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Spain (Spanish: España [es'pa?a] ), officially the Kingdom of Spain (Spanish: Reino de España), is a European country located in Southwestern Europe with some pockets of Spanish territory across the Strait of Gibraltar and the Atlantic Ocean. Its continental European territory is situated on the Iberian Peninsula. Its territory also includes two archipelagoes: the Canary Islands off the coast of Africa, and the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean Sea. The African enclaves of Ceuta, Melilla, and Peñón de Vélez de la Gomera make Spain the only European country to have a physical border with an African country (Morocco). Several small islands in the Alboran Sea are also part of Spanish territory. The country's mainland is bordered to the south and east by the Mediterranean Sea except for a small land boundary with Gibraltar; to the north and northeast by France, Andorra, and the Bay of Biscay; and to the west and northwest by Portugal and the Atlantic Ocean.
With an area of 505,990 km2 (195,360 sq mi), Spain is the largest country in Southern Europe, the second largest country in Western Europe and the European Union, and the fourth largest country in the European continent. By population (about 47 million), Spain is the sixth largest in Europe and the fifth in the European Union. Spain's capital and largest city is Madrid; other major urban areas include Barcelona, Valencia, Seville, Málaga and Bilbao.
Modern humans first arrived in the Iberian Peninsula around 35,000 years ago. Iberian cultures along with ancient Phoenician, Greek, Celtic and Carthaginian settlements developed on the peninsula until it came under Roman rule around 200 BCE, after which the region was named Hispania, based on the earlier Phoenician name Sp(a)n or Spania. At the end of the Western Roman Empire the Germanic tribal confederations migrated from Central Europe, invaded the Iberian peninsula and established relatively independent realms in its western provinces, including the Suebi, Alans and Vandals. Eventually, the Visigoths would forcibly integrate all remaining independent territories in the peninsula, including Byzantine provinces, into the Kingdom of Toledo, which more or less unified politically, ecclesiastically and legally all the former Roman provinces or successor kingdoms of what was then documented as Hispania.
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The Oran fatwa was a responsum fatwa, or an Islamic legal opinion, issued in 1504 to address the crisis that occurred when Muslims in the Crown of Castile (in Spain) were forced to convert to Christianity in 1500-1502. The fatwa sets out detailed relaxations of the sharia (Islamic law) requirements, allowing the Muslims to conform outwardly to Christianity and perform acts that are ordinarily forbidden in Islamic law, when necessary to survive. It includes relaxed instructions for fulfilling the ritual prayers, the ritual charity, and the ritual ablution, and recommendations when obliged to violate Islamic law, such as worshipping as Christians, committing blasphemy, and consuming pork and wine.
The fatwa enjoyed wide currency among Muslims and Moriscos (Muslims nominally converted to Christianity and their descendants) in Spain, and one of the surviving aljamiado translations was dated at 1564, 60years after the original fatwa. The fatwa has been described as the "key theological document" to understand the practice of Spanish Muslims following the Reconquista up to the expulsion of the Moriscos. The author of the fatwa (mufti) was Ahmad ibn Abi Jum'ah, a North African scholar of Islamic law of the Maliki school. The fatwa was termed the "Oran fatwa" by modern scholars, due to the word "Al-Wahrani" ("of Oran") that appears in the text as part of the author's name. Read more...
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Antonio Gala (born 2 October 1936) is a Spanish poet, playwright, novelist and writer. Gala was born in Brazatortas, Ciudad Real (Castile-La Mancha), although he moved very soon to Córdoba and is widely considered an Andalusian. A graduate in law, philosophy, politics and economics, he has written in a wide variety of genres, including journalism, short stories, essays and television scripts. He has been awarded several prizes, not only within the field of poetry but also for his contributions to theatre and opera.
Gala's work has been more appreciated by his readership than by the critics, who find it hard to classify it due to its particular blend of lyricism and epic. Among his most successful plays are Los verdes campos del Edén (The Green Fields of Eden, National Theatre Prize "Calderón de la Barca" 1963), Anillos para una dama (Rings for a Lady, 1973), ¿Por qué corres, Ulises? (Why do you run, Ulysses?, 1975), Petra Regalada (1980), Samarkanda (1985), Carmen, Carmen (1988) and La truhana (The rogue, 1992). Among his collections of poetry are Sonetos de La Zubia (La Zubia Sonets), Poemas de amor (Love Poems), Testamento Andaluz (Andalusian Will) and Enemigo íntimo (Intimate Enemy, Adonais Prize 1959).
Credit: Seville Tourism Bureau
The Cathedral of Seville, formally Catedral de Santa María de la Sede (Cathedral of Saint Mary of the See) was begun in 1402, with construction continuing into the 16th century. It is the largest of all Roman Catholic cathedrals (Saint Peter's Basilica not being a cathedral) and also the largest Medieval Gothic religious building, in terms of both area and volume.
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