Whether you’re meandering through the medieval Albaicn neighbourhood or admiring the downtown’s post-conquista Christian monuments, there are breathtaking marvels around every corner. Granada certainly earns the title of architectural Mecca, from the dazzling splendour of the Alhambra to the awe-inspiring churches and the subtly stunning palaces. Over the ages, four significant architectural styles influenced Granada: Moorish, Renaissance, Gothic, and Baroque. The most impressive structures in the city are from a period of Arabic dominance; the glorious Alhambra stems from this era.

Rather than ostentation or luxury, Granada’s Moorish architecture charms with its peaceful beauty. This is notable in the Dar-al-Horra Palace, a simple structure that housed the mother of the last Moorish King of Granada. The Granada Cathedral dominates the city’s historical centre. Work on this enormous temple began in 1518 and was completed almost 180 years later. The spectacular Capilla Real (Royal Chapel), erected between 1505 and 1521, is another iconic example of Granada’s Gothic architecture.

An architectural review of location: Granada, Spain - Sheet1
View over Granada from the Alhambra _© Lana Law

Alhambra,Generalife and Albayzn   

An architectural review of location: Granada, Spain - Sheet2
Alhambra: A Masterpiece of Islamic Architecture _© tripadvisor.in

Alhambra and Albaycn, located on two nearby hills and rising above the present-day lower town, form the medieval section of Granada. In the 13th and 14th centuries, this region of Spain was dominated by the emirs who built the Generalife, an elaborate palace with gardens. The typical Andalusian architecture blends seamlessly with Moorish vernacular architecture in Albaycn. Using a proportional system, the Alhambra and Generalife contain all known Hispano-Muslim artistic techniques. The Royal House has received the most advanced architectural proposals and plastic arts of Western humanism.

During the Nasir Dynasty albayzn grew into a Hispano Muslim city with unique architecture that blended with the former style. The architecture and urban setting of Albayzn are the most amazing cultural examples of Andalus culture’s survival in our day. It provides a testament to a medieval Moorish village that was not altered when converted to a Christian way of life following the conquest. Its basic qualities in terms of structure, materials, and colours are practically unchanged and exist as a significant example of a Nasrid dynasty Moorish town that combined with the vernacular urban planning of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Plaster, wood, and ceramics as ornamental components are unique to the Alhambra and Generalife. Constructions were turned into an ensemble of “talking architecture” whose contents were tied to the Nasrid Dynasty’s religious, political, and poetic realm through Arabic epigraphy. From its beginnings in the Zirid Dynasty to the brilliance of the Nasrid Dynasty, the Albayzn is a microcosm of what Andalusi cultural splendour meant in Granada. Their superior scientific understanding, social norms, and gastronomy and hygiene attest to the superiority of this sophisticated civilisation, which inspired successive Albayzn cultures centuries afterwards. The Alhambra and the Generalife are two outstanding examples of Muslim architecture. 

An architectural review of location: Granada, Spain - Sheet3
Albaicín and Mirador of San Nicolas _©planetware.com

The Gypsy Quarter Of Sacromonte

An architectural review of location: Granada, Spain - Sheet4

The vibrant Gipsy quarter of Granada, perched atop the Sacromonte (“sacred mount”), is an unusual location. This hilltop hamlet begins at the Cuesta del Chapiz, where the Camino del Sacromonte ascends the hill. The Gipsies (Gitanos) have been in Granada since 1532, and in the 18th century, they lived in the Sacromonte caves. We can locate the unique Gipsy dwellings; some of them are embellished with magnificent handmade ceramics, if we dig a little further in the hillside pathways of this intriguing district. The caves on the Camino del Sacromonte’s upper part are in the best condition, and one has been transformed into a museum. Barranco de los Negros is a short walk from the Museo Cuevas del Sacromonte. 

The Sacromonte has some of the greatest views in Granada, including views of the Valparaiso Valley and the Darro River. Some vantage points offer views of the Alhambra and the Albaicn.

A steep and attractive Patchway (a challenging hike) leads to the Ermita de San Miguel Alto through deeply incised gullies. This 17th-century Baroque hermitage offers a spectacular perspective of the Alhambra and the Albaicn. The Sacromonte Abbey is another important ecclesiastical structure. The Abbey’s church, built in the 17th and 18th centuries, is a work of Andalusian Renaissance architecture. The Abbey, located atop Mount Valparaiso and accessible through the Camino del Sacromonte (a 10-minute cab trip from Plaza Nueva), is open for guided visits. In this location, several caverns were discovered.

El Bañuelo: Historic Arab Baths


The Moors introduced the hammam (Arab baths) tradition to Andalusia from their birthplace in North Africa, and Granada’s 11th-century Hammam al-Yawza (known as El Bauelo) is among the oldest and finest maintained in Spain. They are one of Granada’s oldest surviving Moorish structures and one of the few bath complexes that were not demolished after the Reconquista by Catholic rulers.

El Bauelo is a Patrimonio Mundial de la Humanidad (UNESCO World Heritage) site in Granada. This outstanding historical landmark is available to the public as a museum; admittance is via ticket only.


14 top-rated tourist attractions in Granada (no date) PlanetWare.com. [online] Available at: https://www.planetware.com/tourist-attractions-/granada-e-and-gra.htm (Accessed: 28 May 2023). 

City Walk: Granada’s Architectural Jewels, Granada, Spain (no date) GPSmyCity.[online] Available at: https://www.gpsmycity.com/tours/granadas-architectural-jewels-3507.html#:~:text=Over%20the%20course%20of%20centuries,Moors%20were%20displaced%20in%201492. (Accessed: 28 May 2023). 


Amrutha is an architect and designer based in Bangalore. She is a voracious reader and believes that architecture is similar to a narrative that slowly unfolds in time and space. As an avid traveller she finds thrill in serendipitous encounters.