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A look at Albaicin, Granada’s arab district

In today’s article , we ‘ll look at one of the most popular and well-known districts of Granada (maybe after the Alhambra): the Albaicin, in the east of the city. It’s one of the ancient centers of Muslim Granada , with Alhambra, Realejo and Arrabal de Bib- Arrambla in the flat part of the city. It is famous as the old Arab quarter , but its history is longer and more complex than you can believe .
First, we must say that there are different opinions about the origin of the name : according to some linguists, it is because the people of the city of Baeza , banished after the battle of Las Navas de Tolosa , settled in this area of Granada outside the existing walls , while, others say that the name comes from the Arabic ” al- bayyāzīn ” meaning the suburb of falconers . But the fact that there are many other neighborhoods with that name in Andalusia, like in Sanlucar de Barrameda (Cádiz ) , Alhama de Granada , Salobreña and Hueneja ( Granada ) , Antequera and Villanueva de Algaidas (Málaga), etc.  gets really in doubt that thesis .
The truth is that Albaicin always indicates a section of height and with a peculiar settlement unrelated to the rest of the city .
About the inhabitants , the neighborhood was populated in Iberian period , and Roman dispersed settlement existed . No data prior to the arrival of the Ziri Berbers Islamic settlement , so it is assumed that the city was abandoned since the end of the Roman Empire until the founding of the Ziri kingdom (1013 ) when it was surrounded by walls ( Alcazaba Cadima ) .
Before the Muslim conquest of the Iberian Peninsula, in what is now the city of Granada and the surrounding area, there were three small towns :
  • Iliberis ( Elvira ) , in what was called later Albaicin and Alcazaba .
  • Castilia , near the present town of Atarfe .
  • Garnata , on the hill opposite the Alcazaba , which was more of a neighborhood Iliberis .
The Arabs began to arrive on the peninsula in 756 , at the time of the Independent Emirate .
This district had its greatest influence in the Nasrid era . Infact, Albaicin maintains the urban fabric of the Moorish period , with narrow streets, in an intricate network that extends from the top ( San. Nicolas ) to the river Darro and Calle Elvira , in Plaza Nueva .
The traditional type of housing is the Carmen , consisting of a free house surrounded by a high wall that separates it from the street and includes a small orchard or garden .
In 1994 , the Albaicin was declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco as an extension of the monuments of the Alhambra and the Generalife .
What’s interesting to visit ? The real attractions are many, but we can list some, such as :
  • Puerta Nueva o de las Pesas, known by the Grenadian people as “arco de las pesas” .
  • Puerta de Elvira , at the beginning of Calle Elvira , part of the wall .
  • Church of San Gregorio , the top of the San Gregorio’s coast
  • San Louis, worship temple and in ruins.
  • El Bañuelo (building that contains a Hammam or Arabic  bath, of zirí time, in XI century)
  • San Pedro and San Pablo , on the Carrera del Darro .
  • Palacio de los Cordova (XVI century) , in the Chapiz’s coast, current Municipal Archive.
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