I love maps. I can pore around them endlessly. No make any difference how properly I believe I know a put, when I seem at a map I see a great deal I was not knowledgeable of. At the same time, as the Polish-American thinker Alfred Korzybski pointed out, the map is not the territory. When you are truly in a area you practical experience a wonderful deal that is not on any map.
I uncover that no place is ever rather what I imagined it to be. It is often a fantastic offer much more. When I went to Spain, I was struck by lots of factors that had never ever occurred to me. For example, I had always believed of Spain as portion of Europe, which it clearly is. But when I was traveling across the countryside and browsing the cities, I kept noticing what felt like an affinity with Africa.
Once that had transpired to me, I recognized it shouldn’t have been a surprise. Spain and Africa are right next to every other. At the Strait of Gibraltar, they are only separated by eight miles of quickly navigable water. There you can see Morocco from Spain and vice versa. Right before railroads and vehicles ended up invented, the sea was by much the most efficient implies of very long-distance vacation. So historically, Spain is in some strategies closer to Africa than Europe.
In contrast, Spain is divided from France and the relaxation of Europe by the mighty Pyrenees mountain array, which sorts a formidable barrier. That bolstered Spain’s personal character enhancement, and its independence from the rest of Europe. Spain has designed its have unique character, and by its colonial empire, it unfold that culture around the planet. Like all colonial empires, Spain experienced its oppressive side. But in general, its cultural legacy is irresistibly charming.
I also uncovered a geological foundation for the affinity amongst Spain and Africa. In conditions of continental drift, the motion of landmasses over the crust of the earth about hundreds of thousands of yrs, Spain was formerly element of the African landmass. It collided with the Eurasian landmass millions of decades back, and the pressure made the Pyrenees Mountains. So Spain has a deep affinity with Africa in the land alone.
But most likely most of the affinity I felt amongst Spain and Africa was based on the presence of the Moors, out of Northern Africa, who occupied Spain for practically 800 a long time, 711 to 1492.
The Berber-Hispanic Muslims inhabited two-thirds of the Iberian Peninsula for 375 several years, occupied about 50 % for yet another 160 many years, and stayed in Granada for one more 244 yrs. These types of cultural influences operate deep and do not disappear swiftly. The Moorish tradition stays a palpable section of the knowledge of modern day Spain.
In the 20th century, the Spain-Africa affinity was mirrored in the art of Pablo Picasso, possibly Spain’s most celebrated artist. He started his job ably mastering the designs of his predecessors, from Rembrandt by way of Gauguin and Van Gogh. Then he learned African art, which led to a revolution in the way he saw issues. He deconstructed the entire world and put it again jointly in a surprising new way. That was the beginning of Cubism. It was not just a design that came and went, it endlessly altered the way we see items and signify issues in artwork.
As I toured Spain and expert the unique character of every single of the cities, I understood that each and every experienced formulated independently in the course of the hundreds of years just before the establishment of a countrywide entity called Spain.
It was in the watershed 12 months of 1492 that the Christian kingdoms of Castile and Aragon conquered the Emirate of Granada, finished Muslim rule in the south, and launched Spain as a united point out.
The existence of Rome is also spread throughout the place, as in virtually all of Europe and North Africa. You operate into enduring Roman artifacts almost just about everywhere, such as in Córdoba wherever there continue to stands a wonderful Roman bridge and a large waterwheel.
Touring cross place was thrilling because the landscape by itself, with its awe-inspiring Sierra Nevada mountains and great expanses of rolling plains, has coronary heart-stirring natural beauty. It looks to speak quietly and grandly of its personal ancient historical past. But it’s the cities exactly where men and women get and culture is concentrated in so many artifacts, wherever you can seriously get a truly feel for the human history of the spot.
Every single of the towns I visited left its individual parcel of individual reminiscences: Barcelona, Madrid, Seville, Córdoba, Granada and Malaga. Every felt exclusive and unique when I was there, and remaining potent impressions that characterize my memories of them.
Barcelona is the wonderful Mediterranean seaport in the northeastern aspect of Spain, as breezy and gorgeous as its identify is musical, dancing off the tongue. Barcelona was the capital of Catalonia, and was one of the 1st Roman settlements in Spain, established by Emperor Augustus all over 15 BC. You can even now see Roman walls and ruins there.
A single of my most vivid recollections of Barcelona is the wonderful Gaudí Cathedral. It was influenced by medieval Gothic cathedrals designed from the 12th to the 15th century. But it was designed in the late 19th century. It is deemed Catalan Modernisme, or Artwork Nouveau. It’s odd and riveting to glance at, colossal and ornate in a strange way. It embodies the flair and flamboyance of Barcelona. I cherished the city’s Artwork Nouveau architecture, and the ornate iron railings and stone get the job done.
Barcelona also captured my heart simply because it was the funds of Catalonia, where by the initially resistance to fascism rose up in the late 1930s in what became the Spanish Civil War.
Madrid is the terrific cosmopolitan center of Spain, ideal in the middle. With a population of virtually 3 million, it is by considerably Spain’s greatest metropolis. It’s the house of the fantastic Museo Nacional del Prado, a person of the world’s biggest museums, as properly as the Reina Sofia museum, which properties Picasso’s “Guernica,” a further statement on the Spanish Civil War. The streets of Madrid are exciting, with artwork parts exhibited outdoor, sidewalk cafes, and energetic street existence. And there is the large Palacio del Oriente, the Royal Palace now utilized for occasions and as a vacationer attraction.
Seville experienced what is stated to be the very first tobacco manufacturing facility, from the 18th century, which was the setting of the opera “Carmen” by the French composer Bizet. Seville is the funds of the region of Andalucía, with stunning rolling hills and villages, and properties on hillsides. It’s the residence of Flamenco new music and dance, and a excellent location to expertise the actual detail. It’s the closing resting put of Columbus and also the area of the awesome Alamillo Bridge, created by Santiago Calatrava using a harp-like framework. And it is where by tapas originated.
Córdoba was a Moorish metropolis, and centre of the Arabic entire world. The Cathedral of Cordoba reveals a intriguing conglomeration of Muslim and Christian cultures. It was as soon as a Mosque, and even now displays indicators of its previously incarnation, now overlaid by Christian symbols. Cordoba was also the birthplace of the wonderful bullfighter El Cordobés.
Granada, in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada in southern Spain, was the headquarters of the Moors in Spain. It is recognized mainly for the Alhambra, their palace. The Alhambra, or “Red Castle” in Arabic, is a thoughts-numbingly impressive palace and grounds, whole of ornate, Moorish artwork and structure, revealing a very rich and developed nation that existed there from the late 9th century right until the Moors were being chased out in 1492 by the mounting new Spanish country.
Málaga is an Andalusian metropolis on Costa del Sol. It was the birthplace of Picasso in 1881, and is the dwelling of the Museo Picasso Málaga, a museum devoted to Picasso. Málaga was also the internet site of a romantic legend of Fans Mountain, or Enthusiasts Rock, reported to be the area exactly where two fans, a Christian and a Moor, jumped to their deaths fairly than to be separated. Spain is practically nothing if not romantic.
Spain is a location of fantastic soul, fantastic spiritual and sensual vibrance. It is an unlimited source of speculate and warm satisfaction, hardly ever to be exhausted.
Your humble reporter,