• Photo: S.Borisov / Shutterstock


The Alhambra and the tomb of the Catholic Monarchs are the pride of Granada. The city rises majestically from a plain onto three hills, dwarfed—on a clear day—by the Sierra Nevada. Atop one of these hills perches the reddish-gold Alhambra palace, whose stunning view takes in the sprawling medieval Moorish quarter, the caves of the Sacromonte, and, in the distance, the fertile vega (plain), rich in orchards, tobacco fields, and poplar groves. In 2013, Granada celebrated its 1,000th anniversary as a kingdom.

Split by internal squabbles, Granada's Moorish Nasrid dynasty gave Ferdinand of Aragón his opportunity in 1491. Spurred by Isabella's religious fanaticism, he laid siege to the city for seven months, and on January 2, 1492, Boabdil, the "Rey Chico" (Boy King), was forced to surrender the keys of the city. As Boabdil fled the Alhambra via the Puerta de los Siete Suelos (Gate of the Seven Floors), he asked that the gate be sealed forever.

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