Muslims invaded Iberia in 711CE,  and within a few decades controlled most of the peninsula. Their first capital was Cordoba (756-1031), then Seville (1040-1248), and finally Granada (1248-1492).  While the rest of Europe languished, in El Andalus (the Muslim name for  their Iberian empire) science, literacy and architecture flourished.   Christian forces from the north waged an 800-year war, slowly pushing south until Granada’s final fall in 1492.  








Though we saw some old books and heard some old songs, most of what we could encounter today was in the surviving architecture.  It’s an esthetic and engineering technique that continued into Christian (or Jewish) construction.

Inside the Alcazar, Seville

Alcazar, Seville

Ceiling in the Mosque of Cordoba

Part of the synagogue in Cordoba, built in Muslim times.

One of the doors on the Great mosque of Cordoba

Ronda. Private mansion now a museum.

Granada.   Another example of Islamic style in building.




The Mezquita (Mosque) of Cordoba was constructed and enlarged by a succession of Muslim rulers in the 8th and 9th centuries C.E.  It is remarkable for its rows upon rows of red&white double arches.  Around the Mihrab (the prayer niche facing Mecca) are typical inscriptions from the Koran.  After the reconquest of Cordoba by Christian rulers, a cathedral was created within one large section of this even larger building.  I have some more photos of the Mezquita/Cathedral in the Fortresses and Churches file.


Mezquita, Cordoba

Mosque, Cordoba

Not a mosque.  It’s a synagogue in Toledo

Surviving Mihrab of the Mezquita in Cordoba

Surviving eastern wall of the synagogue in Cordoba




The final capital city of Muslim Andalucia was Granada.  There the wonderful palace called the Alhambra was home to the ruling family, enclosed townsite for a support population, seat of government and setting for fountains and gardens.  Though much of it is gone, what remains (and is under restoration) is a wonder and delight.







The Muslims adapted the Roman bathhouse technology.  Islam’s emphasis on cleanliness meant that many many were built.  Later Christianity’s avoidance of the sensual meant that most were abandoned.  A few survive.

The “ArabBaths” in Girona are actually 123th century Christian


Cordoba.  Don’t know how old this bathhouse is, but we paid for two hours here

13th century CE bathhouse in Ronda.  This is the largest surviving intact Arab bath in Spain.