Stealing from the Saracens: How Islamic Architecture Shaped Europe by Diana Darke
By Diana Darke, Hurst Publishing, paperback, 328 pages
Against a backdrop of Islamophobia, Europeans are increasingly airbrushing from history their cultural debt to the Muslim world. But this legacy lives on in some of Europe's most recognizable buildings, from Notre-Dame Cathedral to the Houses of Parliament.
This beautifully illustrated book reveals the Arab and Islamic roots of Europe's architectural heritage. Diana Darke traces ideas and styles from vibrant Middle Eastern centres like Damascus, Baghdad and Cairo, via Muslim Spain, Venice and Sicily into Europe.
She describes how medieval crusaders, pilgrims and merchants encountered Arab Muslim culture on their way to the Holy Land; and explores more recent artistic interaction between Ottoman and Western cultures, including Sir Christopher Wren's inspirations in the "Saracen" style of Gothic architecture.
Recovering this long yet overlooked history of architectural "borrowing," Stealing from the Saracens is a rich tale of cultural exchange, shedding new light on Europe's greatest landmarks
About the author:
Diana Darke is an Arabist and cultural expert who has lived and worked in the Middle East for over thirty years. She is the author of The Merchant of Syria: A History of Survival and My House in Damascus: An Inside View of the Syrian Crisis.