Romanticism is a cultural movement that flourished in northern Europe in the first half of the nineteenth century, whose aesthetic and moral values constitute a replica, often an opposition, to the philosophical currents of Classicism and Enlightenment that made reason the object of triumph over faith and belief. It is basically a reaction of the sensory against reason and materialism.
The romantics were often artists who freely expressed and exalted their feelings in literature, painting, sculpture or music. The interest of romantics for mystery, fantasy, dreams, exoticism and the past has never faltered. They found in the attraction for the East of the Ottomans and ancient Egypt an inexhaustible source of inspiration.
In addition, remember that this era coincides with the height of the British Empire and the recent independence of the United States of America in full economic takeoff, whose young graduates belonging to social elites had the habit of making long trips, to discover Europe, true pioneers of modern tourism.
Similarly, there was a French presence after the Napoleonic wars, more specifically exploration trips by Francophone scientists Boissier and Rambur, who revealed in their writings the natural wealth of southern Spain.
In this context, the exaltation for the discovery of the grand and ruined monuments of Al-Andalus, the proximity of the British overseas territory of Gibraltar, the beauty of the mountains and the countryside, the attraction for Arab legends and outlaws, “bandoleros“, the customs of the gypsies, and why not say it, the safety of travelers to prove their belonging to an educated and rich class, make Andalusia an ideal territory to receive orientalists and Anglo-Saxons. The names of Seville, Cordoba, Ronda and many others attracted attention strongly and captivated more and more travelers.
The novel “Carmen” (1847) by Mérimée, whose action is inspired, in particular, by the author’s stay in the town of Gaucín, in the Genal Valley; by the writings, among many others, of Hugo or Théophile Gautier, it constitutes the summit of the Andalusian romantic creation.
This love for the beautiful dreamed Andalusia, the delight of participating in an epic “discovery” of an ancient world, curiosity for local people and class differences, will produce endless clichés and common places … which will be the points of attraction to this place.
As proof, after World War II, the operetta “La Belle de Cadix” (1945) offered the French public a leisure option that they could afford. Today you can see a monument to romantic travelers in the city of Ronda, where you can also visit the Bandoleros Museum.