|View of Segovia from the Alcazar|
For example, during the Spanish Inquisition, Muslims and Jews were forced to leave Spain or convert to Christianity. For those converted from Islam, called the Moriscos, a common test to prove that they had accepted Christianity was to eat pork publicly. Now, hundreds of years later, every tapas bar serves some sort of ham almost without exception on every dish. Certainly, the antiquated tradition of declaring one's devotion to the Church has long since been lost, but the repercussions throughout the centuries has a definitive, if subtle, effect.
|View from bridge in Toledo (anyone else notice that I like this type of shot?)|
Two weekends ago, the Bucknell en España program had the unique pleasure to visit four historical cities in four days. Starting in Segovia, we briefly explored Ávila before stopping in Madrid for two nights. We ended our tour in Toledo, the city of three cultures.
As much as I would love to relate every detail of every city, it hardly would be engaging or insightful to do so. I will, however, attempt to paint a picture of the rich histories of these places and how I perceived the effects on the modern culture. Beginning at Segovia, the rich history of Roman influence and Gothic-styled architecture is incredible. The Roman aqueduct is from the first or second century and is truly a marvel of engineering as well as a work of art. Without the use of mortar, it is a wonder how the constructors managed to build this monument. In Ávila the muralla encircling the town maintained a certain seclusion from not only unwanted forces, but also from adulteration of town customs and traditional architecture. Moving to Madrid, we of course experience a vast contrast from lazy country life to city hustle. I truly can't describe the impression the Palacio Real leaves, but I trust pictures from a simple Google search can help convey the splendor and glamor prevalent within. The palace is lined with art from the Orient, paintings of the New World, and sculptures of Africa. The pages of Spain's history are drawn on the ceilings of the Palacio, something which provides a strong feeling of pride and humility. Of course, to speak of Castilla without mention of Toledo would be to err terribly. In Toledo we find a utopian view of the past. Much like the Generation of 98 looked to the medieval valors for inspiration, we too must view the history of Toledo to appreciate "convivencia." This is the idea of many cultures living together; in particular the Muslims, Jews, and Christians all lived and shared ideas for hundreds of years, resulting in Jewish temples with Arabic writing as decorations or Muslim mosques with Christian paintings.
|Cathedral of Segovia|
Just as interesting, however, were the interactions between us and the locals. For example, every city-dweller was more than willing to help us and preach the brilliance of their cathedral or their tapas. The pride that exists between a resident and his region is impressive, and something which Antonio Machado preaches quite well in his poem "Orillas del Duero."
¡Castilla varonil, adusta tierra,
Castilla del desdén contra la suerte,
Castilla del dolor y de la guerra,
tierra inmortal, Castilla de la muerte!
He speaks of the resistance and determination of the "castillanos " who give life and pride to the otherwise arid and melancholy Castilla with a warlike and painful past.
|Muralla de Ávila|
Clearly we can learn much from our own histories and from the histories of our state. Lorca said that the dead men in Spain continue speaking to us, giving us lessons and pride. Through the gusto of the people and the preservation of traditional constructs that exist today, it is not a grand stretch of the imagination to believe it.
I would like to end with some pictures from this past weekend and the BeE trip to Nerja and Ronda. Although I will not write a proper entry about these beautiful places, I feel the pictures could do a much better job than me in capturing the ascetic.
|Mediterranean Sea from Nerja|
|Mediterranean Sea from Nerja|
|Plaza de Toros in Ronda|
|Middle Earth in Ronda|