The city of Granada is located near the southern tip of Spain, on the hills at the foot of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. An important city during the period of Umayyad rule (756-1031 AD) and under the Almohad and Almoravid dynasties of the twelfth and thirteenth-centuries, Granada is most famous for the palaces within the palatine city of the Alhambra.
Founded by Muhammad ibn Yusuf ibn Nasr, who escaped to Granada after the Castilian conquest of his native Zaragoza, Granada was the capital of the Nasrid Sultanate, and as such became the last Islamic kingdom of the Iberian Peninsula following the Castilian conquest of al-Andalus in the thirteenth-century.
The medieval city was composed of separate quarters, each with its own mosques and baths. Granada's suburbs developed along the banks of the Darro River, on the plain and hills below the Alhambra. The government functions of the Nasrid rulers were concentrated in the Alhambra, while commercial, religious, and civic institutions were concentrated in Granada proper.
The Albaicín, a walled suburb on the hill opposite that of the Alhambra, is the best-preserved section of the medieval city, but retains only a fraction of the mosques and celebrated courtyard houses that once existed there.
Dickie, James. 1992. "Granada: A Case Study of Arab Urbanism in Muslim Spain." In The Legacy of Muslim Spain, edited by S. K. Jayyusi and M. Marín. Leiden ; New York: E.J. Brill, 88-111.
Hermann, Elizabeth Dean. 1996. Urban formation and landscape: symbol and agent of social, political and environmental change in fifteenth-century Nasrid Granada. Harvard Univ.: PhD. Dissertation.
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Roca Roumens, M., Moreno Onorato, M. A. & Lizcano Prestel, R. 1988. El Albaicín y los orígenes de la ciudad de Granada. Granada: Universidad de Granada.
These two houses built by Moriscos (converts to Christianity, in this case after the conquest of Granada) are at the eastern edge of the Albayzín. They were built on a large plot of land that included gardens and an orchard. Although they appear to be one house, they are actually two houses joined, each with its own courtyard.
The older house, the Casa de Lorenzo el Chapiz, was built at the beginning of the sixteenth century on the site of a fourteenth century Nasrid palace. It had four wings enclosing a rectangular courtyard. Only the north and east wings still exist, along with a small portion of the west wing where it meets the north wing. The north, east and west wings had upper floors, but the south wing was single storied, apparently so as not to block views of the Alhambra and Generalife. The long rectangular pool and the columns and capitals that support the arches of the north wing's portico are inspired by elements from the previous Nasrid palace. Two other architectural elements from the house are displayed in museums today: the marble upper hinges of the central door on the north wing are in the Museo de la Alhambra, and the window frame with decoratively engraved plaster-the focal point of the south wing-is now in the Museo Arqueologico Nacional in Madrid.
The Casa de Hernan Lopez el Feri, the father-in-law of Lorenzo de Chapiz, is a smaller house that was built also in the early sixteenth century. Four wings enclose a courtyard with a small pool. The north wing has three stories while the other three wings have only two. Wooden galleries, typical of mudéjar houses, run along the upper floors of all the wings.
Between 1929 and 1932, the houses were rehabilitated under the direction of Leopoldo Torres Balbás to house the newly formed Escuela de Estudios Arabes. The Casas de Chapiz continues to serve that function today.
Castillo Brazales, Juan and Orihuela Uzal, Antonio. 2002. En busca de la Granada andalusí. Granada: Editorial Comares, 151-155.
Martín Martín, Eduardo and Torices Abarca, Nicolás. 1998. Guía de Arquitectura de Granada. Granada: Junta de Andalucía.
Almagro, Antonio, Orihuela, Antonio and Sanchez, Carlos. Map and Guide of the Andalusí Albayzín.