September 6th: A Moorish Ghost Town

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Today was our last day in Granada. Our final tour was through the Albayzin or the old Moorish district. This was a hilly maze of white washed buildings, fountains, and scattered trees. The streets were just wide enough to allow a small European car to crawl through and the cobble stone streets were so uneven that there were several instances where I thought I would break my ankle. As we hiked up this neighborhood, our tour guide told us that this old Muslim district was now an expensive part of town with town houses that were priced up into the millions (and this was Euros not Dollars). I was shocked. I didn’t understand why this twisty and isolated part of town would be worth so much. The guide then explained that this was a desirable location because of it’s distance from downtown chaos and because of its breath-taking views of the Alhambra on the neighboring hill. AI grew sad after thinking about this. This renovation of the old Islamic neighborhood was living proof that the golden age of Granada was truly over. In class, we learned that between 711 A.D. and 1492 A.D., Christians, Muslims, and Jews all lived together in Granada and did so in peace. In 1492, Queen Isabella turned the country into a Christian state by forcing the Jews and Muslims to either convert or leave Spain. After spending a week in Granada and seeing the cathedrals and churches that stood on the former sites of mosques and then seeing this the “new and improved” Albayzin”, I realized that reconciliation is far from happening here. There is an unspoken division in Granada which is the opposite of its golden days.

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