Carmen de los Mártires



Since I was a child, this strange name, Carmen de los Mártires or House of the Martyrs, has caught my attention, next to the Alhambra in Granada.


What is the origin of this strange name?

What it was used for?

In this article I reveal a little bit of its history, its etymology and its current use.

I think Carmen de los Mártires is a wonderful free-entrance garden in Granada, one of the few free pleasures we have left in our city.

Finally, I invite you to come, stroll around and enjoy your paradise garden.


Carmen is a word that describes a house in Granada with a lovely garden.

Most of them are in the old city, Albaicín.

A long time ago, these houses were full of orchards and now, there are plenty of gardens with aromatic plants.


The area where Carmen de los Martires is located was known in the Muslim era as the Captive pen.

A place where a multitude of Muslim dungeons were found, where they held Christian prisoners at sudk since the twelfth century.

Something very curious is that the dungeons or silos exchanged their functions according to the needs of the time.

That is, in properous times grain, seeds, flour and salt were stored in silos.

In times of war, they became dungeons where prisoners spent the night in subhuman conditions.


What happens after the Reconquest?

Gradually, one by one, all these silos and dungeons are being closed and sold over time.

Queen Elisabeth the Catholic ordered the construction of the first chuch in the city here, and precisely, it will give her the name of Hermitage of the Martyrs.

It will be in honor of those Christian martyrs who were locked here in the dungeons for so many centuries.


In the XVIth century, the Carmelite monks will come to live in this place.

The great carmelite figure San Juan de la Cruz will become his prior.

It is said that one of his cedars in the garden was planted by San Juan de la Cruz and has always been cared for and spoiled by different owners of Carmen.

Thus, we will arrive at the War of Independence that the French around 1810 invade the place and destroyed a big part of it.

The house will have many different owners until it has come to the City Council of Granada over the time.


Currently, Carmen de los Martires is destined to host varios cultural and social events.

Thanks to its geographical location it has unbeatable views towards the city of Granada, Barrio del Realejo and Sierra Nevada as a backdrop.

In his palace congresses, meetings, concerts and, most wonderful, civil weddings are held where hundreds of coupes have already said, yes I do or I will.

Do you want to be one of them?


My favourite place is the wonderful patio next to the main pavillion.

You can admire the same decorations than in the islamic palaces of the Alhambra.

The pavement is very typical from the streets of Granada, using to colors, white and black.

Combining both colors we get many different desings and geometrical shapes.

In the middle of the patio, there is a pool, very similar to the one in the Generalife Palace in the Alhambra.

Around the bassin, there is a lovely garden and a small cave, excavated in an artificial way with a very romatic bench at the end.

The walls are all covered by plaster, recreating the islamic paradise with flowers, geometry and inscriptions.

Finally, I facilitate the visiting hours and I recommend you visit the Carmen de los Mártires, one of those small free pleasures that you should not miss.

If you feel like taking a guided tour, I will be happy to accompany you.

It is a quiet place, highly recommended and if you like to take pictures, it is an ideal location.


Summer time (15 March – 14 October):

* Monday to Friday: 10-14; 18-20 hours
* Saturdays, Sundays and Holiday Banks: 10 – 20 hours

Winter time (15 october – 14 March)

* Monday to Friday: 10-14; 16-18 hours
* Saturdays, Sundays and Holiday Banks: 10 – 18 hours

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