Postcard from Barcelona
By Sir Cam
Cambridge, UK

Back in Spain again! This is the life: Barcelona this time. Superb blend of the old and the new. These Catalans have style, I tell you. Loads to see, never enough time.
Besides the usual stroll along the famous boulevard Ramblas (a word left over from the days of Muslim rule here; from Arabic Ramla, sandy ground), gazing across the Mediterranean by the port, a trip to the top of Mount Tibidabo, there are a whole range of cultural and historic sites to cater for everyone.
It's a very lively modern city with a great metro system. I loved the Islamic architectural influences in the Arenas de Barcelona, a former bullring undergoing massive renovation, and the special contribution of Muslim artists in the area of ceramics. The Museu de la Ceramica up at Palau Reial de Pedralbes has a brilliant collection of Islamic works, and those influenced by Muslims (the so-called Mudejars and Moriscoes) who stayed in Spain after 1492.
The attached photo is one I took from the collection of the Aragonese city of Teruel. There are far more beautiful examples, but not many have Arabic writing on them. This one is even more special because it has the word "Allah" written on it. More a scribble rather than any fine bit of calligraphy, but remember that this was long after Muslims had been expelled or forcibly converted to Christianity. This Arabic word, this Islamic language must have been retained in their hearts and minds. Perhaps it still does. In fact, the Spanish word "Ole" is from the Arabic word "Allah".


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Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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