Adios Granada

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Our week in Granada was finally drawing to a close but in the couple of days we had left, we continued our walking explorations north from the big Plaza Nuevo, along the Carrera del Darro, a long wide pedestrian promenade bordering the Rio Darro. Glimpses of the Alhambra above haunted our route.


We came across the Archivo Historico de la Ciudad Granada and walked through its walled entrance into a lovely garden. We were enjoying looking at old photos of Granada but it was close to the lunch break and we and some other visitors were firmly ushered out and the gates were closed. You don’t argue with the siesta time!


On our way back along the Carrera del Darro, we encountered yet another Christian procession accompanied by a band, invisibly carrying a “float” which gradually disappeared into an old church by the river.


We finally decided to visit the cathedral and the adjoining Royal Chapel. Granada Cathedral, or the Cathedral of the Incarnation like many other cathedrals in Andalusia, was built on top of the city's main mosque after the reconquest of Granada. Unlike most cathedrals in Spain, construction was not begun until the sixteenth century in 1518, in the centre of the old Muslim Medina. While its earliest plans followed a Gothic design, most of the church's construction is in Spanish Renaissance style. The cathedral took 181 years to build. It would have been even grander had the two 81-meter towers included in the plans been built; however, the project remained incomplete for various reasons, among them financial. While very blocky looking from the outside, the cathedral was quite gorgeous inside with immense pillars, a beautiful gold pipe organ structure and a dome of gold stars on a blue field.


We then toured the Royal Chapel, where we were not permitted to take photos. It was built between 1505 and is the mausoleum of the Spanish royal family. You go down some stairs into a crypt containing the lead coffins of Isabella I of Castile, Queen of Castile, her husband, Ferdinand II of Aragon, King of Aragon, their daughter, Joanna "the Mad", Queen of Castile and Aragon, and her husband Philip I, "the Handsome", King of Castile. Though his body is in this tomb, his heart is buried in the Church of Our Lady in Bruges, Belgium. In the crypt is also the sarcophagus of the infante Miguel da Paz, Prince of Portugal, grandson of the Catholic Monarchs, who died as a child. It’s all a bit creepy.

There is an interesting back story to Joanna “the Mad”, her husband and her father. Apparently, as a young woman, Joanna was known to be highly intelligent and claims regarding her as "mad" are questionable. It was only after her marriage that the first rumours of mental illness arose. Some historians believe she may have been unjustly painted as "mad" as both her husband Philip and her father, Ferdinand, had a great deal to gain from Joanna being declared sick or incompetent to rule.

Upon the death of Queen Isabella in November 1504, Joanna's father, Ferdinand II, lost his monarchical status in Castile although his wife's will permitted him to govern in Joanna's absence or, if Joanna was unwilling to rule herself, until Joanna's heir reached the age of 20. Ferdinand refused to accept his status and had coins minted in the name of "Ferdinand and Joanna, King and Queen of Castile, León and Aragon". In early 1505, he persuaded the Cortes that Joanna's "illness is such that the said Queen Doña Joanna our Lady cannot govern". The Cortes then appointed him as her guardian and the kingdom's administrator and governor. Joanna's husband, Philip, was also unwilling to accept any threat to his chances of ruling Castile and also minted coins in the name of "Philip and Joanna, King and Queen of Castile. In response, Ferdinand embarked upon a pro-French policy, marrying a niece of Louis XII of France, also his own great-niece, in the hope that she would produce a son to inherit Aragon and perhaps Castile. The thirst for power knows no limits.

Meanwhile, Joanna was kept in confinement, but when her father-in-law Maximilian (in semi-secrecy) visited in 1505 she was released to welcome him. Maximilian tried to comfort Joanna with festivities and she spent weeks accompanying him in public events, during which she apparently behaved normally. Maximilian told Philip that he could only succeed as a monarch if husband and wife were "una cosa medesima" (one and the same). After this, the couple reconciled somewhat. When Philip tried to gain support from Castilian nobles and prelates against Ferdinand though, Joanna refused to act against her father.

Ferdinand's remarriage merely strengthened support for Philip and Joanna in Castile, and in late 1505 the pair decided to travel to Castile where civil war was brewing. Philip and Ferdinand continued to plot against Joanna, signing a treaty and agreeing that Joanna's "infirmities and sufferings" made her incapable of ruling and promising to exclude her from government. Not long after, Philip died after a five-day illness. The probable cause of death was typhoid fever but there were rumors that his father-in-law, Ferdinand II, had poisoned him. Joanna was pregnant with their sixth child, a daughter named Catherine (1507–1578), who later became Queen of Portugal.

Plague, famine and instability supposedly caused half the population of Castile to perish, and Ferdinand tried again to persuade Joanna to yield power to him and had her again confined in 1509 and had himself named administrator. Ferdinand died in 1516, their 17 year old son, Charles I returned to Castile and he too acted against his mother, keeping her confined for the rest of her life. Charles wrote to her caretakers: "It seems to me that the best and most suitable thing for you to do is to make sure that no person speaks with Her Majesty, for no good could come from it". Charles I of Spain, born on February 24, 1500, was king of Spain from 1516 to 1556 and Holy Roman emperor, as Charles V, from 1519 to 1558. Joanna died in 1555, aged 75. And we think women today find political life challenging.

Running out of steam after all this royal intrigue and abuse, we opted for a splash-out dinner at one of the many restaurants near our apartment, deciding to go Italian after our many weeks of Spanish food. It was a cool, overcast day and although the outdoor cafes were full of people, we opted for a tent with heaters option out of the wind. It was a fabulous meal with an amuse-bouche, artichokes as a starter, then pasta. Jim had carbonara which to our surprise was prepared at the table by our server, a young man from Normandy. He mixed the pasta in a big hollowed out cheese, adding the cream sauce and bacon. Jim said it was the best carbonara ever.


After a quiet next day of laundry and packing, we just ventured as far as the cafe below our apartment.


The following morning, we said a fond farewell to our host, Luis-Miguel and retraced our route to the bus station.


On arrival, we again did a pre-functionary garbage bag wrap of the bikes for their transport in the bus luggage compartment and settled in for the drive back to Malaga for the last 10 days of our winter cycling holiday in Spain. We would be meeting up with friends Steve and Sally from the UK for the first 4-5 days and looked forward to getting back on the bikes for some day cycles after that.


This featured blog entry was written by Jenniferklm from the blog Cycling in Andalucia.
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By Jenniferklm

Posted Sun, Jul 07, 2024 | Spain | Comments