Granada, an European city in the heart of Spanish culture…

I am doing my internship at AIFED, Granada, after finishing my law studies at the University of Lille, France. I collaborate in several projects that the association carries out, and among them MY DEMOCRATIC EUROPA, within the Europe for Citizens program of the European Commission. The project is coordinated by RECHT IN EUROPE, a highly specialized entity from Jena, Germany, and Greece and Bulgaria also participate in it.

We reflected on the footprint of the EU in our cities, but ... what have I reflected on this living these months in GRANADA?

Spanish identification with European values and symbols is not that ancient and it can seem a bit challenging for this country to fully take part of the European Union involving its ideas, values, symbols or culture, since Spain is still considered as a “new democracy”.

Indeed, the Spanish integration in Europe is a process that began with the Association Agreement of 1970. A process through which Spain had to democratize itself, in order to enter, as it had been requested, some years before. The creation of “European links” between Europe Union, previously called EEC (European Economic community) and Spain  is only dating back from 50 years ago! Yet, It was only at the death of the Spanish dictator, Francisco Franco in 1975 that the country had been able to initiate a democratic transition, which allowed it to apply for membership in 1977. The transition from dictatorship to democracy to European democracy was not easy. Spanish and European citizens' distrust of Europe has increased in recent years, it was mainly due to national governments actions, which have spent more time using Europe as a scapegoat for their own policies than highlighting the gains made thanks to it and to the fear of other countries to let another country, less advanced socially and economically than them, come in Europe.

After a lot of hurdles they manage to integrate and implement their cohesion with other member countries.

Yet it remains pertinent to ask ourselves about the place of Spanish cities in Europe, and especially focus on Granada which is the capital of the province of the same name, located in the southeast of Spain between the shores of the Mediterranean and the Andalusian hinterland. Granada is one of the most important cultural and architectural heritages in Spain. Indeed, both the historic Moorish neighbourhood of Albaicín and Alhambra have been declared World Heritage Sites by UNESCO. Granada also has a Renaissance cathedral dating from the 16th century and the main influences of the city are the perfect mix of both Arabic/Muslim and Spanish/Christian architectures.

Granada is a major European city, due to its localisation, near the African continent and to its culture and architecture, which makes this city really unique and beautiful.

Walking in the streets of Granada is both feeling the catholic royalty history beneath our feets and the new history of Spain, implemented at its entrance in the European Union. The funny part about this mix of both current history and renaissance one is that near the Granada Cathedral considered to be the very first church built in the Renaissance style in Spain under the reign of the Catholic Kings, we can see a city hall, with Spanish and Europeans flag at the front of the building, embodying democracy and fraternity beliefs. Granada is the perfect mix of european values such as democracy, unity, fundamental rights, justice, solidarity and equality between women and men and interesting past mixing Christian and Muslim history.

Granada has an eavy history past, the city was founded by the Romans under the name of “Illibris” and It was the Moors, who invaded the city in the 18th century B.C. and settled there for seven centuries, who named it "Granada". It is Ferdinand and Isabella, the revered "Catholic Monarchs" of Spain, conquered the kingdom of Granada in 1492, which marked the culmination of the Christian Reconquest of the Iberian Peninsula.

This city remains the perfect example of the importance of keeping up with the past while evolving in politics, traditions and values. That is why Granada is an ideal city to learn about the past and the future of Spain, about royalty and democracy. Granada also gathers all the characteristics vital to any major european city such as, architecture of various styles and ages with a mix of both skyscrapers, old mansions and old buildings (… ), a large number of foreign tourists, the presence of a city coat of arms; little and narrow streets, presence of green spaces and a very large number of architectural monuments such as churches and sculpture.

As French girl doing an internship here, I have really enjoyed every part of Granada, each neighbourhood has its own surprises, identity and really pretty places and that’s what I really enjoy about this town. There is always something to do or see in Granada.

In conclusion, we can say that Granada is a typical Spanish and European city that both promotes Spanish culture and embodies European values.


Emma Revillet