Essay on A Comparison of Christian and Islamic Architecture in Spain

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A Comparison of Christian and Islamic Architecture in Spain

By the 6th century a Germanic tribe called the Visigoths, converts to Arian Christianity, had established themselves as the aristocratic elite. The Christians built many monumental basilica-plan churches. The Santa Maria de Quintanilla de las Vinas, Burgos, Spain and San Juan de Banos de Cerrato are two such churches that still remain today. In the beginning of the 8th century Islamic Muslims conquered Spain and ended Visigothic rule. They constructed militaristic and religious architecture including castles, watchtowers, rock castes, the Great Mosque, and the Red Palace. The remaining Christians adopted some of the Islamic styles and soon built upon a new style that ended up
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The Moors also built atalayas, or watchtowers and rock castles that served as part of the defense system for the castle. The watchtowers were used as communication devices for castles that were great distances apart. The watchtowers would signal the castle in case of an enemy attack by using smoke and mirrors. They built rock castles, or small defense castles high on rocks, using the natural terrain to the maximum effect. Since the rock castles were small they did not house many soldiers.

Another important Islamic site is situated in Cordoba, southern Spain, along the banks of Guadalquivir river (the Great River). Cordoba served as the capital of the Caliphate of Cordoba. Cordoba houses the famous Great Mosque or Gran Mezquita, the largest mosque in the Western World. The interior of the mosque consisted of a mirhab, a niche that separates the qibla wall from the others. The mirhab was intentionally positioned facing Mecca for the faithful who prayed in that direction.

The mosque can be identified by its elaborate squinch-supported domes. The Great Mosque of Cordoba is one of the finest surviving examples of Umayyad architecture in Spain. The mosque has marble capitals and columns in the hypostyle prayer hall. A person enters the hall through an open courtyard called a sahn. Its famous horseshoe arches have an alternated pattern of pale stone and red brick voussoirs
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