In our series of Cities of Islam, we continue with the city of Granada, formerly known as “Gırnata,” famous for the Alhambra Palace. Enjoy the read!
A City in the South of Spain
Today, the city of Granada, located in the south of Spain, was once one of the most magnificent Islamic cities. The city is situated in the autonomous region of Andalusia and is also a neighbor to the city of Seville. Its proximity to Seville, the most populous and developed city in Andalusia, has played an active role in the development of many facilities within the city.
As for the city’s name, it comes from the word “Gharnatah,” which means “The City of the Newcomers” or “Foreigners’ Hill.” The “newcomers” referred to here are the Jews who migrated to the city.
700 Years of Islamic Dominion
Research about the city indicates that Granada has a historical past dating back to the Roman era. Subsequently, the experiences such as the Nasrid Sultanate and the era of Andalusia are considered to have characteristics of a “Civilization.” Indeed, between the 8th and 15th centuries, the city remained under the dominion of Islamic civilization, serving as a city of civilization, art, and culture, taking its place in the history of our time. Thanks to this dominion that lasted until 1492, Granada is also among the heirs of Andalusian architecture and art.
Symbolic Structure of Granada: The Alhambra Palace
As an expression of this architecture and art, we can point to the earlier manifestation of Islamic art: the Alhambra Palace. When you think of Granada, the first structure that comes to mind is the Alhambra Palace, and the stories and legends about its name are just as intriguing as the palace itself. According to one tale, the citizens gave the palace names like “El Hamra,” which means “Red” or “Crimson,” because the flames of torches lit at night for illumination reflected on the palace walls. Another legend suggests that the palace was named “El Hamra” because it was commissioned by Muhammad bin Ahmer, who belonged to the Ahmeri family.
Nine out of Ten People in Granada are Catholic
If you take a stroll through the streets of the city, you’ll notice that nine out of ten citizens are Catholics. Although Muslim elements in the city have dwindled over time, Granada has been the host of the greatest civilization in history.
Another significant structure in the city is the Church of Saint Nicholas, located right next to the Granada Central Mosque. Today, there are over 3,000 Muslim residents in Granada, many of whom are immigrants from Morocco. Among these Muslims, you can also find Spanish-speaking Spanish Muslims. The city’s streets often feature staircases similar to those in Morocco and buildings adorned with ceramic decorations featuring eight-pointed stars.