Located in Granada is the famous Alhambra, an old Moorish citadel and royal palace, which dominates the city and the old Muslim quarter from a hill; on the same hill is the palace of Emperor Charles V. The Palacio del Generalife, summer residence of the Moorish rulers, has celebrated gardens. Christian edifices include a 16th-century cathedral, in late Gothic and plateresque style; the adjoining royal chapel, containing the tombs of Ferdinand and Isabella; and a Carthusian monastery (16th cent.). There is also a museum dedicated to the poet and dramatist Federico García Lorca. Across the Darro River and facing the Alhambra is the Sacromonte hill, honeycombed with Gypsy caves.
Granada was originally a Moorish fortress and rose to prominence during the Almoravid and Almohad dynasties. In 1238 it became the seat of the kingdom of Granada, last refuge of the Moors whom the Christian reconquest had driven south; the kingdom occupied the present provinces of Almería and Málaga and parts of Jaén and Cádiz. The concentration of Moorish civilization in Granada gave the city great splendor and made it a center of commerce, industry, art, and science. However, the kingdom was weakened by continuous feuds among noble families, notably the Zegris and the Abencerages, and was conquered by Ferdinand II and Isabella I during the reign of Boabdil (Muhammad XI). With the surrender (Jan., 1492) of the city of Granada, the Moors lost their last hold in Spain, and the kingdom was united with Castile. The city became an archiepiscopal see and, in 1531, the seat of a university.
The city of Granada 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 yet only one hour from the Mediterrean coast, the Costa Tropical. 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 Islamic 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).
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.
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.
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:
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 protégé Christopher Columbus. Subsequent colonization led to the creation of the Spanish Empire, the largest empire of the world for its time.
There are many important Moorish and Catholic architectural sites in Granada:
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.
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.
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.
Albaicín (also written as Albayzín or Albaicín), located on a hill on the right bank of the river Darro, is the ancient Moorish quarter of the city and 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. Of particular note is the Plaza de San Nicolas (Plaza of St Nicholas) from where a stunning view of the Alhambra can be seen.
Granada has a basketball team: