Islamic architecture in spain


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Islamic architecture in spain

  1. 1. Asmaa Ahmed Mohamed Aldhawi COL-145-502 Assignment 1 Islamic Architecture in Spain Student Name: Asmaa Ahmed Mohamed Aldhawi Course: COL-145-502 Instructor Name: Faisal Al-Attar Fall 2011 1
  2. 2. Asmaa Ahmed Mohamed Aldhawi COL-145-502 Assignment 1Outline 1. Introduction 1.1 Definition of architecture 1.2 Definition of Islamic Architecture 1.3 Thesis Statement 2. Background Information 2.1 Moors in Spain 2.2 Improvements during the Islamic age 3. Discussion (Architecture) 3.1 The Great Mosque 3.2 Alhambra Palace 4. Analysis (Analysis of the Alhambra Palace) 4.1 The secret behind building the Alhambra Palace 4.2 The relation between Alhambra and the Islamic architecture (Religious encouragement) 5. Conclusion 6. References 2
  3. 3. Asmaa Ahmed Mohamed Aldhawi COL-145-502 Assignment 1 Islamic Architecture in Spain 1. Introduction Architecture, in general, refers to “the art or practice of designing and constructing” anddescribes particular time, culture, religion, or dynasty (Oxford dictionary, 2011; Esposite,Sachedina, Sonn, & Voll, 2004). As the other architectures, Islamic architecture, which had beeninfluenced by other cultures and evolved through different ages, shows a visible overview ofIslamic history, culture, and religion (Esposite, Sachedina, Sonn, & Voll, 2004). Throughouthistory, different eastern countries like Iran, Iraq, and India received a valuable Islamic legacy.Furthermore, a western country, Spain, received distinctive, numerous, luxurious, Islamicmasterpieces. In Spain, an intellectual and wealthy civilization prospered (Hughes & Copestake,2005). Although there is massive information about this thriving civilization, this report islimited to a brief history, discusses two famous Moorish architectures, and focuses in one ofthem. 2. Moors in Spain Spanish architecture came through several periods, such as Roman period, Romanesqueperiod, and Gothic period. Each period was characterized with different and great architecture;however, Islamic architecture appeared as a turning point in the history of Spain (Lapunzina,2005). During Umayyad, the Islamic Spanish golden legacy began with the arrival of Muslim’sarmy led by Tariq bin Ziyad in 711. At that time, the Iberian Peninsula was experiencingweakness under the Goths’ rule. Therefore, an army of 12000 Muslims led by a young mancrossed the Strait of Gibraltar and prevailed in most of the Spanish cities including Malaga,Toledo, Barcelona, and Zaragosa (Campo, 2009; Lapunzina, 2005; Dozy, 1932). In 750, the 3
  4. 4. Asmaa Ahmed Mohamed Aldhawi COL-145-502 Assignment 1Umayyad fell at the hand of Abbasids; in 755, an Umayyad survivor – Abd-al-Rahman I –escaped from Abbasids and went to Iberia (Lapunzina, 2005). Abd-al-Rahman I had beenproclaimed as a ruler of the remaining Umayyad emirate of al-Andalus, the new Arab name thatwas given to the Muslims conquest in the part of the Iberian Peninsula (Campo, 2009;Lapunzina, 2005). 2.1 Improvements during the Islamic age During Muslim’s rule in Andalusia (711-1492), Spain saw great improvements in variousaspects of life. According to Dozy (1932), the Arab conquest in the Iberian Peninsula was apositive turning point; For instance, Christians could keep their properties and had the right tosell them, which was forbidden in Goths days (Dozy, 1932). Moreover, Muslims transferred toAndalusia their civilization, literature, art, and architecture and gave great efforts in each field.And one of the major representative characters who gave sophisticated efforts in building is Abd-al-Rahman I (Lapunzina, 2005). His ambitious thoughts led him to construct buildings similar tothe one in Damascus and the other Islamic cities. The thriving Islamic history in Spain came tothe end in 1492. Nevertheless, different phases of the Islamic architectures in Spain show greatmasterpieces represented in several buildings, such as the Great Mosque of Cordoba and Palaceof La Alhambra. 3. The Great Mosque A lot of Islamic structures that exists in Spain symbolize the thriving civilization duringseven centuries. One of these creative Islamic masterpieces is the Great Mosque of Cordoba. Itwas established during the rule of Abd-al-Rahman I in Cordoba between 784 and 786(Lapunzina, 2005). Abd-al-Rahman I bought the entire Cathedral of San Vicente and started 4
  5. 5. Asmaa Ahmed Mohamed Aldhawi COL-145-502 Assignment 1building a Mosque (Lapunzina, 2005). As the other mosques, the GreatMosque of Cordoba consisted of aisles and mihrab pointed to the quipla,a wall indicates Mecca’s direction. However, by misunderstanding, mostof the ancient Spanish mosques are not precisely pointed toward Mecca;the Andalusian thought that Mecca was in the South (Lapunzina, 2005).Architecturally, the haram (praying hall) appeared as the most importantpart in the entire .222mosque (see fig. 1). Lapunzina (2005) clarified that“it consists of eleven aisles of twelve bays each, defined by a two-tieredarcade supported on cylindrical columns” (p. 83). Muslims population was growing fast;consequently, the Great Mosque of Córdoba was enlarged several times in each ruler’s period(Hughes & Copestake, 2005). 4. Alhambra Palace Another great part of the Islamic construction in Spain isPalace of La Alhambra. This famous fortified architecture isfactually a network of linked construction that included Alcazaba,the Royal Palace, the Garden of El Generalife, and different otherstructures like the baths, mosques, and towers (see fig. 2) (Esposite,Sachedina, Sonn, & Voll, 2004; Lapunzina, 2005). It was foundedby the first Nasrid sultan, Muhammad I and was continued by theother Nasrid rulers. Palace of La Alhambra is a Castilian transformation from the origin Arabicname “Cal’at al-Hamra” which means the Red Castle (Lapunzina, 2005). It was named the RedCastle because of the walls with the red-colored clays brought from the hill (Lapunzina, 2005).There are five gates in the Alhambra’s wall with different special characteristics. One of these 5
  6. 6. Asmaa Ahmed Mohamed Aldhawi COL-145-502 Assignment 1 gates built in 1238 and named “Puerta de la Justicia” (Gate of Justice); it has a wonderful pointed horse-shoe arch (see fig. 3) (Lapunzina, 2005). There are also several courts like the Court of Myrtles and the Court of Lions. Each element of the Alhambra and the other Moorish architecture represents the positive existence of Muslims in Spain. In history, Granada resisted the Spanish and the European armies alone after the fall of the rest kingdoms. Nevertheless, Granada with her famous castle, Alhambra, was defeated by the Spaniards. 5. Analysis of the Alhambra Palace Alhambra is a product of a religious empire dominated fromChina to Africa (Hughes & Copestake, 2005). Starting from the earlydays of Islam, Prophet Muhammad and his followers cared about theirreligion and were interested in learning. Their religious book, the HolyQuran, mentions the garden of delights. Therefore, Andalusian made aneffort to make their buildings similar to the Quran description ofparadise which called “Ferdowsi Design”. Alhambra, for example,shows a great piece of architecture with this type of design. Thechannels, which were dug in each side of the palace, are taken from the Holy Quran, chapter 1,verse 25, when Allah says “theirs are Gardens underneath which rivers flow” (see fig. 4) (Quranexplorer; AlShugairi, 2011). 6
  7. 7. Asmaa Ahmed Mohamed Aldhawi COL-145-502 Assignment 1 5.1 Religious encouragement Muslims were encouraged to learn by their prophet. The encouragement to be educatedchanged Muslims life from living at the dessert to living at one of the unique universal palaces. To illustrate, with advent of Islam, Muslims were involved in learning different sciences like astronomy, mathematics, and medicine. Most of the beautiful decorations in the Alhambra Palace are the result of complex mathematical problems and statistics (see fig. 5). In other words, the moors of Spain used mathematical engineering to build these extremely beautiful buildings. Muslims’ interest in their religion led them to be more educated; therefore, it guided them for more beautiful, luxurious, lavish life. 6. Conclusion Islamic Architecture in Spain symbolizes Muslims relationship with their religion andculture. They challenged until the last moment and their efforts did not go in vain. Theretraditional Islamic architectures are still standing high showing a story of a thriving history, evenbehind the ruler palace. An original Arab wall is still stand there (Hughes & Copestake, 2005).Alhambra and the other construction had seen both, the happiness and the sadness moments.They tell the story of the successful Moorish culture in Spain; at the same time, they tell the endof this blooming civilization. Numerous lessons in different fields could be benefited from theIslamic seven centuries in Spain. Last but not least, a hard work and diligent never gone with thewind. 7
  8. 8. Asmaa Ahmed Mohamed Aldhawi COL-145-502 Assignment 1 ReferencesAlShugairi, A. (2010, September 5). Panic of the Void [Adobe Flash Player]. Retrieved from KMtfIArchnet. (n.d.). Digital library. Retrieved from, J. (2009). Encyclopedia of Islam (Melton, Ed.). New York, NY: Checkmark Books.Dozy, R. (1932). Muslims in Andalusia [Adobe Digital Editions version]. Retrieved from, Sachedina, Sonn, & Voll (Eds.). (2004). The Islamic World. (Vol. 1, pp. 28-46). United Kingdom, UK: Oxford University Press.Fazzamin. (2009, October 17). When the moors ruled Europe [Adobe Flash Player]. Retrieved from, A. (2005). Architecture of Spain (Hanser, Ed.). United States of America, USA: Greenwood Publishing Group.Mossel, J. (2008, May 11). Alhanbra water channels [Flickr]. Retrieved from Explorer. (n.d.). Surah Al-Baqara. Retrieved from 8