AndalusiaSince 1992, I have been to Spain four times and once to Portugal. I have been to Lisbon, Madrid, Salamanca, Toledo, Segovia, Barcelona, Granada, Seville, and Cordoba. However, I started making wepbages about the these cities in the Andalusia region.
Among those cities, Cordoba, Seville, and Granada are the most interesting places. They are different from other European cities. These cities are in the southwestern corner of Spain, and connected to the African continent through the Gibraltar strait.
- Spain and Portugal are different from other European countries. This region,
called the Iberian Peninsula, is separated from France by the
Pyrenees Mountains. The Iberian
cities were developed by Moslem Arabs during the period 800-1400 AD, before the Catholic
rulers conquered this area and pushed out all non-Catholic people, particularly Moslems
Yet, there are still notable Moslem influences in Spanish cities. The Moslem influence is still strong in Spain's southern province of Andalusia. In this region, Cordoba, Seville, and Granada are three major cities. Let us first look at some photos from those cities.
Cairo is still a strong Islamic city.
- We all know how the Islamic religion was developed. This religion was used as a political ideology to be against the Byzantine rule coming from Constantinople (now called Istanbul). This Islamic ideology became very popular among Egyptians who were under the autocratic Byzantine suppression. After gaining its strength in Egypt, the Islamic influence moved westward along the Mediterranean coast of north Africa, and then from Morocco to Spain across the Gibraltar strait. They then established their Islamic base at the place now called Cordoba. Let us look at some photos from Cordoba first.
Islamic Iberian Peninsula
- Indeed, along with Cairo and Baghdad, Cordoba became one of the three major Islamic
cities in the world. Those Islamic people built a huge mosque. This mosque later
became a Catholic church. Let us look at the photos from the church which was originally
built as an Islamic Mosque.
- These Roman ruins show that Cordoba was first
developed first by Romans. One Spanish student was nice enough to pose with me in this photo.
This Andalusian area produced olive oils so essential to Roman life.
Roman Emperor Hadrian
had his family base in this area.
- This area became chaotic after the collapse of the Roman Empire. Then the Islamic
people came to establish their civilization from 700 AD. By 1000 AD, the city of
Cordoba became like this.
The bridge seen in this photo was originally built by Romans, but it was rebuilt several times since then. The fortification and the Cathedral (formally Mosque) were built by Islamic Arabs. This is a telescopic view of this Mosque-Cathedral.
Islamic-style outside walls.
Islamic columns and arches inside the Mosque-Cathedral
- Let us look at photos from this Mosque-Cathedral.
- The Mosque-Cathedral seen from the sky.
- Outside walls clearly show that this cathedral was built by Moslems.
- This is one of the entrances to the Mosque-Cathedral complex in Islamic style.
- The interior of this Mosque-Cathedral is the gem of the Moslem civilization.
- There are thousands of columns arches, and more columns, and more arches.
- Let us look at the columns carefully. They look like Greek columns. Indeed, this Mosque-Cathedral, as its treasures, kept a number of the original Greek items, such as the Ionic column, and the Greek engravings like this placed above the stone with Islamic decorations.
Catholic worship place and books of the Bible.
- During the period 1200-1500, the Catholic influence became strong, and
those intolerant Catholic rulers pushed out all non-Catholics (Moslems and
Jews) from the territory of Spain. Those Catholics converted this structure to
their worship place. These days, this building is used as a Catholic cathedral.
- There are a number of Christian worship places inside the Cathedral. This is the largest of them.
- This is one of the church organs. There is another organ like this on the opposite side the hall.
- On those days, the Bible was a very exclusive item, and only the privileged priests could read the book. Those bibles are displayed in this glass case.
- In order to reduce the Islamic scenes on the outside Cathedral walls, Catholics set up their altars.
Turkish lawyer in the Cordoba Mosque-Cathedral.
Electrical engineers from Kuwait.
One of them wanted to have a solo photo with me.
- These days, quite understandably, Moslems in Spain demand a place for
their worship inside this
structure, but the Spanish church says No. In my opinion, they should be
granted a place. In either case, there are many Moslem visitors to this
Mosque-Cathedral. It is difficult to detect Moslem men, but it is easy
to spot Moslem women from their costume. Most of them wear hijabs on their
- Inside the Cathedral, I met this Turkish lawyer. I told her I have been to her country many times. While talking, I asked her whether she is married. She said she could not find any man smarter than she is. I then asked her whether I sound smart enough for her. She said YES, but said “You are too old for me.” I told her I am 200 years old. She studied in Amsterdam. A brilliant Moslem lady.
- Just outside the Cathedral, I met a group of
electrical engineers from Kuwait.
It was a pleasure for me to talk with those hijab-wearing Moslem scientists.
We exchanged some words on electricity and magnetism.
After this photo,I went into an ice-cream shop. I was thirsty.
- One of those ladies came to me, and asked me to have a solo photo with me. She had her camera, and I had mine. According to her religious ethics, she was not allowed to touch a man, and I was also careful. Yet she was as close to me as she could. She is a Moslem lady, but she is also a human being. As a woman, she had a desire to own a man. No religion can suppress this aspect of humanity.
Statue of Maimonides in the front yard of his house (reconstructed).
Jewish souvenir shop near the statue.
- Unlike these days, Arabs were very friendly to Jews during the Medieval ages.
When they moved to Spain, many Jews went with them. Those Jews established their
own community in Cordoba. Jews in Cordoba were quite active in their intellectual
activities. They wrote many books and created artistic objects.
Among the those Jewish scholars, the wise man known as known as Maimonides was widely respected among the Jews. He was born in Cordoba (1138) and died in Egypt (1204), but he was buried in Tiberias (Israel).
Maimonides was educated as a medical doctor and was able to cure many sick people. He wrote many books on philosophy on Jewish religion. Thus, he became the intellectual and moral leaders among the Jewish people spread around the world.
- There is an old Jewish quarter not far from the Mosque-Cathedral, with
- Statue of Maimonides at the front yard of his house. Close-up view of his statue.
- Gift shop selling Jewish stuff.
- Maimonides plaza.
and Hotel Maimonides.
- Everything in this area is named after Maimonides, but notably absent are
Jewish Synagogues (worship places). What happened to them? Jews were expelled
from Spain in two phases.
Jewish Synagogue in Prague (Czech Republic) built by Jews from Spain, looking like an Islamic mosque.
- After the reign of Queen Isabella (1474-1504), Spain became a strong
Catholic country, and all non-Catholics (Moslems and Jews) were ordered to leave
the country. Jews were allowed to stay if they converted themselves to become
Catholics. Those Jews who refused to convert went to Greek
islands and then to Central Europe, as this map
- After 1700 AD, the Catholic rulers became more intolerant, and all the Jews
(converted or otherwise) had ordered to leave Spain. Most of them moved to
- During this expulsion process, all the Jewish synagogues in Spain were destroyed. Some Spanish Jews who went to Hungary and Austria went to the area known today as Czech Republic. They built their synagogue in Prague. Let us look at this Spanish Synagogue. It looks like an Islamic mosque. This proves that Jews in Spain shared the same culture with Arabs, with a different religion.
- Many people left Cordoba. Who are there now? The city is filled with hard-working
and fun-loving Spanish citizens. There are also many visitors.
- This Spanish lady is walking with her children. A nice scene.
- There are many orange trees along the streets.
- Treed streets, not seen in other cities.
- Statue of Columbus at the Columbus Plaza.
- Nuns on the street.
- Boys meet girls. In this photo, one boy is with his sister and three female cousins. I joined them to improve the gender balance.
- Dinner time is fun time for everybody.
- Paella cafes everywhere. Paella is Spanish
rice with chicken or other meat or sea food.
- Supermarket for daily needs.
- Korean-made car, and another Korean car on the same street.
- Antique cash register still operational at
one of the restaurants.
Spain is a Catholic country.
There are many neatly-dressed nuns.
I enjoy mixing up with young people wherever I go.
- We do not hear too often about this city, but we heard about
Christopher Columbus and
Opera Carmen with her tobacco factory.
Tomb of Columbus
in the Seville Cathedral.
- Here is the
tomb of Columbus inside the Seville Cathedral. Here is a
photo of myself standing at
the tomb site.
- The Seville Cathedral is a the largest Gothic-style church
building in the world. This
Wikipedia page tells the history of this building. This place was
developed as an Islamic mosque during the period of Islamic Spain.
- After the conquest of Spain by Catholic Christians (1250 AD), this place became a Catholic church and became expanded. If you look at carefully, you can find some Arabic influences, such as this gate. The church decorations tell the bible stories, but their art works seem to have the Islamic details. Look at this and this.
Side view of Carmen's tobacco factory.
- Here is the tomb of Columbus inside the Seville Cathedral. Here is a photo of myself standing at the tomb site.
- Carmen's tobacco factory is not a brick building. It is a
huge complex of shiny stone buildings. It was Columbus who brought
back tobacco from the American continents to Europe. This factory
tells us how rich Spain became by refining tobacco leaves for
- This is a front view of this tobacco factory.
- This is a side view.
- This is an
where Carmen sings her famous song "Habanera." Georges Bizet composed this opera
in 1874. This tobacco factory building is at least three hundred years old.
Thus, this tobacco factory is quite different from the impression you get from
the opera "Carmen."
The city of Seville was developed as a botanic garden when there were no high-rise buildings, nor high ways 1000 years ago.
- Another important fact is that this city was constructed by Arabs and Jews.
We all know they were thrown out by Catholic rulers from Spain during the
- However, in the Seville area, King Ferdinand III (1201-1252) was different
from Queen Isabella (1451-1504). He kicked out Moslem Arabs, but let Jews
develop their talents in Seville. He even invited Jews in other areas of
Spain to Seville for the construction of the city of Seville. Those Jews
were then thrown out during and after Isabella's rule.
Indeed, the core of the city of Seville including the king's palace was developed by talented Jews. Those Jews were expelled in two phases. During and after Isabella's rule (1600-1700), Jews were allowed to stay in Spain if they believed in Jesus. Later (1700-1800), they were thrown out even though they became Christians. Those Catholic rulers eradicated the Jewish
Jewish museum in Seville.
Jewish items shown in this museum.
- These days. is there a place to indicate the Jewish presence
in Seville. Yes, look at
this wall. This wall contains all three of the Jewish, Arabic, and
Catholic signs. I am not able to say wall was built, nor the purpose
of the wall.
- There is a small museum showing Jewish
items. I went in and asked the museum curator some questions. From my
questions, she realized I am a genuinely interested in Jewish history,
and she waived the admission fee (about $18.00), even though it was affordable.
There are a number
interesting Jewish items.
- Entrance to the Museum.
- Jewish ceramics for cooking and dining purposes.
- Ceramics plates showing Jewish faith.
- Musical instruments.
- Religious items.
Click here for a larger image.
- However, the item most educational to me was
this map. telling how Jews escaped from
In 2009, I was in Prague (Czech Republic) and noticed an Arab-style building. I asked these local students passing-by what that strange building is about. They said it is a synagogue built by Jews from Spain. I was not surprised at its Arab appearance because Jews went to Spain with Arabs. I was wondering how Spanish Jews came to eastern Europe.
Indeed this Jewish Museum in Seville displayed this map showing the routes of two phases of Jewish exodus from Spain during the period 1500-1800.
Islamic gate in the Seville Cathedral.
- After pushing out all Jews and Moslems, Spanish Catholics converted
the Moslem mosque to a Catholic church. It is the largest Gothic-style
building in the world. This
contains excellent photos of this place, but I can add some more. There are
still Islamic influences.
- This gate appears to be a left-over from the earlier Islamic mosque.
- This alter is definitely for Catholic worships, but its detailed decorations are in Islamic style.
- This Christian item is an Islamic artwork.
The Plaza de Espana was built in 1928 before the Spanish Civil War
(1936-39). After Columbus (1451-1506), Spain became the strongest
country in the world. However, the country became very weak later,
and was ruled by a strong man named
Francisco Franco. from 1939 to 1975.
- I am not able to tell the history of Spain from from 1900 to 1933.
Yet, the people of Spain had more than enough reason to celebrate the
discovery of the American continent by Columbus 400-plus years earlier. They
built this Plaza with combined Islamic, European, and Catholic traditions.
I was not able to see American traditions.
- This Wikipedia page
contains many excellent photos of this plaza, but I could add some more.
- The Plaza seen from its western entrance.
- Two flamenco dancers near the entrance.
- I was invited to dance with them, but I did not know how to dance. I look dumb in this photo.
- Section of the plaza with the compartments for important cities of Spain, including
- Two flamenco dancers near the entrance.
- The Plaza seen from its western entrance.
GranadaAfter Romans, Moslem Arabs came and remained in Spain until the 16th Century. Christians pushed those Moslems from the North, and Granada was the last Moslem city to fall to Christians.
- Until then, Granada served as the last strong hold for those Moslem
Arabs. The Moslem royal family had a castle/palace at the mountain top of
the city. This palace is called
I was fortunate enough to visit Granada in 2018 and took photos, I would
like to some of them with you. Let us start with photos from the Alhambra.
- The mount-top palace
seen from Granada's town center.
- There are many visitors to this
place, and they have to wait in the ticket line to enter the Alhambra Palace.
- as soon as you enter, you go through
forest. as well as these tunnels,
and tunnels like these.
- Lotus ponds
- Royal pools and fountains.
- Islamic style of the royal court.
- Islamic style walls in the royal court.
- Garden with a fountain. Here is
- City of Granada seen from the Alhambra Palace. Another view.
- The mount-top palace seen from Granada's town center.
- There are many interesting sites outside the Alhambra palace walls.
- Winding road around the palace.
- Fortress with Islamic windows.
Here is another photo.
- One of the brooks.
- Water flowing out from the castle wall.
- Here is something I did not understand. Water flows from higher to lower ground. There were many active fountains on the Alhambra palace ground at the top of the mountain. Where does the water come from?
- Winding road around the palace.
- The city of Granada consists of many Islamic-style and European bundlings.
- This photo shows one Islamic bundling and one
- This European building was once served as the government of the Holy Roman Empire, when Charles V was the emperor, This is the courtyard of this building. Here is another photo.
- This photo shows one Islamic bundling and one European building.
- The people of this city seem to be very happy. Spain is a strong Christian
There are many church buildings like this.
- People seem to enjoy extended lunch hours
at their town center. Here is another photo.
- Creative graffiti in the residential area.
- This young lady performs a flamenco dance
on the street.
Queen Isabella and Christopher Columbus in Granada.
- People seem to enjoy extended lunch hours at their town center. Here is another photo.
- Spain produced a number of important people in history. Among
them are Queen Isabella and Christopher Columbus. As you know, Columbus
was an Italian born in Genoa. However, at that time, Italy was not a
unified country, and the port city of Genoa was under Spanish control.
Columbus was able to make his westward voyage to India only because he he was able to get supports from Queen Isabella. There are some interesting stories about these two important persons in history. The point is that Columbus got Isabella's blessing when Granada was Spain's capital city.
Spain's history is too complicated for me to explain in one webpage. If
you like to know more about this Spanish city, you may go to
this video by Rick Steves.
- copyright@2020 by Y. S. Kim.