The City of Granada is renowned for the legacy of Moorish occupation which ended in the 15th century. However, many millennia before, the well-watered plains around Granada were home to exotic species of animals, as well as early man.
A Brief History of Granada 

Excavations around Granada have uncovered the bones of elephants, hyenas, zebras, sabre-toothed tigers and many other animals long extinct or now confined to areas well away from southern Spain. The fossils are close on 2 million years old, and there is disputed evidence of human bone fragments from around this time, perhaps representing the earliest known spread of ‘modern’ man out of Africa. A fresh-water lake helped to maintain the diversity of fauna, and although the landscape  changed beyond measure, it was water that attracted early settlers to the Granada environs.In neolithic times, man wandered across the fertile plains around present-day Granada and proof of his existence is found in local caves. There is little evidence of permanent settlement in Granada until Roman times, although the indigenous Ibero-Celtic tribes farmed the region and traded with the Pheonicians, Carthaginians and ancient Greeks.  The Greeks established a town close to present-day Granada around 2,500 years ago that was called Elybyrge. This expanded under Roman rule and probably encompassed part of  the modern-day city. However, this newly re-named town of Illiberis is thought, by some historians, to have lain several kilometres to the northwest towards the Sierra Elvira. Although Illiberis was influential enough to produce its own coinage, it was of secondary importance to Antequera which was situated on the main trading route between Malaga and Merida, via Cordoba.

After the Roman Empire declined  the Visigoths controlled much of Spain and during this time Illiberis, and towns nearby, slowly increased in size. The confluence of the three rivers, Beiro, Darro and Genil. provided a constant source of water for the population, and the discovery of various minerals, including gold, enhanced the trading status of the area. There were several skirmishes with Berbers from north Africa during the Visigoth era culminating in the Battle of Guadalete in 711. The exact location of the battle is unknown but the assumed death of King Roderic and the capture of the Visigoth capital of Toledo marked the beginning of nearly 800 years of Moorish  rule and the accompanying Islamic religion.

Initially, there were many conflicts between the rulers, or caliphs, but religious tolerance prevailed amongst the population, and the Berbers, in co-operation with the Arabs, introduced new fruits to the farms, including lemons, oranges and peaches. The southward spread of Illiberis around 1000 included the fortification of the area presently occupied by the Alhambra, and it was about this time that Granada (pomegranate in English) was first used in reference to the town. Relative prosperity and stability was maintained through much of the 13th and 14th centuries. This was all the more impressive in the light of the many wars occurring elsewhere in Europe. Around the early to mid 14th century the Alhambra (The red fortress) and the Generalife Palace and gardens were constructed and Granada became a major centre of culture and learning.

The Christian reconquest of Spain commenced soon after the Muslims took over Spain and by the early part of the 13th Century  it was largely complete. However, the Emirate of Granada continued to exist largely undisturbed for another 250 years. There were some altercations and power struggles, and it was one of these rifts in the heirachy that brought about the eventual downfall of the State.  The ‘Catholic Monarchs’ Isabella of Castile and her husband Ferdinand of Aragon were content to leave Granada alone, other disputes were more pressing. However, a weakening of the power base in Granada allowed an opportunity for reconquest and on the second day of January 1492 the last Muslin State in Europe relinquished power.

Although there was tolerance of the Muslim and Jewish Faiths for several years, an increasingly authoritarian Catholic church brought heavy punishments to bear with mass expulsions of non-catholics.  Mosques were either destroyed or converted,  with church towers replacing minarets. In 1527 the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V, in an ill-concealed show of strength, had a grand palace built within the fortifications of the Alhambra. The palace was built in an unusual and modern Italian style, emphasising the difference in architecture between Europe and the Arab world.

From the 16th to early 19th century the Alhambra Palace complex fell into general disrepair, or was heavily modified to reflect the architectural fashion of the time. An earthquake in 1821 brought about further decay before restoration began at the end of that decade. Although some of the restorative work was poorly carried out, the magnificent  Moorish character has now been re-created. Meanwhile, the City of Granada now boasts a population of over 250,000. It is considered to be one of the three most prestigous university cities in Spain, and one of the greatest cultural tourist attractions in Europe, if not the World.

Photos from La Alhambra

General Climate and Weather in Granada

Almost enclosed by mountains, and at over 700 metres above sea level, Granada exhibits a markedly different climate to that experienced along the Costa del Sol. The dry summer heat is usually tolerable, but in the winter it can be grey, cold and occasionally wet.

Weather in Granada in January

 

 Average Maximum  12C/55F Average Minimum 1C/34F Days with rain falling  6 

There will be plenty of sunshine during an average January, but it rarely feels warm. Frost is common on the clear nights, and the low humidity during the day often gives an ‘alpine’ feel to the air. On about 1 day in 4 statistically  but,  in batches of 3 or 4 days at a time in reality, the weather can be decidedly grim.  Fog and low cloud cling to the drizzle swept hills and temperatures hover around 7 Celsius (45F),  or less. Sleet or snow can fall, and there are many photos with the Alhambra Palaces cloaked in snow. Generally, though, cold rain is the more normal form of precipitation. Although the surrounding landscape may be green, this is not one of the better months to visit Granada.

Weather in Granada in February

 

 Average Maximum 14C/59F Average Minimum 3C/37F Days with rain falling  6

Most of this area lies above 500 metres so Spring is late arriving compared to along the coastal resorts. However, by the end of the month, wild flowers are in bloom and the buds of almond blossom should have opened. Much depends, of course, on the weather. Normally, the pattern of weather is similar to that of January. Fog or persistent low cloud can be a re-occurring problem in some years, especially if there has been a period of heavy rainfall. However,  there should be many sunny days, but until the end of the month it still feels cold, and frost on the plain is a common sight at dawn.

Weather in Granada in March

 Average Maximum 17C/63F Average Minimum 4C/39F Days with rain falling  6

Spring  rushes forward during this month, aided by the increasing warmth of the sunshine and the afternoon showers. Unfortunately for the farmers, the showers are not very reliable and in some years March can pass by with little in the way of useful rain.  The low cloud and fog,  regular features of the winter months, are much less prevalent during March with the fog usually dispersing 2 or 3 hours after dawn to leave pleasant sunshine. The evenings and nights are still too cold to linger for long outside the restaurants, and sharp frosts may still occur, but afternoons are often tolerably warm.

Weather in Granada in April

 

 Average Maximum 19C/66F Average Minimum 6C/43F Days with rain falling  7 

This month is arguably the best one in which  to explore the area. The landscape still looks fresh. There are  usually flowers in abundance and,  for photography,  the light and visibility can hardly be bettered. Although in most Aprils the sunshine predominates, showers can be expected with short-lived heavy, thundery  downpours. There is normally sunshine between the showers and these showery episodes seldom last for more than 2 or 3 days at a time. Although nights are still cool,  most days are pleasantly warm, and temperatures may occasionally reach 25 Celsius (77F).

Weather in Granada in May

 Average Maximum 23C/73F Average Minimum 10C/50F Days with rain falling  5 

The days are long and pleasantly warm, although on some occasions, especially during the second half of the month,  it could be described as hot  with temperatures approaching 30 Celsius (86F). On these hot days the humidity is low and in the shade it feels much more comfortable than it does with similar, or even lower, temperatures on the coast. After sunset, temperatures fall quickly in the more rural areas. Occasional rainy days, or a mix of showers and sun occur, but with increasing rarity.The snow-capped peaks of the Sierra Nevada continue to offer good photo opportunities.

Weather in Granada in June

 Average Maximum 29C/84F Average Minimum 14C/57F Days with rain falling  2 

Apart from the odd thundery shower, or a short spell of rain from a rapidly weakening cold front as it crosses Spain from the Atlantic, the month of June is dry. Any fog is usually shallow and confined to the fields outside of Granada in the period around dawn. As the month progresses it becomes increasingly hot and the landscape appears parched as the wild flowers wither in the heat. Temperatures of 35 Celsius (95F), or more, are not uncommon, especially towards the end of the month, but again the low humidity tempers the heat. The evenings usually remain very warm until after midnight.

Weather in Granada in July

 Average Maximum 33C/91F Average Minimum 17C/63F Days with rain falling  <1 

The only element of the weather that usually changes during July is the temperature. Otherwise it is normally mostly sunny. Thin high cloud may spoil the sun occasionally and isolated fair-weather clouds  develop during the heat of the afternoon before rapidly dissipating around dusk. The odd thunderstorm may build up over the Sierra Nevada, and a dust-laden thundery shower  may move north from Morocco overnight, but July is usually a completely dry month. The humidity is generally low, so temperatures can fall quickly on the plains after dark. In the city,  though, it normally stays much warmer.

Weather in Granada in August

 

 Average Maximum 33C/91F Average Minimum 17C/63F Days with rain falling  1 

Another hot month in Granada and becoming  increasingly hazy. The blue haze is a combination of dust from the now brown landscape, and pollution. The pollution comes from grass and forest fires that break out across southern Europe at this time of year and from  traffic fumes. The humidity  usually becomes a little higher during August, especially if sea air is advected inland, but compared to the coast, the nights remain relatively cool. Towards the end of the month in particular, there is an increasing risk of showers or  thunderstorms breaking out, but often the month remains completely dry .

Weather in Granada in September

 

 Average Maximum 29C/84F Average Minimum 14C/57F Days with rain falling  2 

In some years September remains a summer month from beginning to end with high temperatures and little, if any, rainfall. In most years, though, the month will have at least one spell of thundery weather, which may last a couple of days, before sunshine returns under cleaner, bluer skies. It is not uncommon to find some of the highest temperatures of the ‘summer’ occurring early in September, and the humidity may be  high too, so early in the month the nights are often uncomfortably warm. Later in the month, as temperatures cool, it becomes ideal to leisurely explore the brown landscape.

Weather in Granada in October

 Average Maximum 22C/72F Average Minimum 9C/48F Days with rain falling  5 

This is the most fickle of months. In  some years there is plenty of warm sunshine, ideal weather to explore the Moorish history of Granada. In other years it can be cool and damp, especially late in the month when misty low cloud can linger all day after a night of fog. The mist and fog are usually at their worst after a spell of wet weather, and in October it can be particularly wet. Thundery rain can settle over the area for 2 or 3 days and, especially towards the end of the month, it can be accompanied by a cold wind. However, by way of contrast, a week in Granada in October may just be sunny and warm.

Weather in Granada in November

 

 Average Maximum 16C/61F Average Minimum 5C/41F Days with rain falling  6 

The weather descends into autumn, and sometimes winter, during November; and of all the months, the contrast between this part of inland southern Spain and the Mediterranean coast is starkest. There is little dilution of cold weather by the warm sea in Granada, and the nights can be very cold, especially over the valleys. Mist or low cloud may persist for several days, but bright, warm days  usually  outnumber the poor days. Any traveller in November can expect rain, but a wet spell of weather seldom lasts for more than 3 or 4 days before the sun returns, shining on snow-capped mountains.

Weather in Granada in December

 Average Maximum 13C/55F Average Minimum 3C/37F Days with rain falling  7 

There are years when December in Granada is sunny, and although not warm, it can be relatively pleasant. However, the weather may also be poor, and the bad conditions could last for several days.  If the low ground is wet,  then under clear skies fog will readily form. Sometimes, it remains on the plain while the Alhambra, above the City, stays bathed in sunshine. Other times, though, the cold grey mist swirls round the palaces and temperatures fail to rise above 7 or 8 Celsius all day. The Sierra Nevada is usually covered in snow, and rarely the snow briefly visits Granada.

** Anyone visiting the Alhambra in Granada should book at least 24 hours in advance. Entrance is usually barred to those that arrive without a pre booking.  http://www.alhambradegranada.org/en/info/ticketsale.asp  **