The Church Basilica of San Juan de Dios, the first thing to keep in mind, as a peculiar value of this temple, is the perfect union produced by its structure, decoration and iconographic repertoire, since everything was done in just 25 years, was overseen by architect José Bada. The works began in 1734, finishing the platforms and the chancel in 1738 and the great façade in 1741; as to the reredos, images, paintings and other decoration, work started in 1740 and continued with construction of the alcove until the end and blessing of the temple in 1757.
On the outside we can remark on the oblique arrangement to the street with a fairly sharp angle, a variation that however is hardly noticed when entering inside since it is compensated for by the polygonal arrangement of the vestibule.
The façade ends in two towers fully covered in slate spires that flank the façade itself. The main street is presided over by the holy founder, determined, great dignity and a pained expression on his face.
On the access arch the relief work the Esperanza y la Caridad [Hope and Charity] accompany the Hospitaller emblem. Under the lateral medallions, two stones recall the period over which the temple was made, from 1735 to 1757. The pediment of the finish features God the Father and above, the Hospitaller emblem again. The delicacy of the relief work and the mouldings is enhanced by the use of stones in a wide range of colours, giving the façade the most monumental appearance in Baroque Granada.
Spectacular view of the Baroque interior of the Basilica of San Juan de Dios
The interior is in the shape of a Latin cross dominated by the huge reredos and alcove with relics from the saint. The semi-circular chancel, at the feet, emphasises the clear scenographic sense present in the whole temple.
It is in the baroque style with a collection of elements such as an infinite amount of cornucopias, mirrors, alabasters, emblems, motifs of leaves, the plethora of golden mouldings, arches and pillars, in addition to grandiose reredoses, paintings, sculptures and altars, a complex array covering the whole interior. A photograph, whether one or many are not enough to give us a full idea of the vision and experience of the interior.
The main reredos has a strong vertical section that includes from the bottom on up, the shrine, on a windows of the alcove and higher up a small tabernacle or second alcove with the image of the Immaculate Conception, to which the temple is dedicated. The sides of the reredos are octagonal in order to shelter the ensemble. The iconographic motifs are all sculpted.
An element of special architectural-, fine art- and religious interest is the alcove. It can be accessed up an intricate stairway, with rich wooden railings and a base of marble and tiles. Here we pass through the alcove which itself is divided into two areas. The first includes the silver urn containing the remains of San Juan de Dios, protected by a lavish golden wooden tabernacle. The dome and the walls of the area are literally lined with paintings, carved leaf motifs, mirrors, cloths, estipites, medallions, wreaths and endless decorative details, but nothing is as impressive as the 180 reliquaries that take on a variety of forms, most of martyr saints and, in an exceptional place, the cross of the holy founder.