CARMEN DE LOS MÁRTIRES (CAMPO DE LOS MÁRTIRES)
Carmen de los Mártires: 19th century house and park near the Alhambra
Carmen de los Mártires is a 19th century house and ornamental grounds just to the right of the Alhambra palace. There are some interesting views of the Alhambra from the other side and great views of the city of Granada and the Sierra Nevada. The gardens contain a number of statues, grottoes, and an ornamental duck pond with its bridge and tower-like ruins. This is a great place to go for a stroll around, to eat your sandwiches, or even to feed the ducks and the black swan; if you're lucky, you might even see some of the peacocks and peahens that live in gardens. You can either walk up from Campo de Principe (behind the cross) or Plaza Nueva or catch the minibus to the Alhambra from Plaza Nueva.
Years ago, military jousts and tournaments were held here and in Moorish times provisions were stored for the fortress. The area was also known as the "Campo de los Cautivos" after the Christian captives who were held here and forced to carry out building work on the Royal palaces. It is thought that as many as 7000 prisoners could be held in the huge, deep dungeons tunnelled into the rock and many died during the siege of the city towards the end of the 15th century when the Catholic monarchs siezed control of Granada from the Moors.
Following the conquest of Granada by the Catholic Monarchs, Queen Isabel first built a shrine here to the martyrs who had died. In 1573, a convent was established (St. John of the Cross was Prior here for six years from 1582, and was supposedly responsible for planting one of the larger cedar trees) and a new church was built to replace the original shrine between 1614 and 1620. The convent, however, was later destroyed in 1842 although the convent garden has since been restored.
The house "Carmen de los Mártires" was built by Don Carlos Calderón who purchased the land for his summer residence, and the grounds were landscaped by a subsequent owner, Hubert Meermans, who was responsible for creating the different style gardens on various levels, with their fountains, statues, and grottoes and the ornamental lake with its wooden bridge and tower. Subsequent plans for a hotel conversion fell through, and after many years of neglect, the house and gardens have finally been restored to their former glory.
View of the Alhambra from Campo de los Martires