The Thinking of Speaking
Issue #3 May / June 2013
Where Are You?
by Sonja Krüger
May / June 2013 | 

This capital city dates back to pre-Roman times, and legend has it that Ulysses founded it. In those years, it was a constant battleground between three rivals: the Phoenicians, the Greeks and the Carthaginians. When the Romans began a two-century reign over it, it became the most important city in the western Iberian region.

Centuries later, the Moors took over the city, fortified it, and held out against Christian attacks for almost 400 years. Finally, however, the Christians recaptured it, and made it the capital of its home country. It rapidly developed a booming maritime and inland trade.

A famous navigator later decided to break Islam's economic power by finding a way around that region by sea, and with the help of the best sailors, map makers, ship builders and astronomers he could find, he did find a way. In 1434, one of his ships sailed beyond the greatly feared Cape Bojador on the West African coast, ending the maritime superstition that it was the end of the world. This route, along with Vasco da Gama's own expedition in 1497 which opened a sea route to India, quickly made this city into the seat of a vast empire.

However, these years as a prosperous trading center would not last long. Even with the huge amount of wealth it was amassing, the cost of maintaining its empire was far too great, and it collapsed under its own power. A few centuries later, it was dealt a crippling blow when a massive earthquake reduced the city to rubble. It was never able to recover its power after that.

Napoleon's occupation of the city started a long succession of power struggles over the region. A coup in the early 20th century brought almost four decades of authoritarian rule under a one-time finance minister. During this regime, political parties were banned and censorship, propaganda, and brute force maintained order in the country.

Finally, another revolution brought the country into the path of democracy, which it followed faithfully. It finally joined the European Union, and that inclusion helped restore a strong economy to the country. Today, this city is a thriving city with a rich cultural mix of immigrants. It continues to draw international attention as a host city for world expos and has even played host to the continent's biggest football tournament. Ulysses would be proud.

Can you name this city and country?

Last month's answer: Alesund, Norway

Where Are You?
Writer: Sonja Krüger

All images are Copyright - CC BY-SA (Creative Commons Share Alike) by their respective owners, except for Petey, which is Public Domain (PD) or unless otherwise noted.


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