Spain’s Islamic Heritage: Andalusia

Andalusia, the southernmost region of Spain, is deeply imbued with history and culture. Deriving its name from the Arabic ‘Al-Andalus,’ it was a thriving center of Islamic civilization from the eighth to the 15th centuries.

Located in a fertile area between the Mediterranean and the Atlantic, the region has hosted numerous peoples throughout history. In addition to Greeks and Romans, these have included Visigoths, Berbers, Moors, and Jews.

Today, Spain’s autonomous Andalusia region attracts visitors from all over the world. Seville, it’s capital and largest city, is a cosmopolitan shopping hub, where visitors can indulge their taste for life’s finer things, from beautifully designed Iittala kitchenware to many of the world’s most sought-after wine labels.

Golden Age

In 711 AD, Andalusia was occupied by Arab Muslims from North Africa under the legendary general Tariq ibn Ziyad. Following his arrival on the coast of Gibraltar, Tariq is said to have burned his own ships to prevent his army from retreating.

Muslims were destined to rule the region for the next eight centuries, during which it became a center of civilization and culture. It reached its zenith with the Caliphate of Cordoba, which lasted from 929 to 1031.

The period is remembered as one of tolerance, during which Muslims, Christians, and Jews lived side by side. At this time, Cordoba served as the region’s capital and was said to rival Constantinople in both grandeur and beauty.

Muslim rule in Andalusia finally ended in 1492 when Granada fell to the forces of Aragon and Castile.


Andalusia has produced several cultural trends that have since become famous all over the world. These include the art of bullfighting, the dance style known as flamenco, and Hispano-Moorish architecture.

Modern-day Andalusia is also known for its wines and mouthwatering cuisine. One of the most famous dishes to come out of the region is gazpacho, which everyone should try at least once in their lives.