Multicultural History of Granada

Granada has a fascinating history of cultures in contact: Berbers, Moors, Romani (mistakenly called “Gypsies”), West Africans, and Sephardic Jews (among other groups) all transformed the city. You can see it in the architecture, aesthetic philosophy, in the food, in music, dance, the literary traditions, and in the andaluz language. Al-Andaluz: an Arabic term referring to the region of Andalusia — “the land of light.”

Granada was at the center of the Islamic world from 711-1492 — a period that spans over thirty generations and conjures up Spain’s most lasting contributions to the world of science, mathematics, philosophy, astronomy, medicine, architecture, and fine arts. And though many non-Catholics were brutally forced out of Spain in 1492, that date by no means marked an end to North African, Roma, Sephardic, and West African influence on Granada. People headed for the mountains, and neighborhoods like Sacramonte, far from the oppressive rule of the Catholic kings. Some officially converted to Christianity but continued to practice Islam, Judaism, other Romani, Berber, and West African religions undercover and into the New World where many were forcefully relocated and enslaved. 1492 marked a change in political rule but North African, Berber, Sephardic, and Roma cultural traditions remain intact even today.
Granada was the last city to be “conquered” by the Catholic kings from the northern part of the country. And it is the site of the last gift given by Berbers, Moors, Roma, and Sephardic Jews to Spain and the rest of the world — a living memory of Granada’s thirty plus generations, a monument that attests to the breadth of scientific, mathematical, astronomical, and architectural innovation that came out of Granada: La Alhambra

Jacob Dyer-Spiegel @  (2008

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