Our Third and Fourth Form students recently flew to Granada for the chance to experience the dual histories of Moorish and Christian Spain.
The trip started in Granada, our home for the week, where the group explored the area to get a feel for the city. We stopped at Granada Cathedral, a place that celebrates the monarchs that united Spain, Ferdinand and Isabella. We had the chance to see a service taking place before heading off to the Old Town square to enjoy tapas and churros.
We then travelled to a very rainy Cordoba to visit the Alcazar de los Reyes Christianos. This building has played a major part in the governance of the city for over two thousand years. We saw Roman mosaics, as well as the Islamic architecture and the Christian adaptation of the building following the Reconquista. The Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba was the next treat in store, and nothing could have prepared us for the amazing sight. The stunning building was a highlight of the trip. As Seth Thomson in Third Form explains, “My favourite part of the trip was the amazing mosque-cathedral of Cordoba, purely because of its beauty and its incredible history where it has experienced different owners and entirely different purposes.”
Following this we went to visit the famous Ponte Romana, the Roman Bridge, a stunning sight and one recognisable from the recent Game of Thrones adaption. Next up was a visit to the Medina Azahara, a city built by the Sultan Abd-ar Rahman III in the 10th century. Although just ruins now, some of the outline of the vast, wealthy city still remains today.
Following that the group travelled from the Port of Tarifa to Tangiers in Morocco for the day. After a very rough crossing, the boys were happy to see land and to get out and see the mosques, palaces and Islamic mosaics. After we had seen the point at which the Mediterranean Sea meets the Atlantic Ocean, we stopped for a quick camel ride. We then had the chance to visit the Cave of Hercules, a natural wonder shaped like the map of Africa and supposedly Hercules’s final resting place after he had finished completing his twelve challenges.
We then visited the Medina and the Kasbah, where we got to see stunning Islamic architecture. After enjoying a delicious Moroccan meal, complete with traditional entertainment, the boys headed into the Souk for a chance to practice their bartering skills with the street traders. Despite the rain, it was a spectacular day. “The whole trip was fantastic but my favourite part was visiting Morocco and Tangier. The reason that I liked it so much was because it was a completely new experience, and nothing like I had ever seen before. This made it very interesting and fun to explore” said Stanley Chilvers.
Another great experience was a visit to the Alhambra. This incredible set of palaces really demonstrated the Moorish history of Southern Spain and the later influence of the Christian Spanish monarchs, who took over in the 14th century. We saw Charles V’s palace, which he never stayed in as he ran out of money mid-construction, the Alcazar, the Hall of the Ambassadors, the Court of the Lion, and many other incredible buildings. We also took a tour of the Generalife, gardens designed by the Moorish Sultans, which were absolutely stunning in the sunshine. After some free time for shopping, we walked up the hill to visit the Grenada mosque and to take in the view of the Alhambra palace complex at sunset.
It was an amazing trip where our students could experience Spanish culture, the juxtaposition of Moorish and Spanish culture, and to experience Morocco. Varun Ravikumar sums up the trip: “[It was] A thoroughly comprehensive tour of the historical and religious cultures of the Spanish peninsula and neighbouring Morocco, each day elaborating on key events such as the Muslim Conquest, and subsequent Christian Re-conquest in Spain with its profound effects five hundred years later. It definitely is a trip I would recommend to prospective Religious Studies GCSE students and anyone with an interest in history.”
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