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a key role in the development of modern Hispanic culture. Architecturally they were far ahead of their Christian contemporaries in the rest of Europe, having a much more refined level of craftsmanship and far more intricate design. This project will investigate the Moorish Architecture through a detailed look at some of its finest examples. Ornamentation, design, layout and symbolism will all be discussed, as will the buildings' differing uses and purposes throughout their existence. We have selected buildings for these case studies that are still standing today, and we will discuss the enduring legacy of Moorish architecture not just on the Peninsular but also in HispanoAmerica. We will firstly look at our case studies: the Great mosque in Córdoba, the Alhambra in Granada, la Giralda in Sevilla, and the Aljefería palace in Zaragoza. Finally a section will be devoted to the influence of Moorish styles in Latin American architecture, and there will be a concluding section investigating the more general influence of Moorish Architecture in the Hispanic world. One of the most spectacular architectural edifices that Spain inherited from the Moorish dynasty is, indeed, the Great Mosque of Cordoba, also known as the Mezquita. This was, and still is considered a masterpiece of the Moorish art, by both Muslims and Christians. Built on the site of a Visigothic Christian church, the mosque’s construction was begun between 784 and 786, during the reign of Abd al-Rahman I. The specific elements of design and ornamentation with reference to the Great Mosque reflect the Moorish influence that had on the Spanish architecture at the time it was built, but also shows how this building undoubtedly remain an architectural icon up until the modern day. The design of the mosque was greatly influenced by Umayyad’s and Abbasid’s mosques of Syria and Iraq, mirroring their rectangular prayer halls and the enclosed courtyards, while the alternating red and white voussoirs reflect design elements of the Great Mosque of Damascus and the Dome of the Rock.1 2 An interesting feature of this masterpiece is the exceptionally long mihrab (the high altar).3 Further extensions and renovations were continued by Abd alRahman’s successors: under the reign of Abd al-Rahman II, the mihrab was moved to the end of the new southern wall in order to lengthen the naves, and Abd al-Rahman III extensively altered northern façade to support the newly lengthened naves. Under the reign of Caliph Al-Haquem II major changes were made to the maqsura, the prayer space reserved for the ruler, which was elegantly decorated with carved marble, stucco, and elaborate mosaics. Unusually the mihrab, normally only an alcove, took the form of an entire room and was flanked by two rooms whose entrances were adorned with mosaics The main entrance of the mosque, La Puerta del Perdon, leads to the Patio de los Naranjos, a sunny garden with a rectangular pattern of orange and palmtrees.4 The huge resources and wealth poured into the Great Mosque were not simply to show the rulers' patronage of Islam, they were, mush like the cathedrals in the rest of medieval Europe a symbol of the power of the dynasty and the wealth of the monarch. Neither were they merely religious centres but also political hubs were key decisions were taken. The high level of Moorish
1 2 3 4 The Great Mosque of Córdoba, <http://archnet.org/library/sites/one-site.jsp?site_id=31, last accessed 08/03/11> See Appendix 1, picture 1-3 See Appendix 1, picture 4. Enrique Sordo, 'Moorish Spain', (Toronto: The Ryerson Press, 1963), p. 42
culture and design, possibly best exhibit in the Great Mosque, made Córdoba Europe's cultural capital in the latter part of the first millennium.5 This status made the city and the building one of the most powerful symbols of Islamic domination of the peninsular. After the Christian conquest of the city by Ferdinand III in 1236 the building was converted into a cathedral, sending a potent message about the reassertion of Christian control culturally, spiritually and politically. The Mudéjar tradition of Catholic remoulding of iconic Islamic buildings was set, and continued for centuries. Indeed, a proposal for the demolition of the Mosque, to replace it with a cathedral, in the 16th century was met with stiff opposition for the citizens of the town. Instead Carlos V inserted 'an entire Gothic chapel into the very heart of the former Great Mosque,’ 6 showing the continued preference to adjust the old Islamic architecture to Christian tastes, as opposed to removing it completely. Known by Moorish poets as “a pearl set in emeralds”, an allusion to the colour of the buildings and the woods surrounding them, el Alhambra is situated on a hill overlooking the city of Granada. The first reference to the Alhambra being used as a palace comes from the 13th century but the completion of the buildings as we know them today happened in the 14th century under the rule of Yusuf 1 and his son Muhammad V. It was under Moorish control until 1492. The Patio de los Leones is, architecturally, one of the most interesting parts of the Alhambra. It forms the inner court inside the Cuarto de los Leones which in turn forms the third part of the Alhambra palace. It was commissioned by the Nasrid sultan Muhammed V of the Emirate of Granada in Al-Andalus. Its construction started in the second period of his reign, between 1362 and 1391 AD. The Court of the Lions is an oblong court, 35m in length by 20m in width, surrounded by a low gallery supported on 124 white marble columns. The square is paved with coloured tiles, and the colonnade with white marble; while the walls are covered 1.5 m up from the ground with blue and yellow tiles, with a border above and below enamelled blue and gold. The columns supporting the roof and gallery are irregularly placed. They are adorned by varieties of foliage, about each arch there is a large square of arabesques; and over the pillars is another square of filigree work. In the centre of the court is the Fountain of Lions, an alabaster basin supported by the figures of twelve lions in white marble. The inclusion of realistic lions is unusual as in Islamic art, possibly an influence from Christian culture, as it is contrary to their belief that artists should not try to compete with the creative activity of Allah. A major feature of the Alhambra are the intricate arabesque designs that cover the walls and ceilings. This intricate pattern formed by geometric designs has two modes. The first recalls the principals which govern the order of the world and each repeating form has a built-in symbolism. For example, the square, is symbolic of the equally important elements of nature. The second mode is feminine nature of life-giving and uses patterns alluding to, but never a direct copy, of plants and leaves. This is sometimes accompanied by calligraphy. The coming together of all of these elements creates the arabesque artwork and is a reflection of a basic tenet of Islamic faith - of the unity arising from diversity. Of all Moorish buildings the Alhambra is possibly the one that continued to have a direct and enduring influence Christian architecture in post-Moorish
5 Marianne Barrucand and Achim Bednorz, 'Moorish Architecture in Andalusia', (Taschen: 1992), p. 44 6 The Great Mosque of Córdoba, <http://archnet.org/library/sites/one-site.jsp?site_id=31, last accessed 08/03/11>
Spain. The style knows as Mudéjar, “cultural hybridity is reflected in the architecture”1 of Islamic and Christian styles, takes much of its influence directly from the Alhambra. In a direct comparison between the Alcázar de Sevilla and the Alhambra Ruddles points out that it was a two Christian Kings, Alfonso XI and Pedro de Castilla, who built the majority of the building in an Islamic style. He highlights the striking similarities in courtyard layout, plastering, geometric design and inscription between the two buildings, underlining the huge cultural influence of Islamic styles in Christian Iberia at the time.2 This view suggests a view of architecture of the time in a context of convivencia, and as a style more landed with cultural than religious significance.3 It is important to give a brief history into the background of La Giralda before discussing the influence that the moors had on Spanish architecture concerning this case study. La Giralda, a former minaret tower situated in Seville in Southern Spain and constructed by many architects, namely Ahmed Ben Baso in 1184, is arguably the most important symbolic buildings in the medieval city. La Giralda was eventually completed on 10th March 1198, after several architects worked on the building following the death of Baso. Two towers out of the three that make up La Giralda were built during the Almohad period in Seville, of which Seville was the capital city, which makes it easier to argue that La Giralda and hence, the Moors, had a huge influence on Spanish architecture. The eventual use of La Giralda as a church after Seville fell to the Christians during the Reconquista allowed for the use of the design of La Giralda to be copied and used in different places in a predominantly Catholic Spain. Examples include the campanile tower in Lebrija and the Church of San Pedro in Carmona, both still in the province of Seville, but both still in Moorish control so the total influence of La Giralda on these places could be limited. However, the two examples given are named “Giraldillas”, exemplifying that they were smaller imitations of La Giralda and therefore solidifying the link of imitation between them both. Many other church towers within the provincial boundaries of Seville have also been influenced by La Giralda and it is true to say that there has been a high number of towers which have borrowed the design of La Giralda. La Giralda has also influenced many buildings outside of Spain, mainly in America due to the effect of Spanish colonialism. One example that can be used is the clock tower in the University of Puerto Rico, whose design is taken from La Giralda. Therefore, in order to conclude this case study, we must first answer whether the Moors, with specific reference to La Giralda, has influenced Spanish architecture. The answer would be yes, as one can see that over the years, many other places in Spain and from the greater Hispanic world, have borrowed the design of La Giralda, which was built by Moorish peoples, in order to create their own church or clock towers. Henceforth, the influence of the moors on Spanish architecture has been huge, with specific regard to the towers of La Giralda. The Aljafería palace in Zaragoza is yet another artistic masterpiece reflecting Moorish influence on the Spanish architecture. This is considered to be the
1 Farchild Ruggles, 'The Alcázar of Sevilla and Mudéjar Architecture', Gesta, Vol. 45, No.2, (2004) p.87 2 Ibid., pp.91-92 3 Ibid., p.97
most beautiful and recognizable palaces of the taifa period (1031-1085).7 Erected at the river Ebro, the palace was originally named ‘House of Joy’ (Dar al-Surur), and was built in the second half of the 11th century. In addition, the contemporary name of the building derives from its creator al- Ja’fariyaa, being one of the most significant rulers of the taifa period.8 The palace plan is small, approximately 70 x 70 meters, and it was surrounded by wall round towers, only three of which survived. Two of these towers flank the entrance that, together with the small courtyard and the mosque that still remained from the 11th century, present distinct architectural motifs that reflect the style predominant in the caliphate of Córdoba. The northern block comprises the reception rooms: a long rectangular hall and a throne chamber, and whilst the design of the southern block is similar, it is kept, however, in a more simplistic form. The northern porch constitutes the entrance leading to the mosque. This is situated on a square plan with an inscribed octagon and the entrance is adorned by a horseshoe arch. The mihrab of this palace is an exact equivalent of the one of the Great Mosque in Córdoba.9 Nevertheless, the most significant elements of the Aljafería palace are the complex system of interlacing arches and the carved stucco ornament that reflect the influence of the Umayyad architecture. The fine design and ornamentation of the Aljafería palace could not be found in any of the European kingdoms. They are testament to the elegant style and the artistic creativity of the Moors. In 1118, Zaragoza was subjugated by Christians and Aljafería became the residence of the Spanish kings that started to make slight amends in the Islamic art, but without majorly changing any of its essential features. The Moorish architects and craftsmen that came from the Orient to the Peninsular, to built cities like Medina and Azahara, were more skilful and refined than anything else found in Europe at the time. This one of the probable reasons for both the maintenance and expansion of Moorish buildings, as exemplified the the Aljafería, and the style's continued influence well after the Reconquista. The building is still in working use today as the home of las Cortes de Aragón, demonstrating both the skill of the Moors in constructing such a sturdy building, but also the cultural resonance that their architecture still has in Spanish political and cultural life. Islamic architecture has influenced the design and construction of the HispanoAmerican built environment in three distinct ways as a result of Mudajares finding their way to the New World. Firstly, through ornamentation which encompassed the decorative element of Islamic art and architecture, then through architectural form which primarily involved the hypostyle mosque, and finally through open space which is reflected in the creation of plazas throughout Latin American cities. However, we will see that although components of Islamic architecture were incorporated into the HispanoAmerican built-environment, the Mudejar style did not develop in an Islamic context. Instead it developed into a Neo-Hispanic context which combined the Christian-Baroque style with that of the Islamic Mudejar style. Therefore the original Islamic design has been combined and in some cases the meaning underlying the expression lost. Islamic influence on Hispano-American architecture is most notable in ornamentation. The Mudéjar expression is closely identified with wooden artesonado ceilings which take the form of the inverted shape of the exposed
7 See Appendix 1, picture 5. 8 Marianne Barrucand, Achim Bednorz, 'Moorish Architecture in Andalusia', p. 118 9 Ibid., p. 120
timber roof construction. Ceiling panels are decorated by an interlacing system of ornamentation – alfarje – which disguises the structural system with decoration. This has the result of producing buildings that have more of a decorative and less of a structural look to them. These alfarje ceilings still exist in the provincial churches of Atzcapotzalo, Chiapas and Tlaxcala to name but a few. They were also noted in a number of churches in larger cities which were destroyed in the seventeenth and eighteenth century as part of a campaign to homogenise the Baroque style. Variations based on the alfarje ceilings can be found in provincial churches in Mexico and Ecuador. For example, the church of San Francisco in Quito, Ecuador consists of a single nave combined with an alfarje ceiling. Here we can see how the Islamic design has been combined with that of a Christian-Baroque style. The Islamic influence on the HispanoAmerican built-environment also extends to the architectural form. The Islamic influence on Hispano-American architectural form principally regards the hypostyle mosque form. This form is square or rectangular in plan with an enclosed courtyard and prayer hall. Due to the warm climate and large number of people who congregated there, these early Islamic mosques had high flat roofs resulting in numerous columns to support it. This same style has been replicated in churches throughout Latin America. The church at San Jose for example has columns at fifteen metres high. We learn from R. Brooks Jeffery, however, that there was no functional reason why the church at San Jose required such a height ‘except to emulate its Spanish precedent in Córdoba.’4 We can see here that a distinctly Islamic form of architecture has been copied in Latin America. Unlike ornamentation, however, which has been extensively combined with a Christian-baroque style, the hypostyle mosque form remains the same. This is not the case for the Islamic influence upon open space in Latin America which has transformed the original Islamic meaning. Traditional Islamic society and belief is defined by layers of centrality which encompass the individual and outer communities.5 The first and most individual centre is defined by the home and family and the last is defined by the entire Islamic community. In each Islamic city there is also a formal geometry of buildings facilitating the concept of centrality. This contrasts with pre-Renaissance Christian world where ‘open space lacked formal geometry’.6 Yet by 1530 in Latin America, hundreds of towns had been created- based on a consistent grid pattern not so unlike that of Islamic cities. Public plazas represented the core from which urban planning was devised: it was the centre for political and cultural activities. Apparently, a consistent geometric pattern facilitated surveying in Hispano-America. Islamic influence on open space in Latin America is therefore evident in public plazas. Whilst the concept of centrality greatly related to religious notions with great mosques forming the centre of communities, in Hispano-America this concept of centrality has been reproduced purely for practical reasons facilitating the surveying of towns and cities. Thus, although the style was maintained the original Moorish symbolism was lost.
4 Jeffery R. Brooks, 'From Azulejos to Zaguanes: The Islamic Legacy in the Built Environment of Hispano-America', The Journal of the Southwest, Vol. 45, No. 1/2, (Spring-Summer, 2003) p. 310. 5 Ibid. 6 Ibid.
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