Short introduction to the history of Granada
Granada began life as an Iberian settlement in the Albayzín district. Muslim forces took over from the Visigoths in 711 and around the foot of the Alhambra hill in what was called Garnata al Jahud, the jewish quarter. The name of Granada comes from this districts. Granada also happens to be the Spanish name for a pomegranate, the fruit on the city’s coat of arms.
After the fall of Cordoba (1236) and Seville (1248), Muslims sought refuge in Granada, where Mohammed ibn Yusuf ibn Nasr had set up an independent emirate. Stretching from the Strait of Gibraltar to east of Almería, this ‘Nasrid’ emirate became the final remnant of Al-Andalus, ruled from the Alhambra palace for 250 years. Granada became one of the richest cities in medieval Europe, flourishing with many traders and artisans. Two centuries of artistic and scientific splendour peaked under emirs Yusuf I and Mohammed V in the 14th century. In the end the kingdom of Granada lost influence during the endless wars with the Christians.
On 2 January 1492 the conquering Catholic Monarchs, Isabel and Fernando, entered Granada ceremonially in Muslim dress. They set up court in the Alhambra for several years.
They decided to expell the Muslims from Granada, leaving the Alpujarra region the only place for them to settle.
All the Jews were expelled from Spain in this time. After the revolts of the Alpujarras (1568 and 1571) the Muslims were expelled definitevely from Spain. Granada city sank into a deep decline from which it only began to emerge with the interest drummed up by the Romantic movement from the 1830s on. This set the stage for the restoration of Granada’s Islamic heritage and the arrival of tourism.
Another black period occurred when the Nationalists took over Granada at the start of the civil war, and an estimated 4000 granadinos (Granadians) with left or liberal connections were killed, among them Federico García Lorca, Granada’s most famous writer.
What to visit in Granada apart from the Alhambra
The Bib Rambla square
The souk called Alcaicería
Acera del Darro
The Cathedral and the graves of the Catholic Monarchs in the Royal Chapel