Andalucia Al-Andalus states

The Visigothic era came to an abrupt end in 711 with the Umayyad conquest of Hispania by the Muslim Umayyad general Tariq ibn Ziyad. Tariq is known in Umayyad history and legend as a formidable conqueror who dared and bore the nerve to burn his fleet of ships, when he landed with his troops on the coast of Gibraltar – an acronym of “Jabel alTariq” meaning “the mountain of Tariq”. When the Muslim invaders seized control and consolidated their dominion of the region, they remained tolerant of the local faiths, but they also needed a place for their own faith. In the 750s, they forcibly rented half of Córdoba ‘s Cathedral of San Vicente (Visigothic) to use as a mosque.

The mosque’s hypostyle plan, consisting of a rectangular prayer hall and an enclosed courtyard, followed a tradition established in the Umayyad and Abbasid mosques of Syria and Iraq while the dramatic articulation of the interior of the prayer hall was unprecedented. The system of columns supporting double arcades of piers and arches with alternating red and white voussoirs is an unusual treatment that, structurally, combined striking visual effect with the practical advantage of providing greater height within the hall. Alternating red and white voussoirs are associated with Umayyad monuments such as the Great Mosque of Damascus and the Dome of the Rock. Their use in the Great Mosque of Córdoba manages to create a stunningly original visual composition even as it emphasises ‘Abd al-Rahman’s connection to the established Umayyad tradition.

In this period, the name “Al-Andalus” was applied to the Iberian Peninsula, and later it referred to the parts not controlled by the Gothic states in the North. The Muslim rulers in Al-Andalus were economic invaders and interested in collecting taxes; social changes imposed on the native populace were mainly confined to geographical, political and legal conveniences. Al-Andalus remained connected to other states under Muslim rule; also trade routes between it and Constantinople and Alexandria remained open, while many cultural features of the Roman Empire were transmitted throughout Europe and the Near East by its successor state, the Byzantine Empire. Byzantine architecture is an example of such cultural diffusion continuing even after the collapse of the empire.

Nevertheless, the Guadalquivir River valley became the point of power projection in the peninsula with the Caliphate of Córdoba making Córdoba its capital. The Umayyad Caliphate produced such leaders as Caliph Abd-ar-Rahman III (ruled 912–961) and his son, Caliph Al-Hakam II (ruled 961–976) and built the magnificent Great Mosque of Córdoba . Under these rulers, Córdoba was the center of economic and cultural significance.

By the 10th century, the northern Kingdoms of Spain and other European Crowns had begun what would eventually become the Reconquista: the reconquest of the Iberian Peninsula for Christendom. Caliph Abd-ar-Rahman suffered some minor military defeats, but often managed to manipulate the Gothic northern kingdoms to act against each other’s interests. Al-Hakam achieved military successes, but at the expense of uniting the north against him. In the 10th century the Saracen rulers of Andalusia had a Slavic army of 13,750 men.

After the conquest of Toledo in 1086 by Alfonso VI, the Crown of Castille and the Crown of Aragon dominated large parts of the peninsula. The main Taifas therefore had to resort to assistance from various other powers across the Mediterranean. A number of different Muslim dynasties of North African origin—notably Almoravid dynasty and Almohad dynasty—dominated a slowly diminishing Al-Andalus over the next several centuries.

After the victory at the Battle of Sagrajas (1086) put a temporary stop to Castilian expansion, the Almoravid dynasty reunified Al-Andalus with its capital in Córdoba , ruling until the mid-12th century. The various Taifa kingdoms were assimilated. the Almohad dynasty expansion in North Africa weakened Al-Andalus, and in 1170 the Almohads transferred their capital from Marrakesh to Seville. The victory at the Battle of Las Navas de Tolosa (1212) marked the beginning of the end of the Almohad dynasty.

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