The City of Granada:
+ Granada means Pomegranete in Spanish +
Granada, in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains in Andalucía, has many important examples of medieval architecture dating to the Moorish occupation of Spain. It’s best known for the Alhambra, a grand, sprawling hilltop fortress complex encompassing royal palaces, serene patios and reflecting pools from the Nasrid dynasty, as well as the fountains and orchards of the Generalife gardens.
Granada was first settled by native tribes in the prehistoric period, and was known as Ilbyr. When the Romans colonised southern Spain, they built their own city here and called it Illibris. The Arabs, invading the peninsula in the 8th century, gave it its current name of Granada. It was the last Muslim city to fall to the Christians in 1492, at the hands of Queen Isabel of Castile and her husband Ferdinand of Aragon.
One of the most brilliant jewels of universal architecture is the Alhambra, a series of palaces and gardens built under the Nazari Dynasty in the 14th C. This mighty compound of buildings – including the summer palace called Generalife, with its fountains and gardens – stands at the foot of Spain’s highest mountain range, the Sierra Nevada, and overlooks the city below and the fertile plain of Granada.
At the centre of the Alhambra stands the massive Palace of Charles V, an outstanding example of Spanish Renaissance architecture. Other major Christian monuments found in the city are the Cathedral, including the Royal Chapel where Isabel and Ferdinand lie buried, the Monastery of La Cartuja and many churches built by Moorish craftsmen after the Reconquest, in Granada’s unique “mudéjar” style.
The name Granada is ancient and mysterious. It may mean “great castle”, for the Roman fortress which once stood on the Albaicin Hill.
The hill facing the Alhambra is the old Moorish casbah or “medina”, called the Albaicin, a fascinating labyrinth of narrow streets and whitewashed houses with secluded inner gardens, known as “cármenes”. The Plaza de San Nicolas, at the highest point of the Albaicin, is famous for its magnificent view of the Moorish palace.
The name Granada is ancient and mysterious. It may mean “great castle”, for the Roman fortress which once stood on the Albaicin Hill. When the Moors came here, the town was largely inhabited by Jews, for which they called it Garnat-al-Yahud – Granada of the Jews. The Jews are said to have been one of the first peoples to settle in Spain, even before the Romans. For more interesting facts about Granada, click here.