The Fall of Granada.


“We have indeed made that which is on earth as an adornment for it, in order to test which of them is best in deeds.”

The Quran


Spain, Spring of 1482

Boabdil sat confidently on the throne with a goblet of red wine dangling from his right hand. Belly dancers twirled to the strumming of oud and drumming of tabla as a poet sang songs praising the sultan. It was the night of Boabdil’s coronation as the new sultan of Granada. The Alhambra Palace shone with all its splendor to celebrate the occasion. Ten thousand candles lit the inside of the palace. The finest Moorish delicacies were served to the nobles of Granada earlier that evening who came bearing gifts to swear their allegiance to the new sultan.

Boabdil had schemed for years to take the throne from his father, and tonight was the night he would finally celebrate his triumph. The rebellion against his father had almost torn the small Sultanate of Granada in two and caused a civil war between the Moors as some swore allegiance to father and others to son. Granada was the last remaining Moorish sultanate in Spain. Its survival hinged on the unity of the Moors against the approaching forces of the Catholic Kings.

The new sultan, only 18 at the time, gulped down the sweet wine. The music grew louder, and the smoke made the chamber hazy. Lounging around the sultan in his private chamber, eunuchs and concubines gossiped and giggled as they smoked a concoction of hashish and tobacco. A concubine poured Boabdil more wine. Having succeeded at seizing the throne from his father, the young sultan was now the most powerful man in Andalusia. I have achieved the ultimate victory, he thought to himself. I am finally the sultan! I have power! I have riches! He took another gulp of wine that dampened his senses and dulled his mind.

That very night, King Ferdinand pored over a leather map of Andalusia. On the map was a large “X” next to Granada. He moved several chess pieces around the X. Looking up from the map into the eyes of his closest generals, he said “It is God’s will. We must lay siege to Granada. It is our destiny to complete the Reconquista!”


Spain, Winter of 1482

“Your Majesty, the treasury is being quickly depleted. We are unable to fund our schools and orphanages. We have had to reduce the wages of government officials and soldiers. The merchants are complaining that the increased taxes are eating away at the little profit they make. The soup kitchens are filled to the brim, and we are struggling to feed the poor. Is this extension to the Alhambra really necessary?”

“How dare you question me?” scoffed Boabdil. “I am sultan! You shall do as I say!”

Mohsen, the sultanate’s treasurer, bowered to signal that he would do as his sovereign ordered.

Over the next decade, the finest artisans from around the Mediterranean flocked to Granada. Jews, Christians, and Muslim craftsmen worked on the monumental extension to the Alhambra.

“I want my palace to reflect heaven on earth! I want it decorated with gold and silver from floor to ceiling so that it shines like the sun with the light of day and sparkles like stars at night with the light of candles!”

“Your Majesty’s wish is my command,” said Al-Mimar, the sultanate’s chief architect.


Spain, Autumn of 1491

On the day the extension to the Alhambra was expected to be completed, Boabdil woke up abruptly to the sound of a Granada’s canon. The new weapon had been imported from the Ottoman lands to mark the opening of the palace’s colossal new building.

“How dare them sound the canon without my consent?” Boabdil murmured as he rubbed his drowsy eyes.

As he donned his velvet purple gown, the cannon blasted again. This time, he heard men shouting and women screaming.

“What the hell is going on?” he shouted to the guards outside his bedchamber.

“Your majesty, the Castilians have surrounded the city. The royal guards are firing the cannon at the Castilians to distract them as our soldiers take their positions on the city walls.”


Spain, January 2, 1492

King Ferdinand rode his white stallion through the gates of Granada. What a magnificent palace? The king thought to himself as he looked up at the hill on which the Alhambra was nestled. The Castilian soldiers marched behind the king’s stallion which trotted gracefully. Click, clack, click, clack, click, clack Boabdil could hear the hooves of Ferdinand’s horse as it trotted on the cobblestone road leading up to the Alhambra.

“Boabdil,” Ferdinand addressed the sultan from his horse. “You have our word. You and your people will not be harmed. We shall secure a safe passage for you to the Maghreb as long as you surrender.”

Surrounded by his court and the nobles of Granada, Boabdil needed to decide. Surrender and spare the lives of his people. Or fight and die with dignity. After a long silence, Boabdil did something he had seen many men do but had never done himself. He bowed to another man. As he bowed to the Castilian king, he extended his hands with an offering as a sign of surrender. In one hand, he offered the sword he never used to defend his sultanate. In the other hand, he offered the keys to the palace he had dedicated his reign to expanding but never had the chance to enjoy.



This is a story inspired by history. It is not entirely true and is based on the author’s imagination.

Written by Mostafa on February 19, 2022