Granada: Short History

Granada is the capital of the homonymous province, located in the south of Spain in the autonomous community of Andalusia. It is located at the foot of the Sierra Nevada, at the confluence of four rivers, the Darro, the Genil, the Monachil and the Beiro. It is located 738 meters high, about 40 km from Sierra Nevada, the roof of the Iberian Peninsula, with the Mulhacén peak at 3479 meters and 70 km from the Mediterranean coast.

Old Age

It is believed that in the Monachil area, about 7 km east of today’s Granada, there was already an important settlement of the Argaric culture (2300-1500 BC). At the end of the Bronze Age in the Cerro de los Infantes, in the present Pinos Puente, there was also a human settlement between 800 and 700 BC. which later became an important Iberian settlement called Ilurco.

The oldest remains that have been found were those of Iltuir, an Iberian oppidum dating from the 7th century BC. on the top of the San Nicolás hill, on the right bank of the Darro river, in what is now the Albayzín neighborhood.

Between the 5th and 4th centuries B.C. C. the apogee of the Iberian culture takes place that gives place to the consolidation of important urban centers, like the one of Iltuir and Ilurco, that dispute the domain of the Vega of Genil River.

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Roman Empire

Between the 4th and 3rd centuries B.C. It is renamed Iliberri and is included in the area controlled by the Bastetanos and, later, by the Carthaginians.

After Carthage’s victory over Rome in the First Punic War (264-241 BC), Hamilcar Barca and his son-in-law Hasdrubal take control of the entire Guadalquivir valley in 237 BC. But after the defeat of the Carthaginians in the Second Punic War, it is the Romans who take control.

Around the year 190 B.C. the Roman general Lucio Emilio Paulo Macedónico was defeated in Ilurco. 10 years later, Tiberio Sempronio Graco conquers the entire area and Iliberis became part of the Roman Empire, although through an agreement. From then on, with the acceptance of César as a municipality of Hispania Ulterior, it was renamed Municipium Florentinum Iliberitanum. Later it was included in Baetica and, finally, around the first century AD. C., incorporated into the Conventus Astigitanus.

Muslim Era

After the decline and disappearance of the Roman Empire, and the formation of the Emirate of Córdoba between the 8th and 11th centuries, the city was practically uninhabited. It is believed that there was only a small population center around the Hisn Garnata fortress, the name by which the ancient Ilíberis was known in Muslim times, built on the remains of an Ibero-Roman oppidum, used by Sawwar ben Hamdun as a bulwark in front of to the rebellion of the muladíes (880-918).

Between the years 712 and 1012, the important population center was Medinat Elvira, at the foot of Sierra Elvira between the current municipalities of Pinos Puente and Atarfe, which became one of the most important cities in al-Andalus, being the capital of the Coria of Elvira.

The city Zirí

After the formation of the Taifa Kingdoms, between 1010 and 1025, Zawi ben Ziri as-Sinhayi (المنصور الزاوي بن زيري بن مانادو), Berber chief of the Zirid dynasty and founder of the Taifa of Granada, produced a massive relocation after the assault, fire and ruin of the city of Ilbira and its main mosque. These settle in the center of the Albayzín hill, known as Alcazaba Cadima (al-Qasba Qadima), demolishing the remains of previous settlements.

The Almoravid and Almohad city

In the Almoravid era, which goes from the years 1090 to 1147, the urban structure of the city changes very little. The Almoravids expanded the walled enclosure, opening entrance gates such as the New Gate or bāb al-Ziyad; or the Monaita or Bib-Albunaida Gate, which are still preserved today; as well as the Torres Bermejas.

In the Almohad period, from 1147 to 1269, the structure of the city did not change much either. Some important buildings are built such as the Dar-al-Bayda palace, today the Cuarto Real de Santo Domingo; the Alcázar del Genil or Qasar al-Sayyid and the cemetery located next to Puerta Elvira or maqbarat al-faqth Sa’ad ben Malik is expanded, which today occupies a large underground car park.

Nasrid Kingdom

With the arrival of the Nasrid Kingdom during the second half of the 13th century, the city grew steadily, so the defensive walls of Nayd and the great Rabad al-bayyazin, to the north, had to be expanded.

The city is organized into six walled districts and two extra-mural neighborhoods:

  • Al-Casba Cadima: the Old Fortress, at the top of the Albayzín hill, where the Royal Palace of the Ziríes was located, which continued to be the residence of the Nasrid monarchs until the beginning of the 14th century. It was divided into the neighborhoods Harat Alcazaba, to the north, and Rabat Almufadar, to the south.
  • Al Casba: Located to the south of Al-Casba Cadima, surrounding it from the east and west, reaching the Darro river. This was part of one of the most populated neighborhoods, Rabad Badis, in which was the palace of Dar al-Horra, which is preserved today.
  • The new city: Located to the south of the previous districts, on both banks of the Darro and on the southwest corner of the Albayzín hill. It was made up of a large number of neighborhoods, and some of the most important buildings in the city were located there, such as Alhondaq Gidida, the Corral del Carbón still standing; or Jima el-Kebir, the Great Mosque, now disappeared.
  • Albayzín: In Muslim times it referred exclusively to the suburbs located to the north of the city but, over time, its name ended up being used to name the entire hill where the Zirids settled.
  • Medina Alhamra: The palatial city of the Nasrid monarchs located on top of La Sabika hill, on the left bank of the Darro river. Its construction was started by King Muhammad ibn Yusuf ibn Nasr (محمد بن نصر‎), taking advantage of the existence of an old Zirid fortress. His son Abû `Abd Allâh Mohammed ben Mohammed (Muhammad II) erected most of the palace areas. For the second half of the fourteenth century it is already a real city.
  • The southeastern neighborhoods: Outside the city walls, there were two different neighborhoods: Rabad Arrambla occupied the area known as Birrambla; and Rabad el-Necued, which was located at the southeast end of the wall, on the right bank of the River Genil, in what is now the Vistillas de los Ángeles.

Kingdom of Castile

In 1491 the Castilian army entered the Vega de Granada and laid siege to the city. On November 25, the Capitulations are signed in Sant Fe, in which a two-month period was agreed for the delivery of the city. Before expiring that term, on January 2, 1492, Boabdil, the last Nasrid sultan, delivered the city.

With the capitulations, the people of Granada could continue to practice their religion freely and publicly, their properties would be respected and the validity of Islamic law in disputes between Muslims would be maintained, creating the figure of mixed judges when it came to disputes with Christians. The kings name Hernando de Talavera, Isabel’s confessor, first archbishop of Granada.

In 1499, Fray Francisco Jiménez de Cisneros, the queen’s new confessor and Archbishop of Toledo, began a harsh campaign of forced conversions, with the confiscation and burning of books, the imprisonment of alfaquíes, and inquisitorial proceedings. This policy generated serious riots in the Albayzín after the conversion of mosques into churches. After this, the Catholic Monarchs took advantage of these events to declare the Capitulations null and void and order a first expulsion of the Moors and the confinement of the rest in a ghetto located in Bib-Rambla.

During the War of the Communities of Castile (1520-1522), Granada remained faithful to Carlos I and the Captain General, the Marquis of Mondéjar, was in charge of dominating the situation.

During the 16th century, Queen Juana I of Castilla (the crazy one) and, later, her son King Carlos I, invested large sums in the maintenance and repair of the Alhambra and other buildings of interest, which facilitated the survival of of this architecture. The Royal Chapel (1505) is also built, in which Kings Isabel and Fernando are buried in 1521; the Royal Hospital (1511); the Cathedral and the Palace of Carlos V, inside the Alhambra enclosure, a tome that doesn’t even hit glue. The guy stayed in glory.

Contemporary Era

On January 28, 1810, the French troops of General Sebastiani occupy Granada. They stayed here until September 16, 1812. They carried out numerous fortification works in the surroundings of the Alhambra and the Castle of Santa Elena. They also developed some urban works such as the landscaping of the Paseo del Salón and the Bomba and the Green Bridge over the Genil River, located at the end of those, although to raise this they topped the tower of the Monastery of San Jerónimo. Before leaving the city, they destroyed several towers of the Alhambra walls and other buildings that had military use.

After this begins a time of economic and political decline, which improves in 1868 with the rise of the sugar industry. Added to the arrival of the railway, it facilitates the promotion of commerce and a new urban development. Numerous buildings from the Muslim era are demolished to build the Gran Vía and the Darro river is arched giving rise to Reyes Católicos street.

Granada in the 20th century

With the economic bonanza a significant population explosion occurs, doubling the population of the city in just 40 years. But, between 1926 and 1940, all the sugar mills in Granada were closed, causing a serious economic crisis. This fact led, on July 20, 1936, to a military conspiracy against the Republic, rising up and taking control of the city.

The outbreak of the civil war leaves Granada as an isolated insurgent zone between areas controlled by the Republican government, which gives rise to a large number of arrests and political executions (García Lorca among them): 3,969 people were shot between 1936 and 1956 on the walls of the Granada cemetery.

The serious impact of the war, added to the loss of the industrial fabric and the exclusion of Granada from the areas supported by the National Industry Protection Law of 1939, caused the city to stagnate economically and regress in its demography.

After the war, Granada became one of the cities with the lowest income in the entire country, becoming practically a university city. In the last third of the 20th century, a powerful tertiary sector developed thanks to tourism.

On April 19, 1956, the second most important earthquake in the history of the capital occurred, known over the years as the Albolote earthquake.