Rising out of the gloom is a staircase in the Church Mayor of Santa María de la Encarnación in Alhama de Granada, a beautiful Moorish white village in Granada Province.
For centuries, the Iberian Peninsula was a Muslim land with Muslim rulers and a Muslim population. At its height, Iberia had over 5 million Muslims, a majority of the people. Muslim rulers built an advanced civilization based on faith and knowledge. In the 900s, the capital of Muslim Spain, Cordoba, had paved roads, hospitals, street lights and city calligraphers were producing 6,000 books per year. The society was a peaceful mixture of European and African cultures, represented by Muslims, Jews, and Christians living in harmony side by side.
This almost utopian society couldn’t last forever, and the Reconquista, or Reconquest, of Spain by Catholic monarchs progressed through the 11th to the 15th centuries. After the fall of Granada in 1492, most Muslims expected Muslim armies from Africa would soon come to re-establish a Muslim state. For the new Spanish monarchs, Ferdinand and Isabella, their religious intentions were the opposite of the peaceful co-existence that previously existed and the events that followed were a testament of absolute religious intolerance toward both Muslim and Jewish peoples.
So they left; and Catholic worship took place in what had been the former Muslim mosque in Alhama de Granada until it was destroyed to build a new temple in the Spanish Gothic style…