The History of al-Andalus: Islamic Presence in Medieval Iberian Peninsula with Tiago Neiva - Context Travel

The History of al-Andalus: Islamic Presence in Medieval Iberian Peninsula with Tiago Neiva


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In 711, a Muslim Berber commander crossed the straits of Gibraltar from North Africa, and defeated the Spanish Visigothic Kingdom, starting a new era for the Iberian Peninsula. From the 8th to 15th century, the land (or parts thereof) which today belong to modern Portugal and Spain, were to be called al-Andalus.

This conversation is a general introduction about the civilization of al-Andalus, contextualized from three parallel perspectives: political, artistic, and social. In the first and third section, we will present the chronology and geography of distinct kingdoms and dynasties, with their most relevant and symbolic cities and monuments; in the second section, between the apogee and the decline of al-Andalus, we present the cultural, artistic and scientific legacy that will change the Iberian Peninsula, Europe, and the World.

We’ll learn how in the Middle Ages, al-Andalus became one of the most important and cosmopolitan cultural centers in the world. It was a place known for its cultivation of knowledge, arts, architecture, poetry, and science. Perhaps more relevant, it was a tolerant place where the three Abrahamic, monotheist religions – Judaism, Christianism, and Islam - could live together in peace, with rich, diverse, and mutual exchanges. The Iberian Peninsula was simultaneously a place of multiple conflicts, fights, reasons, and deaths, and the spirit of the holy crusade and jihadism was also a constant reality from north to south.

Led by an expert on Architecture and Art History, Tiago Miranda Neiva, this interactive seminar will explore the history of the Muslim kingdoms in the medieval Iberian Peninsula and the parallel Christian Reconquest process. Despite the destruction (or denial) of some of its heritage, the echoes of the Arab-Islamic presence are still possible today to be found, in architecture, art, language, gastronomy, or cultural traditions.

Designed to inform curiosity as well as future travels, participants will come away with a better knowledge of the rich Islamic legacy in Portugal and Spain and will understand also why for so many Muslims worldwide, al-Andalus still lingers, in a mixture of sadness and pride, as one of the most glorious and richest periods of its history.

Tiago Miranda Neiva was born and raised in Lisbon. For several years he was Professor of Arts and Art History, having a Master's degree in Teaching of Visual Arts. He is currently working towards a Ph.D. focused on the Art and Architecture of al-Andalus: the confluence between the Arab, Jewish, and Christian medieval world. In recent years he has been working as a tour guide in his hometown, seeking to show and reveal its most intimate secrets through an authentic and passionate local vision.

This conversation is suitable for all ages.

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.