Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Arabian Nights (and Days) in Spain

On the occasion of a certain decade birthday, I wanted to do something special to mark it. I was visiting dear friends in Greece and thanks to an "open jaw" airline ticket, had decided to give myself the gift of Paris for a few days on my way home. A very dear French friend, who lives in Greece, made a list of things to see/do while I was in Paris.

The list included a night time bateau (boat) ride on the Seine and a trip to the Musée de l'Institut du Monde Arabe - the Museum of the Arab World. I did both.

In different ways, both were enchanting. After studying Western art in high school and college, the museum really opened my eyes to the very different and stylized beauty of Islamic art. (More on the traditional Arabian arts in a future blog.) Without a doubt, Arab writing style and art spoke to me.

Later, I took a university class in Islamic art and architecture as part of my art history education. (It's still hard to realize how a professor could be so boring on such an interesting subject.)

On my own, I learned more about the geometric and vegetal patterns that are the basis for most of the tile work. I tried my hand at it in a ceramics class and also used the patterns for a handmade book assignment in a color theory class. From all this, I concluded that the time of the Muslims in Spain (al Andulus) is one of my favorite eras. Yes, for the art to be sure, but also for the tolerance shown by the Muslim rulers to the Christians and Jews during that period.

Oh, and for that boring university class I wrote a paper on Madinat al Zahara, a once beautiful palace city outside of Cordoba, Spain. It now lies in ruins but continues to call to me. I dream of finding a way to visit the remains of a time when the Muslims ruled southern Spain. There must be a way to get to Toledo, Cordoba, Seville, Andalusia and Granada....

What place calls to you? Why? (Please post a comment just below. Others may enjoy reading it and you can always be anonymous - except write your first name in the comment box so I know it's you.)


  1. You're making me think. My place would be Egypt. I'd love to see the pyramids and all. Shelley

  2. Well since we have family records that go back to the 1300's with mention of our old family name of Seville, my love for the gem Andalusite, and having a friend in Nerja, I will pick Spain.

  3. My place would be Paris, France. I spent some time there my last year of college and fell in love. My goal is to move there some day and raise my children there. It's such an affluent city with so much history and beautiful architecture and people. That's my place.

  4. Hey, Andalusia and Paris... Wow! I'm ready. When do we leave?