Portuguese Islamic Cities and Towns

This is an Excerpt of an article by Dom Pedro de Alcazar on the
Moorish Place-names in Portugal

"...As one might expect, Moorish influence can be found in many aspects of mediaeval Portuguese life. One of them is the place names of central and southern Portugal. This is a gleaning of the Moorish names for places in Portugal, as given in AH de Oliveira Marques' History of Portugal.

To begin with, Portugal itself was called al-Gharb al-Andalus, or "Western al-Andalus", a fairly accurate name for where it is-the western edge of al-Andalus. The present Portuguese region called the Algarve, mainland Portugal's southernmost region, was the last bit of al-Gharb al-Andalus to fall to the Christians in 1349, and was actually the principality of Labla to its Moorish citizens.

When the Moors originally conquered most of the Iberian Peninsula, they divided the land into military marches, then subdivided the marches into kuwar, which were then split up into quran (not to be confused with the Holy Qu'ran). In many cases, they preserved the old Roman administrative districts, which were preserved by the Moors' German predecessors. The march which included most of modern Portugal was al-Thaghr al-Adna, the Lower March. Its capitol was either Marida (modern Merida) or Batalyaws (Badajoz).

There were eight kuwar in the Lower March:
  • Ukhshunuba (from the Latin Ossonoba);
  • Shilb or Xelb (Silves)'the Capital
  • Baja (Beja)
  • Yabura (Evora)
  • al-Ushbuna (Lisbon) The area around Lisbon was also called Balata.
  • Shantarim (Santarem)
  • Kulimriyya (Coimbra)
  • Antaniya (Idanha)
    Quran: (NB: Some quran don't have Portuguese names. It's possible that these are ghost towns, created when the Moors left for Moorish principalities further south, or were taken as slaves during war or as a result of postwar debts.)
Other smaller places with correspondence to nowadays Towns were:

al-'Aliya (Loule)
Maura (Moura)
al-Juza (Aljezur?)
Qastalla (Cacela)
al-Ma'din (Almada)
Qaya (Gaia)
Al-QasrAbu Danis (Alcacer do Sal)
Saqris (Sagres)
Shanta Mariya (Faro*)
Halq al Zawiya
Shirba (Serpa)
Julumaniya (Juromenha)
Kuriyya (Coria)
Tabira (Tavira)
Martula (Mertola)
Yalbash (Elvas)* (so called because the ruling family were the Banu Harun, and H and F often were confused in mediaeval Portuguese, like Castilian)