Spain - Destination of Longing

The quite negatively connoted image of Spain of the 16th and 17th century began to change gradually through the influence of 18th-century British and French travelers. This made Spain, having been secluded from the Grand Tour for long, one of the most favorite destinations for European travelers in the 19th century. Fascinated by this unsimilar terra incognita beyond the Pyrenees, where Orient and Occident had coexisted for nearly eight centuries, many travelled adventurously through Spain and not unusually dreamed of meeting one of the notorious bandoleros. Spain’s rough landscape, ancient customs, and rich building tradition nourished the longing visions of many contemporaries (Figs. 1-2). The country, remaining untouched by the negative side effects of industrialization, was idealized by the Romanticists as uncorrupted and medieval. – FG

Krauel Heredia 1986. Calvo Serraller 1995. Legado andalusí 1995. García Mercadal 1999. Gebauer 2000.

The Islamic Heritage of al-Andalus

The Islamic heritage of al-Andalus played a vital role in the growingly positive perception of the country. Whereas Spain’s Christian Middle Ages were largely ignored by European 19th-century art historiography, the Islamic buildings of Córdoba, Granada and Sevilla entered international limelight relatively early (Figs. 3-4), because "mientras más moros más ganancias" ("more Moors more gain") as an old Spanish proverb has it. As Spain was railing with its own past, the rest of Europe was fascinated by its cultural diversity, which attracted many travelers. Regardless of whether they were writers, artists or architects, they were all searching for this much appraised Orient in the West, and their writings and drawings caused a veritable Moorophilia in their home countries. – FG

Scholz-Hänsel 1989. Gebauer 2000. Karge 2007.

The Alhambra - Iconic Hispano-Islamic Archi-tecture

In the 19th century, the travelers to Spain grow constantly more and more numerous. Their main destination was not the once so important city of Cordoba with her impressive Friday mosque, but preferably the resplendent palace-city extended in the 14th and 15th centuries - the Alhambra in Granada (Figs. 5-6). Never having possessed the importance of the former metropolis on the bank of the Guadalquivir, the palace-city conquered by the Catholic Kings in 1492 rose like a comet to become the icon of Hispano-Islamic architecture starting from the 17th century. The Alhambra was referred to as the new Mecca of European travelers, much in line with Washington Irving’s influential Tales of the Alhambra from 1832, where he declares: "… the Alhambra is as much an object of devotion as is the Caaba to all true Moslems." – FG

Irving 1832: 33. Raquejo 1989. Galera Andreu 1991. Krauel Heredia 1995. Viñes 1999. Barrio/Fernández 2014.
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Fig. 1. Bull fight on the Real Maestranza von Sevilla (Roscoe 1836, antiporta).

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Fig. 2. Picturesque view of a dance in Granada (Girault de Prangey 1837-39, Granada, Pl. 27).

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Fig. 3. Cordobese maqsura with Oriental figure (Girault de Prangey 1837-39, Cordoba, Pl. 6).