Granada (FIU Honors España 2017)

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Yina Cabrera of FIU Honors España 2017 at the Alhambra in Granada, Spain (Photo by Yina Cabrera CC by 4.0)

On June 19th of 2017, FIU Honors students of Spain: Miami España, Ida y Vuelta were led on an educational tour of Granada, Spain. Following their experience in Granada, students shared their voices and opinions through photographs and personal reflections.

Knowledge Precedes Judgment
by Yina Cabrera of FIU in Granada, Spain

The importance of traveling has been instilled in my head as a child. Walking through the Alhambra and the Moorish neighborhood inGranada, I was entirely immersed into a culture I’ve never been exposed to at this level before. Visiting the Alhambra made me realize how quick people are to discriminate and misunderstand a culture or religion simply because it isn’t theirs. Physically being at the Alhambra can itself enhance an individual’s appreciation, mindset, and understanding of Islamic culture and religion. Whether it was grasping the opportunity to stand alone in a room and take in the history and beauty, or squatting down to view the halls of the Alhambra the same way generations before us did, I felt connected to a religion that is constantly belittled through the rhetoric of my country’s president. One cannot see just the surface of things and form an opinion. Instead, it is crucial to deeply connect with things that seem foreign to us in order to enhance cultural sensitivity and understanding in this globalizing world.

More of the Moores
by Jose Ortega of FIU in Granada, Spain

As our class has travelled through Segovia, Toledo, and Sevilla we have had the opportunity to learn about the Moore’s vast influence on Spanish culture. Most significantly, we have studied their architectural masterpieces and design presence throughout these cities. This educational experience climaxed on our visit to La Alhambra inGranada, the oldest Moorish structure in Europe. Gazing at the walls, ceilings, and gardens of the palace, our eyes were met by intensely intricate geometric patterns, carvings and imprints of Quran verses, reflective fountains, and beautiful landscaping. Several of these items have been present in the previously visited Moorish influenced structures such as the El Alcazar de Segovia, Santa María la Blanca in Toledo, and El Alcazar de Sevilla; however, each location has had stylistic differences, which is even more prominent after standing in the least altered Moorish structure in Spain. Our visit to Granada has inspired me to do further research on the Moorish styles of architecture and design so that one day I will be able to distinguish the difference between them the same as I do with the Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque styles.

brianna rawls - granada 17'
Brianna Rawls of FIU Honors España 2017 in Granada, Spain (Photo by Amelia Leon CC by 4.0)

A Moor for a Day
by Brianna Rawls of FIU in Granada, Spain

As I gazed at the Alhambra from the summer residence I imagined what it must have been like to be a Moor during the period they ruled Spain. The Moors brought innovation to Spain during the Golden Age with the creation of libraries and institutions and the development of the arts. I also think it’s fascinating that the surrounding neighborhoods were dominated by African and Arabic culture until their expulsion. After exploring the Alhambra it was interesting to walk through the Albayzin neighborhood and see the homes that were once occupied by the moors. Afterwards I stopped for lunch at a Moroccan café and for a moment I imagined was it was like to be a Moor. I noticed some of the Moorish culture returning as I walked through the streets noticing the Arabic shops and restaurants. The culture of Andalucia during that time period until now went through many cultural changes but a bit of the past still remains.

The Incomprehensible Reward
by Audri Rodriguez of FIU in Granada, Spain

Heaven. What exactly is this “eternal resting place” that so many cultures strive to attain? How can we get there? What awaits for us at its gates? No one knows. We can only hope that one day we are lucky enough to end up here. How we reach heaven is similar in many cultures, but differ slightly according to each belief. Islam views heaven as incomprehensible to us mortals yet depicts it as beautiful, rich, and great as seen in the Alhambra in Granada. The more intricate and detailed the designs, the more the greatness of God is reflected. Heaven is not only incomprehensible to us, but it is also our reward for doing good deeds on earth. If you live a life of service to others, heaven becomes the gift of eternal life for you. Heaven is paradise; it’s the ultimate goal. The desire to continue living spiritually even as our bodies physically die creates this sense of duty within our human nature to do good in the world in order to receive good in the afterlife.

by Juan Sarceno of FIU in Granada, Spain

Walking through Alhambra and the Albazyn neighborhood it is easy to visualize the past, and to see how important Granada is as a symbol of religious unity. For some reason, today it is hard for someone to say that Christians, Muslims, and Jews can coexist with each other in large numbers for a long period of time. Yet, walking through and seeing these Islamic style buildings for the first time in my life, it was impossible not to see what happened in Granada before the reconquista. For hundreds of years these three religions had lived side by side with each other in this city, at a time where everyone took their beliefs more seriously. This is why Granada challenges the world to remember what our ancestors had already accomplished there, and it is absolutely stunning that countries in the Middle East, North America, and even Europe have forgotten how easy it is for religions to coexist.

FIU Honors España 2017 Student Gallery from Granada, Spain


Isabella Marie Garcia

Stephanie Sepúlveda & John William Bailly  23 January 2019

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