Tour

Take a walk down the narrow, winding streets and delve into Granada's Medieval Moorish past. Albayzín is a wide, open-air museum of history and architecture. In 1984 it became a world heritage site. Get to know Granada of the Nasrid Empire era and enjoy traditional landscapes and vistas.

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.3 Km or 0.8 Miles
Museums and Historical Sites

Museums and Historical Sites

If you want to get to know Granada, this is the tour you have to take. It gives you the chance to learn about the city's culture and history -- from the Nasrid Empire to the Christian conquest; much as to be delighted by its architectural wonders. At the end of the tour, you can enjoy the city panorama from one of its Miradores.

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.6 Km or 1.6 Miles
Granada's Architectural Jewels

Granada's Architectural Jewels

Granada has been influenced by four major architectural styles--Moorish, Renaissance, Gothic and Baroque. On this tour of the city, see the Arab time lines imprinted in stone bearing the early Renaissance and Baroque accents. Be amazed by the originality and delicacy of the streets and residential areas of Granada.

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.4 Km or 1.5 Miles