Parcels of Spanish Memories – The Taucker Travel Blog
I appreciate maps. I can pore over them endlessly. No matter how well I consider I know a area, when I glance at a map I see substantially I was not knowledgeable of. At the exact same time, as the Polish-American philosopher Alfred Korzybski pointed out, the map is not the territory. When you are actually in a put you experience a fantastic deal that is not on any map.
I locate that no position is ever quite what I imagined it to be. It’s normally a wonderful deal a lot more. When I went to Spain, I was struck by a lot of points that had in no way happened to me. For case in point, I had normally imagined of Spain as part of Europe, which it clearly is. But when I was touring throughout the countryside and checking out the cities, I kept noticing what felt like an affinity with Africa.
At the time that had happened to me, I understood it should not have been a shock. Spain and Africa are correct up coming to each individual other. At the Strait of Gibraltar, they are only divided by eight miles of simply navigable h2o. There you can see Morocco from Spain and vice versa. Just before railroads and automobiles have been invented, the sea was by considerably the most successful indicates of prolonged-distance vacation. So traditionally, Spain is in some means closer to Africa than Europe.
In distinction, Spain is divided from France and the relaxation of Europe by the mighty Pyrenees mountain selection, which types a formidable barrier. That bolstered Spain’s unique character enhancement, and its independence from the relaxation of Europe. Spain has made its own unique character, and by means of its colonial empire, it unfold that lifestyle close to the globe. Like all colonial empires, Spain experienced its oppressive facet. But over-all, its cultural legacy is irresistibly charming.
I also identified a geological basis for the affinity amongst Spain and Africa. In conditions of continental drift, the movement of landmasses over the crust of the earth in excess of hundreds of thousands of many years, Spain was earlier component of the African landmass. It collided with the Eurasian landmass tens of millions of yrs ago, and the pressure developed the Pyrenees Mountains. So Spain has a deep affinity with Africa in the land itself.
But probably most of the affinity I felt between Spain and Africa was based on the existence of the Moors, out of Northern Africa, who occupied Spain for almost 800 many years, 711 to 1492.
The Berber-Hispanic Muslims inhabited two-thirds of the Iberian Peninsula for 375 many years, occupied about 50 percent for a different 160 yrs, and stayed in Granada for yet another 244 years. Such cultural influences run deep and do not vanish rapidly. The Moorish tradition remains a palpable portion of the working experience of modern Spain.
In the 20th century, the Spain-Africa affinity was mirrored in the artwork of Pablo Picasso, probably 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 found African artwork, which led to a revolution in the way he saw issues. He deconstructed the world and set it back again jointly in a stunning new way. That was the delivery of Cubism. It wasn’t just a type that came and went, it permanently changed the way we see items and characterize issues in art.
As I toured Spain and experienced the exclusive character of every single of the metropolitan areas, I recognized that every single had developed independently all through the generations right before the institution of a countrywide entity known as Spain.
It was in the watershed yr of 1492 that the Christian kingdoms of Castile and Aragon conquered the Emirate of Granada, ended Muslim rule in the south, and started Spain as a united condition.
The existence of Rome is also distribute throughout the region, as in virtually all of Europe and North Africa. You operate into enduring Roman artifacts just about in all places, these types of as in Córdoba the place there however stands a wonderful Roman bridge and a big waterwheel.
Touring cross country was thrilling because the landscape alone, with its awe-inspiring Sierra Nevada mountains and great expanses of rolling plains, has heart-stirring splendor. It would seem to communicate quietly and grandly of its have historical record. But it’s the metropolitan areas exactly where individuals get and lifestyle is concentrated in so numerous artifacts, exactly where you can truly get a feel for the human historical past of the location.
Just about every of the metropolitan areas I frequented left its own parcel of private reminiscences: Barcelona, Madrid, Seville, Córdoba, Granada and Malaga. Each individual felt unique and person when I was there, and still left powerful impressions that characterize my recollections of them.
Barcelona is the wonderful Mediterranean seaport in the northeastern section of Spain, as breezy and stunning as its name is musical, dancing off the tongue. Barcelona was the cash of Catalonia, and was one of the very first Roman settlements in Spain, started by Emperor Augustus all over 15 BC. You can nevertheless see Roman walls and ruins there.
A single of my most vivid memories of Barcelona is the astounding Gaudí Cathedral. It was encouraged by medieval Gothic cathedrals designed from the 12th to the 15th century. But it was crafted in the late 19th century. It is thought of Catalan Modernisme, or Art Nouveau. It’s weird and riveting to glimpse at, colossal and ornate in a bizarre way. It embodies the flair and flamboyance of Barcelona. I liked the city’s Artwork Nouveau architecture, and the ornate iron railings and stone get the job done.
Barcelona also captured my heart mainly because it was the money of Catalonia, the place the to start with resistance to fascism rose up in the late 1930s in what became the Spanish Civil War.
Madrid is the terrific cosmopolitan middle of Spain, suitable in the middle. With a population of just about 3 million, it is by far Spain’s major metropolis. It is the residence of the great Museo Nacional del Prado, one particular of the world’s greatest museums, as properly as the Reina Sofia museum, which properties Picasso’s “Guernica,” one more assertion on the Spanish Civil War. The streets of Madrid are fascinating, with artwork parts displayed outdoor, sidewalk cafes, and lively road existence. And there’s the enormous Palacio del Oriente, the Royal Palace now used for occasions and as a tourist attraction.
Seville had what is said to be the initially tobacco manufacturing facility, from the 18th century, which was the setting of the opera “Carmen” by the French composer Bizet. Seville is the capital of the location of Andalucía, with attractive rolling hills and villages, and homes on hillsides. It’s the home of Flamenco songs and dance, and a good location to working experience the serious point. It’s the remaining resting spot of Columbus and also the location of the remarkable Alamillo Bridge, developed by Santiago Calatrava making use of a harp-like framework. And it is in which tapas originated.
Córdoba was a Moorish city, and middle of the Arabic world. The Cathedral of Cordoba displays a interesting conglomeration of Muslim and Christian cultures. It was the moment a Mosque, and continue to shows signs of its earlier incarnation, now overlaid by Christian symbols. Cordoba was also the birthplace of the terrific bullfighter El Cordobés.
Granada, in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada in southern Spain, was the headquarters of the Moors in Spain. It’s known largely for the Alhambra, their palace. The Alhambra, or “Red Castle” in Arabic, is a intellect-numbingly impressive palace and grounds, total of ornate, Moorish artwork and style, revealing a pretty loaded and developed nation that existed there from the late 9th century until the Moors were being chased out in 1492 by the increasing new Spanish nation.
Málaga is an Andalusian town on Costa del Sol. It was the birthplace of Picasso in 1881, and is the home of the Museo Picasso Málaga, a museum devoted to Picasso. Málaga was also the internet site of a passionate legend of Enthusiasts Mountain, or Lovers Rock, explained to be the area the place two lovers, a Christian and a Moor, jumped to their deaths somewhat than to be divided. Spain is absolutely nothing if not intimate.
Spain is a area of fantastic soul, fantastic spiritual and sensual vibrance. It is an endless supply of speculate and heat pleasure, never ever to be fatigued.
Your humble reporter,