Moorish culture

Third wave of devastation of Muslim resources, lives, properties, institutions, and infrastructure. End of Muslim rule in Spain (1492). More than one million volumes of Muslim works on science, arts, philosophy and culture was burnt in the public square of Vivarrambla in Granada.


The great palatine city, the Alhambra, is the most singular artistic achievement of the Nasrid dynasty of Spain. The Alhambra (Al-Hamra ie the red), may refer to the color of its walls, is situated high on a hill overlooking the city of Granada. Conceived as both a well-fortified palace and a royal city, the Alhambra was protected by heavy stone walls and towers on the exterior, which conceal an elaborate succession of intricately decorated rooms, courtyards, gardens, and fountains on the interior.



Elsewhere in the west, Spain had been independently governed from the mid-eighth century by a branch of the Umayyad dynasty, under whose rule Islamic Spain witnessed a golden age. With the fall of this dynasty in 1031, Spain was divided into several minor principalities. Weakened by division, the Muslims were unable to stave off the threat of the Christian reconquest. In 1086 a confederation of Berber clans known as the Almoravids, who had risen to power in Morocco under the banner of Islamic revival and renewal, crossed over into Spain, gaining control of the Muslim south while keeping the Christians in the north at bay. About the mid-twelfth century the Almoravids were supplanted in Morocco and, shortly thereafter, in Spain by another Berber dynasty, the Almohads, who were soon forced from Spain by the inexorable Christian advance.

In Spain a coalition of Christian kings had forced the Berber Almohads to retreat to North Africa. All remaining Muslim lands in the south fell to the Christians, with the exception of the province of Granada, which came under the control of the Nasrids, the last Islamic dynasty in Spain. In order to preserve his kingdom, the Nasrid ruler became a vassal of the Christian king in Castile, thereby staving off the dual threat from the Christians in the north and from the Muslims in North Africa, who sought to regain Spain for Islam. Despite its ultimately untenable political situation, the kingdom of Granada survived as a great cultural center in the Muslim West for more than two and a half centuries. In 1492 Granada fell to the forces of Ferdinand and Isabella, who had united Spain under their rule, bringing to an end not only the Nasrid dynasty but more than seven hundred years of an Islamic presence on the Iberian peninsula as well.