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The Alhambra in Granada, one of Andalucía's most iconic images. A. A.
Andalucía: Land of vandals or a mythical civilisation?
THE STORY BEHIND A PLACE NAME

Andalucía: Land of vandals or a mythical civilisation?

There are a number of theories about how the word Andalucía evolved prior to its most famous precursor, Al-Andalus, during the Islamic period

Tony Bryant

Malaga

Friday, 5 April 2024, 16:10

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It is no secret that the name Andalucía comes from the Arabic Al-Andalus, the word given to much of the Iberian peninsula during Spain's Islamic rule.

However, there are a number of theories that explain the evolution of the word before it became Al-Andalus.

One is that the Arabic name comes from the word 'albulaida', an alternative version of 'balad' meaning 'my land' or 'my country'. The Arabic article 'al', meaning 'of', was added, making Al Andalus mean 'of my land'.

But prior to the arrival of Muslims from North Africa, the Vandals, a Germanic people who first inhabited what is now southern Poland, also established kingdoms in Spain and North Africa in the fifth century.

Although there is no record of the region being called Vandalusia, an evolution of the Arabic name would be logical. The pronunciation of 'vandal' was in fact 'uandal', so 'land of the Uandals', giving rise to Al-Andalus.

Another hypothesis is that the term Al-Andalus is the result of the evolution of Atlas - Antalas - Andalas - Ándalus, linking the term to Atlantis, the mythical utopian civilisation, which, according to some theories, was located off the coast of Spain, so geographically this would make sense.

The third theory comes from the time of the Visigoths in Spain, who are thought to have named the area Landahlauts, coming from 'Landa', meaning land or lands and 'hlauts, meaning 'a lot'. When Arabic speakers heard the word, they understood it as 'Lándalos' and added the article 'al'.

The modern-day name, Andalucía, could come from just one, or all of these theories, an evolution through millennia and the peoples that have passed through these lands.

Whatever the answer, Andalucía is still a rich tapestry of all of the cultures that have settled here, with clear reminders in the form of monuments, language and gastronomy throughout the region.

MíticoMythical

VándaloVandal

PalabraWord

AlternativaAlternative

ReinoKingdom

PaísCountry

EvoluciónEvolution

SegúnAccording to

MilenioMillennium

PueblosPeoples

RecuerdosMemories

ProvinciaProvince

NacionalidadNationality

IdentidadIdentity

CambioChange

AutonomíaAutonomy

EntenderTo understand

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