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Architecture

Architecture

The name Alhambra comes from an Arabic root which means "red or crimson castle", perhaps due to the hue of the towers and walls that surround the entire hill of La Sabica which by starlight is silver but by sunlight is transformed into gold.

When the Romans invaded in the 1st century AD they proceeded to build whole towns and innumerable monuments, as well as roads, bridges and aqueducts. The two significant characteristics of their architecture are the arch and the dome, along with the sense of space and grandeur.

The mudéjar style of architecture emerged in Andalucía during the 12th century as Romanesque, with its close links to France and Italy, spread through northern and central Spain. The style, unique to southern Spain and lasting into the 16th century, flourished in each region as it was reconquered by the Christians.

Classic Gothic architecture, overlapping with the mudéjar style, spread through Andalucía from the 14th century with the Reconquest. As the Christians recovered the towns and cities there was a big movement to build churches. The design is characterised by vertical lines, lofty pointed arches and high ceilings.

Baroque and Neoclassic architecture was prominent in Spain between the late 17th and mid 18th Century. These two styles were not as influenced by the Muslim world as the majority of Andalucian architectural styles. Baroque dates back to the late 17th century and reached a peak in the 18th century. Andalusia was one of the places where Baroque blossomed most brilliantly.

Baroque dates back to the late 17th century and reached a peak in the 18th century. Andalusia was one of the places where Baroque blossomed most brilliantly.

The horseshoe arch, first seen in small churches erected by the Visigoths, was developed by the Moors and became the hallmark of their architecture; the Grand Mosque in Córdoba being the classic and most well known example. Other design characteristics brought from Syria by the Umayyads in the 8th century were plant motifs and decorative inscriptions of calligraphy running horizontally across walls or around doorways.

From the cities to the sierras, the rolling inland plains to its long and varied coastline, Andalucía has a wealth of architecture. In prehistoric times the early inhabitants of Andalucía moved great boulders to shelter their dead. Great Roman cities and roads strode across the region, eventually paving the way for Al-Andalus and nearly eight centuries of unparalleled Moorish urban and agricultural construction.