Spanish Muslim architecture. Al-Andalus architecture

Spanish Muslim architecture. Al-Andalus architecture
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Spanish Muslim architecture. Eight centuries of awesome architecture.

Mezquita, Córdoba, Spain. This mosque, known a...

Mezquita, Córdoba, Spain. This mosque, known as “La Mezquita” — Spanish for ‘the mosque’ — is currently used as a cathedral. It features supporting columns made of talc (soapstone). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

During eight centuries, from 711 to 1492, current Spain had territories with Islamic culture and Muslim rulers.

They created great artwork (pottery, tapestry, leather work…) and above all, a marvelous architecture, with specific characteristics like horseshoe arches. Still, we admire the Mosque of Cordoba and the palace of the Alhambra in Granada.

Main characteristics of Spanish-Muslim architecture:

-Use of brick and poor materials.

-The importance of the interior. The cheap walls were decorated with plasterwork and colorful mosaics. The result is marvelous. However, the exterior was forgotten in most cases.

-They preferred curve lines to the straight ones. Then, every kind of arch, vault and dome were employed.

-Roman, horseshoe, pointed, ogee, mixtilineal, lobed arches. An imaginative interior where gardens and sources created a peaceful atmosphere.

-Columns were also important. Specially the head of the column (the capital) with decoration of leaves, flowers, Arab letters and abstract reliefs. It was a culture that never loved to represent human figures.

-The dome was the representation of the universe and they were built in the shape of stars and imaginative waves. In Granada were decorated with some kind of stalactites, called ‘mocarabes’.

Golden mosaics in the dome of the Great Mosque...

Golden mosaics in the dome of the Great Mosque in Corduba (965-970) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

-They never separated strictly the spaces. It seems to be the result of an Oriental mentality, less compartmentalized than Western way of thinking. Then, the building is extended and modified according to the necessities. Always playing with the sensations of color, material and environment.

**The Mosque of Cordoba dates back to the 10th century when Córdoba reached its zenith under a new emir, Abd ar-Rahman III. At this time Córdoba was the largest, most prosperous cities of Europe and the development of its Great Mosque was paralleled to this splendor.


**The greatest concern of the architects of the Alhambra was to cover every single space with decoration, no matter the size of the space. Walls are covered with beautiful and extremely rich ceramics and plasterwork. And the coverings have wooden frames that have been exquisitely carved. The garden of the Generalife and the Alhambra are consider one of the most beautiful places around the world.

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