By Paul Anater interior designer and free-lance writer at KitchenAndResidentialDesign.com
I’m one of the journalists who was asked to accompany the winners of Tile of Spain’s Reign in Spain contest.I responded, of course, with a resounding "¡Claro que sí!" This Friday, I’ll board a plane bound for Madrid. Immediately, my head filled with the rousing strains of La Marcha Real, Spain’s energetic national anthem.
From Madrid (shown below), we’ll board the Ave, Spain’s high-speed train. The Ave will take us to Zaragoza, the fifth largest city in Spain. Caesar Augustus established it around 25 BC. The city remained a population center and rose to power as the largest Moorish city in Northern Spain in the centuries that followed the collapse of the Roman Empire. It remained a Moorish city until the early 1100s. I am salivating at the chance to get up close and personal with Spain's surviving Moorish architecture and, from what I can tell, Zaragoza will deliver more of it than I can imagine.
From Zaragoza, we're heading to Teruel, the smallest of Spain's provincial capitals. It traces its beginning to the latter days of Moorish rule in Spain in the 12th Century. It's a Unesco World heritage site for its many examples of Mudéjar architecture, a style of Moorish-like architecture that rose around the same time that Gothic architecture was coming to be in France and Germany. Mudéjar was an important transitional style and its contributions to the great cathedrals of northern Europe largely has been overlooked.
Teruel promises to be an architectural wonderland. In addition to the great examples of Mudéjar, there are a variety of buildings in Gothic, Baroque, and early 20th Century styles. (Any time I can look out over a thousand years of development in one sight line, I'm a happy man indeed.)
From Teruel we're off to Valencia, Spain's third-largest city. Valencia also started out as a Roman outpost. (They called it Valentia then, then being in 137 BC.) It's since been occupied by the Visigoths, the Moors, and finally the Catalan and Aragonese. Every one of those cultures has left fingerprints all over the city and I can't wait to see as many of them as time allows. For all of Valencia's history, it doesn't seem the least bit shy about embracing not just today but tomorrow as well. The City of Science and Arts is a pretty loud announcement of the Valencian peoples' belief in their future.
While we're in Valencia we'll attend the actual reason for this trip, a trade show known the world over as Cevisama. Cevisama is a world showcase devoted the best and brightest in tile, bath fixtures, kitchen fixtures, and natural stone. Spanish industries are on the march and it's going to be a real thrill to see these products on their home turf.
All of this is being made possible by Tile of Spain, an umbrella brand for ASCER, the Spanish tile Manufacturer's Association. I'm honored and grateful to have been selected for this once in a lifetime opportunity to experience the culture, food, architecture, and industry of Spain. ¡Viva la España!
Paul Anater is an interior designer in St. Peterburg, FL. He was selected by Tile of Spain to join the Reign in Spain A&D tour as a guest blogger. From Feb. 4-12, 2011, he will join a group of journalists and other members of the A&D community in a junket that will travel to the cities of Zaragoza, Teruel and Valencia, taking in Spanish architecture, culture, culinary temptations, and Cevisama, the International Ceramic Tile and Bath Furnishings Show.