Granada. Almost unrivalled for its beauty and architectural splendour, the entire city has been declared a national monument. It lies at the foot of Spain’s mightiest massif, the Sierra Nevada, and on the edge of an extraordinarily fertile plain. A provincial capital with a university and an archiepiscopal presence, Granada is divided by the Darro the river which runs underground in the city centre. On the right lies the Albaicin, the city’s oldest quarter; on the left rises the imposing Alhambra…
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To the South the city of Granada is bordered by the Río Genil into which the Darro flows.
This fertile area was already settled in the 5C BC and was known as Iliberis in Roman times. The city was founded under the Visigoths, whose domination ended
with the Arab victory in 711
Granada was ruled by a viceroy dependent upon Córdoba until the fall of the Caliphate in Córdoba in 1031. During the next two centuries Granada was ruled first by the Berber dynasty of the Almoravides and then Berber Almohades, until the first Nasrite king, Mohammed I, established a kingdom in 1241.
After the capture of Córdoba by the Christian armies in 1236 the town increased in importance, reaching its brilliant zenith under the rule of the Moorish Nasrites, who were tolerated by the Castilian kings. It was the only surviving bastion of Islam in Spain until the last king of Granada had to relinquish the city to Ferdinand and Isabella at the treaty of Santa Fé in 1491.
The famous humanist Diego Hurtado de Mendoza (1503-75), who was born in
Granada, described the capture of the town. In the same way that the Alhambra
palace was built during the Nasrite dynasty and a lively cultural environment was
able to develop in the densely populated and wealthy city, so too were the new Spanish powers able to enrich Granada with splendid Renaissance and baroque buildings. However, from 1570, following the expulsion of the Moors who had rebelled
against the repressive measures of Philip II, the economical and historical importance of Granada declined. Vital irrigation systems which were destroyed at that time
were not rebuilt until the 20C.
In the 17C the versatile Granada-born artist, Alonso Cano, who was painter, sculptor and architect, made an important contribution to the appearance of the town.
His buildings were of a stylistic importance which reached beyond the confines
of Granada itself. The sculptor Pedro de Mena, who was also born in Granada was