By: Arwa Aburawa
The story goes that when the ruler of Granada, Muhammad XII of Granada, was forced out of the city in January 1492, he took one last look at the Alhambra and wept. Though nobody will ever know for sure what thoughts were running through his mind as he fled into exile, I’d like to think that he shed tears not only because of his bitter defeat, but also because he couldn’t bear to leave the beauty and charm of Muslim Spain – Al Andalus. After almost 800 years, Muslim rule had left an undeniable mark on the rugged, mountainous and fertile lands of southern Spain, but that was now all over.
After the Islamic conquest of the Visigothic kingdom, the building was divided between the Muslims and Christians.
Although Christians and Jews lived under restrictions, for much of the time the three groups managed to get along together, and to some extent, to benefit from the presence of each other.
It brought a degree of civilisation to Europe that matched the heights of the Roman Empire and the Italian Renaissance.
The old poem that most American school children recognize begins “In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue…” Indeed, in the year 1492, Christopher Columbus (whose real name in Italian was Cristoforo Colombo) sailed across the Atlantic in the name of the Spanish crown and landed in the Caribbean part of North America. For hundreds of years, it has simply been accepted that Columbus was the first explorer to valiantly sail across the sea and “discover” the Americas. However, this theory no longer stands up to modern scholarship.