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The Royal Chapel of Granada Spain

When some of the greatest monarchs of the world die, they tend to pass with grandiose style. This is what the Royal Chapel of Granada certainly exudes – style, class and abundance. The story behind the building of this chapel, which is situated within the Granada Chapel, is a story of about medieval Spain, and surprisingly of death and love.

It started when Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand decided that the Andalucian city of Granada was the most appropriate spot to lay to rest. The couple saw Granada not only as a place of conquest but also as a symbol of their success in creating a strong Spanish empire. Choosing a resting place may sound a little bit morbid, but it was also fitting that a glorious mausoleum should be built for the beloved monarchs. And so the Royal Chapel (Capilla Real) became the burial place through a Royal Warrant signed in September 1504.

The Royal Chapel was designed according to the Gothic style and was dedicated to two Johns, Saint John the Baptist and Saint John the Evangelist. In a way, historians believed that the history of the Chapel is a reflection of Spain’s history. It showcases the evolutions that occurred in the country, particularly in culture and artistry. Unfortunately, the Queen died before the chapel finished. But this did not stop it from becoming not only a mausoleum but in addition a museum, for it was the wish of the royal couple that the chapel would house some of their most precious items.

This decision resulted in a place where modern visitors can bask in the spectacle of the invaluable books, relics, tapestries, fabrics, vases, vestments and paintings of the era. Among this massive collection, you will find of course, the ornate tombs of the Queen and King, who decided to stay close to each other even in death. This ‘togetherness’ may not surprise you initially. But evidenced by what history tells us, royal unions have not always resulted in a happy ending. And it is indeed romantic to know that the two Spanish royalties decided to remain together till the very end and thereafter.

The beautiful tombs of Fernando and Isabella are located in a section that is separated by an exquisite wrought iron screen from the rest of the nave. Together with the tombs of the Catholic monarchs are the remains of their children Philip and Juana. The museum section of the chapel can easily be spotted. Some of the most precious paintings you will find here are the masterpieces of Botticelli, van der Weyden, Membling and Beruguete. It is said that most of the items found in the museum were originally collected by the Queen herself. And what stands out among these treasures? For a number of people, it would have to be the sword of King Fernando or the crown and scepter of Queen Isabella.

Fortunately, if you are already in the city of Granada, the Royal Chapel is hard to miss. The Chapel and the Cathedral of Santa Maria de la Incarnacion that houses it; occupy the central part of the city, and it is serviced by several city buses. The cathedral with its size and grandeur, is almost equally impressive and is certainly also deserving of your visit.