I didn’t want to close this way too long-drawn out Spain travel series without noting some cities and sites in Spain that, had I had the time and money, I would have visited. Next time, of course, but next time is a long time from now for me. Even so, I can travel to these places in my mind – it’s the best I can do for the moment.
Cordoba was, for a few centuries following the Arab conquest of Spain, the center of the Emirate (later Caliphate) of Cordoba. The city became known throughout the Muslim world as a center of learning and art, and was home to great thinkers such as the Muslim scholar and mathematician Ibn Rushid, the Jewish historian Moses Maimonides, and the Berber inventor Abbas ibn Firnas, who is believed to have attempted flight (and survived the attempt!)
Cordoba has long passed that period, but it still features several interesting sites, the most famous of which is the 10th century Mosque-Cathedral. As its name suggests, this structure was initially built as the caliphate’s central mosque in the Muslim Andalusian style, but was converted to a cathedral after the Christian conquest of the city. This has created some interesting issues recently, with some Spanish Muslims unsuccessfully lobbying their government to allow them to conduct prayer services in the Mosque-Cathedral.
As one of southern Spain’s largest and oldest cities, Seville seems like an interesting place to visit. The city was under Muslim rule until 1248, and it features examples of both Muslims and Christian Spanish architecture. It also houses the above-pictured Alcazar, a palace built by the Almohad dynasty and expanded by later Christian kings. Adjacent is the Giralda, a great minaret-turned-bell tower that speaks of the city’s conflicted past.
In the United States, Seville is best known for flamenco, a traditional form of Spanish music and dance that has roots in Romani art. Flamenco seems to feature one or more ladies, often wearing red dresses, dancing to a dude playing a classical guitar and backing percussion. It looks pretty cool to me, and it might be an interesting thing to check out if you’re in the area.
Barcelona was well out of the way during my trip, but I’d like to check it out someday. Spain’s second city, Barcelona is a large, bustling seaport and the center of Catalan culture. It’s also well known for its vibrant art scene.
One of the most interesting projects in Europe is taking place in Barcelona right now. The Sagrada Familia, the large cathedral pictured above, is the product of the great architect Antoni Gaudi, who seemed to picture a modern take on the old Gothic style that so many of Spain’s cathedrals are built in. The Sagrada Familia also has the distinction of being one of the slowest construction projects in modern history – it was begun in 1882 and continues to this day, halted at various points by civil war and funding problems. Hopefully it will be finished some time before we all die.
Spain’s most eastern provinces, including the coastal region of Valencia and the Balearic Islands, are great places to visit if you like the beach. I don’t like the beach, so I didn’t bother visiting. They also have plenty of history, and Valencia is an important city it its own right, but both were too far out of my way. But hey, if you like the beach, you should probably consider visiting them.
So that’s it. There are certainly many more interesting places to see and things to do in Spain, but my series of posts on Spain is complete. It’s a country with a fascinating history and a variety of cultures and artistic forms, and it’s also a great place to just have a good time for a while. I hope to have the chance to travel there again and start a second Spain travelogue.