History of Granada
The First Settlements
The first settlements in Granada are estimated to date back to about 1500-2000 b.c. where small Iberian tribes lived in the area around Granada. 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 Elybirge).
About 300 years later the Romans took over the whole Iberian Peninsula and the name of the town was changed to Ilberis. Ilberis or 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. The 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-yahut, which is very similarly the town name we know today.
The Visigoth period only lasted for about 200 years. Tariq a Moorish Caliphate invaded Granada in 711 and the final Arab conquest of the town took place in 713. The Arabs named the town Ilbira and for the next 300 years the town was constantly expanded.
In 1010 internal conflicts between different clans of noble Arabs almost destroyed the whole town. 3 years later in 1013 the situation was solved and the dynasty of the Ziries took over the power. The Ziries declared independence of Morocco and formed its own kingdom in the town at the time called Grnata. In the same time the Ziries decided to move the town from the Sierra Elvira hill to Albaicn to better be able to protect the town from invasions. The Ziries stayed in power for 2 centuries and constantly expanded the town, which started to take the form it has today.
With the arrival of the Nazari dynasty in 1238 the Granada kingdom experienced its splendor including under its power the provinces of Granada, Malaga, and Almaria and parts of Cordoba, Sevilla, Cadiz and Jaen.
It was also under the Nazari dynasty the famous fortress and palace Alhambra and Generalife (see photo) were build and great parts of the old town of Granada (the area known as Albacin) were also constructed in this period.
The Nazari king Ibn al-Ahmar reached an agreement with the Spanish king Fernando III in the 13th century and was declared official vassal of the Spanish king. This declaration helped protecting the Naziris for many years from a fast Spanish invasion as the Spaniards was advancing all over the rest of Spain. The Nazaris held Granada until the 2nd of January in 1492 when it was conquered by Ferdinand and Isabelle as the last Muslim kingdom in Spain.
The Christian Period
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 ware Arab clothes or speak other languages than Spainsh. In 1568 due to the suppression the Moors still living in the town rebeled 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.
In the next 3 centuries Granada benefited from the gold coming in from the new continent and the town was expanded in a traditional Spanish way. Granada didn't start to change its appearance until late in the 18th century. In this period French and English design started to influence in the way the town was planned. This influence can be seen in the different open squares such as 'El Saln' or 'La Bomba' from that period.
Not until 1810 when Napoleon enters Spanish territory the history of Granada changed again. The French invasion only lasted 2 years where after a period of political instability grew in Granada. Granada became the center of the first revolutionary activity against the Spanish kingdom, which culminated with the execution of one of the revolutionary front figures Mariana Pineda.
In the rest of the 19th century Granada several times declared that it was against the central government supporting the Spanish republic. The 19th century ended with economic crisis and several natural disasters such as the earthquake in 1884 or the cholera epidemic in 1885.
20th Century and Today
In the beginning of the 20th century the economic crisis still had its hold allover Spain and in Granada. Later in the 20's Granada started to become the center of artistic movement in Spain with famous artist like the poet Federico Garca Lorca and composer Manuel de Falla living in the town of Granada.
Throughout the 30's Spain was dominated by political instability, which culminated with the Spanish civil war from 1936-39. The result of the civil war was that dictator General Franco took over the power of Spain and stayed in control to his dead in 1975.
In the end of the 70's started the big University boom in Granada. Whereas going to a university beforehand only had been for the upper class, it started to become available for the whole population. Granada started again to change its appearance and new student complexes were constructed all over the town.
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).