history of spain AND architecture
This page deals with the history of spain AND architecture -
the first half concentrating on its history and the second more on Spanish architecture.
For those of you who are interested, at the bottom of the page are links leading to more detailed information about the Spanish Armada and the Spanish Inquisition.
Romans, Germanic tribes, Arabs - to name but a few - have all left evidence of their occupation, giving Spain its glorious variety of art and architecture ...
history of spain AND architecture - prehistoric
Spain´s history goes back a long way ... the first evidence of man being anthropoligical remains found in the Province of Burgos, dating back almost 1 million years!
In Cantabria you can visit the famous Altamira Caves, with its ancient cave paintings dating back about 15,000 years.
history of spain AND architecture - ancient
It was the Carthaginians who founded Barcio (Barcelona) when they arrived in Spain in 230 BC.
A little later, round about 218 BC to be precise, Roman occupation began and they gave Iberia the name "Hispania".
The Roman Aquaduct in Segovia is one of the many marvellous examples remaining of their presence here.
All good things come to an end and, by the 4th century AD, the Roman influence in Spain was waning, culminating in the end of the Western Roman Empire in 476 AD.
During the 5th century AD, the Peninsula saw some new inhabitants - this time it was Germanic tribes who invaded - in particular the Visigoths.
In 711 AD, the Moorish conquest of Spain began.
They quickly conquered most of the Peninsula - except the mountainous regions of Cantabria and the Pyrenees - and an emirate was established in Córdoba.
Al-Andalus was the name given to the Peninsula by the Moors, its economy prospered and much of their influence, culture and beautiful architecture remain in the country to-day - especially the south.
history of spain AND architecture - medieval
The Moors held on to their power in Spain for a long time but, by the middle of the 11th century AD, the Christians were gaining strength and repossessing territories.
During the 13th century were the great Christian conquests of the "Reconquista".
One great tragedy of the Middle Ages in Spain was the Black Death - the terrible plague of 1348.
history of spain AND architecture - renaissance
In 1474, under the reign of the Reyes Católicos
(Catholic Kings) - Isabel I of Castille and her husband Fernando II of Aragon - began the integration of Spain under one sovereign rather than several divided kingdoms.
In fact, the beginning of Spain as we know it to-day.
Isabel and Fernando reigned until 1516. During their reign, the Inquisition was instituted (1481) and the Roman Catholics finally conquered Granada - the last Moorish kingdom in Spain.
The Canary Islands also became part of Spain during this period and the famous Cristóbal Colón (Christopher Colombus) began his discovery of the Americas.
This was a golden era in the history of Spain - as a result of colonization in the Americas, the Hispanic Monarchy became one of the richest and most powerful countries in Europe.
From 1516, Carlos I reigned as King of Spain until his death in 1556 - he also inherited other European kingdoms and became Holy Roman Emperor.
On his death, Felipe II succeeded as King of Spain but not as head of the Holy Roman Empire.
It was during Felipe II´s reign, in 1587, that Sir Francis Drake attacked Cadiz and set fire to the Spanish fleet.
The prosperous era gradually declined - there was bad feeling between Catholic and Protestant countries for religious reasons and, in 1566, there began a long and costly war against the Netherlands which wasn´t to end until the mid-seventeenth century.
history of spain AND architecture - the bourbons
The 18th century heralded more fighting in the form of the War of Succession of 1700 - a general European conflict due to Carlos II dying childless.
It was the old, old story of squabbling over who had the right of succession ...
In the end, in 1713 - under the Treaty of Utrecht - the throne was given to Felipe V, thus introducing the French Bourbon monarchy into Spain.
After the long and costly war, the 18th century was basically a period of economic recuperation and reform.
The well-known French Revolution was taking place towards the end of this century, which was to affect Spain.
In fact, in 1808, Napoleon Bonaparte decided he fancied paying a visit to Spain - and took over power!
The Spaniards revolted against the French occupiers in the Spanish War of Independence, which lasted from 1808 until 1814, when Napoleon´s brother - José Bonaparte - acceeded to power.
The Bourbons were to return, though, in 1814 - under King Fernando VII.
Unfortunately, his death in 1833 sparked off further quarrels over succession.
Eventually, Isabel II reigned until a revolution occurred in 1868, and she was forced into exile.
history of spain AND architecture - 1st republic
After the revolution of 1868 - headed by Juan Bautista Topete - Spain had its first, short taste of a Republic.
From 1875 until 1923, the country returned to Bourbon rule - first under King Alfonso XII and then, in 1902, under Alfonso XIII.
During these years, Spain lost many of her former colonies ... it was a time of general discontent, resulting in the dictatorship of Miguel Primo de Rivera between the years 1923 to 1930.
history of spain AND architecture - 2nd republic/civil war
In 1931, Spain became a socialist republic and there was an end to the monarchy.
The Conservatives won the elections of 1933 but the following year, there was a General Strike led by the Socialist Trade Union - the UGT.
In 1936, Spain´s army revolted, with General Francisco Franco at the head, and the terrible 3-year Spanish Civil War began.
history of spain AND architecture - dictatorship of franco (1939-1975)
The "charismatic" Franco took a firm hold of Spain as its dictator and Spain first had the long job of recovering from the hardships of its Civil War.
By the 1960s Spain was becoming more prosperous - tourism was taking off.
history of spain AND architecture - democratic monarchy
At Franco´s death in 1975, Spain became the democratic monarchy that it is to-day, under King Juan Carlos I.
Democratic elections are now the order of the day as far as the government is concerned and, in 1986, Spain joined the European Union.
Both the Socialist Party (PSOE) and the Conservative Party (PP) have held power for lengthy periods over recent decades, with the PSOE recently gaining the majority.
Spain´s economy is relatively prosperous, in spite of reasonably high employment.
One of the main worries in recent times is that of terrorism, in particular, ETA.
That ends the brief history of Spain, so let us now continue with a résumé of Spanish architecture throughout the ages.
We can see from Spain´s history that the country has been open to a wide variety of cultural influences and the architecture of Spain reflects this.
history of spain AND architecture - early works
The earliest monuments of Spain date from the Roman occupation (3rd century BC - 5th century AD), the famous aquaduct of Segovia being just one well-known example.
Not much remains of the Visigothic Period (6-7th centuries AD), although monuments such as the Church of San Juan de Baños in Palencia (661 AD) suggest a possible Middle Eastern influence in the use of a flattened horseshoe arch.
history of spain AND architecture - moorish influences
The full horseshoe arch was introduced by the Moors around the 8th century AD and extensively empoloyed in the famous mosque at Córdoba.
Moorish architectural elements included multifoil and intersecting arches, the use of intricate effects of light and shadow to produce cool and graceful mosques and palaces - for example, the famous Alhambra of Granada.
Some of these Moorish characteristics were also to influence Christian buildings of medieval Spain.
Although the Moors succeeded in conquering most of Spain, they failed to take over Asturias.
Characteristics of Asturian churches round about the 9th century AD include a basilican plan with square apses, rounded arches and balustered windows.
The Church Santa María de Naranco displays one of the earliest uses of barrel vaulting.
history of spain AND architecture - romanesque
During its Romanesque Period (11th-12th centuries AD), Christian Spain exhibited characteristics similar to those of the rest of Europe.
However, traces of Middle Eastern influence still remained and a fine example of architecture of this period is the cathedral at Santiago de Compostela.
history of spain AND architecture - gothic
The gradual unification of the Spanish kingdoms resulted in increased prosperity and artistic activity (mid 13th -16th centuries).
Castilian architecture was basically French-inspired, although a native taste showed in the propertions and more ornate decorative features.
Outstanding examples are the cathedrals at Burgos, Toledo and León.
Catalan Gothic architecture made use of wide naves, with two side aisles instead of the usual four - such as the cathedral of Barcelona.
In the cathedral at Girona, the aisles were suppressed altogether - it has one of the widest vault spans of medieval Europe.
In the south, the Gothic churches were frequently crowned by Mudéjar artesonados or wooden roofs.
history of spain AND architecture - renaissance
In the 16th century, Italian sculptors working in Spain did much to popularize Renaissance motifs, which were combined with Gothic and Mudéjar in works of the plateresque style - such as the cathedral of Granada.
Typical of the more ornamental plateresque are the facade of the University of Salamanca and the Convent of San Marcos (León).
An example of the more developed High Renaissance style can be seen in the Escorial.
history of spain AND architecture - baroque
The Baroque Period of the 17th to mid-18th centuries was marked by a decisive affirmation of native taste and individual genius in all the arts.
In architecture, an extreme reaction against the severity and restraint of Renaissance forms manifested itself in the Churrigueresque style.
This was characterized by animation of surface, play of light-and-shade effects, and an exaggeration of sumptuousness and ornament.
Examples of Churrigueresque can be found in the Transparente in Toledo cathedral and the Sacristy of the Cartuja in Granada.
history of spain AND architecture - modern
During the 19th and 20th centuries, the foremost architect working in the Neoclassical style was Juan de Villanueva.
At the turn of the century, the architect Antonio Gaudí designed a number of startling and enormously original structures - including the Expiatory Church of the Holy Family - as anyone who has visited Barcelona will be aware.
I hope this brief history of spain AND architecture will help you enjoy your travels in this glorious land!
other pages related to spain culture/history
All about the Flag of Spain
Spanish National Anthem
The Spanish Inquisition
The Spanish Armada
Spanish Bull Fighting
Pictures of Spanish Bull Fighting
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