Andalusian Architecture

Danielle Fletcher
• Wednesday, 09 December, 2020
• 8 min read

With a rich, extensive history, the region has been inhabited by peoples of varying ethnicities and religious backgrounds. There are many cherished structures in Andalusia, including the Alhambra and the Great Mosque of Córdoba.

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These buildings date to the Muslim era of the region, and are an excellent example of the traditional architecture of Andalusia. Andalusian architecture retains its Roman and Arab roots, while adding a dash of Mediterranean character.

One typical feature of traditional Andalusian urban houses is that they are constructed with shared walls. This includes wrought iron gratings, azure (painted ceramic) tiles, and lavish landscaping.

The historic Torre del Moro building in Beachwood Canyon was built in 1933 by Marie Cossack Kitchener. Kitchener was an opera singer and self-taught architect, and designed this Andalusian style building on Helios Drive.

The property was restored in 2005 by the design firm of Howell & Padgett and converted to a condominium with just five units. The unit that is currently available at 2270 Helios Drive in Hollywood Hills East blends classic character details with modern upgrades such as central heating and air conditioning, Carrera marble countertops, and a gourmet kitchen with high-end appliances.

Multiple patios and balconies offer additional living spaces that make the home feel larger. Morgan Harsh is the owner of a wonderful company called Public Goods which has managed to change...

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We can talk, above all in certain epochs, of a typical artistic style that is Andalusian; its most important characteristic being an eclecticism based in its people’s great ability for absorption, transformation and synthesis, which it has gained from the passing waves of invaders. In this way, along with a certain ethnic mindset, diverse artistic currents, arriving from either West or East, have been transformed in the Andalusian crucible and acquired a particular character, in which the contrast between the exaltation of decorative forms and the structural simplicity is its principal characteristic.

From the Middle Ages up to the present day, the architecture of Andalusia has gone through key moments in which its school has been the cradle of civilizations and structures in which the factors that make it suitable for religious buildings are just as valid for secular ones. Andalusian noteworthy buildings from the peoples and times of the Cartesian, Carthaginians and Phoenicians have survived into the present day, but from this epoch there are towns and villages in which the Andalusian structural style of the period has come to dominate in the settlements of the post-Conquest.

There are numerous remains in cities such as Cádiz, in whose museum you can see the oldest known Phoenician sarcophagus in Europe, from the 3rd century BCE, or the Treasure of Caramel from the lost city of Harnesses, about the 5th-3rd century BCE, that you can visit in the Alvarado district of Seville, a gold artifact of particular richness, and an impressive example of gold working unknown in its era. Notable from the 6th century are the remains of a church with a baptismal chapel in San Pedro de Alcántara (Málaga), of great archeological interest and related to other monuments in North Africa.

The conquest of Andalusia by the Castilian's supposes a leap between the splendor of Arabic culture and until the Romanesque period in this region, a time and place of repeated wars that precluded much secular and religious architecture. From the end of that century comes the ultimate cardinal example of the Gothic of the Reyes Catholics, the ‘Christian monarchs’ Isabel and Ferdinand: the Camilla Real, royal chapel, of Granada.

Sardines de Carlos V. Grandfather Renaissance, which began and continued during the early years of the 16th century in the newly conquered kingdom of Granada, converted the mesquitas into churches, a project which attracted many architects to the region. Pedro Pachuca was responsible for the palace of Carlos V in the Alhambra, with the most monumental facade in Renaissance Spain, and the circular patio, which is simultaneously the most sober and grandiose of all the works of mannerism architecture.

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But when Diego de Siloé, from Burgos, was founding the most important architectural school in Andalusia, coinciding with the construction of Granada cathedral, fame was certain to endure. Contrasting, in some Seville palaces such as the Palacios de las Duennas and the Casa de Pilatos, Renaissance style is combined with a delicious Mudéjares, where columns and capitals of Genoa marble support arches in the Muslim tradition and skirting fittings in which patterned Trina glazed tiles recur along the walls, while the offered ceilings are in the Morocco style, named after the arts of those Muslims allowed to remain in Spain after the Reconquest.

Hernán Ruiz the first (d. 1547) is even a Gothic-influenced architect and his master work is the Cathedral (1523) constructed in the middle of the Mesquita; the Renaissances forms became exuberant in these, in contrast to the simplicity of the Muslim buildings. The principal artist to send the largest number of sculptures and funerary monuments to the Peninsula, and in a style special to Andalusia, was Domenico A. Canceled de Settignano, who designed the sepulcher of archbishop Hurt ado de Mendoze in Seville cathedral and the luxurious sepulcher of the Reyes Catholics in Granada cathedral.

A famous Florentine sculptor and fellow student of Michelangelo, Pietro Mórrígan, was responsible for extremely important sculptures in Seville, such as the Virgin con El Niño and that of San Jerónimo, made of baked clay. Italian sculptors were not only drawn to Andalusia; the French sculptor Miguel Person worked in Seville during the middle 16th century, and he was responsible for the Estrada de Jesús en Jerusalem, as well as the statues that frame the reliefs in the western entrances of the Cathedral, and which following the Seville tradition were also constructed with baked clay; these works date from 1519; much later they would be translated to León and Santiago de Compostela.

Among these paladins of Andalusian mannerism the most famous is Pablo de Rojas, whose principal work is the aforementioned altarpiece and whose amanuensis was Martínez Montages. In 1729 in Cádiz, at that time the principal maritime port in the trade with the Americas, Vincent Acer began work on the last great Spanish cathedral.

The master who initiated the peak period of Seville sculpture was Juan Martínez Montages; his classicist and reposeful art influenced not only the sculptors but also the painters of the era. In Granada, Alonso Can was the initiator of a sculptural school whose stars were Pedro de Mena and José de Mora, who with their family members Diego and Bernardo realized a form of sculpture more vibrant than any by Can, although at times lacking technique, but which was the precedent for the works that Tuque and Corner produced in the 18th century, here and in Córdoba.

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The formerly Muslim- ruled areas of the Iberian Peninsula, Landaus, feature some of the unique palaces, mosques, minarets and fortresses in Europe. The rich architectural heritage of Spain’s Islamic centuries (AD 711-1492) was specifically exotic and beautiful.

Muslim Caliphs used to construct a grand mosque as their first action when taking over a new country, Córdoba was no exception in that. Córdoba mosque introduced several innovative architectural and ornamental techniques that became a distinctive part of Andalusian architecture.

Its construction continued over the years in the form of restoration and extension as each succeeding Caliph added his contribution to the structure. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site on 1st July 2018, Medina Al-Qaeda was built during the rule of Abdurrahman III and extended during the reign of his son Al-Hakam II.

From an architectural point of view, Medina Al-Qaeda played a great role in shaping a distinct Islamic Andalusian architecture. With its double walls and massive entry fortifications, the citadel is considered as the prototype of military architecture in the Haifa period.

With its impressive location overlooking the city and the bay, the fortress combines military components such as turrets, arrow slits and battlements with the beautiful characteristics of an Arab palace organized around rectangular patios, gardens and pools. The Giraldo was built during the brief period when Ishbiliyah was ruled by the North African Muslim dynasty called the Almohad's.

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One of the details that survived is that the chief architect who built the mosque and the renowned minaret was Ahmad in Base. The label Mudéjar was given to gifted Muslim artisans who stayed on in areas conquered by the Christians and worked with them.

An exception is Italics, the “noble ruins” of a Roman city founded at the end of the 3rd century B.C. Still impressive, the major achievement here was a colossal amphitheater that held 25,000 spectators screaming for blood.

After the Muslims subdued Andalusia, following the departure of the Romans and Visigoths, these new conquerors began to influence the landscape with their Islamic architecture, including aqueducts, baths, Alcázar (palaces), and Allahabad (fortresses). Begun in 785, the Great Mosque of Córdoba was lavishly and dramatically extended with horseshoe arches and ornate decoration.

Even today many architectural influences are visible at the Great Mosque of Córdoba, in such features as its Mira (a richly ornamented prayer niche), and its Puerto del Person (a Mudéjar-style entrance gate that was built during Christian rule). These austere Islamic fundamentalists brought a purer, less fanciful style of architecture, which can best be seen at La Giraldo in Seville.

The flowering of Muslim architecture in Andalusia occurred during the Madrid era (1238-1492), the last Moors to hold power before the Reconquista by the Catholic monarchs, Isabella and Ferdinand. Restored after its discovery by writers and artists, including Washington Irving, in the 19th century, the palace is filled with architectural wonders, such as the Patio DE Los Leonel.

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The salons are stunning achievements, especially Salon de Embajadores, the sumptuous throne room from 1334 to 1354, its ceiling representing the seven heavens of the Muslim cosmos. For the various caliphs of the Madrid dynasty, this palace represented an earthly paradise, even though modest materials -- tile, plaster, and wood -- were used.

After the Muslims were ousted from power, Andalusia continued to mount churches on the sites of former mosques. Original architectural motifs -- ornamental brickwork in relief alternating with stone, archways, and even roof tiles -- were often incorporated into these Christian churches.

Since they were better builders, these Mudéjares -- the word literally means “those who were permitted to stay” -- were employed to build the new churches and palaces in the reconquered territories. This Room of the Ambassadors forms part of the palace of King Don Pedro in the Alcázar.

It's topped with a wood dome and flanked with double geminate windows, a stunning achievement. And the Mudéjar tradition lives today in pottery made in Granada and Seville that still reflects Moorish design.

As you drive through the Las Alpujarras region of Granada province, the final bastion of the Morison (Muslims who were forced to convert to Christianity), you'll see the flat-roofed houses that evoke the Berber dwellings of the Moroccans living in the Atlas mountains across the Straits of Gibraltar. For its inspiration, this style of architecture drew upon the rounded arches from the classical days of ancient Rome.

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Somehow the French Gothic style of the Cathedral of Seville seems ill-suited to the hot plains of Andalusia with its almost desert like landscape. By the end of the 15th century, Spain had developed its own unique style of Gothic architecture, calling it Isabel line in honor of the Catholic queen (1474-1504).

This style's exuberant decoration covered entire facades of buildings, its rich, even lavish, ornamentation taking the form of lace like carvings and heraldic motifs. The very early Renaissance in Spain was termed Picturesque because its fine detailing evoked the ornate work of a silversmith, or later in Spanish.

The best example of the Picturesque style preferred by the architect Diego de Riaño is the Ayuntamiento (town hall) in Seville. Begun in 1527 and completed in 1534, the Picturesque style is best seen on the east side of the town hall opening onto Plaza de San Francisco.

Called the Herrera style, it was named for Juan de Herrera (1530-97), the greatest figure of Spanish classicism. The favorite architect of Philip II, Herrera developed a style of building that was grand but austere as well as geometric in its effect.

Picturesque eventually gave way to what became known as the High Renaissance style, as exemplified by the Palacios de Carlos V in Granada. A family of architects led by José de Churriguera (1665-1725) pioneered the Churriguesque style, a type of architecture noted for its sumptuousness and dense concentrations of ornaments covering entire facades of buildings.

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The best example of the Churriguesque style in Andalusia is the flamboyant, baroque sacristy of the Monastery de la CARTA in Granada. With the arrival of neoclassicism and modernism, devotees of architecture turned to other parts of Spain, including Bilbao and especially Barcelona, to indulge their passions.

The most dramatic modern structure in Andalusia is the deliberately leaning Abelson de Andalucía, which today houses a movie theater and a 3-D laser show. In Seville's Marque Scientific y Technologies (Science and Technology Park), Called Leonardo da Vinci, you can take in some spectacular pavilions that are still standing.

The buildings are owned by the Andalusian World Trade Center and used by private companies, but their architecture can be admired from the outside.

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