Picture: Three stages in the life of the Giralda: The left tower is the Almohad minaret (1198), with its four gilded ‘apples’; the right tower, under Christian control (1400), is topped with a bell; the center tower (1568) features the renaissance belfry of Hernan Ruiz.
The rule of the Berber Almoravids from Morocco, from the late 11th to mid-12th centuries, yielded few notable buildings in Spain, but the second wave of Moroccan Berbers to conquer Al-Andalus, the Almohads, constructed huge Friday mosques in the main cities of their empire, among them Seville. The design of the mosques was simple and purist, with large prayer halls conforming to the T-plan of the Cördoba Mezquita, but the Almohads introduced some important and beautiful decorative innovations. The bays where the naves meet the qibla wall were surmounted by cupolas or stucco muqarnas (stalactite or honeycomb vaulting composed of hundreds or thousands of tiny cells or niches). On walls, large brick panels with designs of interwoven lozenges were created.
From the late 12th Century, tall, Square, richly decorated minarets started to appear. The Giralda, the minaret of the Seville mosque, is the masterpiece of surviving Almohad buildings in Spain, with its beautiful brick panels. The Seville mosque’s prayer hall was demolished in the 15th Century to make way for the city’s cathedral, but its ablutions courtyard, Patio de los Naranjos , and its northern gate, the handsome Puerta del Perdön, survive.
Islamic Architecture of Andalusia