Granada Cathedral & Royal Chapel

Granada Cathedral & Royal Chapel

The rain predicted for today didn’t really materialize until early evening, and even then the rain was sporadic – mostly off than on. And today, we got a brief but important lesson on Spanish history. Back in high school, we had briefly learned about some Spanish Queen funding an Italian guy for his trip to America, and that was the extent of our Spanish history.

Current day Spain began with the union of Queen Isabella I of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon in 1469 (not to be confused with Ferdinand III of Castile who conquered the Moors in Córdoba and Sevilla in 1236 and 1248 respectively). The two went on to establish the Catholic Monarch with the end of the 700-year Reconquista (triumph of Christianity over Islam in the Iberian peninsula) with the fall of Granada in 1492 as the last Moorish stronghold. Isabella I is probably best known for sponsoring Christopher Columbus, as well as starting the brutal Spanish Inquisition.

At the end of Calle Gran vía de Colón is a statue of Queen Isabella with Christopher Columbus.

One of the sites we visited today is the Royal Chapel, which is essentially a big mausoleum that holds the tombs of Isabella I, Ferdinand II, Joanna (Isabella & Ferdinand’s second daughter who became the Queen of Castile and Aragon after her 2 older siblings passed), Philip (Joanna’s husband), and Miguel de la Paz, Isabella’s almost 2-year old grandson. The story with Miguel is interesting in that had he survived, he would have unified all of Iberia (Spain and Portugal). His father was the heir to the throne of Portugal, and his mother (Isabella and Ferdinand’s oldest child) was the apparent heir to the throne of Castile and Aragon had she not die an hour after Miguel was born. Would Portugal exist as a separate nation in this day in age had Miguel survived?

Since photos weren’t allowed in the Royal Chapel, the only picture I have is of the exterior. Chapel on the left, and the cathedral on the right.

In the little plaza leading into the Royal Chapel sits a Islamic madrasa to the left.

You would not know that this used to be a madrasa given the reimagined Baroque-style exterior.
The interior is more aligned with a simpler Islamic style school devoted to the teaching of the Koran.
The beautiful keyhole entryway

The next stop was the Granada Cathedral, which is the second largest in Spain. In the 200 years it took to complete this Gothic church, builders incorporated Renaissance style interior and Baroque style chapels over time.

The gothic exterior
With the airy cathedral reflecting the Renaissance influence.
The simple ceiling patterns are much more pleasing to the eyes compared to the busy ones we saw in the Mezquita.
Horizontal organ pipes that only exist in Spain
One of the many ornate Baroque style chapels
Entry to the Royal Chapel
Giant book stand holding giant hymnal books for monks to sing in unison to

Lunch was at a wonderfully tasty Moroccan joint where we ended up chatting with a fellow Laguna Beacher. Small world.

Calle Calderería Nueva – lined with souvenir shops and Arabic tea shops
The view of the city from de la Lona viewpoint

With extra time left in the day, we popped into the archeological museum.

Another Baroque style façade
With a austere interior
Having been to numerous archeological museums while in Turkey, everything in this museum looked very familiar. The only thing that stood out in this museum is the astrolabe from 1481. This instrument helps determine time of prayer, start of Ramadan, and the direction of prayer (Qibla). There are only 40 astrolabes in the entire world, 24 are in Spain, 9 are Muslim instruments, and this is the only one built specifically for Granada’s latitude.

Looking for more things to see, we made our way to the Gate of Elvira.

The gate where the triumphant Isabella and Ferdinand made their entry into the city in 1492.

After dinner, our last stop of the day was to catch a view of Alhambra at night.

Tomorrow is our big day – the Alhambra!

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