In this entry we are going to talk about a very special neighbourhood for us for many reasons: Realejo. The Realejo is the place where the Jewish society used to live until the 15th century. The Arabs used to call it The Granada of the Jews when they arrived seven centuries before.
Today it is a peculiar, very quiet and rural neighborhood. The Realejo is a neighbourhood of «good people«, where everyone knows each other and everyone can find a place in it. It is a district where tradition and modernity mix very well, the avant-garde and the classic. It is full of monuments, culture, university and a lot of social life. Let’s take a good walk through it.
We start our tour again from the Plaza de Isabel la Catolica in the center of Granada. Behind the statue, we walk along Pavaneras street and the first thing we see is the statue of Yehuda Ibn Tibon. He was a doctor, linguist and Jewish philosopher from Granada but above all the «father of translators». Nobody better than him to go hand in hand in this walk.
Likewise the Albaicin, The Realejo is worth getting lost. Among its narrow streets you can find jewels of sunsets like the one you can see from the viewpoint of the Puerta del Sol square or from the hotel Alhambra Palace. Every step you take is a reason to stop. For example, at the Museum Casa de los Tiros, so called because of the artillery pieces on its battlements. Or for instance in the Archives of the Royal Chancery, that keep all the archives corresponding to the time of the Catholic Kings over Granada and the Indies. Both monuments are part of Spain’s historical heritage. Another examples are the Casa de los Girones (former residence for the nobility in the 13th century), or the Palacio de los Condes de Gabia now a cultural space.
At the same time, where it’s sure to be worth a visit is the beautiful Cuarto Real de Santo Domingo. It is a jewel that has survived since the 11th century and was the residence of the queen mothers during the Nasrid era. A coquettish monument with its palace, gardens and orchards that has been lucky enough to last through the centuries.
Moreover, we will find very interesting churches and religious centers in the area. Some of them restored and converted from the ancient ones, others built during the Christian period. Thus, we have the Imperial Church of San Matías, that the Emperor Carlos V himself ordered to build. Also, our favourite, the Church of Santo Domingo with its trompe l’oeil on its façade that keeps you from looking away. No less impressive it is the Convent of the Comendadoras de Santiago, the first one built in Granada and from where the route for the Mozarabic Way to Santiago starts. And last but not least, the church of San Cecilio near the Campo del Príncipe. The church of San Cecilio is built on one of the few mosques that were in the Jewish quarter.
Now, while we comment a little on the Campo del Principe, we are going to sit down on one of its many terraces to have a refreshment and get our strength back. It is surprising that a neighbourhood like El Realejo has so many monuments and history among its streets and facades.
Located on the old Arab cemetery, this square of Campo del Principe in medieval times held games and tournaments of knights. And it still has that playful characteristic since it is a square where something is always happening. While children are playing in their playground or play ball in the Campo, young and older people are having their tapas in the bars. Also seniors of the neighbourhood come to sit in the sun. The Campo del Principe summarizes in an image what the El Realejo neighborhood is. It is its main center.
Moreover, it is also the center of activities and celebrations like for instance. The mass every Friday of Easter next to the statue of the Cristo de los Favores. The celebration of El Día de la Cruz of Granada or the festivities for the Virgen del Rosario, patron saint of El Realejo. In this square we also have the Faculty of Architecture of the University of Granada. Said, this, the movement of its people is guaranteed all day long. And speaking of University, before finishing with our visit, we will make a special stop.
The Centre of Modern Languages of the University of Granada
The two sites of the Center of Modern Languages are located in this Jewish quarter of El Realejo. One of them is the Placeta del Hospicio Viejo and the Hotel Kenia. It is in the Placeta, a former neighbourhood hall, where most of the students receive their Spanish classes. Moreover, the Central College program has one of its two offices. Students not only obtain credits for their degrees in Spanish, but they also can study foreign languages. Besides of doing an internship in one of the options offered. Examples of these options are: Arabic, Chinesse, Italian, and internships in Business, Education, or shadowing in health centers. In addition, they can participate in various cultural activities, excursions and trips to the most important cities in Andalusia.
After class, our students use to go to the Cafe Futbol in the Plaza Mariana Pineda. Mariana Pineda was one of the late 19th century’s who demanded freedom and equality.
And taking advantage of the fact that we are here we are going to finish now our visit to the neighborhood of El Realejo. We will stay in Varela or Rosario streets, which have recently been filled with bars and places to eat. We hope you liked our neighborhood because, although we had not said it yet, Beststespabroad was born here.