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The Alhambra , an Arab 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. Granada is also well-known within Spain for the University of Granada which has an estimated 82, students spread over five different campuses in the city.
The pomegranate in Spanish, granada is the heraldic device of Granada. The most ancient ruins found in the city belong to an Iberian oppidum called Ilturir , in the region known as Bastetania. This oppidum eventually changed its name to Iliberri , and after the Roman conquest of Iberia, to Municipium Florentinum Iliberitanum.
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. Granada was in the eleventh century the center of Sephardic civilization at its peak, and from until 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 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. When Joseph took over after his father's death, he proved to lack his father's diplomacy, bringing on the Granada massacre , which ended the Golden Age of Jewish Culture in Spain.
In , with the departure of the Almohad prince Idris al-Ma'mun , who left Iberia to take the Almohad leadership, the ambitious Ibn al-Ahmar established the last and longest reigning Muslim dynasty in the Iberian peninsula, the Nasrids.
It provided connections with Muslim and Arab trade centers, particularly for gold from sub-Saharan Africa and the Maghreb , and exported silk and dried fruits produced in the area. Ibn Battuta , a famous traveller and an authentic historian, visited the Kingdom of Granada in He described it as a powerful and self-sufficient kingdom in its own right, although frequently embroiled in skirmishes with the Kingdom of Castile.
During the Moor rule, Granada was a city with adherents to many religions and ethnicities Arabs , Berbers , Christians and Jews who lived in separate quarters. The surrender of the Islamic Emirate of Granada to the Catholic Monarchs is one of the most significant events in Granada's history as it marks the completion of the Reconquista of al-Andalus.
Cisneros's new tactics, which were a direct violation of the terms of the treaty, provoked the Rebellion of the Alpujarras —71 centered in the rural Alpujarras region southwest of the city. Responding to the rebellion of , the Castilian Crown rescinded the Alhambra Decree treaty, and mandated that Granada's Muslims must convert or emigrate.
Under the Alhambra Decree, Spain's Jewish population, unlike the Muslims, had already been forced to convert under threat of expulsion or even execution, becoming Marranos meaning "pigs" in Spanish , or Catholics of Jewish descent. Many of the elite Muslim class subsequently emigrated to North Africa.
Both populations of conversos were subject to persecution, execution, or exile, and each had cells that practiced their original religion in secrecy. Over the course of the 16th century, Granada took on an ever more Catholic and Castilian character, as immigrants came to the city from other parts of the Iberian Peninsula.
The city's mosques were converted to Christian churches or completely destroyed. After the Alhambra decree, which resulted in the majority of Granada's Jewish population being expelled, the Jewish quarter ghetto was demolished to make way for new Catholic and Castilian institutions and uses. 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 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 Erikson is often regarded as the first European to land in the New World, years before Christopher Columbus.
The resources of the Americas enriched the crown and the country, allowing Queen Isabella King Ferdinand 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: The greatest artistic wealth of Granada is its Spanish-Islamic art — in particular, the compound of the Alhambra and the Generalife.
The Generalife is a pleasure palace with attached romantic gardens, remarkable both for its location and layout, as well as for the diversity of its flowers, plants and fountains. The Alhambra is the architectural culmination of the works of Nasrid art that were undertaken in the 13th and 14th centuries, with most of the Alhambra having been built at the time of Yusuf I and Mohammed V , between and At present, the buildings of Granada are typically bourgeois in appearance, with much of the architecture dating from the 19th Century, together with numerous Renaissance and Baroque buildings.
The Alhambra is a Nasrid "palace city". It is certainly Granada's most emblematic monument and one of the most visited in Spain. It consists of a defensive zone, the Alcazaba , together with others of a residential and formal state character, the Nasrid Palaces and, lastly, the palace, gardens and orchards of the Generalife.
The Alhambra occupies a small plateau on the southeastern border of the city in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada above the Assabica valley. Some of the buildings may have existed before the arrival of the Moors. In the 11th century the Castle of the Alhambra was developed as a walled town which became a military stronghold that dominated the whole city.
But it was in the 13th century, with the arrival of the first monarch of the Nasrid dynasty , Muhammad I of Granada Mohammed I, — , that the royal residence was established in the Alhambra. This marked the beginning of its heyday. The Alhambra became palace, citadel and fortress, and was the residence of the Nasrid sultans and their senior officials, including servants of the court and elite soldiers 13th—14th centuries. They established permanent residency in the Alhambra, and it was here that Christopher Columbus requested royal endorsement for his westward expedition that year.
In Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor demolished part of the architectural complex to build the Palace which bears his name. Although the Catholic Monarchs had already altered some rooms of the Alhambra after the conquest of the city in , Charles V wanted to construct a permanent residence befitting an emperor. Around he ordered the construction of the Peinador de la Reina , or Queen's dressing room, where his wife Isabel lived, over the Tower of Abu l-Hayyay.
There was a pause in the ongoing maintenance of the Alhambra from the 18th century for almost a hundred years, and during control by the First French Empire , substantial portions of the fortress were blown apart. The repair, restoration and conservation that continues to this day did not begin until the 19th century.
The complex currently includes the Museum of the Alhambra , with objects mainly from the site of the monument itself and the Museum of Fine Arts. 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 — and redecorated shortly after by Abu l-Walid Isma'il — It is of the Islamic Nasrid style, and is today one of the biggest attractions in the city of Granada.
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 cathedral of Granada is built over the Nasrid Great Mosque of Granada, in the centre of the city. The church was conceived on the model of the Cathedral of Toledo , for what initially was a Gothic architectural project, as was customary in Spain in the early decades of the 16th century.
However, Egas was relieved by the Catholic hierarchy in , and the continuation of the work was assigned to Diego Siloe , who built upon the example of his predecessor, but changed the approach towards a fully Renaissance aesthetic.
The architect drew new Renaissance lines for the whole building over the gothic foundations, with an ambulatory and five naves instead of the usual three. Highlights of the church's components include the main chapel , where may be found the praying statues of the Catholic Monarchs , which consists of a series of Corinthian columns with the entablature resting on their capitals , and the vault over all. The spaces of the walls between the columns are perforated by a series of windows.
The Catholic Monarchs chose the city of Granada as their burial site by a royal decree dated September 13, Construction of the Chapel started in , directed by its designer, Enrique Egas. Built in several stages, the continuing evolution of its design joined Gothic construction and decoration with Renaissance ideals, as seen in the tombs and the 17th and 18th century Granadan art in the Chapel of Santa Cruz. Over the years the church acquired a treasury of works of art, liturgical objects and relics.
The most important parts of the chapel are its main retable , grid and vault. In the Sacristy-Museum is the legacy of the Catholic Monarchs. Its art gallery is highlighted by works of the Flemish, Italian and Spanish schools. Hans Memling - Diptych of Granada, left wing: Acceptance of the Cross , h. Juan de Flandes - Birth of Christ , Sandro Botticelli - Prayer of the Garden , 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 , 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.
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. At that time it was the residence of craftsmen , industrialists and aristocrats. With the Christian reconquest , it would progressively lose its splendor. During the rule of Felipe II of Spain , after the rebellion and subsequent expulsion of the Moors , the district was depopulated.
In it was declared a Unesco World Heritage Site. This neighborhood is known as the old neighborhood of the Romani , who settled in Granada after the conquest of the city. It is one of the most picturesque neighborhoods, full of whitewashed caves cut into the rock and used as residences. At the top of this hill is the Abbey of Sacromonte and the College of Sacromonte, founded in the 17th century by the then Archbishop of Granada Pedro de Castro.
The Abbey of Sacromonte was built to monitor and guard the alleged relics of the evangelists of Baetica. Those are of questionable authenticity, but since their finding the area has been a religious pilgrimage destination. The abbey complex consists of the catacombs, the abbey 17th—18th centuries , the Colegio Viejo de San Dionisio Areopagita 17th century and the Colegio Nuevo 19th century.
The facilities also include a museum, which houses the works acquired by the Foundation. The Charterhouse of Granada is a monastery of cloistered monks, located in what was a farm or Muslim almunia called Aynadamar "fountain of tears" that had an abundance of water and fruit trees.