Granada, city (1990 pop. 268,674), capital of Granada prov., S Spain, in Andalusia, at the confluence of the Darro and Genil rivers. Formerly (17th cent.) a silk center, Granada is now a trade and processing point for an agricultural area that is also rich in minerals. Beautifully situated at the foot of the Sierra Nevada, the city also is a major tourist center, attractive because of its art treasures and rich history. Ski resorts in the nearby mountains also bring many visitors to the area.
Located in Granada is the famous Alhambra, an old Moorish citadel and royal palace, which dominates the city and the old Muslim quarter from a hill; on the same hill is the palace of Emperor Charles V. The Palacio del Generalife, summer residence of the Moorish rulers, has celebrated gardens. Christian edifices include a 16th-century cathedral, in late Gothic and plateresque style; the adjoining royal chapel, containing the tombs of Ferdinand and Isabella; and a Carthusian monastery (16th cent.). There is also a museum dedicated to the poet and dramatist Federico García Lorca. Across the Darro River and facing the Alhambra is the Sacromonte hill, honeycombed with Romani (Gypsy) caves.
Granada was originally a Moorish fortress and rose to prominence during the Almoravid and Almohad dynasties. In 1238 it became the seat of the kingdom of Granada, last refuge of the Moors whom the Christian reconquest had driven south; the kingdom occupied the present provinces of Almería and Málaga and parts of Jaén and Cádiz. The concentration of Moorish civilization in Granada gave the city great splendor and made it a center of commerce, industry, art, and science. However, the kingdom was weakened by continuous feuds among noble families, notably the Zegris and the Abencerages, and was conquered by Ferdinand II and Isabella I during the reign of Boabdil (Muhammad XI). With the surrender (Jan., 1492) of the city of Granada, the Moors lost their last hold in Spain, and the kingdom was united with Castile. The city became an archiepiscopal see and, in 1531, the seat of a university.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.