Gothic Architecture in Granada

Capilla RealSpanish Gothic architecture surged to the Spanish architectural forefront in the 12th century, giving way to Renaissance styles during the second half of the 15th century. Granada, however, wasn't even under Christian monarchic rule until 1492 and therefore missed out on the bulk of this fascinating period. Queen Isabel, however, was quite fond of Gothic architecture and, despite the fact that the Gothic period was no longer in the spotlight, commanded the construction of Gothic buildings in Granada. So up went the buildings- because as we know, what a monarch wants, a monarch typically gets.

This tail end of Gothic architecture- known fittingly as Isabelline Gothic- typically dates between 1474 and 1505 and is largely considered a transitional style, given that the Renaissance style was already in full bloom throughout the country. Elements typical of Isabelline architecture include basket-handled and canopial arches, commemorative text in strips, and shield decoration in addition to the typical Gothic characteristics like extreme heights, sparse decoration, stained glass windows, and flying buttresses.

The quintessential example of Isabelline Gothic architecture is Granada's incredible Capilla Real (Royal Chapel), whose construction between 1505 and 1521 was already well past the rest of the Isabelline Gothic period. Using the city of Toledo's Gothic cathedral as a model, this late Gothic edifice- constructed to serve as the Catholic Monarchs' mausoleum- is even more impressive than Granada's adjoining cathedral!