Your next trip to Andalucia – Spain
a unique experience with Mundana
Unlock the region’s Islamic cultural heritage with Mundana
Southern Spain boasts some of the Mediterranean’s best beaches, but it’s equally famous for its Moorish heritage. Al-Andalus was once at the heart of the Islamic world, ruled by Arabs and Amazigh (Berbers) for eight centuries.
The area thrived during this chapter of Islamic history. This part of Spain became a centre for learning, a hub for literature, astronomy, architecture and philosophy. Technology and science transformed urban areas, furthering society’s understanding of medicine and introducing infrastructural improvements such as street lighting and sewage systems. Eventually, though, the Moors were driven out by the Spanish. However, their legacy remains, and today, Andalusia is littered with UNESCO World Heritage sites as a result.
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Are you interested in history and culture?
We invite you to explore this beguiling region with Mundana
The city of Córdoba, once the capital of the Caliphate, is the ideal place to begin.
Under Islamic rule, hundreds of mosques and palaces were built across the city.
Córdoba’s multifaceted history is plain to anyone who steps inside its splendid Mezquita, a fascinating reminder of how changing fortunes can impact a city’s architecture. Abd ar-Rahman I commissioned a magnificent mosque in the 8th century. Its red and white arches fill a cavernous interior.
After the Reconquista (the Christian reconquest) in 1236, the Mezquita was used, initially unaltered, by the Catholic Church but it was later changed to incorporate additions such as a jasper and marble altar screen and elaborately carved mahogany choir stalls.
After your visit, head out to Córdoba’s western fringes to visit the Madinat al Zahra, a fortified city built by Abd-ar-Rahman III who was the first Umayyad Caliph of Córdoba. Nicknamed the Shining City, today it’s a sprawling archaeological site and another must-see.
Next, hop on a high speed AVE train which will whisk you off to beautiful Sevilla in under an hour.
It too was heavily influenced by the Moors. Seek out the city’s Alcázar, located close to Sevilla’s cathedral. Construction of the Dar al-Imara began in the 10th century; its position close to the river was an attempt to control trade more easily.
Over several centuries, the Abbadids, Almoravids and Almohads would all leave their mark on the Alcázar. It was seized by the Christians to become a Royal Palace, yet beautiful Islamic art and calligraphy still enhances its courtyards and gardens.
Close to the Alcázar is La Giralda, a 12th century tower. Similar in style to the Koutoubia in Marrakesh, it started life as a minaret before becoming the cathedral’s belltower. Inside, a series of ramps remind us that the tower could be ascended on horseback. Head up there yourself – on foot – for a glorious view across the city.Lo
Round off this remarkable trip in Granada. This captivating city’s star attraction is the Alhambra Palace. It overlooks the Albaicín quarter of the old city, which is characterised by narrow cobbled streets.
Admire its Moorish-style homes known as cármenes as well as the 15th century Dar-al-Horra Palace.
The Alhambra itself was begun by Ibn-al-Ahmar, the founder of the Nasrid dynasty. It comprises three separate sections, the Alcazaba being the oldest. In the Nasrid palaces, there’s still plenty of evidence of the Islamic influence in architectural details such as the stalactite work in the Sala de Dos Hermanas and the fabulous tiles which line the walls of the Hall of the Mexuar.
Outside, the immaculate gardens of the Generalife are a compelling reason to visit what was the summer residence of the Moorish sultans.
Andalusia’s Islamic heritage doesn’t end there – as sites like the Alcazaba of Málaga, the Castillo Árabe de Álora and Ronda’s Baños Arabes prove. If you can spare just a few days, we recommend that you focus on one of the cities we’ve described.
With more time to explore, Mundana’s expert travel planners can put together a more comprehensive itinerary that celebrates Islamic culture and history right across this amazing region.
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