This past weekend our ISA Sevilla program traveled to the small town of Córdoba and then to the city of Granada. In both cities, Moorish culture is largely represented in their most famous monuments: the Mezquita in Córdoba and the Alhambra in Granada. Geographically, Spain is divided into 17 territorial landmasses called ‘autonomous communities’ which contain their own political structures and authorities, under the President and King. Granada and Córdoba (and Sevilla) are situated in Andalucía, the southernmost autonomous community in Spain. During the Christian Reconquest of the Iberian Peninsula from 711 up to 1492, the Muslims were forced out by way of the South, and therefore left Andalucía as the last place inhabited by the Moors. For this reason, the culture and architecture here in the South is largely influenced by Moorish detail and tradition.
In Granada we visited the fairytale-like palace of Alhambra, directly translated as ‘red castle’ in Arabic, which was largely restored during the 13th century after hundreds of years of being ignored. First designed and controlled by the Moors, after the Reconquest many of the Arabic details were plastered over with scripture from the Bible. After visiting multiple Moorish structures in Andalucía, one becomes an expert on being able to recognize the differences between both religions’ decorations. The Alhambra is a perfect example of that mix of cultures containing beautiful Moorish courtyards and the presence of moving water and fountains along with smaller rooms used for Christian ceremonies. This visit was by far my favorite place in Spain and would highly suggest to anyone studying abroad to come to Granada. Not to mention it was included in our program and we enjoyed the luxury of staying in a hotel instead of the normal hostel situation!