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Palacio de la Madraza

Visit this 18th-century palace to see the remnants of Granada’s first university, where Arab scholars once taught philosophy, poetry, medicine and mathematics. 

The Palacio de la Madraza stands upon the site of Granada’s first Arab university. Step through the ornate doorways of this 18th-century Baroque palace and discover 14th century Moorish décor which miraculously survived the coming of Catholicism, and numerous renovations.

The Madrasah (an Arabic word for an educational institution) was founded in 1349 by Yusuf I, the Sultan of Granada. Situated in the heart of the city near the main mosque and central bazar, the school’s curriculum included law, medicine, theology and astronomy. The university remained an important seat of learning until the end of the 15th century when it was pillaged and closed. In the 18th century, the building was largely demolished to make way for a new palace. Thankfully, the old structure wasn’t completely destroyed.

Start your visit in the central patio and look down through the glass floor paneling in the middle of the room. Here, you’ll see part of what scholars believe is the Madrasah’s original flooring. Walk into the Hall of Knights and marvel at the beautiful carved wooden ceiling.

Enter the original Muslim prayer hall, and see the mihrab, the elaborately decorated prayer niche. This is the only part of the original structure that survives intact. Admire the room’s elaborate wall coverings and look up at the octagonal wooden ceiling. You can make out interlaced star shapes and above them a smaller octagonal drum with 16 windows.

The Palacio de la Madraza is still a place of learning. Today the building is home to several departments of the University of Granada and sometimes hosts art exhibitions.

Situated next door to Granada Cathedral and opposite Capilla Real, the Palacio de la Madraza is right in the center of the city, close to several bus routes. There’s no immediate road access for private cars, although taxis can drop you off nearby. The palace is open daily with reduced hours in winter. There is an admission fee.


Guide to Exploring around Madraza of Granada


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