When walking through the historic part of Granada, admiring the Alhambra, along the Carrera del Darro beside the river, down the Paseo Padre Manjon or known locally as the Paseo de los Tristes (the Promenade of the sad, known as the grieving relatives would walk along their to a nearby cemetery) many people notice the abandoned building known as Casa de los Espejos. (House of the mirrors) It´s also referred to as Carmen de Santa Engracia, Carmen del Granadillo or even by locals as Hotel Reuma!
Many locals and visitors question how this building can be abandoned and in a state of disrepair when it occupies such a strategic site in the centre of the city of Granada and directly below the Alhambra Palace itself. I wanted to find out more about this mysterious building.
First we´ll deal with all those names! The estate was originally Carmen de Santa Engracia and another estate called Carmen el Granadillo made up part of it, these were separated and are owned seperately. The area has almonds trees, fruit trees, land as well as the Hotel Building is on this estate. You can read more here: about Typical Carmens in Granada
This elegant building on the bank of the Darro River, built just below the Comares Tower, was opened on 20th May in 1910. I The name of the Hotel at the time of opening was the Hotel of the Alhambra woods, (Hotel Bosque de La Alhambra) It was designed as a luxury hotel, at that time the city was beginning to attract it´s first tourists. Described by the first visitors in the opening week as a ´Delightful Mansion´ Many visitors were looking forward to visiting the hotel for the first time for the Corpus Christi fiesta that year.
In 1910 Granada was becoming a popular destination for tourists and the hotel was well recieved intially although not so long after opening the guests began to leave and not long after the grand hotel was forced to close. The hotel was owned by D.Manuel Antonio Reyes Clavero a Building Surveyor whose wife Gumersinda Garrido Fernández owned the land.
Nicknamed by the locals as the Flu hotel. (Hotel Reuma) this name is still heard today. The damp problems in the guests rooms and the chilliness from the river and the dark shade of woods didn´t suit the guests at all. It is understood that 1912 it stopped operating as a hotel but closed defintively in 1916 although details are sketchy.
Since the closure of the Hotel Bosque de la Alhambra the building has been used for different purposes. It´s said that Manuel de Falla was living on the estate of Carmen de Santa Engracia during the summer of 1921, where he received the regular visits of the Granada poet Federico Garcia Lorca.
During the war in 1936 the building was used as a Hospital for the city. Later in 1940 it was used as a base for a Masonic Lodge, named Alhambra. At the time there were three masonic groups in the city, Federico Garcia Lorca was accused of being a member of this lodge below the Alhambra. Then around the years 1950 to 1960 it has been documented that part of the building it was used as a factory for making ropes from cannabis plants.
Up until the year 2000 the building was in a state of abandon, that year it was taken over by the Alhambra management comittee and now destined to be used as a centre related to the monument. Although since the takeover in 2000 nothing much seems to have happened.
The recent plans drawn up by the Granada council and the Andalucian local government promise to improve the general aspect of the area and recover the bridge of Chirimías, so that it regains it´s original appearance, as well as renovating the building in order to offer cultural activities related to the Alhambra Palace and offer temporary or permanent exhibitions.