AlhambraAlmost unrivalled for beauty and architectural splendor, the entire city has been declared a national monument. It lies at the foot of Spain 's mightiest massif, the Sierra Nevada , and on the edge of an extraordinarily fertile plain.


A provincial capital with a university, the city is divided by the Darro which runs underground the city centre. On the right lies Albaicín, the city's oldest quarter; on the left rises the imposing Alhambra . To the south the city is bordered by the Río Genil into which the Darro flows. This fertile area was already settled in the 5th Century BC and was known as Iliberis in Roman times. The city was founded under the Visigoths, whose domination ended with the Arab victory in 711. 'Elvira' ( Granada was just a nearby settlement) was ruled by a viceroy dependent upon Córdoba until the fall of the Caliphate in Córdoba in 1031. During the next two centuries Granada was ruled by the Berber dynasty of the Almoravides and then Berber Almohades, until the first Nasrite king, Mohammed I, established a kingdom in 1241. After the capture of Córdoba by the Christian armies in 1236 the town increased in importance, reaching its brilliant zenith under the rule of the Moorish Nasrites, who were tolerated by the Castilian kings. It was the only surviving bastion of Islam in Spain until the last king of Granada had to relinquish the city to Ferdinand and Isabella at the treaty of Santa Fé in 1491. The famous humanist Diego Hurtado de Mendoza (1503-75), who was born in Granada , described the capture of the town. In the same way that the Alhambra palace was built during the Nasrite dynasty and a lively cultural environment was able to develop in the densely.