A city walk along the river Darro in Granada

A city break in Granada is usually packed to the brim with shopping, bars, nightclubs, and museum visits. But in that time between waking up in your Granada accommodation, and a leisurely breakfast of coffee and Churros, take the time to shake off the night before, with a stroll down the Darro.  There are more ghosts and stories to accompany you than you might imagine...come and walk the Carrera del Darro.

River Darro

Where shall we start?

Right at the beginning.  Head for Plaza Nueva, if you're early enough you won't have to jostle past the tourists waving selfie-sticks outside the Church of Santa Ana.  Originally built on the site of a mosque, Santa Ana is in 16th century Mudejar style, and has a belfry in the style of a minaret tower.

 Plaza Nueva itself was founded after the reconquest and was enlarged during the 19th century to what you see today.

Facing Santa Ana, go down the narrow street to your left, cobbles underfoot.  You're at the beginning of the Carretera del Darro.  Camera ready?

Santa Ana Church

The bridges of the Darro

Spanning the Darro, you'll see Granada's last arched and ancient bridges, built after the conquest in 1492.

The two remaining bridges are Puente de Cabrera and Puente de Espinosa.  There were many more but they were destroyed in the 18th century when Plaza Nueva was built and much of the Darro today runs underground.

River Darro

A ruined bridge with history

A few metres along you'll spot a ruined arch, this was originally known as the Puente del Cadi.  It used to form part of the old city wall, and had a walkway on top for soldiers.  Inside were two spiral stairways, one for up, one for down.  The bridge linked the old fortress where the Albaicín is today with the new fortress of the Alhambra.  Look at the grooves along the centre of the ruined arch.  Evidence that the centre was fixed to a type of Portcullis of metal bars and grills: ostensibly to stop attacks along the river bed.

Darro

Bath time

Along a bit more, and on the left we come to the Banuelo, or public baths. Surviving from the 11th century and in superb condition. The Bunelo Granada probably only survived because it was under ownership and formed part of a private house.  Remember, washing was frowned upon by the new Christian rulers as unhealthy and strength-sapping!  

Arab baths

Convents

Following on down the Darro, we encounter the Franciscan Convento de la Concepcion and the Convento de Santa Catalina de Zafra.  Both of which sport stunning facades.

A love story

Next up is Casa de Castril - today home of the Archaeology museum, but with a fascinating story attached. Look up to the sealed up balcony with the inscription "Esperando La Del Cielo".

The house was originally owned by a character named Zafra, he was instrumental in securing the surrender of Granada for the Catholic Monarchs.

Move history on a bit and a descendent of Zafra, a rich nobleman, owner f the house, had a beautiful daughter.  A worried father, he went a bit over the top and unless she was on a public visit, kept her imprisoned at the top of the building - that blocked up balcony you're looking at now.

A local Moorish boy fell in love with her (of course) and managed to get messages to her declaring his intentions.  But one day the servant delivering the messages was caught by the jealous Dad.  Assuming the poor servant was the author, the nobleman promptly had him put to death.  Pleas for his life fell on deaf ears.  The girl was never again seen in public and eventually lost her mind, she then committed suicide.

Look up at the inscription again - those were his final words...

House Granada

A charitable priest

Passing the Mudejar church of San Pedro, you're now on the Paseo de Los Tristes.  The plaza or square at the end is Plaza del Padre Manjon.  It's named after a priest who founded a school here for the poor children of Sacramonte.  Find a statue of his bust at the end of the plaza. Sit here for that breakfast of coffee and churros, taking in the sunshine and the sight of the Alhambra Palace up on the hill, it always looks best at this time of day before the hordes of tourists attack! 

The school of the aforementioned priest sits behind you, you'll recognise it from the decorated tiles adorning the front walls.

manjon

Bullfighting

Look around you, this plaza was a site for bullfights in the 18th and 19th centuries, when the river was covered to accommodate the hordes who came to visit that spectacle.  Back the way you came, you passed a statue of the famous flamenco dancer Mario Maya, known as El Moreno.

A ruined house?

Look across from here whilst you're enjoying that coffee to the ruined house sitting just below the Alhambra. Wondering what it is?  It was originally a hotel built in the early 20th century, but the architects were not terribly far-sighted.  Lacking any sunlight and built into the side of the river bed it was plagued with damp and mildew.  Soon it had to close, and the locals renamed it Hotel Reuma, because of the cases of Rheumatism it was said to have caused!  No such discomfort felt with a self catering break in Granada today...

Paseo de los Triestes

To be continued

Finished the last crumbs of those Churros?  Then, fortified, climb the hill to the Alhambra, or follow the river up through the woods to Fuente del Arellano, or take the high road up to the famous quarter of Sacramonte.  But that's another story...

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