Sunday, 8 December 2013

The islamic influence on place names in Portugal

Vestiges of Moorish culture are dotted through Portugal, especially south of Coimbra.
However, like the "New Jews" in Portugal and Spain, 600 years later, many "Christians" living in the southern part of what is now Portugal in the AD 700's, assimilated into Islam, as in the (adapted) words of the Borg, "resistance was futile".
When the Portuguese nobles and kings started moving south in the 1100's, many locals switched back again to Christianity as again the "Borg Dictum" applied.
Consequently, in many places, one will find churches that have been built on the ruins or shells of the old mosques which in turn were often built on the ruins of old Visigoth Churches.
It is important to remember that in Portugal Moorish culture is still very much in evidence through the names of places:
In the Greater Lisbon Region and Centro one has:
among many others.
These all reflect Arabic language origins.
For example, It is thought that the name "Almada" for example refers to the
Arabic word or phrasing for mineral or mine - "المعدن"
The name "Algarve", the South region of Portugal, comes from the Arabic words for
"the West!.
If one listens to the translation in Arabic on Google Translate one can here that, in guttural accent, the speaker says "Al Gharb"! See: (Click on the loudspeaker on the right to hear the translation.)
Ditto for the name "Albufeira" (where Cubsur hails from.) It is thought to originate from the Arabic word for the "lake" or "lagoon".
Just from this awareness of place names one can gain an excellent insight into the spread of Moorish settlement and culture in Portugal.