Islam in Spain (Al-Andalus) | History & Facts

The Islamic Empire dominated the Iberian Peninsula (today’s Spain and Portugal) for a sizable portion of the Middle Ages. Muslims originally came in the area around 711 AD, and they dominated parts of it until 1492. They made a big difference in the culture and daily life of the locals and brought numerous innovations to Europe.

Describe Al-Andalus.

Muslims called Spain, which was then an Islamic country, “Al-Andalus.” Al-Andalus formerly covered practically the whole Iberian Peninsula. Al-Andalus’ border with the Christian nations to the north was continually shifting.

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Muslims Arrive First

During the Umayyad Caliphate’s conquests, Muslims came in Spain. In 711 AD, the Umayyads had conquered a large portion of northern Africa and moved from Morocco to Spain over the Strait of Gibraltar. They encountered little opposition. The Islamic army had taken over most of the Iberian Peninsula by 714.

Battle of Tours

The Muslims focused on the rest of Europe after conquering the Iberian Peninsula. They started moving towards France until the Frankish army encountered them close to Tours. Charles Martel led the Franks in their victory over the Islamic army, which was forced to retreat to the south. From that point on, much of the Iberian Peninsula south of the Pyrenees was under Islamic rule.

Umayyad Caliphate

The Abbasid Caliphate in the Middle East replaced the Umayyad Caliphate in 750. One Umayyad ruler, though, managed to flee and found a new state in Cordoba, Spain. At the period, numerous Muslim groups controlled a large portion of Spain. These tribes were eventually unified under one authority by the Umayyads. The Umayyads had taken back control of Al-Andalus by 926, at which point they dubbed themselves the Caliphate of Cordoba.

Cultural Developments

The area prospered while the Umayyads were in power. One of the most important cities in Europe was Cordoba. In contrast to most of Europe’s gloomy and filthy towns, Cordoba featured broad, paved streets, hospitals, running water, and public bathhouses. Scholars from all over the Mediterranean came to Cordoba to study medicine, astronomy, mathematics, and art as well as to visit the library.

The Moors were who?

The Muslims from North Africa who invaded the Iberian Peninsula are frequently referred to as “Moors”. Any Muslim resident of the area was included in the phrase, not just those with Arab ancestry. This comprised locals who converted to Islam as well as African Berbers.


Christian countries to the north made attempts to regain control of the Iberian Peninsula throughout the 700 years that the Islamic Empire ruled it. This protracted conflict was known as the “Reconquista.” The last of the Islamic forces were finally routed in Granada in 1492 by the combined forces of King Ferdinand of Aragon and Queen Isabella I of Castile.

Interesting Information on the Early Islamic Empire and Islamic Spain

Jews and Christians coexisted harmoniously with Muslims in Al-Andalus, but they had to pay an additional tax known as the “jizya.”

When the Christians acquired control of the city in 1236, the Great Mosque of Cordoba was converted into a Catholic church.

The Visigoth kingdom ruled over the Iberian Peninsula before the Islamic conquest.

In the early 1000s, the Cordoba Caliphate was overthrown. Following this, the area was governed by tiny Muslim kingdoms known as “taifas.”

Towards the end of the Islamic era, Seville developed into a significant centre of power. The Giralda tower, one of Seville’s well-known attractions, was finished in 1198.

The Almoravids and the Almohads, two strong Islamic tribes from north Africa, seized control of a large portion of the area in the 11th and 12th centuries.