General information

The capital of the province of Granada has more than 237,000 inhabitants and is located at the foot of the Sierra Nevada mountains at 700 meters above sea level. The city has a continental Mediterranean climate, which means it’s cold in winter and hot in summer, with temperatures rising above 35°. Among the famous persons who were born in Granada we find Federico Garcia Lorca, Fray Luis de Granada and Rafael Guillen. The inhabitants of Granada are called granadinos.

History

Granada has been inhabited since the time of the Iberos and was conquered by the Romans in 193 b.C. Like in all of Spain in that period the Visigoths arrived to defeat the Romans, but they were in turn defeated by the Arabs in 713. Under Arab reign the city became an important urban center for the province of Al-Andalus (the Arab name for Andalusia). The entire period of Arab domination was filled with civil wars for control of the Arab empire and the kingdom of Córdoba and Granada in particular. In 1013 the Ziri dynasty came to power and the founded the kingdom of Granada, but the war for power in Córdoba continued. An important battle that took place on 16 July 1212 was the battle of Las Navas de Tolosa. The result of this battle was anarchy, until in 1232 the city was conquered by Almahar el Rojo, founder of the Nazarí dynasty, of which the last 20 sultans of Granada all originated. Granada became a very prosperous city, one of the most prosperous of Europe, with 50,000 inhabitants during the 15th century. Almahar ordered the construction of the Alhambra, but the Alhambra as we know it nowadays wasn’t built until the 17th century, and is one of the most characteristic buildings of the city. The noble people and artists of those days all lived in the Albaizín Quarter. With the Reconquista of Spain complete the Real Chancellery de Ciudad Real came to Granada in order to establish a presence of the Crown of Castile south of the river Tajo. This was the beginning of an era of Christian reign and the city became a baroque and contra reformist bastion. Little by little the city developed into a modern city, industrious and urban. As a consequence the ugly but functional part of the city was built, big concrete buildings where nowadays about 70% of the inhabitants live.

The monuments of Granada

La Alhambra

The Alhambra was originally a medina, which is a small city surrounded by walls within another city (like the Vatican in Rome). The Alhambra could function on its own and had every service available for its inhabitants: mosques, schools, shops, etc. The first part of the palace was constructed by orders of sultan Ben-Al-Hamar and was alter fortified by his son Mohamed II. After the Reconquista in 1492 the Alhambra became the palace of the Spanish kings. Two gates allow you to enter the Alhambra: The Puerta de las Granadas and the Cuesta de los Chinos. The central road that starts at the Puerta de las Granadas is used for public transport. Multiple palaces can be found inside the Alhambra and originate from the 14th century. Some of the things you have to see are: the Torre de Comares, el Palacio de los Leones, the Sala de los Reyes, el Palacio de Carlos V and the Torre de las Infantas.

The Cathedral

The cathedral of Granada was the first cathedral in renaissance style in Spain, and according to many people, also the best one. The architect Diego de Siloé designed the cathedral and had great plans, but for economical reasons these couldn’t all be realized. In 1667 Alonso Cano designed a new front for the cathedral. The plans of de Siloé were also followed, but of his two towers only one was built to 57 meters altitude. The cathedral has five naves instead of the for that time more usual three. It’s not the cathedral Diego de Siloé had envisioned, but nevertheless it is a magnificent cathedral.

The Albaicín quarter

The Albaicín quarter has been populated ever since the time of the Iberos and was also a roman settlement. In the Zirí era the quarter was surrounded by walls. The Nazarí era made the quarter to prosper and evidence of this era can still be seen: the long and broad streets that form an intricate network from the highest part of the quarter all the way down to the river Darro. Traditional houses in this quarter are called “Carmen” and consist of a big ground floors house surrounded by high walls that separate it from the streets. Because the quarter was walled drinking water came out of cisterns and wells, some of which are still in use. Just like the Alhambra, the quarter of Albaicín has been declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco.

The Cathedral

The cathedral of Granada was the first cathedral in renaissance style in Spain, and according to many people, also the best one. The architect Diego de Siloé designed the cathedral and had great plans, but for economical reasons these couldn’t all be realized. In 1667 Alonso Cano designed a new front for the cathedral. The plans of de Siloé were also followed, but of his two towers only one was built to 57 meters altitude. The cathedral has five naves instead of the for that time more usual three. It’s not the cathedral Diego de Siloé had envisioned, but nevertheless it is a magnificent cathedral.