How Did Islamic Culture Influence Spain?

When Muslims invaded Spain and conquered the Iberian Peninsula, they brought with them a culture of education and tolerance as well as architectural and culinary influences. Most notably, Muslim Spain was the first region of Europe where Christians, Jews and Muslims lived side by side without significant religious strife.

After the fall of the Roman Empire, European civilization underwent a period of strife and uncertainty that slowed the pace of scientific and cultural progression for hundreds of years. The Middle East suffered no such calamity, so when Muslim forces entered Spain in 711 A.D., the culture they brought was substantially different than the one they dominated. Muslim colleges would serve as the basis for later centers of learning, such as Oxford and Cambridge universities, and much of the literature and learning of the Greeks returned to Europe through the Muslim conquest.

The Muslim conquest brought new crops such as eggplant and peppers into Europe as well as new musical instruments such as the guitar. Muslim architecture heavily influenced Spanish construction during this period and for centuries afterward. Middle Eastern textile production was also re-introduced to Europe, and the trade brought by Arabic caravans into the region spread spices and exotic goods throughout the continent.