The Nasrid dynasty was the last of Muslim origin that dominated the Iberian Peninsula, from 1238 to 1492. Founded by Muhammad I “Son of the Red”, he made this color his emblem, and thus the name of his residence “La Roja” was born. better known as “La Alhambra”, in Granada. His fall led to the end of al-Andalus.
Historical background – end of the Almohad period
To try to place the Nasrid emergence in a historical context, it is necessary to go back to the last decades of the life of the Almohad Empire in the Iberian Peninsula. From the battle of Las Navas de Tolosa, in 1212, the Almohad power in Al-Andalus began to wane under pressure from the Castilian military armies towards the south-central part of the peninsula. This defeat was the end of the peninsula.
The Almohad movement, which emerged in the thirteenth century, meant the genesis of the largest empire ever known, nestled in the western part of Dâr al-islam, (Land of Islam), including al-Andalus. Endowed with a hierarchical organization of Berber tradition, the Almohads waged a long struggle for power, and thus began the conquest of Al-Andalus in the year 1145.
Their legitimacy was rooted in “Almohadism”, that is, their self-proclamation as caliphs of the sovereigns. In this way, they broke every vestige of recognition of the Abbasid authority, previously obeyed by the Almoravids. They made a more radical interpretation of the Qur’an.
Ibn al Ahmar
In this context, after the Almohad defeat in the battle of Las Navas de Tolosa (1212), an unstable period began in al-Andalus, where local leaders tried to individually save the Islamic peninsular territory from the Christian advance towards the south. Although, only one of them would achieve it.
Muhammad ibn Yūsuf ibn. Nasr, nicknamed Ibn al Ahmar, managed to reunify al-Andalus for a long time under his reign. Born in Arjona, in 1194, and died in Granada, in 1273, he was the first ruler of the Kingdom and with him started the Nasrid dynasty. He proclaimed himself Emir of Al-Andalus in 1232 and six years later he transferred political power from Jaen to Granada.
His birth and subsequent proclamation as emir, the appointment of Granada as capital, the Alhambra as the new center of power and political tensions with Castile, are just some of the key aspects to understand why the Kingdom of Granada managed to develop in a devastated al -Andalus ”.
A career military man, he made his glorious entry into Granada through the Elvira Gate, proclaiming aloud: “Wa lā gāliba illā-llāh | Wa lâ Ghâlib illâ Allâh” (There is no other victor but Allah), emblematic Nasrid motto. Nicknamed “The Red”, because of the color of his beard, he ruled between 1238 and 1273 as Muhammad I.
By 1238, the existing defense bastions on the Sabika mountain were transformed into the bases of the “new citadel or Al-Qasba yadida” (the Alcazaba), improving security with impregnable constructions. These were the foundations of the Alhambra.
For much of the Nasrid period (12th and 14th centuries), Granada was a prosperous city. The kingdom came to house some 165,000 inhabitants, and was a fundamental commercial and cultural center. Large urban constructions such as the Alhambra and the Generalife located in Granada city are preserved from this period.
The dynastic legitimacy of the self-proclaimed emir of Al-Andalus could be in question, making it difficult for him to remain in time. This is the reason why, Mohammad I, helped by the viziers, justified his lineage by linking his surname ibn Nasr with the Nasr tribe. This tribe in the 7th century on the Arabian peninsula had helped Muhammad in the beginning of Islam.
This extraordinary architectural creation stands as one of the most valued and admired heritages, not only by the Spanish, but worldwide. Not for nothing has it been considered the eighth wonder of the world a few years ago.
First there was a military fortress dating from the 11th century – built on other previous constructions -. Later in the 13th century, the first Nasrid monarch would choose it as his royal residence. The majesty that it inspires, bears on its shoulders the weight of numerous wars and conquests, which have threatened its integrity on many occasions.
Together with the Generalife and the Albaicín neighborhood, the Alhambra has been a UNESCO heritage site since 1984. The Alhambra has great historical value like few other places in the world.
The motto of the Nasrid dynasty لا غالب إلا الله. It is shown repeatedly in Nasrid palaces. It was a way of continually reminding third parties of the legitimacy of his lineage.
From the Nasrid dynasty, from the life of the Nasrid sultans, from Nasrid architecture, … it is possible to know it through our guided tours in the Alhambra. If you are interested in touring this magnificent monumental complex with the help of an expert guide in the field, please