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.
Al-Andalus began when Tariq ibn Ziyad, an Umayyad commander, led a large army across the Strait of Gibraltar (In Arabic 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, killed, or were expelled, Muslims chiefly to North Africa and Jews mostly to Italy or the Ottoman-held Eastern Mediterranean
The modern Spanish region of Andalusia derives its name from this polity.
- 1 Córdoba. Córdoba 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 indicates the direction of Mecca.
- 2 Granada. The Emirate of Granada was the last Islamic kingdom to fall in 1492, when Boabdil surrendered to Queen Isabella I of Castile and King Ferdinand II of Aragon. Granada is home to the Alhambra fortress and the Generalife garden, some of 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 over a former mosque that was largely demolished after the Reconquista; the minaret was turned into a belltower. The Reales Alcázares de Sevilla contain 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 close to each other, which survive from the days of Muslim rule.
- 5 Toledo. One of Spain's most historic cities, within daytrip distance from Madrid. Some reminders of Islamic rule still survive, including a handful of former mosques and synagogues that were repurposed following the Reconquista.
- 6 Siles. Once a thriving Muslim community, known in Arab chronicles as Silis, it is a picturesque village with steep streets.