Saturday, April 16, 2011

British are latest invaders of Spain, and not the worst

St. James Church, Lakewood, Ohio, shows Arabic influence in its pointed arches and decorative mosaics (Examiner photo)
On my first trip to Europe about 25 years ago, I was with a group that was given lessons in history and culture in all three cities we visited -- Genoa in Italy, and Seville and Barcelona in Spain.

When I returned I happened to be back in my hometown of Lakewood, Ohio, standing in front of St. James Catholic Church and was struck for the first time by all the Arabic influence in the facade, obvious to me now after seeing Moorish architecture in Seville. The pointed arches and the decorative mosaics were clearly influenced by designers steeped in Islam.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Cordoba‘s main attraction: mix of Jewish, Muslim, Christian history

A couple headed to a wedding on Saturday in Cordoba.
A thousand years ago, Córdoba in Spain was ruled by Muslim caliphs and is cited by many sources (see the notes to the linked article) as one of Europe´s most important cultural, scientific and economic centers at the time.

The Muslim rulers tolerated Christians and Jews, and there is quite a debate among Jewish scholars about whether the Muslims were benevolent, indifferent or worse. In any case, the three cultures coexisted, and there are signs of all three cultures around the city.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Spanish comes in many flavors; gasoline at $7.20 a gallon

A proud dad snaps shots of his daughter in a traditional dress.
Scientists who study the human brain have noted that memories created by smell have a special emotional power. It probably has something to do with our thousands of years as hunters and gatherers.

In any case, the scent of orange blossoms recalls a special experience for me. It takes me back to my first visit to Seville, Spain, 25 years ago. It was the first days of spring, and that city´s orange trees were in full flower. Their perfume helped freeze the images of moorish arches and mosaics, the fountains of the Alcázar and the stunning light of the Andalusian sun.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Friday, April 01, 2011

Business and pleasure in Spain

For two months, Cindy and I are traveling mainly in Spain. I am also giving some lectures on Journalism, but more on that in a minute. Yesterday we headed northwest from Madrid to Segovia, a lovely town with Roman and Islamic architecture in abundance. This wikipedia article about the city is obviously a clumsy translation from the Spanish original, but it gives you the idea.

Cindy in the city center with the aqueduct behind her. It was built 2,000 years ago.