Granada City, the Moorish jewel, is a must see. To the north Granada is protected by the majestic Sierra Nevada with its high peaks snow-capped until spring, and faces the Costa del Sol to the south. An abundance of water rushes down from the mountain sides before running into thousands of streams that make their way around palaces, courtyards, gardens and squares. This element was particularly appreciated by the Arab dynasties who founded the city near to the Roman settlement of Illiberis. As the Moors became more powerful this Andalucian city rapidly expanded. Because of its advantageous position between North-African territories and the Christian states further north, the city enjoyed economical prosperity and a lively cultural and artistic life. Merchants, craftsmen, scientists and scholars were seen in the palaces and streets of Granada, and its fame as a cultural centre soon spread.
An old Arabian district, the Albaicin, is the colourful gypsy quarter where gypsies live in characteristic cuevas. The Spanish gypsies are thought to have come from Africa during mediaeval times.
The typical Arabian appearance that had distinguished the city changed as the Renaissance style set in. New elements were added – churches, convents, towers, palaces and hospitals. Much of Moorish Granada still gleams bright. The well-preseved 11th century Arabian Baths are the oldest in the country. The monument more resplendent than any other is the Alhambra, the most striking, best preserved series of Arabian palaces and gardens in the world which stands on top of the hill dominating the city. The Alhambra is sometimes called the Vermilion Castle because of the red clay used for its walls. Originally constructed for military purposes, the Alhambra was an alcazaba (fortress), an alcázar (palace) and a small medina (city). This triple character helps to explain many distinctive features of the monument. The Alhambra became a Christian court in 1492 when the Catholic Monarchs, Ferdinand and Isabel, conquered the city of Granada. Later, various structures were built for prominent civilians, military garrisons, a church and a Franciscan monastery.
The Alcazaba – a fortified stronghold guarding royal quarters built around two exquisite courtyards. This impressive military fortification goes back to 9th century, and was modified by Muhammad III in 13th century to be his private residence. There are various towers, some with elaborate interiors. From the tower, Torre de la Vela, there is a great view over the town. The tower bell is rung on special festive occasions by young girls in the hope of warding off spinsterhood.
The patio de los Arrayanes (Myrtle courtyard) and the Patio de los Leones surrounded by 124 columns. Around these courtyards are many magnificent chambers and palaces.
The Palace of Mexuar – originally built by Ismael I for juridical administration and later restructured by Muhammad V. Under King Charles V the building was changed to a Christian chapel. Its main attraction is the splendid Golden Room with its Renaissance ceiling.
The Palace of Comares – built under Muhammad V, is said to be the masterpiece of the Alhambra and was the king’s residence. The Salon de los Embajadores is an enormous throne room built between 1334 and 1354, decorated with mosaics and stucco work and with an illustration of the Muslim cosmos and its seven heavens covering the ceiling. The dimensions allow nine adjoining rooms worked into the walls, which are ornamented with epigraphs from the Koran.
The Palace of Muhammad V was the private residence of this Moorish king. Four great halls enclose the Patio de los Leones. A twelve-sided marble fountain rests on the backs of lions, a curiosity in Arabian art as the figurative representation of animals (as well as humans) is forbidden by the Koran. The Sala de las dos Hermanas has beautifully worked ceilings, showing verses from Ibn Zamrak, ornamented with gold and lapislazuli.
The Hall of the Mozárabes was so named after the Christian architects of the time of the reconquest from the Moors. The original cupola was altered for a baroque ceiling.
The Hall of the Abencerrajes derived its name from an Arabian noble family, who were murdered in here.
The King’s Hall houses paintings of the Arabian royal family.
The Hall of the Ajimences has a view point, the Mirador de Daraxa, which was later obstructed by the palace built by Charles V.
The Palace of Charles V, built in 1526 is reminiscent of Italian renaissance – its architect, Pedro Machuca, was a student of Michelangelo in Florence. Today there are several museums inside of this palace. The National Museum of Spanish-Moorish Art displays the famous seven jars of the Alhambra and works of glass-ceramics. The Museum of Arts mainly exhibits works of the Granadinian school from the 15th to 20th centuries.
The Palacio del Portal, the oldest building in the Alhambra, is a pillared pavillion topped by a wide tower.
The gothic Royal Chapel built in 1505, in the crypt of which lie the Catholic Monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella, their daughter Johanna the Mad and her husband Philip the Handsome.
The Cathedral, next to the Royal Chapel, in Renaissance style was consecrated in 1561 but not really finished until 1703.
Click here to see the Alhambra website: www.alhambra.org
Other places to see:
The Bullring – also used as a venue for live music concerts.
The Cathedral – built in 1523 by order of Queen Isabel. It was designed in Gothic style and finished in 1704 in Renaissance style. It houses important paintings, sculptures, royal tombs and a museum.
Located to the east of Malaga Province, Granada Province has 103 kilometres of coastline known now as the Costa Tropical. Granada is one of the most beautiful cities in the world and the scenery of the province, of which the city is capital, is breathtaking and diverse.
Federico Garcia Lorca
Federico Garcia Lorca was born in Fuentevaqueros (Granada) in 1898, the son of a landowner. His upbringing and studies in Almeria and at Granada University (in the faculty of Letters and Law) gained him the knowledge of the Andalucian temperament and spirit, which destined him to become a sensitive and creative poet.
Lorca’s first work, Impressions and Landscapes (1918), was influenced by time spent in Castile. Later, in Madrid, he was attracted to music, the theatre and art, and had the opportunity to meet great artists such as Dali and Bunuel.
It was the Andalucian spirit that was behind the work that brought him success and exerted so much influence on modern literature, from Songs (1927) to Mariana Pineda (also 1927), from Gypsy Ballads (1928) to Poema del Canto Jondo (1931), from Blood Wedding (1933) to Yerma (1934) and The House of Bernarda Alba (1936). On returning to Granada, as he always did every summer, the poet was arrested in July 1936 by the Francoist Civil Guards and, although he had never participated directly in any political activity, he was shot on the 19th August that year.