Convento de San Francisco

Convent in Granada

Parador De Granada
CC BY-SA 4.0 / Paradores

The Convento de San Francisco or Convent of San Francisco is currently the luxury Parador de Granada hotel, housed in a 15th-century convent in the Alhambra Complex, in Granada, Spain.

The only trace of the original garden is the water channel which crosses the floor, filling a rectangular pond. This courtyard was similar to the “patio de la acequia” of the Generalife, but on a much smaller scale.

The interior of the hotel merges the Arabic and Christian styles with classic furniture, several portraits, engravings, embroideries etc. The bedrooms are all different and offer views to the famous buildings that make up the remarkable Alhambra site.

The History of the Convento de San Francisco

The Nasrid Palacio de los infantes was built during the reign of Muhammad III (1302–1309). Following the conquest of Granada the first mass took place here on 6 January 1492, only four days after Muhammad XII of Granada (King Boabdil) surrendered.

In 1494 it was donated by the Catholic Monarchs, Ferdinand and Isabella to Franciscan friars for founding the first convent house in Granada. The monks adapted the ancient Nasrid palace for their needs. The Arab building was on one level, had two access doors and consisted of an elongated courtyard, crossed by an open canal, porticos at the ends and a viewpoint in the central axis.

The monks transformed its long courtyard into a cloister and church, and its gardens into a productive vegetable garden.  The conversion of the building to a convert caused a lot of destruction to the original building. The a main room or qubba, which was located in the central area of the building, was converted into a chapel.

It was in this chapel that the tombs of Ferdinand and Isabella, the Catholic Monarchs were temporarily located until they were moved to Granada Cathedral in 1521. In order to house the Monarchs the door of the church had to be widened, to admit the coffin of Queen Elizabeth I of Castile to enter, the gilding of the vaults of the main chapel of the church, and the works from the crypt to receive the mortal remains of the Catholic Monarchs. 

It was not until 1787, when the cloister, and the tower were built. However, to carry out these works, a large part of the Nasrid palace from the 14th century was demolished. The Tower was built in 1787, it is located to the right of the facade of the church and was attached to one of the cloister galleries. It is square in plan, with three bodies of elevation and made of brick. 

The occupation of the Alhambra by the Napoleonic troops, in the year 1810, marked the beginning of the end of the Alhambre convent. The French converted the church of Santa María into a warehouse and the Convent of San Francisco was used as accommodation for the military. The French spied, smashed and burned all the works of art, and furniture they found in their path, even melted the bells of the tower to make bullets.

The 1813 a year after Napoleans troops left the monks returned only to be kicked out in 1835, when the monastery was expropriated by the State and abandoned by the Franciscans.

The building was used as a tenement house and, finally, a donkey stable, until it fell into ruins. It was saved from demolition by a group of local intellectuals, in the early 20th century, and became a retirement home for artists.

Between 1927 and 1936  the direction of the architect Leopoldo Torres Balbás, almost all the ruins were recovered. Francisco Prieto-Moreno Pardo, undertook archaeological excavations, discovering among the remains a hammam or Arab baths belonging to the Islamic palace. He was also responsible for constructing the building that today stands as a Parador hotel.

Accessing the Convento de San Francisco

Access to this historic property will be done by going up the Calle Real de la Alhambra, in the section that starts from the Church of Santa María, passes through the Alhambra Public Baths and ends with the ex-convent of San Francisco, and one of the access doors to the Generalife compound.

The Convento de San Francisco appears in our Complete Guide to Visiting Granada!

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Visiting Convento de San Francisco

Duration: 20 minutes

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