Andalucía, the southernmost region of Spain, takes its name from Al-Andalus, a territory and period of advanced culture (roughly 700 – 1500 AD) when Jews, Muslims and Christians lived and worked together and sought knowledge from scholars and translators as far away as Persia and Syria.
Things were going pretty well until 1492, when King Ferdinand and Queen Isabel exiled all Jews unwilling to convert to Catholicism. The situation got even worse when Muslims were exiled seven years later. Although Jews and Muslims were mostly not allowed to take their material wealth with them—and sometimes not even their children, as in Portugal where Jewish children were kidnapped to be raised as Catholics—they did leave with their knowledge of medicine, pharmacology, mathematics, astronomy, philosophy, horticulture, architecture, agriculture, water systems, and other subjects that contributed to a high quality of life in the region. Once the Muslims were gone, the Catholic church and Spanish monarchy wasted no time knocking down mosques or converting them to churches.
Physical evidence of the region’s layered history is preserved all over the Albaycín, and includes several Catholic churches with bell towers built on former minarets.