Granada flag: symbols, colors, and meanings

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1983. The City Council has finally approved the Granada flag. This is a great moment for the inhabitants, who will now gaze at the symbol of their city flying everywhere around. So for the curious explorers who are seeing it for the first time, here is the Granada flag: symbols, colors, and meanings.

What the Granada flag looks like?

Every Spanish city proudly displays its flag, whether next to the Spanish flag in the town hall, or at the entrance to the city’s landmark monuments. Granada is no exception. Yet its flag is the embodiment of a rich and complex past, linked to the country’s Islamic and then Christian conquest.

Granada flag colors

The flag has gold, white… and shows a majority of red and green. According to the Granada Town Hall, these two Granada flag colors are a reference to the former Islamic occupation.

Indeed, the red represents the disappeared Nasrid monarchy. This Arab dynasty ruled the kingdom of Granada in 1237, which had a larger territory than today. Mohammed ben Nazar, nicknamed Al-Ghâlib: ‘the victor’, or Al-Ahmar: “the red one”, was the founder of this monarchy. Determined to establish himself on the throne, he built the Alhambra at the highest point of Grenada. In 1492, Granada was reconquered by the Catholic kings… and the inhabitants still didn’t have a flag representing their city. 

However, the explanation of green as the Granada flag color is vague. According to the town hall, there are two plausible hypotheses for this dominance of green. Firstly, after the reconquest of the city, the Guardia Vieja de Castilla was formed. The purpose of this guard was to protect the territory of Castilla and to respond to the demands of the crown. Its flag was green, with the emblem of the Catholic Monarchs in the center. The eagle of Saint John and four red pomegranates adorned the blazon. The second hypothesis is that green also represents the Arab conquest. Indeed, this color is one of the symbols of the Islamic religion. In the end, the two hypotheses are undoubtedly linked. In any case, it’s a Christian coat of arms that is at the center of the Granada flag

The emblem of Granada, the upper part

This Granada flag symbol has two main parts. In the upper part, the Catholic kings are proudly parading: King Ferdinand V and his wife Queen Elisabeth I. If you look closely, you can see them sitting on two thrones. And if you squint, even more, you will be able to see the attributes that characterize them. King Ferdinand V is holding a sword in his right hand. It might be a reference to the war he made to take back the empire of Granada from the hands of the former conqueror. This fierce battle lasted 10 years.

The king’s wife, Queen Elizabeth I, is also a Granada flag symbol. In her right hand is her main attribute: a scepter of power. Called “the Catholic Kings” by Pope Alexander VI, the two companions led many Catholic holy wars.

The Granada’s emblem, the lower part

The lower part contains two different Granada flag symbols. The lower left half contains the Torre de la Vela or “watchtower” as part of the Alhambra. This bell tower is important for the inhabitants of the city because it hides a unique history. In fact, it was an indicator for the watering of the fields for the farmers, especially at night. As they had no time reference, the bell was their watch. It usually started ringing around 8 pm until 9.30 pm. Then it continued to ring irregularly until 3 am or 4 am, depending on the season. But the Torre de la Vela had more than just one function: it warned the inhabitants of attacks.

Nowadays, as the city has fewer problems with war, the tower is more used as a commemoration on 2 January, the day the Catholic kings reconquered the city. If an unmarried girl rings the bell on that day, she will meet her husband within the year. To this day, nothing has contradicted the veracity of this tradition… 

Finally, the lower left-hand side contains the city’s fruit: the pomegranate. Interestingly, and undoubtedly linked to the coat of arms, this fruit is also the symbol of a religious order in the town, which long ago settled in many towns including Antequera. It’s normal to see fruit carved into the walls of the 40 churches scattered around the little town.

The coat of arms of Granada, the rest of its composition

The rest of the composition is a direct reference to the kingdoms of León and Castilla, which were under the rule of King Ferdinand V. León, which means lion in Spanish, was represented on the blazon by the animal. And as a logical consequence, Castilla is always represented by a castle. 

Finally, the ribbons adorn the coat of arms. Printed in gold letters is the inscription: “muy noble, muy leal, nombrada, grande, celebérrima y heroica ciudad de Granada”. In other words: “very noble, very loyal, named, great, famous and heroic city of Granada”. The ribbons on both sides end in a gold pom pom and therefore surround the coat of arms. 

Granada flag meanings come from key stages in its history that made the city what it is today. The inhabitants are very proud of their flag, and nobody should ever touch it.

Granada flag: scandals at the Torre de la Vela

In 2008, the Alhambra’s board of directors decided to remove the Granada flag from the top of the watchtower. This decision created a huge scandal, as the inhabitants didn’t understand why their flag was suddenly removed. It had always been there, alongside the national, regional, and European flags. 

The Granada City Council then filed a public complaint against the directors’ committee. Under pressure, they had no choice but to accept the request and put the Granada flag back in its place. 

This sinister affair was widely reported by citizens, the press, and local institutions. The year 2008 symbolizes the deep attachment of the inhabitants to their flag. However, it isn’t the only flag that represents Granada.

Granada’s provincial flag

Here, only green dominates. In its center is another emblem, strangely reminiscent of the Granada city flag

The Granada flag symbolizes the city’s exciting history… and of its people. It is with a touch of pride that they refer to their flag. It has similarities with Malaga’s flag. They have the same composition, with a religious emblem in the middle.

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