Archive - November 2011

Hawkeye Blog For November 2011 November 07, 2011

Having tilted with a few windmills of my own, I enjoy returning to the land of Don Quixote. He was an inspirational, and still relevant, character from the 17th century writer, Miguel de Cervantes. We get the word "quixotic" from him as a descriptor of someone exceedingly optimistic and idealistic.

Southern Spain abounds with exotic examples of the Moorish Empire which reigned from the 8th to the 12th centuries. One of the two sites that most exemplify that culture is La Mezquita in Cordoba, famous for its 856 jasper, onyx and marble arched columns. It has served as a mosque and as a Catholic cathedral.

The Alhambra, introduced to American readers by Washington Irving, is an amazing complex perched on a rocky hill overlooking Granada. It was primarily occupied from the 13th through the 15th centuries and at the peak of the Moorish power as many as 40,000 people lived and worked there. One of Northern Spain's answers to the exotic is exemplified in Barcelona by the fanciful creations of Antoni Gaudi. The architect, who predates the creativity of Walt Disney by more than a century, has a similar playful approach to building fantasy worlds.