What is a Parador?
A Parador is basically a luxurious hotel set on an historic site. There are around 100 in Spain and they are run by the government. The food and service offered in the network of Paradors is excellent and well known by many travellers. Some can be very popular and may need booking months ahead of time.
The buildings are varied, monasteries, castles, palaces or even convents. The idea behind the paradors was to maintain these significant buildings by creating a business that would support the upkeep of the site. This way these sites could also be enjoyed by travellers interested in these monuments around Spain.
When planning travel around Spain it is worth checking out their locations to see if you are close to one on your route.
Paradores in Spain
On my travels so far I have visited two other Paradores, in Tortosa and in Ronda. You don´t need to stay over there to see inside, most have restaurants or cafés where non residents can dine.
Until this weekend I hadn´t seen the Parador in Granada inside.
El Parador de San Francisco
Set in the centre of the Alhambra complex, this building is a monument itself. It began as an Arab palace, rebuilt in 14th century by Yusuf I. Later in the 15th century, when the Catholic Monarchs ruled in Granada it was transformed into a Franciscan convent.
Inside the Alhambra grounds
As you wander around the grounds, there are 33 information panels (in Spanish and English) explaining the different points of interest around the site. If you stay here you are giving a map to these plaques so you can take a walking tour through the history of the site.
There are ruins from the Hammam, the old arab baths in one of the gardens and you can see kufic inscriptions along some of the walls. Inside paintings and marquetry decorate the walls and corridors, art andfurniture left behind by the Franciscan monks or even the Catholic Kings.
The Patio close to the main entrance has it´s own Chapel. This small courtyard has tombstones set in the floor. This place is quite relevant in the history of Andalusia as the Catholic Kings were buried here initially. As you walk into the building this archway is one of the first things that you see. It is quite surprising to see part of the Alhambra in the middle of this ´hotel´
A large flagstone under the horsehoe arch marks the first resting place. When Queen Isabella died the Royal Chapel was still being built. When completed she was transferred there several years later. The small chapel next to the courtyard is impeccably maintained with this intricate altar piece, candles and antique books.
This historic chapel and courtyard can be booked for Weddings (although space doesnt allow for large numbers of guests)
How exciting getting married inside the Alhambra itself!
Parador in Granada
If you choose to stay here, the accomodation combines modern comforts within the historical setting. The views from the rooms are breathtaking as you look out over the gardens of the Alhambra and Generalife. (See my video below taken from one of the rooms)
Sleep at the Alhambra
Accomodation at Granada´s Parador is popular and it is often full so you will need to book ahead. The location is peaceful, it seems that the tranquility of the convent remains. There are lots of places to sit and read or relax. This room below has tiling from the original arab palace along it´s walls and the modern decor has been carefully chosen to fit in with that element.
Room with a view
The gardens within the grounds offer many different views of the Sacromonte, Albayzin and Alhambra too. The plants and flowers surrounding the building also create an oasis which is cooler than the city below. Perfect for summer evenings.
On site they have a kitchen garden. From this plot they grow herbs and other produce which they use in their dishes in the restaurant.
Typical Granada Dishes
Non residents may dine in the Restaurant and Café. It is advisable to book a table for the restaurant. The café/bar is informal and there is no need to book ahead. The restaurant is set on a large terrace overlooking the Generalife and Alhambra palace. The evening I visited they had a Spanish guitar recital which made an already fabulous setting even more magical.
The menu offers a generous selection of local dishes. Many are influenced by Mozarabe Moorish-Arabic recipes, made with Aubergines, cinnanon, pine nuts and raisins. Freshly caught fish, a selection of meat dishes, Spanish ham as well as vegetarian options are included on the extensive menu.
I chose a selection of grilled vegetables for starters, however before it arrived I enjoyed a complementary aperitif (tapa) which was perfect for a hot summer evening. Melon and mint soup with a fig and melon skewer.
This fish dish was my main course Turbot (Rodaballo) served with a citric sauce. When I ordered I was deliberating over the Monkfish done Mozarabe style. (I´ll save that for next time)
The dessert list completely surprised me. Used to having 5 or 6 choices in Granada, this list was endless. 16 different options (even a sugar free option)
I can´t quiet believe I have taken so long to dine out at the Parador. It´s certainly going to be on my list when family and friends come to visit me. The service, food and setting was faultless.
- I would like to thank the Management at the Parador for letting me look around when I visited on 10th July 2015.
- Muchas gracias a la dirección del Parador de San Francisco para su atención durante mi visita el pasado 10 de julio 2015.
If you want to visit the Parador as a non resident you may walk into the garden (from the main entrance) . The small courtyard and chapel are also accesible. (next to the main reception) and of course you can visit the café and restaurant.
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