Tracing the footsteps of Tariq Ibn Ziyad

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Every year millions of visitors flock to Spain to access its unique heritage of cultural & language knowledge. It requires years to learn all about Spain but who can forget the year 711 when a mysterious figure landed on the straits of modern day Gibraltar and left a legacy behind. Spain was the accolade of Tariq and the Moors, bringing to native land a great combination of Islam, architecture wonders, poetry, food, music and culture. 

Tariq bin Ziyad route is a tale of courage, war, humility, compassion and faith and runs from Tangier through the province of Gibraltar, and links Ecija, Cordoba, Toledo and Granada, the later three being main cities of earlier Moorish civilization. This is an idealistic route, inspired by Tariq’s great military voyages and taken from various historical books and contents. 


What a great place to start then Tangier in Northern Morocco, a city of Tariq Ibn Ziyad and the first leg of his extraordinary expedition. Though no signs of Tariq Ibn Ziyad on the streets of present day Tangier, yet it is a good day trip, as you absorb and appreciate the city that was under his governance. Agnus Macnab ‘Spain under crescent moon’, “Tariq Ibn Ziyad was the commander of Tangier and lead army of 12,000 Berbers, Saracens and Arabs from Tangier to Gibraltar and then across to peninsula in 711.” 

Experience the magic of Tangier by taking in a panoramic view of the city; enjoy a leisurely stroll through the Medina and various bazaars for some fabulous shopping. 
In the evening, depart Tangier for a journey across the straits of Gibraltar. Take an early-evening ferry through FRS Iberia. You will enjoy dazzling skyline views of Gibraltar on the 80 minute ride. It is one of the best ways to enter Gibraltar in the same manner as Tariq Ibn Ziyad did in 711. As the minarets of Mosques disappear and the hustle bustle of Tangier becomes distant you see a complete opposite side of picture. A serene much orderly organized Gibraltar located near the southernmost tip of the Iberian Peninsula. One wonders did he really land here and conquer it? 

Gibraltar طارق جبل

Welcome to Jebel Tariq, a city where Tariq’s army fought one of the most decisive battles of the world history. Their victory at the battle of Guadelete gave the Iberian Peninsula for eight hundred years to Arab domination. The name Gibraltar is derived from Arabic word, طارق جبل meaning Tariq’s mountain. Stroll through the city, and visit the majestic mountain, from where you can admire the splendid views of Africa and the spectacular cliffs. 


After the victory at battle of Guadelte, Tariq marched to Ecija, a city in the province of modern day Seville where the fugitives and town folks gave battle in the nearby plains. Irving states that Tariq pitched his camps four miles from the town on the Genil River banks near a spring called Tariq’s spring by Arab writers. The fiercest battle of the entire campaign was fought here. This attrition ended with Ecija being yielded to Tariq’s troops. 

A stop in Ecija will provide you with an opportunity to visit city’s churches, convents and an Arab fortress. 


Immerse yourself in numinous saga and rich culture of Moorish Cordoba, home to a 1000 year old great mosque, La Mezquita. Cordoba was a marvel of Middle Ages, home to erstwhile renowned scholars and a ruling seat of Ummayad Caliphate. Be prepared to spend at least two full days in this marvellous city. 

After succession of victories, the conquering army betook itself towards Cordoba where they encountered stout resistance. The defences of Cordoba were in good order and posed many challenges for Muslims. Tariq reorganized his eclectic army into three wings, one column to remain in Cordoba under Mughais al Roomi, while he took another column of 700 warriors towards Toledo and sent third column south eastward toward Granada. 


Toledo, the “imperial city” and most established centre of Visigoth rule was capitulated by Tariq’s forces after little resistance, its malcontented Jews offering a peaceful surrender. The diplomatic alliances that were formed between the Jews of Toledo and Muslims were aimed at preservation of peace, individual liberties and religious freedom. 
Enjoy this city with its artistic treasure troves, medieval bridges, gateways, churches, mausoleums and Jewish quarters. In Toledo, you will see the remarkable synthesis of Islamic and European Gothic architect called Mudejar. Visit Toledo cathedral and marvel at a 13th century polychrome statue of the Muslim saint Abu Walid the peacemaker (1086). 


Give him alms, woman, for life holds no greater affliction, than that of being blind in Granada. F.A. de Icaza
Wrap up your trip by making a final stop in Granada, jewel of Moorish Spain, in which Alhambra palace is the most intelligible and magnificent creation of mankind. 

End of great Journey

Tariq left his conquered kingdom and post as a governor of estate and returned to Damascus on the orders of Ummayad Caliph. He lived a quite life and died in year 720. The mystery surrounding the whereabouts of Tariq Ibn Ziyad upon his return to Damascus may never be solved, but his name will live forever because it is not only for his military adroitness that Tariq is venerated. He is also remembered for his humility, compassion, and restraint. He was a favorite son and beloved brother of Berber tribe and was admired by his Arab contemporaries. Thousand of year after his emergence, he stands firmly as a transcendent and triumphant figure in our history; his name continues to hold and the rock that was once his mountain stands proudly in Southern Spain bearing his name.