Stealing from the Saracens: How Islamic Architecture Shaped Europe by Diana Darke

Diana Darke will be familiar to many of you from her books such as ‘My House in Damascus’ and ‘The Last Sanctuary in Aleppo’. She is an Arabist and cultural expert who has lived and worked in the Middle East for over thirty years. Diana graduated in Arabic from Oxford University and holds an MA in Islamic Art and Archaeology from SOAS.

Diana’s new book ‘Stealing from the Saracens’ reveals the Arab and Islamic roots of Europe’s architectural heritage, tracing 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.

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