Granada, quite simply, is a city that will take your breath away. It is a city of contrast, of historic and of modern, of Muslim, Jewish, and of Christian heritage, and of the two hills, the hills of Sabika and Albaicin.
Granada sits in the shadow of the Sierra Nevada mountains and from almost every corner of the historic city centre you can see these mountains and their highest peak, Mount Mulhacen, (which has its summit at 3479 metres / 11411 feet), and when they are covered in snow, it is the most wonderful sight, and simply adds to the magic of the city.
Granada is of course famous for one monument above all others, The Alhambra and its famous Nasrid Palaces and gardens, which were designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984, along with the Albaicin district which is located on the hill opposite The Alhambra.
Visitors to Granada are swept away by a mixture of its physical location, its history, and its architecture. Granada has a current population of around 300,000 and its historic centre has everything; narrow streets, winding river, dramatic views, extraordinary buildings and a bustling restaurant and tapas district. Add to this the 16th Century Cathedral, the Alcaiceria, (the old silk market) and the plazas and archways, and you really do have a recipe for success.
Granada is vibrant city that every visitor enjoys, and few want to leave, and it is its history that has made it what it is today.
Granada was first captured by Muslim forces in the year 712 and formed part of Al-Andalus, the name given to the Iberian peninsular which was now under control of the Muslim Umayyad dynasty. Granada first rose to the status of an independent kingdom after the collapse of the Umayyad dynasty in 1029 and the breakdown of the central control of Al-Andalus from the city of Cordoba. The first post-Umayyad Muslim rulers of the Taifa, (kingdom) of Granada were the Zirids, a North African Berber group who decided to build their fortress in the previously mainly Jewish town of Garanat, on the hill rising from the north bank of the Darro River…. this area in now know as the Albaicin district and is a World Heritage site in its own right.
Granada continued to change hands over the next 200 years. Firstly, the Almoravids ruled Granada from 1090 and then the Almohads from 1166, (both North African Berber tribes). With the eventual collapse of the Almohad control in 1248, the opportunity was seized by an Arab Muslim family, the Nasrids.
The Nasrids were Arabs and formed the last Muslim dynasty in the Iberian Peninsula, ruling the Emirate of Granada from 1230 until 1492. Twenty-three emirs ruled Granada from the founding of the dynasty in 1230 by Muhammad I until 2 January 1492, when Muhammad XII surrendered his Kingdom to Queen Isabella I of Castile and Fernando, (Ferdinand), II of Aragon, on the 2nd of January 1492. This not only brought at end to the last Muslim Kingdom in Spain, but it also coincided with beginning of the expulsion of Jews and Muslims from Spain. Spain also consolidated power in 1492 and began its expansion plans and Empire building.
1492 was a major turning point in history, and the City of Granada truly played a major role in that change.
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