TRAVEL / Great Civilisations of the World - Moorish Spain: Where to go and what to see

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The Independent Culture
1 AGER ** Muslim defences surround this medieval town.

2 ALARCON ** partly Muslim castle.

3 ALBARRACIN ** partially Muslim defences.

4 ALCALA DE GUADAIRA ** 12th-century Muslim castle.

5 ALCALA LA REAL ** 12th- century Berber fortress.

6 ALMERIA *** Once the capital of a tiny emirate, then a pirate stronghold, it boasts a magnificent castle.

7 ALMONASTER ** 10th-century mosque, now a church.

8 ALPUENTE *** 10th-century royal fortress.

9 BADAJOS ** Muslim castle, once the home of an eccentric emir who diverted a stream through his kitchen and state dining hall so that food could be delivered on miniature boats.

10 BALAGUER * late ninth-century fortress.

11 BANOS DE LA ENCINA *** Spectacular 10th-century Muslim castle.

12 BERLANGA DE DUERO *** The Muslim part of this great castle dates back to the ninth century.

13 CACERES *** Fascinating walled city, filled with medieval plazas and palaces.

14 CALATRAVA LA VIEJA *** Only the defensive walls, gates and 20 towers of this now deserted, yet once bustling eighth-century Muslim town still survive.

15 CARMONA ** 8th-12th century Muslim castle and city gate.

16 CASTRIL * Late 12th-century castle.

17 CHINCHILA ** Partly Muslim castle.

18 CIEZA ** Excavated remains of houses and defences of a small deserted town.

19 CORDOBA *** The capital of Muslim Spain between the 8th and early 11th centuries. Today, see the 8th-10th-century mosque (La Mesquita), now a cathedral, with its forest of 450 marble columns; the 14th-century synagogue; and the Muslim fortress.

20 CORIA * Eighth-century town wall.

21 DENIA *** This great 11th- century castle was once the seat of a local pirate king who terrorised the western Mediterranean.

22 EL VACAR ** Built around the year 800, this is one of Europe's oldest castles.

23 ELVAS * (Portugal) eighth- century town gates.

24 EVORA ** (Portugal) eighth- century town wall.

25 FINANA ** Muslim fortress.

26 FUENGIROLA ** Rare 12th- century fortress built by the North African Almoravid Berbers.

27 GALLINERA VALLEY ** A dozen 12th-century castles built by the Muslims in a spectacular mountain landscape to protect their coastal cities.

28 GAUCIN ** Spectacular castle.

29 GORMAZ *** One of Spain's most impressive castles, high on a rocky eminence, its great walls date from the 10th century.

30 GUAJAR *** Three hours' hard walking up a small mountain, this deserted 13th-14th-century fortified village, defended by several hundred yards of walls, still has around 20 houses.

31 GRANADA *** This capital of an independent Muslim kingdom - and one of the most important centres of Jewish population in the medieval world - outlasted the rest of Muslim Spain by 250 years, and was only finally extinguished in 1492. See the famous 12th-14th-century emir's palace, the Alhambra, a masterpiece of Islamic architecture.

32 GUARDAMAR DEL SEGURA ** The ruins of 11 tiny mosques and defensive ramparts are what remains of a Muslim religious community.

33 HUESCA * Late ninth-century town walls.

34 JIMENA DE LA FRONTERA ** Late 12th-century castle.

35 JUMILLA ** Partially Islamic castle.

36 LEBRIJA ** 12th-century town walls and gates. Parts of the mosque inside the church of Santa Maria.

37 LUQUE * Partly Muslim castle.

38 MADRID *** Magnificent Hispano-Muslim artwork in the National Archaeological Museum. The city also retains part of its original Muslim city wall.

39 MALAGA *** Impressive 11th-14th-century palace and 13th- century castle.

40 MEDELLIN ** Partly Muslim castle.

41 MEDINA AZAHARA *** (The medieval spelling transliterates as Madinat al-Zahra) Founded by Caliph Abd al- Rahman III as a palace city to which he could escape from the hustle and bustle of his capital, Cordoba. Inhabited by 20,000 craftsmen, guards, gardeners, courtiers and government officials, the city was destroyed in the Berber revolt of 1010. Now parts are being rebuilt using many of the original marble columns and intricately carved stonework and plaster unearthed by the archaeologists.

42 MERIDA ** See the ninth- century Muslim castle built to overawe Christian rebels.

43 MERTOLA *** (Portugal) See the great castle and city walls.

44 MOLINA DE ARAGON *** Massive fortress, probably partly 10th-century Muslim.

45 MONTE AGUDO ** 12th- century mountain-top fortress.

46 MONZON ** Partly Muslim castle, 10th-century.

47 NIEBLA *** One of Spain's most spectacular walled cities complete with 46 towers, four city gates, mosque and castle, it endured a six-month Christian siege in 1262.

48 PALMA * Early 10th-century Muslim castle near the cathedral.

49 QUESADA * Muslim fortress.

50 RONDA *** This tiny emirate, which formed part of the Muslim kingdom of Granada, was one of the first targets of artillery in Europe. In 1485, it fell to the fire-power of Castilian cannon. See the clifftop ramparts, the city gates, two minarets, and the public steam baths.

51 RUEDA DE JALON ** Ninth- century Muslim fortress. Christian peace negotiators were massacred in the late 11th century.

52 SALOBRENA * Castle.

53 SANTA CATALINA *** Partly Muslim early 10th-13th-century castle in Jaen, now a hotel.

54 SEGURA DE LA SIERRA *** Spectacular partly Muslim castle, 11th century.

55 SEPULVEDA * Ninth-century town walls.

56 SEVILLE *** Within the mainly 9th-14th-century castle (the Alcazar) are a series of beautiful Muslim-style rooms and courtyards built after the Christian conquest of the city. The story of the famous Black Prince Ruby, which still forms part of the royal crown of England, began here. In Seville's Alcazar, the Castilian King Pedro the Cruel murdered the Emir of neighbouring Granada in order to steal the ruby and other items of jewellery that the Emir was wearing. Pedro then gave it to the English Royal Family. See also the Torre del Oro, c 1220, and the mosque beside the church of San Salvador.

57 SILVES ** (Portugal) Late 10th-century castle.

58 TALAVERA ** Town walls.

59 TARIFA * See the great 10th- century castle - and the beach on which the first Arab invaders landed in 712 AD.

60 TOLEDO *** One of the greatest cities of Muslim Spain, it still retains its medieval walls, gates, bridges (one still in use is ninth-century) and atmosphere.

61 TRUJILLO *** Ninth-century Muslim fortress.

62 VASCOS *** A deserted 8th- 11th century 12-acre Muslim town complete with city walls, castle, houses and baths and mosque.

63 ZARAGOZA *** Sample the local dish of walnuts and cream, first devised by Ziryab, the 12th- century Muslim courtier, chef, musician - and inventor of toothpaste. Then see the beautiful Aljaferia Palace.

Note to travellers: Access to some sites requires good local maps. Where appropriate, especially when planning to visit unattended urban castles, consider taking a local guide as a security measure.

*** spectacular ** very interesting * interesting


Guidebooks: A Guide to Andalusia by Michael Jacobs (Penguin pounds 9.99), good descriptive cultural guide to the region; Southern Spain Cadogan Guide (Cadogan pounds 7.99), lively general guide, not as good on the sites as Jacobs's but with good practical information; Islamic Spain by Godfrey Goodwin (Penguin pounds 8.99), succinct architectural guide.

Travel Accounts: South from Granada by Gerald Brenan (Penguin pounds 6.99), classic account of life in Andalucia first published in the 1950s; Alhambra by Washington Irving, out of print in this country but available locally, the classic celebration of the greatest of the monuments of Moorish culture.

History: Moorish Spain by Richard Fletcher (Weidenfeld pounds 17.99), vivid and entertaining general history; The Arab Conquest of Spain by R Collins (Blackwell pounds 37.50), the establishment of the Muslim kingdoms in Spain; Islamic Spain 1250-1500 by L P Harvey (Chicago pounds 10.95), scholarly history of Muslim culture.

All available from good bookshops, and by mail order from Daunt Books for Travellers, 83 Marylebone High Street, London W1M 3DE (071-224 2295). DK

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