Publisher: APA Publications
“To understand modern-day Andalusia, you need to know about its past.” This quote, found on page 3 of Insight Guides – Southern Spain, may sound innocuous, but it nonetheless rings true. Because while Al-Andalus (as the Moors named it) is both a modern, vibrant region filled with all the trappings of the 21st century, it also exhibits a rigorously traditional character, one that is steeped in the mythos of religion, rurality and the gypsy traditions.
Successfully presenting an area with such a rich cultural heritage is a tall order, but one that Insight Guides – Southern Spain manages to deftly accomplish. With photos that range from domino players to donkeys, golf courses to gold coasts, Christopher Columbus to Priego de Cordoba, this book presents first-rate imagery of the people and attractions that one will encounter during a trip to Andalusia.
Moreover, the structure of the initial chapters is wonderfully done – introducing Southern Spain as being “the source of Spanish cliché – of sherry, of flamenco, of machismo, of bullfighting and of coastal resorts” is right on the money. The quick follow-up of Decisive Dates, beginning in 800,000 B.C., and the more in-depth examination of the region’s early history is a shrewd move. For only in realizing how much of an influence the Moors exerted on the Iberian Peninsula is one able to arrive at an understanding of the region. For example, on page 29 it is written that, “At its apogee, Cordoba housed more than 100,000 inhabitants, many more than the London or Paris of the period.” (Here, the period refers to the 8th and 9th centuries.) To put that into perspective, it was during this time that most of the surviving relics of the Moors were created – which is an eyebrow-raising 1,200 years ago.
One could go on all day about the beauty of the Moors’ creations – the Alhambra in Granada, the Mezquita in Cordoba, the Giralda tower in Seville – all of which are aptly described in this title. But the point is that over the course of the first 100 or so pages – which the reviewer humbly believes should be read before a trip to Andalusia is undertaken – the reader arrives at an understanding of the people and place in a way that other guidebooks seem unable to achieve.
This could be attributed to the depth of information – presented in a graphically-enjoyable manner – that is provided. As opposed to other popular guidebooks that are also graphically-intense, Insight Guide – Southern Spain makes the reviewer feel as if this book is the only one necessary for undertaking a trip to al-Andalus.
The above review was contributed by: Jim Curtiss: Click Here To Read More Of Jim’s Reviews