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The Muslim Walls of Madrid, also known as the Arab Walls of Madrid, of which some vestiges remain, are located in the Spanish city of Madrid. They are probably the oldest construction extant in the city. They were built in the 9th century, during the Muslim domination of the Iberian Peninsula, on a promontory next to Manzanares river. They were part of a fortress around which developed the urban nucleus of Madrid. They were declared an Artistic-Historic Monument in 1954.
The remains of utmost importance, with more archaeological than artistic interest, are in the Cuesta de la Vega, next to the crypt of the Almudena Cathedral. They were built in the park of Mohamed I, named in reference to Muhammad I of Córdoba, considered the founder of the city.
Along the Calle Mayor street, at number 83, next to the Viaduct that serves the Calle de Segovia, are still standing the ruins of the Tower of Narigües, which probably would have been an albarrana tower, with a separate location from the main wall itself, but connected thereto by a minor wall. Its function was to serve as a viewpoint.
In the 20th century, some remains were destroyed. The rest once existing near number 12 Calle de Bailén were lost with the construction of an apartment block, although some walls were integrated into the building structure as its foundation. The remodeling of the Plaza de Oriente, completed in 1996 during the mayoral term of José María Álvarez del Manzano, meant the discovery and subsequent disappearance of numerous remains. This was not the case with the watchtower known as Tower de los Huesos, whose base is on display in the underground car park of the same plaza.
Between 1999 and 2000, another section was uncovered, about 70 metres (230 ft) long, under the Plaza de la Armería, formed by the main façades of the Royal Palace and Almudena Cathedral. It was excavated during the construction work of the Museum of Royal Collections (unfinished) and may correspond to the Puerta de la Sagra, one of the gates to the walled enclosure.
- 1 Historical Context
- 2 Features
- 3 Visible fragments
- 4 Archaeological excavations
- 5 See also
- 6 References
- 7 Bibliography
- 8 External links
Walled enclosures in Al-Andalus
When studying Muslim urbanism it is necessary in the first instance to avoid a number of very typical platitudes on the subject. First, far from what is usually said when comparing Muslim with Christian cities, the first are not a cluster of buildings without any order. On the contrary, because, as Torres Balbás says, "Islamization was a uniform urban mold, the result of a way of life." For example, the finding of winding streets corresponds to a context in which defense is a fundamental necessity.
With respect to the Walls, they fulfill several functions. Muslim cities have as core a medina, which include, among other buildings, the main mosque and the hammam. It is surrounded by a wall, from which are deducted the defensive, symbolic and administrative functions of the walled enclosure. In Madrid, similarly, the Walls were built to protect the fundamental area of the city -not only from external danger, but also from potential internal revolts in the suburbs (also possibly walled). The differentiation of spaces produced by the Walls, thanks to the gates -three in this case- also aided the implementation of taxes.
Thus, the city was divided between the medina or center of religious and commercial life, and the rabad, the "populous neighborhoods outside the walls". From a planning point of view, the Walls promoted urbanism through its gates and its path: its gates because through it would run the streets of greater affluence and its layout because the neighborhoods would range around it.
In this section we could also talk about different possibilities when building Walls, from the materials used to various designs to suit the terrain. However, there are many other models that serve as examples.
The construction of these Walls is directly linked to the origin of Madrid. They were ordered built by the Córdoban emir Muhammad I (852 - 886) on an unspecified date between the years 860 and 880, according to a text of al-Himyari. It was in an area not chosen by chance. It was a wide cultivated valley, with easy access to water reserves. It defended the almudaina or Muslim citadel of Mayrit (first name of the city), located on the site currently occupied by the Royal Palace.
According to Muslim chroniclers of the time, high quality construction and materials were used to build the Walls. The historian Jerónimo de Quintana echoed these accounts in the following text of the 17th century: "very strong of masonry and mortar, raised and thick, twelve feet [almost three and half meters] in width, with large cubes, towers gatehouses and moats".
The mission of the fortified complex was to monitor the path of the Manzanares, which connected the steppes of the Sierra de Guadarrama with Toledo, threatened by the incursions of the Christian kingdoms of the north peninsula. It was governed as a ribat or community, simultaneously both religious and military.
The Walls of Mayrit were integrated within a complex defensive system, which extended through different parts of the Community of Madrid. These included Talamanca de Jarama, Qal'-at'-Abd-Al-Salam (Alcalá de Henares) and Qal'-at-Jalifa (Villaviciosa de Odón). However, do not think of Mayrit as a core of a large entity, but as one of many entities -so is it that sometimes is difficult to find references to the city in the chronicles-.
In the 10th century the caliph of Córdoba Abd-ar-Rahman III ordered the reinforcement of the Walls, after suffering several situations of danger from the advance of the Christian King Ramiro II of León in 932. In the year 977, Almanzor chose the fortress of Mayrit as the origin point of his military campaign.
With the Christian conquest of Mayrit in the 9th century, the original walled area was expanded, raising one of wider perimeter, known as the Christian Walls of Madrid. Thus, the Madrilenian core did not lose its defensive function at any time.
The image of theSaint Mary the Royal of la Almudena, formerly called Saint Mary la Mayor, was found in 1085 (three centuries after the Christians hid it from Muslims) in the conquest of the city by King Alfonso VI of León and Castile, in one of the hubs of the Walls, near the gate Puerta de la Vega, and placed in the old mosque, for the worship and devotion of the Court and the people of Madrid.
The Walls started directly from the alcázar, from its southern part, with the other three sides of the building uncovered, because the rough terrain did not require a greater fortification there. To the west, the cliffs located on the plain of Manzanares river constituted a natural defense of the alcázar; a similar function was served by the ravines and gorges of the brook del Arenal, to the north and to the east.
Their total length was about 980 meters (3,220 ft), enclosing an area of about 4 hectares (9.9 acres). They had an outside moat only in their eastern section, where the ground had an elevation even higher than that of the Walls.
Around the Walls there were several independent watchtowers, but we only have a historical record of the Tower de los Huesos, named for its proximity to a cemetery. This was built in the 11th century, before the conquest of Madrid by the king Alfonso VI of León and Castile, and integrated into the Christian Walls as Albarrana tower.
The Walls have three gates, of direct access and without any bend:
- The Puerta de la Vega, located in the current Cuesta de la Vega, connected the military compound with the plains of the Manzanares river and the roads of Castile and Extremadura. It might have been located on the site now occupied by the foreign niche of the Virgin of la Almudena, next to the crypt of the eponymous cathedral;
- The Puerta de la Mezquita or Arco de Santa María led to the civil core developed outside the fortress, through the current Calle Mayor;
- The Puerta de la Sagra, or de la Xagra, or del Campo ended up in the gardens, by the current Calle de Bailén, in semicorner with Plaza de Oriente.
From an archaeological perspective, the Puerta de la Vega offers the most data; thus existing references utilize data extrapolated from the excavations. The foundations of one of the buckets that originally flanked this gate have been documented. The dimensions of the access, according to data from the excavations, would have been 4.5 and 3.5 meters (15 and 11 ft). Typologically it is a narrow gate, between two towers and a poorly developed. After the archaeological activities only the foundation has been preserved, but this is outside of its original position.
The wall was organized in different towers, quadrangular, of between 3.3 and 2.4 meters wide (10.8 and 7.9 ft) according to the tower- and with paw at the base, with an arrangement slightly protruding from the main wall. They were spaced approximately every 20 meters (66 ft). These stretches combined stonework of flint and limestone.
Despite the measures, currently these are just highlights with respect to the wall in which they are framed. The section that must necessarily serve as a guide because of being the best preserved, that of Park Mohamed I, has about twenty m (66 ft) between each tower. There are a total of six, although one tower was lost, but is indicated by its base. The towers serve to confirm, once again, that this constitutes an enclosure of an Islamic court. The shape of the towers supports such a conclusion, as usually the Christians used a semicircular shape, clearly unlike those seen in the Park Mohamed I.
Park of Mohamed I
This is the most important fragment, both in its state of preservation and in its accessibility to visitors. The excavations carried out there in 1972-1975 and 1985 onwards have been aided by the demolition of a 19th-century building that sat on the stretch itself, revealing a lot of data. This happened two years after 1985, and also represented a restoration and enhancement of the section of the wall.
It has in view approximately 120 meters length (390 ft). This part of the Walls has been preserved by being used as a load-bearing wall in buildings of modern times, and surfaced after their demolition. However, the fact that it has been used as a foundation should not be overlooked, because all the Walls might have also had such a fate. Apparently, many sections of the Walls were rebuilt and remodeled as well, and others may have suffered worse in the course of history.
It is a stretch of a width around 2.6 meters (8 ft 6 in), which is quite consistent if put in relation to the size of the towers that are around it. There are two exterior walls that have inside masonry to mode of core. The masonry is linked with lime mortar. It is of note that all materials that make the stretch could be found relatively close to the city areas, which reaffirms once again the geostrategic role of the rise in which emerged the Islamic city.
Deepening in the two facing walls, its bottoms are formed by large blocks of flint, cut only on its outer face and slightly trimmed, but not modeling, inside. From there rise ashlars of limestone, providing a new finding that the track is of al-Andalusian origin, because the materials follow the style of Cordoban rigging, which is a constant in the centuries in which life unfolds in Madrid. The Córdoban rigging is an ashlar to rope -the longest part of it abroad - and two or three blight, the short side visible. This is difficult to appreciate along the stretch, because the passage of time. In fact, it is possible that the Walls was remodeled in the 10th century after a siege of Ramiro II of León, but never possible that was rebuilt.
Finding on foot of wall the Córdoban rigging may be difficult, because when it put in value in the late 1980s was applied a render in white, if it was on track to hide some patches implanted in the wall during its time as load-bearing wall also hid some details. On the other hand, the small arch that can be seen capping could be a sort of drain without interest, which follows the documentation of modern times, which marks the passage of a small stream by that area. To try to provide a more historical perspective was recreated a small slope to try to rebuild the period atmosphere, as transformed by the growth of Madrid.
Calle Bailén 12
The calle Bailén n.º 12 is a building founded on remnants of the Walls. This was built in 1970s, and though by then it already was an Artistic Historical Monument, two sections of the Walls and a tower were destroyed -one to make site to the building, and other to give way to its tenants-.
The building, however, retains some vestiges of the stretch in a very bad state, because at present are part of their private garage. These are remains very similar to those of Park of Muhamed I, because it is an extension of the same.
The incomprehensible destruction was accompanied by some documentation work, and today is known to have a width of 2.5 meters -a little narrower than the portion that has already been seen- and offered a possibility that can not usually be: the dissection of the wall. The data regarding the core of lime mortar masonry are given by this construction.
Future Museum of Royal Collections
There is another large section of the Arab walls found in the late-1990s, directly opposite the Almudena Cathedral. These remains have surfaced as part of the works of the future Museum of Royal Collections. As an area in which it is impossible to make any kind of archaeological tasting, the specialist Alain Kermovan traced the route through radioelectric detectors, without lifting the pavement.
Are two stretches from the Islamic period, which between them account for about 70 meters. The materials used are the same, and construction techniques, but not the thickness: this exceeds, on average, the 3.2 meters, being slightly wider than previously seen. Here it has been able to verify the height, ranging around 7 meters, although this is found only in a section, because the other is destroyed completely.
Until 1985, the archaeological excavations in the city of Madrid only had by protagonists visible elements such as fortified enclosures or churches. That, for the study of the Muslim Walls, is that since the first excavations of the late 18th century and the beginning of 19th century have been carrying out archaeological works.
In the 20th century, there are some advances over the wall. The Instituto Arqueológico de Madrid, in the sixties and seventies, performs some tasks aimed at protecting the first and second enclosure, since both had been declared "monuments" in the fifties. Thus, were carried out archaeological campaigns in some areas as the Cuesta de la Vega -between 1972 and 1975- or the Calle Mayor.
The lack of visible remains playing against the excavations in finding activities related to the Muslim walled. Since 1985 it has been excavated on the Cuesta de la Vega, placing on value the most important section of this enclosure setting the park called Muhamed I, in honor of the founder of the city.
- Rafael Fraguas (1999). "DESCUBIERTOS LOS SUPUESTOS RESTOS DEL ACCESO A LA CIUDADELA" [It seen the Muslim Wall at the Armory]. Spain: www.nova.es (from a text published in El País newspaper). Retrieved December 30, 2016.
- BIDAGOS, P. and others, Resumen histórico del urbanismo..., p. 79.
- BIDAGOS, P. ad others, Resumen histórico del urbanismo..., p. 92.
- For more information on this topic, see B. Pavón, Spanish-Muslim cities.
- MONTERO VALLEJO, M., Madrid musulmán, p. 88.
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- "[First Enclosure: Muslim Walls]", in the Medieval Madrid". Archived from the original on April 19, 2009. Retrieved December 30, 2016.
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- FERNÁNDEZ UGALDE and others, Las murallas de Madrid..., p. 56.
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- El País (newspaper), September 16, 2001.
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- CÁMARA MUÑOZ, A. and GUTIERREZ MARCOS, J., Castillos, fortificaciones y recintos amurallados de la Comunidad de Madrid, 1st Edición, Madrid: Consejería de Educación y Cultura de la Comunidad de Madrid, 1993, pp. 170–181.
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- GARCÍA ESCALONA, E., «Madrid medieval actual», en DE MIGUEL RODRÍGUEZ, J. C., El Madrid medieval. Sus tierras y sus hombres, 1st Edition, Madrid: Al-Mudayna, 1990, pp. 239–251.
- MENA MUÑOZ, P. y NOGUERAS MONTEAGUDO, M. E., «Excavaciones urbanas anteriores a 1985 y política arqueológica urbana de la Comunidad de Madrid», in Madrid del siglo IX al XI: [Exhibition held in] Madrid, October–November, 1990, Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando, 1st Edition, Madrid: Comunidad de Madrid, Dirección General de Patrimonio Cultural, 1990, pp. 223–245.
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- MONTERO VALLEJO, M., El Madrid Medieval. Nueva edición revisada y aumentada, 1st Edition, Madrid: La Librería, 2003, pp. 49–86.
- MONTERO VALLEJO, M., «Madrid musulmán», en FERNÁNDEZ GARCÍA, A., Historia de Madrid, 3ª Edición, Madrid: Instituto de Estudios Madrileños, 2007, pp. 88–92.
- PAVÓN, B., Ciudades hispano-musulmanas, 1st Edition, Madrid: Editorial Mapfre, 1992, pp. 166–168.
- PÉREZ VICENTE, D., «Excavaciones arqueológicas en el solar número 21 de la calle Segovia», in Madrid del siglo IX al XI: [Exhibition held in] Madrid, October���November, 1990, Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando, 1st Edition, Madrid: Comunidad de Madrid, Dirección General de Patrimonio Cultural, 1990, pp. 261–266.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Muslim wall of Madrid.|
- Information and photographs of the Arab Walls of Madrid in www.madridhistorico.com.
- information and photo gallery of the Arab Walls of Madrid in www.castillosnet.org.
- Real González, Julio: The Islamic Walls of Madrid: evidence of an intermediate enclosure. Amigos del Foro Cultural de Madrid.