How Spanish Toledo Revived European Civilization

Toledo, Spain.

Toledo, Spain.

From 712 to 1085 the Spanish city Toledo–now one of the most visited tourist cities of Spain–belonged to the Moors, who called it Tulaytula. By that time, Europe had slowly forgotten all the achievements of the Greeks and Romans, having deteriorated into some muddy backwater of overall illiteracy and grubbiness, but the Arab world kept rapidly developing. Nowadays it’s hard to imagine that back then science prospered in Bagdad, Cairo, Cordoba, and Toledo, rather than in Rome, London, or Paris.

In 1055, the Russian knyazhna Anna, married to the French king, wrote in horror to her father, Yaroslav the Wise, the Grand Prince of Kiev, “Dear Father, they wash themselves only once a year here!… The dwellings are gloomy, the churches are ugly, and the mores are terrible… No king here is able to read… Where did you send my sinful soul? To this stinking hole, to France, to this damned city of Paris!…”

By the way, Anna Yaroslavna knew three other languages apart from Russian: Greek, Latin, and French.

Meanwhile the work of translating all writings of the Greek scientists that could be found during trips to Asia Minor was in full swing in the Arab Muslim Caliphate. All the bright minds of the empire assembled in Bagdad. They were well paid only for a single purpose–to keep developing science and art. Moreover, nobody ever demanded proof that the research would result in practical use.

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Isla La Gomera or Christopher Columbus’s Love Story

Teide volcano, the highest mountain of Spain, 3,719 m. Island of Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain.

Teide volcano, the highest mountain of Spain, 3,719 m.

During the night, La Gomera, one of the Canary Islands, is mystically blinking with lights in the black ocean, and in the daytime it is often hidden by clouds and cannot be seen at all. This is the very piece of land from which the great conqueror of the oceans, Сhristopher Columbus, departed in search of the sea lane to India, but accidentally discovered America.

At the end of the 15th century, Isla La Gomera, lost in the Atlantic Ocean 1500 km away from the Peninsula, had become the last European station of Christopher Columbus’s ships before the trip from the Canary Islands, Spain, to the shores of an unknown continent. That is why the island has the second name, Isla Colombina. Plus, this historical event is supplemented by the love affair of Columbus and Beatriz de Bobadilla, governor of the island!

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Antoni Gaudi Paid a High Price for His Genius

Death pursued Antoni always. Two of his brothers died before his birth, and then he continued to bury his other relatives all his life. At 60 years old, he was left alone. Moreover, after he was born, no one believed he would survive. But he did. In childhood, he heard a doctor tell his mother that Antoni would not live long. Again?! The future genius architect Antoni Gaudi did not understand that he had already started to pay dues for the credit of talent granted by the Supreme.

Casa Milà by Antoni Gaudi. Barcelona, Spain.

Casa Milà by Antoni Gaudi

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