Islamic Tours in Spain

Islamic Tours in Spain

In 711 CE, Muslims from North Africa invaded the Iberian Peninsula. They stayed in Spain until 1492 when the Catholic Monarchs overthrew the King of the “Emirato de Granada.”

As a result, Spain has a rich, overflowing Islamic culture and an enormous artistic and architectural heritage, including palaces, mosques, and much more.

With that in mind, we have put together a list of the Best Islamic Tours of Spain while citing the most Famous Islamic Architecture and Art in Spain.

[FICHAS JACK]

Table of Contents

Contents:

  1. Best Islamic Tours Spain
  2. Famous Islamic Architecture in Spain
  3. Famous Islamic Art in Spain
  4. FAQs

Best Islamic Tours Spain

The Mosque of Cordoba

The Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba was built in the 8th century under Emir Abd ar-Rahman I on the remains of a Visigothic Christian church (the Basilica of St. Vincent Martyr). 

The Emir wanted Cordoba to eclipse Byzantium and Baghdad in science, culture, and the arts. The sultan had recently fled there after his family’s overthrow in Damascus.

Foto de Girl with red hat en Unsplash

Why should you go on an Islamic Tour of the Mosque of Córdoba?

There are many reasons why you should visit The Mosque of Cordoba. For instance, the Mosque of Cordoba was the second largest mosque in the world, behind Mecca for a long time. 

In addition, the Mosque of Cordoba is a unique construction because of the number of architectural styles it preserves: Mudejar, Umayyad, Baroque, Gothic, and Renaissance. 

How long does the Mosque of Cordoba tour last?

The duration of the visit is one hour, approximately one hour, but if you do the visit during the daytime, you can stay for as long as you need. 

How much does the Mosque of Cordoba tour cost?

The prices vary depending on the time of the visit and the type of ticket: 

Visit the Mosque-Cathedral during the daytime.

General admission: 11€.

It is reduced: 9€ for over 65s, 15 to 26 years old students, and Youth Card holders.

Discount: 6€ for children from 10 to 14 years old, up to 64% for the disabled and large family members (adults)

Discount: 4€ for large families with children from 10 to 14 years old

Night visit

General admission: 18€.

Discount: 12€ for seniors (65+), the disabled, students up to 26 years old, and children from 7 years old and older. Must show official accreditation.

Free: Children under 7 years old (without an audio guide and accompanied by an adult with a valid ticket).

Dress code of the Mosque of Cordoba

Uncover your head when entering the Mosque-Cathedral. Remember that you are visiting a sacred place; access it with appropriate clothing.

Do I need to bring my passport?

It is not necessary to bring your original passport. A copy or a photo should be fine.

Other information of interest

The use of tripods or stands is prohibited, as well as the filming and photographing of liturgical celebrations. 

The Alhambra and Generalife, Granada

The Alhambra was a palace, citadel, and fortress, the residence of the Nasrid sultans, high officials, court servants, and elite soldiers. It reached its splendor in the second half of the 14th century, coinciding with the sultanates of Yusuf I (1333-1354) and the second reign of Muhammad V (1362-1391).

Why should you visit the Alhambra and Generalife?

The Alhambra is a must-see monument. It bears witness to the Moorish rule in the territory and its architectural style, which is why it was recently declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

You should also make a visit to enjoy its gardens and surroundings. Its majestic towers are a must-see once-in-a-lifetime experience.

How long does the Alhambra and Generalife tour last?

The general visit to the monumental complex lasts approximately three hours.

How much does the Alhambra and Generalife tour cost?

Different prices depending on the inclusions:

Alhambra General
  • Price: 14 €
  • Inclusions:
    • Nasrid Palaces: Mexuar, Comares Palace, Palace of the Lions and Corredor-Lindaraja.
    • Partal: portico of the palace, gardens, and walks.
    • Alcazaba: The Candle Tower and Garden of the Adarves.
    • Generalife: gardens and palace (The court of the Main Canal, The Soultana’s Court, and the water Stairway).
Dobla de Oro General
  • Price: 22.74 €
  • Inclusions:
    • Alhambra general day visit: Nasrid Palaces, Alcazaba, Generalife palace and gardens.
    • Day visit to the Andalusian Monuments:
      • General visit Alhambra: Nasrid Palaces, Alcazaba, Gardens and Generalife Palace.
      • Corral del Carbón: la alhóndiga de los mercaderes.
      • Bañuelo: one of the best-preserved public Arab baths on the peninsula.
      • Palacio de Dar al-Horra: official residence of Aixa la-Horra, mother of the last emir of Granada, Boabdil.
      • Casas Moriscas: Horno de oro, Chapiz y Zafra.
      • Qubba del Cuarto Real de Santo Domingo.

Dress code of the Alhambra and Generalife

The Alhambra has no specific dress code. Depending on the time of year, we recommend either something cool to deal with the hot Summer temperatures or, in Winter taking a jumper due to the breeze.

Do I need to bring my passport?

It is mandatory to present your original ID or passport to access the monumental complex.

Other information of interest

It’s essential to be on time for the Nasrid Palaces. Don’t forget to bring the ticket with its QR code in physical or digital format (including for children under 12 years).

Aljafería Palace, Zaragoza

The Aljafería Palace is an 11th-century Moorish castle-palace. It was built as a recreational residence for the Taifa kings in the 11th century under King al-Muqtadir. Remains of its fortified enclosure are still preserved. It was built as a place of recreation and also served as a defensive building.

Why should you visit the Aljafería Palace?

You can not miss the Aljaferia Palace because it is considered one of the peaks of Hispano-Muslim art, along with the Alhambra in Granada and the Mosque of Cordoba. 

Also, it is the northernmost Islamic palace in Europe and the most luxurious and best-preserved of the Taifa period.

How long does the Aljafería Palace tour last?

The duration depends on if the visit is guided or not. Free tours are about 45 minutes long, and guided tours are 60 minutes.

How much does the Aljafería Palace tour cost?

The prices are the following:

  • General admission: 5€.
  • Reduced: 1€ for students and retirees.
  • Free: Children under 12 years old.

Dress code of the Aljafería Palace

There is no specific dress code, so we recommend dressing according to the season. The Summer will be tremendously hot, so dress light and apply plenty of sun cream. Alternatively, a jumper is a great idea against the wind in the Winter.

Do I need to bring my passport?

It is not necessary to bring your original passport. A copy or a photo should be fine.

Other information of interest

Guided visits will be available during July and August. The English tour begins at 11 am, while the French tour starts at 5 pm.

Please be punctual when arriving at the ticket office. If a visitor is ten minutes late, they risk not being able to enter the palace (or at the very least a lengthy wait) if all other groups are full.

Use the QR codes located at various points of the monument and the brochures available.

Follow the route marked inside the palace and the indications on display.

Madinat al-Zahra: Archaeological Ensemble, Córdoba

The history of Medina Azahara begins with Abderraman, III. He decided to build a city on the outskirts of Cordoba between 936 and 976. Abderraman, III built the city to bring together the caliphate’s administrative and residential work.

The materials used in its construction tell us of the great interest of the monarch to show his great power and supremacy. 

Why should you visit Medina Azahara?

Medina Azhara is a must-see because it’s one of Andalusia’s most important works of Muslim art. In its time, it was the highest expression of the rise and power of the Caliphate of Cordoba.

How long does the Medina Azahara tour last?

The approximate time of the visit to Medina Azahara, including the museum tour, is between 2.5 and 3 hours.

How much does the Medina Azahara tour cost?

The entrance to Medina Azahara is free for citizens of the European Union. For all other visitors, the entrance fee is 1.50 €.

Dress code

There is no specific dress code to enter the Medina Azahara. Therefore, dress according to the season; in the Summer months, something light and fresh, while in Winter, a jumper (or if very cold, a coat) to stay warm.

Do I need to bring my passport?

It is not necessary to bring your original passport. A copy should be fine to authenticate your nationality.

Other information of interest

There is a bus that drives you from Cordoba to Medina Azahara. Its price is 2,50€. Children between 5-12 years are 1,50€.

The Alcazar Royal Palace of Seville

In the year 913, the Umayyad caliph Abderramán III ordered the construction of a new center of government in Seville on the site of an ancient Visigothic settlement that had previously been Roman. 

This “multicultural” curiosity about its foundation seems a foretaste of the many historical ups and downs that would shape its present appearance. 

After the disintegration of the Caliphate of Cordoba, the Royal Alcazar would pass into the hands of the abbots (Taifa of Seville), the Almoravid emirs, and, in the last Islamic Period, the Almohads. 

The successive reforms of that time had already turned the Real Alcázares into an excellent palace complex surrounded by walls in the middle of the 13th century.

Photo by Akshay Nanavati on Unsplash

Why should you visit The Alcazar Royal Palace of Seville?

The Alcázar of Seville was built as a fortress to protect the Muslim authorities and is currently the oldest royal palace in Europe. Its extensive history is reflected in the variety of its architecture, which mixes Baroque with Renaissance, Romanesque, Gothic and Mudejar.

How long does the Alcazar Royal Palace of Seville tour last?

The recommended duration of the visit is two hours, although you can make a quick visit in one hour and fifteen minutes. But if you want to do a detailed visit, it requires about three hours.

How much does the Alcazar Royal Palace of Seville tour cost?

The entry fees are the following:

  • General admission: 14,5€.
  • Pensioners and students from 17 to 25 years old: 7 € (accrediting it at the box office).
  • For children under 13 years old: 1€.
  • Audioguide: 6 €.

Dress code

There is no specific dress code. Seville can be unbearably hot during the Summer, so dress light. During the Winter, you will likely only need a jumper at most.

Do I need to bring my passport?

It is not necessary to bring your original passport. A copy or a photo should be fine.

Other information of interest

The use of tripods or stands is prohibited.

Famous Islamic Architecture in Spain

Muslim art, also known as Islamic art, is the set of artistic manifestations that occurred in the different religious areas of Islam.

Islamic art and, in particular, Islamic architecture in Spain can be classified into 5 stages depending on the different reigns:

  1. Cordovan or Caliphal Period (8th-11th century)

Characteristics

Cordovan art has many influences from Visigothic art, especially in the use of horseshoe arches. 

It’s also very characteristic to see voussoirs in color and texture (alternating striped colors). This alfiz is a molding explicitly used to frame the arches or the openings of windows and doors.

Foto de Gabriel Trujillo en Unsplash

The famous art of this period

During this period, the most well-known pieces of architecture are:

  • The Mosque of Cordoba
  • Central vault of Macsura
  • The Mosque of Bad el-Mardum in Toledo
  • Madinat as-Zahra Palace in Cordoba
  1. Taifa Period (11th-12th century)

Characteristics

The art of the Taifa kingdoms was characterized by emulating the splendor of the previous era, with almost excessive overloading of ornamental constructions. 

Despite the everyday use of low-cost plasterwork materials, it served its ornamental function well. Unfortunately, very few buildings have been preserved due to poor quality materials.

Photo by David Vives en Unsplash

Famous art of this period

One of the few buildings we still have from this Period is La Aljafería Palace in Zaragoza.

  1. Almorávide Period (12th century)

Characteristics

The use of the muqarnas characterized its artistic manifestations. This decorative element is a stalactite hanging from the arches and domes and is made of plaster, often polychrome.

Famous art of this period

It is an art that is heavily linked to the Taifa kingdoms. However, there are hardly any remains and significant samples of this period, the best preserved being those found in North Africa.

  1. Almohade Period (12th century)

Characteristics

This civilization arrived in the Peninsula and brought with it one of the most original and new elements that had not been used before, known as sebka. Sebka is a type of geometric decoration in the form of a network of superimposed rhombuses that masks the construction systems.

Foto de Tom Podmore en Unsplash

Famous art of this period

The most important building of this period was the Mosque of Seville nowadays. Only a few parts have been preserved:

  • Patio de los naranjos
  • The “minaret” today is known as the Giralda
  1. Nazarí period (13th-15th century)

Characteristics

The materials were poor but covered with plasterwork, marble, sebka, and tiles. As for constructive elements, the most common are the round arches and the white marble columns with thin shafts and Corinthian capitals.

Foto de Ágatha Depiné en Unsplash

Famous art of this period

Since Granada was the capital of Al-Andalus during this time, all the representations of this period are in La Alhambra. 

Some parts worth mentioning are:

  • Patio del Cuadro Dorado.
  • Patio de Comares.
  • Patio de los Leones.

Famous Islamic Art in Spain

Unfortunately, there remain very few Islamic art sculptures and paintings in Spain. However, we know that Muslim decorative arts varied, ranging from ceramics to carpets, fabrics, and goldsmiths.

Among the few sculptural works that have been preserved, it is worth mentioning the bronze fawn from the Madinat as-Zahra Palace in Cordoba. 

In painting, it is of particular interest the fresco on tesso painted on the vault of the Sala de los Reyes of the Alhambra with courtly themes and hunting.

FAQs

Which city in Spain has a famous old mosque?

The oldest mosque in Spain is the Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba. It used to be a mosque, although nowadays it is a catholic cathedral.

What was the Islamic capital of Spain?

The capital of Islamic Spain has varied throughout the years. 

Firstly, the capital changed between Seville and Cordoba during “Valiato de Al-Ándalus” between 711 and 756 CE. 

Later on, in 756 CE Abd al-Rahman III declared religious independence and proclaimed “El Califato de Córdoba” in Cordoba as its capital.

Lastly and due to the reconquest, in 1238, the “Emirato de Granada” was established. Granada became its capital until 1492 when the Catholic Monarchs overthrew King Muhammad XII.

More Tours in Spain

Related posts

Leave a Comment