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Granada n : a city in southeastern Spain; site of the Alhambra (a palace and fortress built by Muslims in the Middle Ages) which is now a major tourist attraction

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Granada 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 three rivers, Beiro, 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. Its nearest airport is FGL Airport.
The Alhambra, a Moorish citadel and palace, is in Granada. It is one of the most famous items of the Muslim, Jewish, and Christian historical legacy that makes Granada a hot spot among cultural and tourist cities in Spain. The Almohad urbanism with some fine examples of Moorish and Morisco constructions is preserved at the part of the city called the Albaicín.
Granada is also well-known within Spain due to the prestigious University of Granada and, nowadays, vibrant night-life. 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 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: ). 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. It was also managed by Byzantines for 60 years.
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 (Arabic: غرناطة) 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 emirate Taifa of Granada. By the end of the eleventh century, the city had spread across the Darro to reach what is now the site of the Alhambra.

Nasrid Kingdom of Granada

In 1228, with the departure of the Almohad prince, Idris, who left Iberia to take the Almohad leadership, the ambitious Ibn al-Ahmar established the longest lasting Muslim dynasty on the Iberian peninsula - the Nasrids. With the Reconquista in full swing after the conquest of Cordoba in 1236, the Nasrids aligned themselves with Ferdinand III of Castile, officially becoming a tributary state in 1238. The state officially became the Kingdom of Granada in 1238. 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 due to repeated Castillian invasions, however, and by 1492, Granada controlled only a small territory on the Mediterranean coast. Arabic was the official language, and was the mother tongue of the majority of the population.
Granada was held as a vassal to Castile for many decades, and provided trade links with the Muslim world, particularly the gold trade with the sub-saharan areas south of Africa. The Nasrids also provided troops for Castile while the kingdom was also a source of mercenary fighters from North Africa. However, Portugal discovered direct African trade routes by sailing around the coast of West Africa. Thus Granada became less and less important for Castile and with the unification of Castile and Aragon in 1479, those kingdoms set their sights on conquering Granada and Navarre.
On January 2, 1492, the last Muslim leader, Muhammad XII, known as Boabdil to the Spanish, surrendered complete control of Granada, to Ferdinand and Isabella, Los Reyes Católicos ("The Catholic Monarchs"), after the city was besieged.
See Nasrid dynasty for a full list of the Nasrid rulers of Granada. The most prominent members of the dynasty were:

Granada after 1492

The capture of Muslim Granada by the forces of Ferdinand and Isabella is one of the more significant events in Granada's history. The terms of the surrender treaty explicitly allowed the city's Muslim inhabitants to continue unmolested in their faith and customs. By 1499, however, Cardinal Francisco Jiménez de Cisneros grew frustrated with the slow conversion efforts of Granada's first archbishop, Fernando de Talavera, and undertook a program of forced baptisms. Cisneros's new tactics, which were a direct violation of the terms of the treaty, provoked an armed revolt centered in the Alpujarras, a rural region to the southwest of the city. In response to the rebellion, in 1501 the Castilian Crown rescinded the surrender treaty, demanding that Granada's Muslims convert or emigrate. While many elites chose to emigrate to North Africa, the majority of the city's Muslims converted to Christianity, becoming Moriscos, Catholics of Moorish descent.
Over the course of the sixteenth century, Granada took on an ever more Christian and Castilian character, as immigrants flocked to the city from other parts of the Iberian Peninsula. The city's mosques, some of which had been established on the sites of former Christian churches, were converted to Christian uses. New structures, such as cathedral and the Chancillería, or Royal Court of Appeals, helped transform the urban landscape, and in the wake of the 1492 Alhambra decree that expelled Spain's Jewish population, Granada's Jewish neighborhood was demolished to make way for new Christian and Castilian institutions.
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 year-long Islamic presence in the Iberian Peninsula. Freed from internal conflict, a unified Spain embarked on its greatest phase of expansion around the globe, leading to the arrival in the Americas by Isabella's prodigy Christopher Columbus. Subsequent colonization lead to the creation of the Spanish Empire, one of the largest empires of the world for its time.


There are many important Moorish and Catholic architectural sites in Granada:
  • The Alhambra and Generalife
  • The Palace of Charles V
  • Granada's Cathedral
  • Capilla Real. Royal Chapel, with the tombs of Isabella and Ferdinand, the Catholic Kings
  • The Albayzín, or Albaicín: The ancient Arab quarter, containing many original houses from the 16th century
  • The Charterhouse: A Carthusian monastery; 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: Founded in 1504 by the Reyes Católicos, now part of the University
  • Santo Domingo Church: Founded 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: Originally Granada's Jesuit college, this building now houses the law school of the University of Granada. The building is particularly notable for its original 17th century facade.
  • Bermejas Towers: Strongpoints on the encircling wall of the Alhambra, they date from the 8th and 9th centuries
  • Basilica of St. John of God (San Juan de Dios): The remains of this saint are preserved in this Baroque basilica.
  • 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 the present day
  • The 16th century Castril palace which hosts the Archaeological Museum of Granada
  • The Cube: Main building for CajaGranada has won a lot of international architects awards.
  • Zaida Building: Situated in the city centre, this residential building designed by Alvaro Siza is a good example of modern architecture surrounded by historical structures
Although many Muslim buildings were destroyed during the Christian era in Granada, those that remain comprise the most complete group of Moorish domestic 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 only some of the most famous. Granada's public baths, like El Bañuelo or the Alhambra Baths, and the complex of Arab public fountains and wells (aljibes), are unique in Europe. The Nasrid infrastructure net (acequias) that feeds the public fountains and wells still functions in its majority. Among the best known of Granada's acequias are the Royal Acequia and the Cadí Acequia.

Districts of Granada

The Realejo

Realejo was the Jewish district at the time of the Nasride Granada. The Jewish population was so important, that Granada was known from the Al-Andalûs Country under the name of Granada de los judios (in Arabic, Garnata Al Yahood). It is today a district made up of many Andalusian villas, with gardens opening onto the streets, called Los Carmenes.

The Cartuja

This district contains the Carthusian monastery of the same name: Cartuja. This is an old monastery started in a late Gothic style with Baroque exuberant interior decorations. In this district also, many buildings were created with the extension of the University of Granada.


The toponym existed at the time of the Arabs. Nowadays, Bib-Rambla is a high point for gastronomy, especially in its terraces of restaurants, open on beautiful days. The Arab bazaar (Alcaicería) is made up of several narrow streets, which start from this place and continue as far as the cathedral.

The Sacromonte

The Sacromonte neighborhood is located on the extension of the hill of Albaicín, along the Darro River. This area, which became famous by the nineteenth century for its predominantly Gitano inhabitants, is characterized by cave houses, which are dug into the hillside. The area has a reputation as a major center of flamenco song and dance, including the Zambra Gitana, Andalusian dance originating in the Middle East. The zone is a protected cultural environment under the auspices of the Centro de Interpretación del Sacromonte, a cultural center dedicated to the preservation of Gitano cultural forms.

The Albaicín

Albaicín, a hill located on the right bank of the river Darro, transports the visitor to a unique world: the site of the ancient city of Elvira, so-called before the Zirid Moors renamed it Granada. It housed the artists who went up to build the palaces of Alhambra on the hill facing it. Time allowed its embellishment.

Parks and garden of Granada


Granada has a basketball team:


  • Cortés Peña, Antonio Luis and Bernard Vincent. Historia de Granada. 4 vols. Granada: Editorial Don Quijote, 1983.
  • Historia del reino de Granada. 3 vols. Granada: Universidad de Granada, Legado Andalusí, 2000.
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