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12th Century Military Arcitecture

Printed From: History Community ~ All Empires
Category: Regional History or Period History
Forum Name: Post-Classical Middle East
Forum Discription: SW Asia, the Middle East and Islamic civilizations from 600s - 1900 AD
Printed Date: 07-Aug-2020 at 23:49
Software Version: Web Wiz Forums 9.56a -

Topic: 12th Century Military Arcitecture
Posted By: Peter
Subject: 12th Century Military Arcitecture
Date Posted: 30-Dec-2006 at 17:44
Hi all - this is my first post, hope someone has a comment.

I am researching the origins of a particular feature of Iberian Military Arcitecture called, in Spanish, 'Torre Albarrana'. These are detached towers placed in front of defensive circuits of walls around some fortresses and towns of medieval Iberia.

They seem to be almost unique to Iberia and date from the Islamic period and Al-Andalus. From my research to date, the earliest example of these detached towers is from the city of Badajoz in present day Spain and known as the Atalaya Tower (amongst other names). A picture is posted below. This tower (now much restored) is said to date from c.1170.

The form of the detached towers varies from place to place and over time from the uncommon octagonal form here at Badajoz to the more usual square or rectangular forms.

The towers are always connected to the main circuit of wall by a bridge, usually with a removable section allowing the detached tower to be isolated from the curtain wall if need be.

My question to the forum is whether anyone is aware of similar towers from other parts of the medieval muslim world providing a similar purpose?.

The three photo's are from the castles of Badajoz, Trujillo and Jaen, all in Spain. There are many other examples in this country and in Portugal.

Many thanks


Posted By: Cyrus Shahmiri
Date Posted: 01-Jan-2007 at 09:36
Nice pics, there was a similar tower in ancient Bam Citadel.


Posted By: Ikki
Date Posted: 03-Jan-2007 at 05:19
Peter, thanks to you i know by first time this type of architecture of my country. Do you understand spanish?

Few information about the function - -


Some examples -


Good analysis: - - -

Here say that was the almohads the introductors of this type of tower, from the arab (or berber?) albarran, detached - -

I suppose that this last tower of Tarifa (Guzmán el Bueno's tower) is more ancient than the example of Badajoz.

Very interesting matter Thumbs Up


Posted By: Peter
Date Posted: 04-Jan-2007 at 15:42
Thanks for your replies - Cyrus for your picture and link to Bam and Ikki for your comments and web links.

Ikki - I speak a little Spanish and with web translation tools as well I manage OK.
I appreciate the links - most of the sites are new to me and with good information. I will certainly look into the tower at Tarifa as a possible earlier example to the one at Badajoz (it looks very similar from the reconstruction on the web link you have given. . . . )
It is generally believed that these towers were introduced to Iberia by the Almohads of north Africa (now Morocco). They arrived pretty much around the time of this date (the 1140's) and Tarifa must have been one of their first ports of entry and there are references to rebuilding the fortifications at Tarfia. We need further research to establish if the torre albarrana was built at this time.

The Almohads were established in Morocco before settling Spain and are known to have built castles and fortifications back home but not, as far as I can tell, with detached towers.

Also the land occupied by this Berber group in Morocco and surrounding areas was beginning to be settled by Arabs from further East so there must have been many influences from several quarters leading up to this form of military architecture.

It would be good to find some influences.



ps - my photo of Trujillo castle has been removed and I can't put it back. This leaves just two photo's - Badajoz and Jaen.

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