Madrid as Text
“A city with nothing but everything”
By Melis E. Gercek of FIU at Madrid, España
Almost every capital or urban city has monuments that they are known for such as the Paris with the Eiffel Tower, New York with the Empire State, Rome with its Colosseum. However, Madrid is not known as anything specific, it has many fascinating buildings with precious artwork carrying a big history behind it such as the Museo Nacional del Prado with its famous painting Las Meninas from 1656 by Diego Velazquez or the Guernica from 1937 by Pablo Picasso in the
Reina Sofía Museum.
El Retiro park is not like any other I’ve seen before in my life. I had the prejudice that it is like the central park in New York, however I was proved wrong.With a beautiful so called Feria de Libros Cuesta de Moyano, on entrance consists of multiple book booths next to each other walking up the park, with books looking out of every corner almost as if you were to take one book out of the stand, they would all fall. It is very welcoming, and I can imagine myself looking through the books and finding one from over hundreds of years.
Another impressive part of the park was The Bosque de Recuerdo, a beautiful monument to the victims of the bombing in March 2004 with 192 olive and cypress trees going around in circles. It was initially 191 victims during the attack however the additional one was put for a police officer that also died because of the bombing. My favorite detail of the park is the Palacio de Cristal which is one of the two exhibitions that belong to the Museo de Reina Sofía, it is a crystal palace made of glass. The interesting part about this palace is the interior, consisting with a temporary exhibition by Carlos Bunga who filled the castle with only cardboard standing walls up to the roof. The cardboard symbolizes life and represents how unstable home can be and then it was never stable or consistent from the architect’s childhood experience. The palace was designed by the Spanish Architect Ricardo Velázquez Bosco and his purpose was to produce an impression of phantasy and unreal spaces to the viewers.
Each area of the park is unique on its own and tells a story about Spain and its historical background. Some areas consist of monuments, other are remains from the 19th century and many are now museums. It is a place that must be experienced as it brings you a certain sense of appreciation of nature and life.
Toledo as Text
“A city of giants”
By Melis E. Gercek of FIU at Toledo, España
Just as we arrived at the train station of Toledo, I noticed fascinating Islamic architecture such the roof characterized by geometric and round up tiles with patters from the Moors, the Islamic domain ruling over Spain for several hundreds of years.
This town gave me the impression of being like a huge family, for it to have only 10000 locals in town it gave me the impression that everyone knows each other, a wonderful character especially when it comes to special events such as holidays. Luckily, I was able to be part of seeing how everyone helps in preparing for the upcoming Corpus Christi, an important holiday for the
Roman Catholics represented in a parade that brings about 200kg of gold and silver out to the streets just for this occasion. Giant figures around buildings that are being prepared to walk the parade almost looking like guardians of the city. Another fascinating part of this city is the architecture as it has been influenced by the Moors back when they were ruling and before the
Christians have taken over but also Jewish remains such as the Juderia de Toledo (Jewish section) with a beautiful synagogue that is only a few of the remaining, consisting of Islamic architecture. Moorish buildings would look plain from the outside such as the Alhambra or the Mosque in Cordoba, but the inside would be fascinating architecture. Reason for this strategy of art was that the Moors as they were Muslims, following the saying of the Quran: it was said that showing off is wrong and your wealth should not be shown to everyone as the poorer would feel less of themselves. The synagogue was built by the Moors for the Jews and was never a mosque but looked similar inside. In the interior, everything was painted with attractive colors such as red but then whitewashed over the original with a plaster since it would protect it from disease, it serves a purpose of disinfection as well as protect the heat from the sun.
From El Grecos painting called The Burial of the Count of Orgaz with hidden features such as a reflection on the armor to the beautiful cathedral with everything in stain glass, Baroque art and Gothic cathedral with Renaissance features as it openly represents sexuality, up to Islamic art, churches, synagogues and thus representing all monotheistic religions at once, this city gave me a feeling of harmony