Analusia is in many ways a distinct region of Spain. During the Middle Ages, large areas of it were ruled by Arab Muslims, the remains of whose presence can be seen in such buildings as the Alhambra and in such place names as Valladolid (city of Ulid), Granada (hill of strangers), Alcalá (the citadel) and Guadalquivir (big river), not to mention the many Spanish words of Arabic origin such as alfombra (rug) and alcalde (mayor). The form of Spanish spoken here differs in many ways from that of northern Spain, such as the pronunciation of z and soft c as s instead of th. In the following sections is a brief history of some of the most interesting cities in Andalusia.
Like many cities in southern Spain, Córdoba traces its origins to the ancient peoples who once lived there, including the Carthaginians, the Greeks and the Romans. It was given its name by the Carthaginian general Hamilcar Barca, who named it “city of Juba” after a fellow general who had been killed in battle in the region. During Roman times, the so-called Córdoba Treasure, consisting of silver objects dating from the Iron Age, was buried here, and it remained untouched until its chance discovery by 1915. It was moved to its present location in the British Museum in 1932.
Seville lies near the well-preserved Roman settlement of Italica, where two emperors, Trajan and Hadrian, were born. The Muslims made the city a taifa, or principality, within the caliphate of Córdoba, but the Christian King Ferdinand III of Castile incorporated it into his domain in the early 1200s. It became a major trading center soon after the discovery of the Americas.
Granada is newer than either of the cities discussed above; it was not founded until the 1000s, when Ziri ibn Manad, a Berber general, established an independent kingdom following a civil war in which the caliphate that formerly occupied the area was ended. The city was ruled by the Almoravids until 1228, when the Emirate of Granada was founded. In 1492, Granada became the last Spanish city to be taken from the Muslims, thus ending the Reconquest period. Masjids (mosque is considered a derogatory term) were then converted into churches.