Spain: The Magic Fu­sion of His­to­ries *

The Diplomatic Insight - - National Day of the Kingdom of Spain -

Spain is sit­u­ated in West­ern Europe. To­gether with Por­tu­gal, Spain forms the Ibe­rian Penin­sula. Its name comes from its first in­hab­i­tants, peo­ple­who were known by the name of "Ibe­ri­ans" that lived es­sen­tially on agri­cul­ture. This Penin­sula is sur­rounded by var­i­ous seas and this fea­ture has greatly in­flu­enced its his­tory and cul­ture be­cause many peo­ple in­vaded the Penin­sula from the seas and, later, they left their par­tic­u­lar cul­ture to this land. One of the cul­tures that ar­rived from abroad were the Celts, who came from Cen­tral Europe to the Ibe­rian penin­sula, set­tled there and leaved their sto­ries and leg­ends. Mainly set­tled in Gali­cia andAs­turias in the north of Spain, be­ing in the At­lantic and Cantabric coast, th­ese lands have a com­mon cul­ture with other coun­tries near th­ese coasts that also re­ceived its in­flu­ence as Ire­land, Scot­land, Wales and Brittany. In some ar­eas of the penin­sula, Celts joined in­dige­nous peo­ple lead­ing to the "Celtiberi­ans" Celts merg­ing with the na­tive pop­u­la­tion. Celts used magic, and you can still see some rit­u­als taken place nowa­days. Ar­riv­ing by sea from the Mediter­ranean to the east­ern­most penin­sula not only came here the Greek with all this great cul­ture but also the Phoeni­cians, peo­ple who cre­ated citys­tates along the sea and whose main ac­tiv­ity was trade, they were the great mer­chants of the time. From this pe­riod are Ibiza (Span­ish is­land) Malaga and Cadiz. One city, Carthage (near mod­ern Tu­nis) was launched to the do­main of theMediter­ranean with a big ri­val, the Ro­mans. Ro­mans dom­i­nated theMediter­ranean dur­ing a long pe­riod of time as well as the Ibe­rian Penin­sula, in­cor­po­rat­ing it into its em­pire; so their lan­guage, Latin, was im­posed as the lan­guage in the re­gion as they did it in Italy, Ro­ma­nia and France, and oth­ers at the same time. The sig­nif­i­cance of this ex­pan­sion of Latin and Ro­man was the seed of that cul­ture which was in the later his­tory the ma­jor rea­son of the ex­pan­sion of Latin cul­ture world­wide.Latin di­vided into sev­eral Latin Ro­mance lan­guages de­pend­ing? on the area and the way in­dige­nous pop­u­la­tion used it. Th­ese lan­guages ?are Castil­ian, Cata­lan, Gali­cian-Por­tuguese, French, Ro­ma­nian and Ital­ian, and oth­ers. Basque is the only ter­ri­tory in the North of the Penin­sula, is not in­flu­enced by Latin cul­ture which has a the orig­i­nal lan­guage and the cul­ture dated by an­cient times. This spe­cial fea­ture of­fers a dis­tinc­tive char­ac­ter to this area within the Penin­sula. In the eighth cen­tury Ber­bers / Mus­lims ar­rived. They came from the other side of theMediter­ranean which is the south tip of the Penin­sula. They con­quered the land, set­tled in it and leav­ing their cul­tural legacy not only in dif­fer­ent words of the lan­guage, but in the use of new agri­cul­tural tech­niques or the math­e­mat­ics and call­ing the Ibe­rian Penin­sula by the name of "Al-An­dalus". This pres­ence lasted un­til the eleventh cen­tury be­ing very im­por­tant for the devel­op­ment of the coun­try. Dur­ing the Mid­dle Ages, var­i­ous coun­ties in the penin­sula got their in­di­vid­ual iden­tity and sta­tus for ex­am­ple, the County of Por­tu­gal, the County ofAragón, Cata­lan coun­ties or theKing­dom of Pam­plona or Castile. Dur­ing the pe­riod, the Penin­sula hit se­vere epi­demic which shut the pop­u­la­tion be­hind the walls of their cas­tles. It was also a time of leg­ends of Tem­plar and ladies and knights, that left the ter­ri­tory of Spain with Tow­ers and walls in all their moun­tains, with pop­u­la­tions that made long jour­neys to pray for the epi­demic to end ... even to­day you can as­sist pil­grim­ages to the re­spec­tive churches in lit­tle towns all over the coun­try re­mind­ing those times. Among the re­li­gious pil­grim­ages "El camino de San­ti­ago", no doubt, is one of the best known pil­grim­age all over the world. It is said that some­thing spir­i­tual hap­pens in the way that only the pil­grim feels.Af­ter the de­par­ture of the Arabs from the penin­sula, the man from the Penin­sula, Vasco de Gama, launched his ex­pe­di­tion from an­other sea, called At­lantic Ocean. It is said that the Queen of Castille paid for his ex­pe­di­tion and he, fi­nally, found a new land on the other side of the Ocean, which is called now Amer­ica. Through that suc­cess­ful ex­pe­di­tion, Span­ish and Por­tuguese, en­tered the land and con­quered all the area from Mex­ico to the South tip of Amer­i­can con­ti­nent, spread­ing over many coun­tries. Th­ese coun­tries adopt the name of "Latin Amer­ica" by speak­ing Ro­mance lan­guages from Latin (Span­ish, Por­tuguese and French). But, it was not only the lan­guage which they in­fused there but the re­li­gion Chris­tian­ity and the Penin­sula cul­ture was also merged with the lo­cal knowl­edge in th­ese ter­ri­to­ries. So, the his­tory of Spain can be seen in its artis­tic mon­u­ments, mem­o­ries of the past civ­i­liza­tions which came across the re­gions. The sculp­ture known as the Lady of Elche is an Ibe­rian legacy, the Aqueduct of Se­govia or Mérida or Sa­gunto The­atres as lega­cies of the Ro­mans, the Mosque of Cor­doba and theAl­ham­bra in Granada as Is­lamic art, are among of th­ese mem­oirs of the his­tory. To bet­ter un­der­stand the his­tory of the coun­try, it is also im­por­tant to know many lo­cal fes­ti­vals that are cel­e­brated in Spain, es­pe­cially by the time whenArab­sMus­lims (un­til that time, they were not called Moors) and Chris­tians used to live to­gether and or­gan­ised fes­ti­vals ac­cord­ing to their own rit­u­als and be­liefs. Chris­tians used to cel­e­brate their fes­ti­vals. Like­wise, many fes­ti­vals were or­gan­ises around the Sea and in the mar­itime cities, as the seas al­ways has im­por­tant place in the his­tory of Penin­sula. Sim­i­larly, we should not for­get other im­por­tant cul­tures that came into the Penin­sula and in­fused their rich­ness into it. Im­por­tant among them were Jewish, French and Roma from the Pun­jab whose left the so im­por­tant legacy to Spain that the typ­i­cal folk­lore in­An­dalu­sia pro­jected to theworld while singing Fla­menco. The cul­tural wealth of Spain full of this mis­ce­gena­tion of dif­fer­ent cul­tures is in­creased by the di­verse land­scapes, green in the north that can eas­ily be iden­ti­fied with the An­gloworld; harsh and arid lands in the in­land with lots of mills in La Man­cha that re­minds us to the best book ever writ­ten in Spain “Don Qui­jote de la Man­cha” by Cer­vantes, and of course, the sea that al­ways ex­ists, with a brave At­lantic Ocean in the west main­land, the pow­er­ful Cantabrian Sea in the north and a war­mMediter­ranean Sea full of beaches and sun and sur­rounded by or­ange trees that wel­come ev­ery­one who de­cides to spend few or a long time in this mag­i­cal land. And this fu­sion of cul­ture gives unique sta­tus among the coun­tries of theworld.

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