Walks in Andalucia
Spain is double the area of the UK but has fewer people. Andalucía is its second largest Autonomous Community, divided from the rest of Spain to its north by the Sierra Morena. Andalucía is twice the size of Switzerland but has the same population. It is divided into eight provinces, each with the same name as its capital city: Sevilla, Cordoba, Granada, Huelva, Málaga, Almería, Jaén and Sevilla which is both provincial and autonomous capital.
The Guadalquivir River has been its artery since the Phoenicians established Cádiz as a port nearly 3000 years ago. They and then the Carthaginians, Romans and Vandals all left their mark until in 711 the Moors took over most of present day Spain. Cordoba was capital of a caliphate including part of North Africa. By 1085 the Christian reconquest had taken back half of Spain, as far south as Toledo, but it was another two hundred years before most of Andalucía was retaken and there was in place a ‘convivencia’ where Christians, Jews and Moslems lived in harmony. Granada was the last part to be taken, in 1492, after nearly eight centuries, the same year that Columbus was commissioned to sail west. This heralded the opening up of the Americas and Spain’s golden age with much trade passing through Andalucía. The result of this diverse past is an incomparable heritage and much evidence of all these civilisations in particular the Moor’s contribution to agriculture - the introduction of many species including oranges and irrigation systems which are still operating today.
Andalucía is home too of Spain’s two most emblematic arts - flamenco and bullfighting. Both can be seen practiced everywhere, including youngsters in the streets and every village fiesta [of which there seems to be one every day]. Both are associated with the Gitano culture which is also strong and there are museums in some of the cities.
CANTO A ANDALUCÍA
Cádiz salada claridad . . . Granada
agua oculta que llora.
Sultana y mora, Córdoba callada.
Plateada Jaén . . . Huelva: la orilla
de las tres carabelas . . .
. . . y Sevilla.
Poem to Andalucía – traditional, anon