The Stones Cry Out

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20150905_092858Walls and towers rise up like an extension of the dusty Spanish hills on which they stand. The size of the Alhambra dwarfs me.  Walking inside the coliseum, I see the massive complex: Roman columns, like soldiers standing at attention, surround me.
In other buildings, intricately detailed Arabic doorways lead into lofty spaces. There, the ceilings, bright with afternoon light, shimmer with sentiments of the cosmos brought to earth.  The tour group I’m a part of is led from one palace to another, one courtyard to the next, our guide’s smooth voice whisking us on an invisible journey back in time.

Standing there thinking about the history of the stones that built this now scenic tourist destination, I saw a series of strange dichotomies.  This palace complex is a hodgepodge of different architectural styles that at times, meld seamlessly into each other, and at others, clash with a horrifying discordance. It’s almost as if the buildings themselves are screaming about the atrocities that have been committed within and outside of their walls. Back in 1492, when Isabella and Ferdinand took back Spain from the Moors in the name of Catholic Christianity, they ushered in the Reconquista, a time where Jews and Muslims were exiled from Spain, a cultural (and sometimes literal) genocide. What is left today is a beautiful reminder about the rich and diverse cultural heritage of Spain, but also a tragic picture of the violence that is woven into the very fabric of the nation.

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