Archaeological research carried out in Granada in 1916 revealed that the province had been inhabited since Palaeolithic times. Evidence dating back from the Palaeolithic, Mesolithic and Neolithic eras are on display in the Museo Arqueológico (The Archaeological Museum). In about 1000 B.C. the Phoenicians who mainly settled along the coastline also had small colonies living in Granada. When the Carthaginians conquered the coastline from the Phoenicians and took over the control of the commerce in the area (550 B.C.) they also started the population of Granada (at the time called Elbridge).
Granada didn't play an important role in the Roman Empire and when the Empire started to fall in the 5th century the Visigoths took over the town.
Under the Visigoths the town started to increase in size as well as in importance. Christianity started to rise in popularity among the population and Granada was for the first time used as an important military point. During this period a small community of Jews also settled down in an area of Granada naming it Garnata al-yahud, which is very similar to the town name we know today.
The Visigoth period only lasted for about 200 years. It began in 711 when Moorish soldiers crossed the borders from Africa under the command of Tarik ibn Ziyad. After defeating the Spanish in several regions of Spain, thousands of Moors poured into Spain. Arab kings ruled Granada over several hundred centuries rising to its pinnacle in the 14th century. The Moorish reign brought with it a period of scientific, cultural and commercial prosperity. The Moors greatly improved the system of agriculture and irrigation some of which can be seen even today. They also introduced oranges, lemons, almonds, rice, sugarcane and paper into Spain. The religious tolerance practiced by the Moors saw Muslim, Jewish and Christian communities living in harmony. They built the Alcazaba fortress on the Alhambra hill in the ninth century and the Alhambra palaces in the 15th century. Granada enjoyed a prosperous independence partially due to its allegiance with Spanish King Ferdinand III.
This allegiance helped to protect the Moors for many years from a fast Spanish invasion as the Spaniards was advancing all over the rest of Spain. The Moors held Granada until the 2nd of January in 1492 when it was conquered by Ferdinand and Isabelle as the last Muslim kingdom in Spain.
In the first years after the Christian conquest of Granada the many Muslims living in the town and their customs were respected. This changed completely in 1499 when the bishop Cisneros demanded that all Muslims should be baptized. Later the Muslim population was indemnified with heavy taxes and it was prohibited to wear Arab clothes or speak other languages than Spanish. In 1568 due to the suppression the Moors still living in the town rebelled against the Spaniards but they were defeated and the rebellions expelled from Granada... The University of Granada, which today is a very important part of the later history of Granada was also founded in this period by Carlos V in 1531.
It would not be until the 19th century that Granada would experience interesting transformations, where territories opened by Disentailment became influenced by French and English taste as in the design of parks, squares and gardens. El Salón, la Bomba and other plazas are result of this activity, although their building led to the destruction of an important part of the Granada's ancient design. This can be seen in the case of the Gran Vía, whose construction would sacrifice the ancient barrio of the Mezquita Mayor.
During the 20th century, Granada has continued slipping southwards, towards the vega (the city's plain), surpassing even the Camino de Ronda’s attempted frontier. Speculative, tasteless town-planning was to blame for the erecting of enormous blocks organized around two large parallel axes: the above mentioned Camino de Ronda and calle Pedro Antonio de Alarcón. Far removed from Granada's habitual urban layout, the blocks soon filled up with new inhabitants. Thus, in a tedious process, the student flats were born.
Today Granada, apart from being a tourist attraction, is also a modern city attracting international conventions and celebrations like the International Music and Dance Festival celebrated every year in Granada (end of June).
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