For over 500 years, most of Portugal was governed by Islamic rulers. Although not many monuments from this period survived, Portugal is replete with traces of its Islamic past.
Last year, Lisbon’s Islamic Community celebrated its 50th anniversary. The community was established by migrants in the 1960s, but Islam has much more ancient roots in Portugal.
“Islam is in Portugal’s soul,” said the Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa while standing at the entrance of the Central Mosque of Lisbon for the 50th anniversary commemorations.
Most of what is now Portugal was under Islamic rule for over 500 years. In 711, Muslim armies sailed from North Africa and quickly took control of large parts of Portugal and Spain, which became known in Arabic as al-Andalus.
“We might at times not be fully aware of the profound heritage left by Arabs in Portuguese society and culture,” the president said. “But it was and continues to be very important.”