The Roman Bridge with the Mezquita right behind it, Cordoba, Spain

Beheading on the Bridge


Born in Damascus, near modern day Syria, a young prince of age 20, Abd al-Rahman and his family were overthrown as the ruling family in a revolt in 750 AD. The rebellion was led by the Abbasids who were ruthless and showed no mercy to anyone.

Abd fled with his brother, Yahiya, as the Abbasids followed them on horseback. They hid and ran from village to village, always dodging and escaping at the very last moment just before the horsemen arrived.

One day, as they were fleeing from the their assassins, they came across the River Euphrates. Both jumped into the river and started swimming to the other shore. While swimming, his brother Yahiya started floundering and for fear of drowning, began swimming back to the shore where the horsemen stood.

Abd reached the other shore only to find his brother just reach the shore where the horsemen stood waiting for him. With a quick swing, the horsemen beheaded Yahiya as Abd stood on the opposite shore shaking, unable to do anything. Yahiya’s body was left on the banks of Euphrates to rot.


Over the next few years, Abd hid, ran, and persisted through Palestine, Sinai, Egypt and finally reached modern day Morocco in 755 AD. He crossed over the Straits of Gibraltar to enter Spain near modern day Malaga.

The next few years were spent amassing forces, in small skirmishes with the army of the reining Moorish king, al-Fihri, and eventually a battle with more than 40,000 near the (then) capital of Cordoba. Abd merged victorious, and his army and allies chased al-Fihri all the way to Toledo, where they caught him and beheaded him.

al-Fihri’s head was sent back to Abd in Cordoba, where he hung it on the Roman Bridge and displayed it publicly as a warning to anyone who would have any desires for power. Abd and his descendants ruled Spain for the next 300 years, from 756 AD to 1031 AD.