Moorish Epoch

The Moorish period

Who would think that Madrid, the capital of Spain, the city were most citizens are Christians, owes its initial development with the arrival of the Moors from Northern Africa?

This initial development that they brought to the city was nearly forgotten. Only the historical records and archaeological artifacts told us that there was once a rich Muslim community that stood here. The structures that the Muslim made in the city such as the mosques and castle Alcázar (Address: Calle Bailen 28071, Centro Madrid / Phone: 34-914-548-800) that used to stand at the site of the Palacio Real (Address: Plaza de Oriente, Near the Plaza Mayor & Puerta del Sol/ Phone: 91-454-87-00) were destroyed by the Christian invaders. This is the reason why Madrid has very few ruins from the Moorish epoch, including the old watchtower walls that the Muslims made surrounding their settlement before that can be found in the modern – day Plaza de Oriente (Address: Plaza de Oriente s/n 28013).

Madrid only began to appear in historic record in the ninth century, when Mohammed I, fifth independent Emir of Córdoba ordered the construction of the first castle (Alcázar). Aside from these facts, Madrid’s origin of name can be traced back at the Moorish epoch. Near that castle was the Manzanares River, which the Moors named al – Majrīṭ, source of water in Arabic. From this originate the name of the area as Majerit or Mayrit, which was later source to the modern – day spelling of Madrid

After the Visgoths left Matrice (name of the pre- Muslim Madrid), Muslim rule all the way through the eleventh century. The Moors were the first ones to start more than just a prehistoric settlement in the modern day Madrid which they re – named as Mayrit. Around 852 to 886 AD, Emir Mohammed I of Córdoba ordered the construction of the first significant buildings in Mayrit. They build a town wall and castle (Alcázar) on a hill overlooking the Manzanares River. Around this castle a small fortress (al- Mudayna), was built to watch over the Christian invaders.

The structures were strategically positioned in order to protect their citizens and army from Christian attacks. It was also during the second half of the ninth century, that the agriculture in the area flourished due to the complex irrigation system that they made. Unfortunately, the next two to three hundred years, the town hasn’t undergone any important expansions compared to other Arab towns in Spain, due to the constant attacks from Christian soldiers. In the early phases of the Christian re-conquest, the Christian army made several unsuccessful attempts to win back the area. But it was not until 1086, that the area was finally captured by Alfonso VI.

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