Name of Monument:



Calle Almanzor, s/n, Almería, Spain

Date of Monument:

Hegira 4th–10th centuries / AD 10th–15th centuries

Period / Dynasty:

Umayyad, Taifa kingdoms, Nasrid, Christian kings


‘Abd al-Rahman III (r. AH 299–350 / AD 912–61); Khayran (r. AH 403–19 / AD 1014–28); al-Mu’tasim (r. AH 444–84 / AD 1052–91); Catholic Kings (r. AH 879–910 / AD 1474–1504).


Almería lies in a strategic position on the coast and the basis of its economy during the Islamic period was trade, and therefore it was essential that the city be defended. The Taifa king Khayran was the driving force behind its design, in particular of its fortifications. His connection with the town started during the time of al-Mansur (r. 367–92 / 978–1002), who appointed this Slavonic eunuch as governor. In 404 / 1014, with the decline of the Caliphate of Córdoba, Khayran took over the town and established an independent Slavonic Taifa kingdom, which survived until the fall of Almería to the Almoravids (484 / 1091), although it did undergo a change of dynasty midway through the century. The Almerían writer al-Udri spoke of how, in the 5th / 11th century, the town was enclosed by an admirable ring of walls that ran from the citadel around the medina and its outskirts. The new Banu Sumadih Taifa dynasty was established in the citadel in 433 / 1042. Al-Mu’tasim, who completed the fortifications, embellished the site with a great palace.
Recent work carried out on the monument has helped to restore this deteriorated site.


The citadel, which dominates the town, runs 350 m from east to west, with a wide variety of projections and towers. The layout consists of three enclosures of different sizes located on plateaux of varying height. The highest enclosure, on the western side, was connected to the town wall in line with the Rambla de La Chanca. This was the sovereign's stronghold, remodelled during the time of the Catholic Kings in Gothic ashlar. The second plateau, almost square and flat, is taken up completely by the palace and its annexes. The third plateau, very wide and sloping, was used for the garden and provided access to the town.
The fortification is perfectly regular, with mortar walls and square towers that rise above the walls. The citadel was accessed through two gateways, now reconstructed, in the albarrana tower (flanking tower), which led to the first plateau and the military enclosure. The now restored tower can be reached by passing through the Guard Tower (Torreón de Guardia).
Remains of the citadel survive on the central plateau: the well-known Window of the Odalisque. Ancient additions include more masonry drum towers, as well as walls and the existing pointed horseshoe archway made of bricks. Among the mortar and masonry walls, there are remains of an apparently older structure, bonded in the Caliphate style, i.e. double rows of sandstones laid upright in a Flemish bond, among other patterns. Excavations have shed some light on the purpose of some of the spaces, such as a five-room bath, the last room of which housed the hypocaust, with the furnace situated below the floor and the chimneys built into the walls. A pool, a three-vessel tank and a dungeon have also been discovered. It is also known that the citadel, as in other Andalusian towns, had interior gardens with central avenues, a central pavilion and irrigation channels.

View Short Description

Almería Citadel, with its 1,430m perimeter, is the largest Muslim building in Spain after the Alhambra. Situated on a lone hill near the sea, it is a solid, extensive fortress with walls more than 3 m thick and 5 m tall. Two perimeter walls were built in the AH 4th / AD 10th century: one around the citadel and one around the military encampment, which was also a refuge for the people at times of siege.
When Almería became the capital of a Taifa kingdom in the 5th / 11th century, King al-Mu’tasim built a magnificent palace within the second wall for his court of poets, doctors, scientists and philosophers.

How Monument was dated:

Using contemporary Islamic sources: according to al-Maqqari, ‘Abd al-Rahman III commissioned the citadel in 343 / 955; al-Udri reports work during the Taifa period in Almería.

Selected bibliography:

Delgado, J., La Alcazaba de Almería: Arqueología, Historia, Arte, Leyenda y Tradición, Madrid, 1965.
Gómez Moreno, M., El Arte árabe Español Hasta los Almohades: Arte Mozárabe,Ars Hispaniae, Vol. III, Madrid, 1951, pp.266–67.
Pareja López, E., Historia del Arte en Andalucía, Vol. II El Arte en el Sur de Al-Andalus, Seville, 1988, pp.277–8.

Citation of this web page:

Ángela Franco "Citadel" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2021. 2021.;ISL;es;Mon01;8;en

Prepared by: Ángela FrancoÁngela Franco

Ángela Franco es Jefa del Departamento de Antigüedades Medievales en el Museo Arqueológico Nacional.
Obtuvo el Grado de Doctor por la Universidad Complutense de Madrid con la tesis Escultura gótica en León y provincia, premiada y publicada parcialmente (Madrid, 1976; reed. León, 1998); y la Diplomatura en Paleografía y Archivística por la Scuola Vaticana di Paleografia, Diplomatica e Archivistica, con la tesis L'Archivio paleografico italiano: indici dei manoscritti, publicada en castellano (Madrid, 1985). Becas de investigación: beca posdoctoral del Ministerio de Asuntos Exteriores, Academia Española de Bellas Artes de Roma (1974-75); beca posdoctoral del Ministerio de Educación y Ciencia, Academia Española de Bellas Artes de Roma (1975-77); beca de la Fundación Juan March de Madrid (1978).
Tiene en su haber 202 publicaciones, fundamentalmente sobre arte medieval cristiano, en especial la iconografía: Crucifijo gótico doloroso, Doble Credo, Danzas de la Muerte, temática bíblica en relación con la liturgia (el Génesis y el Éxodo en relación con la vigilia Pascual) o con el teatro (Secundum legem debet mori, sobre el “pozo de Moisés” de la cartuja de Dijon). Es autora de cuatro catálogos monográficos del Museo Arqueológico Nacional, entre ellos el de Dedales islámicos (Madrid, 1993), y de publicaciones sobre escultura gótica y pintura en la catedral de León y sobre escultura gótica en Ávila, así como de numerosas fichas para catálogos de exposiciones.
Ha participado en innumerables congresos nacionales e internacionales, presentando ponencias y mesas redondas, y ha dirigido cursos y ciclos de conferencias. Es Secretaria de Publicaciones en el Museo Arqueológico Nacional desde 1989.

Copyedited by: Rosalía AllerRosalía Aller

Rosalía Aller Maisonnave, licenciada en Letras (Universidad Católica del Uruguay), y en Filología Hispánica y magíster en Gestión Cultural de Música, Teatro y Danza (Universidad Complutense de Madrid), ha obtenido becas de la Agencia Española de Cooperación Internacional y la Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia de Madrid, así como el Diplôme de Langue Française (Alliance Française), el Certificate of Proficiency in English (University of Cambridge) y el Certificado Superior en inglés y francés (Escuela Oficial de Idiomas de Madrid). Profesora de Estética de la Poesía y Teoría Literaria en la Universidad Católica del Uruguay, actualmente es docente de Lengua Castellana y Literatura en institutos de Enseñanza Secundaria y formación del profesorado en Madrid. Desde 1983, ha realizado traducción y edición de textos en Automated Training Systems, Applied Learning International, Videobanco Formación y El Derecho Editores. Integra el equipo de Museo Sin Fronteras desde 1999 y ha colaborado en la revisión de los catálogos de “El Arte Islámico en el Mediterráneo”. Así mismo, ha realizado publicaciones sobre temas literarios y didácticos, ha dictado conferencias y ha participado en recitales poéticos.

Translation by: Laurence Nunny
Translation copyedited by: Monica Allen

MWNF Working Number: SP 08


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