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One Thousand and One Nights

One Thousand and One Nights by voyageAnatolia.blogspot.comOpen Sesame!

Gate into the hill: Looking inside hidden cave church Tokali of ancient Cappadocia in a natural volcanic rock hill at Göreme Open Air Museum.

The horseshoe arch, also called the Moorish arch and the Keyhole arch, is the emblematic arch of Islamic architecture. They were formerly constructed in Visigothic Spain. Horseshoe arches can take rounded, pointed or lobed form. So how come we see moorish arches in early christian cave church?

Horseshoe arches are known from pre-Islamic Syria where the form was used in the fourth century CE in the Baptistery of Mar Ya'qub at Nisibin. However, it was in Spain and North Africa that horseshoe arches developed their characteristic form. The Visigoths used them as one of their main architectural features, and the form was taken and developed by the Ummayyads who accentuated the curvature of the horseshoe. This can be seen at a large scale in their major work, the Great Mosque of Córdoba. The horseshoe form spread all over the Calliphate-influenced areas, and was adopted by the next Arabs kingdoms of the Peninsula, the Taifa kingdoms, as well as by the Almoravids, Almohads and the Nasrid Kingdom of Granada, although also lobed, round, pointed and multifoilde arches were used at that time. The proximity to Islamic culture of Mozarabs made them adopt the horseshoe arch in their architecture and illuminated manuscripts.

Horseshoe arches were also used in the Mosque of Uqba, in Kairouan and, in a slightly pointed form, in the Mosque of Muhammad ibn Khairun, Tunisia. Mudéjar style, developed from the 12th to the 17th centuries, continued the tradition of horseshoe arches in the Iberian Peninsula which had been started in the 7th century by the Visigoths.

In addition to their use across the Islamic world, horseshoe arches became popular in Western countries at the time of the Moorish Revival. They were widely used in Moorish revival synagogues.

Ancient Cappadocia:

Göreme National Park and the Rock Sites of Cappadocia
UNESCO World Heritage Site in Turkey

PHOTO: One Thousand and One Nights by

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