The Plaza Bibrambla Square (Granada residents refer to it as Bibarrambla) has always been the “main one”. It is the closest thing Granada has to a Spanish and Andalusian style main square, although lacking a colonnade and public buildings. This is due to the fact that what we are really dealing with is one of the most transformed spaces in the city. Its image reflects the most important parts of Granada’s urban history.
It dates back to the Nasrid period when it was an open space linked to the main gates of the city: the Bab al-Ramla or Sand Gate. The space must have played an important role as it was close to both the great mosque and the commercial hub of the Zacatín which supplied the medina.
The area would have been small by Spanish standards, as far as traditional and lifestyle requirements go. Due to its excellent location and the possibility of expansion, it was subjected to reforms shortly after the surrender of the city around 1495, when it began to be referred to as the new Plaza de Bibarrambla. In 1505 King Ferdinand the Catholic ceded it to the city as a place to walk around and conduct business in, but since it was still rather small, the count of Tendilla ordered the demolition of a number of houses. Between 1516 and 1519, the square began to be expanded in a more orderly way. After Bibarrambla was renovated it would near its current size.
It was a large rectangle that could be accessed via a number of narrow streets in the corners, except the Arco de las Cucharas (Spoon Arch) -opened in 1519 to connect to Mesones-. The western side, parallel to the Nasrid wall was home to the Miradores council house, the count of Tendilla’s houses and other buildings related to the Inquisition, with windows or verandas. The opposite side was taken up by the University -today the Curia-, the Archbishop’s palace and the Alcaicería’s shops.
Bibrambla square as public celebration area
From the start of the 16th century, it was the city’s main celebration area for public festivities: equestrian games, bull and cane festivals, Corpus Christi, processions, poetic games, auto-de-fés, royal proclamations, greeting archbishops and even for public executions. It was also the main public area for street vending, which in the 18th century reached a peak of 54 wooden stands selling fruit and vegetables.
In 1880 a small garden was created and fenced in, making way for the monument of Fray Luis de Granada, which today is found in Santo Domingo Square. The final work on it was overseen by the government of Gallego and Burín in the 1940s. A number of luscious lime trees were also planted at that time and it recovered its commercial role with stands, which today blend in with the square’s lamp shop, with the Sevillian smelting of Los Hermanos Pérez, who moved to Granada after the Seville World’s Fair in 1892.
These days Bibarrambla continues to be an important place for celebrations, for local festivities such as El Día de la Cruz, and above all, as the stage for Las Carocas del Corpus and Tarasca procession.
Giants Fountain in Bib Rambla Square
The most impressive fountain in Granada centres Bibarrambla, even though it was not originally intended for public use, and was in fact made for the cloister of the now in-existent Agustinos Calzados Convent. It was taken down from the cloister of San Agustín, and after making a variety of stops in other squares and places in the city, arrived at its current location in Plaza Bib-Rambla.
The first circular cup, resting on the cervix of four anthropomorphic beings. These nude “Gigantones” (giants) give the fountain its popular name. This holds up the white marble sculpture of Neptune, with his trident in one hand and the other raised making a greeting gesture.