Mozarabic art and architecture

The Mozarabic architecture refers to the architectural style of Pre-Romanesque buildings that were built by Mozarabs. Mozarabs were Christians who were influenced by the culture of Islam. Mozarabic architecture arose both in Moorish Spain and outside, especially in the re-conquered areas were repopulated with Christians of al -Andalus. In Spanish, the Mozarabic art is also called Arte de Repoblación, the art of re-colonization. The Mozarabic structures that emerged in the Emirate, and later Caliphate of Córdoba are largely destroyed.

  • 3.1 exterior
  • 3.2 Floor Plan
  • 3.3 eaves and rolls consoles
  • 3.4 ceiling
  • 3.5 horseshoe arch and Alfizrahmen
  • 3.6 pillars, columns and capitals
  • 3.7 decor
  • 3.8 murals
  • 3.9 transennae
  • 3:10 Cámara oculta


The term Mozarabs was used until the early 12th century. For the first time on record is the word -. Different spellings such as muztarabes or muzarabes - in the foral, the special rights in 1085 the Christian inhabitants remained conceded the Christian kings after the reconquest of Toledo Today's Spanish spelling Mozárabes found, for the first time in a document which addressed Alfonso I el Batallador (1104-1134), King of Aragon and Navarre, to the Christians of al -Andalus. The term is derived from the Arabic word musta'rab, which means wanting to be Arabic and signified those who have Arabized themselves. It refers to the Christian inhabitants of al -Andalus, which had the culture of the Moors appropriated but retained their Christian faith. The Christians converted to Islam and their descendants are called Muladies.

Historical Background

Al -Andalus

After the Moorish conquest of the Iberian Peninsula 711 and the collapse of the Visigothic the coexistence of Christians, who initially represented the majority of the inhabitants, was controlled by the Islamic rulers through contracts. They secured their wards to personal freedom and the preservation of their material goods. They could keep their places of worship and practice their religion, if they do not insult Islam or trying to convert Muslims to Christianity. Like the Jews, they were subject to its own case law and were excluded from the most important public offices. You were imposed higher taxes than Muslims and they had the jizya, a poll tax for non-Muslims to pay, which was abolished in the conversion to Islam.

Especially in the context of the episcopal cities of Toledo, Cordoba, Seville, Merida, the proportion of the Christian population remained high. Even in the 11th century, there were villages with almost exclusively Christian inhabitants. From their buildings but Hardly any traces have been preserved, with the exception of the church of Santa María de Melque, which probably dates from Visigothic period.

The emigration of Christian inhabitants of al -Andalus in the north took place in waves. Already in the middle of the 8th century grew under the Umayyad Abd ar - Rahman I ( 756-788 ), the pressure on Christians to accept the Islamic faith. Mixed marriages were encouraged and the children of Muslim fathers had to be brought up in the Islamic faith. Churches were destroyed or confiscated. In the cities of Mérida, Toledo and Zaragoza led to uprisings of the Christian population. 818 a rebellion in Cordoba was crushed. Beginning of the 9th century, Christians were executed in al -Andalus. To 850/859, a group of believers to Eulogius of Cordoba and Paul Alvarus who consciously strove for martyrdom and to oppose any adjustment to Moorish customs was formed. They were martyrs of Cordoba as a symbol of Christian resistance and served as a justification for military conquest of the Reconquista. Her worship spread rapidly and has already brought 858 monks from the Abbey of Saint- Germain -des- Prés relics of the martyrs of Cordoba to Paris. Other Christians sought refuge outside the Moorish dominions.

The Christian Spain

The Christian Spain was in 10-11. Century from the Kingdom of León (910-1027), in the II under Ramiro ( 931-951 ), the Asturian Kingdom had risen, the Kingdom of Navarre ( 905-1035 ), the County of Castile ( 930-1022 ) and the County of Barcelona ( 898-1018 ).

Under the Asturian King Alfonso III. ( 866-910 ), who had moved his capital from Oviedo to León, were re- settled areas along the River Duero. In this no man's land, which was to serve as a buffer zone to the Islamic territories, before the population had been displaced. Already 893 were settled in Toledo again in the cities of Simancas, Toro and Zamora Christians. Beginning of the 10th century were Christians from Córdoba in the area around Leon resident. Among them were many monks who settled in the discontinued Visigothic monasteries or convents new buildings such as San Miguel de Escalada, where they brought Moorish style elements.

Style characteristics


As building material mostly large blocks were used or broken stones that were grouted with mortar. Cuboid then served to reinforce the corners. Even layers of bricks were installed to reduce the weight, which were decorated with friezes. Similar to the oldest part of the Great Mosque of Cordoba was inserted on the outer facade of San Miguel de Escalada over the clerestory windows of the nave and the apse under the umbrella approach a tooth frieze made ​​corner bricks. On the facades of Santiago de Peñalba and in San Miguel de Celanova the tooth frieze was cut in stone.

Ground plan

The churches are one or three naves and have a rectangular or square floor plan, in a Latin or Greek cross inscribed. The entrance is located mostly on the south side. On the nave joins in the East usually three-part choir master at. The apses have a horseshoe-shaped floor plan, the outer walls form a rectangle. Some of them are very small and cramped and remember the prayer niche ( mihrab ) of a mosque. San Cebrián de Mazote or Santiago de Peñalba have also in the Ottoman architecture (eg in Saint Cyriacus in Gernrode ) occurring against apse or west apse.

Santiago de Peñalba

Sant Quirze de Pedret

San Miguel de Escalada

San Cebrián de Mazote

Eaves and rolls consoles

The roofs have wide overhanging eaves, which lie on the so-called roller brackets, which are decorated with rosettes and sun gears. Examples of such rolls consoles can be found at the Mezquita of Cordoba. They are still available to the churches of San Miguel de Celanova, San Miguel de Escalada, San Millán de Suso, Santa María de Lebeña and Santiago de Peñalba.


The church ships tend to have flat wooden ceiling, smaller parts of the room are covered with cross vaults or vaults. The apses have barrel vaults made ​​of stone or domes. Compared to the buildings of the Visigoth or the pre-Romanesque buildings of Asturias are these shield domes of San Cebrián de Mazote, San Miguel de Celanova or Santiago de Peñalba an innovation. A special feature of San Baudelio de Berlanga dar. where the vault of the main room is supported by a central column with eight horseshoe-shaped ribs that conveys the image of a palm. The palm was as a Christian symbol of the martyrs for Mozarabic Christians of particular importance and was also shown in the Mozarabic illumination.

Horseshoe arch and Alfizrahmen

The horseshoe arch has been used in the Visigothic architecture. In contrast to the Visigoth horseshoe arch of the Mozarabic is closer together and usually has a capstone. The sheets are cut and carefully worked ground wedge blocks which are partially curved concavely. They are surrounded by a rectangular bar, a Alfizrahmen. Often twin window ( Ajimez ) or triple window framed by a Alfiz. As an example of Mozarabic horseshoe arch with Alfizrahmen the Puerta de San Esteban applies the built around 786/787 Great Mosque of Cordoba. As the entrance to the reception hall of the built 953-957 palace Medina Azahara lines the inner soffit and that of the outer arc ridge at the apse arch of San Miguel de Celanova are not concentric. The wedge blocks of the crown is larger than that of the sheet batch.

Santa Eufemia de Ambía, keyhole window

Santiago de Peñalba, Mozarabic horseshoe arch with Alfiz

Medina Azahara, Salón Rico, Moorish horseshoe arch with Alfiz and non-concentric arcs

San Miguel de Celanova, Mozarabic horseshoe arch with Alfiz and non-concentric arcs

Pillars, columns and capitals

A Mozarabic innovation is the use of pillars that have two or even four sides set columns. The shafts of the columns are monolithic and made of marble. They have - as in San Miguel de Escalada, Santa María de Lebeña or Santiago de Peñalba - Corinthian capitals inspired with up to three rows of stylized leaves, which are deferred to the column shaft by a Taubandring. On them are two - or three-stage, usually decorated with beading fighter. In San Cebrián de Mazote and San Miguel de Escalada, there are also re-used Spolienkapitelle from the Roman and Visigoth period, which have served the Mozarabic stonemasons as role models. The Mozarabic capitals differ from the latter by a notch cut in crafted, rather sheet-like decor emphasizes stylized leaf shapes with occasional animals, such as birds and lions.


Friezes are found both on the outer walls below the roof and approach under the gables, where they are made of stone or brick, as well as on the inner walls, where they are made of stone or stucco. In San Miguel de Escalada the Gesimsleisten with tendrils Friesen and stylized leaf shapes or medallions are decorated with lions and birds. In Santa María de Lebeña narrow bands with wavy lines and tendrils are shown with buds. Frequently recurring motifs are interlacing.


Mozarabic frescoes found, inter alia, to in the churches of San Baudelio de Berlanga (on site and in various museums ), Santiago de Peñalba, Sant Quirze de Pedret ( local copies, originals in the Museu Diocesà i Comarcal de Solsona, Diocesan Museum of Solsona ). The wall paintings in the Asturian churches of San Salvador de Valdediós and Santo Adriano de Tuñón probably go in the representation of stages battlements and tendrils Beading with lotus flowers or pomegranates back on Mozarabic influence.


The windows transennae of San Salvador de Valdediós and San Xes de Francelos (now Galicia), which are attributable to the pre-Romanesque buildings of Asturias, indicate in their ornaments of circular loops with heart-shaped motifs or keyhole-shaped apertures, Taubandrahmen with vines and representations of birds on Mozarabic builder.

Cámara oculta

As in the churches of the Visigoth and the Asturian pre-Romanesque Mozarabic churches there are in the so-called cámara oculta, a hidden or blind chamber. While these chambers in the Asturian churches a large, often designed as a three- arcade opening to the outside possess (eg San Tirso, Oviedo or San Pedro de Nora ) are the chambers of San Miguel de Escalada or Santiago de Peñalba completely inaccessible. Even San Baudelio de Berlanga has such inaccessible chamber above the center column. Their meaning is not clear.

Mozarabic Buildings in Spain

  • Andalusia and Castile -La Mancha Ruins of Bobastro Ardales ( Málaga province )
  • Santa María de La Puebla de Montalbán Melque at ( province of Toledo ), Visigothic?
  • San Juan de Busa and the churches of Serrablo (Province of Huesca)
  • San Juan de la Peña ( Huesca province )
  • San Miguel de Celanova ( Ourense )
  • Santa María de Lebeña
  • San Baudelio de Berlanga ( Soria )
  • San Cebrián de Mazote ( Valladolid province )
  • Santa Cecilia ( Barriosuso ) ( Burgos province )
  • San Miguel de Escalada ( province of León )
  • Santa María de Wamba ( Valladolid province )
  • San Salvador de Tábara ( province of Zamora )
  • Santiago de Peñalba ( province of León )
  • Santo Tomás de las Ollas ( province of León )
  • San Cristóbal in Vilassar de Mar ( Barcelona province )
  • San Julián de Boada ( Girona )
  • Santa Maria de Matadars in El Pont de Vilomara i Rocafort ( province of Barcelona)
  • Sant Quirze de Pedret ( province of Barcelona)
  • San Millán de Suso

Mozarabic monuments in Portugal

  • The church of São Pedro de Lourosa in Lourosa from the early 10th century in the Christian-Muslim border area of the Mondego region reveals relations with the Asturian art.
  • The former church of Santo Amaro in Beja has similarities with San Cebrián de Mazote, Santiago de Peñalba or San Miguel de Escalada in their capitals.
  • Architecturally related to Lourosa the great religious building in Idanha -a- Velha, which has been recently interpreted as the early Islamic prayer hall of the place appears.
  • A mosque as a secure, well almohadisches Monument can be found in Mértola, including a ' pillar forest ', the stucco decoration of the Mihrabnische, beautiful horseshoe arches and typical bogeneinfassenden rectangular frame ( Alfiz ).
  • The missing Mértola minaret, probably from the 10th/11th. Century, is present in Loulé in a solid cuboid technique as a bell tower of the Church of São Clemente.