When you think of Spain, what is the first thing that comes to your mind? To some people, they instantly think of Spanish football and bull fighting. But for me, I imagine majestic palaces, mosques left by different civilizations, and beautiful mansions with rich Spanish décor.

Credit: giphy

Many of its cities are inspired by Islamic architecture that can be seen on the walls of Alhambra and the Cordoba Mosque. Apart from its physical beauty, Spain was a center of knowledge and innovation. Many of the surgical tools that are used today were created by a cutting-edge surgeon named Abul Qasim Khalad ibn al-Abbas al-Zaharawi, or more famously known as al-Zahrawi.

Continue reading and you will definitely not fight the temptation to make Spain as your next holiday destination!

[If you’re heading to Madrid, check out these 10 must-try halal eateries!]

Visiting Spain this holiday?

Be immersed by mesmerizing architecture, culture, food and people as you join the 11 days Spain Heritage & Edu-Tour!

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1. Alhambra Palace


Credit: damian entwistle on Flickr

When you hear the name Alhambra, somehow the name itself gives you a certain excitement, as the place seems mystical and adventurous.  Who would not be in awe of such an amazing place that’s rich with history and culture? The best thing is that it was influenced by various civilizations, especially the Muslim civilization.


Credit: Chris Stoelting on Flickr

Just to prove to you how important Alhambra is, I’ll give you a short overview of its history (don’t sleep!) According to historical documents, in the year 889, Sawwar ben Hemdun needed to seek refuge in a fortress called Alcazaba, which Muslims then had to rebuild due to the struggles that had taken place.


Credit: Nathan Rupert on Flickr

The castle then soon turned into a military fortress due to its strategic position as it overlooked the whole city. When the first King of the Nasrid dynasty administered Cordoba, he then established the royal residence in Alhambra. Yusuf I and Mohamed V are the ones responsible for most of the construction in Alhambra that still remains until today. However, when Cordoba fell into the hands of the Catholics, Charles V wanted to rebuild parts of the castle in his name and therefore built several new areas such as the Emperor’s Chambers and the Queen’s Dressing Room.

There are so many amazing things to see in Alhambra! From the Alcazaba and the palaces, Patio of the Lions, the Justice Gate, the building of the Baths, to the Comares Room and the Hall of the Boat, it will take you 3-4 hours just to finish your tour!

#HHWT Tip: If you’re going there in the summer, always bring a bottle of water and have some snacks in hand, you may not be used to the heat in the summer.


Credit: James McNellis on Facebook 

Like any other major tourist attraction, visiting Alhambra can be a little overwhelming. If you plan to visit this amazing place during peak hours (like in the Summer), then you will definitely need to plan ahead (some people book the tour and entry tickets 90 days in advance). But if you plan to visit in the winter, then there shouldn’t be a problem.

Here’s the break down of the information that you will find helpful:

Ticket costs: 15,40 € (15.40 €)
Telephone:  Phone in Spain: 902 88 80 01 | International number: +34 958 926 031
Website
Where you order the ticket: Ticket Master

(To pick up the tickets, you can go to any authorized establishments 3 days prior to the date of your ticket).

#HHWT Tip: When you purchase your ticket, you need to indicate when you would like to visit, either in the morning, afternoon or evening. In addition to that, there will be a time printed on the ticket that shows you what time you can enter the Nasrid Palace. IT IS NOT THE TIME FOR YOU TO START THE GENERAL TOUR. If you are late to enter the Nasrid Palace, you will not be allowed to enter. The management is really strict about this!

2. Cordoba Mosque @ Mezquita
4 Cordoba Mosque
The interior of the Great Cordoba Mosque

Credit: © José Luiz Bernardes Ribeiro / , via Wikimedia Commons

The Great Mosque of Cordoba is known for its bold architecture and size, as many of the buildings and structures during the Umayyad Caliphate were established to rival those in Constantinople. So can you imagine, how grand it is? It was one of the biggest mosques after the Holy Mosque in Mecca and the Blue Mosque in Istanbul. Its architecture is very different and majestic, which symbolizes Muslims’ power and influence in the West at the time.

Mezquita Maqsura
Mezquita Maqsura

Credit: camel76

Historically, the design and architecture of the Cordoba Mosque is known to be very unique because it symbolizes the unity and harmony that existed between Muslims, Jews and Christians. Initially, Abdul Rahman I purchased half of the Cathedral to enable the Muslim community to perform their prayers. Not long after that, he then purchased the other half to build a new mosque. Later in the 16th century, a cathedral was built right in the middle of the mosque, hence the name ‘Mezquita-Catedral’.


Credit: Steve James on Flickr

When you visit the Cordoba Mosque, you will notice that there are many distinct and bold arches or also known as the horseshoe arch, which was the first Muslim arch adaption, used in the Umayyad Great Mosque of Damascus. Sadly, Alhambra was abandoned in the 18th century and it was not until in the 19th century when the Government decided to repair and preserve this historical place.

# HHWT Tip: If you’re planning to visit the mosque, just remember that peak hours are from 11.00am to 3.00 pm because that’s when most tourists arrive. It’s best to come in the morning.

Address: Calle Cardenal Herrero
Telephone: +34 957 47 05 12
Website: http://www.catedraldecordoba.es
Entrance fees:
Day Rate – Fee for adults: 8 € , kids 4 €. Below 10 years: FREE
Night Rate – Fee for adults: 18 €, Students under 26: 9 €, Children 7 to 9 years: 9 €. Below 7 years: FREE
Opening hours: Monday – Saturday, 8.30 am – 9.30 am

3. Cathedral of Seville- Santa Maria de la Sede Cathedral


Credit: alanandchucktravelblog

The Cathedral of Seville, or more officially known as Santa Maria de la Sede Cathedral, is known as one of UNESCO’s World Heritage sites.  It was and still is, one of the biggest gothic cathedrals in the world.

It was the capital city of the Umayyad Caliphate from the 8th to the 13th centuries. However, when Seville was conquered by the Christians in the 12th century, they decided to use the mosque as a church. They then decided to knock down parts of the church and rebuild it as the church was beginning to decay.


Credit: The Hub Huércal-Overa on Facebook 

There’s a saying that the developers actually had the ambition to build a humongous church to let the future generation to believe that “they were mad”. The area of the whole cathedral is 11,520 m2 (really big!) so you might want to bring a bottle of water with you when you get there. Also, maybe it’s best that you have a full stomach or at least some snacks in hand just in case you get really hungry. You don’t want to rush your visit to the Cathedral!

Opening Hours:
Monday: 11.00 am – 3.30 pm
Tuesday to Saturday: 11.00 am – 5.00 pm
Sunday: 2.30 pm – 6.00 pm
Entrance fees: €9
Telephone: +902099692
Website: http://www.catedraldesevilla.es

[P.S If you’re looking for true Spanish food, check out this guide here!] 

4. Alcazar


Credit: Camino al paraiso on Facebook 

 If there’s one reason you should visit Alcazar, it’s because it has been recognized as UNESCO’s World Heritage in 1987. Just look at the pictures and you will understand why this site is one of the most visited sites in Seville.

Alcazar was built by Spanish governors in 913 as a fort but when Muslims conquered Spain, they turned it into a palace. As different rulers lived in the castle, many of them also made major changes to the castle, mostly expanding it. The highlight of the castle is its intricate carvings on the stonewalls and the beautiful gardens!


Credit: Archigeek on Flickr

Alcazar is still one of the oldest European Royal Palaces that is still in use. If you’re tired of looking at architechture and décor, you can always partake in various activities that are held there, organized by the Royal Alcazar Board of Patronage and the Town Hall.

Timetable:
October – March:  Daily, 9.30 am to 5.00 pm
April – September: Daily, 9.30 am to 7.00 pm
Closed on the 1st and 6th January, Good Friday and the 25th of December.
Entrance fees: Regular ticket: 9.50 €
Website: http://www.alcazarsevilla.org

 5. The Viana Palace


Credit: migossan on Flickr 

If you’re into architecture and interior design, then you should definitely check out Palace of Viana (Palacio d Viana). This palace was home to Marquiasate of Villasica, which was built in the 15th century. When you visit this noble home, you’ll be able to see and experience the traditional home of aristocrats. The interior is so exquisite and different, you will feel as though you travelled back in time! Back in the day, many of the elites enjoyed a luxurious lifestyle, which was reflected in their ornaments like tapestries, paintings and porcelains. I always enjoy visiting traditional homes whenever I’m abroad because it really adds something personal to the trip. Also, this site is slightly less crowded than the rest, so it’s a nice change of atmosphere.


Credit: Stan Clarke on Facebook 

The highlights of the palace are the courtyard and garden, which are built in the palace itself—allowing you to have an indoor garden! Gardens have always been an important aspect in every Muslim home, because plants, animals and insects are believed to be a blessing from God and creating a garden within the home reflects the idea that humans should use the environment ethically (this concept also inspired Western architecture and design).


Credit: migossan on Flickr

Having an indoor garden is amazing because you can actually enjoy nature and a change of environment with privacy (No hijab on? No problem!) Have new ideas to build your house now? Well, you should definitely get inspired and build your own indoor garden (That’s what my mom did, actually. It’s a lot of fun because I don’t have to worry about proper clothing whenever I need some herbs for cooking 😁) .  Below are the details of the palace:

Address: Plaza de Don Gome 2
Telephone: +957 49 67 41
Website: www.palaciodeviana.com/en
Operation hours:
Monday Closed
Tuesday to Friday 10.00 am to 7.00 pm
Saturday and Sunday 10.00 am to 3.00 pm
Entrance fees:
Full visit : 8€
Patios only visit: 5€
Children under 10: Free

6. Madinat al Zahra


Credit: M a n u e l on Flickr 

Madinat al Zahra literally means the city of Zahra, which is situated just outside of Cordoba. As a tourist, you’ll be able to visit several amazing places such as the Edificio Basilical Superior, which functioned as offices for many state officers as well as Casa de Yafar, which was also home to the Caliph’s prime minister. The size of the city is huge, built on acres and acres of beautiful land.


Credit:-JvL- on Flickr

7. Mezquita del Cristo de la Luz (Mosque of Christ of the Light)

This building is so beguiling right from its name. With its origins having dated back from the 10th century, its one of the classic Moorish monuments to still stand proud today. During the 12th century, it was turned into a Catholic church, but its the only mosque out of the ten in Toledo that continue to exist till today. Look out for the Arabic inscription on the south-west end that enlists the history of how the mosque came about. Though the mosque is not as grand as the Cordoba Mosque, this slice of ancient architecture is an interesting amalgam of cultures.


Credit: Toledo Monumental on Facebook 

The interior may not boasts a majestic front, but the pillars and horseshoe arches form nine different sections, each offering intricate geometrical designs. While many may scratch their heads at the unusual history that derives from this building, it also exhibits the co-existence of two religions.


Credit: Mezquita del Cristo de la Luz on Facebook 

[P.S Wish to discover Toledo, Spain’s hidden gem? We got you covered!] 

8. Calahorra Tower

Originally built by the Moors and later re-instated by King Enrique II in 1369, a third tower was added to the vaulted gate to connect the existing two. Cross through the Roman bridge and head to the tower which houses the Museum on Islamic Spain. Hear the story of Christians, Muslims and Jews living in amicable peace during that reign.


Credit: Steve James on Flickr 

The monumental treasure right now was previously used as a defence border from attacks, then a prison and a girls’ school. On top of immersing yourself in the heritage this place offers, the museum preserves artifacts that showcase the lives of three distinct religions through documents and pictures, giving you an inside look into the coexistence that took place before.


Credit: Syed Tasawar Abbas on Facebook 

  9. Castillo Arabe

Sitting at the foot of the hill, the last remaining fort was ferociously protected by Muslims in the past. There’s also stories unravelling how Emir Muhammad IX locked up his daughters here. Drop by the ancient Muslim Bridge before climbing up the Castillo Arabe to appreciate the bravery of Muslims defending their fort.


Credit: alchemyofhippieness on Instagram

Take in the view as you tread the ruins of this fort and reminisce the history of the Castillo Arabe, which dated back from the 12th century.

Credit: uffyktion on Instagram
10.  Primate Cathedral of Saint Mary of Toledo

Before it was a cathedral, the place that stood in its area was the city’s main mosque. While the mosque was demolished thereafter, you can still see the same minaret that the muezzin used for the call to prayer back in those days.


Credit: iamjucifer on Instagram

If you’re in the area, stop by and marvel at the architecture, which shows the guise of Muslims living under the Christians ruling during that period.


Credit: Jocelyn Kinghorn on Flickr

When you visit the city, it is impossible not to feel amazed by what was left by the Umayyad Caliphate. The Muslim Civilizations were able to conquer vast lands and obtain political power not just because they had a strong army but because many of its leaders and scholars understood and lived by Islamic teachings as well studied languages, science, math and technology. That is something that always crosses my mind whenever I travel and visit historic countries like Spain.

Credit: Giphy

You’ll also get a glimpse of how a city was intricately planned by the Umayyad Caliphate. Whether or not you’re an archaeologist, architect or a history nerd, you will definitely appreciate touring the city as it will allow you to understand how Muslims, Jews and Christians lived in peace and tolerance. It gives me hope that peaceful inter-religious and multi-ethnic relations can still exist, despite all the negativity that we hear 😊

Address: Carretera Palma del Río Km 5.5
Telephone: +34 957 10 49 33
Website: http://www.museosdeandalucia.es
Operation hours:
Monday: Closed
Tuesday – Saturday: 10.00 am – 8.30 pm
Sunday: 10.00 am – 2.00 pm
Entrance fees:
EU member: free
Non-EU: 1.5 €

When to go

Summer (June-August): The peak season is usually summer and therefore it’s the hottest time in Spain. It’s best not to go during this time due to the hot weather and the hike in accommodation prices.

Spring/Fall (March-April/October-November): This is actually the best time to go. The weather is just nice, not too hot and not too cold (14°– 21°). Also, there aren’t that many tourists at these times so that means shorter queues!

Winter (November – February): This is the low season. It’s generally cold in Spain. If you plan to visit the tourist destinations, please make sure their operation hours first.

What to wear

In the summer, don’t forget to wear light and airy clothes. Try your best to wear cotton and loose jeans or pants. Please wear comfortable shoes! It will be difficult for you to look for another pair of shoes at these tourist destinations.

In the cold season, you’d want to prepare yourselves with light jackets, including a raincoat as well as a good pair of shoes. Always be prepared!

[P.S Looking for a complete guide to conquer Spain? Find it here!

Visiting Spain this holiday?

Be immersed by mesmerizing architecture, culture, food and people as you join the 11 days Spain Heritage & Edu-Tour!

TAKE ME THERE!

I hope you’re pumped to visit all of these amazing places! If you’ve been here, don’t forget to share your adventures with us 🎉

12 comments

  • Andalusia adalah tempat bersejarah yang membawa kesinambungan tamadun Islam dan Barat.Saya & keluarga melawat Andalusia pada hujung tahun 2015 dan sempat merakam pengalaman kami melalui drone.Harap video travel kami boleh memberi manfaat jika anda bercadang melawat Andalusia!https://vimeo.com/145598187
    • Assalamualaikum Zul! Terima kasih kerana berkongsi video travel anda. Cantik sangat mashaAllah. Boleh kami share video ni di Facebook kami? :) If you're interested to share your trip you can also drop us an email at hello@havehalalwilltravel.com.
      • W'salam Sabrina, yes you may share the video if you like. I don't really have much to add, your travel guide on Andalusia here is very comprehensive. I wish you had written it sooner!
      • That would be great, thank you so much! We'll definitely have it up on our Facebook soon insyaAllah :D If you'd ever like to contribute anything from your other travels feel free to drop us an email too!
  • […] yourself in Islamic history – yes, Islamic history – in Spain ☺️ Many of its cities are inspired by Islamic […]
  • Salaam! I was wondering if you could help me out. I am wanting to go south of spain, to the cordoba mosque etc nut I am a little confused between cordoba, Granada, Seville etc, Where would we need to get the flight to (which area etc)?
    • Salam Lipa! Cordoba, Granada and Seville are all cities in Spain :) It actually depends on where you're planning to head to. If you'd like to go the Cordoba Mosque, you could start your trip in Cordoba and then head down to other cities in Spain. Also, to travel within each cities you could travel by train too! Hope this helps :D
  • Assalamualaikum wr wb. It's very interesting article, thanks for sharing :) I'm planning to visit Andalucia for 3 days on oct. i'm coming from Jakarta and will go first to Paris. Could you advice which cities I better to choose as first start? Is it better for me to take flight to Seville, then Cordoba then to Malaga. Or second option is flight from Paris to Malaga - then to Granada - Cordoba - to Seville?
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