Since I am staying here for two months rather than one, I had a five day break in between the June and July classes. Some other OU students and I used this time to explore more of southern Spain. We spent a day in Córdoba and two days each in Granada and Seville.
In Córdoba, our first stop was the Mezquita-Catedral. Back during the 8th through 15th centuries, Córdoba was the cultural capital of the Iberian Peninsula. This was the period when the Muslim Caliphate extended through Spain, so the mosque there has a lot of historical and cultural significance. After the reconquista, when the Spanish Catholics reclaimed the peninsula, a cathedral was built in the middle of the mosque, and daily masses have been held there since. We also saw the Córdoba Alcazar (or fortress). The grounds of the fortress were beautiful and there were old Roman and Visigoth mosaics and pottery displayed throughout.
In Granada, we spent out first day visiting the Granada cathedral and an open air market as well as just exploring the city. The next morning, we began the long hike up to the Alhambra, which is widely known as Granada’s most famous monument. Granada was the last province of Spain to be retaken by Ferdinand and Isabella during the reconquista, which ended in 1492. The Alhambra is a large palace and fortress complex where the last Sultan of Granada ruled until it was converted into the Royal Court for Ferdinand and Isabella. Since it is a well-fortified citadel, it is located on a large hill and offers stunning views of the city below. After a long visit there, we got on a bus headed to Seville.
In Seville we did much of the same, touring the Sevilla Alcazar (which was a filming location for Game of Thrones) and the Torre de Oro. We’d also been told that there was a palace in Seville which had been used as one of the filming locations for Naboo in Attack of the Clones. Unfortunately, there are four palaces in Seville, and we had no idea which one was correct nor wifi with which we could find out. Over the course of the weekend, we walked to three of the four palaces only to be met with disappointment. Ultimately on Sunday, we abandoned the search and went to an archeological museum instead. Returning from the museum, I looked down at my map and suggested we walk through a park where there was a plaza called Plaza de España which looked interesting. As we drew closer to the plaza, we realized that we had accidentally ended up in Naboo. I’m not sure if this is because I’m a huge nerd or just because the plaza itself was stunning, but it was one of my favorite places I’d seen all trip.
Speaking of favorites, on Saturday night we went out to see a flamenco show. The association of Spain and flamenco may seem ubiquitous, but the dance form actually only hails from Spain’s southern region, Andalusia, and it is there, especially in the city of Seville, where it continues to be widely popular with dance aficionados, tourists, and locals alike. I’d seen flamenco performed once before as part of a school showcase. This performance was very different as it took place in a crowded bar on a small stage with only a single singer/guitarist as accompanist to the dancer. I was very impressed by the complicated clapping and footwork involved, as well as the strong emotion poured into the singing and the dancer’s movements. I always enjoy watching dance, and have been able to see several performances while here in Spain, but watching such a well performed example of a traditional Spanish dance in its birthplace was a special treat. Enjoy the photos below!