The eclectic splendor of the Royal Hospital of Granada

When Granada finally fell to the Catholic Monarchs, a new era began on the peninsula. The former Nasrid capital completely changed. The monarchs turned their attention to transforming it, converting many of the old Islamic buildings, preserving others such as the Alhambra and building a monumental complex between Gothic and Renaissance that can only be described as overwhelming. The Royal Hospital of Granada belongs to these foundations.

A construction in pursuit of health

Royal Hospital of Granada

Front of the Royal Hospital of Granada, where it is clear that it was part of the legacy of the Catholic Monarchs. | Shutterstock

The launching of this institution dates back to 1504. It was then when Isabella and Ferdinand signed the letters that would give rise to the start of the works. These, however, would take time to arrive. Choosing the location of the Royal Hospital of Granada was a long task. In fact, the definitive one arrived around 7 years after the Catholic Monarchs promulgated the building.

Another crucial problem was the death of Ferdinand II of Aragon. A new standstill that was fixed thanks to the action of his heir Charles V, son of Joanna I of Castile. Under his reign, the hospital’s sanitary activity began in 1525. The following year the official opening was held. The first patients were syphilitics, sick with the so-called French disease, which was widespread at that moment and later on. Over time, it would eventually welcome people with syphilis from all over the country.

Royal Hospital of Granada

Library in the Royal Hospital of Granada. | Shutterstock

The mentally ill were other guests at the Royal Hospital of Granada. The stigmata of their conditions would remain for centuries, which is why places like this one were especially important. In the 19th century the construction passed into the hands of the local deputation. With this change, the result of the confiscations, its use was also for the elderly. It would be decades before it abandoned its original function, in the 60s of the last century, when it became dependent on the Ministry of Education. From there it would belong in the 70’s to the university, which is why today it houses several facilities of the University of Granada. Its library stands out above the rest.

The beauty of the Royal Hospital of Granada

Royal Hospital of Granada

The courtyards are one of the strengths of the Royal Hospital of Granada. | Shutterstock

Religion and public health go hand in hand in this building in Granada, as was the case in so many other hospitals of the time. This is reflected in its structure, which represents a combination of early Renaissance and late Gothic, with Mudejar elements. The people responsible for its construction were diverse and important, such as Diego de Siloé or Enrique Egas.

The Royal Hospital of Granada is a square that protects a Greek cross plan. Four courtyards take up the corners. Thanks to all this, the building shows a balance and symmetry typical of the Renaissance. In the center is the two-story transept, like the rest of the building. The wooden ceilings are its great highlights together with the Gothic dome that crowns it.

courtyard of the Marbles

View of the courtyard of Mármoles. | Shutterstock

Other places to pay attention to are the two courtyards that saw their construction completed. These are the courtyards of Mármoles and the Chapel. The first is named after the material used for it. It is Renaissance and was completed in the mid-sixteenth century. Martín de Bolívar, its architect, was unable to carry out the work on the upper floor due to a fire that affected the entire institution. The Chapel was finished before, where the set of semicircular arches and the central fountain stand out.

Finally, the façade is extraordinary. Made of stone, the different references to the founders of the hospital, the Catholic Monarchs, stand out on it. Moreover, the plateresque elements are excessive. Thus, the Royal Hospital of Granada keeps showing a splendor, fruit of a time when the city was one of the great care centers throughout the West. A place that today, thanks to its university functions, is still very much alive.

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