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In most places in the world, canned food isn’t considered a gourmet experience. But in Spain,
eating food from a can is an entirely different experience. It’s not just about the practical aspect
of preserving food, but a gastronomical art form! This comes from the Moorish culture which
introduced the art of pickling –especially fish in vinegar solutions. Their contribution isn’t
limited to gastronomy; the Moorish influence can be experienced in almost every aspect of
Spanish culture –from art and architecture to even language. Here are a few things you didn’t
know about Muslim influence in Spain:
• The Jews, Muslims, and Christians lived in harmony during the Moorish rule:
The Abrahamic religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam have managed to coexist peacefully
under the Moorish rulers. While Jews and Christians lived under a few restrictions, they did get
along without conflict; albeit as second class citizens. Possibly this is because the Quran
explicitly mentions that Christians and Jews should be tolerated as long as they follow certain
• The Muslim rule is often called the Golden Age in the history of Spain:
At a time when the rest of Europe was living in the Dark Ages, Spain was at the height of
cultural and scientific progress. The Moorish rulers helped establish libraries, colleges, and
universities. They introduced Arabic numbers, Aristotelian philosophy, astronomy, medicine,
and even herbology. Likewise, art and poetry were widely encouraged.
• Architecture flourished during the Muslim rule:
The Moorish kings have left an incredible architectural legacy for Spain. The Alhambra Palace is
one of the finest pieces of Islamic architecture in the world. The La Mezquita at Cordoba is
another stunning example. The mosque which was built on the remains of a church was later
converted to a cathedral is commonly called Mezquita – Cathedral de Corboda. The Alhambra
Palace is one of Spain’s most popular attractions with millions of people visiting every year. It is
also a UNESCO World Heritage site.
• It was the Arabs who introduced sugarcane to Spain:
The Arabs are credited with teaching the local Spanish population to refine sugar. Indeed they
brought sugarcane to the country. Anyone who knows how popular desserts are in Spain will
recognize the importance of this fun fact.
Resource Box: The Author is a history aficionado and has extensively researched the Islamic
influence in everyday Spanish life including its architecture – the best example of which can be
found in the Alhambra Palace.