Capital of Granada province in Andalusia, southern Spain, situated to the north of the Sierra Nevada mountain range on the confluence of the rivers Genil and Darro; population (2001 est) 243,300. Products include textiles, soap, and paper; there are also food industries and tourism. Granada has many palaces and monuments, including the Alhambra, a fortified hilltop palace built in the 13th and 14th centuries by the Moorish kings; a Gothic and Renaissance cathedral (1523-1703); and a university (1533).
Granada was the site of Elibyrge, a 5th-century BC Iberian settlement, that became the Roman settlement of Illiberis two centuries later. It was occupied by the Moors from the 8th century AD, and increased in importance after the fall of the caliphate of Córdoba in 1036. Mohammed ben Nasar founded the Nazarí dynasty in 1238, and Granada was the capital of an independent kingdom until 1492, when it became the last Moorish stronghold to surrender to the Spaniards. As such, Granada benefited during that period from a concentration of Moorish civilization that gave it great splendour and made it a centre of commerce, industry, science, and art. The city became an archiepiscopal see and, in 1531, the seat of the University of Granada. It was an important silk centre during the 17th century.
The Albaicin, a neighbourhood of narrow streets and whitewashed houses known as cármenes, is the old Moorish casbah, and is situated on the hill facing the Alhambra. The Sacromonte hill, to the north of the city, has a number of cave dwellings, former homes of Granada's large Romany population.
The city's name may have derived either from the Spanish granada, meaning ‘pomegranate’, a locally abundant fruit that appears on the city's coat of arms, or from its Moorish name, Karnattah (or Gharnatah), meaning ‘hill of strangers’.
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