Having lived in Jakarta, a city of ten millions for most of my life, small european towns easily strike me as charming, and romantic. In addition to the small maze-like medieval streets of the historic center, and its spontaneous stone steps and plazas, showing centuries of organic town croissance, I find the fact that small towns are much more connected to its surrounding countryside to be a quality I enjoy as well. The limits of the city, there where the city ends and the countryside starts, there where streetlights and sidewalks turn into trees and gravel road, I find these places to be the most romantic, the most melancholic.
Other, usually bigger cities, have their edges marked by highways, gas stations, parking for big transporters, latenight diners; these are the heterotopic places I am used to, and find beautiful. In Granada, a moderately sized city in the south of Spain, I was introduced to another kind of limit -the kind that our ancestors had known for millenias before the invention of highways and diners- when I went to the Plaza Nueva for the first time, and saw the rolling hills of the Sacremonte in the background. In Granada, you can have coffee in the historic center, and your eyes can wander off to the countryside.
Though Granada is an everchanghing, ever growing city since its founding, there is something primordial and ancient about being able to see the countryside from Plaza Nueva. You can imagine the inhabitants of the city centuries ago doing the same thing, and having the same longing for the countryside as they watch the hills. I hope Sacramonte will stay a countryside forever.