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Not so much praise can be bestowed on the choir,
where, however, the stalls by Pedro Duque Cornejo
reveal skilful workmanship. Lope de Rueda, the
Spanish Moliere, is entombed here. In the Cathedral
is also buried the poet Gongora, whose style is aptly
compared by Mme. Dieulafoy to that of Churriguera
in architecture. A more interesting grave is that of
Dona Maria de Guzman de Paredes, a lady celebrated
for her wit and wisdom in the days of Philip II., and


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who won every degree it was in the power of the
University of Alcala to confer. Duque Cornejo is
also buried here.

In the Sacristy is a fine monstrance by Juan de Arfe.
The chapels do not call for particular examination.

If the Mezquita is strange within, it is eminently
picturesque without. The massive walls are crenellated
and supported by stout square buttresses. Between
these are horseshoe arches, richly decorated, and
forming originally sixteen entrances, most of which
are now blocked up. The Puerta del Perdon has
been adorned with the arms of Castile and Leon, and
is secured by bronze doors of an interesting type. An
inscription upon it runs : — " On the 2nd day of the
month of March of the era of Caesar 141 5 (1577 a.d.),
in the reign of the Most High and Mighty Don
Enrique, King of Castile."

Of the minaret, once equal to the Giralda and, like it,
once surmounted by great metal globes, only the lowest
storey remains, an earthquake having thrown down the
superstructure in the sixteenth century. And the
famous Court of the Orange Trees, on to which the
aisles at one time opened, has lost much of its charm.
The trees are stunted and withered, and the soil
covered with coarse grass and weeds. On three sides
the court is surrounded by a gallery, on the fourth by
the buildings of the chapter. The basin was placed
here in 945 by Abd-ur-Rahman, and might with
advantage be used for its original purpose by some of




the habitues of the patio. Two Roman columns at
the entrance to the Cathedral announce the distance to
Gades (114 miles) from the Temple of Janus, which
stood on this site.

On the whole the far-famed Mezquita may be
pronounced disappointing. It must always be so with
the simply planned temples of Islam, when they are
stripped of the innumerable lamps, the rich carpets
and handsome furniture, still to be seen in them at
Cairo, Constantinople, and Smyrna.

Of the magnificent Palace of the Khalifas, the
wonderful domain of Az Zahara, no trace remains. It
was built by a Byzantine architect on the flanks of a
hill, three miles north-east of Cordova, which the
khalifa at one time thought of levelling. Arab writers
declare this to have been the largest palace, as of
course it was the most magnificent, ever raised by
the hand of man. The harem {credat Judaus) could
accommodate 6,000 women, 3,790 eunuchs, and 1,500
guards. Marble appears to have been freely used in
the construction, from which it would seem that the
building bore little resemblance to the Alcazar of a
later day. There were, of course, thousands — tens of
thousands — of columns brought from Rome and
Tunis, and probably from Carthage, and fine fragments
of terra-cotta are still unearthed on the site. Aqueducts
conducted sweet waters to every chamber in the palace,
and fountains cooled the air in the luxuriantly planted
gardens. We are told of the Hall of Ceremonial, with

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its brilliant mosaics and its ceiling of scented wood, in
the centre of which was set an immense pearl, the gift
of the Emperor Constantinos Porphyrogenitos. And
we hear in addition of basins filled with quicksilver for
the amusement of the odalisques.

This gorgeous pile owes its existence to a favourite
of the Khalifa An Nasir, who at her death directed
that her immense wealth should be employed in
ransoming Moslem prisoners in the clutch of the
Christian. The bereaved potentate sent east, west,
north and south in order to execute this pious request,
only to find to his joy that no such thing as a Moslem
captive was anywhere to be found. The happy
thought then came to him to expend the money on
the erection of a palace to be named after a new
favourite, Zahara, whose name it should perpetuate,
and in whose society he might hope to forget the
deceased. This seems to us a somewhat queer appli-
cation of the legacy. The work occupied ten thousand
men daily for many years, and cost during An Nasir's
reign alone seven and a half millions of dineros or
pieces of gold.

The palace seems to have excited, as well it might,
the cupidity of neighbouring monarchs. Alfonso VI.,
the conqueror of Toledo, demanded it of the Amir Al
Mutamed, as a residence for his queen. Dona Con-
stancia, whose accouchement he suggested might take
place in the mosque. It was the Moor's rejection of
this original proposal that led to hostilities, and threw




the Spanish Moslems into the arms of the terrible
Almoravides. Those fierce sectaries seem to have
entirely neglected Az Zahara, and under the puritanical
Almohades we can easily imagine it would be suffered
to decay. How little was left of it when Ferdinand
took the place is shown by his referring to it merely as
Cordova la Vieja (Old Cordova).

Men who lived in such comfort and luxury might be
supposed to have regarded their less fortunate fellows
with easy good nature and tolerance, and according to
most historians the khalifas of Cordova were benevolent
despots, even towards their Christian subjects. Some
Spanish writers, however, paint the lot of these last in
gloomy colours, though, if we accept their accounts in
toto, without the least reservation, there can be no question
that the lot of the Christian under the Moor was very
much better than the lot of the Moor under the Christian.
But that standpoint would not be that of the historians
in question. They are frankly partisans. The Moham-
medans, they would argue, deserved what they got,
because they worshipped the false Prophet ; the
Christians were in the right. It is more difficult to
understand their vehement condemnation of the Bishop
Recafred, because he forbade his flock to seek voluntary
martyrdom by publicly cursing Mohammed. To curse
the Arabian Prophet or anyone else is nowhere laid
down as a Christian's duty, and on merely prudential
grounds the prelate was surely justified in dissuading
his people from pursuing a course which must finally


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have resulted in their complete extermination. Probably
in disgust at the ingratitude and imbecility of his flock,
Recafred embraced the creed of Islam, and died cursed
and abominated by the people whose utter extinction
he had averted. The history of the martyrs of Cordova
is a curious chapter in the annals of religion.

It was recently remarked of Italy that there was not
enough faith to generate a heresy, and by a parity of
reasoning the lamp of faith must have burnt very
brightly in the Christian community of Cordova. The
Saracen authorities were bewildered by the multitude
of sects and factions which claimed to represent the
Church of Christ, and to administer its temporalities.
Councils of the Christian prelates were frequently
convoked by the khalifas, but by the defeated side
their decisions were always branded as schismatical or
heretical. Religious debate is the favourite occupation
of a decaying State, and the Mohammedans themselves
had their divisions. The doctors of the law, who
congregated in a special quarter of the capital,
constituted themselves the critics of their rulers and of
public morals. They considered culture and luxury
incompatible with morality, and preached the creed of
the Uncomfortable and the Unlovely with the zest of
an English Puritan. One day there arose a sovereign
(Hakem) more sensitive of censure than his predecessors.
He burnt out the Puritan quarter and forced the zealots
to take refuge in distant parts where their peculiar
talents were more in demand.




The more human side of Islam found an embodiment
in the illustrious Ziryab, the favourite of Abd-ur-
Rahman II. In his case, I suppose, as in all else,
it is necessary to discount by fifty per cent, all the
appreciations of Arabic writers ; yet through all the
cobwebs of exaggeration and tradition, we can discern
the outlines of a very remarkable personality. Ziryab
was the Admirable Crichton of his age. He combined
the attributes of Leonardo da Vinci and Beau Nash.
He alone could decide on the proper method of eating
asparagus and on the planning of a city. He could
pronounce with finality on the wisdom of a move at
chess and a far-reaching treaty of state. He had
views on the organization of armies and aviaries ;
he was listened to with equal respect by statesmen
and scullery-maids. And (wonderful to relate)
this authority on everybody's business was loved by
everyone !

The history of Cordova, like that of most capitals,
belongs to the nation at large, and cannot be more than
touched upon here. Memorials of ancient days are
the picturesque Moorish walls with their flanking
towers and the grand old bridge of sixteen arches,
built by the khalifas. It marked the limit of navigation
in Roman days, whereas now no boat can ascend the
Guadalquivir above Seville. The bridge is defended
on the south side by a very picturesque tete du pont
called Calahorra, a fine specimen of the medieval
barbican. Here a strange scene was witnessed in the


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year 1394, when the prototype of Don Quixote, Don
Martin de la Barbuda, Grand Master of Calatrava,
appeared at the head of a few knights and a fanatical
rabble on his way to fight the Moors of Granada. His
enterprise was directly counter to the king's orders ;
the two countries were at peace. The royal officers
assembled on the bridge expostulated and threatened
the crusaders in vain. The Grand Master was accom-
panied by a hermit, who exhorted him to proceed and
promised him that his victory should be purchased
without the loss of a single Christian life. The officials
were swept aside, and the wild cavalcade went on its
way to destruction. None of the knights ever returned
alive across the bridge of Cordova.

During the four centuries following the Reconquest,
the city boasted that it was the home of the finest
flower of the European aristocracy. Their old
mansions have for the most part disappeared, but the
name of the most distinguished member of the order
is treasured in Cordova and honoured far beyond the
limits of Spain. Gonzalo Hernandez de Aguilar y de
Cordova, "the Great Captain," is the hero of the city.
The principal street is named after him, as indeed one
might suppose the town to have been, from the
reverence in which he is held. On the whole, he was
the greatest soldier this country has produced. With
forces hardly superior to those with which Cortes and
Pizarro conquered a savage foe, he vanquished the
best equipped troops in Christendom and matched




his strength successfully against the most brilliant
warriors of his day. His reward, it is hardly necessary
to say of the servant of a fifteenth-century king,
was ingratitude and neglect. When the odious
Ferdinand V. demanded from him a statement of his
military expenditure, he responded with the famous
"Cuentas del Gran Capitan," which silenced even the
venal monarch. The statement ran :

"200,736 ducats and 9 reals paid to the clergy and the poor who
prayed for the victory of the arms of Spain.

"100 millions in pikes, bullets, and entrenching tools; 100,000
in powder and cannon-balls, 10,000 ducats in scented gloves to
preserve the troops from the odour of the enemies' dead left on the
battlefield; 100,000 ducats spent in the repair of the bells
completely worn out by every day announcing fresh victories gained
over our enemies; 50,000 ducats in 'aguardiente' for the troops, on
the eve of battle. A million and a half for the safeguarding
prisoners and wounded.

"One million for Masses of Thanksgiving, 700,494 ducats for
secret service, etc.

"And one hundred millions for the patience with which I have
listened to the King, who demands an account from the man who
has presented him with a kingdom" !

This singular balance-sheet sufficiently shows the
temper of the grandees of Spain even in the days of
the New Monarchy. Cordova has reason to be proud
of her eponymous hero. She has not been very
fruitful in great men. She has produced no painters
of eminence, unless Pablo de Cespedes may be classed
among such ; but Mme. Dieulafoy reminds us that to


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Juan de Mena, a native of the place and a courtier or
Juan II., Spanish poetry is deeply indebted :

"His great work, 'The Labyrinth,' may in a measure be
compared with that part of the'Divina Commedia' where the
Florentine places himself under the protection of Beatrice.
Accompanied by a beautiful young woman personifying Providence,
the poet witnesses the apparition of the worthies of History and
Legend, and amuses himself in sketching their portraits. At times
the style becomes heavy and pedantic, at others the touches of the
pencil have a vigour and simplicity altogether Dantesque. Before
Juan de Mena, the Castilian muse had never taken so daring a
flight ; and in spite of the defects of the general scheme, the
untasteful phraseology, and the measure, 'The Labyrinth' abounds
in conceptions and episodes where energy blended with beauty
reveals a genius of the first order."

From poetry to leather the transition may seem
abrupt, but it is to be feared that our city has derived
more renown from the latter than the former. The
stamped and gilded leather of Cordova was highly
esteemed all over the civilized world from the
fifteenth century to the eighteenth. Whether the
industry was introduced by the Moors it is idle to
inquire ; long after their departure it formed the
principal business and source of revenue of the
Spaniards of the city. A powerful guild laid down
strict rules as to apprenticeship, and regulated the
quality and quantity of the manufacture. Terrible
penalties were enforced against the tanner who made
use of the hides of animals that had died of disease.
The kings of Spain considered trunks or other objects




bound in Cordova leather gifts very suitable for their
fellow-princes. The Catholic kings, absurdly enough,
forbade its exportation to the New World, not wishing
to deprive the mother-country of goods of such price.
With protection on this scale, we are not surprised to
learn that the industry began to decline. Cordova
was at length surpassed in its own line by Venice and
other cities. The rich specimens of its work which
adorned the mansions of its old noblesse were sold
and dispersed all over the world, upon the general
impoverishment of the kingdom in the eighteenth
century. Then came the sack of the city, a hundred
years ago, by the army of Dupont. Time has spared
the famous race of Cordovan horses, and many a poor
hidalgo rides into the town on a steed which if sold in
London might redeem his shattered fortunes.

I have said a great deal about Cordova and its titles
to remembrance ; but it must be confessed that there
is little enough to see in it. The churches present no
features of interest, except the Colegiata de San
Hipolito, modernized in 1729, which contains the
tombs of Ferdinand IV. and Alfonso XI. Nor is
walking through the city an exercise altogether
pleasing, as the streets which were the first paved in
Europe, in 850, might also claim to be the worst
paved in the world. The stones are so sharp and
pointed that in parts you have to skip from one to the
other, like a bear dancing on hot iron — an original
but ungraceful method of locomotion. A drive in the

105 H

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surrounding country is productive of more pleasure.
The neighbourhood is a Paradise of fertility, and sets
one wondering what becomes of all the money that
this must bring in and represent. Spain and Greece
are very poor countries, but I do not think that
Spaniards and Greeks are, for the most part, very poor.

1 06




Over two thousand feet above the sea stands the
ancient city of Granada, once the teeming centre of
the kingdom of the Moors and now a town of
memories eloquent of the grandeur of older days.
The province bearing its name is bounded on the
north by sterile ranges, while close to the southern
seaboard stretch the huge shoulders and serrated peaks
of the noble Sierra Nevada, rivaUing in height the
chief summits of the Pyrenees. Between these ranges
spread fertile vegas, or plains, rising here and there to
over a thousand feet, a district of vineyards and olive
groves, and semi-tropical plants find a favourable

Granada, though on the verge of an arid territory, is
in a strip of great fertility, watered by the Genii and
the Darro, the latter — the Hadarro of the Moors — a
stream that is heavily taxed by the farmers for
purposes of irrigation. Th6ophile Gautier praised the
river of Granada for its beauty, but since his day the
stream has shrunk, and nowadays the volume of water
is insignificant, especially during a dry summer.


Southern Spain

The waters of the Darro have a reputation for their
healing qualities, and cattle that drink from it are said
to recover quickly from diseases. Hence, in the
ancient speech, the river had the title of " The
Salutary Bath of Sheep." Under the Moors the
environs of Granada were in the highest state of
cultivation, and they are still very productive. The
land yields plenteous wine and oil. The chief crops
are grains of various sorts. Hemp and flax flourish,
and oranges, lemons, and figs are a source of income
to the agriculturists. Granada is also famed for its
mulberry trees, whose leaves provide food for the silk
caterpillar, though the silk trade is in a state of sad

The soil around the city never rests. There is no
waste of land. Oranges and pomegranates grow
profusely. The cactus is cultivated for the production
of the cochineal insect. Clovers yield several cuttings
each year in this fecund territory.

In the neighbouring mountains there are rich veins
of marble, and jasper and amethyst are found. Yet
the mining industry in the Sierra Nevada remains
to be developed. The Granadines are hardly a
commercial population, though numerous crafts are
practised in their city. Factories for the production
of sugar from beetroot have been erected in recent
years, and it is hoped that this industry will increase.

The life of Granada in its lighter aspects can be well
studied on the promenade of the Salon, one of the




most beautiful parades in Europe. Here, under the
shade of luxuriant trees, amid handsome fountains,
and by parterres decked richly with many flowers, the
people of the city stroll upon summer evenings after
the great heat of the day. From the Salon you gain a
superb view of the purple Sierra Nevada, which at
sunset wears a wealth of changing hues.

A walk along the promenade precedes the evening
gathering in the patios of the houses of the upper and
middle classes, when to the sound of guitar and the
rattle of castanets, young and old dance together. At
these tertulia, or evening parties, singing alternates
with dancing the bolero and the jota. And later, when
the lights are dim, and the watchman tramps slowly
through the streets, you see the lovers, the " novios "
waiting beneath the windows of the adored fair ones,
or lightly strumming serenades on their guitars.

At festival times the city is all animation. The
anniversary of the taking of Granada is celebrated on
January 2, when a procession is formed and proceeds
to the Cathedral. Corpus Christi is another feast day,
and there are two fairs during the year, one in June
and the other in September.

But it is Granada of the past rather than of the
present that holds us during a sojourn in the city of
hills and vistas. It is the scene of dreams, a city of
meditation. You court serenity rather than hilarity
amid these haunted streets and silent ruins. The
Arabs had a saying, referring to one who was sad,


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" He is thinking of Granada." It is this spirit,
perhaps, which prevails in the patios of the Alhambra
and amid the orange trees of the GeneraHfe Gardens.
And yet it is not true depression. It is a sense of the
glory that has been, a meditativeness which is induced
by the somnolence of the scene, and fostered by the
languorous atmosphere of the South.

An ancient legend, often " rehearsed by chroniclers,
ascribed the founding of the city to certain descendants
of Noah. It stated that Tubal settled in Spain and
populated the country. There is some evidence that
the province of Granada was the first district in Spain
peopled by aliens. The founder of a town on the site
of modern Granada is alleged to have been the
mythical Iberus, who built Illiberis, which has been
referred to as the original city. At any rate Illiberis
existed in the Roman days, for it was a municipium
under the rule of Augustus. The town was also the
scene of an ecclesiastical council in the fourth century.

Plundered by the Vandals, and won by the
Visigoths, Illiberis was in decay at the time of the
coming of the Moors to the Iberian Peninsula. With
the conquest of Andalusia, the town of Granada first
came into existence.

At this period the Berbers overran the territory,
though the Moorish authors relate that settlers from
Damascus were the first Eastern colonizers of Granada.

The greatest obscurity shrouds the history of the
city. It is strange that the writers of medieval times



so rarely allude to Granada. About the year 860, a
war ragged over Andalusia between the native Moslems
and their foreign rulers, the chief leader of the former
being Omar Ben Hafsiin. Under his lieutenant,
Nabil, an attack was made on Granada, and we read
that some exultant verses written by the belligerents
were attached to an arrow and propelled over the city
wall. In these verses the words Kalat-al-hamra (" the
Red Castle") appear. This first reference to Al-Hamra
suggests that an edifice for defence stood on the hill
now occupied by the Alhambra.

In 886 Omar Ben Hafsun appears to have wrested
Granada from the Khalifa of Cordova. A few years
later Omar was conquered, and retiring to the Castle
of Bobastro, he embraced the Christian faith, in which
he died.

Zawi Ben Ziri, a Berber, first established Granada as
a kingdom in 1013. Gayangos, the Spanish historian,
states that lUiberis — or Elvira, as it was called at this
time — was a dwindling city and that Habus Ibn
Makesen, nephew to Zawi Ben Ziri, founded a new
town and capital.

Habus was a builder as well as a warrior. He is
the putative founder of the old Kasba, or citadel, in
the Albaicin quarter, which was added to by his heir,
Badis, who succeeded him in rule. The king is also
said to have built the Casa del Gallo de Viento, in
the same quarter, where he probably resided. Badis
proved an ambitious and warlike monarch, for he


Southern Spain

enlarged his dominions widely, and even subdued the
resolute hillfolk of the Alpujarras. He conquered
Malaga, and made plans to besiege Seville. But his
force was routed at Cabra by the famous Cid Campeador,
Ruy Diaz de Bivar, the ally of the sultan of that city.
To Badis is attributed a persecution of the Jews, who
numbered several thousands in Elvira, and a terrible
slaughter decimated their ranks.

At the advent of the Almoravides, a fierce sect of
Northern Africa, Granada was captured (1090) by
Abd-ul-Aziz. The city now rose in importance. Soon
after the Almoravide settlement, the followers of Islam
in Granada attacked the Christians of the city and
destroyed their church by fire. The unfortunate
Christians appealed for help to Alfonso of Aragon,
and the king came to their relief at the head of a
strong army. In the combat at Anzul the Almoravides
were worsted. Alfonso before retiring laid waste the
fertile plain, and left the Christians to make the best
of their position. His action had little effect upon the
Almoravides, for in 1126 numbers of Christians were
banished to Barbary and the rest bitterly oppressed.

The doom of the Almoravides came in 1148. A
mightier host, the rapacious and fanatical Almohades,

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Online LibraryAlbert Frederick CalvertSouthern Spain → online text (page 7 of 13)