I just returned from Andalusia, which was amazing except for the rain. (Apparently it is untrue that the rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain.) As a historian I wanted to stay in Cordoba and visit Granada because of the incredibly rich history from the period mostly from about 750-1000 in which scholars of all faiths worked together on translations of both ancient and newer eastern works on mathematics (al-gebra and al-gorithm are Arabic words) philosophy, medicine, theology, astronomy, and so forth. Both Maimonides and Averroës were born in Cordoba and lived as contemporaries there at the end of its Golden Age. Medieval universities would not have been possible without the work done at Cordoba. Here’s a brief history of this amazing period. I’m attaching my photos in batches.
The Alhambra palace in Granada, by contrast, was only constructed in the 14th century for the last emirs of the Nasrid dynasty.
In the year 750, as the Abbasids expelled the former Ummayad dynasty from Damascus, assassinating all of their predecessors, one man and a few members of his family made their way across Palestine and North Africa. Abd al Rahman I landed in Al-Andalus in 755 and marched to Cordoba, where he pronounced himself emir. Despite continued attempts by the Abbasids to kill him and internal dissension, Al-Rahman helped create one of the greatest civilizations in history. He allowed Christians to rebuild their churches and bought one from the Visigoths, which he began building into the great mosque, the Mezquita, in 786. He and his successors ruled as a minority over approximately 7,000,000 Sephardic Jews and Christians. They introduced papermaking and an early printing press to the West, and in what became known as about a 200-year Golden Age or convivencia, the three great faiths lived and worked together in almost uninterrupted peace and relative tolerance.
Andalusia was, above all, famous as a land of scholars, libraries, books lovers and collectors...when the future pope Sylvester studied (ca. 995-999), the libraries of Moorish Spain contained close to a million...the city's glory was the Great Library established by Al Hakam II...ultimately it contained 400,000 volumes...on the opening page of each book was written the name, date, place of birth and ancestry of the author, together with the titles of his other works. Forty-eight volumes of catalogues, incessantly amended, listed and described all titles and contained instructions on where a particular work could be found. (Richard Erdoes, 1000 AD (Berkley: Seastone, 1998), 60-61)
One more of the Casa and one of the red rose crosses (it was the beginning of Cinco de Mayo week and all sorts of rose cross processions and 'patios' where you could just visit. Also some of my amazing hotel, the Hospes Palacio.
Hi Razorback and NewHilton,
Oh, that I could retire soon! Alas, thanks to having been an itinerant scholar till 1994 (very medieval, but very modern too), I will probably have to teach till I'm 75. But I'm filling my apartment with matte wall mounts of many of my photos, even making rooms :) into 'a place'. My dining room is Egyptian, with framed papyri scenes as well as my own photos and tomb 'offerings' (jars and vases, including Greek eternity ones).
My living room is decidedly ecumenical with matte wall photos from Jerusalem, Turkey, and Vézelay, France along with appropriate decorative pieces I've bought in each place including Ariel Sharon's peace plate, an eastern orthodox cross and ointment jar, tiles from Islamic countries, and of course candles from Western Catholic sites. My den is mostly full of books, but I'm still thinking. My bedroom is full of cat photos past and present.
I don't know if you've heard of the concept of memory palace, but I told my best friend a few weeks ago that I seemed (without realizing it till later) to be doing a combination of Feng Shui and a living memory palace within my apartment. In any case, it's beautiful to look at and I'm awaiting three new matted photo prints. Where will they go? I keep moving things around...