Granada | Spain
Granada (/ɡrəˈnɑːdə/, Spanish: [ɡɾaˈnaða], locally [ɡɾaˈnaː]) is the capital city of the province of Granada, in the autonomous community of Andalusia, Spain. Granada is located at the foot of the Sierra Nevada mountains, at the confluence of four rivers, the Darro, the Genil, the Monachil and the Beiro. It sits at an average elevation of 738 m (2,421 ft) above sea level, yet is only one hour by car from the Mediterranean coast, the Costa Tropical. Nearby is the Sierra Nevada Ski Station, where the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships 1996 were held.
In the 2005 national 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 Spain. About 3.3% of the population did not hold Spanish citizenship, the largest number of these people (31%; or 1% of the total population) coming from South America. Its nearest airport is Federico García Lorca Granada-Jaén Airport.
The Alhambra, a Moorish citadel and palace, is in Granada. It is the most renowned building of the Andalusian Islamic historical legacy with its many cultural attractions that make Granada a popular destination among the tourist cities of Spain. The Almohad influence on architecture is also preserved in the Granada neighborhood called the Albaicín with its fine examples of Moorish and Morisco construction. Granada is also well-known within Spain for the University of Granada which has an estimated 82,000 students spread over five different campuses in the city. The pomegranate (in Spanish, granada) is the heraldic device of Granada.
The Umayyad conquest of Hispania, starting in AD 711, brought large parts of the Iberian Peninsula under Moorish control and established Al-Andalus. Granada's historical name in the Arabic language was غرناطة (Ġarnāṭah). The word Gárnata (or Karnatah) possibly means "hill of strangers". Because the city was situated on a low plain and, as a result, difficult to protect from attacks, the ruler decided to transfer his residence to the higher situated area of Gárnata. In a short time this town was transformed into one of the most important cities of Al-Andalus.
In the early 11th century, after the collapse of the Umayyad Caliphate, the Berber Zawi ben Ziri established an independent kingdom for himself, the Taifa of Granada. By good fortune his memoirs have survived — the only ones for the Spanish "Middle Ages" — and they allow us to know this brief period in considerable detail. The Zirid Taifa of Granada was a Jewish state in all but name; the Muslim ruler was a powerless figurehead. It is the only time between Biblical times and the twentieth century that a Jewish ruler commanded an army. It was also the center of Jewish culture and scholarship.
Early Arabic writers repeatedly called it "Garnata al-Yahud" (Granada of the Jews).... Granada was in the eleventh century the center of Sephardic civilization at its peak, and from 1027 until 1066 Granada was a powerful Jewish state. Jews did not hold the foreigner (dhimmi) status typical of Islamic rule. Samuel ibn Nagrilla, recognized by Sephardic Jews everywhere as the quasi-political ha-Nagid ('The Prince'), was king in all but name. As vizier he made policy and—much more unusual—led the army.... It is said that Samuel’s strengthening and fortification of Granada was what permitted it, later, to survive as the last Islamic state in the Iberian peninsula.
All of the greatest figures of eleventh-century Hispano-Jewish culture are associated with Granada. Moses Ibn Ezra was from Granada; on his invitation Judah ha-Levi spent several years there as his guest. Ibn Gabirol’s patrons and hosts were the Jewish viziers of Granada, Samuel ha-Nagid and his son Joseph.
When Joseph took over after his father's death, he proved to lack his father's diplomacy, bringing on the 1066 Granada massacre, which ended the Golden Age of Jewish Culture in Spain.
By the end of the 11th century, the city had spread across the Darro to reach the hill of the future Alhambra, and included the Albaicín neighborhood (now a World Heritage site). The Almoravids ruled Granada from 1090 and the Almohad dynasty from 1166.
The fall of Granada has a significant place among the important events that mark the latter half of the Spanish 15th century. It completed the so-called Reconquista (or Christian reconquest) of the almost 800-year-long Islamic rule in the Iberian Peninsula. Spain, now without any major internal territorial conflict, embarked on a great phase of exploration and colonization around the globe. In the same year the sailing expedition of Christopher Columbus resulted in what is usually claimed to be the first European sighting of the New World, although Leif Ericson is often regarded as the first European to land in the New World, 500 years before Christopher Columbus. The resources of the Americas enriched the crown and the country, allowing Isabella I and Ferrando II to consolidate their rule as Catholic Monarchs of the united kingdoms. Subsequent conquests, and the Spanish colonization of the Americas by the maritime expeditions they commissioned, created the vast Spanish Empire: for a time the largest in the world.
The Generalife is a garden area attached to the Alhambra which became a place of recreation and rest for the Granadan Muslim kings when they wanted to flee the tedium of official life in the Palace. It occupies the slopes of the hill Cerro del Sol above the ravines of the Genil and the Darro and is visible from vantage points throughout the city. It was conceived as a rural village, consisting of landscaping, gardens and architecture. The palace and gardens were built during the reign of Muhammed III (1302–1309) and redecorated shortly after by Abu l-Walid Isma'il (1313–1324). It is of the Islamic Nasrid style, and is today one of the biggest attractions in the city of Granada. The Generalife was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1984.
It is difficult to know the original appearance of the Generalife, as it has been subject to modifications and reconstructions throughout the Christian period which disfigured many of its former aspects. All buildings of the Generalife are of solid construction, and the overall decor is austere and simple. There is little variety to the Alhambra's decorative plaster, but the aesthetic is tasteful and extremely delicate. In the last third of the 20th century, a part of the garden was destroyed to build an auditorium.
The Albayzín (or Albaicín) is a neighborhood of Al-Andalus origin, much visited by tourists who flock to the city because of its historical associations, architecture, and landscape.
The archeological findings in the area show that it has been inhabited since ancient times. It became more relevant with the arrival of the Zirid dynasty, in 1013, when it was surrounded by defensive walls. It is one of the ancient centers of Granada, like the Alhambra, the Realejo and the Arrabal de Bib-Rambla, in the flat part of the city. Its current extension runs from the walls of the Alcazaba to the cerro of San Miguel and on the other hand, from the Puerta de Guadix to the Alcazaba.
This neighborhood had its greatest development in the Nasrid era, and therefore largely maintains the urban fabric of this period, with narrow streets arranged in an intricate network that extends from the upper area, called San Nicolás, to the river Darro and Calle Elvira, located in the Plaza Nueva. The traditional type of housing is the Carmen granadino, consisting of a free house surrounded by a high wall that separates it from the street and includes a small orchard or garden.
In the Muslim era the Albayzín was characterized as the locus of many revolts against the caliphate. At that time it was the residence of craftsmen, industrialists and aristocrats. With the Christian reconquest, it would progressively lose its splendor. The Christians built churches and settled there the Real Chancillería. During the rule of Felipe II of Spain, after the rebellion and subsequent expulsion of the Moors, the district was depopulated. In 1994 it was declared a Unesco World Heritage Site. Of its architectural wealth among others include the Ziri walls of the Alcazaba Cadima, the Nasrid walls, the towers of the Alcazaba, the churches of Salvador (former main mosque), San Cristóbal, San Miguel Alto and the Real Chancillería.
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.