Appreciating The Advise Of Others
One difficulty of planning travel is picking and choosing your “must sees.” I can stockpile a list so long, it’d be impossible to conquer it in a lifetime. On the other hand, there is something magical in listening to another person share their personal experience of a destination. You see it in their eyes, which sort of glaze over. You feel it in their soul, which beckons you to follow…. Essentially, this is how we wound up visiting these two Moorish destinations in Spain. Let me share our experience, maybe you’ll feel it too.
Ronda is a destination on many tourist “to do” lists, but somehow slipped from our radar. Thanks to Suzie & Peg’s heartfelt reminisces, Ronda made it on our list. Ronda’s Moorish roots are in the mountainous regions of Spain. Moors found (temporary) refuge during the Spanish Inquisitions in this region. I love the contrast of red warm brick and cool, whitewash stucco.
Ronda has ancient history dating as far back as Neolithic times (late stone age), as evidenced by cave drawings. Settled by early Celts (600BC), and then occupied by Phoenicians, Romans, the Visigoths, and Berbers, to name just a few. With this much history, it can be tricky to identify which tribe contributed what – were they Christian slaves who built these walls, or Moorish? Is that a Roman bridge, or. . . ? The city is divided by the Guadalevín River, which carves the deep El Tajo canyon.
Again, The Bullring
In Ronda, I lowered my defenses on the nature of the bullring.
Essentially following the rules of, “When in Rome…” I allowed myself to acknowledge the cultural, historical and, yes, even the art of bullfighting. I learned about the rural roots of gaming, essentially man vs beast, which evolved into a strategic way to introduce military recruits to combat. Then, add the element of controlling your horse while a half ton bull is charging… you just may have a military crew ready for all sorts of combat.
My favorite part of the tour was the poster art. Every year the village of Ronda commissions a contemporary artist to portray the Bullfight Festivities. Here are a few:The tour displayed the original pieces of art, which were by far, more moving. My images are from posters which are plastered in almost every Ronda establishment.
Situated in the foothills of southern Spain’s Sierra Nevada mountains, is the city of Granada. It also has a long, twisted history of rise, fall, bombing and abandonment. This realm of Spain experienced an extraordinary span of peace, relative to anything else of its time, 700 years (roughly 750AD to 1492) Jews, Muslims and Christians lived, worked, and traded together, in harmony. Imagine. Thanks to some wisdom from Greta, who was experiencing Spain just 3 weeks ahead of us, we added this destination onto our “must see” list.
Granada is best known for the Alhambra, a palace and fortress developed during the Nasrid Dynasty (1228-1492.) During our tour, I picked up a couple new architectural terms: spandrel and mocárabe.
Here are a couple examples of mocárabe
If you haven’t already noticed, this architecture has a mission to cover every possible space with decoration.
Generally, it is script such as a poem, or a testimony to Allah. It may also be vegetation or geometric design, but it is never an animal or human figure.
The Beauty of Alhambra’s Water
Water was usually in short supply, so the technology to keep all palace pools, baths and fountains full, had to be expensive and difficult. If I understand my facts correctly, the intent of these lovely pools and gardens were an attempt of creating a little bit of “heaven on earth.”
I have to admit, it was pretty heavenly.