Michael Graybill English 70 TR 1PM September 19, 2012 Moorish Architecture in Andalusia Who were the Moors? The Moors were a group of Arabs, Berbers, and Iberian Muslims, who in the 8th century, conquered most of what is now modern day Spain and Portugal. My purpose for writing this paper is to inform the reader of one of many cultural contributions the Moors gave “Andalusia” (modern day Spain, Portugal, and bits of France). Much of Andalusia’s architecture was greatly influenced by Moorish architecture. The Moors had a history of complex and beautiful architecture.
With their highly decorative and geometric style, the Moors were responsible for the architecture of most edifices in NW Africa. One of the more prominent features of Moorish architecture is the arrangement of structures around one central courtyard, into which all other aspects of the building would open (The Columbia Encyclopedia). Great examples of Moorish style can be noticed in their mosques. For example, The Great Mosque at Al Qayrwan in Tunisia, featured a large court surrounded by galleries that opened into a praying room, which took the form of a hypostyle hall.
This sacred building is also known for its splendorous tile decor (The Columbia Encyclopedia). The elaborate details of the tiles and arches, combined with the complexity of the structure, built around one central courtyard, make this particular mosque distinctly Moorish. The Moors’ architectural style also permeated Spanish culture in Andalusia. In 711 A. D. the Moors defeated the Visigoths and conquered Andalusia. During their caliphate, the Moors succeeded in coalesce with the Spanish culture.
Although the Islamic Moors tolerated Christians and Jews, they erected many huge mosques (Moorish Portugal). An exemplar would be The Great Mosque of Cordoba. The mosque features many examples of Moorish architecture, among them: a central courtyard, many arches, including the “horseshoe arch,” Islamic calligraphy and inscriptions (The Columbia Encyclopedia). Probably the most elite example of “Mozarabic Architecture” is Alhambra. “Alhambra, was a famous palace and fortress in Granada, Spain. It was built by the
Moors, a Muslim people from northern Africa, between 1248 and 1354. Now a monument, the Alhambra is one of the most elaborate and important examples of Islamic architecture in the Western world. ”(R. William). The erection of buildings such as this one exposed the people of Andalusia to a style of architecture they had never seen before. In this way, Moorish culture began its influence on Spanish style architecture. The impact that the aforementioned elements of Moorish architecture had on Andalusia and ultimately, Spanish culture, is immeasurable.
From when the Moors first crossed the straight of Gibraltar, too modern day, the Spanish would continue to use Moorish architectural concepts. The Moors introduced a new and elaborate style that they weren’t familiar with. Today Spanish architecture is full of Mozarabic complexity. You can even see examples of evolved Spanish architecture in town. Take the Santa Barbara Mission for example; everything from its pillars to its arches can be traced back to the Moors. This cultural contribution is still very important today.
Moorish architecture greatly influenced Andalusia’s architecture, which forever altered Spanish architectural style. In fact, Moorish architecture’s influence on Spanish culture is still visible today, in the form of many modern American buildings. Buildings with central courtyards, complex arches, and elaborate, ornate tile work have been prominent within Spanish culture for centuries, and are still prominent, all because the Moors contributed their architectural innovations to Andalusia.
Works Cited ARCHITECTURE. ” Africa and the Americas: Culture, Politics, and History. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO, 2008. Credo Reference. Web. 18 September 2012. “Moorish art and architecture. ” The Columbia Encyclopedia. New York: Columbia University Press, 2008. Credo Reference. Web. 18 September 2012. “Moorish Portugal. ” A Historical Companion to Postcolonial Literatures: Continental Europe and its Empires. Edinburg: Edinburgh University Press, 2008. Credo Reference. Web. 18 September 2012. The Oxford Dictionary of the Middle Ages Rudd, J. William. “Alhambra. ” World Book Advanced. World Book, 2012. Web. 19 Sept. 2012.