Why visit Granada?
Many are drawn to Granada for one simple reason: the stunning Moorish complex of the Alhambra. Part tranquil gardens, part resplendent palace, part imposing fortress, the Alhambra is a wonder of the modern world. It is a constant presence wherever you are in the city and many visitors simply never look beyond it. For those willing to look a little closer though, what they find might surprise. Put simply, Granada is cool. With its free tapas culture, abundant student population and quirky Moroccan tea houses, Granada is Andalusia with a twist, that simply cries out to be explored.
Granada: the facts
Granada is the capital of the Granada province which is within the larger autonomous community of Andalusia and is called home by 250,000 inhabitants. It sits at the foot of the Sierra Nevada mountain range and at the confluence of three rivers: the Beiro, the Darro and the Genil.
Founded during the Caliphate civil war of the 11th century due to its militarily defendable position, the village quickly grew into one of the most important cities of Al-Andalus (Moorish Spain). In 1228, The Nasrid Dynasty established the Emirate of Granada which was to remain in place for more than 200 years and their architectural influence is still felt in the city today. However, the tides of change were flowing against the Emirate and on 2nd January 1492, Emir Muhammad XII, the last Muslim ruler on the Iberian peninsular surrendered to the Los Reyes Católicos (‘The Catholic Monarchs’) Ferdinand II and Isabella I after defeat at the Battle of Granada.
Religious persecution soon followed as the new Catholic rulers set about Christianising its new lands. The Jews were forced to convert or were expelled in the very same year as victory was won. Muslims suffered humiliation and persecution and by 1501 were given the same choice. Granada fell into terminal decline that was not arrested until the 1830’s when the Romantic Movement’s interest in the restoration of Granada’s Islamic heritage heralded the arrival of tourism.
During the Spanish civil war Granada was seized by the Nationalists at the outbreak of hostilities. It is estimated that over 4000 people with leftist sympathetic were killed including Federico García Lorca, Granada’s most famous writer.
The climate in Granada is extremely sunny with little rainfall. The winters are generally mild with temperatures ranging from 1oC – 12oC and hot summers (17oC – 33oC).
Modern day Granada’s economy is driven by the booming tourism industry. The University of Granada is one of the Spain’s largest, and most prestigious, and ensures a healthy student population and thus night-life all year round.
The most important city festival is the Feria del Corpus Christi which takes place in the week leading up to Corpus Christi (8th Sunday after Easter.) The festival takes place all over the city with a number of different events such as processions, flamenco acts and fireworks. The Festival de San Cecilio on 2nd February marks the day of the city’s patron saint and is celebrated with gastronomy contests and is great way to try out some of the local specialities.
written by: Jon
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