Architecture, Europe

On the Moors’ Trail

In Andalusia you get a glimpse 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, the Spanish conquerors obviously took a liking in Muslim art and architecture. Many Moorish artists stayed in the job, going on with their work under the Christian rule. Their signature is probably most apparent in the use of the horseshoe arch and the intricate plasterwork with its arabesque and geometric patterns.

In the 16th and 17th century, the blend of Islamic art and western architecture, called Mudéjar, became a popular design standard in large parts of Spain. It even saw a comeback as Neo-Mudéjar two centuries later.

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 were not long in the coming and led by the Christian rulers of Aragon, Asturias, and Navarre. The resulting centuries-long conflict is called Reconquista. It ended in 1491 with a complete defeat of the Moors in the siege of Granada.