martes, 3 de mayo de 2011

Primary Elements in Andalusian Architecture (VIII): minarets.

Spanish mosques towers were born from a single prototype. They were low height, with double ratio in elevation and square prism volume, which involved an interior left-handed spiral stair. Horseshoe-mullioned windows with central column opened to the street at upper body and a door in lower body. A small lantern protruded from terrace, which had Mesopotamian type battlements like the ones in top of Cordoba mosque external walls.


First mutation of this type must be due to the construction of Hixem I minaret in Cordoba main mosque. This squared prism also contained a staircase parallel to exterior walls supported on a central wall with staggered vaults between the wall and central core. Its external proportions must have been more vertical than its predecessors, and it would impose over archaic model. 

Abd al-Rahman III great minaret was the great Western lighthouse, and Cordoba tallest and daring building. A rectangular plan was designed To give stability to this high tower. It was divided by a transverse wall and into two towers, with two elongated central core around each staircase. Steps were around those central cores, one left-handed and the other right-handed, both to climb to terrace, parallel to "ahmud" axis that supported their sides in the two core areas. The double staircase forced windows duality in both main facades. 

Cathedral-Mosque of Cordoba (784-987). Plan of Belltower showing arab and christian walls.
Cathedral-Mosque of Cordoba (784-987). Volume and Elevation of Abderrahman III's Minaret

This tower was not repeated in Islam, but it was used in Christian Spain, where it generated Romanesque Catalan tower. This model expanded into Langedoc and Italy by "Magistri Comacini", where it kept windows duality on facades until very late.


Giralda is Most beautiful tower in Spanish Islam. It was Seville Almohad mosque minaret, built in brick by Ali al-Gumari, second architect of the mosque; first one was Almad ibn-Based, who began constructions with an austerity spirit imposed by Ibn Tumart, "mahdi" founder of Almohad sect. 

After Almohads, new Caliph and master builders will made reemerge Andalusian decorative splendor, and at the same time that Patio del yeso was built in Seville Alcazar, Giralda tripartite facade decoration was created. Its large “tsekba” panels offer an unified composition as in unfinished Hassam Tower in Rabat and will be a model for both Islamic Andalusian and North Africa Architecure. 

Giralda. Seville, Spain (1172-1198). Evolution from almohad minaret (left). 

Giralda. Seville, Spain (1172-1198). Detail of sebka panels. 



Lecture by D. Rafael Manzano Martos on November 17, 2010 at the School of Architecture at the University of Notre Dame, USA

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