Al Andalus, Maimonides and Averroes
Day 2 and 3 CÓRDOBA
Cordoba is a mid-sized city of 350,000 people. A great cultural reference point in Europe, this ancient city has been declared a World Heritage Site and contains a mixture of the diverse cultures that have settled it throughout history (muslim, jewish and christian). Very few places in the world can boast of having been the capital of a Roman province (Hispania Ulterior), the capital of an Arab State (Al-Andalus) and a Caliphate. When the Muslims conquered the city in 711, Cordoba became the political, financial and economic centre of the Muslim Emirate of Al- Andalus. From 756, it is the capital of the independent Emirate of Cordoba, founded by the, Umayyad prince Abd al-Rahman I. From 929, when the Emir Abd al-Rahaman III proclaims himself Caliph, Cordoba would be the capital of an independent Caliphate. The kingdom of Abd al-Rahman III was the most glorious period of the city history. Because he was madly in love, he built in 936 at 8 kms west of Cordoba, the city of Medina az Zahara, a luxurious palace and a marvelous jewell as a tribute to his favourite Zahara. Such splendor is palpable in the intellectual wealth of this city, that has seen the birth of figures like Seneca, Averroes, and Maimonides. The historic quarter of Cordoba is a beautiful network of small streets, alleys, squares and whitewashed courtyards arranged around the Mezquita, which reflects the city's prominent place in the Islamic world during medieval times. Cordoba also has much to offer in terms of art, culture and leisure, thanks to a myriad of cultural events that are organized here
throughout the year: Flamenco festivals, concerts, ballet and other activities. These events are complemented by a number of museums and a good nightlife scene.
Day 4 and 5 SEVILLA
Sevilla is the capital of the Andalucia region. It is located on the plain of the Guadalquivir river which crosses the city from North to South. The river can be navigated from Seville all the way to its outlet near Sanlúcar de Barrameda, on the Atlantic coast.
The Tartessians were the original founders of Hispalis. Next to this settlement, in 207 B.C., the Romans built Itálica. It was the centre of their Western Mediterranean dominions for seven centuries until the Roman empire was overrun by Northern barbarians at the beginning of the 10th century. The long Moorish occupation of the Iberian peninsula, from 711 A.D. to 1248 A.D., left indelible traces in Seville as in all of Al-Andalus.
La Giralda, the tower of an important mosque, is the most well-known of the remaining Islamic monuments. In 1492 Seville played an important role in the discovery and conquest of America and its river port remain today one of the most active in Spain. The 17th century was a period of artistic splendor in Seville. Painters such as Velázquez, Murillo and Valdés Leal, and sculptors like Martínez Montañés were born here and left behind very important art works. Already in the 20th century Seville has been in the spotlight of the world's attention by hosting the Latin American Exhibition in 1929 and the International Expo in 1992. Both events enforced the image of Seville as a modern and dynamic city, which could be nowadays one of the most charming places in Spain.
Day 6 and 7 GRANADA
Granada is situated in the eastern side of Andalusia. Geographical and scenic diversity characterizes the land. There is the coastal area with its warm climate; the extensive, fertile Genil plain; and the mountainous regions with a colder climate, where we find the 3,479 meter Mulhacén, the biggest peak on the peninsula of Spain. The city of Granada is located at the foot of the sierra Nevada mountains at the confluences of the Darro and Genil rivers.
Its unique history has bestowed it with an artistic grandeur embracing Moorish palaces and
Christian Renaissance treasures.
The city of Granada has been shaped by the hills, where the old districts in the Albaicín and the Alhambra were founded, brimming with steep, narrow streets, beautiful nooks and crannies, and marvelous landscapes. The historic centre is divided in four old towns: the Muslim “Albaycin” (part of the Unesco World Heritage List since 1994), the Jewish “Realejo”, the gipsy “Sacromonte” and the Christian city centre.
The Moors crossed the strait of Gibraltar in 711 and settled in what was then a small Visigoth town perched atop the Alhambra hill. Here they settled, erected walls and laid the foundation for the prosperous civilization that would follow. It was in the 9th century when Granada rose to importance after the fall of the Caliphate of Córdoba. Its splendor was reached in 1238, when Mohammed ben Nasar founded the Nasrid dynasty, and the kingdom of Granada stretched from Gibraltar to Murcia. This dynasty bore twenty kings until King Boabdil was forced to surrender Granada to the Catholic monarchs (Fernando and Isabel), in 1492. During eight centuries of Arabian domination, a magnificent and rich Islamic culture flourished, leaving Granada with architectural marvels such as the Alhambra, declared a World Heritage Site, along with the Generalife and the Albaicín.