The Moors left an outstanding cultural legacy behind them in Al-Andalús, or Andalucía as it is today. A complex mix, it was inextricably woven over a period of 800 years into that of the myriad civilisations which had previously invaded and settled here. The influence of their culture reached out far beyond Spanish borders, with Sevilla, Córdoba, Granada and Cádiz being recognised throughout Europe and North Africa as centres of great learning, renowned for magnificent art and architecture, and homes to eminent scientists and philosophers.
When the kingdom of Granada was finally conquered by the Christians at the end of the 15th century the last Nasrid ruler, Boabdil, was exiled briefly to the Alpujarra before finally leaving Al-Andalús for Fez in Morocco.
As the distance between the cities was so vast, numerous towns and villages were built along the well-trodden routes connecting one to another. They acted not only as staging posts, but were also settled by generations of caliphs and emirs, their families and entourages, who built the alcazabas (citadels), fortalezas (fortresses) and castillos (castles) that can still be seen today. Some have fallen into ruin, others have been restored to a lesser or greater degree, but all bear testimony to a fascinating period in the history of Spain.
The irrigation systems laid out by the Romans, which had fallen into disuse after their departure at the end of the 4th century, were recovered and extended by the Moors who brought water into the very heart of urban buildings through a complex network of wells and channels, fountains and pools. The water was not only for domestic purposes, it was used comprehensively in public squares, patios and private gardens, and also for their hammans or public baths, still to be seen in many provincial capital cities throughout Andalucía.
After they left, Moorish history and culture was all but ignored, both by the Arab world and by Europe, the same fate facing the traditions and culture of the Jews who were expelled around the same time. Relegated to beautiful legends in the annals of history, those eight centuries of Spain’s past were not considered sufficiently important to study or even remember.