Centre for Continuing Education

Andalusia Course: The Moors in Spain (AD 711-1492)

History. See the future. It’s in the past.

The world as we know it today has been shaped by events of the past. Learn about history the smart way with History courses at the University of Sydney.

The Arabs and Berbers invaded Spain from North Africa in 711 and they would control the region till the fall of Granada in 1492. During almost 800 years, the ‘Moors’ created a brilliant and dynamic multi-ethnic society which blended elements of Islamic, Jewish and Christian culture. We will explore the arrival of the Moors from North Africa, the Umayyad Emirate of Cordoba, the Taifa Kingdoms, the fundamentalist regimes of the Almohads and Almoravids, and the last flowering of the Nasrid Kingdom of Granada through the magnificent art and architecture of the region of Andalusia.


At the completion of this history course participants will have:

  1. Explored the success of the Muslim invasions of Spain.
  2. Investigated the multi-cultural society of Moorish Spain.
  3. Understood why the Kingdom of Granada lasted so long.


This history course covers the following topics:

The Coming of the Arabs

The Arabs and Berbers arrived in southern Spain in 711 to find the Visigothic kingdom in terminal decline. A series of military campaigns saw them quickly take most of the Iberian Peninsula, establishing a province of the larger Umayyad world. The arrival of Abd el-Rahman I in 756 saw the establishment of an independent state based at Cordoba.

The Golden Age of Cordoba

The 10th Century was the high point for the Moors in Andalusia. A united realm covering much of Iberia produced some of the grandest Islamic monuments of the age including the Great Mosque in Cordoba and the Royal Palace of Medinet ez-Zahra. A splendid and dynamic multi-cultural society was born out of the mix of Jews, Christians and Muslims.

The Taifa Kingdoms

The 11th Century saw the collapse of the Caliphate of Cordoba and the rise of small independent kingdoms (called Taifas) including Seville and Toledo. Heirs of Cordoba, these small states would foster learning and the arts. Gradually the Christian states in northern Spain would take advantage of Moorish disunity to extend their power southwards.

The Intersection of Cultures

The late 11th and 12th Centuries saw invasions by fundamentalist Muslim regimes from North Africa which brought an end to the tolerant and multi-ethnic communities in Andalusia. Concerted military advances by the Kings of Castile would see further Christian advances towards the south – Toledo and Seville became major cultural centres, renowned for their translations of Arab texts.

The Nasrids of Granada

The Kingdom of Granada was established in AD 1232 and would flourish as the last Moorish state in Spain. The Nasrid family would rule SW Andalusia from superbly decorated palaces in their magnificent red fort in Granada, known today as the Alhambra. The Kingdom of the Nasrids would flourish until AD 1492 when the last Moors were driven from Iberia by the Catholic Monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain.

Intended Audience

This history course is suitable for personal interest adult learners, university students and active retirees who have an interest in history.

Delivery Style

This history course in Sydney will be delivered as a face-to-face, interactive lecture where questions and open discussions will be encouraged.

Recommended Reading

Mark Williams, The Story of Spain, Malaga, 2009


  • Expert trainers
  • Central locations
  • Small class sizes
  • Free, expert advice
  • Student materials – yours to keep
  • Statement of completion