Seville Photo Journal

What an amazing city! Seville proudly wears its historical legacy while still embracing all the best aspects of the modern world from architecture, the visual and performing arts to marvelous cuisine.

Seville has had the kind of varied and illustrious history that few cities can boast. Settled by the Romans, it later became a capital of the Moorish Caliphate of Al Andalus which enjoyed dominance over the region for more than two centuries until the Reconquista, the Catholic conquest of the Muslim Empire in what is now southern Spain.

In the years following Christopher Columbus’s so-called ‘discovery’ of America in 1492, Seville became one of the world’s largest and wealthiest cities after being selected by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella as the home port for all the treasures being plundered from the ‘New World’. The Guadalquivir River, which runs through the heart of the city, was utilized as a safe harbor for the tons of gold and silver which were brought back to Spain and stored in the Torre de Oro (Tower of Gold) on its banks.

While Seville still preserves historical layers from all these civilizations, it was Columbus’s voyages to the Americas that sealed its fate as one of the world’s greatest cities. This magical stroke of good fortune, and unparalleled wealth that followed, has bequeathed the city with its greatest architectural legacy.

Marvel at one of the world’s largest cathedrals, royal palaces fit for both Muslim Caliphs and Catholic Kings as evidenced in Seville’s most awe-inspiring structure known as The Alcazar, ornate municipal buildings that would be viewed as royal palaces in lesser cities, grand plazas and gold-encrusted alters and meticulously crafted sculptures that fill the breath-taking spaces of the city’s innumerable churches.

While I’m not a fan of the genocidal aftermath of Columbus’s (and others) voyages to the Americas, my fascination with history allows me to still marvel at both the horror and the creativity humans are capable of producing. From Columbus’s ornate tomb inside the Seville Cathedral to the numerous public squares and other buildings bearing his name, it’s clear that his legacy is still celebrated here.

So, take your time and see how much of Seville’s history you can absorb in this photo journal. I’ve also included photos of one of my favorite structures, an  ultra-modern wooden construction, the Metropol Parasol. It’s evidence that Seville intends to stay at the forefront of contemporary architecture and build on the legacy of its past.

Note: I’ve used English captions in an effort to make them accessible to all.



Seville Video Journal

The historical southern Spanish city of Seville will beguile you with the world’s largest Gothic cathedral, the visually delightful Mudejar-style Alcazar, the Gold Tower where the treasures brought from the Americas were unloaded from ships and stored, the passion of flamenco and SO much more. Sit back and enjoy the visuals in this video journal.

Note: I’ll also be posting a photo journal on Seville shortly.


Cordoba Photo Journal

For those of you who prefer to slowly savor each image, here’s an alternative to the video journal.

Cordoba, Spain is known as the city of three cultures. At the height of its power, Cordoba was a great center of commerce and education and was the largest city in Western Europe. The population was made up of people from many regions who practiced Islam, Christianity and Judaism. According to historical accounts, it was one of the world’s earliest melting pots where these diverse groups mixed easily and peace and harmony reigned for two hundred years.

Video Short: Flamenco!


The Andalusian region of southern Spain is home to one of the world’s most passionate styles of music and dance–flamenco! Though it’s specific origins are still being debated, musicologists trace its roots to eighteenth century Andalusia, a region whose culture by this time had been colored by diverse migrations of Castilian, Gypsy, Jewish and Muslim peoples. Today, flamenco can be heard, seen in clubs and on street corners in every major city of Andalusia.
I could write more about my love for this fascinating art form, but in this case words are insufficient in expressing emotions. Flamenco is best experienced by our hearts and souls. It gets under your skin and makes your spine tingle, and before you realize it your body is moving to the beat of the music. So, turn up the volume and maximize the view, or just close your eyes and listen to the hypnotic rhythms and feel the passion of one of our planet’s most culturally rich areas!

Enjoy and peace~henry

The Kurd’s Destiny

Iraq in the summer is a true broiler, although not necessarily more so than what I’d left behind in Oman. Here however, the lack of a reliable supply of electricity meant daily intermittent power cuts while the university electricians transferred to an alternate grid provided by immense electrical generators that sat just inside the blast walls behind the main university administration building. During these transition periods, we would all—teachers and students alike–perspire profusely inside the suffocating space created by the sheet-metal walls of our prefab classrooms. These blackouts were random and could come at any time in any part of the city and eventually became just another routine part of daily life in Iraq.

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Amazing Students of Kurdistan

Temporary campus of the American University of Iraq-Sulaimaniyah in 2010
The American University of Iraq-Sulaimaniyah (AUIS) was located on a temporary campus in a fairly upscale neighborhood a few miles southeast of the city center. It was a mix of existing cement block and mortar buildings and (prefab) portable classroom ‘cabins’, all surrounded by high concrete blast walls. There were always heavily-armed Kurdish peshmerga guards stationed just outside the front gate which could only be used by faculty and administration. There was a second entrance at the opposite end of the campus where the students were thoroughly searched each morning before being allowed to enter the main campus.

Continue reading “Amazing Students of Kurdistan”