Moorish architecture

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Moorish architecture is the architectural tradition that appeared in the Maghreb region and the Iberian peninsula during the Islamic period.


Paderne Castle, Portugal

Characteristic elements of Moorish architecture include muqarnas, horseshoe arches, voussoirs, domes, crenellated arches, lancet arches, ogee arches, courtyards, and decorative tile work known as zellij in Arabic or azulejo in Spanish. The architectural tradition is exemplified by great buildings such as the Mezquita in Córdoba (784–987, in four phases); the Alhambra (mainly 1338–1390[1]) and Generalife (1302–9 and 1313–24) in Granada and the Giralda in Seville in 1184;[2] Paderne Castle in the Algarve, Portugal; the mosque of Koutoubia and University of Al-Karaouine in Morocco; the Great Mosque of Algiers and the Great Mosque of Tlemcen in Algeria; and the Mosque of Uqba in Kairouan, Tunisia. Other notable buildings include the ruined palace city of Medina Azahara (936-1010), the church (former mosque) San Cristo de la Luz in Toledo, the Aljafería in Zaragoza and baths at for example Ronda and Alhama de Granada.

The term is sometimes used to include the products of the Islamic civilisation of Southern Italy.[3] The Palazzo dei Normanni in Sicily was begun in the 9th century by the Emir of Palermo.

There is archeological evidence of an eighth-century mosque in Narbonne, France.[4]

By country[edit]


Major monuments[edit]

Caliphate of Córdoba (929-1031):

Period of Taifas (11th-13th century):

Nasrid Emirate of Granada (1212–1492):

  • the Alhambra (mainly 1338-1390) and the Generalife (1302-24 in two phases), a country palace initially linked to the Alhambra by a covered walkway across the ravine that now divides them.
  • Granada Hospital (Maristan) (1365-7)
  • Masjid of the madrasa of Yusuf I (1349) in the so-called Palacio de la Madraza
  • New Funduq of Granada (14th century)
  • Qaysariyya of Granada (15th century)


Church of Nossa Senhora da Anunciação (formerly a mosque), Mértola.


Algeria, Morocco & Tunisia[edit]

There is a high concentration of Moorish architecture in the Maghrebi states of Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia mainly in the cities of Tlemcen, Algiers, Marrakech, Tunis, and Testour.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Curl p.502
  2. ^ Pevsner, Niklaus. The Penguin Dictionary of Architecture
  3. ^ The Industrial Geography of Italy, Russell King, Taylor & Francis, 1985, page 81
  4. ^ Islam Outside the Arab World, David Westerlund, Ingvar Svanberg, Palgrave Macmillan, 1999, page 342


  • Curl, James Stevens (2006). A Dictionary of Architecture and Landscape Architecture (Paperback) (Second ed.). Oxford University Press. p. 880 pages. ISBN 0-19-860678-8. 
  • Barrucand, Marianne; Bednorz, Achim (2002). Moorish Architecture in Andalusia. Taschen. p. 240 pages. ISBN 3-8228-2116-0. 


Algiers Building interior 
Mosque Koutoubia in Marrakech 
Mansourah mosque, Tlemcen 
Marinids tombs in Fes 
Zianid interior architecture 
The Giralda, built by the Berber Almohad dynasty in Andalus 
Torre del Oro, Seville; Berber Almohad dynasty 
Mansorah Mosque entrance 
Hammadid Qalaa, Algeria 
Agadir, Medina 
Morocco mosque 
Architecture of Béjaïa, Algeria 
Tlemcen, Algeria 
Adrar buildings, Algeria 
Mosque in Morocco 
Traditional architecture of Ghardaïa, Algeria 
Hassan Tower, Morocco 
House in Algiers 
Bab Mansour in Morocco 
Agdal wall, and gardens, Meknes 
Marinids tombs 

External links[edit]