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on — and I doubt if you will be tempted to — you will
come to a very old Moorish palace called the Alcazar




Genii, now the property of the Duke of Gor. Here,
says Simonet, were lodged the Christian princes and
knights who so often found an asylum at the court of
Granada. In the gardens are tanks once used, it is
believed, for mimic naval fights. In the same direction,
I understand, is Zubia. Here Isabella the Catholic,
reconnoitring the city during the siege, narrowly
escaped capture by a Moorish patrol. She concealed
herself behind a laurel bush, which is still pointed out.
Another instance of the small chances that determine
the fate of kingdoms ! To commemorate her escape
the queen built near by a convent, which has long
since disappeared.

You may return to the city by the Puerta Verde,
near the Bab-en-Neshti or Puerta de los Molinos,
through which the Spaniards entered after Boabdil's

Apart from the Alhambra and the Cathedral
buildings, it will have been seen that Granada has not
many claims on the stranger's interest. Considering
the expectations formed of it after reading Prescott
and Irving, most English people will pronounce it to
be a disappointment. From certain points of view it
remains the pleasantest place for a protracted stay in
Andalusia during the summer. It is only when you
come to it from Seville or Cordova or Cadiz, that you
realize how cool, in comparison, is this city on the
plateau between the snow-clad mountains. Even
before the sun has gone down, you can dine very

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pleasantly in the open, hearkening to the splash of the
fountains, and inhaling the fragrance of the rose.
There is no need here, as at Seville, to shut yourself,
till nightfall, within walls three feet thick. By
night we stroll across the Plaza of the Alhambra, and
see the white city gleaming with a shimmer reflected
in the luminous sky above. Granada resumes her
aspect of an Oriental city beneath the crescent moon
riding triumphant over Andalusia.





Second in size among Andalusian cities, Malaga is the
least interesting. Were it not for the sea, its position
would be one of singular remoteness. On the
extreme verge of Europe, the mighty Sierra Nevada
rises behind it, and cuts it off from the rest of Spain.
Yet as a flourishing port it is one of the towns in the
Peninsula best known among Englishmen. It is
beloved by our sailors. From the odd phases of life
to be seen in and around the harbour, they derive
their notions of the people and the country. With
that utter absence of curiosity noticeable in their kind,
they never penetrate inland, or even into the outskirts
of the town. But nothing can dispel Jack's conviction
that his knowledge of Spain and the Spaniards is
intimate and profound.

Malaga is not, as its appearance suggests, a city
of purely modern growth. It was known to the
Phoenicians and the Romans, and before it became
subject to the Almoravides was an independent
principality under the Hammudiya dynasty. Later it


Southern Spain

shared the fortunes of the Sultanate of Granada, and
its siege and capture by Ferdinand and Isabella
contributed to bring about the fall of the capital.
This part of its history is dealt with in great detail by
Prescott. Among the numerous incidents of the siege
was a determined attempt on the part of a Moor
named Ibrahim al Gherbi to assassinate the Spanish
sovereign. The defence was conducted by the
indomitable Hemet el Zegri, who yielded to famine
rather than to the arms of the besiegers. The
treatment of the fallen city leaves an indelible blot on
the fame of the conquerors. The population, with
the exception of a few hundreds, were sold into
slavery, presents of the fairest maidens being made to
the various courts of Europe. A worse fate was
reserved for the Jews and renegades, who were
committed to the flames.

The old Moorish fortress of Gibralfaro still frowns
down on the lively city to remind us of those days.
Some of the walls and towers are believed to be of
Phoenician origin. The stronghold has undergone
repeated restorations and adaptations to military
requirements, but a great deal of Moorish work may
still be detected. A horseshoe arch behind the Paseo
de la Alameda serves to identify the Moslems'
dockyard or Atarazanas, and to indicate how far the
sea has receded in the wake of the banished race
southwards towards Africa.

The Cathedral towers high above all the other




buildings of the city. It is in the Classical style, and
though designed by Diego de Siloe in 1528, was built
for the most part in the early eighteenth century. It
must be confessed that it looks better at a distance
than near. The interior is solemn and cold. It is
worth visiting for some specimens of Cano's art which
it contains, and for Mena's magnificent carving in the
choir. As at Granada, the edifice is adjoined by a
smaller church called the Sagrario, founded by the
Catholic Sovereigns in 1488 as the cathedral of the
conquered city.

But it is not for its monuments or historical associa-
tions that Malaga is to be visited. Its interest is of
to-day. And in truth it needed not the hand of man
to embellish a spot where Nature has been so lavish of
her choicest gifts. The gardens round Malaga abound
in the finest specimens of tropical flora. Tall india-
rubber plants, gigantic eucalyptus, great bamboos,
the rarest exotics, such as the Tritchardia folifera^ the
araucaria, and the Scaforthia elegans, flourish on this
favoured shore. The villas of the wealthier classes
stand each in a veritable Paradise. And everywhere
the white flower of the orange, the oleander, the vine,
and tree-high ferns !

This luxuriant vegetation is the less to be expected
since want of water is the great drawback to the pro-
sperity of the district. Through the middle of the
. town runs the Guadalmedina — a broad channel, without
a drain of water ! The new and magnificent promenade,

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Southern Spain

planted with palms, sweeps round the sea-front, as fine
as anything on the Riviera. To drive along it in the
sensuous southern night is to drink a deep draught of
the joy of life. At one point the drive descends into
the bed of the river, along which you may proceed for
a mile or more. And yet at times the Guadalmedina
becomes a roaring torrent, bursting its banks and
sweeping away farmsteads and stock. It is difficult to
say whether flood or drought has done most damage
to the province.

As at Seville, you find life here focussing in lane-like
streets, closed to vehicles, and lined with cafes and
casinos, among the finest I have seen in Spain. Here
to an early hour of the morning the men of the city
gossip in garrulous, intimate groups of nine and ten,
all, as it seemed to me, talking together. The number
of cigarettes smoked during the progress of these
tremendous conversations must be stupendous. As
you will see the same group meeting night after night,
you wonder what there can be in the outwardly
uneventful round of life of Malaga to supply topics
for conversation. To an Englishman there is a mystery
about this ability to talk for five or six hours about
nothing at all. You will see the same thing in the
dullest provincial towns in France and Italy — the same
groups of stout, bald-headed citizens talking with
frantic animation every evening. Their newspapers
afford the slenderest mental pabulum — their contents
could be dismissed in ten minutes — and the respectable




gentlemen in question are never seen to read books.
How then do they recruit their stock of ideas and find
an inexhaustible stock of topics for conversation ?

Women are, of course, conspicuous by their absence.
Here we have another illustration of the utterly false
ideas Englishmen usually entertain concerning Latins.
To judge from novels written fifty or even thirty years
ago, John Bull appears to have regarded the foreigner
with pitying contempt as a mere philanderer, always
running after a petticoat ; yet no one can be in Spain a
fortnight without noticing the Spaniard's disinclination
for female society, or at any rate how perfectly content
he is without it.

I do not fancy the ladies of Malaga care very much
for society either, in our acceptation of the word.
Looking out of the window appears to be their favourite
recreation. They do not inherit the habit from the
Moors, for that people, as I have said, were nearly all
expelled at the Reconquest, and the town was resettled.
All the Andalusian towns were wholly or in part
emptied of their Mohammedan population when taken
by the Christians, and repeopled with Castilians and
others from Northern Spain. This fact is forgotten by
those who recognize in every trait of the Andalusian a
heritage from the Moor. We might as well think we
derive our chief national characteristics from the
Britons or the Normans.

East of Malaga lie several coast towns of importance,
within whose gates the traveller rarely sets foot.


Southern Spain

Motril, Adra, Almeria — what is there in them to
reward the fatigue of a journey in a dihgence along the
parched shore, or in some crazy coasting craft, with
timbers straining and creaking before the lightest
breeze ? Almeria is now connected directly by rail
with Madrid and Granada. The prosperity of the
whole district is bound to be greatly increased by the
construction of the line so long promised from Guadix
to Baza. This short link in the railway system would
save the traveller from Malaga to Valencia nearly 1 80
miles, or its alternative — a long and exhausting
diligence journey. It would also bring the southern
parts of Andalusia into direct communication with the
great commercial centres of eastern Spain and with
Marseilles. It would supply us with a new route to
Gibraltar, moreover. This, with a line from Jaca
across the Pyrenees into France, and another from
Huelva to connect with the Portuguese system Villa
Real de Sao Antonio, are links of which Spain stands
vitally in need.





At Bobadilla — the Clapham Junction of Andalusia —
the Spanish railway system is joined by the line of that
purely British undertaking, the Algeciras Railway
Company. A Spaniard told me that this line would
never have been built by one of his countrymen, as no
one in Spain had any desire to facilitate Gibraltar's
communication with England, and the country it
traversed had been sufficiently opened up. I do not
think it would be difficult to demonstrate that the line
may prove of very substantial benefit to Spain, but I
will confine myself to thanking the promoters for
having rendered accessible certainly the most beautiful
part of Andalusia, and in my opinion one of the most
wildly picturesque regions of Europe. The country
between Ronda and Algeciras is the Andalusia dreamt
of by the romancers. It is a savage, silent country, of
warmer browns and greens than the rest of Spain.
Here the train takes you no longer across the scorched
sky-rimmed plains, but along the very edge of dizzy
ravines, at the foot of which, hundreds of feet below,

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Southern Spain

angry white torrents foam and froth. Now you are
climbing with obvious effort the steep shoulder of a
mountain, now you are racing headlong down into a
valley which seems to lie almost vertically beneath you.
Now you plunge into the bowels of the Sierra and
emerge with a shriek of triumph in a cauldron-shaped
valley, from which Nature has provided no egress. There
is no want of verdure ; the cork-woods, vineyards,
and olives dot the lower slopes of the tawny hills. And
far up against the sky-line loom shattered towers and
crumbling castles, whence you seem to see trains of
steel-clad knights issuing forth to do battle with the

The country is reminiscent essentially of the days of
chivalry. Perhaps the ruined strongholds and the
dark gorges are still haunted by the knights, who have
driven away all other ghosts and will not let us think
of anyone but them. The Romans were once here, and
at Munda, as every schoolboy knows, Caesar defeated
with great slaughter the army led by the sons of
Pompey. That town has now been identified with
Ronda, the romantic capital of this most romantic
region. Here the people have not forgotten Rome. They
will show you a cave where in the semi-darkness you
descry awful forms in stone, seeming like a ghostly and
gigantic choir of monks. These are the Roman priests
turned to stone upon the downfall of their gods, those
of the people who cherish tradition will tell you.

The town itself you will not find very interesting,




The Way South

though the escutcheons displayed over every second or
third house in one quarter will evoke some reflections
on departed glory and the fall of the mighty. In some
such solar our novelists Seton Merriman and Mr.
Mason have laid the scenes of leading episodes in their
two charming romances. Ronda has had a stirring
past. She shared in all the vicissitudes of Granada,
and towards the end of the long agony of the
Reconquest was the scene of constant and ferocious
border warfare.

It was here that Mohammed V. received the head of
his rival Abu Said, who had been put to death at
Seville by Pedro the Cruel. The town was taken by
the army of Ferdinand and Isabella on May 22, 1485.
The people of the surrounding mountains were deeply
attached to the creed of Islam, and rose in revolt in
1 50 1 against their Christian oppressors. Before they
were crushed they inflicted a severe blow on their
adversaries, completely wiping out a force under Don
Alonso de Aguilar. Westward, on the other side of
the high mountains, lies Zahara, the capture of which
one December night by Mulai Hasan was the signal
for the last crusade against the Spanish Moors of

But it is to its striking situation that Ronda owes its
interest. Fitted rather to be the eyrie of eagles than
the abode of men, it looks down from the verge of pre-
cipitous cliffs nearly three thousand feet above sea level.
Midway, town and rocky hill are cleft asunder by the


Southern Spain

Tajo, an awful gorge, two hundred feet across, and
twice as much in depth. Gazing down into the abyss,
you realize with something of a shudder that a pebble
dropped over the edge of the precipice would fall sheer
and plumb, without rebound or ricochet, into the river
Guadalevin, which rushes below, filling the chasm with
foam and spray. The ravine is spanned by a bridge
built in the eighteenth century, a wonderful construc-
tion, from which when it was near completion its
architect fell headlong. Access to the river may be
obtained by a flight of 365 steps called the Mina, hewn
through the rock. This singular work was executed
by the Moors, who thus ensured themselves a supply
of water against the dangers of a siege. Numerous
subterranean chambers are also ascribed to them, or
rather to their Christian captives.

But the most delightful spot in Ronda is the little
Alameda laid out on the edge of a perpendicular cliflr".
Leaning on the railing you may drink in the beauty
and grandeur of a prospect hardly surpassed in Europe.
The fair fertile country below is shut in by an amphi-
theatre of mountains which soar upwards to heights of
five and six thousand feet. The eye seeks in vain for
an outlet from the valley, till it discerns the white,
dusty high-road winding, doubling, and finally dis-
appearing over a dip between the ranges. The river, a
thousand feet below, swirls and gurgles among the
rocks, glad to have escaped from the dark gorge to
which it has so long been confined.



The Way South

In the evenings the air is keen at Ronda, and in
summer you may often hear English spoken by officers
of the garrison of Gibraltar and their families, who
come here to escape the torrid heat of the Rock. With
a little capital and energy the place might be developed
into a flourishing health resort.

But now the way lies south and seaward. Ever
downwards slowly travels the train. The night gathers
over the castled crags and the mysterious forests. We
detect by their gleam the rivers over which we pass.
But now a bright starlike light is seen to the south-
ward. It flashes and is gone, to reappear the next
instant. We are nearing the strait, and the searchlight
tells us that Britannia watches here with unsleeping
eyes over the fortunes of her children in two seas and
two continents.




The province of Murcia resembles the home of the Arab
race more closely than does any other part of Europe.
It is a wild, fierce region, hot and tawny like a lion's
hide, furrowed by deep winding ravines, intersected by
serrated mountains, on whose flanks, for the heat of the
sun, no green thing can grow. Much of the land is
occupied by plateaux, bare and rocky like great altars
on which all that lives is off^ered to and consumed by
the sun. From these uplands you survey vast ex-
panses of sheer desert — fulvid, rocky, and scorching.
Your gaze may travel far before you descry any fitting
resting-place for man. The mountains afibrd no shade,
even in the deepest canons the streams are often trace-
able only by a narrow path of sand and pebbles, yet
here and there has man successfully wrested from harsh
Nature a secure foothold, an oasis kept ever green by
some more constant rivulet. The waters of the Segura
and the Sangonera are the life-blood of the province.
Wayward and Arethusa-like, the rivers have with
infinite pains been coaxed into conformity with the



The Kingdom of Murcia

needs of man. To the science of irrigation the province
owes its existence. Water here is above all things
prized and sold like treasure to the highest bidder.
Mr. Jean Brunhes in a lately published work gives
some most curious and interesting particulars relating
to the system of irrigation in force in Murcia and the
adjoining province of Alicante. The volume of the
Monegre is divided into old water and new water, the
former belonging of right to the ancient riparian pro-
prietors, the latter to the owners of the locks and
reservoirs. A very vicious system prevails at Lorca.
There a private company is the owner of all the water
of the Guadalentin, subject to the condition of supplying
the old proprietors of the adjoining lands with 500
litres per second every day. In consequence, in times
of drought the company is mistress of the situation and
can force up prices to a figure absolutely ruinous to the
cultivators. Only in this way can it make good the
losses incurred in rainy seasons. The precious fluid
being sold, too, by public auction, the rich farmer is in
a position to deprive his poorer rivals of their means of
subsistence. To palliate this evil to some extent, the
rule now obtains that the bidder who has bought the
first lot can buy as many of the lots following as he
may desire at the same figure. The price therefore is
not forced up too rapidly. Moreover, if the company's
barrage at a certain point is swept away or broken
through by the current, the water which thus escapes
becomes public property. This accident occurs five or


Southern Spain

six times a year, and the company is not allowed to
make the barrage any stronger when it is rebuilt.
Notwithstanding these concessions, it seems that the
principle of private enterprise has been pushed too far
in this part of the world.

Mr. Brunh6s described the sale of water at Lorca in
the following words :

" The sale takes place in a badly-lit hall with naked
walls, on a level with the street, with which it com-
municates by an immense door almost its own breadth.
This door remains open during the sale and the crowd
of bidders stand partly in the street. The hall has no
floor — you stand on the bare ground. Opposite the
door at the end of the hall is a railed-off dais entered by
a side door, and without any direct communication with
the public side. On the dais the secretaries are seated
at a large table covered by a threadbare green cloth.
Behind the table are five arm-chairs. In one is seated
the presiding officer (a civil engineer who must own no
land in the ' Vega '). On a stool is stationed the crier.

" At eight o'clock in the morning, at a sign from the
presiding officer, the crier pronounces these words in a
singing monotonous voice and without any pause
between the two phrases : 'In honour of the Holy
Sacrament of the altar, who buys the first lot of
SoteUana } ' Immediately shouts go up ' Eight, nine,
ten reals !' One voice overpowers the other, wide-
open mouths vociferate loudly, necks are strained,
muscles grow tense with excitement. The bidders



The Kingdom of Murcia

press and crush each other against the iron railing, for
the one nearest has the best chance of being heard.
The presiding officer listens, and follows the frantic
shouting with sovereign calm. Suddenly, with a quick
gesture, he designates the highest bidder. At once the
clamour ceases. Amid absolute silence the man indi-
cated calls out his name, which the clerks write down.

" The men are hatless. Some wear black or dark-
coloured handkerchiefs bound round their heads, but
all hold their broad-brimmed hats in their hands. No
one smokes or talks till the bidding recommences, and
even those in the street are silent and bare-headed. It
is easy to see that all are peasants. Heads are closely
cropped ; here are no beards or moustaches, no one
wears a collar, and most carry a cloak other than the
aristocratic * Capa ' on the shoulders or arm. It is a
curious and impressive sight enough, these bronzed
physiognomies animated by one desire to obtain posses-
sion as cheaply as may be of the supreme good, water."

Before the industry of man had harnessed the way-
ward streams this hot land must have been little better
than an arid wilderness, yet it has been inhabited from
the remotest times, and its possession was keenly con-
tested between the great powers of antiquity. The
natives were known to the ancients as the Mastiani,
and are credited with the virtues which were so long
supposed to have been characteristic of primitive man.
This simple, blameless race fell an easy victim to the
wily Phoenicians, who scented the precious metals within

177 «3

Southern Spain

these barren hills. Elche, Guadix, and Jijona betray-
in their etymology a Semitic origin. Next came the
Greek Vikings from Samos and Rhodes and Phokaia,
establishing themselves at many points along the
eastern shore of the Iberian land. The rivalry between
the Phoenician and Hellenic colonies precipitated a
contest between their respective allies,^the Carthaginians
and the Romans. Hasdrubal founded the port of
New Carthage, the name of which is still preserved in
Cartagena, whence, with a host of 90,000 foot and
12,000 horse, Hannibal started on his famous march
to Rome. The fall of the city, which was bravely
defended by Mago against Scipio, entailed the destruc-
tion of the Punic power in Spain.

Under the Roman yoke Carthago Nova became the
capital of the vast province of Tarraconensis, and the
adjoining district in consequence felt the full force of
all the attacks made by rebels and barbarians on the
tottering empire. Under the Visigoths it was erected
into a duchy by the name of Aurariola. The Duke
Theodomir, unlike most of his peers, offered a
strenuous resistance to the Moslem arms, and when
defeated in battle and besieged in Orihuela, succeeded
by a stratagem in preserving his territory. By dis-
guising all the women as warriors and parading them
on the walls, he so deceived the Moors as to the
strength of the garrison as to obtain from them a
recognition of the independence of the duchy, subject
to the suzerainty of the khalifa.


The Kingdom of Murcia

The province became known after its chief by the
name of Todmir. It endured as an autonomous state
for some sixty-eight years, its final absorption in the
Moslem empire being brought about by the last dukes
espousing the cause of Charlemagne or his Moorish
allies. Arabic colonists poured in and soon out-
numbered the Christian inhabitants. The last province
of Spain to bow before the Crescent became rapidly
the most Moorish of any.

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