Al-Ándalus is the Arabic term, of uncertain origin (perhaps the Atlantic Land) that designates the territories of the Iberian Peninsula under Muslim rule during the Middle Ages, between 711 (landing in Algeciras) and 1492 (Granada fall).

Historical development of Al Andalus

The conquest of the Visigothic kingdom, built in the ancient Roman province of Hispania, by the Muslims was piloted from the Caliphate of Damascus, but soon Al-Andalus became independent and knew its own evolution.

Andalusia was the last stronghold of the hispano-muslims after the great Battle of Las Navas de Tolosa (1212) and the incursion of the Castilian troops in the Guadalquivir Depression. It cost more than two centuries to the Catholic Monarchs to finish conquering the mountainous and overcrowded territories of the Kingdom of Granada, to which the city of Ronda belonged.

At its peak, Al-Andalus covered almost the entire Iberian Peninsula, with the exception of the Northwest. Four main dynasties forged the Andalusian civilization: the Umayyads, of Syrian origin, who established the Caliphate of Cordoba; the Almorávides and Almohades, of North African origin, who successively and temporarily restored the splendor of the Caliphate and finally the Nasrids, of Arab line, who erected the Kingdom of Granada after the battle of Las Navas de Tolosa.

A Spanish-Muslim society complex

The Andalusian elite was made up of clans from Syria and the Arabian Peninsula that commanded the Moorish troops, populations of the former Roman province of Mauritania Tingitana: the Berbers. The invaders, in minority, raised a heterogeneous Muslim society that reigned over the initial substrate of the Iberian, Roman and Visigoth populations: “Mozarabic” Christians and “Muladian” Muslim converts. Take into account the presence of an important Jewish community and also of slaves (never Muslims). Religious minorities (Jewish and Christian) were tolerated but marginalized by establishing separate neighbourhoods, taxes and less favourable legal obligations. However, these populations benefited from their own courts and were able to exercise prestigious professions (but not political functions). The Iberian Jewish community (Sephardic) was especially flourishing. Despite the difficulties and tensions, the populations of the three religions lived in the same territory, a unique situation at the time of the Crusades, that forged the myth of possible coexistence.

Al-Ándalus, in particular during the Caliphate of Cordoba, experienced a very significant cultural development compared to neighbouring countries. Many scientific advances allowed the development of large cities and agriculture.

Fall and castellanization

With the advance of the Castilian conquerors and after 1492, many families emigrated to North Africa and Niger. The populations that remained in Spain became known as “Moriscos” and were subjected to a gradual process of acculturation, which led to riots in the mountainous regions (Alpujarra, Ronda). Finally, the authorities forced them to convert or to emigrate. The influence of Al-Andalus continued even after its fall, particularly in vocabulary, agriculture and architecture. “Mudejar” describes an Andalusian style, of Muslim origin and converted to Christianity.

Andalusian heritage

Despite the eight centuries of Hispanic-Muslim presence in the Iberian Peninsula, the origin of the most universal monuments of Andalusia (Alhambra, Mezquita, Giralda, Alcázar) and the cultural influence of this civilization, it is not exaggerated to say that, in general , for the Spaniards of the 21st century: the Moors are the others… the North Africans ; the old Andalusians … it’s not us, descendants of Castilians for the most part (or Basques, Catalans, Galicians).

In many villages in Spain, the celebrations of “Moors and Christians” evoke difficult events between the two communities … and the final Christian victory. The most notorious celebration of the Serranía de Ronda is celebrated in the town of Benalauría (Valle del Genal).

The horseshoe arch is the emblem of Hispano-Moorish architecture. The alternation of red bricks and white limestone stones always points to Cordoba, the ancient capital of the Caliphate.

The geometric patterns of the Alhambra are splendidly beautiful and absolutely stunning since all the existing symmetries (!) Are represented there … Medieval sciences and arts at their peak.

The Mosque Cathedral of Cordoba is a universal monument symbol of the possible co-existence between people of different beliefs.

The Alhambra in Granada is the most visited historical monument in Spain and one of the most popular in the world.

Celebrations of “Moors and Christians” of Benalauría.

The conquest of the Visigothic kingdom, built in the ancient Roman province of Hispania, by the Muslims was piloted from the Caliphate of Damascus, but soon Al-Andalus became independent and knew its own evolution.

Andalusia was the last stronghold of the hispano-muslims after the great Battle of Las Navas de Tolosa (1212) and the incursion of the Castilian troops in the Guadalquivir Depression. It cost more than two centuries to the Catholic Monarchs to finish conquering the mountainous and overcrowded territories of the Kingdom of Granada, to which the city of Ronda belonged.

At its peak, Al-Andalus covered almost the entire Iberian Peninsula, with the exception of the Northwest. Four main dynasties forged the Andalusian civilization: the Umayyads, of Syrian origin, who established the Caliphate of Cordoba; the Almorávides and Almohades, of North African origin, who successively and temporarily restored the splendor of the Caliphate and finally the Nasrids, of Arab line, who erected the Kingdom of Granada after the battle of Las Navas de Tolosa.

The Andalusian elite was made up of clans from Syria and the Arabian Peninsula that commanded the Moorish troops, populations of the former Roman province of Mauritania Tingitana: the Berbers. The invaders, in minority, raised a heterogeneous Muslim society that reigned over the initial substrate of the Iberian, Roman and Visigoth populations: “Mozarabic” Christians and “Muladian” Muslim converts. Take into account the presence of an important Jewish community and also of slaves (never Muslims). Religious minorities (Jewish and Christian) were tolerated but marginalized by establishing separate neighbourhoods, taxes and less favourable legal obligations. However, these populations benefited from their own courts and were able to exercise prestigious professions (but not political functions). The Iberian Jewish community (Sephardic) was especially flourishing. Despite the difficulties and tensions, the populations of the three religions lived in the same territory, a unique situation at the time of the Crusades, that forged the myth of possible coexistence.

Al-Ándalus, in particular during the Caliphate of Cordoba, experienced a very significant cultural development compared to neighbouring countries. Many scientific advances allowed the development of large cities and agriculture.

With the advance of the Castilian conquerors and after 1492, many families emigrated to North Africa and Niger. The populations that remained in Spain became known as “Moriscos” and were subjected to a gradual process of acculturation, which led to riots in the mountainous regions (Alpujarra, Ronda). Finally, the authorities forced them to convert or to emigrate. The influence of Al-Andalus continued even after its fall, particularly in vocabulary, agriculture and architecture. “Mudejar” describes an Andalusian style, of Muslim origin and converted to Christianity.

Despite the eight centuries of Hispanic-Muslim presence in the Iberian Peninsula, the origin of the most universal monuments of Andalusia (Alhambra, Mezquita, Giralda, Alcázar) and the cultural influence of this civilization, it is not exaggerated to say that, in general , for the Spaniards of the 21st century: the Moors are the others… the North Africans ; the old Andalusians … it’s not us, descendants of Castilians for the most part (or Basques, Catalans, Galicians).

In many villages in Spain, the celebrations of “Moors and Christians” evoke difficult events between the two communities … and the final Christian victory. The most notorious celebration of the Serranía de Ronda is celebrated in the town of Benalauría (Valle del Genal).