Facts about Granada Spain

Alhambra Sierra Nevada
The Alhambra with the Sierra Nevada in the background

The average height of the city of Granada is  738 m. The population is about 240 000.  Granada was originally called Gárnata which could mean  “hill of strangers” in Arabic.  Granada is about 65km from the Mediteranean sea.  One of the nearest beaches is  at Salobreña which would take 55 minutes by car.  There is a ski station 35km from Granada in the Sierra Nevada mountains.  The Alpine World Ski Championships were held there in 1996.  There are 105 kms of alpine skiing runs.  It takes about 45 minutes to get from the centre of Granada to the ski station. The ski season normally lasts from the beginning of December until the end of April.  Andalusia has a very high proportion of sunny days even in the winter and usually there are beautiful blue skies and warm temperatures. It is possible to ski in the morning and sunbathe at the beach in the afternoon on the same day.

sierra_nevada
The Sierra Nevada Mountains. The hook at the top is veleta. The highest point is Mulhacen at 3,479 metres.

The most famous monument in Granada is the Alhambra and is one of the most visited tourist attractions in Spain with about 3.2 million visitors per year. The Alhambra is a hilltop palace and fortress complex which combines fortifications,  gardens,  churches and several palaces. The name Alhambra comes from “red castle” in Arabic.  Construction started in the 9th century with a small fortress and then went on for many centuries. The first palaces were built in  1238   and  were home to many leaders such as caliphs, emirs, sultans, kings and their entourages .

The Moors invaded Spain in 711 AD and they ruled  for over  700  years,  at one time they ruled as far north as France.   The principal cities of Moorish culture were Toledo, Granada, and Seville.  Eventually the Christian rulers in Northern Spain recaptured Spain. In 1085 Alfonso VI of Leon and Castile recaptured Toledo. Cordoba fell in 1236, and one by one the Moorish strongholds surrendered. The last Moorish city, Granada, was captured by Ferdinand V and Isabella I in 1492. The last moorish ruler of Granada was Boabdil. The Alhambra was handed over to the Spanish monarchs on  2nd January 1492 without bloodshed and  Boabdil was allowed to leave peacfully. His family were given some land in the Alpujarra area of the Sierra Nevada. As he was leaving he sighed and looked  back in longing for his Granada palaces, his mother said to him “Weep like a woman over what you could not defend as a man.”

Sacromonte Alhambra
Photo taken from the Alhambra. On the left you can see the Albayzin and the Sacromonte.

At the time of the reconquest of Granada Christopher Columbus was looking for sponsors to fund exploration to discover the “New World”. The Spanish monarchs agreed and he went on to discover America.  There is a statue of Christopher Columbus kneeling before Queen Isabella at the end of the Gran Via de Colón in Granada. (his name in Spanish is Cristobal Colón).

Granada has hot dry summer and cool winters. In July and August the temperature is often over 40C. In 2017 several all time temperature records were broken.  On July 12 the temperature reached 45.7C.  Granada has a fairly low humidity so high temperatures are not as uncomfortable as they could be. In the winter frosts are not uncommon but if it is sunny the temperature can be warm enough to sit out in a “T” shirt, it cools down rapidly as soon as there is cloud.  November and December are the wettest months however the amount of rain can vary significantly from year to year and droughts are frequent.