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Zahara: Beginning of the End of Muslim Spain

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


This tiny town is one of many beautiful towns known as Andalucian white hill towns. They are called white hill towns due to the white color of all the buildings in each of these small towns. The setting of the city is set under a Moorish castle atop of the nearby mountain.

During Muslim rule, Zahara was an important fortified castle that was considered to be the strategic gateway to Granada. Ferdinand and Isabel knew that they had to capture Zahara if they were to be successful in conquering the rest of Granada. Locals still tell the story of how the Spanish captured the castle as if it happened yesterday. After the Spanish failed several times to capture the castle, a clever Spanish soldier noticed that the Muslim sentinel would check to see if any attackers were behind a particular section of the wall by tossing a rock to set the pigeons in flight. If they flew, the sentinel figured there was no danger. One night a Spaniard hid there with a bag of pigeons and let them fly when the sentinel tossed his rock. Seeing the birds fly, the guard assumed he was clear to enjoy a snooze. The clever Spaniard then scaled the wall and opened the door to let his troops in, and the castle was conquered in 1482. Ten years later, Granada itself fell.

Today, Zahara is a small town with its main industry being farming. The ruins of the castle still stand today, although most of it has been reclaimed back to nature.


  • [1] Menocal, Maria Rosa, Ornament of the World, Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 2002.
  • [2] Zaimeche, Salah, “Granada – The Last Refuge of Muslims in Spain,” Foundation for Science Technology and Civilisation, 2004.
  • [3] Lea, H.C., Moriscos of Spain: Their Conversion and Expulsion, London 1901.
  • [4] Cubitt, G., Granada: Or The Expulsion Of The Moors From Spain

  • Keywords: Spain, Andalucia, Zahara

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