Islam in Portugal

PORTUGAL, with Spain, was ruled by Muslims for 5 centuries. Muslim influence is still seen in Portugal:

Alfama (from the Arabic al-hammah ‘hot spring’) district of Lisbon is the heart of historic Portugal. Its outline has not changed since Muslims built it.

Arabs contributed to the language, architecture and especially Portugal’s knowledge of navigation. The lateen sail and astrolabe, introduced by Arabs, helped launch Portugal into its Age of Discovery.

The Arabs' legacy of mix of learning, innovation and culture shaped the European Renaissance and led to its launch from lands once ruled by Muslims like Spain and Portugal.

In the 13th century Arab rule ended. But their legacy shaped Portugal indelibly. Arabs introduced new agricultural technology and expanded fields of almonds, apricots, figs, lemons, olives, oranges, rice, sugar, spices, etc. Today many of the produce on the tables of Portugal carry modified Arabic names.

The court of Manuel I, the ruler who patronized the 1st Portuguese voyages to India, featured Arab clothing and Arab style harnesses for horses. The Portuguese kitchen inherited much from Arabs like names for fish eg. atum (tuna, from Arabic al-tun), savel (shad, from shabal).

One Arab tradition that is part of modern Portuguese identity is the love of ornamental tiles, called azulejos. (from Arabic al-zulayi, ‘polished stone’).
The fields, tiles, kitchens, castles, and the Arabic names of towns and geographical features all echo the glorious days of Muslim rule.