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The History of Granada, Part 2

In part two of our blog to discover the history and culture that formed Granada we look more at the Moorish influences that helped form the town into a great city. Up to 1013, the settlement that is now called Granada was once held by the Iberian tribes, the Carthaginians, the Romans, the Visigoths and the Moors. We take our journey back in time where we left off in 1013 with the occupation of the Ziries.

The Age of the Moors

The Ziries understood the importance of Granada and moved down and took Albaicn to act as a buffer, should somebody try to take Granada. The Ziries flourished and Granada grew considerably in the two centuries that they were in power.

1238 saw the arrival of the Nazari dynasty and Granada saw great expansion under their control along with Malaga, Cordoba, Almaria, Jaen, Seville and Cadiz. Under the Nazari dynasty, great architectural developments started to happen, a fortress was built alongside the famous palaces of Alhambra and Generalife. Much of Granada old town as it is known today was constructed during this period.

Politically, the Moors were astute, and the Moorish ruler Ibn al-Ahmar came to an understanding with Fernando III of Spain, and he was declared an official vassal of the king. This protection allowed the Nazaris to stay in power despite the advancing Spanish army. In 1492 the Nazaris were finally defeated and the last Muslim kingdom in Spain was vanquished. It was Ferdinand and Isabelle that were victorious and the splendid city and kingdom of Granada was now under Christian control.

The Christian Period

For a short while, the many Muslims living in Granada were allowed to stay in peace and they were respected. But everything was soon to change when a zealous bishop took power in 1499. Bishop Cisneros demanded that all Muslims should be baptized, and they also be levied with extra taxes. Muslims could not even wear their traditional clothes anymore or speak their own language. The expected happened and the Moors rebelled in 1568, there was bitter fighting on the streets of Granada but the Spanish prevailed and all Muslims were banished from the city’s gates. This was not a proud moment in the history of Granada and is one that is rarely spoken of today.

Gold then took the city into another era, for three hundred years Granada benefited from the huge wealth that was coming from the New World, and the city started to grow as all traditional Spanish cities of that period did. It was the late 18th Century that brought new architectural design to Granada when it took influences from France and Britain which can be seen in the open squares of La Bomba and El Sain. 

Granada Today

Today Granada is a thriving cosmopolitan city that attracts numerous international conferences and conventions such as the annual International Music and Dance Festival. Granada University is world famous and the city boasts a cultural heritage like no other in Spain. Granada might have a bloody and violent past, but in real terms this was only for short sporadic periods. Every nation that has occupied Granada has added their own bit of culture which makes it one of the most interesting and complex cities in the world.