GRANADA CATHEDRAL

Catedral de Granada
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Just as the Alhambra is the symbol of the Nasrid dynasty that ruled Muslim Spain, the Granada Cathedral is the symbol of the reconquest that pushed the last remaining Moors from the Iberian Peninsula. The grandiose cathedral with its larger-than-life columns and solemn white interior was the first Renaissance church to be built in Spain and one of the country’s most important.

The Royal Chapel (separate entrance) holds the tombs of the Catholic Monarchs, Ferdinand & Isabella, forever intertwining their legacy with Granada’s. The Cathedral and Royal Chapel are two of the most important monuments of the city and visiting them is one of the best things to do in Granada.

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OPENING TIMES

Monday to Saturday: 10am to 6:30pm
Sundays & holidays: 3pm to 5:45pm
Closed: December 25 & January 1

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PRICE

General admission: 5€
Students (12-25 years): 3.5€
Children (0-12 years): free
* Audioguide included in the ticket
* Free access: Sundays only with previous reservation via diocesisgranada.es

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ADDRESS

Gran vía de Colón 5, 18001 Granada

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History of the Granada Cathedral

Dome in the main chapel of Granada's Cathedral – Andalusia, Spain
Dome in the main chapel of Granada's Cathedral

After seven centuries of occupation, the capture of Granada by the Catholic Monarchs in 1492 marked the end of Muslim rule in the Iberian Peninsula. King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella wanted Granada to become the symbol of their victory and planned several constructions to "christianize" the city.

As was done in many other reconquered cities in Spain, the monarchs decided to build a cathedral over the old Great Mosque of Granada. This new Catholic cathedral would become a strong symbol of the dominance of the victorious Christian monarchs over the defeated Muslims.

After reconquering the Spanish Peninsula, the monarchs wanted to forever be remembered for their momentous achievement. So in addition to constructing a grandiose Gothic cathedral, they decided to built a Royal Chapel within the cathedral where their tombs could be displayed. This has secured their legacy even to today, as the cathedral and chapel are two of the most visited attractions in all of Granada.

However, after the sudden death of Queen Isabella in 1504, it was decided to start building the Royal Chapel first to house her remains.

Once the Royal Chapel was completed, work on the rest of the cathedral began. The architect and sculptor Enrique Egas was responsible for designing a Gothic style temple based on the cathedral of his hometown, Toledo. Work began with the laying of the first stone in 1523.

In 1529, the architect and sculptor Diego de Siloé replaced Egas at the helm of the project. Siloé had studied in Italy and was a proponent of the Renaissance style. Because of this, he wanted to change the design of the cathedral from Gothic in to the new in vogue style. However, this was no easy task.

First, he had to convince Charles V. For the king, it was important to comply with the wishes of his grandparents, the Catholic Monarchs, who wanted their remains to rest in a Gothic temple. Charles V was eventually persuaded and even ended up becoming a great fan of the Renaissance style. Proof of this is the Christian palace of the Alhambra, also known as the Palace of Charles V.

Main Façade of the Granada Cathedral, Andalusia – Spain
Façade of the Granada Cathedral

There were also certain structural limitations that were faced when they tried to convert the cathedral from Gothic to Renaissance since the foundations of the cathedral had already been laid. But Siloé managed to find a way around this problem and dedicated the rest of his life to the construction of the Granada Cathedral. The building has since become one of the crowning works of the Renaissance in Spain.

After Siloé's death in 1563, his protege Juan de Maeda continued the work. However, during the reign of Philip II (1556-1598), Granada began to lose its importance as a city. As a result, work on the cathedral slowed down.

In 1664, work began on the main façade, under the direction of the painter, sculptor and architect Alonso Cano. The abundant decoration and Baroque elements of the cathedral’s façade are a stark contrast to the solemn interior.

Cano was also responsible for the construction of the two monumental towers of more than 80 m (260 ft) high that had been planned by Siloé. After only two thirds of the right tower had been built, there were already multiple collapses which killed several workers. The accidents, along with the face that Granada suffers from frequent earthquakes, caused the king to stop the construction. This is the reason why the cathedral only has one tower that is 57 meters (187 ft) tall.

Finally, the Granda Cathedral was completed in 1704, after 181 years of construction.

What to See in the Granada Cathedral

Grandiose Renaissance interior of the Cathedral of Granada – Spain
Grandiose Renaissance interior

The Cathedral of Granada is dedicated to Santa María de la Encarnación (Saint Maria of the Incarnation). This is where the cathedral gets its full name of Santa Iglesia Catedral Metropolitana de la Encarnación de Granada. The incarnation of God is the architectural and iconographic theme found throughout the building.

The grandeur of the cathedral’s interior is mesmerizing. It is after all, one of the largest cathedrals in Europe. Its airy white walls contrast with golden reliefs and colorful stained glass windows and works of art scattered throughout the temple.

The beautiful marble floor with alternating black and white tiles leads to the Main Chapel of the Cathedral of Granada. This jewel of the Spanish Renaissance was designed as a pantheon to house the tombs of the Habsburgs. However, it was never used for this purpose, since their tombs ended up in the Monastery of El Escorial built by Philip II. The arches of the pantheon were supposed to hold the royal tombs. Since there were no tombs to be placed inside, the space was filled with paintings by Alonso Cano representing scenes from the life of the Virgin (1652 - 1654).

Stained glass window in Granada's cathedral, Andalusia – Spain
Stained glass window

Under the splendid hemispherical dome of the Main Chapel designed by Siloé, 24 impressive stained glass windows extend. They were painted by Dirk Vellert and Juan del Campo, and tell the story of the Redemption of Jesus Christ.

In the Main Chapel you can also admire the sculptures of the Catholic Monarchs (by Pedro de Mena) and the twelve apostles (by Bernabé de Gaviria), as well as the busts of Adam and Eve (by Alonso Cano).

The side naves are occupied by chapels from different periods. In total, the cathedral of Granada houses no less than 15 chapels full of artistic treasures.

Among them, the Royal Chapel stands out. This Gothic style chapel houses the remains of the Catholic Monarchs, their daughter and heir Joanna of Castile and her husband, Philip the Handsome. However, please note that, although the Royal Chapel is attached to the cathedral, its entrance is separate and costs 5 €.

Granada's Cathedral Mass Times

Art and glass windows in the interior of the Granada Cathedral – Spain
Interior of the Granada Cathedral

Sundays & Religious Holidays

  • Lauds Royal Chapel: 9:45 am *
  • Royal Chapel Mass: 10 am
  • Cathedral Mass: 12:30 pm (presided by the Archbishop and broadcasted live on www.vatelevision.com)
  • Sacrarium Mass: 1:30 pm
  • Sacrarium Mass: 7 pm

Monday to Saturday

  • Lauds Cathedral: 8:45 am *
  • Cathedral Mass + Tertianship: 9 am *
  • Sacrarium Mass: 11 am
  • Sacrarium Mass: 7 pm

Cabildo Mass

  • Monday to Saturday: 9 am
  • Sundays and religious holidays: 10 am, 11 am

* The recitation of the service is cancelled in summer, but the mass does take place.

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