Art and Architecture of al-Andalus


The Muslim legacy in Spain this very present in Andalucia thanks to the Muslim occupation called al-Andalus, initiated territory with the invasion of the peninsula in year 711 and finally overcome by the Christian kingdoms with the fall of the kingdom of Granada in 1492. The eight centuries of Muslim occupation have left numerous tracks artistic and architectonic by all Spain, the most outstanding monuments are located in Andalucia with the mosque of Cordova and the palace - it calls to account of A hambra and General life of Granada .

Mosaico estrella Mosaico ventana Mosaico escritura

- the art and the decoration

The Muslim art partly is inherited, gathers elements of the Greek, Roman and paleocristiano art. But at the same time it develops to a new mainly visible artistic expression in the decoration of objects and monuments. In fact the Islamic monument characterizes more by its decoration than by its structure. However, all the aesthetic manifestations go had with decoration anyone is the material, the size or the used technique. Four are the basic elements: the vegetal handwriting, reasons, geometric and the figurative ones. They form a profuse decoration, characterizes by the horror vacui ? fear to the space drained (Source: Elena Sarnago Notivolo , The Decoration in the Islamic art , vestibule: ) .

Mosaico de Granada

Image: Detail of geometric mosaic of Granada.

Geometry is very important in the Islam. Through her the indivisibilidad of God imagines. The perfect form is the circle. It is used like pattern who allows to create other reasons. The design is simple, are applied the principles of symmetrical repetition, multiplication or subdivision. One is an art more intellectual than emotional, of mathematical base. Mixtilineal branches intercrossed are used forming rhombuses, braided tapes, meanders, drawings in zigzag, ajedrezados and bows forming stars (Source: Elena Sarnago Notivolo , The Decoration in the Islamic art , vestibule: ) .

 Detalle de Alhambra

Image: Architectonic detail of Granada.

The decorative patrons obtain themselves repeating interlaced or superposed simple elements. Together with the taste by the symmetry , a dynamic and harmonious effect is obtained . The detail does not prevail over the set. There is no tension between reasons, only balance. The infinite reiteration of the subjects is a metaphor of the eternity that fills everything and a form to shape the mutabilidad of the universe (Source: Elena Sarnago Notivolo , The Decoration in the Islamic art , vestibule: ) .

As opposed to which commonly it is created, the Islam does not prohibit the representation of human figures and animals, except in sacred enclosures , like the mosque. For example the palaces are covered with magnificent scenes of hunting in fresh mosaics and : the rooms of baths show eróticas and placenteras scenes, like the one of Qusayr Amra, or the mosaics of hunting and symbolic scenes that conserve in the palace of Al-Mafiar (Source: Arab art, vestibule: ).

- The Architecture -

... the mosque

The more representative architectonic typology was the mosque , the favourites materials were the Arab brick, the marble, plaster for decorations (Source: Arab art, vestibule: ) . The origin of the mosques was, apparently, the house of own Mohammed prophet (Mahoma), who presented/displayed a sector roof and another one to discovered sky. This simple scheme was gradually evolving, until becoming a temple perfectly functional and adapted for the celebration of the oration of the community (Source: The Andalusi legacy, vestibule: ).

Almost all the mosques present/display a direction towards qibla, the direction towards Mecca, in whose wall mihrab exists, place where imam (the priest) directs the oration. Also they are equipped with alminar from that the almuédano summons to the oration five times to the day. Another characteristic element is the yard, or shan, in which is the source of ablutions. The sector covered with the mosque, call haram, usually forms like a great room, with perpendicular ships oriented a qibla. The extreme ships extend sometimes surrounding the patio. Between the greater mosques than they existed in al-Andalus excels the one of Cordova, and between humblest, the one of Almonaster Real (the Source: The Andalusi legacy, vestibule: ).

Mezquita de Cordoba

Image: Arcs of the mosque of Cordova.

The present mosque of Cordova impresses the visitor with almost average thousand of superposed columns and arcs , partial works of its creator, Abderramán I, of Abderramán II, Alhaken II and the same Almanzor, d year 987. It is considered like the supreme monument of the califal art, and the fantastic forest of columns and arcades of his interior like one of the spaces more beautiful than has been constructed in an oration house. Peculiarly mihrab of this mosque not this oriented towards Mecca (Source: Mosque of Cordova, vestibule: ).

... medersa

Another one of the buildings most characteristic of the Muslim world is medersas , or madrazas , destined to the education of religious sciences and the jurisprudence. They are structured around a patio to that to four great rooms or iwanes were opened, and on that they gave the rooms of the students. Still a sector of madraza of Granada is conserved, but most spectacular they are madrazas meriníes of Fez, in special the Bu Inania (Source: The Andalusi legacy, vestibule: ).

... the fortification

In the land of the military architecture, it is possible to mention the fortification of the cities by means of walls that present/display defensive towers to regular sections. Usually they are preceded by a barbican, and count on a almenado dig in. The access doors are structured sometimes in bend. Of great interest they are the Fog walls and those of Seville. The fortresses are also typically defensive constructions that, in certain occasions, lodge in their enclosure authentic residential cities, as it is the case of the one of Malaga and the one of Almeria (Source: The Andalusi legacy, vestibule: ).

... the garden

 Patio Arrayanes de Alhambra An important part of the Muslim legacy that not always it is to the discovered one and is so evident it is the construction of garden and its sources where they experienced agricultural techniques and they made great advances in botany and irrigation ( Source: Merche S. Calle, Plants of territories of al-Andalus, vestibule: ) . The water is a basic complement of the Islamic architecture. To its ritual and symbolic value its refrescante function is united. The light serves so much to modify the decorative elements as to create other ornamentales forms. Both increase the dynamism of the decoration and increase to the visual impact of monuments (Source: Elena Sarnago Notivolo , The Decoration in the Islamic art , vestibule: )

Image: Source of the Patio of Arrayanes, Alhambra, Granada.

Alcazaba de Malaga

Image: Fortress of Malaga.

The ace fortresses of Malaga and Almeria , are located in positions elevated with inner views to gardens where the water is the conceptual center. Drains, ponds and sources represent the methods of acquisition and water storage within the irrigation networks. After the conquest of Malaga, Washinton Irving describes "beautiful gardens hanging, small wood of naranjos, lemon trees, and seeded, elevated cedars and arrogant palms, mixture with the firm ones and almond walls and towers, that allowed to guess to the opulence and the luxury that reigned inside." (Source: Merche S. Calle, Plants of territories of al-Andalus, vestibule: ).

In the Alhambra and Generalife , the putting in scene between water and vegetation are a manipulation of all the senses, the glance is dragged beyond the walls of the enclosure, in a harmonious spectacle between architecture and nature. The sound of the water is refreshing and it interlaces with the arom of the flowers and trees. The set less is closed than the traditional Islamic gardens and is in constant evolution. The construction in high points and the tradition of garden-orchard, with the water like center, al-Andalus extended by everything (Source: Merche S. Calle, Plants of territories of al-Andalus, vestibule: ) . To see our gallery of photos of Alhambra and Generalife .

... you take care of it residential

Medina Azahra

Image: Gardens and Hall Rico de Madinat al-Zahraes (Medina Azahara)

The house of the caliph Abderramán III , the architectonic legacy of Madinat al-Zahraes is only that still pervive the diverse Cordovan sumptuous residences of the Omeyas. As many other residences of the Islamic world, the architects of Medina Azahara removed benefit from the topography and, in this occasion, it was chosen to seat the city in last spurs of Brown Mountain range, to five kilometers of Cordova. Fitted by a rectangular and walled enclosure, the city is developed in three terraces, delimited by walls and equipped to the orography marked by last spurs of Brown Mountain range. Streets vaulted and with plastered walls, whose slope was slowed down by sections of stairs, interconnected the city. (Source: Cordova Omeya, vestibule: )

... the bath

 Bañuelo of Granada Another one of the characteristics of the architecture Hispanic-Muslim is the great profusion of baths or hammam , essential for the corporal cleaning as much as spiritual . Derivatives of the Roman spas, are compound by several stays in which the temperature varies very was fried to extremely hot, with the aid of underground boilers . Ronda and Jaén have magnificent examples (Source: The Andalusi legacy, vestibule: ).

Image: Arab Bañuelo of Granada.

... alcaicería and alhóndiga

 Corral of the coal of Granada It would not be necessary to let mention alcaicerías , or hermetic qisarias, enclosures in the interior of zoco in which the appraised merchandise are sold more. An example is reconstructed Alcaicería e n Granada. Alhóndigas , or funduq, was destined, however, to store products and for lodging of merchants (Source: The Andalusi legacy, vestibule: ). The call Corral of the Coal of Granada is alhóndiga that it served exactly as a shelter for Arab retailers and is the only example of its type that has been conserved in complete state in Spain. (Source: Corral of the Coal vestibule: )

Image: Corral del Carbón de Granada. © 2002