This is the view from the back window of my house in El
Fargue, a few kilometres to the north of Granada. We’re looking west and in the
middle of the mountain range that forms the horizon we can discern the place
where Puerto Lope – the Lope Pass – permits the passage through the mountains
of the road to Cordoba. This was where in days of old highwaymen lay in wait
for those who made the journey between the two Andalusian cities.

Reflected in the morning sunshine we can also just about
discern the church on the hill above the village of Moclin. Above the church was a fortress
of which only ruins remain today. This was where Ferndinand and Isabel
established their court as they lay siege to Granada, leading up to the fall of
the city on 2 January 1492.

Ferdinand and Isabel captured the fortress on 26 July 1486.
To give it some historical perspective, that’s the year after Richard III’s
defeat and death at the battle of Bosworth and so the start of the Tudor dynasty
in England. It might have been the year Sandro Boticello painted ‘The Birth of
Venus’. Constantinople had recently been integrated into the Ottoman Empire and
the city state of Venice was the centre of European civilisation, thanks to its
trade routes to the East.

The fortress had long been a military goal for Christian
armies but its position made it close to invincible. The determination with
which they now fought was a sign that the campaign to capture Granada was not
simply another skirmish between Christians and Moslems, of the kind that had
been going on for centuries. The aim was to drive all non-Christians once and
for all from the Iberian peninsula. Fernando and Isabel began their siege in
the spring of 1486 and once victorious they made a great investment in terms of
men and materials to make sure they hung on to it.

Moclin was the perfect vantage point for the siege of
Granada. Once Malaga in the west had been taken, in 1487, and Baza and
Almeria in the east, in 1489, the city found itself completely isolated. The
Catholic Monarchs now moved their troops down onto the Vega and set up camp at
Santa Fe, barely ten kilometres across the plain from their final objective.
The camp was converted into a walled city in the course of 1491 – and for
Granada, the writing was on the wall. Boabdil, the last head of the Nazrid
dynasty, formally capitulated on 25 November 1491 and handed over the keys to his
capital city on 2 January 1492, an event whose repercussions have echoed down
to the present day.

The church at Moclin was built on the site of the mosque
that had stood there for centuries and was raised to the ground immediately
after its capture. The church was designed by Diego de Siloé, favourite
architect of the Catholic Monarchs, one of the first in Spain who built in the
Renaissance style.

In acknowledgement of their gratitude to the people of
Moclin for their hospitality (forced hospitality, I imagine, as the town had been Moslem
for several centuries), Ferdinand and Isabel left the painting Cristo del Paño (sackcloth).
But this is another story.

Souce Wikipedia & Ayuntamiento de Moclin