First time enjoying [PiSS]? You might want to start from the beginning.
Instead of focusing on what happened chronologically, I’ll move forward thematically. This might let me get my rage out of the way first, and end this series on a light note.
Spain, being the bringer of Christianity to the “heathen and pagan” lands of the Philippines, is filled with a great many churches to visit. Cordoba offered the first, but it definitely wasn’t the last. Nor was it the biggest. Why am I still raging? Read on.
I’ll begin this story with the last cathedral we saw – Catedral de Granada.
It was built after the Christian Monarchs “reconquered” Granada from Nasrid rule. The lady with the ID is Elisabet. She was our guide on this free walking tour (and by free, it means pay what you want after the tour ends). I’m not blocking out her face and hiding her name because this is her job and she might appreciate the publicity.
Anyway, Elisabet gave me many historical facts about Granada during the walking tour. For example, it appears Christopher Columbus received his commission to explore the world here. It appears Queen Isabel, whose coffers were almost dry after the reconquest, got a sizable donation from someone in order to fund Columbus. Do you know who that someone is? I don’t either and that’s the point. Elizabeth told us the name, but I promptly forgot. I’d think that dude deserves some credit. But maybe it was all for the best. I personally would not want to be associated with the slavery, exploitation, displacement and genocide that followed shortly after this exploration venture.
Did you know that Granada was peacefully surrendered to the Christian monarchs? It was handed over by Abu `Abdallah Muhammad XII, whom the Spanish people called Boabdil at that time. Did they call him Boabdil because that’s the only part of his name that they could easily recognize? A-Buabdil-ah Muhammad XII? If this were the case, I can describe it with one word. Typical.
Boabdil (I will keep calling him that because if you ever visit Granada, that’s what you’ll see, and not his complete name which I found through Wikipedia – full disclosure) surrendered the city because he did not want it to be destroyed. In doing so, he signed a treaty with the Spaniards that says he will give them control of the city and go into exile as long as they allow the Muslim inhabitants to remain there, to be treated fairly, and to continue practicing their religion and traditions.
He was far from the perfect monarch. Boabdil, together with his mother, executed a coup against his father who was the king because they felt threatened by his father’s second family. This led into a civil war that may have weakened Granada enough to allow the easy capture by the Spaniards. He is supposedly buried in a humble grave in Morocco, and is forever known as the king who lost the Alhambra without putting up a fight. However, his sacrifice allowed many of his subjects to live unmolested (at least for a time) and saved the marvel that is the Alhambra from destruction (for the most part – more on that later). This lets me look at him with kinder eyes.
Alrighty then. City under Christian control, religious tolerance mandated, shouldn’t we be seeing a lot of Muslims and mosques? Well, let me now tell you about this piece of shit motherfucker Francisco Jiménez de Cisneros. He was an archbishop and a confessor to Isabel (if I remember Elisabet’s spiel correctly), and he was apparently dissatisfied with how the Muslims in Granada were being converted – or not converted – to Christianity.
Being the goatfucker with a superiority complex that he was, he began imprisoning wealthy or uncooperative Muslims and forcing them to convert. He also gathered all books from Mulsim homes as well as the University of Granada – presumably every book written in Arabic – and burned them in a square that’s now dedicated to Boabdil. This bit really got my wife #triggered. Cisneros, in his ignorance, indiscriminately rid Granada of its vast trove of knowledge. You’d better believe it wasn’t just Korans and religious materials he destroyed. What advances in science and technology were hidden in those tomes? It’s like the Archimedes Palimpsest, only this time de Cisneros burned everything instead of just writing over them.
Place yourself in the shoes of our Muslim brothers back then. Your king went into exile to prevent the sacking of your city. You found that through the Treaty of Granada, you can go on with your life much as before. Hell, you were so happy you even cheered Ferdinand and Isabel when they visited. Then comes this pompous fuck de Cisneros, who forcibly makes your neighbors convert, invades your homes and destroys your property. How would you react? Naturally, a rebellion occurred.
Naturally, de Cisneros took this opportunity to say “The Muslims are violating the treaty. Therefore, it is now null and void and we should no longer honor it!” and then gave the remaining residents some choices: 1) remain and convert to Christianity, 2) be enslaved or killed, or 3) go into exile.
[SIDE RANT] By this time you should know, I fucking hate de Cisneros. He poked, prodded and disrespected people he did not even know, probably thinking he was in the right all along. He probably thought he was better than they were, and that they didn’t deserve to be treated with respect. When he experienced retaliation, he put the blame solely on his victims, as if his actions did not provoke such a response. It was a brilliant move, given his motives, but I sure hope the kingdom of Heaven is not filled with shits such as him.
As we walked through the Albayzin, the Muslim quarter of Granada, the effects of this purge became quite apparent. The once packed, bustling place saw three out of every four people disappear (again, if I remember correctly). With all that space, it became the territory of the wealthy, claiming large cuts of land with great views of the Alhambra or over the rest of the city. Any church you see in this area will most likely have a cistern outside, and every church with a cistern was actually a mosque repurposed. I guess in the days of old, you don’t visit the church. The church visits you.
The tour ends with a nice view of the Alhambra from afar. I visited the grounds and saw its beauty from the inside, but seeing it from the outside is a whole new experience that I would definitely recommend.
If you ever get the pleasure of walking within its walls, you’d see one palace there that looks out of place. It sticks out like a sore thumb amidst the graceful architecture around it. That place is the palace of Carlos V. That dude destroyed an existing palace to replace with his own monstrosity. Now, share in my rage.
Our next stop is the Cadiz Cathedral. Started by Vicente Acero who built the Granada Cathedral, it is bigger and more expansive than its sibling. It has an impressive interior, with a domed ceiling on top of the main altar, and many chapels along its walls.
This building at least was not appropriated from the Muslims, and its builders can be proud to claim it as their own. I recommend getting the audio guide if you plan to tour the cathedral. It gives you some idea on how to go about exploring such a big place.
[PRO TIP] There’s a water dispenser at the Sacristy. If you’ve read my first post about taking a trip to Spain, you should have a water bottle handy and you can refill it there. If not, pray there are still some cups left (there weren’t when I went).
The various chapels range from simple (or as simple as you can get for a Chapel in a Cathedral, which is grandiose by definition), to lavish, to this monstrosity of a Monstrance made of silver (picture not mine).
Underneath lies a crypt, which turned out to be my favorite part of the Cathedral. It’s cool, has some benches to sit on, and has great acoustics. The slightest sound gets amplified all over. My lightest footfalls drowned out the sound of the blood pumping through my ears as they echoed. I didn’t take a photo here. I recall my feet were quite sore and I just wanted to rest for a little bit. Luckily, someone else did.
You may also visit one of the Cathedral’s bell towers, offering fantastic views all around.
After these cathedrals, the churches seemed to blend together. We went to so many, that looking back through the pictures now I still couldn’t identify which churches they were. I can only hazard a guess as to where they were located based on the order in which they were taken. Suffice to say I’m good with not visiting churches on a touristy trip for a while.
So many grand places dedicated to worshiping God. I personally enjoy smaller, simpler churches myself. They feel more intimate, more solemn, but to each his own. At the very least I can say I enjoy these churches and cathedrals more because we didn’t fucking steal them from another religion.
[PiSS] in Review
Episode 3: Bisita Iglesia