City Walls and Rabitas: Almohade Vestiges

Seville is the centre of this route. The homeland of Al Mutamid, who lamented over it in his verses, became, with the Almohades, a major city. It is to them that we owe a good part of the constructions of the city, the vestiges of which we have inherited.

Of the Almohade Aljama Mosque (12th C.) there remains its striking minaret –the slenderest tower in Muslim architecture, the Giralda, to which an exquisite bell tower was added in the 16th Century –and the Patio de las Naranjas, with its two entrances. Near to the Church of El Salvador, one can see what remains of the main Sevillian primitive mosque, that of Ibn Adabbás (9th C.).

In the first half of the 12th Century the Almoravids rebuilt the Roman city walls, which were subsequently extended by Almohades and Christians. It is between the Gate od Cordoba and the Arch of the Macarena that one finds the stretch of wall which has been best conserved. Between the Alcázar Palace and the river the Tower of Abdelazis, the Tower of Silver and the Tower of Gold (13th C.) are situated. In spite of the fact that the Alcázar Palace dates back to the Christian period in the main, part od the Islamic construction can stillbe distingued: from the Caliphate period, there are several towers, stretches of wall and a gate in the area of the Patio de Banderas ( patio of Flags); of Taifa origin and Almohade layout, there is a transept garden in the former Chamber of Commerce; inside the grounds, the most outstanding feature is the Patio del Yeso (Plaster Patio), of late 12th or early 13th Century Almohade construction. Several baths are conserved in Seville, the most important being the Baths of La Reina Mora, form the Taifa period. Moving up towards the Aljarafe we come to Castilleja de la Cuesta, where the Hermitage of Cuartrovitas, in the district of Bollullos de la Mitación. In the chapel of the Cemetery of Aznalcóllar one can see the ruins od the only Islamic Zawya conserved in Andalusia.

In the Church of San Bartolomé in Villalba del Alcor an old Almohade ribat can be visited. This first itinerary may come to an end with the City walls of Niebla, with their deep red towers, battlements and gateways which evoke the Medieval past od the town. The recalcitrant traveller must visit Almonaster la Real to see the 10th Century mosque contained within its castle, now converted into a hermitage, the mihrab of which is possibly the oldest in existence in Western Islam.

Itinerary 2 takes us to Carmona, where an Almohade mosque is conserved in the Patio de los Naranjos (Orange Tree Patio) of the Church of Santa María. Of the walled grounds, of Roman origin, there remain stretches of its walls, towers and the Gate of Seville.

Islamic constructions have also survived in the two Alcázar Palaces of the town. Marchena still has a large part of its 11th Century city walls, in some places incorporated into later constructions, with numerous fortified towers, arches and gateways. A similar example is the walled city of Palma del Río.

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