Southern Spain’s Architectural Gems
Tuesday, 15 February 2022
Southern Spain is home to some of the world’s most enchanting architecture so we offered up some places to add to your travel bucket list.
Andalucía is home to some of the most beautiful examples of Moorish architecture across the Iberian Peninsula...
Between the 8th and 15th centuries, the Moors controlled most of Spain and their Islamic heritage is evident today across the southern regions of Spain. The Moorish buildings in Spain are some of the last few examples of Islamic architecture in Europe and although Moorish rule didn’t last forever, the monuments now attract tourists to Spain from across the globe.
Here are just a few of southern Spain’s architectural gems to add to your travel bucket list.
Home to one of the most visited sites in Spain, La Alhambra in Granada has preserved its Moorish heritage. Meaning “the red” in Arabic, La Alhambra was used as a palace and fortress during the 14th century and its beautiful architecture has inspired other buildings all around the world. When Granada was later conquered in 1492, it was converted into the Royal Court of the Catholic Monarchs, Ferdinand and Isabella.
The city has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and La Alhambra is one of the best-preserved Moorish structures in the world. Its walls are covered in Islamic carvings and mosaics and it overlooks the Albaicín quarter of Granada’s Moorish old city, with a backdrop of the Sierra Nevada.
Albaicín, the origin city of Granada, boasts a rich heritage of Moorish town planning and architecture. With narrow streets and small plazas, the area is marked by its unique and well-preserved Andalusian heritage.
La Real Alcázar de Sevilla is a massive walled fortress with mosaic domes, beautiful green gardens, ancient baths, and complex stonework. Some of the same artists who worked on La Alhambra contributed to the ornate interiors of the Alcázar.
It is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is used by the Spanish royal family as their official residence, making it the oldest European palace still in use.
Sevilla is also home to La Giralda – a Moorish bell tower that is part of the Sevilla Cathedral. You can climb up to the top for beautiful views of the city by walking up a series of ramps – installed instead of stairs so that animals could walk up to the top with food and water too.
The Cathedral is the largest in Spain and uses a Gothic style, brought to Spain from France. The Gothic style cemented itself in Andalusian architecture thanks to the Reconquista.
Córdoba was once the capital of Islamic Spain. In fact, the Cathedral of Córdoba was so influenced by Moorish culture that it is better known as Mezquita (mosque).
Complete with red and white horseshoe arches, it was originally a Mosque and the centre of Islamic life for the city’s citizens. It has been used as a Christian place of worship since 1236, when Christian rule took over the city.
Like many other examples of Moorish architecture, the architecture carries a spiritual meaning. For example, there are 365 arches which are said to mimic the expansive world around us.
Also in Córdoba is the Medina Azahara, the ruins of a medieval Muslim fortress. Originally named ‘The Shining City’, the ruins feature classic Moorish geometric architecture, terraced gardens and evidence of a Roman aqueduct.
Spain’s rich history has gifted it some of the world’s most beautiful and complex pieces of architecture and Andalucía is home to some of our favourites.
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Being a bilingual family (French mother and British father,) living in France I thought your article was extremely interesting . Have you research on bilingualism ? It seems that when the mother is British and the father French and they both live in France their children seem to be more bilingual than when the mother is French and the father is British . This is what we called mother tongue , isn't it ?
Such an interesting article!