Timeline: Almohad {1130-1269}

North African Berber dynasty which ruled over much of North Africa, Spain, and parts of sub-Saharan West Africa.

The Almohads originated from the Atlas mountains of Morocco and were led by a religious leader who preached moral reform. They defeated the ruling dynasty of the Almoravids and established the greatest empire of the western Islamic world. In 1170/565 AH the capital was moved to Seville from where resistance to the Christian reconquest could be organized. City walls are equally demonstrative symbols of Almohad ideology with stepped crenellations and decorated gateway facades. The best examples of Almohad fortifications are the city gates at Rabat with their complex bent entrances and monumental facades decorated with cusped arches.    Almohad architecture is characterized by its mosques and fortifications. The most notable feature of Almohad mosques is the large minaret towers that dominate the great mosques of SevilleMarakesh, and Rabat. Under their predecessors, the Almoravids, minarets were thought to be inappropriate and were left out of mosque designs. The Almohads were responsible for reintroducing the minaret, first in a tentative form, as in the minaret of Timnal where it is a low tower behind the mihrab, and later in a monumental form. The design varied from one tower to another but the basic form was a square shaft containing a central core with a vaulted room on each storey. The exterior was usually decorated with windows set within frames made of cusped arches which formed networks of lozenge shapes. The form of these minarets established a tradition that was followed in mosques of the fourteenth century and later.

Petersen, Andrew. Dictionary of Islamic Architecture. London and New York: Routledge, 1999.

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