In the corner made by the façade of the Merchant’s Market and the Royal Chapel, next to the façade, there is a small parapet behind iron bars. This is the only visible part of the aljibe (cistern) that belonged to the main mosque of Medinat Garnata.
Granada is particularly fortunate as far as preserved aljibes are concerned, since the Albayzín has quite a few of them that have been, restored, cleaned up and revitalised only recently. The association between the public cisterns and mosques was influenced by the need to perform ablutions before going into the mosque as well as to meet the daily needs of the local residents.
When Granada was christianised, the mosques were converted into parish churches, but the cisterns were kept, their usefulness meant they were preserved over such a long period of time better than other works.
The cistern Jerónimo Múzer described in 1492, took up two thirds of the area underneath the small square that stretches out in front of the Lonja and the Royal Chapel; the other third staying under the Lonja itself. Surprisingly, neither the pillars of the Lonja nor the cement of the surrounding buildings has affected the aljibe’s structure. It has a capacity of 157 m2 making it the second largest historic cistern in Granada, only behind the Aljibe del Rey (Royal Cistern) with a capacity of 300 m2. It has left its mark on the floor of the Lonja, near the current entrance door leading inside the Royal Chapel.
This cistern, although hidden, is the only bearing witness to what was the main mosque of Islamic Granada. We come by here each day as a part of our Granada Must-Do Tour.