Author(s): Marianne Barrucand
Spain owes its special historical position in Europe very largely to its intensive encounter with the Orient. In the summer of 710, a small force under the command of a Berber named Tarif ibn Malik landed to the west of Gibraltar. The Islamic armies that followed in its wake succeeded in conquering large areas of Spain within a short span of years. The conquerors gave the country the name of "al-andalus." Thus began a period of cultural permeation that was to last for almost 800 years. In spite of intolerance and animosity, there developed between Muslims, Christians, and Jews a shared cultural environment that proved the basis for great achievements. Moorish-Andalusian art and architecture combine elements of various traditions into a new, autonomous style. Among the outstanding architectural witnesses to this achievement are the Great Mosque in Cordova and the Alhambra in Granada, recognized and admired as part of the world's heitage right up to the present day. They are described in detail in this book.