When most people imagine Spain, the vibrant cities of Barcelona and Madrid, crystal clear shores of the Mediterranean, and alabaster white villages come to mind. However, there’s even more to Spain than that. Centuries of Islamic rule lent the nation a plethora of Moorish sites and unique cultural blends in the southern region of Andalucia. So whether you’re planning to visit or are just learning more about the Moors, here are the best Moorish sites to visit in Spain.
7 of the Best Moorish Sites to Visit in Spain
1. Alhambra – Granada
First and foremost is the Alhambra in Granada. This sprawling palace complex is simply the crown jewel of Andalucia’s Moorish days and is one of Spain’s most beloved historical sites. Full to the brim with Islamic art and architecture along with countless relics, it’s a must see on any visit to southern Spain.
2. The Great Mosque of Cordoba – Cordoba
Constructed in the late 700s by Abd al-Rahman I, the Great Mosque of Cordoba was the core of Islamic Spain in its day. Famous for its unique design in homage to the mosques of Damascus and Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa, the style alone is impressive. Now almost 1,300 years later, it is still considered an invaluable and important monument in the Mediterranean Muslim world.
3. Alcazaba – Malaga
Alcazaba or citadel in English is one of Malaga’s biggest claims to fame. This mighty fortress with roots in the early 11th century is one of Spain’s most prized and well-preserved Moorish sites. And it’s certainly not without reason. In addition to the rich history within the walls of the fortress, there is also remnants of Roman ruins dating to the 1st century.
4. Royal Alcazar of Seville – Seville
Few things speak to the opulence of Spain’s Moorish days better than Seville’s Royal Alcazar. This ornate and elaborate palace has its origins in the 11th century and over the centuries has become one of Spain’s most beloved Moorish sites. So beloved in fact, that it’s still considered an official residence of Spain’s royal family today; this makes it the oldest royal palace in Europe that’s still occupied.
5. Medina Azahara – Cordoba
Cordoba’s Medina Azahara’s is one of Spain’s latest wins for UNESCO and one of the country’s most spectacular Moorish sites. Once upon a time, Medina Azahara was a bustling metro hub home to the local mint, countless workshops, mosques and more. Since its heyday in the 900s, it’s become a symbol of Moorish history and provides a unique glimpse into the life of Moors in Cordoba at the height of their power.
6. Aljaferia – Zaragoza
Head to north east Spain’s Zaragoza and you’ll find an impressive Islamic gem known as Aljaferia. This magnificent palace is one of the most important fortified palaces of Islamic Spain and is famous as one of the best examples of Arabian castle architecture. Additionally, Aljaferia is the most beloved Moorish site outside of Andalucia.
7. Giralda – Seville
What if we told you the largest Gothic cathedral in the world was actually once a mosque? It’s true. Seville’s Giralda was once the centrepiece of the ancient city’s Islamic community. After being converted into the city’s main cathedral, the once minaret now serves as the bell tower for the cathedral and is a visual representation of Spain’s patchwork of spirituality over the centuries.