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Madrasah of Granada

Baroque façade of the Madrasah of Granada (detail).

The Madrasah of Granada (Spanish: Madraza de Granada, also Yusufiyya, Casa de la Ciencia, Palacio de la Madraza) was a Madrasah or mosque school in Granada, Andalusia, Spain. It was founded in 1349 by the Nasrid monarch Yusuf I, Sultan of Granada.[1][2] The building is currently part of the University of Granada[2] and is the seat of the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de Nuestra Señora de las Angustias ("Royal Academy of Fine Arts of Our Lady of Sorrows").[3]

It is located on the street now known as Calle Oficios.[3] The madrasah was built at the heart of the city, near the main mosque (now the site of the Granada Cathedral) and the Alcaicería, then the elite bazaar where silk, gold, linen and other cloth were traded.[4] Ibn al-Khatib was an early student there; among his teachers were Ibn al-Fajjar, Ibn Marzuq, and Ibn al-Hayy (language and law); Ibn al-Hakam and the poet Ibn al-Yayyab (rhetoric); and Sheik Yahya ibn Hudayl (medicine and philosophy).[5]


Among the subjects taught were theology, law,[6] medicine, astronomy, logic, mathematics including geometry, and mechanics.[7]

Ibn Hazm (Fisal) gives us some indication of the curriculum of the "Andalusian school of philosophy": "Consecrate the first fruits of your intelligence to mathematics and begin your scientific education by his deep study of the properties of numbers. Then gradually pass to consider the position of the stars, the apparent shape of the celestial sphere, how to verify the passage of the sun, moon and five planets (…) all other phenomena and accidents physical and atmospheric. Add to this the reading of certain books of the Greeks in which they determine the laws governing discursive reasoning."[This quote needs a citation]

The buildingEdit

As was typical of the works of Yusuf I, the building was splendid,[6] with a white marble entrance whose remains are now in the Archaeological Museum of Granada.[citation needed] The building was originally organized around a pool in the center.[8]

The façade was decorated with inscriptions of poetry and philosophy. Among these were the words "If in your spirit you provide a place for the desire to study and to flee from the shadows of ignorance, you will find in it the beautiful tree of honor. Make study shine like stars to the great, and to those who are not, bring to them the same brilliance."[9]

After the completion of the Reconquista and the conversion to the Cabildo an adjacent house was annexed to enlarge the building. The octagonal Mudéjar Sala de Cabildos was constructed in this era; its 1513 decoration included an inscription alluding to the Christian conquest of the city. Eventually the pool was filled in and converted to other uses, although even after the modifications of 1554–1556, Francisco Henríquez de Jorquera describes a patio with a pool and a garden. The building was subject to major modifications, especially in the 1722–1729 at the height of the Baroque, so that what we have today is essentially an 18th-century building with elements of older buildings. The oratory or mihrab is original from the 14th century; the Sala de los Caballeros XXIV is Mudéjar.[7][10][11]

The building, which belongs to the University of Granada,[2] underwent extensive archeological excavations in 2006–2007. In 2011 the building reopened to the public.


Another picture of the Madrasah.

The Madrasah functioned as a university until late 1499 or early 1500, under the Treaty of Granada (1491), under which the sultan Boabdil of the Emirate of Granada surrendered to the Catholic Monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella.[12] However, events in Granada drastically changed archbishop Hernando de Talavera's benign proselytizing methods. In 1499, an uprising by Muslims in the region of Alpujarras paved the way for Gonzalo Jimenez de Cisneros, as inquisitor-general, to intervene in Talavera's diocese. Following this, the 1491 Treaty of Granda was unilaterally declared null and void by Isabella and Ferdinand's government. [13]

Cisneros took advantage of the situation to assault the Madrasah, the contents of whose library was brought to the plaza of Bib-Rambla and burned in a public bonfire. Once pillaged and closed,[14][15] the building was designated in 1500 by Ferdinand II to be the new Casa del Cabildo (city hall).[6][14][15]

In 1858 the town hall moved to the Plaza del Carmen, and the building was sold to be used as a textile warehouse. Two years later, the principal inscription of the Mihrab was discovered. There was also some fire damage in this era; the Echeverría family, owners of the building, hired Mariano Contreras, the same architect who restored the Alhambra, to undertake the repairs.[7]

The city bought back the building in the early 20th century, leading to further restoration work in 1939. There was an unsuccessful attempt in 1942 to turn the building into the seat of a new Instituto de los Reyes Católicos del Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas ("Catholic Monarchs Institute of the Superior Council of Scientific Investigations"). In 1976, the building became part of the University of Granada.[7]


The archeological excavations in 2006–2007 turned up various remains, including traces of older buildings on the site dating back as far as the 11th century. Two human burials were identified beneath what is now the oratory. They certainly date back at least to the 11th century, and possibly as far back as Roman times, though most likely they date from after the Umayyad conquest of Hispania.[16]


  1. ^ Robinson, Cynthia; Pinet, Simone (10 December 2008). Courting the Alhambra: Cross-Disciplinary Approaches to the Hall of Justice Ceilings. BRILL. p. 52. ISBN 978-90-474-2688-2.
  2. ^ a b c La Madraza, Accessed online 2010-01-23. Archived 2017-02-27 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ a b Real Academia de Bellas Artes de Nuestra Señora de las Angustias, official site. Accessed online 2010-01-23.
  4. ^ Mattei 2008, p. 181–182, 183.
  5. ^ Antonio Santo Orcero, Ibn al-Jatib, Diverso Variable, p. 5. Undated. Accessed online 2010-01-24. "al-Jatib" is the Spanish transliteration of "al-Khatib".
  6. ^ a b c Mattei 2008, p. 183.
  7. ^ a b c d Miguel Rodríguez-Pantoja Márquez, Patrimonio artístico y monumental de las universidades andaluzas, Universidad de Sevilla, 1992, ISBN 84-8051-051-X, p. 13–15. Available online on Google Books.
  8. ^ Mattei 2008, p. 189.
  9. ^ Antonio Almagro Cardenas, Estudio Sobre Las Inscripciones Rabes de Granada [1870] (2009), BiblioBazaar, LLC, ISBN 1-115-71121-0. pág. 215. Available on Google Books. The words would have been originally in Arabic; Almagro Cardenas gives them in Spanish as "Si en tu espíritu hace asiento el deseo del estudio y de huir de las sombras de la ignorancia, hallarás en ella el hermoso árbol del honor. Hace el estudio brillar como estrellas a los grandes, y a los que no lo son los eleva a igual lucimiento."
  10. ^ Mattei 2008, p. 190, 191.
  11. ^ Comienzan las obras de recuperación del interior del Palacio de la Madraza de Granada,, 2009-02-04, accessed on 2010-01-24.
  12. ^ Text of the treaty is online at wikisource:es:Tratado de Granada.
  13. ^ Edwards, John. (2000). The Spain of the Catholic Monarchs 1474-1520. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing.
  14. ^ a b Javier López Gijón, Quema de Bib-Rambla[permanent dead link], Foro Aben Humeya. Accessed online 2010-01-23.
  15. ^ a b Eisenberg, Daniel (1992). "Cisneros y la quema de los manuscritos granadinos". Journal of Hispanic Philology. 16. pp. 107–124.
  16. ^ Mattei 2008, p. 187–188.


Coordinates: 37°10′34″N 3°35′54″W / 37.17611°N 3.59833°W / 37.17611; -3.59833