Sunday, 17 August 2008

Destination Report: Spain

The Mezquita of Cordoba

Over more than seven centuries, large parts of Spain were under Moorish rule. While the Arab conquest ended in 1492 with the fall of Granada, the cultural and the architectural heritage is still largely present today, especially in the Southern Spanish province of Andalusia – a name stemming from the time of Al-Andalus.

Imposing Outside View of the Mezquita

During the 10th century CE, the city of Cordoba used to be the thriving capital of the Caliphate. With a population estimated at over 500,000, it has been widely recognised as the world’s largest city of its times. Today, one monument stands out as a reminder of the Moorish heydays in Spain: the Mezquita of Cordoba.

Former Entrance Door in Moorish Style

Built on the foundation of Roman and Visigothic places of reverence, the building of the Mezquita (Spanish for “mosque”) was initiated by Abd al-Rahman in 784 CE. Enlarged almost two centuries later, it reached completion shortly before the turn of the first millennium.

Covering an area of over 24,000 m², more than 1,000 columns once sustained its inner arcades. The double arches in red and white were an architectural novelty at that time – and gave the Mezquita its distinctive touch.

The Famous Interior View of the Mezquita

While the Reconquest of Cordoba in 1236 CE by Christian troops put an end to the Moorish reign, the marvel of the Mezquita was largely recognized and retained. While first only minor Christian features were added, a main alteration came in the 16th century CE: an entire Renaissance cathedral was put right in the heart of the building complex.

Today, the combination of different religions and their architectural styles in one place appears surprising and bizarre – but it constitutes also a key to the enchantment of the place.

Joint Christian and Muslim Ornaments

Today, more than 1.2 million visitors frequent the Mezquita every year – and not view come back for a second visit to cherish the atmosphere during diverse daylight hours. The surrounding streets of the former Jewish quarter make Cordoba an ideal place to stay and spend a couple of very relaxed days.

Narrow Streets Leading to the Mezquita

The Mezquita of Cordoba, a World Heritage Site since 1984, offers the unique opportunity to immerse oneself into the Moorish époque almost 1,000 years back – a travel that might easily lead to the quest to see more of the historic legacy of Al-Andalus.

Andreas Hauser

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Ethics in Tourism

Lecture at the University

of Applied Sciences in Munich

Last month, upon invitation by the University of Applied Sciences in Munich, I had the pleasure of lecturing on one of my favourite subjects: “Ethics in Tourism – Acting Responsibly in the Business Environment”.

The full-day seminar was attended by 25 students of the University’s Department of Tourism, most of them having recently completed their final internship in placements around the world.

Cover Page of the Presentation
(in German)

In the beginning, the students expressed only limited expectations regarding a potentially boring lecture about ethical principles. However, the initial discussion round quickly showed the relevance of the topic to each (future) professional in the tourism business. Even more so, it became clear that the basis for ethical behaviour is laid already at earlier stages such as school and university. This coincides with the findings of Harvard professor Howard Gardner who strongly doubts that a student cheating in his exams will fundamentally change his behaviour later in the career.

During the seminar, the following topics were covered, igniting lively discussions amongst the students in relation to their personal experiences in work and life:
  • Relevance of ethical behaviour
  • Theoretical background on business ethics
  • Corporate ethics programmes (e.g. CRS)
  • Codes of ethics in tourism
  • Ethical behaviour in the work place

The final feedback from the students towards the topic and the lecture was fundamentally positive. Most participants stated that they were surprised by the strong relevance of ethical principles in regard to university, work and even daily life.

When asked for their key learning experience of the day, most students stated the “unexpected relation” of business ethics to their individual behaviour as well as the “strongly risen awareness” for the complexity of decision making processes and their implications.

Fuelled by the positive comments of the students, my next lectures on the subject of “Ethics in Tourism” will certainly see even more dedication to the practical application in everyday work – looking forward to create increasing awareness for such an essential and fundamental driver of personal satisfaction and success in (work) life.

Andreas Hauser