Published: A Tale of Two Cities (Granada & Cairo)

This year marks the millennium of the Andalusian city of Granada, founded by Berbers from North Africa (the Zirids) in 1013 as a fortified city during the civil war that ended the Umayyad rule over al-Andalus (present-day Iberian Peninsula).

Since its foundation and till it was taken by the Catholic Monarchs in 1492, the city had its ups and downs, its golden age and its doom. The Zirids, its founders, were once agents of the Fatimids that had founded Cairo earlier in 969. Only 44 years separate the foundation of both cities. To what extent were the Zirids (and hence Granada) influenced by the Fatimid culture? Did Granada resemble Cairo in any way?

My latest article in Ahram Online tackles this issue and many others. You can read it all at:
http://english.ahram.org.eg/News/65495.aspx

Inside the Alhambra

Remains of a mosque in Albayzin

The Zirid Portal of Elvira

Charla en la Universidad de Granada: El Cairo Fatimí y Granada Zirí (May 21)

Today I gave a lecture at the University of Granada (Faculty of Translation) on the historical and cultural relationships between Cairo and Granada, two cities that –at first glance- would seem like worlds apart. Historically however, they were founded only 44 years apart by the Fatimids (Cairo, 969 AD) and their agents in Ifriqiyya, the Zirids (Granada, 1031 AD).

An offshoot of the Zirid rulers in central Maghreb crossed to al-Andalus to take part in the Umayyad civil war that resulted in the disintegration of the Umayyad Caliphate around 1030 AD. During the civil war, several taifa kingdoms started to appear, including the Zirids (Banu Ziri) who founded Granada in 1013 on the ruins of an ancient Roman city.

Their rule (1013-1090) corresponds to part of the Fatimid rule in Egypt, and their art is influenced by the Fatimid style that they once marveled at in Mahdiya and other Fatimid cities in present-day Tunisia. Upon visiting the Archaeological Museum of Granada, the Museum of al-Monastir, the Bardo Musuem and the Raqqada Museum of Islamic Art, one can easily establish the cultural and artistic links.