The Madrasa was built in the year 1349 by Yusuf I under the name Madrasa Yusifiyya. It was first centre for Koranic studies, the only one in Spanish territory during the Al-Andalus period. The sultan built the Madrasa in an artistic golden age for the city of Granada, next to other emblematic buildings such as the Maristan and the Corral del Carbon, which are also located in the main areas of Granada’s old medina.
In the beginning the Madrasa was symbolic of the importance of Granada as Al-Andalus’s cultural capital. Its prestige meant that the most brilliant minds in the Islamic world, masters in scientific-, philological- and literary disciplines would carry out their work within its walls.
However, starting in 1492, the arrival of the Catholic Monarchs would lead to a radical change in the building’s functions, with it becoming the headquarters of the Council of Granada. The Cathedral of Granada and the Capilla Real were built in the vicinity, and they can also be visited on our guided tour Catedral Capilla Real. Its new purpose resulted in a series of additions and renovations as far as its original planning: in 1501 an adjacent house was added that had been property of Prince Don Fernando of Granada (the converted prince Nasr, the son of the sultan Muley Hacén and Soraya). The addition would give rise to the current Salón de Caballeros Veinticuatro, Hall of Knights Twenty-four, or the Sala Capitular de Invierno, Winter Chapter Hall.
From Madraza to the Old City Hall
At the start of the 18th century the building was almost totally rebuilt. With the exception of an Arabic oratory which stayed hidden, the initial Islamic Madraza was gotten rid of to make way for a new civil complex in the Late Baroque style. In 1858 city council moved to its current location (the Convento del Carmen, where it is currently located), after which the Madraza became property of the Echevarría. The state acquired it in 1939, and from the 1940s onwards it was ceded to the university for institutional purposes.
Of its Islamic past remains the Nasrid praying room, a characteristic qubba with a square design with precious ornaments: mullioned windows, an alicer of muqarnas, and even some of the original plasterwork.
In the Hall of Knights Twenty-four, on the upper floor there is a preserved Mudejar frame which survived the renovations over the last few centuries. One can also appreciate the doors which formed a part of the old City Hall chapel.
The main façade is one of the main works of Granada Urban Baroque architecture, an impressive pictorial façade which imitates blocks of stone covered in dark grey marble.
The chapel of this monument is part of our Granada Must Do Tour and the Hall of Knights Twenty-four is a part of our route Places of the Catholic Queen Isabella I in Granada, only led in Spanish.