This month I got to spend time exploring Andalusia (Al-Andalus) in southern Spain, including Córdoba, Granada, Órgiva, Almuñécar and Málaga. For years I've been intrigued by the region's Medieval history and culture which have been influenced by native Iberians, Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Greeks, Romans, Vandals, Visigoths, Byzantines, Jews, Muslim Moors and Castilian Christians. This history is apparent everywhere, on buildings as well in the faces of it's people.
Starting in Barcelona I eventually made my way to the coast learning more about the long and interesting period of educational, agricultural, scientific, and artistic contributions of particularly the Moors, the fabled and elusive Arab/Berber/Africans who ruled the territory for over 800 years. At its height, Córdoba, the capital of Moorish Spain was the most modern city in Europe with well-paved streets and raised sidewalks for pedestrians. During the night, ten miles of streets were well illuminated by lamps. The Great Mosque of Córdoba is one of the architectural wonders of the world with its gold roof supported by 1,000 columns of marble, jasper and porphyry. In it's day it would have been lit by thousands of brass and silver lamps which burned perfumed oil. According to historians, no other land was "more admired by its neighbours, or more comfortable to live in, than a rich African civilization which took shape in Spain".