Every year, millions of tourists go to the enchanting province of Granada to visit the beautiful attractions it offers.
The province is home to many monuments, illustrating the cultural diversity of its people over the years and the legacy of the civilisations that have inhabited the area.
While in Granada, we can visit many of Spain’s most emblematic sites, like the Alhambra, the Gardens of the Generalife and the Albaicín, that have all been declared UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Granada’s beauty is so great that it has been chosen as the scene for many big budget films.
This article offers you some interesting facts that will probably surprise you about this wonderful area of Spain.
Granada’s famous sundial:
Many people know that the Alhambra was built as a fortress and was later used as a residence for the Nasrid royal dynasty. Its gardens and fortresses formed a citadel within the city of Granada and it is currently one of Spain’s most visited tourist destinations.
What is not so commonly known is the legend that the Alhambra could be a huge sundial. This theory arises because, by observing the effect of the sun on the Alhambra and the shadows it projects on its buildings, you can tell the time quite accurately. At midday, you can clearly observe this phenomenon, because the Alhambra is divided, with one half in the shade and the other in the sun.
Spain’s first Renaissance-style church:
Located in the city’s old quarter, specifically in Plaza de las Pasiegas, is the majestic Granada Cathedral. It is considered to be Spain’s first Renaissance church since, when it was built, no other churches in the country boasted such a distinctive architectural style.
Its construction began in 1523 and was not completely finished until 1704. This emblematic building constituted a new era of Spanish religious Renaissance buildings. Its façade and exteriors were perfected when its construction was completed and are adorned by Baroque elements that complement the beauty of this symbolic place. Its interior is distinguished by its large halls flooded by light and its exquisite decoration, consisting of various, perfectly conserved, allegorical works paying tribute to religious passages.
Granada, Muslim territory:
The beautiful region of Granada was not always part of the Spanish territory. Between the 11th and 15th centuries this region was populated and governed by Muslim civilisations and became a kingdom. During the years of Muslim rule, both the city and its wealth grew. Buildings dating back to this period are still present, such as the Alcázar Genil and the Alhambra.
In 1491, the region finally became part of Castile as a result of the “Treaty of Granada”. In this treaty, the sultan relinquished the sovereignty of the kingdom in favour of the monarchs of Castile, on the condition that the rights of Moors would be respected, including religious tolerance.
Although the city maintained its structure in subsequent years, to a great extent, the nature of Granada changed.
The origin of the Alhambra’s name:
There are various theories regarding the origin of the citadel’s name. One is that Alhambra is the hispanicisation of the Arab word ¨al-Qal’a al-hamra¨, meaning Red Castle, due to the red colour of the bricks with which it was built.
Another hypothesis is that it is the feminine version of the nickname of the person who ordered the construction of the building, Abu al-Ahmar, which, translated from Arabic, means “The Red”, since he was distinguished by his ginger beard.
Finally, I would like to mention another interesting fact about the Alhambra. According to history, when Queen Isabella I of Castile and King Ferdinand II of Aragon visited the citadel, its beauty fascinated them. So much so, that the Queen asked to be buried in the Monastery of San Francisco and when she died, her remains were entombed there. However, she is currently at rest together with her husband in the Royal Chapel of Granada.
Granada is a perfect place to visit and, while you are there, not only will you enjoy the many cultural offerings, but you will also experience the exciting stories of its cities first-hand.