Andalusia has a great artistic and cultural heritage owed in large part to the Muslims. Islam left a very significant mark on Spanish culture that can be seen in its music, cuisine, language, and, most of all, its architecture. There’s no better way to discover it than by visiting the most important Muslim monuments in the region.
Discover the most emblematic Muslim Monuments in Andalusia
We invite you to take a trip to the past through the legacies of Al-Andalus (711-1492), or Muslim Spain, southern Spain’s period of greatest splendor.
The Alhambra of Granada
The Nazrid Kingdom of Granada, the last Muslim state on the Iberian Peninsula, left Spain with one of the most important and best conserved monuments of the Arab world: The Alhambra. This 12th-century Al-Andalus palatine city houses a complex of palaces, gardens, and fortresses that form a true citadel within Granada itself.
Few buildings can boast of such beauty as the Nazrid palaces complex where the ancient sultans lived, especially is Comares Palace and the Patio de los Leones, or Court of the Lions. Stroll between its white marble columns and take in its spectacular muqarnas, or ornamental vaulting. Lose yourself among the hidden corners of the Generalife gardens and relax to the sound of its fountains.
When you finish seeing the Alhambra, go to the San Nicolás scenic overlook, in the Arab neighborhood of the Albaicín, to take in the best views of the palatine city at sunset.
Medina Azahara of Córdoba
Medina Azahara is one of the most significant Muslim monuments in Spain and dates to the period of Al-Andalus’ greatest splendor, the Caliphate of Córdoba, when this capital city was the most advanced in Europe.
Legend holds that King Abderramán III ordered the city built just a few miles from Córdoba in honor of his favorite wife, who was named Azahara. Here you will find true works of art. Among them, the Salón Rico, or Hall of Riches, stands out. It served as a reception hall and a place for celebrating religious festivals to impress guests.
Unfortunately, the city had a short life. Fewer than 100 years after its construction, it was looted and destroyed by the civil war that put an end to the Caliphate and started the first period of the Taifa kingdoms.
The Alcazaba of Málaga
The Alcazaba, or citadel, of Málaga is one of the Arab monuments you can’t miss on this route, especially for the spectacular views of the sea and the city that can be seen from its walls. It is an 11th-century fortress castle whose Taifa and Nazrid palaces and charming gardens stand out.
In addition, at the base of these walls you can find the Roman Theater and the Palacio de la Aduana, or Customs Palace, which makes this an ideal place to observe this city’s blending of cultures.
The Reales Alcázares of Seville
This architectural gem is found in the heart of Seville. It brings together a blend of cultures from Andalusia and Spain, with vestiges of art from the Muslim and Mudéjar periods and from the Gothic period after the Reconquista, or Reconquest.
Although the first spaces were created during the Caliphate of Córdoba and Seville’s Abbadid Kingdom, the majority of what we see today was constructed by King Peter the Cruel. Despite being a Christian monarch, he built in a Mudéjar style that has a clear Al-Andalus influence. He hired Muslim workers who came from Granada to recreate palaces like those of the Alhambra.
The Salón de los Embajadores (Chamber of the Ambassadors), the Patio de las Doncellas (Court of the Maidens), and the Patio de las Muñecas (Court of the Dolls), with their woodwork, plaster, and mosaics, are the treasures of this complex of palaces, along with the unbelievable gardens. This unforgettable experience will take you back to the stories of The Thousand and One Nights.
The Mezquita of Córdoba
The Mezquita of Córdoba, or the Mosque–Cathedral of Córdoba, along with the Alhambra, are the two most visited Muslim monuments in Andalusia. It’s not surprising: its hall with one thousand three hundred columns of jasper, granite, and marble and its two-toned horseshoe arches are universally known. This is the oldest building on the route, ordered built in 785 over the remains of a Visigoth church. You cannot miss the mihrab, or semicircular niche in mosques that indicates the direction of Mecca, which is one of the most important in the Muslim world. Imagine how the Muslims and Muladis of the time came here to pray.
The Giralda of Seville
Seville is one of the cities with the greatest Muslim legacy. Like many other Spanish monuments, the Giralda, or cathedral tower, has its origins in the time of Al-Andalus, specifically during the period of Almohad rule. Proof of this is the great similarity to the tower of the Koutoubia Mosque in Marrakesh. Its upper part was built by the Christians and today it is the bell tower for the Santa María Cathedral. Enjoy the views and get to know one of the most beautiful cities in Andalusia from above.
The Alcazaba of Almería
The Alcazaba, or fortress, of Almería is another of the Arab monuments of note in this region. This fortress can be seen from any point in the city. Visit the Al-Mu’tasim palace and take in the extension of this fortification, which has been a film set for more than thirty movies, including Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.
Arab Baths of Jaén
The Arab Baths of Jaén are found in the basement of the Villardompardo Palace. Despite being one of the biggest in Spain, they are unknown to many. In the same tradition as Roman baths, Arab baths played a very notable role in the culture of Al-Andalus, both as a spiritual place and as a place for social gatherings. Pass through its rooms, which are at different temperatures, and imagine how it would be to bathe in its waters during that era
Mezquita of Almonaster la Real
Another of the vestiges that the Muslims of Andalusia left us is the mezquita, or mosque, of Almonaster la Real, in the province of Huelva. Although less striking than the aforementioned works of architecture, this building has special value, as it is the only rural mosque in Spain that has survived nearly intact to modern day. The ravages of time have not conquered this unique monument, which stands out for its austerity.
Where to stay for visiting most emblematic Muslim Monuments in Andalusia
Senator Hotels & Resorts has hotels located in nearly all the provinces that are on this Arab Trail. Great options include the Senator Granada Spa Hotel, the Senator Huelva Hotel, or the Virgen de los Reyes in Seville, with central locations that include all services so that you can enjoy an unforgettable stay. Take the opportunity for a cultural getaway and discover the charms of ancient Al-Andalus!