Are you thinking about traveling abroad with friends or family this year or next year? If people generally choose to travel to cities like Tokyo, London, Paris, or at least Singapore, what if this time you turn your attention to Andalusia?
Andalusia, whose capital is Seville, is an autonomous region within Spain. The name Andalusia itself comes from the Arabic : Al-Andalus, which refers to the part of the Iberian peninsula that was under Muslim rule in the past. It was in this region that Islam entered Spain. Although five centuries of Islamic rule have passed from Granada, the influence of the Moors who embraced Islam is still evident in the architecture, dress and activities of the people.
Interested? Let’s take a look at the five main beautiful cities in Andalusia as follows:
Table of Contents
Cordoba or Qurtubah
It is located in the west of Spain, has a population of 300,000 and is a major city in Andalusia. The city was originally named Iberi Baht after it was built during the Roman rule of Guadalquivir. Five centuries later, the city was under Byzantine rule, under the command of the King of the Western Goths.
Islam entered the city in 93 Hijri or 711 AD under the leadership of Tariq bin Ziyad. The Jami’ Mosque of Cordoba is considered a great work of art in the field of building that was built during the time of Abdurrahman ad-Dakhil. The mosque still stands today with Islamic art and artifacts complete with mihrabs. Today, the mosque is a cathedral church after Cordoba was conquered and overhauled by removing some of its domes and Islamic ornaments.
Since its development, Cordoba has been the center of science, knowledge, art and literature. Today it is adorned with statues of Maimonidas and Mother Rushdi in honor of Cordoba’s native son. Often, music and cultural festivals are held to celebrate the Islamic heritage in Spain.
Granada or Gharnatah
The Nasriyyah kingdom, also known as the Banu Nasr/Banu al-Hamar kingdom, was the last Islamic kingdom to rule in Andalusia (1238-1492M or 635-897H). During the reign of this kingdom, Andalusia reached a glorious era of Islamic artistic civilization with the beginning of the Alhambra palace (al-Hamra’) at the top of the Sierra Nevada (Jabal Shalir/al-Thalj) in Granada which became the artistic genius of Muslim Spain (Chejne 1974: 360). Granada became an important city at the time of the proliferation of taifa in Andalusia. Jews and Muslims migrated from the nearby town of Elvira to Granada.
In the 18th and 19th centuries, the city was expanded. Today Granada is a metropolis with a population of 500,000. The legacy of the old Islamic city can still be found in this city, one of which is Albaicin. The area is known among tourists as a center for cafes and handicrafts. Another tourist attraction there is the Alhambra. The Nasrid dynasty built a vast palace complex on a hill. The park, the spring water and the remaining fields attract at least six million tourists each year. Therefore, this site is one of the most popular historical sites visited by tourists in Europe.
Madrid or al-Majreet
The capital of Spain, Madrid is a cosmopolitan city located in the heart of Spain. The city has a population of 3.5 million. Archaeological evidence has shown that Roman settlements have existed there since the second century BC, or more precisely on the banks of the Manzanares river. Textual references to Madrid in the eleventh century reveal that it was one of the frontline cities in northern Andalusia during the Umayyad caliphate. The city’s name, Madrid, is an Arabic derivative: Al Majreet, which means water canal. The term refers to the latest irrigation technique used by Muslim communities in arid areas.
Seville or Ishbiliyah
During the Roman Empire, the city was known as a port city, Hispalis. The city is located on the banks of the Guadalquivir river, so Sevila enjoys open and direct access to the Atlantic Ocean.
During the period of Muslim leadership, Seville enjoyed its glory. It became the capital of Almoravid and Almohad Spain. The city often competed with Cordoba as a center of knowledge and prosperity. After the Vikings attacked the city in the 9th century, the Umayyad caliphate, then led by Abdul Rahman II, built an air base and watchtowers to protect their power.
In 1992, Seville held the Universal Exposition, which was one of Spain’s biggest events, indicating that the country is a democratic and modern country in the European region. Seville today is a city of rich art, culture, and finance in the south of Spain. This metropolitan city has a population of 1.3 million.
Toledo or Tulaytulah
The city is located 70 kilometers southwest of Madrid. Toledo is a city nestled in the hills above the La Mancha plateau. During the Roman Empire, Toledo became a strategic location for the route from Emerita (modern Merida in the southwest) to Caesar-Agusta (modern Zaragoza) in the northeast. The city became the base of the Spanish Church during the Visigothic era until the 16th century. The city went on to become a key city in the Andalusian era of Islamic leadership under the Umayyad caliphate.
Today, Toledo is known for mazapan (marzipan), a snack made from sugar, eggs and almonds. This snack was introduced to the Andalusian region by the Persians. The city is also known for its metal products that are steeped in Islamic culture. There is a medieval feel to the streets with rock ledges and crafts. With a population of approximately 75,000 people, UNESCO designated Toleda as a World Heritage Site in 1986. also check out the best tourist attractions in Spain