Granada, Spain (Capital) - Encyclopedia

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GRANADA, the capital of the province, and formerly of the kingdom of Granada, in southern Spain; on the Madrid-GranadaAlgeciras railway. Pop. (1900) 75,900. Granada is magnificently situated, 2195 ft. above the sea, on the north-western slope of the Sierra Nevada, overlooking the fertile lowlands known as the Vega de Granada on the west and overshadowed by the peaks of Veleta (11,148 ft.) and Mulhacen (11,421 ft.) on the south-east. The southern limit of the city is the river Genil, the Roman Singilis and Moorish Shenil, a swift stream flowing westward from the Sierra Nevada, with a considerable volume of water in summer, when the snows have thawed. Its tributary the Darro, the Roman Salon and Moorish Hadarro, enters Granada on the east, flows for upwards of a mile from east to west, and then turns sharply southward to join the main river, which is spanned by a bridge just above the point of confluence. The waters of the Darro are much reduced by irrigation works along its lower course, and within the city it has been canalized and partly covered with a roof.

Granada comprises three main divisions, the Antequeruela, the Albaicin (or Albaycin), and Granada properly so-called. The first division, founded by refugees from Antequera in 1410, consists of the districts enclosed by the Darro, besides a small area on its right, or western bank. It is bounded on the east by the gardens and hill of the Alhambra (q.v.), the most celebrated of all the monuments left by the Moors. The Albaicin(Moorish Rabad al Bayazin, " Falconers' Quarter") lies north-west of the Antequeruela. Its name is sometimes associated with that of Baeza, since, according to one tradition, it was colonized by citizens of Baeza, who fled hither in 1246, after the capture of their town by the Christians. It was long the favourite abode of the Moorish nobles, but is now mainly inhabited by gipsies and artisans. Granada, properly so-called, is north of the Antequeruela, and west of the Albaicin. The origin of its name is obscure; it has been sometimes, though with little probability, derived from granada, a pomegranate, in allusion to the abundance of pomegranate trees in the neighbourhood. A pomegranate appears on the city arms. The Moors, however, called Granada Karnattah or Karnattah-alYahud, and possibly the name is composed of the Arabic words kurn, " a hill," and nattah, " stranger," - the "city" or "hill of strangers." Although the city has been to some extent modernized, the architecture of its more ancient quarters has many Moorish characteristics. The streets are, as a rule, ill-lighted, ill-paved and irregular; but there are several fine squares and avenues, such as the Bibarrambla, where tournaments were held by the Moors; the spacious Plaza del Trionfo, adjoining the bull-ring, on the north; the Alameda, planted with plane trees, and the Paseo del Salon. The business centre of the city is the Puerta Real, a square named after a gate now demolished.

Granada is the see of an archbishop. Its cathedral, which commemorates the reconquest of southern Spain from the Moors, is a somewhat heavy classical building, begun in 1529 by Diego de Siloe, and only finished in 1703. It is profusely ornamented with jasper and coloured marbles, and surmounted by a dome. The interior contains many paintings and sculptures by Alonso Cano (1601-1667), the architect of the fine west façade, and other artists. In one of the numerous chapels, known as the Chapel Royal (Capilla Real), is the monument of Philip I. of Castile (1478-1506), and his queen Joanna; with the tomb of Ferdinand and Isabella, the first rulers of united Spain (1452-1516). The church of Santa Maria (1705-17J9), which may be regarded as an annexe of the cathedral, occupies the site of the chief mosque of Granada. This was used as a church until 1661. Santa Ana (1541) also replaced a mosque; Nuestra Senora de las Angustias (1664-1671) is noteworthy for its fine towers, and the rich decoration of its high altar. The convent of San Geronimo (or Jeronimo), founded in 1492 by Ferdinand and Isabella, was converted into barracks in 1810; its church contains the tomb of the famous captain Gonsalvo or Gonzalo de Cordova (1453-1515). The Cartuja, or Carthusian monastery north of the city, was built in 1516 on Gonzalo's estate, and in his memory. It contains several fine paintings, and an interesting church of the 17th and 18th centuries.

After the Alhambra, and such adjacent buildings as the Generalife and Torres Bermejas, which are more fitly described in connexion with it, the principal Moorish antiquities of Granada are the 13th-century villa known as the Cuarto Real de San Domingo, admirably preserved, and surrounded by beautiful gardens; the Alcazar de Genil, built in the middle of the 14th. century as a palace for the Moorish queens; and the Casa del Cabildo, a university of the same period, converted into a warehouse in the 19th century. Few Spanish cities possess a greater number of educational and charitable establishments. The university was founded by Charles V. in 1531, and transferred to its present buildings in 1769. It is attended by about 600 students. In 1900, the primary schools of Granada numbered 22, in addition to an ecclesiastical seminary, a training-school for teachers, schools of art and jurisprudence, and museums of art and archaeology. There were twelve hospitals and orphanages for both sexes, including a leper hospital in one of the convents. Granada has an active trade in the agricultural produce of the Vega, and manufactures liqueurs, soap, paper and coarse linen and woollen fabrics. Silk-weaving was once extensively carried on, and large quantities of silk were exported to Italy, France, Germany and even America, but this industry died during the 19th century.


The identity of Granada with the Iberian city of Iliberris or Iliberri, which afterwards became a flourishing Roman colony, has never been fully established; but Roman tombs, coins, inscriptions, &c., have been discovered in the neighbourhood. With the rest of Andalusia, as a result of the great invasion from the north in the 5th century, Granada fell to the lot of the Vandals. Under the caliphs of Cordova, onwards from the 8th century, it rapidly gained in importance, and ultimately became the seat of a provincial government, which, after the fall of the Omayyad dynasty in 1031, or, according to some authorities, 1038, ranked with Seville, Jaen and others as an independent principality. The family of the Zeri, Ziri or Zeiri maintained itself as the ruling dynasty until 1090; it was then displaced by the Almohades, who were in turn overthrown by the Almoravides, in 1154. The dominion of the Almoravides continued unbroken, save for an interval of one year (1160-1161), until 1229. From 1229 to 1238 Granada formed part of the kingdom of Murcia; but in the last-named year it passed into the hands of Abu Abdullah Mahommed Ibn Al Ahmar, prince of Jaen and founder of the dynasty of the Nasrides. Al Ahmar was deprived of Jaen in 1246, but united Granada, Almeria and Malaga under his sceptre, and, as the fervour of the Christian crusade against the Moors had temporarily abated, he made peace with Castile, and even aided the Christians to vanquish the Moslem princes of Seville. At the same time he offered asylum to refugees from Valencia, Murcia and other territories in which the Moors had been overcome. Al Ahmar and his successors ruled over Granada until 1492, in an unbroken line of twenty-five sovereigns who maintained their independence partly by force, and partly by payment of tribute to their stronger neighbours. Their encouragement of commerce - notably the silk trade with Italy - rendered Granada the wealthiest of Spanish cities; their patronage of art, literature and science attracted many learned Moslems, such as the historian Ibn Khaldun and the geographer Ibn Batuta, to their court, and resulted in a brilliant civilization, of which the Alhambra is the supreme monument.

The kingdom of Granada, which outlasted all the other Moorish states in Spain, fell at last through dynastic rivalries and a harem intrigue. The two noble families of the Zegri and the Beni Serraj (better known in history and legend as the Abencerrages) encroached greatly upon the royal prerogatives during the middle years of the 1 Sth century. A crisis arose in 1462, when an endeavour to control the Abencerrages resulted in the dethronement of Abu Nasr Saad, and the accession of his son, Muley Abu'l Hassan, whose name is preserved in that of Mulhacen, the loftiest peak of the Sierra Nevada, and in a score of legends. Muley Hassan weakened his position by resigning Malaga to his brother Ez Zagal, and incurred the enmity of his first wife Aisha by marrying a beautiful Spanish slave, Isabella de Solis, who had adopted the creed of Islam and taken the name of Zorayah, "morning star." Aisha or Ayesha, who thus saw her sons Abu Abdullah Mahommed (Boabdil) and Yusuf in danger of being supplanted, appealed to the Abencerrages, whose leaders, according to tradition, paid for their sympathy with their lives (see Alhambra). In 1482 Boabdil succeeded in deposing his father, who fled to Malaga, but the gradual advance of the Christians under Ferdinand and Isabella forced him to resign the task of defence into the more warlike hands of Muley Hassan and Ez Zagal (1483-1486). In 1491 after the loss of these leaders, the Moors were decisively beaten; Boabdil, who had already been twice captured and liberated by the Spaniards, was compelled to sign away his kingdom; and on the 2nd of January 1492 the Spanish army entered Granada, and the Moorish power in Spain was ended. The campaign had aroused intense interest throughout Christendom; when the news reached London a special thanksgiving service was held in St Paul's Cathedral by order of Henry VII.

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