On Mount Valparaiso, towards the end of the Sacromonte neighborhood, is one of the most unknown monuments in Granada: the Sacromonte Abbey. This important religious complex was built on the discovery of the remains of the martyr San Cecilio, a key figure in the history of Granada.
In 1954, excavations in some ancient Roman ovens on Mount Valparaiso revealed the remains of the martyr and patron saint of the city San Cecilio. This fact caused a wave of pilgrimage to the site, where thousands of people from Granada came to worship the first bishop of Roman times.
Because of this massive reception, it was decided to build an abbey over the remains of the saint to preserve them. Lead plates written in Arabic known as the Lead Books were also found.
From there, the abbey and the entire religious complex surrounding it were built.
The Holy Caves
One of the most interesting parts of the visit to the Sacromonte Abbey is to enter the Santas Cuevas, the subway area where the remains of San Cecilio and the Lead Books were found. It is an underground tour through several passages that lead to several chapels, an altar, and the cave where the remains of the martyr were found.
The Lead Books
The importance of this find lies in the uniqueness of these circular plates with inscriptions in Arabic. Very few people in the world can read these ancient annotations recounting the martyrdom of St. Cecilius and his companions.
These books were an attempt by the Muslims to save their lives during the Christian persecutions by inventing a divine revelation approving the union of Christianity and Islam. The Vatican confirmed the falsity of these revelations, although the historical importance of these 16th-century books is undeniable.
The Sacromonte Abbey houses a permanent exhibition displaying works of great artistic value, such as the original writing of Averroes' Treatise on Medicine, a canticle handwritten by San Juan de la Cruz, several paintings by Granada authors, and the only painting by Goya that can be seen in Granada. Also, in the Sacromonte Abbey, it's possible to see the famous Christ of the Gypsies.
How to get to the Sacromonte Abbey
- Bus: line C34 from Plaza Nueva. Buses run every twenty minutes.
- Cab: the trip from the Alhambra costs about € 5 (US$ 5.10).
- Private car: take the Camino Viejo del Fargue using the turn-off to the left onto Carretera de la Abadia.
- If you want to enjoy a dreamlike landscape, we recommend you walk down from the Abadia del Sacromonte to the center of Granada. It is a thirty-minute walk that will take you through the Sacromonte, the Albaicin, and the Carrera del Darro; three of Granada's must-see sights.
From October to April:
Monday to Saturday: from 10 am to 1 pm and from 4 pm to 6 pm.
Sundays: 11 am to 1 pm and 4 pm to 6 pm.
From May to September:
Monday to Saturday: from 10 am to 1 pm and from 5 pm to 7:30 pm.
Sundays: From 11 am to 1 pm and from 5 pm to 7:30 pm.
Guided tour: € 5 (US$ 5.10)
Children under 10 years old: free admission
Persons with reduced mobility: € 2 (US$ 2)