Moorish Ruins and Moorish Sites

If you’re looking to explore Moorish ruins and Moorish sites and want to find the best places to view Moors-era history then you can explore our interactive map above or navigate further by using the links below.

Once you’ve explored the list of Moorish ruins and Moorish sites and selected those you wish to visit you can use our itinerary planner tool to plan your trip and then print off a free pocket guidebook. This indispensible holiday guide will help you make the most of your time exploring Moorish ruins.

Our database of Moorish historic sites is growing all the time, but we may not cover them all. Remember, if you know of other Moorish sites, remains or ruins, you can always add them to Trip Historic now by visiting our upload page.

The Moors: Site Index

Albufeira Municipal Archaeological Museum

The Albufeira Municipal Archaeological Museum exhibits a collection of artefacts relating to the history of the area.

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The Albufeira Municipal Archaeological Museum (Museu Municipal de Arqueologia de Albufeira) exhibits a small collection of artefacts relating to the history of the area dating from the prehistoric to the Roman, the Moorish up to the seventeenth century.

Photo by Ronny Siegel (cc)

Alcazaba of Málaga

The Alcazaba of Malaga is a picturesque and formidable 11th century Moorish citadel.

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The Alcazaba of Malaga (Alcazaba de Málaga) is a picturesque 11th century Moorish citadel said to be one of the most important of its kind in Spain. Historians have put its construction as having taken place between 1057 and 1063 under the rule of Berber king, Badis ben Habus. Over the years, the Alcazaba of Malaga has been restored several times, but its original grandeur and imposing nature remain clear.

Visitors to the Alcazaba of Malaga can also see the remains of a ruined Roman theatre, whose materials are also said to have been used in building the palace fortress.

Photo by Alaskan Dude (cc)

Alcazar of Segovia

The Alcazar of Segovia is an imposing medieval fortress turned royal palace.

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The Alcazar of Segovia (Alcazar de Segovia) is an imposing medieval fortress which embodies much of what one would consider to be the ideal vision of a fairytale castle, complete with picturesque turrets and cliff-top location.

It is thought that a fort has existed on this site since Roman times, but the first known written mention of the Alcazar of Segovia is found in twelfth century Christian records. Having started life as an Arab fort, in the thirteenth century, the Alcazar of Segovia made the transition from military stronghold to palatial residence and was slowly renovated in a gothic style, with further changes made in the sixteenth century.

The interior of the Alcazar of Segovia doesn’t disappoint and visitors can tour this magnificent site as well as climbing to its towers for great views of the town. This spectacular castle features as one of our top Tourist Attractions of Spain.

Photo by michalo (cc)

Alcazar of Seville

Predominantly built in Europe's Dark Ages of the 1300s, the Alcázar of Seville is one of Europe’s most intricately beautiful palaces and is the perfect setting for the Water Gardens of Dorne in Game of Thrones.

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The Alcazar of Seville has been described as ‘one of history’s architectural high points’. The word Alcázar comes from the Hispano-Arabic word ‘Alqáşr’ meaning ‘room of the Prince’ or ‘royal house’ and the palace is truly one of the most striking in all of Spain. In fact the Spanish royal family still use it as their official Seville residence.

The oldest royal palace still in use in Europe was founded originally as a fort for the area’s Cordoban governors in 913AD. Two centuries later through Europe’s Dark Ages, the city’s Moorish Muslim leaders built Al-Muwarak (‘The Blessed’) and then in the centuries that followed, Moorish (12th – 13th), Gothic (13th), Mujédar (14th) and Renaissance (15th – 16th) architecture was added to form a visually magnificent yet architecturally eclectic palace. In fact, Alcázar of Seville is widely regarded as the finest example of Mujédar architecture on the entire Iberian peninsula.

The excellently-named Peter the Cruel rebuilt the existing structures in the 14th century and established the palace as a royal residence. Each individual section is as stunning as the next and visitors can walk through, amongst many other rooms, halls, gates and piazzas the Puerta del León (Lion Gate), the Patio de las Doncellas (Courtyard of the Maidens), Los Baños de Doña María de Padilla (the Baths of Lady Maria de Padilla) and La Casa de Contratación (House of Trade) as well as the equally impressive gardens. The highlight of which is the Galeria de Grutesco , a raised gallery with 16th century porticoes crafted from an old Muslim-era wall.

It was only a matter of time until the Game of Thrones location researchers came across Alcázar of Seville and it was the perfect setting for the Water Gardens palace in Dorne, the home of House Martell of Sunspear featured in season six.

Photo by Historvius

Alhambra

The Alhambra in Granada, Spain was a fortified palace complex of the Nasrid Dynasty conquered by the Christians.

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Calat Alhambra or the “Red Fortress” in Granada, Spain, is a complex of royal palaces, mosques, baths, shops and other buildings surrounded by an imposing two kilometer fortified wall.

Originally established in 1238 by the founder of the Nasrid Dynasty, Muhammad Ibn al Ahmar, it was expanded in the 13th century by Yusuf I, Sultan of Granada of the Nasrid Dynasty, who passed the project onto his son and heir, Mohammad V. Mohammed completed the Alhambra in the 14th century, including the Palacio Nazaríes. Thus the Alhambra became the royal residence of the Nasrid ‘emirs’ or princes until 1492, when it was conquered by the Christians.

In fact, Arabic texts show that there was a fortress at the Alhambra from the 9th century and evidence even points to it being inhabited during Roman times, but the work of the Nasrid Dynasty was the first incarnation of the Alhambra fortified palace complex as it is known today.

The Alhambra area, known as Albayzin, was also an important stronghold for the eleventh century Zirid Dinasty and for the Andalusians in the twelfth century.

Today, the Alhambra is open to the public. Visitors can tour its palaces, including the Palacio Nazaríes and the 16th century Palace of Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor. The Alcazaba or “citadel” is another highlight of the Alhambra, this being the main element of the complex’s fortifications.

The Alhambra is centred on two main courtyards, the Court of the Lions and the Court of Myrtles, the former with a fountain and the latter with a long pool. Its beautiful Generalife gardens and buildings are also worth visiting, while the Alhambra Museum offers everything from Nasrid art to archaeological finds.

The Alhambra contains a wealth of building and monuments and a visit usually lasts around 3 hours. The Alhambra’s website is very useful for downloading tours onto mobile devices as well as maps and itineraries. Audio guides are available on site.

The Alhambra is a UNESCO World Heritage site and also features as one of our Top 10 Tourist Attractions in Spain.

Photo by rayo111 (cc)

Bujaco Tower

Bujaco Tower is a Moorish tower in the Cáceres Plaza Mayor.

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Bujaco Tower (Torre de Bujaco) is a 12th century Moorish Tower in the centre of the Spanish city of Cáceres. The namesake of Bujaco Tower was Caliph Abú-Ya’qub, who led his troops to victory in conquering Cáceres in March 1173 after a six month long siege.

Photo by Variable (cc)

Casa del Rey Moro

Casa del Rey Moro is home to hanging gardens and a fascinating Moorish water mine.

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Casa del Rey Moro (House of the Moorish King) in Ronda was – contrary to its name – actually built in the 18th century on the site of a former Moorish castle and is home to both hanging gardens and a Moorish water mine. The mine was built in the 14th century as a water supply for the town at a time when sieges often made this task a clandestine one. It was the Moorish King Abomelic who is said to have ordered slaves to build the Casa del Rey Moro Water Mine and local legend has it that he hid his gold there.

Today, a trip to the mine offers an atmospheric descent down some 300 steps through various chambers including the intriguingly named Sala de Secretos or Room of Secrets.

Photo by Morgaine (cc)

Castelo dos Mouros

Castelo dos Mouros is a picturesque ruined castle with a history dating back to the eighth century.

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Castelo dos Mouros (Castle of the Moors) is a picturesque ruined castle overlooking Sintra in Portugal. Believed to have originally been built by the Moors in around the eighth century - hence the name - Castelo dos Mouros was attacked several times until it was finally taken by King Afonso Henriques in 1147.

However, much of the building of Castelo dos Mouros seen today does not date back to these early turbulent times. Left to decay for several hundreds of years, it was only in the nineteenth century that Castelo dos Mouros was restored and a big proportion of the current site formed part of this project. Having said this, there are still several signs of the former Moorish inhabitants, including an old cistern.

Amongst its attractions, Castelo dos Mouros is also home to the ruin of a medieval chapel. This fascinating site also features as one of our top ten tourist attractions of Portugal.

Photo by xornalcerto (cc)

Cerro da Vila

Cerro da Vila is an Ancient Roman site housing the remains of a second or third century villa complex.

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Cerro da Vila is an Ancient Roman site housing the remains of a second or third century villa complex including baths and mosaics.

Whilst mainly a Roman site, it is thought that Cerro da Vila was inhabited until the eleventh century. As such, the museum at Cerro da Vila exhibits not just Roman, but also medieval finds, including Visigoth and Moorish pieces.

Faro Archaeological Museum

Faro Archaeological Museum has a collection of artefacts including prehistoric, Roman, Moorish and medieval pieces.

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Faro Archaeological Museum, also known as the Municipal Museum or Museu Municipal de Faro, has a collection of artefacts ranging from the prehistoric to the medieval including the Moorish.

Most of the collection at the Faro Archaeological Museum is Roman and includes tombstones, mosaics and other pieces found in the region. In addition to these exhibits, Faro Archaeological Museum also has seventeenth and eighteenth century Italian paintings, mostly of a religious nature. This theme is particularly fitting given the location of the museum in the cloisters of Nossa Senhora da Assuncao (Or Lady of the Assumption), a sixteenth century convent.

Photo by MARIA ROSA FERRE (cc)

La Giralda

La Giralda is the famed bell tower of Seville Cathedral and which began as a 12th century minaret.

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La Giralda of Seville has the honour of being both one of the world’s most famous bell towers and minarets, earning it UNESCO World Heritage status. Originally built between 1172 and 1198 as part of a magnificent mosque under Emir Yaqub al-Mansur, it is considered to be a brilliant example of the Almohad style.

Following the re-conquest of Seville in 1248, La Giralda was transformed into the bell tower of Seville Cathedral, thereby avoiding destruction. It was further added to in the 16th century when it was crowned with its bronze weather vane. Visitors are now invited to climb La Giralda to enjoy stunning views of Seville.

Marbella Castle Walls

The Marbella Castle Walls were once part of an impressive Moorish citadel built in the tenth century.

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The Marbella Castle Walls (Murallas del Castillo) were once part of an impressive Moorish citadel built in the tenth century. Relatively little remains of this once great site.

Today, tourists are confined to viewing this fortification from the outside as it is not open to the public.

Photo by Historvius

Monasterio de Piedra

The Monasterio de Piedra is a monastery located in Zaragoza, Spain. The building was constructed between 1195 and 1218, and is surrounded by acres of spectacular parkland.

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Nestled amid acres of dramatic parkland crisscrossed by waterfalls, streams and idyllic natural pools, Monasterio de Piedra is a picturesque medieval monastery in the municipality of Nuévalos, in the province of Zaragoza in Northeast Spain.

The Monastery, whose name translates literally as 'The Stone Monastery', was founded in 1194 when Alfonso II, the king of Aragon, donated a castle and the land surrounding it to thirteen Catholic monks from the Order of the Cistercians. The castle dated back to the period of the Muslim Caliphate of Córdoba (929-1031) and had been a Muslim defensive stronghold during the battles against the Christian kingdoms of Northern Spain.

Monasterio de Piedra was constructed over 23 years using materials from the castle and the wall which enclosed it. At the time, the conquest of the region by Catholic forces in 1120 was a relatively recent memory, and the Catholic kingdoms' campaign to re-conquer Spain ('la reconquista') was still underway. In this context, the vast building project served as a symbolic means of proclaiming, consolidating and reinforcing Catholic identity and Catholicism's public presence.

The monastery was built during the transition from Romanesque to Gothic art, and is characterised by an austere and simple architectural style. It does, however, contain various baroque elements, which were added in the eighteenth century.

Cistercian monks lived in the Monasterio de Piedra between 1195 and 1835. They had to abandon the building on three occasions: in 1808 during the War of Independence; during the Liberal Triennium of 1820-23; and finally in 1835, when the building was expropriated by the Liberal Government as part of its disentailment policy (which involved the suppression of Spain's male religious orders and the expropriation and sale of their property). During the latter two periods, many of the monastery's statues and images were decapitated in anticlerical attacks.

Today, Monasterio de Piedra is privately owned and open to the public. Within the building's walls, visitors will also find a wine museum and an exhibition about the history of chocolate. The Monastery grounds also contain a fish farming centre, a luxury hotel, a spa and several restaurants. This site features as one of our Top Ten Visitor Attractions in Spain.

Contributed by Maria Thomas

Photo by Martin Stone (cc)

Old Town of Caceres

The Old Town of Caceres embodies centuries of conquest and re-conquest in its winding streets.

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The Old Town of Caceres in Spain is an embodiment of centuries of conflict, with its winding streets, palaces and general style telling the stories of those who fought for its conquest. Founded by the Romans under the name Norbensis Caesarina in the 1st century BC, medieval Caceres was the subject of a constant tug of war between the Moors and the Christians, eventually and finally conquered by Alfonso IX of León in 1229.

Whilst some remains of the Roman walls can be found by those who seek them out, most of the imposing towers and walls can be dated back to the 12th century under the Almohads. The most famous of the thirty or so towers is the Bujaco Tower, which is found at the epicentre of the Old Town of Caceres, its main plaza. There are historic houses and sites at every turn in the Old Town of Caceres – indeed it is all an UNESCO World Heritage Site - but highlights include the Gothic Palace of Los Golfines de Abajo and the Procathedral of Santa María.

For the local information, head to Plaza de Santa María, where the Carvajal Palace – which has its origins in the 15th and 16th centuries - plays host to the tourist board.

Paderne Castle

Paderne Castle was a Moorish stronghold later taken by the forces of King Afonso III.

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Paderne Castle (Castelo de Paderne) was originally built as a Moorish stronghold during the period of the Almohad dynasty. While Paderne Castle dates back to the eleventh and twelfth centuries, the site on which it was constructed has a history which may stretch as far back as Roman times.

In 1248, Paderne Castle was taken from the Moors by the forces of Dom Paio Peres Correia, a commander in the armies of Portuguese King Afonso III.

Now a picturesque reddish-brown ruin, Paderne Castle is one of the seven castles shown on the Portuguese flag.

Photo by amaianos (cc)

Puerta del Sol Toledo

The Sun Gate of Toledo was built by the Knights Hospitaller in the 14th century.

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The Sun Gate of Toledo (Puerta del Sol) was built by the Knights Hospitaller in the 14th century, although it is said that the original gate may date back to the Taifa kingdom of the 11th century. Today, the impressive Moorish style Sun Gate of Toledo is a popular monument in the city.

Sagunto Castle

Sagunto Castle was a large Moorish citadel, the impressive remains of which overlook the modern town.

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Sagunto Castle (Castillo de Sagunto) is a vast ruin spread over a kilometre and overlooking the town.

The most impressive parts of Sagunto Castle date back to around the eighth century and were built by the Moors as an imposing fortress. However, the site also shows signs of previous inhabitants of Sagunto, namely the Iberians and the Romans.

In particular, the site of Sagunto Castle houses the remains of a Roman forum.

Photo by Son of Groucho (cc)

Santa María la Blanca Synagogue

Santa María la Blanca ("Saint Mary the White") originally known as the Ibn Shushan Synagogue is a museum and former synagogue in Toledo, Spain. It is disputably considered the oldest synagogue building in Europe still standing.

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Santa María la Blanca Synagogue in Toledo, Spain, has the unique disposition of originally being a Moorish construction built for a Jewish synagogue which was converted into a Christian church in the 15th century. Santa María la Blanca Synagogue was first constructed in 1180, completed in the early 13th century, and it was originally called Ibn Shushan Synagogue.

Today Santa María la Blanca Synagogue is a popular tourist destination.

Photo by Turol Jones (cc)

Santiago del Arrabal Church

Santiago del Arrabal is a church in Toledo, Spain, built in 1245-48, at the orders of Sancho II, on the site of an older church and a mosque that is known to been used since 1125.

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Santiago del Arrabal Church (Iglesia de Santiago del Arrabal) is a 13th century structure widely considered to be one of Toledo’s most impressive Mudejar style buildings and built under the auspices of Sancho II.

Silves Archaeological Museum

Silves Archaeological Museum offers an insight into the history of Silves and its surrounding area.

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Silves Archaeological Museum (Museu Municipal de Arqueologia de Silves) offers an insight into the history of Silves and its surrounding area, with a collection spanning from prehistory to the seventeenth century. This collection is divided into four main sections, namely the prehistoric, Roman, Moorish and the Portuguese periods.

The building in which Silves Archaeological Museum is located is also of interest, having been a nineteenth century home and the site where a Moorish water reservoir was uncovered. Visitors can see this today.

Photo by Historvius

Silves Castle

Silves Castle is an imposing Moorish stronghold.

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Silves Castle (Castelo de Silves) is an imposing Moorish stronghold which defended this once thriving Moorish settlement in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. Following the re-conquest by Christian forces in 1242, Silves Castle was altered and renovated, this work continuing throughout the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries.

Today, Silves Castle is a great remnant of what would have been a powerful Moorish settlement. There are some remains of the buildings which were once housed within the walls of Silves Castle and of the Roman fortification on which it was built, mostly in the form of excavated foundations which visitors can wander around. A couple of cisterns from these periods also remain. However, the highlights of Silves Castle are its well preserved defensive walls, turrets and gates.

Silves Castle also features as one of our top visitor attractions in Portugal.

Main image by graphiclunarkid (cc).

St George’s Castle

St George’s Castle in Lisbon is a medieval castle which once served as a royal palace.

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St George’s Castle (Castelo de Sao Jorge) in Lisbon is a medieval citadel resting high atop one of the city’s highest hills overlooking the Tagus River.

Historical research has shown that the hill on which St George’s Castle sits was inhabited as early as the sixth century BC, with the first fortifications dating back to the second century BC. This hill was of military importance to a number of peoples, including Lisbon’s indigenous Celtic and Iberian tribes as well as the Romans, the Visigoths and the Moors.

The earliest mentions of St George’s Castle date back to the eleventh century, when Arab geographers mention it defending the ‘quasabah’ or ‘fortress’. In 1147, St George’s Castle was conquered from the Moors by Portugal’s first king, Afonso Henriques helped by crusaders as part of the Seige of Lisbon.

In 1255, when Lisbon became the capital city, St George’s Castle served as the royal palace and was later renovated by King Dinis I. The castle was dedicated to Saint George by King João I in the fourteenth century. However, St George’s Castle began to lose its stature in the sixteenth century, when King Manuel I built the Ribeira Palace, particularly when St George’s Castle was damaged by earthquakes in 1531 and 1755 and never properly rebuilt.

Today, people mostly visit St George’s Castle for its beautiful views across Lisbon on Ulysses Tower. The Castle does have some exhibitions, including a multimedia presentation of the city’s history and a space for temporary exhibitions as well as a handful of courtyards and battlements to explore. Also visible are the remnants of an old Moorish wall, which was reconstructed by the King Ferdinand I in the 1370’s.

St George’s Castle also features as one of our top tourist attractions of Portugal.