From 711 to 1492, Spain, as it is now known, was ruled by African Moors. The etymology of the word ‘Moor’ is Black or dark. The Moors were of African origin and ruled Spain and the rest of the Iberian Peninsula between 711 and 1492.

Les Maures en Espagne : Une Histoire Fascinante de 711 à 1492 -

The origins of the Moors and their arrival in Spain

The Moors, a people of Berber and Arab origins, came from the region that today corresponds to Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia. In the early 8th century, they launched an invasion of Spain, led by their leader Tariq ibn Ziyad. This conquest soon led to the establishment of the Umayyad caliphate of Al-Andalus, with Cordoba as its capital.

Les origines des Maures et leur arrivée en Espagne -

The Al-Andalus period: culture, science and tolerance

Moorish rule in Spain was marked by a blend of cultures and religions. The Moors brought with them a refined civilization and an advanced level of scientific knowledge. During this period, Cordoba became a flourishing cultural and intellectual center, rivaling the great cities of the time, such as Baghdad and Constantinople.

The Moors promoted religious tolerance, allowing Christians and Jews to practice their faith. In addition, they preserved and translated numerous Greek and Roman texts, preserving much of the classical knowledge that might otherwise have been lost.

Les Maures - La période d'Al-Andalus : Culture, science et tolérance -

Moorish influence on architecture and town planning

One of the most visible contributions of the Moors to Spain is their distinctive architecture. The mosques, palaces and gardens created by the Moors bear witness to their artistic flair and architectural know-how. The Alhambra in Granada and the Great Mosque in Cordoba are emblematic examples of Moorish architecture.

In addition to their influence on architecture, the Moors also played a key role in the development of urban planning in Spain. They introduced sophisticated water management systems, such as the Alhambra’s famous terraced gardens, as well as advanced urban planning concepts with narrow, winding streets that provided shade and pleasant public spaces.

Les Maures - L'influence maure sur l'architecture et l'urbanisme -

The end of Moorish domination in Spain

After nearly seven centuries of Moorish presence in Spain, their domination came to an end in 1492. This marked the fall of the last Moorish stronghold of Granada to the Catholic Monarchs, Ferdinand and Isabella. This marked the end of the Al-Andalus period and the beginning of the Spanish Inquisition, which imposed Catholic religious unity and expelled or forcibly converted Muslims and Jews.

Moorish heritage in Spain and around the world

Moorish influence in Spain did not end with their departure. Many aspects of Moorish culture, architecture and agriculture were integrated into Spanish society and shaped the country’s identity. For example, the terraced farming, irrigation systems and agricultural techniques introduced by the Moors have endured and had a lasting impact on Spanish agriculture.

Moorish heritage is also visible in other parts of the world, notably North Africa. The cities of Marrakech and Fez in Morocco, for example, still bear the marks of Moorish influence through their architecture and culture.

L'héritage maure en Espagne et dans le monde -


The Moorish period in Spain, from 711 to 1492, is a fascinating part of the country’s history. The Moors brought with them a rich culture, scientific advances and religious tolerance that left a lasting imprint on Spain and the rest of the world. Their architectural and town-planning influence is still visible today, reminding us of the importance of this period in the formation of the Spanish identity.

So, when we talk about Spain today, it’s essential to understand and acknowledge the significant impact of the African Moors and their role in shaping this culturally rich and diverse country.

See also our article: Yasuke: The fascinating story of the first Black samurai

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