As is the case of most Christian buildings in Granada, the Cathedral was built on the site of the former Mosque.
The site of the former Mosque has since been replaced by four buildings: the Cathedral, the Royal Chapel, the Sagrario, and the Merchants’ Exchange.
For me, the most striking fact about the cathedral is the incredibly long time it took to build. Work on the cathedral began on 15th March 1523 and it was not completed until 1704, 180 years later.
Building stopped during the plague, and several architects were involved including Juan Gil de Hontañón, Enrique Egas, Diego de Siloe, etc.
Granada Cathedral, designed at the peak of the Spanish Renaissance. In 1529 Diego de Siloé outlined the Renaissance lines of this building upon its Gothic foundations, with a triforium and five naves instead of the usual three.
Most unusually, he created a circular capilla mayor rather than a semicircular apse, perhaps inspired by Italian ideas for circular ‘perfect buildings’ (eg in Alberti’s works). Within its structure the cathedral combines other orders of architecture. It took 181 years for the cathedral to be built.
In 1667 Alonso Cano altered the initial plan for the main façade, introducing Baroque elements.
The magnificence of the building would be even greater, if the two large 81 meter towers foreseen in the plans had been built; however the project remained incomplete for various reasons, among them, financial.