Almoravid Hydraulic Constructions in North Africa and Al-Andalus

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The Almoravid hydraulic constructions in Al-Andalus and North Africa are one of the most outstanding architectural expressions since the beginning of the 12th century. The most important Almoravid hydraulic work was the network of khettaras built all over the territory of the capital of the Empire: Marrakech. This system consisted of subterranean galleries and several pools for storage. It allowed to supply water to the whole territory around the city. On the other hand, the Almoravids completed other different hydraulic works in other main towns of North Africa, like Fez. During the government of Yūsuf Ibn Tāšufīn, the numerous changes in the urbanism of this town provoked the need of transformation of the ancient hydraulic system. The result was a complex hydraulic network organized thanks to the “water dispenser” of Būjlūd and lots of canalizations and branches from the rivers of the town.
Concerning the Almoravid hydraulic works in Al-Andalus, stands out this type of constructions carried out in Granada. Although the Zirids built an important hydraulic network at the moment of the foundation of the city, the Almoravids enlarged this system in order to supply water to the new quarters of the town which were formed in the beginning of the 12th century. Despite the importance of Granada as capital of Al-Andalus during the Almoravid period, the most outstanding hydraulic works in the Iberian Peninsula were probably those of the Alcazaba of Almeria. Inside this building, there is a complex formed by a fountain and a cistern which can be compared to the one in the ablutions complex of the Ibn Yūsuf Mosque in Marrakech. Thanks to the written sources and the archaeological works, it has been also possible to know some Almoravid hydraulic works in Cordoba and Malaga. In this paper, beyond the analysis of the main characteristics of the Almoravid hydraulic constructions, both in North Africa and Al-Andalus, we propose to determine the meaning of these important works.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationWater in the Medieval Hispanic Society
Subtitle of host publicationEconomic, Social and Religious Implications
EditorsIeva Reklaityte
Place of PublicationZaragoza
PublisherFinnish Academy of Science and Letters
Number of pages28
ISBN (Print)978-951-41-1133-4
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Event20º Congresso Medieval Internacional - Leeds, United Kingdom
Duration: 1 Jul 20134 Jul 2013


Conference20º Congresso Medieval Internacional
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


  • Almoravids
  • Hydraulic constructions
  • North Africa
  • Al-Andalus
  • 12th century


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