It was the moment which set Spain on a course to become the greatest power in early modern Europe. On January 2, 1492 Abdallah Muhammad bin Ali, or Muhammad XII, known as Boabdil, the last Sultan of Granada and head of the Nasrid dynasty, surrendered his city and handed over the keys of the Alhambra to the Catholic monarchs Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella I of Castile. The Christian rulers had approached Granada accompanied by the cardinal of Spain, Francisco Cisneros, and a brilliant retinue of courtiers and noblemen, among whom was Christopher Colombus.
Boabdil rode out to meet them, departing from the Gate of Seven Floors at the Alhambra, down steep slopes offering magnificent views of the city he was about to leave forever. At this official, public surrender of Granada to the Christian enemy, Boabdil handed the keys of his city to Ferdinand, and said:
“God loves you greatly. Sir, these are the keys of this paradise. I and those inside it are yours.”