The Spanish City of Granada
Granada is a city and the capital of the province of Granada in Andalusia in southern Spain. It lies at the foot of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, at the convergence of the rivers Beiro, Darro and Genil. It is only one hour from the Mediterranean coast.
The Spanish city of Granada, like other parts of Spain, had been occupied by Phoenician, Carthaginian, Greek, Roman and Moorish settlers. It had also gone through many name changes. In the prehistoric period, it was known as Ilbyr; the Romans called it Illibris; finally the Arabs gave it its current name of Granada. The name Granada may mean “great castle,” after the Roman fortress which once stood on the Albaicin Hill, or it may have derived from the Jewish name Garnat-al-Yahud – Granada of the Jews, a name given because of the large number of Jews who inhabited the city at the time of the Moorish invasion.
The city first came into prominence as an economic and cultural power only in the thirteenth century, under the rule of the Nasrid Kings. In 1492, Granada was conquered by the Christian forces. Under subsequent Catholic monarchs, the city prospered until the sixteenth century, when it fell into a decline that lasted many years. Today, the Spanish city of Granada has been able to shake off its impoverished past by virtue of its tourist industry as well as its light industry. The University of Granada is known to be one of the finest schools in Spain.
Granada’s Alhambra, a series of palaces and gardens constructed by the Nasrid Kings during the first part of the fourteenth century, is one of the world’s fabled landmarks. Though the exterior is somber, the interiors delight with their richly ornamented open-air rooms, their lacelike walls and courtyards with fountains. At the center of the Alhambra stands the massive Palace of Charles V, an outstanding example of Spanish Renaissance architecture. Begun in 1521 and completed in 1714, the ornate cathedral at the Spanish city of Granada with its spectacular altar is another of the city’s architectural highlights. The cathedral is acclaimed for its beautiful facade and gold-and-white interior. It contains the Royal Chapel where Isabel and Ferdinand lie buried.
Other places worth visiting are the Santa Isabel la Real Convent, San Juan de los Reyes Church, the Banuelo (Arab baths), Casa Castril (an old palace), the ancient wall and the San Nicolas lookout point, which offers superb views of the Alhambra. The Sacromonte area consists of distinctive houses which are actually caves that have been dug out of the side of the hill. The area was once the home of Granada’s large gypsy community. The city is also the birthplace of the writer Federico Garcia Lorca., who was assassinated by Franco’s soldiers 1936 in the first months of the Spanish Civil War. A famous Granada tradition is the Festival of the May Crosses, which is celebrated by decorating the city´s plazas, balconies, pavements and railings with stunning floral displays. The decorated “crosses” become centers of merry-making, of dancing and singing. The Spanish city of Granada is also renowned for its “Trevelez” ham and local wine.