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What you need to know about the new high speed train to Granada

After years of anticipation, the high-speed train route to Granada will begin operating later this month.

What you need to know about the new high speed train to Granada
The high speed train links Granada to Madrid and Barcelona from June 26th. Archive Photo: AFP

It has been delayed countless times but the ‘Ave’ as Spain’s, high speed train is called, will be fully operation between Granada and Madrid from June 26th.

Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez was on the inaugeral train to Granada a day before it was launched to the public. 

Until now there was only one direct train operating per day each way between Madrid and Granada and that took just over 5 hours.

The slowest high-speed train in Spain

The fastest train will get you between Madrid and Granada in 3hours five minutes, but there will also be a slower train stopping at stations along the way adding 20 minutes to the journey.

It has been dubbed the “slowest” high speed train in Spain because it will take 3hrs 5mins to travel the 510 km railway route between Madrid and Granada.

That’s much longer than the 2 hours 20 minutes it takes between Madrid to Malaga which is 533km and the 511km between Madrid and Seville.

And it’s only ten minutes less than the Barcelona-Madrid route of 615km.

Although the most direct route between Madrid and Granada is by road where a distance of 420km takes just over 4 hours by car if there’s no traffic.

But the rail route is longer because it goes via Antequera.

Plus there’s a go slow area about 30km long around Loja where the trains have to reduce speed before entering a 19century tunnel where there is a speed limit of 30km/ph

This means that the trains never reach a speed above 200km per hour compared with the top speeds of 300km on the Barcelona route.

Plans for improvement

It’s not even open yet but plans have already been announced to construct an alternative route to allow trains to travel up to 300km per hour. That would bring the journey time down to around 2 hours and 40 minutes.  But don’t hold your breath for that to happen any time soon.

How busy a route will it be? 

There will be three trains each way daily between Granada and Madrid.

From Madrid they will leave at  7.20am (7.35am on Saturdays and Sundays) and at 2.35pm and 7.35pm.

From Granada, trains will depart at  7.10am, and at 3pm and 7.19pm.

There will also be one direct train each day each way between Granada and Barcelona, departing  Barcelona at 6.50am and from Granada at 3.35pm, a total journey time of 6 hours 25.

These trains will also connect travellers, without stopping in Madrid, from Granada to Zaragoza (4 hours 30 minutes), Lleida (5 hours 10 minutes) or Tarragona (5 hours 50 minutes).

All the trains to and from Granada will stop at Cordoba – four each way daily – a journey of 1hour 30 minutes.

Prices

The price of a (flexible) tourist class ticket between Madrid and Granada will be €80.30 each wayand €64.25 each way if you buy a return ticket.

Between Barcelona and Granada the price is €118,10 euros for the flexible tourist ticket reduced to 94.50 each way if you book the return.

But there will be promotional seats on sale for cheaper.

Special offer

Right now there is a bargain offer of €35 each way between Madrid and Granada and €45 between Granada and Barcelona  for travel between June 30th and September 15th.

 

A long time coming

Plans were first announced for a high speed train linking the city famed for the Alhambra with the capital back in the late 1990s but it never quite off the ground.

Then during the government of socialist Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodrigues Zapatero a plan was made to start the work in 2007 but the crisis hit and the massive infrastructure project was put on hold.

Then the end date was set for 2015 and now four years later, the project has finally come to fruition.

José Luis Ábalos, Spain's minister for Infrastructure announced the opening of the route with the words: “Today is a great day for Granada”

 

 

The next step is to link the network between Granada, Seville and Malaga and create a  Mediterranean route across Spain’s southern coast.

Why visit Granada? 


The Alhambra is the most visited site in Spain. Photo: AFP
 

The Andalusian city that was the last bastion of the Islamic caliphate in Spain, finally being conquered  during the reconquista in 1492.

The jewel in Granada's crown is the Alhambra, the Moorish palace and gardens that attracts more visitors than any other tourist site in Spain. 

But don't let that be your only stop in a city that offers so many more delights.

With its backdrop of the snow topped mountains of the Sierra Nevada, its worth spending a few days discovering the Andalusian city.

READ MORE: Six great reasons to visit Granada (besides the Alhambra) 

 

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TRAVEL

IN IMAGES: Spain’s ‘scrap cathedral’ lives on after creator’s death

For over 60 years, former monk Justo Gallego almost single-handedly built a cathedral out of scrap materials on the outskirts of Madrid. Here is a picture-based ode to his remarkable labour of love.

IN IMAGES: Spain's 'scrap cathedral' lives on after creator's death
File photo taken on August 3, 1999 shows Justo Gallego Martinez, then 73, posing in front of his cathedral. Photo: ERIC CABANIS / AFP

The 96-year-old died over the weekend, but left the unfinished complex in Mejorada del Campo to a charity run by a priest that has vowed to complete his labour of love.

Gallego began the project in 1961 when he was in his mid-30s on land inherited from his family after a bout of tuberculosis forced him to leave an order of Trappist monks.

Today, the “Cathedral of Justo” features a crypt, two cloisters and 12 towers spread over 4,700 square metres (50,600 square feet), although the central dome still does not have a cover.

He used bricks, wood and other material scavenged from old building sites, as well as through donations that began to arrive once the project became better known.

A woman prays at the Cathedral of Justo on November 26, 2021. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
A woman prays at the Cathedral of Justo on November 26, 2021. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
 

The building’s pillars are made from stacked oil drums while windows have been cobbled and glued together from shards of coloured glass.

“Recycling is fashionable now, but he used it 60 years ago when nobody talked about it,” said Juan Carlos Arroyo, an engineer and architect with engineering firm Calter.

Men work at the Cathedral of Justo on November 26, 2021 in Mejorada del Campo, 20km east of Madrid.
Men work at the Cathedral of Justo on November 26, 2021 in Mejorada del Campo, 20km east of Madrid. Photo: (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)

The charity that is taking over the project, “Messengers of Peace”, hired the firm to assess the structural soundness of the building, which lacks a permit.

No blueprint

“The structure has withstood significant weather events throughout its construction,” Arroyo told AFP, predicting it will only need some “small surgical interventions”.

Renowned British architect Norman Foster visited the site in 2009 — when he came to Spain to collect a prize — telling Gallego that he should be the one getting the award, Arroyo added.

Religious murals on a walls of Justo's cathedral. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
Religious murals on a walls of Justo’s cathedral. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
 

The sturdiness of the project is surprising given that Gallego had no formal training as a builder, and he worked without a blueprint.

In interviews, he repeatedly said that the details for the cathedral were “in his head” and “it all comes from above”.

Builders work on the dome of the Cathedral of Justo on November 26th. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
Builders work on the dome of the Cathedral of Justo on November 26th. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
 

The complex stands in a street called Avenida Antoni Gaudi, named after the architect behind Barcelona’s iconic Sagrada Familia basilica which has been under construction since 1883.

But unlike the Sagrada Familia, the Cathedral of Justo Gallego as it is known is not recognised by the Roman Catholic Church as a place of worship.

Visit gaze at the stained glass and busts in of the cathedral's completed sections. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
Visit gaze at the stained glass and busts in of the cathedral’s completed sections. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
 

‘Worth visiting’

Father Angel Garcia Rodriguez, the maverick priest who heads Messengers of Peace, wants to turn Gallego’s building into an inclusive space for all faiths and one that is used to help the poor.

“There are already too many cathedrals and too many churches, that sometimes lack people,” he said.

“It will not be a typical cathedral, but a social centre where people can come to pray or if they are facing difficulties,” he added.

A photo of Justo Gallego Martinez on display at his cathedral following his passing. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
A photo of Justo Gallego Martinez on display at his cathedral following his passing. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
 

Father Angel is famous in Spain for running a restaurant offering meals to the homeless and for running a church in central Madrid where pets are welcome and the faithful can confess via iPad.

Inside the Cathedral of Justo, volunteers continued working on the structure while a steady stream of visitors walked around the grounds admiring the building in the nondescript suburb.

“If the means are put in, especially materials and money, to finish it, then it will be a very beautiful place of worship,” said Ramon Calvo, 74, who was visiting the grounds with friends.

FIND OUT MORE: How to get to Justo’s Cathedral and more amazing images

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