The former Moors and Arabs of the area where I live (once Al-Andalus) — and the sigh of Boabdil

Hi folks — I’m back again, but this time with a little bit of history about the area where I live (the countryside near Posadas village, province of Cordova in Andalusia).

(For more interesting information on this area, you can take a look at https://www.andalucia.com/province/cordoba/posadas/home.htm)

As I mentioned in a previous blog of mine, the area where I live is steeped in history and abounds in castles. I already related the legend associated with my neighbouring castle of Almodóvar del Río, but there’s more to this castle and surrounding areas than just the legend of Princess Zaida La Encantá (The Enchanted), or the beheading of the Muslem King of Baeza.

This medieval castle (once visited and documented by Pliny the Great) was presided over by Caliph Abd al-Malik ben Qatan in 740 A.D who served under the Caliph of Damascus (of the Umayyad Dynasty which held its capital in Damascus, with a major seating in Cordova).

The Umayyad era was associated with a time of richness and splendour, and so became known in Spain as the ‘Golden Age’ of the Moors (extending from approx. 756–1031 AD).

Three of the nine towers of the castle of Almodóvar del Río, Cordova

The Umayyad Caliphate was later succeeded by the Berber Muslim Dynasty. During the on-going civil war, the great city of Medinat Azahara, located on the outskirts of present-day Cordova, was completely ransacked by the Berbers. (https://www.artencordoba.com/en/medina-azahara/madinat-al-zahra-cordoba.html)

This Dynasty in Andalusia (or Al-Andalus as it was known then) was comprised of the Almoravids (their capital was Marrakesh) and later, the defeating Almohads. The battle between these two North African tribes resulted in the dynasty fragmenting into a number of minor states and taifas (independent Muslim-ruled municipalities), which numbered about thirty-three after the fall of the Caliphate of Córdoba in 1031.

(This is all fairly approximate by the way — I’m not a historian!)

Meanwhile, further southeast of Cordova, the Nasrid dynasty ruled the Emirate of Granada between 1238 to 1492 AD, until finally Emir Muhammad XII, the last Nasrid ruler, surrendered his emirate to the powerful Catholic Monarch, Queen Isabel I of Castile, wife of King Ferdinand II of Aragon (whose daughter was the very pious Catherine of Aragon, first wife of King Henry VIII).

Emir Muhammad XII, known to the Castilians as Boabdil, was born in the Alhambra Palace (built during the Nasrid rule). He died in Fez, where he had previously appealed to the Marinid rulers of Morocco for permission to live there during his exile. In his letter to them, he also asked pardon for his defeat in Al-Andalus and for any wrongdoings he might have subjected the people to. (https://www.alhambra.org/en/alhambra-history.html)

The Alhambra Palace-Fortress in Granada

Boabdil, our last emir of Al-Andalus, is very renowned and there are many references to him where he plays a central character: these include books, dramas, poems, comics, songs and films. There is also a mountain pass that is named in his honour. This rocky outcrop forms a ridge within Granada’s Sierra Nevada, and is called Suspiro del Moro (The Moor’s Sigh). A rock marks the spot where Boabdil, on his departure and journey to exile, accompanied by his mother the Sultana Aixa al-Horra, gazed upon his beloved Alhambra once last time. It is said that he lamented and cried, and that his mother, on seeing his tears uttered: ‘Thou dost weep like a woman for what thou couldst not defend as a man.’

The Moors and Arabs left behind a legacy which can be appreciated by the numerous complex structures that they erected, such as the Great Mosque of Córdoba (https://www.turismodecordoba.org/the-mosque-cathedral-of-cordoba-spain — this includes a virtual tour), or the former royal town of Medinat Al- Zahara; they also left an advanced canal and irrigation system, like that seen in the gardens of the Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos (The Royal Palace of the Catholic Monarchs — https://www.turismodecordoba.org/castle-of-the-christian-monarchs)

The Great Mosque of Córdoba, originally built upon the Visigoth church — the Basilica of Saint Vincent — under the orders of Abd al-Rahman I in 784

A great variety of flora was also imported from Syria and North Africa: examples are the mandrake, butcher’s broom, pomegranate etc. which still thrive today. Additionally, many of the habits and the way that the Andalusians live are rooted in this Moorish past, as are certain words and names, like Azahara’ or Almudena. Spanish words with these Arabic origins begin with al-’, such as almohadilla’ which means pillow, or alberca’, meaning tank or reservoir. Their name for Córdoba, the town renowned as the world’s leading economic, educational and cultural centre, was Qurtuba’.

Part of the exquisite gold mosaic mihrab inside the mosque (https://www.lonelyplanet.com/spain/andalucia/cordoba/attractions/mezquita/a/poi-sig/1189075/36073)

However, the Copper and Bronze Age tribes, as well as the Phoenicians and Romans also had their claim to fame here — but more about that in further blogs!

Thank you for reading. As usual, I welcome any comments or questions.

Hope this finds you in good health and spirits…

Bye for now!

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