Twenty-six students from Hamilton, Grinnell, Scripps, Williams, Bryn Mawr, Reed and Amherst College recently visited the Spanish Region of Andalusia as part of the HCAYS orientation trip to start the semester. The program director is Associate Professor of Hispanic Studies Edna Rodriguez-Plate.
Andalusia is the most populated Spanish Autonomous Community. Its name derives from the Arabic Al-Andalus. The region´s history and culture is very rich, as it has been influenced by the earlier Greeks, Romans, Visigoths and Byzantines. But perhaps, it is most known as the place where many cultures merge: Jewish, Gypsy, Moorish and Christian.
After the Moors invaded Spain in the 8th century, the region became the mighty kingdom of Al-Andalus. The Christians conquered the Moorish kingdoms in the latter phases of the Reconquista (15th Century). Among other products, Andalusia is also known for its olive oil production (Spain is the first producer of olive oil in the world).
The HCAYS group visited three cities: Seville, today’s Andalusian capital and the third largest city of Spain; Granada, known as the Moorish Jewel, and located at the foots of snowy Sierra Nevada mountain range; and Antequera, a medieval town in the hills of the north of Malaga overlooked by an Alcazaba (a Moorish fortress).
Explore Spanish language and culture through courses such as literature and economics. Become part of life in Madrid. Secure an internship for academic credit. And do it all speaking only Spanish, which is a requirement of the Hamilton College Academic Year in Spain.
The group toured sites including the Cathedral of Seville and its 343 feet height bell tower, known as La Giralda (the largest Gothic cathedral and the third-largest church in the world); The Real Alcazar (a Royal Palace building example of what some called “mudejar” architecture, and declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1987); and La Alhambra (an Arabic palace and fortress from the last Nasrid Dynasty, and that became, after the Reconquista, a court of the Spanish kings. UNESCO also recognizes it as a World Heritage Site).
Among other activities, the students took a cooking class to learn how to make Spanish tortilla and migas (a traditional Andalusian dish), and stopped for a sample of the different olive oils in the region in a Almazara (where the oil is produced).