Posted on 19th June 2015 by De Moura
With the economic gloom that dominates the news from Spain and Portugal and seemingly endless cycle of violence in the Syria and Iraq, it is tragically easy to overlook the majestic historic legacy bestowed on Iberia by the Moors during their 700 years of presence in Al Andalus, the Arabic name from which modern day Andalusia is derived. The Islamic period in the Iberian Peninsula began with the arrival of Berber forces from North Africa in Gibraltar in 711, who rapidly extending their presence northwards to conquer the majority of the peninsula by 720 from the Visigoths, establishing the region as a province of the Umayyad Caliphate, itself ruled from the city of Damascus, the beating heart of Islamic world.
Following the fall of the Umayyads in 750 to their Abbasid rivals in Baghdad, their rulers fled to Al Andalus to establish an independent Caliphate centring on the city of Cordoba, which was to become a centre of excellence and the largest city in the world in the 10th Century. What followed was a ‘golden age’ of culture, education and innovation, where Christians, Jews and Muslims all coexisted peacefully under the rule of the Caliphs. Indeed, while the Jews did not have the same rights as Muslims, they were permitted to live and work freely, unlike in many Christian parts of Europe at the time, progressing to positions of relative political influence and contributing widely to fields such as philosophy, science and translation.
This fascinating period saw the construction of exquisite Mosques and palaces, the most notable being the Alhambra Palace in Granada, meaning referring to its red colour in Arabic, and the Great Mosque of Cordoba with its iconic Islamic architecture, exhibiting the typical symmetry, mosaics and golden domes. Wonderfully intricate works of art in the form of golden pottery or loza dorada, many pieces of which are on display in the Alhambra and other museums today, complemented these architectural feats of wonder.
Very few faithful reproductions of these precious objects exist, but limited editions of certain pieces are available through our Granada-based artisans, who painstakingly reproduce the originals by hand using authentic techniques. What better way to pay homage to the rich tapestry of Andalusian culture than through these intricate ceramics, preserving the legacy of the golden age of Iberian enlightenment in faithfully crafted clay and meticulous hand painting.
For further reading, visit: http://www.alhambra-patronato.es/ Edited by Simon R. Doubleday and David Coleman. In the Light of Medieval Spain. (August 2008) Palgrave MacmillanKennedy, Hugh; Muslim Spain and Portugal: A Political History of al-Andalus (1996), Routledge Publishing