Wednesday, January 30, 2008

II. Pursuing "dhimmitude" 1492 -- in Christian Spain, the Reconquest and Re-taking from the Muslims

The Jewish Expulsion

Part II of a look at Muslim expansion in Spain; and its aftermath - 
Christian Rule and Expulsion of the Jews.

This, after centuries, of living together under the Muslims


This follows up the earlier post on the status of dhimmi for subject Jews and Christians under Muslim rule, at Spain Road Ways, Pursuing "dhimmitude" to 1492.

Jews were expelled from Spain in about 1492. From there, many ended up in Eastern and Central Europe. This is the second part of our look at  "dhimmitude" -- the condition or status of non-Muslims under Muslim rule.

Spanish Synagogue, Prague, CZ

II. Jewish life at the time of the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492.

What happened then?

Here is the "Spanish Synagogue" in Prague, the Czech Republic, see Czech Republic Road Ways, Prague, Jewish Quarter.

Whoever built this clearly valued a heritage from and in Spain. How did this get to Prague.

History here focuses on an old event, and a recent one:

Edict of Expulsion. The old event. This is the expulsion of the Jews from Spain by formal Edict of Expulsion in 1492. King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella's Christian armies had defeated the Muslims who ruled Spain from the 8th Century until 1492. This is called the "Reconquest" of Spain, from the Muslim conquering of the Visigothic Kings and others, the first invasion being in 711. The expelled Jews went wherever they could find homes, out of Spain. You can still see the empty Jewish Quarters, especially in Seville, where the occupiers now are Christians, clubs, very scenic and old, but no longer Jewish.

The Spanish Jews, ending up in Turkey, Italy, North Africa and elsewhere, became known as the Sephardim.

A loss to Spain - Spain caused its own brain drain.

The Spanish Christian response was not a new angle. Earlier Christians, the Visigoths, ruling before the Muslims, also forced conversion or expulsion, see ://

Petr Ginz. The recent event: Some Jews ended up in Central and Eastern Europe. Read "The diary of Petr Ginz," by Chava Pressburger, his sister, about his life in World War II in Prague. His whose grandmother attended this synagogue, also known as the Dusni Synagogue - -see Places of Petr Ginz. The conditions under which the Jews were expelled, and where some of them ended up.

The persistence of ethnic memory in all of us.

Dhimmi Status - after Muslims are Gone.

1. Most sites address how bad it was or must have been. With that background, see the numerous sites decrying the treatment of Christians and Jews under Muslim rule, see for example, :// No doubt atrocities happened - but the essence of the "dhimmi" status under the Muslims, the subservient legal status afforded Christians and Jews in Muslim lands, was essentially economic, political, religious, social - behavior and privilege oriented. We have been looking around our Koran, and see no requirement or advisement for atrocities on top.

2. Does applying a separate type of "dhimmi" legal status, even temporarily, offer some constructive way to meet our own issues with different populations.

See the dabblings with a plank on dealing with immigrants without documentation here now, and until further study can be made. How to suspend ferocities until after an election, so we all can stop and think.

See Pose Juxta: Plank, Lawful Temporary Residence Permit (Red Card).

If "Dhimmi" as a theory or legal status was indeed intended as an administrative, functional - even if clearly unequal - legal status, the inequality was part of the overall social - religious structure and in their time made sense.

I do not yet see that a cruel or humiliating enforcement or implementation was required - that looks like the normal variations among rulers. Is it worth exploring. Yes. See exploration discussion of possible uses of this legal status approach for us in transitional immigration issues at Hello, Fodder, Dhimmi Status; and Joy of Equivocating, Dhimmi fact-finding.

2. With the "dhimmi" status in mind as to how Muslims did it, then look at the "dhimmi" status imposed by Christians over Jews in Christian lands. The Spanish Inquisition killed Jews who would not convert, and committed terrible atrocities in order to obtain confessions and conversions. Ferdinand and Isabella than expelled them all - the Edict of Expulsionn in 1492. Liquidate property, throw them out.

See ://

3. Compare: Muslim dhimmi laws that permit ongoing life, even protect it, but impose restrictions - harsh ones, but so far no advocacy for atrocities against compliant "dhimmis." Is this accurate?

Christian dhimmi laws - the Edicts of Expulsions in Spain and other countries- that permit no "dhimmis" to live there at all, and certainly not in the country they had populated for centuries, living with Muslims and Christians alike. Kill and expel. Or torture, and persecute, as in Inquisitions.

A hope for future co-existence: Can we as people recognize that the abusive form, that a religion takes in its interactions with others from time to time, is a function of the leaders' agendas and interpretations, and not necessarily at all what the scriptural basis of the religion may have intended.

How does any religion change depending on the interpretations of authorities.

Here, on this little island, let's say, is the founding place of a major religion. All that we have of the life and teachings of the founder now is two chimneys, one at each end.

For Christians, this is an apt analogy. So much was never written down, until it became other people's differing recollection, or hearsay filling in, all the rest did not survive, or is still in desert jars, for some reasons intentional, others not.

For Jews, or Muslims, let them interpret as they will.

For all of us, what was originally intended may well be in the mists, after all the intervening "inspired" interpreters filling in the gaps between the chimneys to suit them. Everybody dhimmis everybody, so we all need help from somewhere and that 's the truth. Bhlpppthpt.

Who is the pot calling which other kettle black?:// Or six of one, half dozen of the other, etc. See :// Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who is the .....

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

I. Pursuing "dhimmitude" in Arab-Berber - Muslim Spain 750-1492 C.E.

 This is part I of a look at Muslim expansion into Spain: to 1492. 
The Status of Dhimmitude - the Infidel in a Muslim Society

Christians retake Spain.


Part I. Islamic Expansion in Spain through the centuries - Arab, Berber in Spain.

This looks at the Muslim invasions and occupation of Spain 711-1492 CE.  The Visigoths had taken over in the 5th Century in Spain, following the fall of Rome.  See ://  Note that the Ottomans, out of Turkey, came much later - in 1369 with the Ottomans invading Bulgaria and heading north.

Note there were not Ottomans in Spain. The Ottoman Empire spread out of Turkey into Central Europe and Europe later.

1. Arab. Berber.

Muslims in Spain were Arabs and Berbers. See this Fordham University site for Islamic history - at :// And here are a series of maps showing Islamic conquests from time to time, including in Spain, at this University of Pennsylvania site :// More maps at ://

The invaders were also known as "Moors," and included Arab, Berber and African persons, with the largest genetic group now being identified as Berber, from North Africa - see :// For Berber history, see :// Their language was spoken from the Canary Islands to Egypt, now mostly in the mountains of Algeria. Fierce fighters.

2. Ottomans. These are not the same. 

The Ottomans were a a different Muslim Empire from the one that conquered Spain. Spain's conquerors were Arab-Berber Muslims, not Ottoman. Ottoman means the Turkish Muslims of a later era, that began their expansion out of Turkey in about 1300. See map at ://

The Ottomans do appear to have taken areas around Algiers. by its greatest extent in about 1699, but they then stopped. That map site also shows the extent of the Ottoman Empire after World War I, leaving only Turkey itself by 1924. Scroll down.

3. The status of Dhimmi. Dhimmitude. Dhimmis.

Regardless of which group or branch is Islam is the topic, our understanding is that each imposed a particular status on Christians and Jews after conquest by Muslims. From Arab- Berber entry at Spain, probably near Gibraltar, and then extending briefly to Poitiers, France; to the Ottomans from Turkey later knocking on the doors of Vienna, the Balkans, Asia, Central Europe.

The meaning of Islam has not been a focus of our education of ourselves or our children, to our demonstrated peril in terms of decisions we make and conclusions we draw in a vacuum as to that heritage. So, we look here at Dhimmitude.

Hot topic. Search for "dhimmi" or "dhimmitude" and you will find invective as well as objective assessment. See Hello, Fodder - Dhimmi status posts; or Europe Road Ways Themes - Kosovo I and II posts. And Joy of Equivocating, Fear of Fog, Facts before Conclusions.

4. Jewish History in the Islamic Empires.

Go here for a timeline on Jewish topics from their history in Spain. ://

What was life for a Jew or Christian in the Spain experience, who chose not to convert to Islam in Spain in those years, we will let you know. So far, we see a kind of "chastened subservience" applied, see see :// A legal status with overtones of humiliation? And, the element of forbidding arms to be used against Muslims - see :// Need to see all the cites. Still looking. Complex area.

Christian retribution against Jews after the Christian reconquest.

Dhimmi status looks benign compared to the fate of the Jews in 1492- the Reconquest, when the Christians finally drove out the Muslims, from Granada at that late date. The Christians expelled the Jews - no-one could remain who would not convert. See the Edict of Expulsion itself at ://

So any discussion of dhimmitude, stay with restrictions; has to be seen against its Christian counterpart - get out. This sourcebook from Fordham University lets you read all about it, from original texts: ://

The invective sites in looking up Islamic law that you will find, may or may not be found to be supported by history. You need to check up on each site you find. Please do not rely on conclusions from talking heads or neighbors at the coffee shop without finding facts. Good idea.

We should criticize others, when our own Crusades were holy wars, and offensive, not just defensive, see overview of St. Bernard of Clairvaux and the rationales at Spain Road Ways, Castles, Crusades.

5. The meaning of the Koran.

Where did dhimmi come from. Is it written. For those of us with an interest in what the Qur'an says, note that it cannot be translated - all is phrased as interpretation or meaning. I understand that these versions are among the best,
  • "The Meaning of the Glorious Koran," 1930, by Marmaduke Pickthall, see ://; and
  • "The Koran Interpreted," by A. J. Arberry ://
Arberry looks more poetic, as the Christian King James version reads more poetically than later versions. Pickthall may be easier to understand.

Status of research so far:

It looks like the conditions of dhimmitude for the conquered - second class status, no political say, no ownership of land, deference to Muslims, and pay a special tax (reducing income available) is nothing more than what good Christian men rejoiced in doing to their Christian women for several thousand years.

See next section, looking at after 1492's Edict of Expulsion of the Jews, at Spain Road Ways, Pursuing dhimmitude 1492 - in Christian Spain, the Reconquest.

Segovia - The Alcazar

Alcazar, Segovia, Spain

Fortress, castle, military academy, parts used as a prison, origins of the word "Alcazar" in Arabic, probably from the 11th Century. See .

Segovia is a perfect first stop after arriving in Spain - an easy drive from the airport, a few wrong turns on motorways, but good signs. Inside is a hall of armor, mounted knights, knights in corners, knights around corners, in centers, off to sides. Spears, weapons. Then, in town, a huge aqueduct - Roman.

Andres Segovia, guitar, hush:  Video, Andres Segovia Plays Capricio Arrabe.  He is not from the town, Segovia, however, see 

Segovia - Cochinillo Asado; not Andres Segovia

We started in Madrid, went to Segovia, see Segovia , and then north east toward Bilbao.

Segovia, the town, is not the birthplace of the famous classical guitarist, Andres Segovia, and is not near it - Segovia was born in Linares, in the south, see ://

Here in Segovia, not far from Madrid, is a beautiful palace with an exhibit of medieval armor and weaponry. Near the aqueduct is a cluster of find cafes. See Segovia at :// And here is the late Andres Segovia, 1893-1987:// This advertises free music downloads: ://,,514488,00.html

Big roast pig. Do not confuse with the delicate roast suckling pig, cochinillo asado, Spain
Cochinillo Asado - roast suckling pig - this site says the piglet is 21 days old and has had nothing but mother pig's milk. See :// Find a recipe here - you did good if you can cut it with a plate.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Don Quixote Figures - Undoers of Injustice - Many Cultures

This is a look-back to our trip, spurred onwards by some considerations of today's (2010) American politics - The puzzle and even the inspiration of an Alvin Greene who won a substantial primary election seemingly out of nowhere, and is staying in the race for the duration, against the Biggies. Go, Alvin.


Cultures and empires and religions are  built upon wrongs.  Periodically, people arise to right them, with varying results. Who pans out.  Who is the actor, who the genuine. 

In Spain, think of Don Quixote: the righter of wrongs, the undoer of injustice - see ://

Let Sancho Panza himself introduce him, in straightening out which is which to those who did not know:

"And the real Don Quixote, of La Mancha, the famous, the valiant, the wise, the lover, the righter of wrongs, the guardian of minors and orphans, the protector of widows, the killer of damsels, he who has as his sole mistress the peerless Dulcinea Del Toboso, is this gentleman before you, my Master, all other Don Quixotes and all other Sancho Panzas are dreams and mockeries."

Read the book - start here: at page 197, at ://

A Righter; one who sets out to fix.

Saint Nicholas was a Righter. when he was Bishop Nicholas, did that at Myra in intervening in the imminent execution of three innocent men, and securing their release, see :// But Don Quixote holds our attention most, because he was dedicated to that principle. Read an okay summary at :// Best to read the book.

Who is like unto Don Quixote?

Shall we try America's Alvin Greene, who, by fluke or fate, won the Democratic party nomination primary for candidate to the United States Ssenate, and noone yet has found trickery or fraud or exploitation. It may still happen, still, enjoy the ride.

Is he a fraud or genuinely disingenuous.  A plain man, with education but few skills in presenting himself, awards in the military, and erroneous roads taken in his life, little stellar about him from information to date, but still he seeks to fix the things that went wrong in his life, the institutions that did not recognize him, the jobs that did not come about, etc. See the amazement at The Fey in Religion and Politics.

Spain has many legacies, but the Don Quixote story of human connection, endeavor, effort directed at windmills, is worth our best attention. See America Road Ways, Washington DC

Puerto La Pice, El Toboso - Don Quixote in La Mancha

The La Mancha area is south of Madrid, a broad area of reference points that people have tied together loosely, as having stimulated the imagination of Cervantes in creating the fictional Don Quixote. See


Puerto LaPice, Spain, Street scene

Puerto LaPice is a small town, see Don Quixote on the stucco on the side of the building - its favorite fictional son. It is hard to time your visit so the recycling bins are out of sight, so enjoy.

We forget over here what it is like without most everyone owning some kind of car - note there is no traffic at all.

Don Quixote, Puerto LaPice, Spain. Trough.

The Don Quixote country - the book "Don Quixote" by Miguel de Cervantes 1547-1616, at :// remember that he is a fictional character, but there are towns associated with his adventures, and those of Sancho Panza, his companion; and Dulcinea, his heart's desire.

Here is the statue of Don Quixote at Puerto La Pice, where someone has set up a commercial enterprise to serve you lunch, a reconstructed sample Inn of the period, but clearly geared to provide the buses with a stop point: the Venta del Quijote.

Do go to the gift shop - really. Some people are gifted at selecting good goods to sell. They are here. Skilled entrepreneurs without borders.

We are not shoppers, but the black silhouette of Don Quixote and the head-down horse on a plain white thin mug was worth the buy. This commercialism is not a negative - the area does not offer many focal points, and we do enjoy lunch. Go anyway. There is a map at this site to get you oriented - Dulcinea's home, at El Toboso, is not far. These are not well marked, so enjoy the roads.


Here is Don Quixote in the town of El Toboso. See
Don Quixote and Dulcinea, El Toboso, Spain

There is also a very fine art/gift shop in El Toboso where you can dress up as Don Quixote and Dulcinea and have your picture taken. Everybody needs good kitsch.

Other spots are Campo del Criptana with its windmills, for the rest of the Don Quixote circuit. If this is new to you, do see Man of La Mancha, 1972 film and later Broadway musical, at ://; and sing "The Impossible Dream."

Cadiz - 1100. Phoenicians BC, to Rome, to Moors, to Now

Cadiz, Spain

Cadiz is an old port city, on a peninsula, and nearly surrounded by water. It has been settled since 3000 B.C. and is the oldest city in Europe.

The James Bond film, "Die Another Day," was filmed here - looking so much like Havana. See :// The old town has close ties with Cuba.

Phoenicians first settled here, says :// That would have been in about 1100 BC.

Their range for trade was broad -- amber from the Baltic, British tin, Spanish silver.

Romans kept a navy base here, Moors constructed an extensive town, see ://, but its commercial success waned. Palm trees, tropical (is this Florida?)

Columbus was brought back here when he fell in disfavor, and used this location to contact Queen Isabella for reinstatement in the good graces, see story at ://

After walking the streets and squares and mosques, enjoy the beach. There are several, many near the hotels and commercial area, full of tourists, this one just as we left the peninsula.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Salamanca - The Cathedral Facade (Moorish(, Shell House, Order of St. JamesOrder

Salamanca, Spain, Cathedral facade

Spain was controlled for five hundred years or so by  the Moors - the architectural and other influences are everywhere.

Here is another kind of influence - individuality. The shell shapes affixed to the side of this house cast different shadows as the day moves on.

Salamanca, Spain, Shell House

See it at // Casa de las Conchas. It was built in the 1500's and is now a library, but once was the palace of Rodrigo Maldonado. He was a knight, of the St. James Order (is that part of what much later was named the New Orleans St. James' Infirmary in our culture? I went down to the St. James' Infirmary.... blues - hear this New Orleans traditional at ://

The Order of St. James was formed in the 12th Century, see The Ancient Military Order of St. James of the Sword at :// It was part of the First Crusade, and upon return, its members continued on the Iberian Peninsula, gathering recruits. It also aided the Iberian kings in the reconquest from the Muslims. See its full history at the site.

The shell is the insignia of the Order. It also is the sign carried by many pilgrims on their pilgrimages - the scallop shell.

St. James' Way is the name of the Pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela - the pilgrims carried scallop shells to show their status as Pilgrims, not carrying much, so please do not rob. See a German pilgrim represented as leaving for Santiago de Compostela, at Speyer,Germany - see Germany Road Ways, Heidelburg, and Speyer and Pilgrims  Meet Jakob Spilgar there.

Salamanca - Plaza Mayor, Performances

Salamanca, Spain, Plaza Mayor

Salamanca dates from before Roman times, came under the Visigothic Kings, then the Arabs, and back and forth until the reconquest. It is particularly known for its university, famous in Medieval Spain and Europe. In 1254, the university was deemed to be one of the four leading lights of the world, by Pope Alexander IV. What were the other three? See ://

There is never a shortage of things to do at the end of the day. Find the main square, the "Plaza Major" - stroll, spectate, eat etc. Eat more.

Salamanca, Spain, Plaza Major, Performers

Here were jugglers.

Salamanca, Spain, Musicians

As it gets darker, go inside to eat some more, and for the musicians. Plaza Major - no end to the variety of street and eatery performances. Jugglers, music, clowns, mimes.

Salamanca houses one of Europe's earliest and finest Universities. It is northeast from Madrid. See

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Merida - and Rome. Estremadura Theater, Circus, Amphitheater, Bridge

Merida, Spain

Merida - this city dates from 25 BC. It is a World Heritage site. See :// It was a provincial capital for Rome.

See what the Romans left. A fine theater, now being renovated, that could seat 6000 spectators.
Theater, Merida, Spain

The Roman bridge over the Gaudiana River is still standing - all spans of it, now a footbridge.
Bridge, Gaudiana River, Merida, Spain

The Super Tank.

There is also a huge circus structure that could seat 30,000 for chariot-racing, and, we were told by a guide, they used to flood it to do mock naval battles.
Amphitheater, Merida, Spain; including water tank facility for reenactments, naval spectacles
The Extremadura or Estremadura section of Spain was home to the conquistatores, and is now considered remote, toward Portugal. But worth it. Find it at ://

Friday, January 25, 2008

History Chronology - Old Spain, and Muslim Spain - Granada, Arago, Castille and Leon, Navarre: And Portugal

Maps as anchor. To make Spain's history more immediately understandable: Find a map to locate the old boundaries - references to them recur throughout Spain's history and tour books. This is from a simple Images search - ://

This map shows no "Ottoman Empire" incursion into Spain (Turkish roots), but apparently Arab-Berber. See ://

Chronology of Muslim Rule. For an overview of Muslim rule, and further maps of that influence and expansion, go to ://

Timelines understood so far. These to be filled in as to impact on pre-Christian, Christian, Jew, unaffiliated, and Muslim, as we go. Dates are from the islam_history site. Will also use this site - a medieval history source, from Fordham University ://

For a timeline on Jewish history, see ://


1. Pre-Roman times

2. Roman

3. Post-Roman


570 CE (Christian Era used here) Birth of the Prophet Mohammed in Mecca
632 CE Death of Mohammed. Islam had spread in that short time to most of Arabia in the west and central sections

642 CE Muslims control Egypt; and by 656, Palestine, Syria, Mesopotamia, Iran;

661 CE Death of the fourth caliph, 'Ali - succession issues led over time to a split between the Sunnis and the Shi'a. By this time, the spread was this:

"Arab Empire west to Tripoli (Libya), north to Taurus [did you know the origin of Ford's model car?] and Caucasus mountains (Turkey and Georgia) and east to Pakistan." See www.;.

4. Muslims and Spain (mostly)
711 CE - Arab Muslims enter Spain through North Africa;
732 CE - Arab Muslims cross the Indus River into India. They also got as far as Tours [tours de France? please take a joke] in France, from their earlier entry into Spain. That was as far into Europe as the Muslim expansion extended. - France to India.

Were they Sunni or Shi'a?

Do we know where they came in? What the ships looked like? When did families follow armies, or did all come at once? Where was the central authority - still back in Arab lands or independent in Spain?

What were Christians doing in the 8th Century? What beliefs, what divisions.

756-1037 CE- The "Umayyad Dynasty" - in Spain

874-999 CE - The Umayyad Dynasty was in Cordoba, Spain

1037-1492 - Fatimid dynasty in northern Africa and Syria, based on Cairo

1254-1517 CE - Moorish Muslims are in Spain (is this Turk rather than Arab, and when and how did the transition happen?) - note the Reconquest in 1492 - it must have taken additional years to complete the process?

1453 - Meanwhile, back at the European Crusades, the Crusaders capture Jerusalem

1492 - Christian Constantinople fell to the Turks; the Mamluks rule in Egypt.

In Spain, Granada falls to the Christians, ending Arab rule
(but I thought Moors were there by then?)

THE EDICT OF EXPULSION AGAINST THE JEWS. And, in Spain, the Christians expel the Jews completely - everybody out who will not convert. See :// Compare that to the legal status of dhimmi applied to non-muslims in muslim lands - they could stay under restricted economic and political conditions, but they could stay and practice their own religion.

1566 - The Ottoman Empire [did the Turkish branch break away from the Arab?] Ottomans "Turkic people from Central Asia - but continued to spread Islam", see

See map here - no Ottomans in Spain apparently.

1858 - end of Mughal (Muslim) rule, India
1922 - Ataturk deposes last Ottoman* sultan
1947 - Pakistan was founded as Islamic state
1979 - Islamic regime, Khumeni; also al-Qadafi (Libya?)
*Ottomans: Turkic people from Central Asia, but they also spread Islam
Stats from 2005 - Muslims 26% of world population. Majority in Middle East, North Africa, 100 million in rest of Africa, over 500 million in rest of Asia, 90% of India and Pakistan are Muslim, Islam has spread to 184 countries at least. See again this recurrent site, see

5. The Reconquest 1492

6. Single Monarchy

7. Today

Why do all this? Spain's history is a different trajectory than the rest of Europe because of the Muslim rule for some 400 years. And relevant to our understanding of Muslim ways - what was the experience of Christians, Jews, the "unaffiliated," under the Muslims of that period. Who was extreme on any side, and who tolerated. What was life like under the Muslims, and how did their governing and belief system differ from contemporary Muslims, whether (like us) extremist, conservative, liberal, whatever.

Our interest here is in the chronology of the evolution of Spain through various very different kinds of rulers: and where they ruled, and when. Also the populations: Pre-Christian, Christian, Roman Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and especially the Dhimmi (Jews and Christians conquered by the Muslims, and living under economic, social and political restrictions known as "dhimmitude" until they converted, if they chose to so convert. Who was where, when, who kicked out whom, why.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Cuenca - The Square; Benefactor Zobel

Cuenca, Spain, Plaza Mayor, main square
The town square at Cuenca. There is our car, at the right. There is a lovely Cathedral dating from about 1170, see ://,-Spain&id=619313

Look well at the hapless little car, because you will not see it again and neither did we until, the next morning, we got to the police impound lot (by taxi, thank you).

Know your street symbols for each country well. We did not interpret the sign we saw to mean no parking for any vehicles at all - it looked like it only forbad trucks. Learn your road signs!.

Also, do not use common sense.

You would think there would be some available short-term parking at the main square after hours, where the only parking lots are far, far away. The lots at Cuenca are at the top of a long hill, a twisting narrow road, like half a lane, and there is no sidewalk down, and the road goes right to the walls of the buildings and is a tight one-lane with cars going both ways.

No, you have to park up there and apparently walk down anyway, life in hands. Jam your bod against the stucco, walk with head swiveling to see which car is coming from where, wheeling around the curves like mad, pack into a doorway, close your eyes, and wait until you can dash to the next door. We did that as far as the hotel a short way down, but then went back up for the car. The risks I want to take with Dan are zero, and that was a hazard. So we drove back down to the square, and you know the rest.
Daniel Widing conversing Fernando Zobel, we think, Cuenca, Spain

While we were eating, off slipped the car, chained behind the gendarmes in theirs.

Meanwhile, we enjoyed ourselves, in our ignorance.

There is Dan, at the cafe, a little inside open courtyard late afternoon, with who we believe to be Fernando Zobel, 1924-1984, founder of the Museum of Abstract Art, professional painter and member of a prominent philanthropic family - spent much time in the Philippines, came back to Spain and Cuenca.

See more about Fernando Zobel and his family at ://; and ://

Cuenca is known for its art museums, galleries. It dates from the Iron Age, through the Romans, the Visigoths, the Muslims, the reconquest.

Cuenca - The Gorge, The Monastery, Brother Martin

Cuenca, Brother Martin de Carrascosa y Cabrejas, Monastery

Cuenca - part of Castilla La Mancha - walled city, here on the map:// The medieval houses cling to cliffs. See :// There are two deep river gorges - the town was highly defensible. Up a long winding road.

Here is Brother Martin de Carrascosa y Cabrejas - miraculous healing powers. He died 1603. He was a candidate for sainthood, thus there was a dispute who would get the body - the monastery here, or outside town, at Tebar, where he died. See :// There was finally, after many disinterments, a resolution. We believe this is his statue, but the inscription is unreadable. It is at the monastery.

Cuenca, top of hill town

Parking is up here. Long walks from the top, where the monastery is, and parking lots, down the narrow streets to the square.

Here are some of the surrounding cliffs.
Cuenca, gorge, cliffs

And the lake down the gorge - Laguna de la Cruz.
Cuenca, Laguna de la Cruz, lake

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Cuenca - cliff houses, art, police system

Dan philosophizing. This is an the inner courtyard at this pub in Cuenca.

Dan also enjoyed sitting with James Joyce. See Croatia Road Ways, Pula post.

Cuenca, Spain, cliffside houses

Cuenca is south of Madrid, heading into the La Mancha area.

It is an arts center, known for its houses clinging to the cliffs. Be prepared to walk. The only parking area is at top of high hill area, with narrow roads back down to the square. See NYT travel section 7/23/06 s.5 p.10. The Times recommends the Parador here (see post on Paradors), the national system of fine hotels reasonably priced, but we liked our little place.

Cuenca is on a clifftop itself -- see Fine art museums, monastery, twisty streets.

Warning for handicapped. If you are handicapped, this is a difficult stop because parking is at the top of the old town, and you have to walk down to the square, pinning yourself against the walls on far-too-narrow walkways, if someone is going up or down in cars too fast. The police station is in the square, so stop there first if you must park in the square, and ask for permission. Most big squares are off-limits to any parking.

Police. They are not greeted as the people's friend. Do not expect helpfulness, just enforcement. Here is an explanatory site on the different groups: See also

James Michener says in his book, "Iberia," somewhere that there are three powers in Spain - the police, the church, and the landed. And with an independent-minded collection of people of differing historical backgrounds, the stress is on law and order.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Toledo - Ancient Capital, Inquisition, Grand Inquisitors

Toledo, Spain. Street scene

Toledo, on the hilltop, with river below. It was the ancient capital of Visigothic Spain, preceding the Moorish Empire. The Moors invaded in the 8th Century. It became the capital of an independent Moorish kingdom 1031-1085, see :// and remains the capital of the province of Toledo.

Toledo remained the capital of Spain after the expulsion of the Moors and until 1560. See ://

At that time, its influence waned when Phillip II moved his capital to Madrid. See :// Read this old book account, not clear about the Flemish connection yet, at this New York Times archive piece, "Toledo, The Story of the Ancient and Picturesque City of Spain," November 4, 1899, at ://

The Questia site, above, also notes that Toledo was the seat of the Grand Inquisitors.

To learn more about them, read their handbook, the 1486 Malleus Maleficarum, or Hammer of Witches, at :// A good index and summary is at ://

Read about the Inquisition, from the perspective that includes its impact on the Jews, at :// In 1242, the Inquisition condemned the Talmud and bonfired thousands of books. The first killings of Jews, however, took place in France some time later. There, mass burnings at the stake.

The Spanish Inquisition superseded the earlier medieval Inquisition. See that Jewish Virtual Library Site. Do we forget our own history.

The Alcazar, or castle fortress, rebuilt many time, Visigothic days to present. See ://; and :// Do an Images search to see it at the top of the city, at the top of the cliff.

See map at ://

You can drive into Toledo, but it is dicey. Find a fast spot to stay, anywhere (the distances are small). is no parking at all allowed on most streets - see the above. the lines are for walkers, deliveries only.

Toledo - Sephardic tradition; and the Visigoths. The Moors

Toledo, Spain, city walls

Toledo is listed as a town as early as the 4th Century BC, as a Roman town, conquered by later "Alans" and Visigoths. It became the capital of the Visigoth kingdom., and was taken over by the Moors, or Muslims, in 711. Alfonso VI reconquered in 1085. , see :// History compressed.

The city is prominent in the heritage of the Sephardic Jewish tradition. See With a car and Toledo, get out of it as fast as you can. Streets too narrow. We stayed at the first little hotel we found that offered parking - in the old Jewish quarter. Perfect location. A view, as here, of only the outer wall area is misleading - inside is a large city with tiny streets, twisting all over.

Cathedral, Toledo, Spain

Here is the Cathedral at the end of one of the little streets. Apparently, vistas of great buildings were not important from a distance.

The city is bounded by a bend in the river and cliffs. Jews, Christians, Muslims lived here peacefully for centuries. ://

How Toledo fell to the Moors, a/k/a Muslims (are Moors the same as the Arabs and Berbers who initially conquered, or is there a difference with the Ottomans, and is "Moor" any number of those after all the intermarriages who were Muslim?)

. The Visigothic Count Julian had sent his daughter to the palace of the Visigothic King Roderick, where - the King had his way. Count Julian, in his anger, told the Moors who were attacking the city how to get up a hidden path to enter the city. They did, and the rest is history. Revenge. Other versions have the daughter bathing and the King sees her, etc.

Toledo food: see There is a fine Parador (government sponsored hotel - see post on Paradors) here, but we stayed in the old Jewish quarter instead in order to be right at street level.

Spanish place names (like Toledo, Ohio) in the US: For anyone with family origins in Spain, look at all the places named for Spain. For a listing of the United States place names from Spain: see