The building is perceived as a closed block. Its massive presence conceals its health care function, its prominence in the urban planning of the Triunfo area, and its monumental and historic importance.
Its history is inseparably joined to the Catholic Monarchs, who favoured the establishment of a number of royal institutions in the city.
Originally there was the intention of placing Royal Hospital (Hospital Real) inside the Alhambra, but later it was decided to place it in a new location, in the area of the old cemetery outside the walls of Puerta Elvira, away from the urban centre and with good health promoting conditions. In 1511, the construction of the Royal Hospital began to move forward, in the “Isabelinian style” or the Catholic Monarch style: decorative repertories from the late gothic period.
Construction moved slowly in the beginning, until Emperor Charles V stayed in Granada for his honey moon in 1526, when a room was prepared to house the sick people from the Alhambra. This decision, however, ended up creating continuous complications over the course of that century: reconciling construction with the presence of the sick.
The slow speed of the work would determine the final finished construction, as an amalgam of styles and tendencies developed between the 16th and 17th centuries. Enrique Egas would employ the cruciform model created in the Santiago de Compostela based hospital of the Catholic Monarchs, a cross inscribed in a square, with four bays coming together in the centre, constructed via four symmetrical courtyards.
Strength, severity and functionality are the fundamental characteristics of this regal symbol, with decoration left for later stages. Only the Gallery of Convalescent, facing the Triunfo Gardens, breaks with the solid character of the building.
The renaissance stage began in 1520, with two large courtyards build with renaissance-style arches on the southern side. However, construction came to a halt as a result of a terrible event: the July 3, 1549 fire. From then on, the majority of funds would be allocated for slowly restoring the complex, in particular, after the drastic decrease in revenue and profit due to the Expulsion of the Moriscos from Granada in 1570. The two courtyards on the right-hand side were never finished being decorated.
In 1982 the building was established as the Vice-Chancellor’s office of the University of Granada, becoming home to the main library of the University of Granada with interesting ol documents.