The eighth century's greatest adventure story. Abd al-Rahman, low-ranking Umayyad prince, finds himself the only male member of his family to survive a massacre at the hands of the Abbasid rebels. He escapes through many adventures to the Maghreb (present-day Morocco) where he decides to try his luck in Spain, or as it was called then: Al-Andalus. More adventures await him there before he eventually becomes the Emir of Córdoba, establishing what would become Medieval Europe's richest and most prosperous country.
His greatest achievement is the mosque that still stands in Córdoba today: the Mezquita. Row upon row of red and white double arches fill the immense, contemplative space, except for a giant Renaissance cathedral dropped in the middle of it.
Sarah Kildow, listener and Assistant Professor of Spanish at the University of Akron, stops by to discuss visiting Córdoba, seeing the Mezquita, eating tapas and enjoying Féria, the great Spring fair. Plus salmorejo, a chilled tomato soup that's perfect for hot summer days.
Andalucía is one of my favorite places, and I'm excited to bring this story to you.
Ahmed ibn Mohammed Al-Makkari. The History of the Mohammedan Dynasties in Spain
Gerber, Jane S. The Jews of Spain: a History of the Sephardic Experience
Jayyusi, Salma Khadra and Manuela Marín. The Legacy of Muslim Spain
Kennedy, Hugh. Caliphate: the History of an Idea
Kennedy, Hugh. Muslim Spain and Portugal: a Political History of al-Andalus
Lewis, David Levering. God’s Crucible: Islam and the Making of Europe, 570-1215
Lonely Planet Guide to Andalucía
Lowney, Chris. A Vanished World: Medieval Spain’s Golden Age of Enlightenment
Masood, Ehsan. Science & Islam: A History
Menocal, María Rosa. The Ornament of the World
Rick Steves Spain
Photograph by Fabio Alessandro Locati
On April 15, 2019, a fire started in Notre-Dame de Paris and caused significant damage. In its honor, here is a bonus episode on the great cathedral.
We know that Notre Dame will survive this calamity, because it has survived other calamities before. From Baroque refacing to revolutionary desecrations, Notre Dame had become an absolute wreck. Then Victor Hugo's novel started a restoration movement which led to the appointment of Eugène Viollet-le-Duc, whose detailed work created the church we've grown to love.
Beyond talking about the cathedral, we have sidebars about post-war Poland (it makes sense; trust me) and the Montparnasse neighborhood.
Finally, we link to the narrative by discussing the Muslim conquest of Spain and the Battle of Tours (or Poitiers) in 732, setting the stage for the next three episodes.
Eyewitness Travel Paris
Hollis, Edward. The Secret Lives of Buildings
Horne, Alistair. Seven Lives of Paris
Rick Steves Paris
Robb, Graham. Parisians: an Adventure History of Paris
Winston, Richard and Clara. Notre-Dame de Paris