Architecture, Europe

Spain’s Moorish Heritage

In Andalusia you may spot traces of its Moorish heritage at almost every turn. Historic monuments such as Córdoba’s Mezquita, Granada’s Alhambra, or Sevilla’s Giralda are listed as UNESCO world heritage sites. Even today’s functional architecture in Spain seems influenced by a design that harks back to the Moorish rule of Iberia.

During Reconquista, many Moorish artists went on with their work under the re-established Christian rule. The Spanish conquerors apparently took a liking in Muslim art and architecture. The resulting design, a blend of Islamic art and western architecture called Mudéjar style, became a popular standard in large parts of Spain throughout 16th and 17th century. Key elements are the horseshoe arch and the plasterwork of arabesque and geometric patterns.

Al-Andalus and Reconquista

Al-Andalus was the name of the Islamic rule of the Iberian Peninsula. In the 8th century, Moorish troops from North Africa crossed the Strait of Gibraltar and conquered large parts of what is Portugal and Spain today. The counterattacks of the Spaniards, led by the Christian rulers of Aragon, Asturias, and Navarre, resulted in a centuries-long conflict, the Reconquista. It ended in 1491 with a complete defeat of the Moors in the siege of Granada.