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One of the Most Influential Civilizations of Europe: Andalusia


Guitar, dance, song. That is flamenco. Churches with its colossal statues and towers. Bullfight man’s struggle with power aesthetically. The Mediterranean with blue water. Gibraltar, the place where two continents come closer. A woman with her handbell, shawl and rose. Carmen, an infinite source to novels, films. Quixote, the battiness pursuing ideal and purity. All these words frequently even singly tell the unique country, Spain. Beyond these, there is another world instantly reminding of Spain, this is Andalusia.

One of the biggest civilization which is establish in Europe, moreover an Islamic civilization, this is Andalusia. From 711 to 1492 prevailing in Iberia, Andalusia is an important heritage of Spain. However late and hardly accepted, it is not possible to escape from the effect of Andalusia, had lived eight hundred century. Indeed, Andalusia continues to affect Spain both yesterday also today deeply and superficially.

The first proof of this effect, that can be read quickly from official documents is that the name of one of the autonomous region is Andalusia. When you lift your head from the official document, the air you breathe, the voices you hear, whatever you see may shout or look to you from Andalusia. Arabic originated word number in Spanish so much that most words and names at least will be familiar to you. Just like you can feel that river Guadalquivir lasting the middle of Sevilla and Cordoba is one to one Arabic.

The names of Gudalayara, Guadalcanal, Guadalkazar is also Andalusia heritage like stores, Kadi (The term Kadi refers to judges who presides over matters in accordance with Islamic law), dome, building, channel. Just like, the name of stunning gardens of Alhambra called generalife is actually “Paradise-ul Arif”. Street, towns are not enough, the city names like Murside, Almeria, Yaen are also heritage of Andalusia.

Alhambra, Andalusia - Granada

As an example if we mention about art of land irrigation in Spain, some words such as as alkorke, azude, asekya, noria are used and all these have Arabic origin. When you wander these cities, each have an euphonic Arabic name, like Isbiliya for Sevilla, Tuleytula for Toledo, Girnata for Granada and Kurtuba for Cordoba. When mesquita is said, the thing that each Spanish think in fact is that what a Muslim, or an eastern also understands.

Especially, when grand mezquita, known for great mosque is said, all roads go to mosque Cordoba both for Spanish and Muslims. Among all the most important historical works of Spain, buildings belonging to Andalusia era are wandered mostly even today. Alhambra, Cordoba Mosque, Alcasar Palace, Almunecar Castle and also baths, bridges, houses, palaces, belts, embroidered columns, ceilings, geometrics ornaments, the peculiar use of water and light.

All these were embroidered initially to Andalusia, then to Spain’s surface confidentially or obviously. Spain is an European country, it is in the western edge but there are Umayyads an Arab civilization and also Almuda. As they were exposed to this kind of policies, they created an Islamic atmosphere in this western European country. Indeed, most of thing has been remained from that country to the recent time.

For instance, in the Greek – Roman tradition of cities, the place is most public and ground with straight streets, forums, etc. that exists in ideal Greco-Roman towns. It is possible to see the town as a whole by looking from one side to another. However, there are not much such clear perspectives while Middle Eastern Islam civilization exists. The walls close, and when you go along by seeing limited, then you turn a corner and instantly another perspective meets you. Then you turn also another corner, everything again changes.

Granada came into possession of the Spanish instead of being an Arab country in 1492, but you can still see this feature. That means you are walking in an atmosphere of medieval Arab country while wandering around any street there. The curl of the streets, structure of houses; window and door decorations shout as if I am an oriental.

Cordoba, Andalusia

Back street stores of Granada is familiar with not only their architecture, but also fabric color or their style for sale. Song, dance, guitar. The most successful synthesis arises when this triple come together is flamenco. Flamenco occurred by the addition of Arabic, Jews and Castile culture to the music of native Andalusian gypsies. The most familiar sound of the world is thought to mean “leak peasant” in Arabic. By the thanks of its’ success in transferring emotions, also making gloom and enthusiasm lived together, flamenco is the biggest gift of Andalusia not only for Spain but also for world. It is relatively easy for different cultured people to make us of their music as music can be perceived by pure ear.

Culture surely defines how to be heard and mostly whether we take the pleasure from what we heard or not. But we say this only fro common people like us because musicians are different people. Engaged with music directly, whatsoever they heard differently. So music understanding brought by the Arab with a slow and sorrow atmosphere affected both the Spanish and the Portugal differently. Music called as flamenco was affected directly by Arab musical sources in Spain. There is also a kind of tale related to a shepherd sang the first flamenco with the effect of Muslims escaping from Inquisition at that time. But all these are stories having a reality at anywhere or maybe in its conclusion like every tales.

When Andalusia carries such beauty during eight hundred century, is it possible not to magnet the poets itself? Most poet has written to it, most poet has written like it. Even 450 years after it was collapsed, Lorca, great poet of the Spanish poetry, wandered around Alhambra and collected powerful verses by smelling the atmosphere of Andalusia. Well, did you know if Quixote, undisputed the most popular Spanish literary work had written in an Andalusian town, Sevilla? Moreover, Cervantes wrote his masterpiece in the prison which is in Sevilla.

Now, whose statue watching us above, Miegel de Cervantes took part in the Lepanto War in 1571 and also according to a narration he battled although he was ill during the war. At the end he lost his left hand, so he was mentioned proudly as being one-handed of Lepanto. Andalusia does not surprise only while surfing in the history. Sometimes it does such an interesting thing, or prepares such a good surprise that it can meet you vigorously in the year 2009. Just like Turkos, Turkos means Turks.

An interesting anecdote: There is a group called Turkos in Spain. They claim that they are Turkish people. However, there is no ethnic and language connection with Turks. This story based on 1920s. In the inquisition period of Spain, Ottoman Empire embraced the Jewish people who escaped from Spain and then as a result of the domination of Christianity, the Muslims had to leave the country. As the time went by, Spain made a festival they wanted to handle these hard times by making a festival.

Then they started to arrange a festival between Christians and Moros’ (We can translate as Muslims). Especially during the Andalusia civilization, a town called Saks is one of the centers which situated on the Mediterranean coasts where Muslims live, 40 km distance to Alicante. This town has a population of 7000. In the beginning of the years, Muslims and Christians arranged festivals until 1920. They begin on the 4th of February, they had fun, they acted out stories and they developed some stories which remind the old days.


But in this country of festival, a problem occurred in that year, in 1920. The reason was who the leader would be. And this problem could not be solved in any way. When the man who believes that he should be the leader is not chosen as a leader, rebelled. Then he said that you are unfair and would found another group. Just then Turks started the war of independence, revolted with the power of the nation who were really tired of the wars against the great powers and attempted the war of independence.

This small group which gets inspiration from the war of independence, describes themselves as Turks. The new group, describing themselves as Turkos that is to say Turks by receiving inspiration from the independence war, solved the flag and clothes problem in an interesting way. There had been a chocolate factory in that small town.

This factory was giving some flags for taking children’s attention. Then, they found the Turkish flag and Janissary military there. They prepared the clothes in accordance with these and they have started to participate in festival as Turkish group apart from Christians since 1920. Then, this group enlarged gradually and became the symbol of a reformer and secular society in that community. Eight different groups named Turkos continue to take part in festivals today, too.

Coming from 1920, this relation will improve more in the progressive years. This small town had also a Saint. Almost each town in Spain had a saint, as well. Name of this saint was San Bluss. Moreover San Bluss was one of the first Christians in Anatolia by chance. We know that his tomb exists in city called Sivas in Turkey. The Turkos visited Sivas and the tomb, they were very pleased. They encountered with Turkey for the first time. The Turks sent Turkos students from Saks region to 23 April ceremony arranged by TRT channel, they became very happy, too.

Andalusia is a mother approaching to each members of 7 race, 7 languages, 3 religions with the same affection. During these last 25 years, it is interesting to be seen major progress in the acceptance of Islam and the observance of Andalusia culture in Spain. You surely know that we mention about a heritage of an entity in Spain for 8 century. Based on our own experience we can say that they know very well how history of Andalusia was explained in only 2 or 3 page of Spanish school books 20 or 25 years ago are read are explained in short.

In this situation the Islamic Culture Foundation started working hard with Ministry of Education in that date in order to review and update text with the aim for not only especially abolishing this illiteracy, but also eliminating many prejudices and misunderstandings related to history of Andalusia and thus Islam history taught in schools at the same time. This was a very important development because today the Spain reality is a multicultural reality.

Ronda Landscape, Andalusia

Its clemency, indulgence, and shareness effected whole world, he showed no envy in order to convey whatever it knew, all knowledge to everybody coming after. In reflects this beauty in all the fields; it is shown in the poem of Andalusia, in the music, in the picture, in the dance; it is also shown in the language that beautiful Spanish gathering thousands of vocabulary from the Arabic origins from Latin. The beauty is also shown in the appearance (clothes) of Andalusia, in the food and beverage, in the art of living together, in the art of being citizen.

This beauty is shown throughout the centuries. On the one hand, it renews all the time and on the other hand; it doesn’t forget the past. We’re talking about a special beauty which transforms the past and doesn’t lose the taste anytime. We’re also talking about a beauty which transforms itself but also which has a custom. And what caused Andalusia to emerge is that Tarik Bin Ziyad’s stamping into Iberia with a 12-thousands force in 711, just before the war with Visigoth army much more powerful than its own, Tarik Bin Ziyad addressed to its army like that:

“O, humans! Where is proper to escape? Sea is just behind, enemy is in front! No remedy for you except patience and accuracy. You should know that in this Island, you are weaker than orphans in gluttons table! Do your duty against furious enemy as needed by protecting yourself from falling into the bad fate. You should know that I did not warn about an event in which I was welfare. Likewise, I did not foster to fulfill a plan in which the cheapest goods sold was the human soul, by staying out of this. Contrarily, here I start as a fist, God helps us! Your bravery will be recalled in two universe!”



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