Islamic Art and Architecture of Spain and its Impact

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Course Information
Art History
Terms offered: 
Fall, Spring
Language of instruction: 
Contact Hours: 

Basic knowledge of descriptive terminology for art and architecture.


Study of art, architecture, ornamentation, and design. Topics covered include an introduction to Islamic art, the Moorish tradition in North Africa and Spain, and the Mudéjar tradition in Christian Spain. Includes several visits to monuments in Andalusia.

Watch this short video to get an overview for this course!

Attendance policy: 

Attendance is mandatory for all IES Abroad classes, including course related excursions. Any exams, tests, presentations, or other work missed due to student absences can only be rescheduled in cases of documented medical or family emergencies. If a student misses more than three classes in any course 3% of the final class grade will be deducted for every unjustified student absence. Six absences in any course will result in a failing grade.

Learning outcomes: 

By the end of the course, students will be able to:

  • Distinguish the main characteristics of the art and architecture from the different periods of al-Andalus
  • Know in depth two of the most important monuments in al-Andalus: the Cordoba Mosque and the Alhambra of Granada
  • Demonstrate knowledge about the historical, cultural and urbanistic evolution of Granada, from al-Andalus to Carlos V
Method of presentation: 

Two 90-minute classes per week, including:

  • lectures
  • visits to sites and museums
Field study: 
  • Alcaicería
  • Corral del Carbón
  • Museo Nacional de Arte Hispano-Musulmán
  • Albaicín
  • Ruta del Agua. Aljibe del Rey y Bañuelo
  • Córdoba and Madinat al-Zahra&rsquo
  • Alhambra
  • Generalife
  • Mudéjar tour
  • Royal Pantheon and Cathedral
Required work and form of assessment: 
  • Student participation - 15%
  • Weekly journal entries - 20%
  • Mid-term exam - 20%
  • 4-6 page mid-term paper - 15%
  • Final exam - 30%




Week 1

Brief introduction to the history of Al-Andalus (8th-15th centuries).

Introduction to Islamic art and architecture terminology.

Alcaicería, Corral del Carbón 

Week 2

Andalusia art and architecture: styles and influences.

Museo Nacional de Arte Hispano-Musulmán 

Week 3

The Umayyad Emirate (8th and 9th centuries): The Córdoba Mosque.


Week 4

The Umayyad Caliphate (10th century): Madinat al-Zahra’: Town-planning, architectonic decoration and artistic handcraft; fortresses and bridges.

Ruta del Agua. Aljibe del Rey y Bañuelo 

Week 5

The Taifa Kingdoms (11th century).

Córdoba and Madinat al-Zahra’ 

Week 6

The Almoravids and Almohades (11th, 12th and 13th centuries): New faith, new aesthetics.

Al-Andalus and North Africa. Mosques and fortresses.
Week 7

The Nasrids (13th- 15th centuries): Alhambra (Part I)

Alhambra (Alcazaba, towers, and walls) 

Week 8

The Nasrids (13th- 15th centuries): Alhambra (Part II)


Week 9

Arabic calligraphy workshop

Alhambra (Nasrid Palaces) 

Week 10

The Mudéjar art: Islamic forms in a Christian context.

Mudéjar tour 

Week 11

Art and architecture in Al-Andalus after the Christian Conquest

Royal Pantheon and Cathedral 


Required readings: 
  • Romero Sánchez, Guadalupe y Marcos Cobaleda, María. Cuaderno de visitas de Arte y Arquitectura Islámicos. Granada: Fundación IES Granada, 2013.