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Spanish in Granada

Learn Spanish in Granada

The city of extremes, Granada is the one place in Spain — scrap that: the one place in Europe! — where you can go up the Sierra Nevada for a bit of skiing in the morning, before the snow melts, and then head straight down to the coast for a relaxed afternoon by the beach. Located within the staggering environs of the south of Spain and steeped in the most diverse of traditions, Granada is an unforgettable place, under any circumstances.

Alhambra Granada

The last bastion of Muslim presence in the Iberian peninsula, the pretty kingdom of Granada was in Arab hands until right at the end of the Reconquista, in 1492, when the Catholic Kings of Castile and Aragon decided to formalise the end of a war that had long since been won, taking full control of Iberia through a highly tolerant treaty that essentially allowed the Arabs to continue living their life the way they had until now, with the same laws, the same religion, the same language as before.

Although the city dates back roughly to the VIII century BC, when an Iberian settlement was established and fortified with a wall near the hills of Saint Nicholas, the area, controlled by the Carthaginians first, and, after the Punic Wars, by the Romans, was ultimately deserted, such that by the time of the Arab invasion of the Peninsula, starting in 711, the area where Granada currently sits was uninhabited.

In this sense, then, Granada is the most Arabic of all cities in Spain, home to the cultural syncretism that gave rise to the Mozarabic style, the architectural, decorative and artistic tendency that, arguably, most succinctly and accurately expresses Spanish sensibility. Therefore, visiting Granada can be a highly valuable cultural experience which can easily be combined with leisurely trips or more taxing language schools in Spain.

Not Only a Language

The key component to a period of study abroad, whether it be to learn a language or to complete an undergraduate degree, is the cultural element to which daily life in foreign latitudes exposes you. It might well be that the primary goal of your journey is to learn a language. However, as well as that, by the end of your trip you will have learned a lot more: you will have learned to love or hate the people, the customs, the lifestyle of the place where you have been — and I am pretty certain, it is a lot more likely that you will love it than you will hate it!

Therefore, as important as the standing, methodology and reputation of the school you might choose (all crucial aspects in your decision), are also the specific traits that define the society in which you will have to spend your time. Therefore, it makes a huge difference if you want to go to study in Salvador or San Diego, if you want to go to Buenos Aires or Barcelona, if you want to travel to Sevilla or Granada.

Granada is a thoroughly Spanish city. But, at the same time, it might be the place where the seams of the combination of cultures that have made possible the development of Spanish society as such become most evident. Not only is this true of the Muslim presence, which left its very palpable signature in the structure of the city, but also in the forging of a new, combined society, which owed greatly to both traditions and which, consequently, emerged as something of its own.

Granada

This transition is most evident, of course, in the Mozarabic art which flourished as a consequence of the use of Arab workers in the constructions of the time, particularly skilled, as they were, in the use of stone and clay. With the passage of time, however, less direct but equally apparent influences could be felt in other cultural realms, such as for instance, music.

The development of the classic guitar, the Spanish instrument par excellence, owes greatly to the long-standing tradition of Arabic music, which permeated the peninsula at the same speed as the Muslim presence in the region became permanent. Indeed, many of the instruments commonly used these days in western music, such as the tambourine, have direct Arabic descendants. In the same line of thought, the emergence and development of Flamenco, so closely linked these days with the Gypsy community, most likely had Arabic or Mozarabic origins.

From the pinnacle of Arabic art in the Iberian Peninsula, the Palace of Alhambra, to the exchange that ensued during the transitional period, all the way through to the more subtle and nuanced influences, perhaps not so easily traceable these days, Granada is the land of the exotic, where hybrid creations thrive and where the real underbody of Spanish society can best be evinced.