Moorish architecture

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. 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


Major monuments

Caliphate of Córdoba (929-1031):

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

Nasrid Emirate of Granada (1212–1492):


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


Algeria, Morocco & Tunisia

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


  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


Berber Buildings
Algiers Building interior 
Mosque Koutoubia in Marrakech 
Mansourah mosque, Tlemcen 
Marinids tombs in Fes 
Zianid interior architecture 
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