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“Give alms woman, for there is nothing sadder in life than being blind in Granada” Francisco de Icaza


Walking through Granada is like travelling back in time to when Spain was under Muslim rule. The Kingdom of Granada was established in the 13th century with the rise of the Nasrid Dynasty. During this time the rulers of Granada put forth an intense process of arabization with the help of military forces from Morocco. The extent of this aribization is still visible today in Granada with its buildings reflecting Arab architecture as well as the remains of several Islamic bathhouses.

In 1306, Muhammad III gained control of the strait of Gibraltar and the city of Cueta with the help of different alliances between Morocco and Castille. Unfortunately control over Gibraltar and Cueta would not last long due to the Battle of Rio Salado which gave Castille full control of the straits in 1340. After this loss Granada implemented isolationist strategies to regain their strength. The next century would be filled with strife and civil unrest in Granada that would lead to its ultimate demise.

“Do not cry as a woman for what you could not defend as a man” Aixa al-Hurra, mother of the last Emir of Granada

In the 15th century the kingdom of Castille began to form a plan to take control of Granada as the final step of uniting Spain. Due to the civil unrest in Granada, the kingdom had become disjointed and allowed the perfect opportunity for a Castilian takeover. On January 2, 1492, the last Emir of Granada, Muhammad XII, handed Granada over to Queen Isabel of Castille and King Ferdinand of Aragon effectively ending centuries of Islamic rule. The new era of Catholic rule led to an inquisition in Granada with forced Catholic conversion, mosques being turned into churches, and the deaths of those who refused to denounce Islam.

The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica. “Granada.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 2 Nov. 2017,

“Brief History of Granada.” History of Granada, 5 Oct. 2019,

The Alhambra

“Perhaps there never was a monument more characteristic of an age and people than the Alhambra; a rugged fortress without, a voluptuous palace within; war frowning from its battlements; poetry breathing throughout the fairy architecture of its halls” Washington Irving, Tales of the Alhambra

The name “Alhambra” is thought to be from the Arabic word for vermilion. Its red walls and towers stretch up into the sky at the top of the hill of La Sabica. The fortification and protective walls from the Alhambra date back to the 9th century but it is more famously known as the residence of Islamic rulers during the 13th century. The rulers of the Nasrid dynasty began to turn this fortress into a palace beginning with King Alhamar. Within the walls of the Alhambra there are two main areas: The Alcazaba and the Palace of Charles V. The Alcazaba encompasses the the barracks of the royal guard and the palaces of the Islamic kings. The Palace of Charles V began construction in 1527 but was not complete until 1957. The Palace of Charles V was intended to be the summer home of the Spanish rulers but issues with funding, architects, and political revolts all halted and delayed the Palace’s completion.

All information found on the Alhambra’s official website

Natalie Mateo 22 November 2019

John William Bailly  23 November 2019