Granada, Spain

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Date: Dec, 2014
Location: Granada, Andalucia, Spain


Internationally renowned for its lavish Alhambra palace and medieval history as the last stronghold of the Moors in Western Europe, Granada is located at the foot of the Sierra Nevada mountains, at the confluence of four rivers, the Beiro, the Darro, the Genil and the Monachil; and is now the 13th largest urban area of Spain.

The region surrounding Granada has been populated since 5500 BC and experienced both Roman and Visigothic influences. In 711 AD, the Umayyad conquest brought the Iberian Peninsula under Moorish control. By the end of the 11th century, the city had spread across the Darro to reach the hill where the Alhambra and the Generalife now sit, and the Albaicín neighborhood (now a World Heritage Site). In 1228, the ambitious Ibn al-Ahmar established the longest lasting Muslim dynasty on the Iberian peninsula – the Nasrids.

In 1238, Granada became a tributary state to the Kingdom of Castile. It provided connections with the Muslim and Arab trade centers, particularly for gold from sub-Saharan Africa, and exported silk and dried fruits produced in the area. The Nasrids also supplied troops from the Emirate and mercenaries from North Africa for service to Castile.

On January 2, 1492, the last Muslim ruler in Iberia surrendered complete control of the Emirate of Granada to Ferdinand II and Isabella I, Los Reyes Católicos.

The 1492 surrender of the Islamic Emirate of Granada to the Catholic Monarchs is one of the most significant events in the region’s history as it marks the completion of the Reconquista. The terms of the surrender, expressed in the Alhambra Decree treaty, explicitly allowed the city’s Muslim inhabitants to continue unmolested in the practice of their faith and customs. By 1499, however, Cardinal Francisco Jiménez de Cisneros grew frustrated with the slow pace of the efforts of Granada’s first Archbishop to convert non-Christians to Christianity and undertook a program of forced Christian baptisms, creating the Converso (convert) class for Muslims and Jews. Cisneros’s new tactics, which were a direct violation of the terms of the treaty, provoked an armed revolt centered in the rural Alpujarras region southwest of the city.

Responding to the rebellion of 1501, the Castilian Crown rescinded the Alhambra Decree treaty, and mandated that Granada’s Muslims must convert or emigrate. Under the 1492 Alhambra Decree, Spain’s Jewish population, unlike the Muslims, had already been forced to convert under threat of expulsion or even execution. Many of the elite Muslims subsequently emigrated to North Africa. The majority of the Granada’s Muslims stayed to convert, however. Both populations of conversos were subject to persecution, execution, or exile, and each had cells that practiced their original religion in secrecy.

Over the course of the 16th century, Granada took on an ever more Catholic and Castilian character, as immigrants came to the city from other parts of the Iberian Peninsula. The city’s mosques were converted to Christian churches or completely destroyed. New structures, such as the cathedral and the Chancillería, or Royal Court of Appeals, transformed the urban landscape. After the 1492 Alhambra decree, which resulted in the majority of Granada’s Jewish population being expelled, the Jewish quarter was demolished to make way for new Catholic and Castilian institutions and uses.

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