The Roman city of Corduba, founded in 169 BC, became the capital of Muslim Spain from its inception in 711 until the breakdown of the Cordoban Califate in 1031. In the 10th century, it was the biggest city in western Europe with a population of 100 000, a University, libraries, fine mosques, gardens and public baths.
The Puerta de Almodóvar, seen here, gives access to the extensive Jewish quarter where Jews prospered under Muslim rule. In Cordoba's heyday, Jews were invited to the Muslim court and received much better treatment than Palestinians get today under Israeli rule! The tolerance of the Muslim theocracy also extended to Christians who five centuries later would institute the Inquisition and persecute both Jews and Muslims in the name of God.
Muslim power in Spain was tolerant but nevertheless a theocracy. Its right to rule was God given and therefore indisputable and absolute. Cordoba was the capital of the theocracy for three centuries. Consequently, its Mosque (Mezquita), was the most important building in Spain during that time. You can see an interior view of Cordoba's Mosque on the left below and, on the right a view of its courtyard showing the belfry added by the Spanish who also built a Cathedral there in the 16th century.
Not far from the Mezquita-Cathedral, stands the "Alcázar de los Reyes" built in 1328, a century after the fall of Cordoba to Castille in 1236. Many Muslims left Cordoba for Granada during that century but most the Jews stayed until they were persecuted in the 14th century.
The narrow streets of the quaint "Juderia" quarter have now become a tourist attraction.
Cordoba has many other historic sites to offer. Here is the lovely "Plaza de la Corredera".
Below on the left, another view of the Juderia showing the belfry of the Mezquita-Cathedral and on the right a shot of the room I had for 15 $US a night in Cordoba's Albergue Juvenil.
Finally, here is the much restored Puente Romano, an ancient heritage from roman times.
The Emirate of Granada ruled by the Nasrid dynasty for 250 years from this lavish palace and fortress, the Alhambra. Muslim Granada , one of the richest cities of Europe in the 13th and 14th centuries, declined and eventually fell to the Catholic Monarchs in 1492, the final step of the Reconquista.
Here is a view of city from the ramparts of the Alcazaba, the heavily fortified western tip of the Alhambra. The 16th century Cathedral and Royal Chapel can be see in the upper right quarter while Plaza Nueva is in the lower right quarter.
Plaza Nueva is a good starting point for visiting the Alhambra up the hill facing it or the ancient Muslim quarter called Albaicin on the hill behind it. There are many budget hotels in the neighbouring streets such as calle Gómerez below left, which climbs up to the Alhambra. On the right, a narrow side street off Gómerez.
The massive Torre de la Vela (watchtower) our dominates the Alcazaba, the fortress part of the Alhambra.
On the left, the Torre Quebrada, in the center Torre Homenage and at the far right, the lower Torre Cubo, all three part of the Alcazaba fortified complex protecting the Alhambra's palaces.
On the left below the Patio de los Arrayanes (Court of the Myrtles) where the Sala de Comares (Comares Hall) is reflected in a shallow pool. On the right, the beautiful Patio de los Leones (Lions Court) seen through the columns of the gallery surrounding it.
Lovely shaded Alameda is Malaga's principal east-west Boulevard between the city-center and port area to the east and residential areas to the west.
Malaga has been a center for trade and shipping since the Phoenicians founded it 8 centuries before Christ. It flourished during the Muslim era when this Alcazaba (fortress) was built to protect it.
The port, seen over the top of one of the Alcazaba's towers, is still busy but the economy of the province has shifted westward to the Costa del Sol where beautiful beaches and plentiful sunshine have attracted a considerable touristic development.
Hotels and vacation condos have sprung up like mushrooms after rain in a narrow strip of coast covering almost 100 kms west of Malaga. Construction is so dense that the towns of Torremolinos, Benalmádena, Puerto Banus and Fuengirola run into each other, leaving Marbella and Estrepona as distinct cities further west.
I would not normally have stopped here had it not been for my friend Antonio Garre Lopez, that I had met travelling in Central America 6 years before. Here he is with his son Antonio Junior in front of Benalmádena.
Thousands of pale-skinned tourists flock here in winter to flee the cold of northern Europe for a week or two. This view shows only a small part of Benalmádena's marina.
Luxury condos line the sides of another part of the marina. The tourist industry provides work for thousands on the Costa de Sol. My friend Antonio guides tourists around southern Spain and northern Morocco in half a dozen languages.
Antonio also rents some apartments he owns. This is a view from the one he lent me on Carihuela Beach.
The tourist industry provides work for all kinds of people including artists such as this one doing a sand sculpture on the beach.
The popular central beach, near the heart of Torremolinos, is lined with budget priced hotels and time share flats.
The more exclusive Puerto Banus west of Benalmádena shelters expensive motor yachts and animated bars catering to the international jet-set.
The jet set condos in Puerto Banus are a step up from Torremolinos' flats but not quite as exclusive as the great residences found in Marbella and Estrepona further west.
The villas in the hills around Mijas, 9 kms inland from Fuengirola offer a retreat from the noise and bustle of the crowded seashore towns in high season.
Mijas itself is generally full of tourists brought in by bus loads every 30 minutes. This shot was taken on an exceptionally quiet day.
On the following day, Antonio who was guiding a bus load of german tourists to Morocco, gave me a ride to La Linea where I got off to visit Gibraltar.