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Parador de Granada

© Michelle Chaplow The Granada Parador is located in the world famous Alhambra itself.
The Granada Parador is located in the world famous Alhambra itself.
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Parador de Granada

The Parador of Granada enjoys one of the most unforgettable locations in Spain: inside the celebrated Alhambra complex of Christian and Moorish palaces, set high on a hilltop above Granada.

The Granada Parador to the Gereralife Gardens © Michelle Chaplow
The Granada Parador, also known as the Parador de San Francisco (it is housed in the former Monastery of San Francisco)

A converted 16th century monastery, built on the orders of the Catholic Monarchs, it is the only hotel situated within the Alhambra itself, and is the most popular of Spain’s 93 paradors.

Views from the Granada Parador to the Gereralife Gardens
Views from the Granada Parador to the Gereralife Gardens © Michelle Chaplow
Parador de Granada
Courtyard of Parador de Granada

Why should I stay there?

Because it is a unique experience to sleep inside the Alhambra. Staying within the walled enclave of royal palaces, with access to the entire enclosure, is a privilege that you appreciate all the time while you are staying here.

As hotel director Maria Ángeles Montero Cuadrado explains: “When night falls, you can go for a walk: all the visitors have gone, so you have the entire complex to yourself. You can admire the facades of the palace of Carlos V, the Palacios Nazaríes, Santa María de La Alhambra, the Puerta del Agua, the Puerta del Vino, and the Puerta de la Justicia.”

Parador de Granada

Where is it?

The Granada Parador, also known as the Parador de San Francisco (it is housed in the former Monastery of San Francisco), is located inside the world-famous Alhambra, in Granada city.

This beautiful, historic building with heavy studded wooden doors, leafy patios and arcaded courtyards, is an ideal base for exploring the celebrated fortress, and is the closest hotel to the main attraction of the Alhambra: the exquisite Nasrid Palaces. The Parador is located at the end of Calle Real in the Alhambra.

What kind of people usually stay at the Parador, in terms of nationalities, and how long do they stay there?

“Our main nationality is the Japanese, both individuals and small groups,” explains Maria Angeles. “They make a 30-day circuit throughout Spain that begins in Barcelona, and goes down through Paradors and other hotels.”  

“American guests are our second-most important customers. Bill Clinton's visit to Granada back in 1997 exerted an enormous influence, when he said ´The most beautiful sunset on the planet’, referring to view of the Alhambra from the Albaicin. That was an impressive stamp for America, to put the Alhambra back on the map. Since then, the growth has been exponential.” 

“Our average stay is one and a half nights, but we also have clients staying for 2 or 3 days,” says Maria Angeles. “Two is the ideal: on the first day you see Nasrid Palaces, the Alhambra, etc., and then you on the second day you can take a closer look at the detail and return to your favourite spots. Also, when visiting Granada, you should not miss the hillside quarter of the Albaicín, Sacromonte Abbey, the Jerónimos Convent or the Royal Chapel in the cathedral, which everyone visits. But the Abadía del Sacromonte is the unknown gem.”

What is the Parador de Granada like?

The Nazari Palace of the Infantes was the site chosen by the Christian Monarchs to build the Monastery of San Francisco, which features an exceptional mix of structures and styles. The central part of the old Nasrid palace was transformed into the main nave of the convent church.

This Parador underwent a major refurbishment recently just over 10 years ago, reopening in 2008. Rooms now have contemporary decor - simple modern furniture in chic neutral shades, accented with brightly-coloured cushions and armchairs upholstered in bold patterns.

The traditional feel is maintained with wooden floors and latticed shutters, as well as antique furniture in the public areas. Some of the 40 rooms and suites have four-poster beds, but the room to book is 304, a duplex suite whose bedroom is in the watchtower, offering panoramic views of the Generalife gardens, the Alberca (pool), the Sierra Nevada mountains, and La Vega de Granada landscape, as well as of the Alhambra itself.

Arabic style pond ©Kevin George Monterrubio
Arabic style pond

What is there to see and do in the area?

Almost all our guests who stay in the hotel come to visit the Alhambra,” says hotel Mª Ángeles. “Sometimes people come without an entrance ticket because they have not been able to book it before. Now, fortunately, since 1 March 2021, the ticket acquisition policy has changed, making 80% available to the general public, while the other 20% is reserved for alternative purchases methods. Previously it was the other way around, but fortunately acquiring a ticket today is relatively easy.”

What should I eat and drink there?

The Parador de Granada has a terrace restaurant which is open during the day and on summer evenings. The restaurant has its own separate access from the front of the building. The terrace is a tranquil, shaded, cobbled patio with views of Granada, the Generalife gardens, and archaeological sites, such as the original bath house and crypt.

We recommend the chilled ajo blanco, as well as the Moroccan-influenced cakes, cookies and pastries, recalling the North African heritage of the Alhambra.

Other restaurant specialities include breua nazarí (Nasrid chicken filo parcel), monkfish in mozárabe sauce, and San Francisco Monastery cake.

Apart from kiosks and vending machines, this is the only restaurant in the Alhambra complex. It is well worth a visit, even if only stopping for a coffee.

What is unique about the Granada Parador?

The hotel is within the precinct of the Alhambra, so those who have already visited previously, but would like to see the palaces again, may be able to snap up a last-minute ticket from the kiosk in the morning - or get a less expensive Generalife garden-only ticket. If you want to buy your ticket in advance, which is a safer bet as daily visitor numbers are limited, you have several options.

Even better, at night when all the tourists have left, those staying at the Parador can wander round the open precinct area on their own, in the moonlight. In fact, this is the ideal place for a romantic break.

“People who have already been to the Alhambra still return here, simply because they like to revisit after a few years,” Maria Angele tells Andalucia.com. “It is true that some visitors do not want to visit the palaces again because they have already been before; they stay here to be inside the Alhambra, to live that experience. As an example, a recent customer review said that the tranquillity was wonderful, just listening to the water flowing in the gardens. Many clients like to sit in the cloister just to hear the sounds of the Generalife, and to enjoy the night with spectacular views.

They come to enjoy that experience of the Alhambra from the inside, in addition to visiting Granada, since the city has a lot more to see as well as the Alhambra.”

“The Alhambra is one of the most-visited monuments in the world,” says Maria Angeles It is an UNESCO World Heritage Site, which means that the monument must adhere to certain conditions, including a maximum of 2.786m tourists a year, in order to protect the building. Above that amount, it would no longer be considered as a Heritage Site. In addition, it is a privilege to be able to visit a collection of buildings that has been preserved for many centuries and despite many wars: the Reconquest, the War of Independence (Peninsular War)  and the Civil War.”

The history of San Francisco Monastery

Under the Nasrids, this was the site of the early 14th century Palace of the Infantes, built by Mohammed V, with its own mihrab or prayer niche indicating the direction of Mecca. It was located in the eastern part of the medina (old city). More>

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How to get there

By car: avoid driving through the city centre, and instead take the Circunvalacion (Ring Road), exiting at Salida 132, signposted Motril, Sierra Nevada and Alhambra. Residents can enter the Alhambra complex at the security barrier below the ticket office. You will find the Parador at the end of the Calle Real de la Alhambra; it has its own residents car park (but can still be full) , which is handy if you want to take a trip out of the city under your own steam. Otherwise, train, bus or plane to Granada, and then a taxi. There is also a very frequent and efficient shuttle bus service from the city centre to the Alhambra.

Location

Real de la Alhambra, s/n 18009 Granada

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