Córdoba, Granada, Jerez de la Frontera, Cádiz

Interior of the Mezquita (Great Mosque), Unesco World Heritage Site, Cordoba, Andalucia, Spain

Interior of the Mezquita (Great Mosque), Unesco World Heritage Site, Cordoba, Andalucia, Spain
Christopher ...
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Córdoba, once a Roman town and later the capital of the Caliphate, today shows evidence of its past glories in the Mezquite (mosque) which was adorned with over a thousand marble columns and red and gold decorations. Unfortunately, later Catholic kings ruined the general effect by erecting a grossly overdecorated altar in the very centre, to the glory of God, but to the fury of local citizens. The town has grown steadily in size from a population of 8,000 in the seventeenth century to its present size of 775,870, and there are many factories manufacturing electrical fitments, bronze, aluminium and copper products, cement and chemicals. Industries based on local agriculture include fruit preserving, and the making of paper from straw.

Granada, the last stronghold of the Moors, still contains the Alhambra and other Moorish buildings, and is the centre of an exceptionally rich agricultural area. All varieties of Mediterranean and many tropical crops are grown by means of irrigation from the rivers of Darro and Genil, which meet at this town. There are factories for making sugar, alcohol and sulphuric acid. Flax and hemp are manufactured, tobacco is cured, and there are various handicrafts such as the weaving of thick woollen cloth in traditional designs, wood carving, metal working (including inlaid work) and the making of panniers and shoe soles from esparto grass. This is skilled work and can only be done by hand; if a machine is used the threads break, or tension is so slack that the soles disintegrate after they have been worn a few times. Since nearly all Spaniards in the south wear these sandals there is a steady market for such goods.

Jerez de la Frontera (the corruption of the name by British shippers gave the word 'sherry') is an important centre near the river Guadalete. Wines world-famous for quality, cognac, liqueurs and other drinks are made here, while ancillary industries include the manufacture of glass, bottles, casks, corks and labels; soap is manufactured on a small scale and there is some smelting of iron. The surrounding countryside is noted for the rearing of thoroughbred horses, well known in Spain for their strength and fine bearing.

Cádiz, situated on the tip of a narrow peninsula (the Isla de León) joined to the mainland by the 'bridge' of Zuazo, is an important port. Phoenicians built a town here (remains can still be seen) and gave it its early name -- Gadir. Today it serves as port, naval station, and, to a lesser extent, as a fishing centre. A little to the south lies the industrial centre of San Fernando, which, apart from an astronomical observatory and seismological station, also contains the arsenal of Carraca, an important naval college and large shipyards, where merchant ships, oil tankers and naval vessels are built. Salt, some of which is exported to other parts of the peninsula, is evaporated from the mudflats of the lower Guadalete. Generous aid, both monetary and in goods and raw materials, was given to Spain in return for the use of Spanish territory. In addition, Spain benefits from the oil pipeline constructed to other bases at Morón de la Frontera, Torreja (Madrid) and Zaragoza, since this eases the difficulty of oil transport.

Huelva is built on the Anicoba peninsula between the Tinto and Odiel rivers, and is thus surrounded by extensive marshes from which some salt is evaporated. Evidence of its early importance is seen in the Roman aqueduct. This is the port which deals with the copper and pyrites mined in the Sierra Morena to the north, and there is a specially constructed pier for handling the trucks efficiently. In addition olive oil, fruits, fish and wines are exported, and the main industries include the manufacturing of chemicals, cables and fertilizers, as well as the making of ropes. Five miles away lies the small port of Palos de Moguer, from which Christopher Columbus sailed to America on his voyage of discovery.

Jaén, the capital of the foothills, lies below Mount Jabalcuz near the river Guadalbullón. In Roman times it was the centre of a rich silver-mining region; although lead is still smelted here Jaén is more renowned for the quality of its olive oil. The steppelike character of the surrounding countryside is shown in the abundance of flour mills, and the paucity of wine-making and preserving industries. The great emigration of population from Jaén and district has prompted the authorities to initiate the 'Plan Jaén', a scheme to bring more industry to the town.

Antequera, another town of the foothills, is situated on the banks of the Guadalhorce at the foot of the Sierra de los Torcales. It is a market centre of some importance, and contains textile factories which produce woollen and silk goods. It is an important road centre, and the main railway line from Málaga to Granada passes through the town.

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