As with most history, we idolise.
Al-Andalus, role model of tolerance? Example of the peaceful co-existence between Muslims, Christians and Jews?
For sure we see it as such. Inland Andalucia communities have retained their 'family values' quality, an idyll in our time. Therefore it’s easy to picture people living here in harmony.
What we do know is that the 3 main religions did live in relative harmony, especially when compared to the tumultuous times.
This was especially true in Cordoba, at that time the world’s biggest city.
Little wonder that it’s university boomed, and it’s knowledge expanded. Where people are allowed research, debate and mingling, there’s always a spike in knowledge.
In those days, Europe was not the best of places. The whole continent was divided into hundreds of small kingdoms and counties, all in friction or war with each other – so Cordoba towered over everything, with its university and peaceful coexistence, and that reputation casted a very long shadow across Andalucia.
Maybe, maybe that is why harmony is far bigger today than it was 800 years ago. Andalucia and intolerance just do not match in one phrase. If anyone is tolerant, it’s the Andalusian. If you can relax, if you can smile, if you show interest in the language and customs, you’re a champ. ‘Un maquina’.
Part of that tolerance also comes from that sense of village life where 'family values' are so strong. If you live in a big city, you are naturally drawn to peers, those that studied or do the same work or have the same background as you. It becomes highly likely that you live in an intellectual or cultural or social ghetto, so to speak.
No such thing in inland Andalucia!
You sit in a bar with an olive picker, a lawyer, a construction worker, a bank clerk, a shop assistant, an architect, a celebrity and a gypsy flamenco singer… All learning and talking about each other’s professions or lives.
The conversations, of course always include latest town gossip, but the openness revolves around those strong family values that continue to exist. The numerous fiestas throughout the year, although they have particular themes, they are all a celebration of life.
Andalusians read less than the average Spaniard, who reads less than the average European – but on the other hand, there’s much more poetry here, in music, lyrics, dancing, the atmosphere in villages, the colours, the views…
Why would one need to read if literature and the art of friendly conversation is all around you.
Andalucia simply promotes tolerance.
It’s the feel-good region of Europe