Seville, located in the Andalucía region of southern Spain, straddles the Guadalquivir River. Founded by the ancient Iberians, the city had a long history of conquest and settlement by the Phoenicians, Romans, and Visigoths, before a combined Arab and Berber army conquered it in 712 CE.
During its five hundred years of Islamic rule (between 712-1248 AD), Seville (Arabic: Ishbiliya) expanded beyond the confines of the Late Antique walled city.
The core of Islamic Seville included the area on the east bank of the Guadalquivir where the Cathedral (constructed on the site of the twelfth-century Almohad Great Mosque), the Christian Alcázar, and the medieval quarter known as the Barrio Santa Cruz are located today. The city center included the palaces and government buildings surrounded by residential quarters, each with its neighborhood mosques and public baths.
Under the rule of the North African Almoravids and then the Almohads, beginning in 1147 AD, Seville replaced the Umayyad city of Córdoba as the capital city of al-Andalus. During the course of the tenth and eleventh-centuries the city expanded beyond the confines of the Roman walls, requiring the construction of new walls and fortifications. A remnant of this period of refortification is extant at the city's once vibrant commercial port on the Guadalquivir River, the Torre del Oro (completed 1220 AD). This tower exemplifies the Almohad's approach to guarding the ports' southern end.
Seville's most famous Islamic monument is the Giralda tower, formerly the minaret of the Great Mosque constructed in the late twelfth-century under the Almohad caliph Abu Ya'qub Yusuf. It and the Patio de Naranjas that served as the courtyard of the Great Mosque, are all that remain of the Almohad monument, which was destroyed to make way for the Cathedral, which follows the footprint of the old mosque.
The Alcázar, or palace, includes within it parts of the old Islamic palaces. As it exists today it is mainly the product of building campaigns carried out during the rule of the Christian ruler Pedro I. The Alcázar is marked by its Islamicizing visual language, which is similar to what later developed at the Alhambra during the reign of the Nasrid Emirate of Granada.
Valencia, Rafael. 1992. "Islamic Seville: Its Political, Social and Cultural History." In The legacy of Muslim Spain, edited by S. K. Jayyusi and M. Marín. Leiden ; New York: E.J. Brill, 136-148.
----. "El espacio urbano de la Sevilla árabe." 1988. Premios de Investigacíon. Ciudad de Sevilla. 1986. Seville: Univ. of Seville, 241-93.
The Great Mosque of Seville was begun in 1172 during the rule of the Almohad caliph Abu Ya'qub Yusuf ibn 'Abd al-Mu'min (1163-1184). The mosque was constructed of brick and plaster, and was rectangular in plan. Buttressed and crenelated walls enclosed the prayer hall and the rectangular arcaded Court of the Oranges, whose main entrance was known as the Puerta del Perdon. The minaret, which is known as the Giralda after the word for the
weathervane placed on its summit, was built in 1184. Each façade of the
minaret, which is constructed of brick and stone, is ornamented with
interlacing arches supported on columns enframed within rectangular
panels. The panels frame a central vertical grouping of polylobed
arched windows, and the composition was crowned by an arcade of
interlacing polylobed arches. The belltower and its supporting base are
additions from the 16th century
Following the Christian conquest of Seville in 1248 the mosque was consecrated for use as the cathedral of Santa Maria de la Sede. Beginning in the early 15th century the mosque was mostly destroyed to make way for a new Gothic cathedral. The plan of the cathedral closely follows the former footprint of the mosque, making it one of the largest churches in the world. The Giralda, the Court of the Oranges, and the Gate of Pardon were integrated into the new composition of the new Gothic cathedral which was completed in the sixteenth century.
Casamar Perez, Manuel. 1992. "The Almoravids and Almohads: An Introduction." al-Andalus: the art of Islamic Spain. New York: MMA, 75-83.
Marcais, Georges. 1955. L'architecture musulmane d'occident : Tunisie, Algerie, Maroc, Espagne et Sicile. Paris : Arts et metiers graphiques, 206.
Rodríguez Estévez, Juan Clemente. 1998. El alminar de Isbiliya : la Giralda en sus orígenes, 1184-1198. Sevilla : Ayuntamiento de Sevilla, Área de Cultura.
Catedral de Santa María de la Sede
Cathedral of Saint Mary of the See (Translated)
Great Mosque of Seville (Translated)
Catedral de Sevilla (Alternate)
Cathedral of Seville (Translated)
1172-1176/567-571 AH, 1184/579 AH minaret (Giralda), 1248/ 645 AH conversion to church