|001 Palace of Charles V||002 Alcazaba||003 Generalife|
|004 Palacios Nazaries/Casas Reales||005 Granada Cathedral||006 The Alhambra|
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|Granada – Greek: Ἐλιβύργη (Steph. Byz.) - Elibyrge; Latin: Illiberis (Ptol. ii. 4. § 11) or Illiberi Liberini (Pliny iii. 1. s. 3); Arabic: غرناطة – is a city and the capital of the province of Granada, in the autonomous region of Andalusia, Spain. It is situated at the foot of the Sierra Nevada mountains, at the confluence of two rivers, Darro and Genil, at an elevation of 738 metres above sea level. At the 2005 census, the population of the city of Granada proper was 236,982, and the population of the entire urban area was estimated to be 472,638, ranking as the 13th-largest urban area of the Spanish Kingdom. About 3.3% of the population did not hold Spanish citizenship, the largest number of these (31%) coming from South America.|
The Alhambra, a famous Moorish citadel and palace, is in Granada. It is the most remarkable item of the Muslim, Jewish, and Christian historical legacy that makes Granada a hot spot among cultural and tourist cities in Spain.
Granada is also well-known within Spain due to its prestigious university and, nowadays, wild night-life (though in the 1920s Federico García Lorca described the granadinos as "the worst bourgeoisie in Spain"). In fact, it is said that it is one of the three best cities for college students (the other two are Salamanca and Santiago de Compostela).
The pomegranate (in Spanish, granada) is the heraldic device of Granada.
The beauty of the sights of Granada is famous. A well known verse says:
« Dale limosna, mujer
que no hay en la vida nada
como la pena de ser
ciego en Granada » "Give him some money, woman
because there is nothing
like the pity of being
blind in Granada"
— Francisco de Icaza
View of Granada from the Alhambra
The city has been inhabited from the dawn of history. There was an Ibero-Celtic settlement here, which made contact in turn with Phoenicians, Carthagenians and Greeks. By the 5th century BCE, the Greeks had established a colony which they named Elibyrge or Elybirge (Greek: Ἐλιβύργη). Under Roman rule, in the early centuries CE, this name had become "Illiberis". As Illiberis, the city minted its own coins. The Visigoths maintained the importance of the city as a centre of both ecclesiastical and civil administration and also established it as a military stronghold.
Side Courtyard entrance to the Cathedral
A Jewish community established itself in what was effectively a suburb of the city, called "Gárnata" or "Gárnata al-yahud" (Granada of the Jews). It was with the help of this community that Moorish forces under Tariq ibn-Ziyad first took the city in 711, though it was not fully secured until 713. They referred to it under the Iberian name "Ilbira", the remaining Christian community calling this "Elvira", and it became the capital of a province of the Caliphate of Cordoba. Civil conflicts that wracked the Caliphate in the early eleventh century led to the destruction of the city in 1010. In the subsequent reconstruction, the suburb of Gárnata was incorporated in the city, and the modern name in fact derives from this. With the arrival of the Zirid dynasty in 1013, Granada became an independent sultanate. By the end of the eleventh century, the city had spread across the Darro to reach what is now the site of the Alhambra.
Alhambra, Courtyard of the Lions built by the Nasrid sultans
Kingdom of Granada under the Christian Kingdoms
In 1232 the progress of the Spanish Reconquista led to the subjugation of the last Islamic stronghold of Granada under Mohammed ibn Alhamar to the Christian forces of Ferdinand III of Castile. Thus the city of Granada became the seat of the Nasrid sultanate (until 1238) and kingdom (from 1238), one of the longest-lasting Islamic dynasties in the history of al-Andalus. The Nasrid sultans and kings were responsible for building most of the palaces in the Alhambra. The taifa became a vassal state of the Christian kingdom of Castile for the next 250 years. The Nasrid sultans and kings paid tribute to the Christian kings and cooperated with them in the battle against rebellious Muslims under Castilian rule.
Initially the kingdom of Granada linked the commercial routes from Europe with those of the Maghreb. The territory constantly shrank, however, and by 1492, Granada controlled only a small territory on the Mediterranean coast. Muslim Granada was the sole remaining religiously homogenous area in the peninsula: those Christians who did not convert to Islam had been deported to North Africa or escaped to Christian countries. The only religious minority was a small Jewish community. Arabic was the official language, and was the mother tongue of the majority of the population, Muslim and Jew alike.
On January 2, 1492, the last Muslim leader Boabdil surrendered complete control of the remnants of the last Moorish stronghold of Granada, to Ferdinand and Isabella, Los Reyes Católicos ("The Catholic Monarchs").
The Nasrid rulers of Granada. The most prominent members of the dynasty were:
Mohammed ibn Alhamar (died 1273), the founder of the dynasty
Yusuf I (1334–1354)
Muhammed V (1354–1391, builder of the royal palace within the Alhambra
Boabdil of Granada, the last of the line, who was defeated and deposed in 1492 by Ferdinand and Isabel
After the fall of Granada
The fall of the Moors is one of the more significant events in Granada's history. The Alhambra decree of the Christian Monarchs asked the predominantly Muslim population to convert to Roman Catholicism or to return to their ancestral lands in North Africa. Arabic lost its place in everyday life and was replaced by Castilian. The mosques, some on sites of former Christian churches, were converted to Christian uses. Part of the predominantly Muslim population was gradually converted to Roman Catholicism and remaining muslims were eventually expelled to surrounding rural areas, leading to the Revolt of the Alpujarras in 1568. Jews were immediately expelled following the Alhambra decree of 1492.
The fall of Granada holds an important place among the many significant events that mark the latter half of the 15th century. It ended, the eight hundred years Islamic presence in the Iberian Peninsula. Freed from conflicts with the Muslims, a united Spain advanced to first rank among the nations of Europe, and embarked onto its greatest phase of expansion around the globe leading to the discovery of the Americas by Isabella's prodigy Christopher Columbus and followed by what was to become the Spanish Empire, one of the largest empires of the world for the coming centuries.
There are many important Moorish and Catholic architectural sites in Granada:
The Alhambra and Generalife
The Palace of Charles V
Capilla Real. Royal Chapel, with the tombs of Isabel and Ferdinand, the Catholic Kings.
El Albaicín (Albayzín): The ancient Arab quarter, containing many original houses from the 16th century
The Charterhouse: One of the most impressive pieces of ornamental Baroque in Spain.
Calle Calderería: An Albayzin street where you can taste Arab typical food, especially teas and desserts from North Africa
El Cármen de los mártires: A lovely palace with a beautiful botanic garden near the Alhambra
Santa Ana Church: 16th century, Mudejar Style
San Salvador Church: 16th century, Mudejar Style. With moorish Almohad patio from the former mosque.
El Corral del carbón: Deposit of merchandise and shelter of merchants. Adapted after 16th century for theater plays.
Hospital Real: Funded in 1504 by the Reyes Católicos, now part of the University.
Santo Domingo Church: Funded in 1512 by the Reyes Católicos.
San José Church: On the site of the "moans" Almorabitín, the mosque of the morabites, one of oldest in Granada, dating from the 10th century.
Sacromonte Abbey: Founded in the 17th century. Legend says that the catacombs under the church were the site of the martyrdom of San Cecilio, the city's first bishop and now its patron saint.
Old University: Now the School of Law, it retains its original 17th century facade.
Bermejas Towers: Strongpoints on the encircling wall of the Alhambra, they date from the 8th and 9th centuries.
Basilica San Juan de Dios: Basilica where the rest of this saint rest. Sample of Granada's baroque.
The Gate of Elvira: The principal Gate to the old city Part of the moorish wall.
Casa de los Tiros, 16th century. With a complex iconographic program of sculputure and painting about Spanish history and full of cryptograms, it was the palace of Gil Vázquez-Rengifo, who helped the Catholic Kings in the fight for the City. Nowadays it is a museum where visitors can follow the History of Granada from the Middle Age to our days.
Although many Muslim buildings were destroyed by the Christian era in Granada those that are remaining make the most complete group of moorish housing architecture in Europe. Palaces like Dar al Horra, or Alcazar Genil, or houses like the house of the Horno de Oro, the house of Chapiz, or the house of Abén Humeya, are oly some of the most famous. Public Baths Like El Bańuelo or Alhambra Baths, and the complex of arab public fountains and wells (aljibes), are unique in Europe. The nasrid infrastructure net that feeds them (acequias) still functions in its majority: The Royal Acequia and the Cadí acequia are some of them.
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