You'll find this huge chunk of masonry if you walk...as you should....along the Carrera del Darro, the narrow and almost traffic-free street which follows the route of the Darro river from Plaza Nueva/Plaza Santa Ana.
It's a very pleasant walk, with a great deal of history to see on the way....from the ancient Moorish baths and various Renaissance and Baroque buildings to the Archaelogical Museum (unfortunately closed for renovations when I visited).
At first sight, the function of the Puerta de Los Tableros could be confusing...is it a house (there's a doorway)? Is it a defensive tower (the walls are foursquare and strong? There are two staircases inside, both of which lead to the river, and the building can be dated to the 11th century (1000s).
It is likely that this tower was once part of the defensive wall which linked the tow hills on which there was Moorish settlement and that there was once another tower on the Carrera del Darro side, joined by a bridge with bars across the river to allow water to pass through but not enemies. It seems that system of panels or gates could be controlled from the two towers, raised or lowered to regulate the water flow and to ensure that wells and cisterns could be filled via a conduit system.
I'm sure that archeologists know much more about this structure, but I have been unable to find a great deal online...and what I have found is in Spanish. Nevertheless, it is worth taking a closer look at the remains as you wander past on the Carrera del Darro.
This is one of the oldest churches in Granada, dating back to 1525. It was, inevitably, built on the site of a mosque...in this case the Masjid al-Murabitin, an important building which was demolished in 1517 to make way for the church.
The church's bell tower stands well apart from the main structure and it has been suggested that its lower part is much older, probably dating from the 11th century and originally functioning as the minaret for the mosque. Its later conversion to a bell tower is suggested by various aspects of the stonework (including a technique called 'rope and brand' [soga y tizón] which was only used by Muslim builders) and a horseshoe arch which is said to be the oldest in Granada. My photos, despite the grey, wet day, clearly show the change between the two building techniques.
Unfortunately, the church was closed both times I passed by (I took a photo of its opening times, which might help you) and I was unable to explore the interior.
You'll find the church on Placeta de San José, on the southern slopes of Albaicin.
Also known as the Aljibe Grande de la Alcazaba and the Aljibe Veijo, this is the biggest Moorish cistern in Granada with an area of 300 cubic metres.
It is truly ancient, dating right back to the 1000s when the Albaicin was the cite of Granda's citadel...hence the reference in one of its names to the Alcazaba. It was originally built to provide the water for the Zirid dynasty palace which was constructed in Albaicin, long before the Alhambra existed.
As far as I know there is no public access to the cistern's interior but there are three 'naves', with a vaulted arched ceiling supported by square pillars. The cisterns (there are other, equally ancient but smaller, ones dotted about Albaicin) collected rainwater via a system of pipes and channels and stored it for use during the dry part of the year.
You'll find the cistern at Placeta del Cristo de las Azucenas, at the junction of Calle Algibe de la Gitana and Calle Pilar Seco, to the west of Albaicin hilltop.
Built, inevitably, on the site of an Albaicin mosque this church dates from the early 1500s. It's been closed as a place of worship since the mid-1800s and has, in consequence, lost much of its interior decoration.
The church was declared a cultural monument in 1982 and was closed for renovations and repairs for quite some time afterwards, only re-opening in 2013 when it was renamed 'the Church o Our Lady Aurora and San Miguel Bajo'.
I couldn't visit the interior and I suspect the church is rarely open other than for services. But it's most important feature imo has nothing whatsoever to do with its religious function.
A thirteenth-century (1200s) water cistern is set into the church's south wall. It was originally part of the mosque which was destroyed and is remarkably well-preserved. The cistern includes re-used Roman columns from the original Roman settlement on the Albaicin hill, which makes it particularly interesting.
You;ll find the church in Plaza San Miguel Bajo, to the south of the Albaicin district (on the hilltop rather than the slopes).
Most people can quite easily find the Mirador San Nicolas. This is a good place to view the Alhambra from a distance but can get quite full as tourists are literally bussed in!
If you turn your back on the Alhambra and head diagonally to your right (between the mosque and the church) you should come out in another much nicer plaza that has great food and a food market during the day.
I found this monastery going down the Albaicin from the San Nicolas "mirador". I didn't go in, and don't even know if it's possible to visit it, but seemed to me a really authentic and "lost in time" place...
It's located in nº13, Calle de Santa Isabel La Real.
The Albaicin is located before El Sacromante and the Alhambra, right off of Plaza Nuevo. Its a series of cobbled and narrow streets, and is an old Moorish neighborhood in the city. This was a really fun place to go, you need to be a little careful as there are some seedy characters around, and all of the hash-ish in Granada is sold in this area by mostly Moroccan immigrants.
There are some great Schwarma stands, which are delicious sort of pita wrapped burgers, various hookah (narguile) bars which are a lot of fun , and Granada 10 and Dolce Vita (bars/nightclubs.) Definitely hit up the Albaicin atleast once while in Granada just to get a feel of the area, but I'm sure you'll head back for seconds and thirds if you go in with an open mind!
The Albayzin reminded me of Medinas I had visited in Morocco and Tunisia. It's full of Moorish style cafes and some of the narrow, winding streets, such as Calle Caldererie Nueva, contained shops and cafes normally seen in a medina. While it may have felt North African the prices were more European, especially in the cafes and bars. Nevertheless, it was a fascinating street to explore, and a reminder of just how much visible history there is in Granada.
While wandering around the Albaicin we came across this tiny chapel, the inscription [translated by Carmella] reads
"This chapel was re-built in order to the Charity Master of San Juan de Dios
founder of the Brotherhood of the Hospitality Brothers, paid by Jose Mª Vasco y
Vasco, Knight of the Real Maestranza of Ronda. It finished in September 30th
1880, in the same place was blessed by Archbishop Bienvenido Monzon"
behind the gates is the altar, this is such a tiny little chapel, squeezed in between the buildings, but still cared for and obviously still used and treasured
It seems like every corner you turn in the Albaicin district there is another wonderful gem to discover, we found this little chapel and tried the door, inside it was a haven of peace away from the bustling streets outside
we were alone except for a nun deep in prayer at the altar
the sun was streaming through the small high leaded glass windows making beautiful rainbows on the wall
I have a dear friend who is quite ill, I thought she would like me appreciate the incongruity of this little chapel in the midst of the old Arab quarter so I wanted to light a candle and ask for a blessing for her
alas, no candles here, but putting your coin in the slot lights a little light bulb, we lit three but somehow the lights seemed out of place in this old place, however the words in out hearts were real even if the lights were not
the coins sounded very noisy in the peace of the chapel, but the nun never moved, just carried on with her devotions, and we tried to leave silently
I didnt write down the name of the chapel, if anyone recognises it please let me know
No, I'm not referring to your American Express charge card. I'm talking about bringing along a MAP of Granada.
So, before you go scurrying off to the Albaicin, don't forget to print a copy of this map. And you'd never have to worry about getting lost in the maze-like alleys of the Arab Quarters!
The Albaicín is the old Arabic quarter located on the hill directly opposite the beautiful Alhambra.
This whole area is characterized by its many narrow cobble-stoned streets and alleys with its white washed houses. The Albaicin of today still manages to retain a strong Arabic influence. (The Christian Kings tried to ethnically cleansed the Arabic population over 500 years ago).
There are many squares with terraces and places for you (the weary world traveler currently on your stopover in Granada) to laze about and have a bite to eat.
The Albaicín must surely be a watercolor painter's paradise! And at almost every turn, you can also catch a stunning view of the Alhambra!
If you go to a shop which sells any of the typical granadino pottery (white background with strong blue shapes) you will be sure to read the oft quoted refrain:
"Give him alms woman because there is nothing as bad as being blind in Granada."
Again, not really off the beaten path, but wandering around the Albayzin area should be done with leisure and time and a supply of water. It's usually pretty quiet and HOT. There are wonderful stone decorations in the floors and walkways, and the entrances to the homes are magnificent. Don't do it at night, and always be careful of pickpockets. Take lots of photos!