Vibrant Andalusia: The Spice of Life in Southern Spain

Vibrant Andalusia: The Spice of Life in Southern Spain

Vibrant Andalusia: The Spice of Life in Southern Spain

Vibrant Andalusia: The Spice of Life in Southern Spain


Almost a thousand years ago, when most of Europe was just edging out of the Dark Ages, the South of Spain was a brilliant center of world culture, a site of splendor, and a magnet for the talented and ambitious from all around the Mediterranean, the Near East, and beyond. Andalusia, or Andalucia, was a beacon that attracted intellectuals, artists and inventors.

In the days before Isabel and Ferdinand (and the Inquisition), the indigenous culture of Spain was enriched by the artistic, scholarly, technical and commercial contributions of Phoenicians, Romans, Arabs, Jews and Gypsies. Even under the Catholic Monarchs, these diverse influences continued to add spice to a vibrant society evolving under the generous rays of the sun.

Written with verve and personality, this book is based in part on the author’s personal research in Spain and France and her interviews with celebrated dancers, musicians and others. Topics include early settlers, the Moors, the grandeur of Al-Andalus, Gypsies, the music and dance of Flamenco and Zambra, the individual provinces of the region, Arabisms in the language today, and, of course, the delicious Paella.

Sites of historic and cultural interest are identified and described, including the best venues for Flamenco performances, historical monuments from the Alhambra to less famous fortresses, fountains and places of worship, markets and scenic outlooks.

The text is illustrated by many photographs and original artwork, with footnotes,bibliogaphy, and an index.


During various trips to my homeland of Spain, I have had the pleasure of visiting its southern region of Andalusia many times. The moment I stood before the commanding statue of its founder Abd al-Rahman in the coastal town of Almuñécar in Granada, I became most intrigued, and set out to research the history of this important figure and the land he founded. The result is several years of research and observations that I wish to share with the curious reader and inquisitive traveler.

My goal is provide an introduction to the history and culture of Moorish Spain, the arrival and influence of the Gypsies, and the origins and development of Flamenco, and to explore the etymology of numerous Arabisms that add color to the Spanish language. I hope this primer will inspire further reading as a myriad of detailed and academic works on these subjects are available for those who wish to explore more deeply this great land the Moors named al-Andalus.

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