The city of Granada is also the capital of the province of Granada, in the autonomous region of Andalusia, Spain. It is situated at the foot of Spain’s highest mountain range, the Sierra Nevada Mountains, at the confluence of two rivers, Darro and Genil, at an elevation of 738 meters above sea level. It is also the home of the Alhambra, a Moorish citadel and palace, which is one of the most famous sites of the Muslim, Jewish and Christian historical legacy. The Alhambra is a series of palaces and gardens built under the Nazari Dynasty in the 14th century. This mighty compound of buildings—including the summer palace called Generalife, with its fountains and gardens—overlooks both the city and fertile plains below.
At the centre of the Alhambra stands the massive Palace of Charles V, an outstanding example of Spanish Renaissance architecture. Other major Christian monuments found in the city are the Cathedral, including the Royal Chapel where Isabel and Ferdinand lie buried, the Monastery of La Cartuja and many churches built by Moorish craftsmen after the Reconquest, in Granada’s unique mudéjar
The hill facing the Alhambra is the old Moorish casbah or medina
, called the Albaicin, a fascinating labyrinth of narrow streets and whitewashed houses with secluded inner gardens, known as cármenes
. The Plaza de San Nicolas, at the highest point of the Albaicin, is famous for its magnificent view of the Moorish palace.
The Sacromonte hill, which overlooks the city from the North, is famous for its cave dwellings, once the home of Granada’s large gypsy community.
The name Granada is ancient and mysterious. It may mean "great castle," for the Roman fortress which once stood on the Albaicin Hill. When the Moors came here, the town was largely inhabited by Jews, for which they called it Garnat-al-Yahud
—Granada of the Jews. The Jews are said to have been one of the first peoples to settle in Spain, even before the Romans.