Half of the pleasure of traveling is awaiting. There is the spell that awaits the next day, the expectation that it will be somewhere new, somewhere exotic, breathes a strangely fragrant air, and feels the strange breeze disappears into the skin. To get the most out of your dreamy dreams, I always think you need to know a little about where you are going before you go out on the door.
There are cities that can enchant you where the tile squares and squares can capture your imagination, basilicas and palaces where you can look at the generations of legs that stretched in the very place where you are now standing. But if you have any hints of your history.
Spain is one of those evocative destinations … extensive backdrops for some of the most interesting, big and crazy history ever written. If you find yourself in this year or the next year, there is a random blur of geographic, historical and other time slots to help you set your wishes in motion.
Around eighty-five per cent of the Iberian peninsula on the southwestern tip of Spain is the third largest continent in the continent. Its remote areas include the Balearic Islands – Mallorca, Menorca and Ibiza – and the Canary Islands over six hundred miles south of the North African coast.
Spain is today a lush mix of distinctive contrasts, a place, and ultra-modern life next to each other. Spanish identity was shaped by the long and rich history and great traces left by those who first invaded and colonized the country.
The ancient Greeks and Phoenicians splashed across the peninsula in front of the Romans who came in 300 BC. Imperial conquerors brought their highly developed language and architecture, their agricultural techniques and unusual new crops such as grapes and wheat. Evidence of renowned Roman engineering, such as the Meridian amphitheater and the great aqueduct in Segovia, remains today in many parts of Spain.
After the Romans came Visigots, one of the many Germanic tribes who turned to Christianity. They were driving Iberia from their yard in Barcelona for three hundred years. Besides the Middle Ages in the Spanish drama, there were North African Moors who spent seven centuries in Iberia, which became Spanish language, Spanish architecture and Spanish cuisine with their unique eastern features. Their influence and heritage are particularly visible in the south, in places like Granada, where the great Moorish fortress, the Alhambra.
Until Moa was expelled from the Iberian Peninsula in 1492, Spain remained a disconnected group of separate kingdoms. Andalusia, Galicia, Leon, Castilla, Aragon and Catalonia were autonomous and independent until Queen Isabel and King Ferdinand began the process of unification into one nation, España.
A subsequent turn of the century began the Golden Age of Spain. Unskilled explorers like Columbus, Pizarro, and Cortes sailed all over the world, and Spain for the next 200 years achieved maritime and economic domination, becoming one of the leading colonial powers of the day.
Today, predominantly Catholic, Spain, the former era was traditionally a cosmopolitan mixed society with a reputation for humanistic tolerance. The medieval Moorish culture from 750 to 1050 was highly educated, especially advanced in mathematics and medicine. For centuries, an important Jewish population that valued learning and philosophy has given Spain its wisdom and business savvy. Spanish Jews, Moors and Christians have lived together in what we now consider to be a very progressive liberal society. The Great University of Salamanca was founded at the beginning of the 13th century and became the brightest academic beacon in Europe, compared to the famous educational bases established in the past century in Paris, Bologna and Oxford. Several hundred
The years of science from Salamanca were the most sought-after credentials to which the scholar might seek.
By many ages, many empires shrunk the Iberian mountains, inhabited by its shores, and passed on dry plains. In the end, all were subject to Spanish sirens and assimilated into its culture, influencing it and changing it, just as it was influenced and changed.
Today's Spain is a parliamentary monarchy composed of autonomous regions. Each of them has a characteristic landscape, its own unique history and cultural traditions, regional cuisine, and sometimes a separate language that distinguishes its inhabitants. The shocking energy of Spain can seduce, mystify and enchant. Few visitors missed the flavors of her spells. You can ski the peaks and snow caps of the Pyrenees, sunbathe on endless beaches with white sand, dress your elbows with a jar set in Marbella, or take a dusty path to the pueblos blancas and find your soul in the raw emotions of Andalusian gypsy flamenco. (19659002) Copyright © 2006 Sue Rauch
Copyright © 2006 Sue Rauch. All rights reserved.