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March 23, 2023 | Ramadan 2, 1444
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IslamiCity > Travel > 2008 Summer Program to Spain

Though people have lived in the vicinity of Gharnatah (Granada) since ancient times, it became a significant settlement during the 11th century, when al-Andalus was ruled by the muluk al-tawa'if (the "party kings"). Immigrants from the nearby city of Elvira populated Granada under the Banu Ziri, the Berber rulers of the city. In the 13th century, Christian rulers in the north of Spain united their efforts and marched on the Muslim cities of Sevilla and Cordoba, among others.  They had been held in check by the Almoravids and Almohads during the 12th century, but these Berber dynasties slowly disintegrated. Muhammad Ibn Ahmar, the founder of the Nasrid dynasty, established control in Granada and made a treaty with the Christian kings, ensuring the survival of the kingdom of Granada. Refugees from the former Muslim territories flocked to the last remaining Muslim kingdom on the peninsula. The Nasrids maintained Granada's precarious position until the end of the 15th century, when Isabella and Ferdinand decided to make war on Granada, conquering it in 1492.

While many Muslims fled to North Africa, a significant number remained under Christian rule, initially under favorable terms. The Christian authorities and the Church became increasingly hostile to Muslims and Jews as Spain's national identity coalesced around a Catholic identity. In 1609, after a series of resistance movements led by Muslims during the 16th century were defeated, the Spanish crown pronounced an edict forcing Muslims to leave Spain or convert to Christianity. Many Muslim families emigrated to North Africa, where they maintained fond memories of the great civilization they had lost.

We will spend several days in this important city. During our first day, we will walk along the streets of the new city, familiarizing ourselves with the layout and observing various Islamic monuments, including a funduq (caravansery) where merchants used to rest and store their goods. We will also visit the extant hammam (Arab bath) which was constructed in the 12th century under the Zirid rulers. We will spend the evening in the old city of Granada, known as the albaicin, where the modern Muslim community makes its home. There are many Muslim restaurants and tea shops in this neighborhood.

The following day we will visit the Alhambra palace complex, as well as the summer retreat of the Granadan kings, known as the Generalife (from jannat al-arif, "garden of the architects"). The Alhambra is named for the reddish color of its walls, and was called al-hamra' in Arabic.

There is a free day scheduled in Granada for those who would like to revisit the Alhambra or spend more time in the Albaicin, or simply explore further.



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