Granada and its rich history
In terms of population, Granada is the 17th city of Spain, but one of the best known.
Granada and Alhambra
Alhambra, the huge Moorish palace, is probably Spain’s most famous monument. The city has great cultural wealth, with influences from the Moors, Jews and Catholics. People interested in different cultures, museums and churches can indulge themselves here. Lovers of flamenco, southern Spanish (gipsy) dance, will also get their money’s worth: many great flamenco dancers used to train in the Albaicín district.
The area where Granada is located was inhabited early by successively Iberian peoples, Phoenicians, Greeks and Carthaginians. Moreover, about 15 kilometres from the city was a Roman settlement from the year 193 BC. This Roman settlement, Iliberris, later became as Elvira the capital of a province within the caliphate of Córdoba. North of Elvira, a Jewish village was founded called Gárnata al-yahud (Granada of the Jews).
Zawi ibn Ziri
In the 11th century AD, the Caliphate of Córdoba disintegrated, and the region came into the hands of the Berber monarch Zawi ibn Ziri. He founded his emirate, with Elvira as its capital. However, Elvira was vulnerable to attack as it was in a low-lying area. Zawi ibn Ziri, therefore, decided to make the Jewish hamlet of Granada the capital. In just a short time, the village grew into one of the most important cities in Spain. Under the power of Zawi ibn Ziri and his descendants, many of the current monuments and great neighbourhoods, including Albaicín, were created.
A time of wars followed. Within the independent Muslim empire, hatred for the Jews who also lived in the city grew, until a massive murder occurred in 1066 and the Muslims destroyed much of the Jewish quarter. Only when the caliphate was taken over by the Almoravids did peace calm down. In 1232 the area became a kingdom again, under the leadership of Alhamar. Alhamar, who was officially called Mohammed I ibn Nasr, thus became the first Sultan of Granada. He built the Alhambra as a fortress for the Moorish rulers. The palace is the largest Muslim building in Spain and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
After 20 different Sultans, the Spanish Inquisition brought Islamic rule to an end in 1492. Muslims and Jews had to convert to Catholicism, and Spanish supplanted Arabic as the medium of instruction. Catholic churches replaced all mosques. Demolishing parts of the Alhambra to make way for a Renaissance palace in the middle of the fort. Granada has long been one of the wealthiest cities in Europe, with Albaicín as its central district. The nobility lived here, and the university is still here. The first Catholic royal couple, Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella of Castile, is buried in Granada Cathedral, which is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.