Carol and I with Brian and Sue at Nerja

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Granada                         Albeniz "Granada)"

Spanish Music

Granada lies high in the mountains, within sight of the snow covered peaks of the Sierra Nevada (which, in fact, means "snow covered peaks)Inhabited by people since prehistoric times, the area was originally known as Ilbyr. The Romans built a city here called Illibris, followed by the Arabs, who, in the 8th century, named this glorious city Granada and built the Alhambra Palace. The Arabs occupied this area of Spain for over 700 years. and Granada was the last Muslim city to fall to the Christians in 1492, led by Queen Isabel of Castile and her husband Ferdinand of Aragon. All of the Muslim Holy places were destroyed and replaced with Catholic Cathedrals and Churches, mostly built on the same site as the old Mosques.


Granada was the capital of the Muslim Nasrid Kingdom, and they poured a great deal of their wealth into beautiful architecture, and this is reflected in the palaces of the Alhambra, where the best craftsmen in all of Spain came together in the 200 years of construction between the 13th and 15th centuries.
From 711, Grenada was an important regional centre, and from 1031 under the Almoravids, and from 1154 under the Almohads, it flourished. although the last two ruled from Sevilla. In the 1240's The Nasrid tribe secured independent rule for Granada. The new kingdom was quite isolated however, as Cordoba had fallen to the Christians in 1236, and Sevilla followed 8 years later in 1248. The only Muslim held land in the whole of the peninsular stretched just 350km from east to west, and at most 150km along the coast, encompassing all of the future tourist towns of the Costa del Sol, as far as Malaga and Marbella.


The Catholic Queen of Castile, Isabel, was born on Thursday, April 22 1451, the same year that Mahmet II, the terror of Europe, became Sultan of Turkey. She was the daughter of King Don Juan II of Castile and the Queen consort Isabel of Portugal, his second wife. The Infanta was the second in line of the royal succession after her half brother Enrique, the son of King Juan II and his first wife Queen Maria of Aragón.
The Infante Enrique died of the bubonic plague which had terrorised Europe one hundred years earlier.
Her chronicler, Fernando del Pulgar summarized it in the following words: " What many men and great lords did not manage to do in their lifetimes, a single woman did in a short time through work and governance".
Historians have tried to minimize her by calling her "Isabella, queen consort of Ferdinand V of Aragon". But, as the Catholic Queen of Spain, Isabel was tougher and stronger than any absolute monarch or dictator in history

The Moorish influence on Granada can still be seen in the numerous narrow streets selling all kinds of Eastern produce, from wood  crafts, to belly dancing outfits.

Her leadership itinerary in the year of 1492 included:
January, the introduction of the Spanish Inquisition and the conquest of the Kingdom of Granada
March, the conversion and expulsion of the Jews
April, she sent Christopher Columbus to discover the new world!
Isabel was convinced by Christopher Columbus to sponsor his voyage of discovery. The lasting effects of this were many: by the traditions of the time, when Columbus discovered lands in the New World, they were given to Castile. Isabella took a special interest in the Native Americans of the new lands; when some were brought back to Spain as slaves she insisted they be returned and freed, and her will expressed her wish that the "Indians" be treated with justice and fairness.

Princess Isabel was three years old when she heard of the fall of Constantinople, the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire founded by Constantine, a Roman Emperor, a millennium earlier. She was taught everything from the classics, including the secret of secrets which the philosopher Aristotle made to Alexander the Great: "To value practical wisdom above virtue and to give the appearance of virtue". This principle Queen Isabel was to apply well during the re-conquest of Spain from the Moors.

On October 19, 1469 Isabel (Isabella), then nineteen years old, heiress to the throne of Castile, married Ferdinando (Ferdinand), son and heir of Juan II of Aragón. Both were cousins, members of the House of Traste mara, rulers of Spain and Italy. Isabel thought herself to be a descendant of Trojan nobles, and a second Helen of Troy. She refused English, French and Portuguese suitors for Ferdinando, as Helen of Troy, as described in the Iliad and the Odyssey, refused Ulysses and other Greek kings and princes in favour of Menelaus, King of Sparta, the richest and most powerful Greek suitor. Isabel's vision was unmatched by her contemporaries. The future of Castile, her kingdom, the entire Iberian Peninsula, Europe, America and eventually the entire world, depended of that decision.


Queen Isabel died on Tuesday, November 26, 1504, at the age of 53. She was interred in a small coffin, which can be seen next to her husband Ferdinando's coffin  in the crypt of the sacristy of the Royal Chapel close to the Gothic Cathedral of Granada (see next picture)


Construction began in 1518 in the centre of the old Muslim Medina, the work lasted two centuries.
Originally destined to be a Gothic cathedral until Diego Siloé, who was put in charge of the main construction in 1528 until his death (1563), introduced the Renaissance style.

The Gothic Cathedral towers over the Plaza de las Pasiegas, and Carol has to crane her neck to view the wonderful statues and reliefs on the Cathedral walls

The kingdoms of Castile and Aragó n had been fighting a civil war for 20 years from 1460 to 1480, and Isabel understood that her kingdom did not stand a chance against her powerful neighbours of France, Navarre, Portugal and Granada, the Moorish Kingdom of the South. During the war of the Roses in England, the Catholic kings allied with the Red Rose and the Tudors.

When Isabel married at the tender age of 19 years old, on October 19, 1469, she founded Spain.
She was named "Catholic Monarch" by Pope Alexander VI, and was the dominant ruler of the union. Castile, her kingdom, was three times as large as Aragón and was centrally located.
The Catholic Monarchs were not gods but claimed that their power to rule came directly from God.
The Castilian language also became predominant over Galician, Basque, Navarrese and Catalan. Castilian became an instrument of the Spanish Empire, just as Latin became an instrument of the empire of Rome.

Isabella was the first named woman to appear on a United States coin, an 1893 commemorative quarter, celebrating the 400th anniversary of Columbus' first voyage.

There had been settlements in Granada, or Ilbyr as it was then known for many centuries before the Romans came, named the area Illibris  and built a fortress on Albaicin Hill, where the old Moorish casbah is now found. When the Moors arrived in the 8th century, they occupied the area along with the rest of southern Spain. But it was only after the fall of Cordoba to the Christians in 1256 that Granada became an important city. The centre of Moorish power was transferred to Granada, bringing a massive influx of nobles, architects and money which eventually led to the construction of the Alhambra. Granada was the only surviving bastion of Islam in Spain until finally the last Arab king had to relinquish the city to Ferdinand and Isabella in 1492. During those intervening two and a half centuries, the city reached a cultural zenith. The Spanish further enriched Granada with splendid Renaissance and baroque buildings for nearly another century before the city's importance began to decline.
Both Ferdinand and Isabella chose to be buried here because they considered the conquest of Granada their crowning achievement.

Granada a beautiful, romantic, individual and distinctive city is an important university town, a quarter of its inhabitants studying or teaching at the illustrious and very old university. Carlos I of Spain and V of Germany founded the university, it was inherited from the old Islamic University founded by Sultan Yusef I several centuries before.

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