Spain-Morocco 2015

Sevilla: Moorish art and architecture

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The Alcázar of Seville is a royal palace, originally developed by Moorish Muslim kings. The palace is renowned as one of the most beautiful in Spain, being regarded as one of the most outstanding examples of mudéjar architecture found on the Iberian Peninsula. The upper levels of the Alcázar are still used by the royal family as the official Seville residence and are administered by the Patrimonio Nacional. It is the oldest royal palace still in use in Europe, and was registered in 1987 by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, along with the Seville Cathedral and the General Archive of the Indies. (Wikipedia)

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The Mudéjar style, a symbiosis of techniques and ways of understanding architecture resulting from Muslim and Christian cultures living side by side, emerged as an architectural style in the 12th century on the Iberian peninsula. It is characterised by the use of brick as the main material. Mudéjar did not involve the creation of new shapes or structures, but the reinterpretation of Western cultural styles through Islamic influences. Mudejar art was influenced by ancient Arabic scripts, which follow repetitive rhythmic patterns.

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Personally, I find Moorish art and architecture breathtaking. It is the most fascinating part of our trip to Morocco and Spain. I am glad we went to Morocco first, we saw it in Islamic buildings, and now we can compare it with the mudejar style.

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The Tower of Gold was built 1220-1221, by order of the Almohad governor of Seville. IMG_1414

This lovely scene is from Seville during the time of Muslim rule in al Andaluz.

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Most of Muslim Spain was semiarid, and water meant far more than the chance to bathe. New crops introduced from the Islamic East were better suited in these semiarid conditions. Oranges, lemons, spinach, and watermelons were just some of those crops. Also, thanks to Arab ingenuity at bringing life into bloom from scarce desert resources, Muslim Spain eventually engineered Europe’s most sophisticated technologies for tapping, channeling, and distributing water. Extensive canal systems expanded the acreage under cultivation and lengthened the growing season.

Lengthening the growing season and extending acreage under cultivation were vital for medieval societies struggling to lift themselves beyond subsistence. Each agricultural innovation shifted the margin between life and death. Land cultivated  more intensively supported larger populations; surplus production freed laborers from farming to specialize in craft works; surplus produce and manufactured crafts became engine of foreign trade.( Chris Lowney: A Vanished World)

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