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Founded by Sultan Yusuf I in 1349, the Palacio de la Madraza was once a university and school of Islamic studies. Famous graduates include the poet Ibn Zamrak. See magnificent old Muslim prayer hall with its beautifully decorated prayer niche, or mirhab. It has undergone so many architectural changes, and the original façade was made of marble and inscribed in Arabic with scientific and philosophical theories. In 1500s the Catholic monarchs turned the building into the Town Hall. The Palacio de la Madraza now part of University of Granada and also houses a Fine Arts Academy where there are occasional exhibitions.
Don't be put off by the armed guards and the metal detector at the door; you can still enter freely and marvel at the elegant interior courtyard, designed by Diego de Siloé. The security is tight because this is a High Court. It was built at the same time as Plaza Nueva, in which it stands, during the 1530s. The austere Renaissance façade suited its purpose as a prison and house of justice. The inner courtyard has two galleries: the lower one is surrounded by half-barrel arches supported by marble Doric columns and the upper one has a stone balustrade and cornice decorated by carved stone leaves. There is a dungeon under the main staircase where the executioner used to await the court's decisions. Admission: free
Aside from being incredibly pretty, this street has lots of historical sights. At the far end of Plaza Nueva, you'll see police guarding the law courts, housed in the old Real Chancillería. Turn left to see the famous paintings in Museo de los Pisa, before continuing on the narrow riverside street to the oldest and best-preserved Arab baths in Spain, Bañuelo. After the baths, pass Santa Catalina de Zafra Convent and the beautiful Renaissance mansion, Casa de Castril, with the archaeological museum inside. Past the shops and bars, you can sit outside and enjoy the views on Paseo de los Tristes. On your right stands the magnificent Alhambra, on your left the Albayzín and further up the hill the Sacromonte gypsy quarter.
This 11th-century public bathhouse is one of the best preserved buildings of the period. It's been carefully restored and still gives you a feel of what it must have been like nearly 1000 years ago. During the Moorish occupation of the city, there were many bathhouses around town. It has a social as well as a religious function. The Romans were probably here first, using the water from the adjacent River Darro.
Aixa, mother of Boabdil, who was the last sultan of Granada, owned and lived in this palace on the banks of the river Genil. When her son capitulated to the Catholic Monarchs in 1492, she sold it to Isabel and Fernando before leaving for exile in the mountainous Alpujarras area to the south. The palace and gardens were built during the rule of Sultan Yusuf I and feature a tower with sumptuously decorated rooms. The walls are covered with Arabic inscriptions describing the Muslim world and the rooms are lit with the aid of numerous arch-shaped windows. The finely carved wooden ceiling is in the shape of a five-pointed star. Next door you'll see the reservoir that was used by Aixa's children to play games of naval strategy.
This elegant and luxurious 19th-century mansion stands on a site with some gruesome history. During the Moorish occupation of the city, those who worked on building the Alhambra palaces and who knew too many royal secrets were imprisoned in dungeons here. During the 16th century, when Christians had conquered Granada, it became a convent. Later, in the 19th century, it was converted into a residential palace, which you can visit along with the wonderful gardens. It's located on the Alhambra hill, close to Manuel de Falla's House and Museum, above the Realejo district. Admission is free.
Look up at the beautifully decorated horseshoe arch as you enter the courtyard of this old Moorish inn. It was built in the 1350s as accommodation for merchants who were bringing their wares to sell in the adjacent market area, or Alcaicería, which you can still see, in a much restored version, on the other side of Calle Reyes Católicos. The merchants used to store their goods on the upper floors, which have lovely wooden galleries leading round them, and sleep on the ground floor. The building is remarkably well preserved seeing as it's been put to so many uses over the years. As well as an inn, it's been a theatre and a coal yard and it now houses a tourist information office and the ticket office for the International Music and Dance Festival. Admission is free.