Al-Andalus is a term used for Iberia when it was partly or fully ruled by the Moors during the Middle Ages. The Moors were Muslims from North Africa who brought with them a culture that has been preserved in Spain, notably through architecture.
The modern Spanish region of Andalusia derives its name from this polity.
Al-Andalus began when Tariq ibn Ziyad, an Umayyad commander, led a large army across the Strait of Gibraltar (originally Jabal Ṭāriq, "mountain of Tariq") into what was then Visigothic Hispania in 711.
It ended with the Reconquista ("reconquest") in 1492, when Granada, the last Islamic stronghold in Iberia, fell to the Christian kingdoms of northern Iberia. Consequently, the remaining Muslim and Jewish populations were either forced to convert to Christianity, or were expelled, Muslims chiefly to North Africa and Jews mostly to Italy or the Ottoman-held Eastern Mediterranean.
- 1 Cordoba. Cordoba became the capital of the Caliphate of Córdoba, which saw construction of grand Islamic architecture in the city. Many of the mosques were converted to churches after the Reconquista. However, the cathedral still retains many architectural features from the time it was a mosque, including the mihrab that indicated the direction of Mecca.
- 2 Granada. The Emirate of Granada was the last Islamic kingdom to fall in 1492, when Muhammad XII surrendered to Queen Isabella I of Castile and King Ferdinand II of Aragon. Granada is home to the Alhambra and Generalife, arguably the most well known and beautiful examples of Spanish Islamic architecture.
- 3 Seville (Sevilla). A beautiful, verdant city on the Costa de la Luz. Its cathedral was built on the site of a former mosque that was largely demolished after Reconquista, though the minaret of the mosque was turned into the bell tower of the cathedral. The Reales Alcázares de Sevilla was built on the site of a former Islamic residence, though the modern building still shows strong Islamic influence.
- 4 Málaga. Largest city on the Costa del Sol, perhaps most famous as the birthplace of Pablo Picasso. The Alcazaba and the Gibralfaro are two Moorish castles, located close to each other, which survive from the days of Muslim rule.
- 5 Siles. Once a thriving Muslim community, known in Arab chronicles as Silis, it is a picturesque village with steep streets.