STROLLING IN SPAIN (continued) Granada
Wheelchair Accessible Travel In Spain - 2004
By Howard L. Chabner and Michele E. DeSha
© Howard L. Chabner and Michele E. DeSha 2004
Granada – Terrain
The Alhambra is up a steep hill from Plaza Neuva. The Alhambra was a summer palace; the whole idea was to be on a hilltop to avoid the summer heat below.
Most of the rest of the old center of Granada is fairly flat. But the area near the Cathedral, while basically flat, has several streets with one or two stairs. Wheeling around that area requires some zigging, zagging and backtracking; it takes some exploration to find a route without stairs. There are many pedestrian-only shopping streets, which are enjoyable for strolling.
The picturesque Albayzin neighborhood is very hilly, with steep streets, many of which have stairs. An accessible bus goes up the main street to the top of the hill, but when you get off you are in an area with steep compound slopes and you will be unable to go very far. Howard was able to go up some of the side streets radiating from the flat street along the Daro River (Paseo Padre Munoz Carrera); most of these streets are residential and have picturesque buildings but no monuments or sites. He was able to go up one block from the river; after the first block, many of these cross streets end or continue up stairs. The Sacromonte area, likewise, is situated on a very steep hill.
Granada – Transportation
The old center of Granada is compact. The only time we rode the bus was to ascend the hill to the Alhambra. See the Alhambra description in “Monuments and Museums,” below. We did see accessible buses in the modern area; they appeared to have the same design as those in Barcelona.
Granada - Hotels
Where We Stayed
This 25-room family owned hotel is in a charming, recently restored 19th century building with beautiful green and white marble, huge windows and a large, airy light well. The buffet breakfast was delicious and varied. Unfortunately, the access barriers outweigh the advantages, and we don’t recommend it unless access is significantly improved. Also, the room rate and parking cost were high, all things considered.
It’s located on a very bumpy cobblestone street just off Plaza Neuva, a crowded, touristy plaza below the Alhambra. The plaza has a superb view of the Alhambra, as do some of the hotel rooms, but the adapted room doesn’t. The hotel is convenient to the Alhambra but being at Plaza Neuva doesn’t outweigh the disadvantages unless your room has an Alhambra view; central Granada is small and other, quieter neighborhoods are still close to the Alhambra.
The sidewalk near the hotel entrance is too narrow for a wheelchair to turn, so one must proceed the long way along cobblestone streets rather than directly on the smooth sidewalk leading from the plaza. The curb is medium height and there is one high stair from the sidewalk to the entrance and, inside the entrance, one high stair from the entry level to the lobby. The hotel had only one wooden ramp, and it was overbuilt and too heavy to be moved and used for both stairs, which would have been difficult anyway because the space is tight. So Michele and a hotel employee together had to lift Howard’s wheelchair every time we entered or exited. And almost every time, cars were parked in front of the entrance. When the entrance was completely blocked, hotel employees had to find the owners and get them to move their cars; when the blockage was only partial, Michele and the employee had to “wiggle” Howard’s wheelchair through the narrow opening. The owners were polite but clueless and did nothing to prevent cars from blocking the entrance.
The hotel doesn’t have on-site parking. It has an arrangement with a nearby garage; the garage is inaccessible, so Howard had to transfer from the car on a busy street and Michele then parked the car.
The elevator is medium size and Howard had no trouble fitting inside, though without much room to spare. The bedroom is medium size and feels large because of its high ceilings and tall windows. There is good natural light but insufficient light fixtures. The receptacle for the master cardkey necessary to turn on the electricity is inaccessibly high. The room door is very heavy; it would be impossible for most people in wheelchairs to open and close the door.
The bathroom is long and narrow; maneuvering a wheelchair was awkward. There is a bathtub without any grab bars; there is no roll-in shower. The shower hose is long but not long enough to reach the sink, so one can’t wash one’s hair. The sink is small and has little space for toiletries. The toilet has one wall-hung fold-down grab bar, but it’s located where a wheelchair would have to be for a side transfer; there is no space on the other side. Only someone with a very strong upper body who is able to transfer from the front, or from the side without using grab bars, could transfer to this toilet.
The hotel is new and we hope the owners will improve access. Some of the barriers can be removed or, at least, significantly mitigated. But even if improvements are made, it will still be necessary to go the long way around bumpy cobblestone streets to enter the hotel.
Other Hotels to Consider
We visited the following hotel:
Hesperia Granada. Four star. Plaza Gamboa. Phone 011-34-958-018-400; fax 011-34-958-018-410. www.hesperia-granada.com; email@example.com.
We were unaware of this new 80-room hotel when planning the trip, but passed by and decided to check it out. It’s well located in a quiet plaza near the city hall. The plaza is moderately sloped; the front entrance is level and has automatic glass doors. The lobby consists of a charming enclosed central courtyard. The elevator is medium size and Howard had no trouble fitting inside, though without much room to spare. We asked to see an adapted room. The receptionist was friendly and eager to show us a room; she told us there are several adapted rooms, some with roll-in showers, but all were occupied. We viewed a standard room; the bedroom was spacious but the bathroom was too small for a wheelchair. This hotel is well worth considering; one would need to find out the specifics of the adapted rooms.
The following hotels told us they have adapted rooms, though without roll-in showers:
Hostal Atenas. Two star. Gran Via de Colon, 38. Phone 011-34-958-278-750; fax 011-34-958-292-676. www.hostalatenas.com.
Hotel Vincci Granada. Four star. Renovated in 2003. Out of the way location, not close to the Alhambra. Avenida de la Constitucion, 18. Phone 011-34-958-204-061; fax 011-34-958-291-037. www.vinccihoteles.com.
Hotels Without Adapted Rooms
The following hotels told us they do not have adapted rooms:
Hotel America. One star. Located in the Alhambra. Fax 011-958-227-470.
Hotel Alhambra Palace. Four star. Located in the Alhambra. www.h-alhambrapalace.es.
Parador de Granada. Four star. Located in the Alhambra. Phone 011-34-958-221-440. www.parador.es; Granada@parador.es.
Casa del Aljarife. Two star. Placeta de la Cruz Verde, 2. Phone 011-34-958-222-425. www.granadinfo.com/most; firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hotel Anacapri. Three star. Calle Joaquín Costa, 7. Phone 011-34-958-227-477. www.hotelanacapri.com.
Casa del Capitel. Three star. Cuesta Aceituneros, 6. Phone1-305-538-9697 (Miami). www.epoquehotels.com.
NH Inglaterra. Calle Cettie Meriem, 4. Phone 011-34-958-221-558. www.nh-hoteles.es.
Hotel Los Tilos. Plaza Bib-Rambla, 4. Phone 011-34-958-266-712. email@example.com.
Macia Plaza. Two star. Plaza Nueva, 4. Phone 011-34-958-227-536. firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hotel AC Santa Paula – Forum. Five star. Gran Via de Colon, 31. Acforum.email@example.com.
Granada – Monuments and Museums
Alhambra. The major areas of the Alhambra (including the unforgettable Hall of the Ambassadors and Court of the Lions, both in the Nasrid Palaces) and Generalife gardens are accessible; some of the other areas (such as the towers, the upper level rooms and the circular inner courtyard of the palace of Charles V) aren’t. There is a strange, long wooden ramp down to the main entrance of the Nasrid Palaces, with curved steel edges at either end that are difficult to maneuver; Howard required assistance. There are one or two stairs at many places; portable ramps were available at some spots but not at others: more ramps are needed. It’s advisable to find a guard when you enter and ask him or her to direct you to the best path and ensure the ramps are available.
Bus lines 30 and 32 go up to the Alhambra and the buses run frequently. There are bus stops at Plaza Neuva and elsewhere. The buses are small and have a retractable ramp on the side, toward the rear. These buses are smaller and of a different design than those in Barcelona and other cities. All buses on these lines have ramps. We tried two buses and both were broken. But the bus is low, almost at sidewalk level, and there is only a small gap between the sidewalk and the bus door, so fellow passengers lifted Howard’s wheelchair in and out easily. Returning from the Alhambra, we strolled down to Plaza Neuva along a relatively steep zigzag street. There is an inaccessible path alongside the street, so we went in the middle of the street. Michele assisted Howard in a couple of spots, but a person in a manual wheelchair would require more assistance. Buses and taxis are the only vehicles allowed, so strolling during the day is safe, but the lighting is spotty and drivers go fast, so it isn’t advisable after dark.
It is imperative to purchase Alhambra tickets well in advance – months or weeks, not days! There are reputedly 8,000 visitors daily; tickets allow entrance only within designated, and strictly enforced, times. They sell out quickly. Tickets can be purchased online at www.alhambratickets.com or by phone. If time permits, visit the Alhambra twice – during the day and at night. Allow plenty of time to contemplate and enjoy it all.
Archaeological Museum. Located not far from Plaza Neuva on Paseo Padre Munoz Carrera, this museum is up a flight of stairs and there is no elevator.
Cathedral, Capila Real (Royal Chapel) and Museum of the Cathedral. There may be a way to access them, but we couldn’t find it. There were wooden ramps at a side entrance to the Cathedral, but the gate was locked whenever we went by it. The museum and Capila Real are each up several stairs and there are no ramps. Missing the tombs of Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand was not a terrible disappointment.
Centro Jose Guerrero (Contemporary Art Museum). Calle Oficios, 8. www.centroguerrero.org. Next door to the Madraza (see below), in a recently restored and superbly modernized 19th century building, is a brightly lit museum containing works by Jose Guerrero, an abstract expressionist painter and Granada native, along with temporary exhibits of contemporary artists. The entrance is level, the elevator is large and there is a modern accessible bathroom.
Madraza – Palacio de la Madraza (currently houses the University of Granada store). This building across from the Capila Real contains a beautiful Moorish mihrab (Islamic prayer niche) and is worth a visit. There is one medium height stair into the courtyard.
Royal Hospital. Featuring well-preserved Mudejar tilework, coffered ceilings and several interesting courtyards with orange trees, this building is easily accessible. The courtyards are open to the public.
Granada – Restaurant with an Accessible Bathroom
Taberna Salinas. Located in a street behind Plaza Neuva not far from
Hotel Plaza Neuva, this traditional restaurant has an extensive menu and
good food. The accessible bathroom is large and spotless.
Cordoba & Seville
Toledo, Madrid, Segovia
Additional Information & Appendices A, B & C
Editor's note: Don't miss the following access reports by Howard & Michele Chabner. Just click on the title.
Paris 2003-2007 and Burgundy,
Perigord (Dordogne) 2007
Paris Passerelles - Wheelchair Accessible Travel In Paris 2003
Paris Appendices: Hotel Wheelchair Access Questionnaire, Metric Conversion & Hotel Wheelchair Access Survey Results)
Paris Passerelles Supplement 2005
Burgundy, Perigord (Dordogne) and Paris 2007
Rome, Florence, Vicenza & Naples, Italy 2003-2006
Rolling in Rome 2003
Vicenza, Florence & Rome 2005
2006 Navigating Naples 2006
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