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Romantic tours to Spain likely had a sound precedent here and had their first seed in the enlightened tours made during the XVIIIth century. Among those tourists, or travelers, was Henry Swinburne, who immediately showed strong feelings towards Córdoba. The book at hand has however a dark purpose, that was to further build the Spanish Black Legend that was key for many countries then to fight Spain as a dominant power in Europe.

In order to do so Swinburne systematically points out the Arab-Muslim heritage in great monuments such as the Alhambra or the Mezquita, and thus comparing that rich past to the utter misery of the present. Of course romantic tourists would reproduce this myth, this despicable lie, in their copious literature during the whole XIXth century.

Henry Swinburne was born in Bristol in 1743. After living in Bordeaux for almost a year he would accept his friend’s, Sir Thomas Gascoigne, invitation to begin a long tour around Spain with the sole idea of getting to know this strange and unknown country. Also in their minds was the idea of writing a book with their impressions of it. As a result, a book of his travels was published in London in 1779 "Travels through Spain in the Years 1775 and 1776" illustrated with several Arab-Muslim and Roman architectural monuments sketched by the very same Henry Swinburne.

The book has, for instance, a very interesting drawing of a panoramic view of Córdoba where we can notice some curious facts. We know that the sketch was made in Spring of 1776, a few years after Miguel Verdiguier would finish the Saint Rafael Arch of Triumph, which is actually depicted in Swinburne’s drawing. We can also appreciate how some buildings suffered the effects of the demolishing earthquake of Lisbon in 1755, for instance, the Calahorra tower was still being repaired then and so it shows the Swinburne drawing. There is also a orthogonal tower very close to our hotel Viento10 that no longer exist. It was called the Tower of the seven corners and it is believed that it was severely damaged during the Lisbon earthquake and had to be demolished. Despite that, it is depicted in the picture in a fairly good state. Swinburne was very careful to draw in detail the way in which these buildings were constructed, that is, the way in which the stones were placed which accounts for the traditional building technique most monuments in Córdoba have.

Last but not least, and as a curiosity derived from reading the book, I leave you an odd and fun comment about the botijos of Córdoba, which may very well be one of the first foreign notes on these Córdoba crafts.

I could find the way to carry some of these fine clay recipients, called búcaros or botijos, that are made here in Andalusia. They are quite convenient as a container for water as they are light and very practical: the clay is but half fired and the resulting container is very porous, hence making it very capable of cooling water temperature. The water inside is cool as ice. It is quite an unbelievable thing to understand this item taking into consideration how this country is insidiously burnt by the sun in Summer


 

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