Marbella Along the Mediterranean

After being on the road for a number of days, the stop at Marbella was designed as a flex day to allow those who wanted to rest a bit to take a resort-style, relaxing day at the beach! Others could use the day to explore the suburban tourist town of Marbella. Once in our room, we peered out the window to get our first real glimpse of the Mediterranean – part of Spain’s Costa del Sol!


The Mediterranean viewed from the hotel

We arrived late in the afternoon. Although the day had been a long one yet we were excited by the tropical atmosphere Marbella offered. We refreshed a bit and headed for dinner at a very local Italian restaurant practically across the street from our hotel.

Once done, we walked down to the boardwalk for an after dinner stroll. It was a magical evening with the blue water and late day light. After a moderate walk, we went back to the room to get a good rest for explorations the next day!

After a quick breakfast, we were anxious for our next adventure.


Along Marbella's Beachfront

Boardwalks are always interesting because hotels, galleries, small stores and beach-related activities along the path often reveal the unexpected. A sand sculptor was busy at work early in the morning and we stopped to admire his craftmanship.


Sand Sculptor of Children

To be clear, I speak very little Spanish. For some reason, a couple of lessons from my high school years came rushing forth and I was able to conjure several helpful phrases. I approached the sculptor and asked him how long these works would last given the weather and the fragility of the material.


Castle sand sculpture

He explained that they would only remain for two weeks at the most! We proffered a small donation and headed for the main section of town. It was a bit of a walk, but then again, we are walkers!

Along the way we came to Alameda Park located on Av. Ramón y Cajal. We were intrigued by this statue of a girl on a swing that was nearly hidden among the trees.


Girl on a Swing Statue in a tree

There was also a festive, brightly colored carousel nearby, but not yet open for wannabe riders!


A carousel at Almeda park

At some point we missed our target, but being adventurous we forged ahead with map in hand to find local markets, courtyards, churches, etc. As Tolkien said: “Not all those who wander are lost.”


A side street in Marbella


Fancy inlaid stonework in a town square

We enjoyed walking the streets where the locals live and peeking into store windows. As would be expected in a waterfront town, there were a number fish markets.


Fish market window

We continued to be wowed by the beautiful, quaint facades, heavy wooden doorways, …


A pretty house view with plants and wooden door

colorful plantings and exterior adornments!


Colorful house and bougainvillea

As we approached the main center of town, where more tourists were likely to shop, there were the usual merchants and crowds of bargain seekers.


Shoppers along one of the alleyways


Purveyor of spices, sweets, etc.
Purveyor of spices, sweets, etc.

The fascination of adventuring through these small towns is being able to capture the variety of picturesque scenes such as this unique colorful restaurant.


Pretty restaurant with blue religious statue

Another floral festooned restaurant beckons visitors to “come take a closer look.”


A restaurant entrance

In a nearby square, an impressive array of beach stones were laid on their side to create a floral pattern which framed the larger square pictured below.


closeup view of intricate stonework in a town square


A Town Square of Marbella

Houses, shops and churches find common ground in such enclaves and as tourists walk along looking at the merchandise, they may be enticed to examine the small, unassuming houses of worship that have their own subdued majesty to share.


Small side street of Marbella


Small neighborhood church

We took a brief lunch break and continued our town walk until early evening. There were many more scenes that caught our eye, but I think the pictures above capture the essence of Marbella.

The next day we rode the bus along the hillsides to reach our next destination – Ronda!


A view of the mountains from our bus
photographed from our moving tourist coach!


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Read previous posts about our adventures traveling in Portugal and Spain:

Portugal – Alfama District, Lisbon Part 1

Portugal – Alfama District, Lisbon Part 2

Portugal – Lisbon Streets & Garden

Lisbon Portugal – The Belem and Tejo River District

Sintra Portugal – National Palace and Quaint Streets

Portugal – Seaside Resort of Cascais

Portugal – Lisbon’s Edward VII Park

Lisbon, Portugal – Walking the Avenue to the Rossio District

Lisbon, Portugal – Unique Gift Shop

Portugal – Evora’s Capela dos Ossos

Portugal – Historic Evora

Merida, Spain – Ancient Roman Ruins

Seville, Spain – First Impressions

Seville, Spain – The Alcazar

Seville, Spain – Around Town (Sights along the streets)r

Jerez, Spain – Horses and Sherry

Gibraltar – More than the Rock

 

Read more Hiking and Exploration posts HERE


**********


All original content on this blog is copyrighted by Jeffrey B. Ross with ALL Rights Reserved. While reference links back to JBRish.com are appreciated and encouraged, please acquire approval for any reproduction of original content from this website.

©Jeffrey B. Ross 2014 – 2019 – JBRish.com



Gibraltar – More than the Rock


Map of trip from Jarez to Gibralter to Marbella
Via Google Maps

The day was still young when we once again boarded our bus leaving Jerez and heading toward our overnight destination; the Mediterranean seaside town of Marbella, Spain. This was a very busy travel day which began early.

Before we would arrive at our accommodations for the next two nights, we were going to take a quick tour of picturesque Gibraltar.



HOW THE BRITISH GAINED CONTROL OF GIBRALTAR

Gibraltar was captured by the British Fleet in 1704 during the war of the Spanish Succession. On 4th August 1704, an Anglo-Dutch fleet under the command of Admiral George Rooke took Gibraltar from the Spanish. From dawn on that day and for the next five hours, some 15,000 canons were fired from the fleet into the city. The invaders, led by the English majority, landed the same morning and not surprisingly encountered little opposition.

Under the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713 Gibraltar was ceded to Britain. This treaty stated “the town, castle and fortifications were to be held and enjoyed for ever without any exception or impediment whatsoever.” This treaty was renewed again in 1763 by the Treaty of Paris, and in 1783 by the Treaty of Versailles.

Via Historic UK – learn more at the link!

As we approached Gibraltar, the famous “rock” came into view and the waters of the strait of Gibraltar provided a fitting backdrop.


Strait of Gibraltar

The shipping lane was busy with ships laden with their various cargoes. From the same vantage point along the road, we were able to view the Rock of Gibraltar in all of its glory.


Rock of Gibraltar - First View

Once our traveling companions had snapped their share of the landmark. photos, we quickly made our way back to the bus and headed for the entry checkpoint with passports in hand.


Crossing the Border from Spain to Gibraltar

I must confess that I knew nearly nothing of what tourists might want to see prior to our tour of Gibraltar and I was pleasantly surprised. Once across the border and after we connected with a local bus driver/guide, we pulled into a waterfront rest stop known as Europa Point.

Forget the sodas, snacks and ice cream! This is a beautiful, photogenic landscape at the very tip of Gibraltar overlooking the strait. On a clear day, visitors can see Africa as we did. Apparently this is the most narrow stretch of water separating the two continents.

The colorful lighthouse against the green-blue waters caught my immediate attention; stunning!


Lighthouse at Europa Point

Also picture worthy was the ongoing construction of the Ibrahim-al-Ibrahim Mosque. Not only is it the the southernmost mosque in Europe, it is reportedly one of the largest Mosques in a non-Muslim country. King Fahd Al-Sau gifted this holy shrine to the people of Gibraltar and the world in tribute to the Moorish influence in the area.


Ibrahim-al-Ibrahim Mosque

Since our visit a year ago, the mosque has been completed. You can read more about it and see current photographs HERE.

After our rest stop, it was back on the bus with our very clever, funny and informative driver/guide. Our target was the Cave of St. Michael and the famous Barbary Macaques (think monkeys) that are protected and roam the area.

Here is a brief history of the Macaques in Girbaltar:

“The macaques’ presence on the Rock gained popularity during the Great Siege of Gibraltar between 1779-1783, during which Spain and France launched an ongoing assault upon British Gibraltar by sea and land. One surprise attack – so the legend goes – was thwarted by the monkeys who were disturbed in the night, and in turn alerted the night watch to the attack. This legend gave rise to the saying that as long as the monkeys remain on the Rock, so will the British. It is also known that General George Eliott, a governor of Gibraltar in the late 1800s, would not suffer apes to be molested or taken.”

via The New Statesman – learn more at the link.


Barbary Macaque

We were rightly warned to keep our belongings close as these clever denizens are quick to “steal” sunglasses, candy, ice cream or anything else they can get their hands on. One driver was very familiar to these macaques as they climbed on his window ledge to greet him as he passed by.

Visitors will want to take many pictures of the tribe as they are very cute and nonplussed by all the visitors. After all, they are the land barons at this location.

After taking several pictures, we ascended the walkway to the cave entrance. This is a beautiful cave HOWEVER, the natural structure and beauty of the attraction was, in my estimation, diminished by the use of strobe-like lights that continually changed color and cast hues across the cave formations. In addition there was music blaring in the background.


Cave of St. Michael

There really was no need for this as the natural beauty of this cave would certainly “speak for itself.” It was something to behold, but denigrated to a gaudy status. Sorry, but that is how I feel.

I was able to capture slightly more natural pictures during the lighting changes. You can see the color change shifting at the bottom of the frame.


Cave of St. Michael

After exiting the cave via a series of well constructed pathways, there was a bit more time for additional monkey business.


Barbary Macaque

This was a fun stop and I recommend it if you have a chance. The history is unique and interesting and the natural attractions are certainly worthy.


Barbary Macaque

Perhaps one of the best angles of the Rock of Gibraltar was from our bus window as we passed along the roadway traveling toward Marbella and a well-deserved rest!


Rock of Gibraltar - Best View


**********

Read previous posts about our adventures traveling in Portugal and Spain:

Portugal – Alfama District, Lisbon Part 1

Portugal – Alfama District, Lisbon Part 2

Portugal – Lisbon Streets & Garden

Lisbon Portugal – The Belem and Tejo River District

Sintra Portugal – National Palace and Quaint Streets

Portugal – Seaside Resort of Cascais

Portugal – Lisbon’s Edward VII Park

Lisbon, Portugal – Walking the Avenue to the Rossio District

Lisbon, Portugal – Unique Gift Shop

Portugal – Evora’s Capela dos Ossos

Portugal – Historic Evora

Merida, Spain – Ancient Roman Ruins

Seville, Spain – First Impressions

Seville, Spain – The Alcazar

Seville, Spain – Around Town (Sights along the streets)r

Jerez, Spain – Horses and Sherry

 

Read more Hiking and Exploration posts HERE


**********


All original content on this blog is copyrighted by Jeffrey B. Ross with ALL Rights Reserved. While reference links back to JBRish.com are appreciated and encouraged, please acquire approval for any reproduction of original content from this website.

©Jeffrey B. Ross 2014 – 2019 – JBRish.com



Jerez, Spain – Horses and Sherry

Departing Seville, Spain with a population of 700,000 we boarded our Motor Coach and headed for Jerez de la Frontera with a population of 213,000 (estimates via the Internet). This was an interesting change as we travled through the smaller Spanish towns and saw more of the countryside.

Our first adventure in Jerez was a stop at the Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art. We were greeted by a guide who explained the history and goals of the academy. This is a very exclusive school and gaining acceptance is quite competitive. Our group was taken inside a display area where horse carriages were stored and available for inspection.

One horse was tethered nearby for us to admire. Unfortunately, photography was restricted in many areas which proved disappointing. I was hoping to gather a couple of snapshots of horses being trained in the indoor stadium, but this was not permitted.

The guide begrudgingly allowed a few quick photographs of the tack room.



Pictures of the rein training outdoors were allowed.



The saving grace of this stop were the beautiful buildings and grounds. As we were waiting to walk toward the arena, an upward glance revealed an interesting and somewhat surprising sight.



Storks nest in many of the high towers, ridges and chimneys afforded them in and around town. As a matter of fact, we found that storks are an object of pride in Spain (and Portugal) and are encouraged to nest. At one time most of the birds migrated to Africa during the winter months and returned for the warmer seasons, but nowadays less and less of the birds migrate.



It appears that the availability of higher quality water in the wetlands combined with availability of “junk food” has become attractive to the White Storks that now become year-round residents.

You can find more information about the storks in Spain and Portugal HERE and HERE.

I must say that the exhibition hall and arena at the school was quite attractive.







The administration building and headquarters was equally impressive with its old-style elegance.



The area outside the administration building had a very picturesque fountain that added to the splendor of the estate.



After our stop at the Equestrian School, we walked to The House of Sandeman Jerez – producers of fine sherries and port. The traditional Andalusian garb includes a cape and large-brimmed black hat ala Zoro.



I wasn’t too interested in the distillation and preparation of sherry since red wines are about as much as I have on occasion. Our guide, however, did an excellent job of explaining the processes involved and the nuances between the various sherries produced. Of more interest to me was the history and building itself.



Yes indeed, there were barrels upon barrels of sherry being aged as we walked through the distillery (if that is the correct term).



I didn’t understand it all, but the markings on the outside of the the wooden barrels contained important production codes. Naturally, there was a “tasting” with chips and small sandwiches.



These stops did not make my top ten list although I found them somewhat interesting primarily for the few photographic opportunities available.

The Sandeman Sherry Bodega has an excellent website with amusing videos and information. If you enjoy sherry, I think you will appreciate this LINK – click on “OUR STORIES.”

 
Next stop…Gibraltar!


**********

Read previous posts about our adventures traveling in Portugal and Spain:

Portugal – Alfama District, Lisbon Part 1

Portugal – Alfama District, Lisbon Part 2

Portugal – Lisbon Streets & Garden

Lisbon Portugal – The Belem and Tejo River District

Sintra Portugal – National Palace and Quaint Streets

Portugal – Seaside Resort of Cascais

Portugal – Lisbon’s Edward VII Park

Lisbon, Portugal – Walking the Avenue to the Rossio District

Lisbon, Portugal – Unique Gift Shop

Portugal – Evora’s Capela dos Ossos

Portugal – Historic Evora

Merida, Spain – Ancient Roman Ruins

Seville, Spain – First Impressions

Seville, Spain – The Alcazar

Seville, Spain – Around Town (Sights along the streets)

Seville, Spain – The Old and the New

 

Read more Hiking and Exploration posts HERE


**********


All original content on this blog is copyrighted by Jeffrey B. Ross with ALL Rights Reserved. While reference links back to JBRish.com are appreciated and encouraged, please acquire approval for any reproduction of original content from this website.

©Jeffrey B. Ross 2014 – 2019 – JBRish.com



Seville, Spain – The Old and the New

When we embarked on our excursions around Seville and upon our return, we marveled at the beauty and the elegance of the Alfonso XIII hotel. Who wouldn’t appreciate the accoutrements such as this love seat and window view near the elevator?



One day upon our return to the hotel, there was a throng waiting outside. We couldn’t imagine what was happening. The group was mainly young and they had books, placards, etc. with them. Curious, I asked one of the people waiting what the excitement was and learned that the cast from the Game of Thrones was at the hotel. As mentioned in an earlier post, some of the filming is done in Seville.



Along the canal close to the hotel, one can visit the Torre del Oro or Golden Tower (13th century), a medieval Arabic military dodecagonal (12-sided) watchtower.



We found beauty in many of the less touted buildings and locales in the city. I was not able to identify this structure, but the color of the building and the tiled squares were very pretty.



The nearby Palacio de San Telmo (below), once a seminary, a royal palace and maritime academy is reportedly one of the most beautiful buildings in Seville and now serves as the official residence of the President of Andalusia.



Equally enjoyable and much appreciated are those houses and buildings along the small, less formal side streets where one can find doorways like this.



Look at those carvings and colorful tiles framing the entranceway! The modern camera and card reader do not detract from the old-world visage this door portrays.

Every once in a while, visitors can look up and find beauty lurking in unusual places like the pattern created by the tiles on the roof of this church which lead the eye to the ornate top.



Just a short distance along the same thoroughfare we noticed this niche carved into the side of an exterior wall with a statue of the Virgin Mary looking down at those passing by.





Even those buildings with a less elaborate appearance have striking, colorful personalities; roof-growing weeds and all!



We were not shy about walking into doorways to view the decorated courtyards. This was a stunning example.



Like most major metropolitan areas, especially those appealing to tourists, one encounters street performers. This unique trio consisted of two dummy-heads and one real person. At times a pedestrian would pass close by and the middle head would pop up making a sound and scare the person approaching. Funny for onlookers, but perhaps not so funny for those being pranked. The customary “tip jar” is just outside the frame.



Seville has a more modern visage that we did not explore to the fullest. On our way out of town, we saw markers along the streets denoting bicycle lanes.



As we crossed the Alfonso XIII canal we saw a very modern structure in the distance located northwest of the aforementioned Golden Tower. It was the Reserve Hotel Eurostars Torre Sevilla. From what we could gather, it was somewhat controversial among the residents.



Here is the view from the bridge. Our last major sighting as we said goodbye to Sevilla.



Next we will be off to the races! Stay tuned.


**********

Read previous posts about our adventures traveling in Portugal and Spain:

Portugal – Alfama District, Lisbon Part 1

Portugal – Alfama District, Lisbon Part 2

Portugal – Lisbon Streets & Garden

Lisbon Portugal – The Belem and Tejo River District

Sintra Portugal – National Palace and Quaint Streets

Portugal – Seaside Resort of Cascais

Portugal – Lisbon’s Edward VII Park

Lisbon, Portugal – Walking the Avenue to the Rossio District

Lisbon, Portugal – Unique Gift Shop

Portugal – Evora’s Capela dos Ossos

Portugal – Historic Evora

Merida, Spain – Ancient Roman Ruins

Seville, Spain – First Impressions

Seville, Spain – The Alcazar

Seville, Spain – Around Town (Sights along the streets)r

Seville, Spain – The Cathedral of Saint Mary

 

Read more Hiking and Exploration posts HERE


**********


All original content on this blog is copyrighted by Jeffrey B. Ross with ALL Rights Reserved. While reference links back to JBRish.com are appreciated and encouraged, please acquire approval for any reproduction of original content from this website.

©Jeffrey B. Ross 2014 – 2019 – JBRish.com



Seville, Spain – The Cathedral of Saint Mary

Perhaps the premier tourist destination in Seville is The Cathedral of Saint Mary of the See (Seville Cathedral). The construction of this edifice lasted more than a hundred years with the intention of creating a cathedral that was magnificent beyond the imagination of the day and in that they succeeded.


Exterior of the Cathedral of Seville

Like most old landmarks, there is usually some construction or renovation being conducted at any given time. We can only be hopeful that it is nothing major when we arrive.


Renovation work at the Cathedral

The Cathedral with its famed bell tower (The Giralda – pictured below) can be seen from many viewpoints near the central area of the city.


The famed Giralda, Bell Tower

There are a number of entrances to the Cathedral. We accessed the edifice through a side entrance referred to as the Door of Forgiveness.


Door of Forgiveness entrance

This basilica is the largest Gothic cathedral in the world and the third largest church overall. The ceilings were beautiful works of art and vaulted to more than 130 feet. Standing there looking upward, one can only wonder how they managed to create the detail and elegance on display.


Detailed architectural ceilings

Visitors will almost assuredly feel overwhelmed by the size of this structure. The picture below is of one of the side hallways and juxtaposes the very old holy building with the contemporary well-lit signs pointing visitors to some of the highlights.


Side hallway

I think it would be difficult to observe and appreciate everything there is to see in one visit. There were many people milling around and it is difficult to take photographs without the heads of the visitors seeming to adorn the bottom of the frame. We decided to focus on the highlights.

One of the beautiful altars in the Cathedral is the Altare dell’Argento or Silver Altar (of the Virgin Mary).


Silver Altar of the Virgin Mary

Another altar that was magnificent because of the ornate wood carvings, statue-filled niches and gilding was the The chapel of the Virgin of Antigua. During the period that the Cathedral was being constructed, architects tried to fill every space possible and the “fear of the void” is well demonstrated here.


Chapel of the Virgin of Antigua

The massive mahogany organ is another feature that is breathtaking in both size and exquisite detail. It would stand singularly as a work of art had it not contained the musical pipes and workings of the organ. The original organs were lost during the 1888 earthquake and subsequently replaced in 1901-03 which, in turn, have also been subsequently updated.


Mahogany organ at the cathedral

Read more about the organ HERE

Perhaps one of the most visited and coveted sights in the Cathedral is the Tomb of Christopher Columbus installed in 1899. The body of this noble explorer has taken several trips across the seas being held in Santo Domingo (now the Dominican Republic) and Cuba before being brought to Seville.

The tomb is a work of art with statues of four kings, each representing the kingdoms of Spain during the time Columbus was alive, hoisting high his bodily remains.


Tomb of Christopher Columbus


Tomb of Christopher Columbus

Apparently there is a dispute between where the real remains call home today. You can read about the mystery HERE

As you can see this is one of the more popular attractions within the Cathedral.


Tomb of Christopher Columbus

Before leaving the Cathedral, a climb to the top of the Bell Tower, accessed via a series of ramps, was warranted.


Bells of the Giralda

Traffic can be heavy going up and down. Adventurers will be rewarded with some excellent views of the city despite the heavily fortified vantage points. The crowds can be somewhat daunting and pushy as eager tourists jockey for the best views.


Vista of Seville from the Giralda


Vista of Seville from the Giralda

Do stop along the way to look out of the various windows and viewing nooks. Glimpses of the architecture and Cathedral structure are captivating.


Cathedral architecture from one of the ramp niches





Before we left the premises, we strolled through the courtyard where some children were enjoying the atmosphere as they sketched the scene before them.


Young boy drawing in the courtyard

You can find out more quick facts about the Cathedral HERE

Here is one more look at the exterior of the Cathedral of Seville.


Last street side view of the Cathedral

On our way back to the hotel, we enjoyed this beautiful circular garden which had street performers entertaining onlookers nearby.


XXXXXX

Next, we will say farewell to Seville with one last look around town.


**********

Read previous posts about our adventures traveling in Portugal and Spain:

Portugal – Alfama District, Lisbon Part 1

Portugal – Alfama District, Lisbon Part 2

Portugal – Lisbon Streets & Garden

Lisbon Portugal – The Belem and Tejo River District

Sintra Portugal – National Palace and Quaint Streets

Portugal – Seaside Resort of Cascais

Portugal – Lisbon’s Edward VII Park

Lisbon, Portugal – Walking the Avenue to the Rossio District

Lisbon, Portugal – Unique Gift Shop

Portugal – Evora’s Capela dos Ossos

Portugal – Historic Evora

Merida, Spain – Ancient Roman Ruins

Seville, Spain – First Impressions

Seville, Spain – The Alcazar

Seville, Spain – Around Town (Sights along the streets)

 

Read more Hiking and Exploration posts HERE


**********


All original content on this blog is copyrighted by Jeffrey B. Ross with ALL Rights Reserved. While reference links back to JBRish.com are appreciated and encouraged, please acquire approval for any reproduction of original content from this website.

©Jeffrey B. Ross 2014 – 2019 – JBRish.com



Seville, Spain – Around Town

We continued to be enchanted with elegance and beauty of the Alfonso XIII hotel. The heavy wood tones, mirrors and gilding of this somewhat intimate elevator made the ride up and down the few flights a royal experience.



In the first post, I presented a picture of the courtyard from the inside corridor of the hotel. Below is a photo of the exterior aspect of the distinguished courtyard.



One of our favorite “touristy-type” things to do when visiting cities that are new to us, is to walk up and down the streets to enjoy the architecture and local ambiance. Seville had plenty to offer.



We appreciate the beautiful colors of the buildings as well as the accompanying wrought iron and floral touches.



Often as we walked the avenues and pathways, we would stumble upon historic sites or markers. At the Plaza de Dona Elvira, we came across a museum dedicated to the painter Amalio Garcia Del Moral. He was born in Granada and began his artistic studies there. He was quite accomplished and was awarded a number of scholarships. He died in Seville in 1995, but shortly before his death he established a foundation to promote his artistic legacy and inspire continued exploration of the arts.

You can read more about Amalio Garcia del Moral



In any country, observers will find cultural artifacts of both past and present characteristics of the area.



The marker below denotes the place where José de Zorilla found the inspiration to write the Opera Don Juan Tenorio during his stay in Seville.



It was surprising to see a placard with the likeness of Washington Irving as we strolled along even though I was aware he wrote Tales of the Alhambra – (1832). Evidently, Irving visited Seville in 1828 as an accomplished author and became a diplomat. He stayed in the old Jewish quarter for a time near the area where this memorial is located. Irving was also interested in the history of Christopher Columbus and thus Seville was a good match for him. Who knew?



You can read more about Washington Iriving, his writings about Christopher Columbus and other activities in Spain HERE

The picture below is of an old water system dating back to the 11th or 12th century which contains pipes from the “Christian period.” These pipes supplied water to the city and the Alcazar.



Once again we found ourselves in the Murillo Gardens which is a lovely place to spend time enjoying the plants, water features and to people watch.



It is also near the street where horse drawn carriages can be hailed to take an open-air ride around town. Indeed we boarded such a carriage to travel to a special location in Seville.



The Parque Maria Luisa which is the site of the 1929 Ibero-American Exposition.



The main attraction is the Plaza de España, a semi-circular brick building with ornate and colorful touches. The towers that anchor each end of the building, much like the Giralda, can be seen from many parts of town.



The main section of the pavilion is also quite impressive. The canal in front of the building has given it the moniker “Venice of Seville.”





Along the base of the building, there are 48 alcoves with colorful tile murals, benches and maps representing Spain’s provinces.





The fountain in the middle of the large, granite tiled plaza adds another focal point to the square. Note – At times the area can get crowded.



Read more about the Plaza de España HERE

While it appears that we have seen so much in Seville, there was quite a bit more to enjoy before it was time to say adiós!


**********

Read previous posts about our adventures traveling in Portugal and Spain:

Portugal – Alfama District, Lisbon Part 1

Portugal – Alfama District, Lisbon Part 2

Portugal – Lisbon Streets & Garden

Lisbon Portugal – The Belem and Tejo River District

Sintra Portugal – National Palace and Quaint Streets

Portugal – Seaside Resort of Cascais

Portugal – Lisbon’s Edward VII Park

Lisbon, Portugal – Walking the Avenue to the Rossio District

Lisbon, Portugal – Unique Gift Shop

Portugal – Evora’s Capela dos Ossos

Portugal – Historic Evora

Merida, Spain – Ancient Roman Ruins

Seville, Spain – First Impressions

Seville, Spain – The Alcazar

 

Read more Hiking and Exploration posts HERE


**********


All original content on this blog is copyrighted by Jeffrey B. Ross with ALL Rights Reserved. While reference links back to JBRish.com are appreciated and encouraged, please acquire approval for any reproduction of original content from this website.

©Jeffrey B. Ross 2014 – 2019 – JBRish.com



Seville, Spain – The Alcazar

We were excited to begin our second day in Seville because our walking tour was going to take us to the Alcazar, one of the oldest palaces currently in use by monarchs. Spain’s royal family resides there when duties call them to Seville or nearby towns. The Alcazar has also gained a bit of notoriety as the setting for some episodes of The Game of Thrones.

The Alcazar first served as a fort and was later used as a palace for the leaders of the cultures dominating the area. As noted in prior posts, centuries-old buildings contain vestiges of the societies that claimed ownership of them over time and the Alcazar is no exception.

Tourists will note elements reminiscent of the Renaissance and Baroque periods as well as architectural influences of the Arab and other cultures. The main entrance is through the Lion’s Gate adjacent to the Plaza del Triunfo which is just one of the first of many interesting sights visitors will see.


The Lions Gate of the Alcazar

Here is a close-up of the lion inlay.


The Lions Gate of the Alcazar

Picture by CEphoto, Uwe Aranas
via https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=41790903

Visitors pass through an archway to arrive at the Patio de la Montería (The Hunting Courtyard).

Entrance archway to the Hunting Courtyard.

This is a photograph from the other side showing the manicured hedges and roses as well as other garden and architectural accents. The stonework is old and it looks its age!

Entrance archway from inside the Hunting Courtyard.

There are many notable characteristics of the Alcazar, but the numerous courtyards creating outdoor and indoor rooms must be high on that list. As the name implies, the Hunting Courtyard is where the royalty would gather those participating in the hunts. It currently serves as an entrance to the Royal Palace of Seville.

 Royal Palace of Seville.

The striking facade of the Mudejar Palace, or Palacio del Rey Don Pedro, located inside the Alcazar was constructed around 1360.

the Mudejar Palace

Notice the intricate patterns which I found remarkable considering the time in which it was built.

intricate patterns - facade of the Mudejar Palace

Other buildings framing the palace entrance were vibrantly colored which does not show as well in this shaded area.

vibrant colors of the buildings

The Dolls Courtyard (Patio de las Munecas) in the Alcazar had incredible structural details. The name is derived from the small abstract stucco faces that decorate some of the arches. I did not know about this “hidden” feature at the time, but the Internet has come to the rescue!

One of the dolls
A close up picture of one the dolls heads, a “hidden” architectural element in the Dolls Couryard of the Alcazar.
Photo courtesy of https://www.bluffton.edu/homepages/facstaff/sullivanm/spain/seville/alcazar/alcazar4.html

Square skylight dome of the Dolls Courtyard

The square domed skylight of the Dolls Couryard (above) allowed filtered light to fill the area which enabled the play of light and shadow to accentuate the detailed stucco work (below).

Dolls Couryard with intricate carvings

The Ambassador’s Hall (Salón de Embajadores – below), sometimes referenced as the Throne Room, was a very important area of the Alcazar because it was used for public events and affairs. The arches were beautifully decorated with shades of blue. The pronounced curves have been referred to as “horseshoe arches.”

The Ambassador’s Hall

Here is a closer picture of some plaster details!

Arch details and colors

If this was not enough, a stunning dome made of gilded wood in the Ambassador’s Hall added an even more decadent accent.

Golden Dome Ceiling of the Ambassador's Hall

The Courtyard of the Maidens (Patio de las Doncellas) has a reflecting pool which would be integral to a Moorish design. The name refers to the legend that the Moors demanded 100 virgins every year as tribute from Christian kingdoms in Iberia. [1] Recent research indicated that the sunken garden was an original feature and thus was recently restored replacing a marble courtyard with center fountain.

Courtyard of the Maidens
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<p>Additional plaster artwork among the arches of the Alcazar</p>
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When visiting a building of such historical importance and magnificence, it is really difficult to appreciate all it has to offer in the moment. In addition to all of the beautiful architecture and artwork mentioned thus far, the tile work along the walls was impressive.

The colorful tile below contains portraits of Charles V and Isabel of Portugal. [2]

Beautiful tile work with portraits of Charles V and Isabel of Portugal

Tile work pattern with blues, green and brown

Beautiful tile work

And then there was this wooden, door-like panel with a Moorish design…

Wooden panel with Moorish patterns

Once again, much like a child in a candy store, there was almost too much to take in at one time as we came to displays of beautiful tapestries. This tapestry was hanging above a doorway in the hall of Charles V.

Coat of Arm Tapestry

Here is a better picture of the entire hallway and notice the tiles and additional tapestries along the wall.

In the Sala de los Tapices (Room of Tapestries) the walls are covered with tapestries depicting various explorations and conquests. The originals were destroyed and these are reproductions. The Tapestry Room had to be built from scratch after the Lisbon earthquake of 1755. [3]

Hall of Tapestries

Don’t forget to look up. The ceilings are also works of art.

Beautiful ceiling with wonderful colors

Another beautiful ceiling

As we walked through the palace, there were some striking rooms that looked out on to the vast gardens.

Sun room overlooking the gardens

One of my favorite spots in the garden was this curved tile bench with a hedge mimicking the outline.

Garden tile bench

There were a myriad of intersecting pathways to explore leading visitors to roses and other beautiful plantings.

Garden paths

Another garden path

Did I mention they have peacocks?

Peacock in the garden

Closer and more colorful picture of the peacock

As we left the gardens we used a beautifully carved portal near the Jardín del Retiro del Marqués.

Intricately carved stonework of the exit portal at the Alcazar's garden

This is one place in Seville where the more time a visitor has, the better. It was hard to see all of it while on a schedule with other planned stops!


[1] – https://globetrottinggardener.com/2015/09/01/sevillas-alcazar-the-courtyard-of-the-maidens/

[2] – http://paulbuddehistory.com/europe/the-hapsburgs-in-the-low-countries/

[3] – https://www.seville-traveller.com/alcazar-seville/


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Read previous posts about our adventures traveling in Portugal and Spain:

Portugal – Alfama District, Lisbon Part 1

Portugal – Alfama District, Lisbon Part 2

Portugal – Lisbon Streets & Garden

Lisbon Portugal – The Belem and Tejo River District

Sintra Portugal – National Palace and Quaint Streets

Portugal – Seaside Resort of Cascais

Portugal – Lisbon’s Edward VII Park

Lisbon, Portugal – Walking the Avenue to the Rossio District

Lisbon, Portugal – Unique Gift Shop

Portugal – Evora’s Capela dos Ossos

Portugal – Historic Evora

Merida, Spain – Ancient Roman Ruins

Seville, Spain – First Impressions

 

Read more Hiking and Exploration posts HERE


**********


All original content on this blog is copyrighted by Jeffrey B. Ross with ALL Rights Reserved. While reference links back to JBRish.com are appreciated and encouraged, please acquire approval for any reproduction of original content from this website.

©Jeffrey B. Ross 2014 – 2019 – JBRish.com



Seville, Spain – First Impressions

In Seville, the Alfonso XIII hotel would be our home for the next several days. This historic and handsome building was refurbished in 2012 in the Andalusian style. It is stately and beautiful.

This photo shows a portion of the gallery which frames the courtyard square.


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Read more about the the Alfonso XIII hotel HERE

One of the first things we like to do whenever we arrive in a new city is to “drop our bags” and take a walk around the town. This gives us a lay of the land, so to speak, and an idea of what we might like to investigate during our visit.

As we walked in and around the area near the hotel, we came across architectural accents and gardens that drew our attention.

This fountain and street lamp combination at the Square of the Virgin of the Kings (Plaza Virgen de los Reyes) seemed to be a popular resting or meetup place and hub for points of interest.


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There were so many fascinating buildings in the central area of Seville, that it was hard to capture all of them.

Bordering the Plaza Virgen de los Reyes is the Archbishop’s Palace which has served as the residence of episcopal bishops and other dignitaries. You can probably spend weeks visiting all of the historic buildings in this area of Seville. For now, however, you can read more about the history of the Palace HERE

Horse drawn carriage rides are available at the square outside the archdiocese seen here in front of a statue of the Madonna and child.


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Although the sun was lending only a bit of light and shade covered most of the wall, the facade of the Convent of the Encarnación with a ceramic depiction of the Virgin Mary against gold tones was impressive. It is located near the Square of the Virgin of the Kings.


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Coming from the modern western world, the older styles and colors of many buildings easily caught my eye.


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The Seville Town Hall is situated around the Plaza del Triunfo which hosted a statue commemorating the confirmation that Mary was born “free of original sin” and serves as a centerpiece for a local celebratory feast. It is sometimes mistakenly called the Monument of the Immaculate Conception.


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As we walked around the vicinity of Alfonso XIII hotel, we took some sneak peaks at places we were scheduled to visit on other days. This was our fist view of the entrance to the Alcazar.


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Christopher Columbus (Christobel Colon) has a strong connection to Seville which was the port from which he and his sailors set forth to the New World more than half a century ago. There are references to, and reminders of Columbus all around town such as the Columbus monument in the Murillo Gardens (below).


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It seems that I am getting a bit ahead of myself regarding Christobel Colon; more about him “later!” The gardens have beautiful wide paths and many plants, fountains, etc. to view during a leisurely stroll.


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One of the items we noted on our list of things to visit was the Hospital de los Venerables. Once a hospice for priests, it now serves as a museum for a select group of paintings and other historic and artistic elements. Time did not permit us to go inside, but many note that this is a “must see” if you visit Seville.


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The beautiful buildings, many with ornate balconies, served as architectural exclamation points punctuating the surrounding avenues.


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Towering above most of the streets around the center of town were aspects of the Seville Cathedral (Catedral de Sevilla). There is no wonder about this as it is the world’s largest Gothic Cathedral according to several sources. Below is a quick look at the Giralda or bell tower.


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We returned to the hotel to freshen up before heading out for a quick bite on our own. While walking along some of the nearby side streets, we came across San Marco, a rather romantic Italian restaurant where we enjoyed a nice dinner and a toast to the town.


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On the return to our accommodations, we enjoyed a night time view of the famed Giralda of the Catedral de Sevilla.


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After our busy initial day in Seville, we were eager to get some rest to be fresh for our next foray.


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Read previous posts about our adventures traveling in Portugal and Spain:

Portugal – Alfama District, Lisbon Part 1

Portugal – Alfama District, Lisbon Part 2

Portugal – Lisbon Streets & Garden

Lisbon Portugal – The Belem and Tejo River District

Sintra Portugal – National Palace and Quaint Streets

Portugal – Seaside Resort of Cascais

Portugal – Lisbon’s Edward VII Park

Lisbon, Portugal – Walking the Avenue to the Rossio District

Lisbon, Portugal – Unique Gift Shop

Portugal – Evora’s Capela dos Ossos

Portugal – Historic Evora

Merida, Spain – Ancient Roman Ruins

 

Read more Hiking and Exploration posts HERE


**********


All original content on this blog is copyrighted by Jeffrey B. Ross with ALL Rights Reserved. While reference links back to JBRish.com are appreciated and encouraged, please acquire approval for any reproduction of original content from this website.

©Jeffrey B. Ross 2014 – 2019 – JBRish.com



Merida, Spain – Ancient Roman Ruins

Merida, Spain is approximately two hundred miles southwest of Madrid and only a 3.5 hour ride from Lisbon. Tours of both Portugal and Spain often stop at this UNESCO World Heritage site to gaze upon the well-preserved ruins and monuments dating back to a time prior to the Christian era.

What makes Merida special among other cities on the Iberian peninsula is that it was one of the ancient Roman Empire’s most important cities and as such is home to numerous ruins. There are apparently more Roman monuments in Merida than any other Spanish municipality.

Just a short walk from the visitors center, the ruins become visible.

Distant view of the Ancient Roman Ruins of Merida, Spain

As we walked closer to the ancient structures, there were signs of the modern city which envelops this unique part of history (notice the rooftops and tower rising above the rim of the ancient walls in the background).


A closer view of the Ancient Roman Ruins of Merida, Spain

On the way to a central area, our guide pointed to a series of horizontal rocks (below) strategically placed in the middle of the “road.” Notice that there are three large structures that elevate well-above the surface. These served the purpose of our modern day speed bumps. Ancient vehicles would have to navigate these hindrances by slowing down to keep the wheels on each side of the middle obstacle.


Ancient Roman Speed Bumps

One of the two main attractions is the amphitheater. Visitor access is through the entry arch.


Archway leading to the amphitheater.

This is a view of one side of the circular area which is not fully restored.


Part of the  amphitheater partially restored

Perhaps this a better view from a bit farther away. The partially restored amphitheater shows the contrast between how it probably looked during the Roman Empire and how it was discovered; a then and now comparison.


A better view of the restored and unrestored amphitheater


Another view of the  amphitheater ruins

As depicted in many Hollywood films, this structure was used for gladiatorial combat. One can imagine the combatants walking through the entrance tunnels knowing what was facing them at the other end.


Gladiator tunnel leading to the activity circle of the amphitheater


Tourists walking through Gladiator tunnel leading to the activity circle of the amphitheater


 Opening of one of the tunnels leading to the activity circle of the amphitheater

With large crowds shouting for the victory of their favorite gladiator, the throngs needed a place to take care of their biological needs. A latrine area is pictured below.


latrine for attendees

As we walked through the restoration project, we noted some stones had a large “R” chiseled onto their face. The guide explained that the “R” signified that this was not an original stone, but a reproduction.


Restoration stone, not original

There were many original stones that have survived the centuries.


Many old original stones remain

Leaving the gladiator ring, we headed to the theater which is still used for summer productions.


Distant view of the theater nearby

Amid the scaffolding notice the statues between the columns. These are beautiful works of art representing this historic period.


A closer view of the theater, scaffolding and statues

Let’s take a closer look at some of these statues


Closer view of some of the statues


Closer view of some of the statues


Closer view of some of the statues

Some had names of their likeness (Tiberio Claudio Nero and Druso El Mayor)…..


Closer view of some of the statues

and Cayo Julio Cesar Agusto


Closer view of some of the statues

Walking through these old and almost unfathomable ruins, one cannot help being awestruck by the history and craftsmanship represented by these stone structures.


Beautiful ancient stonework

See a brief video of the Theater.

The areas immediately surrounding the ruins have been modernized with gardens, paths and water features. Rather than detract, they frame the Roman creations.


Light pink and purple flowers among the ruins


Gardens enhance the surrounding area

The importance of the UNESCO World Heritage site does note escape visitors as there are reminders throughout the town. This was a view from the front window of our bus. Notice the replica of a Roman column ruin at the center of the traffic circle.


Traffic circle with replica of a Roman column in the center

As with many magnificent finds such as this, there is often a yin and a yang. As the town plans for modern buildings, additional ruins are often uncovered. In many instances, construction must then stop and assessments made. This often delays, or in the worst case, cancels any renovations or building. As we can imagine, this must be very frustrating to current residents of Merida wanting to upgrade their properties.


Modern reconstruction delayed or canceled because of finding ruins

On the way out of town, we passed another impressive sight, a portion of the Acueducto de los Milagros (Miraculous Aqueduct). Only a small portion of the aqueduct bridge stands today. Many of the granite blocks were taken to be used on other structures before the aqueduct was a protected legacy.


Acueducto de los Milagros

Storks are fond of nesting atop tall structures and being an ancient, historical piece of history does not concern them. The White Stork is given protected status in Spain and many towns make sure they are cared for because they are of interest to tourists.


Storks nesting atop the Miraculous Aqueduct

Of course after such an excursion, we needed to stop for lunch. This is the Parador de Merida.


Parador de Merida - a fine lunch or dinner stop

The ride through the countryside to our next stop, Seville, was charming and picturesque.


Countryside on the way to Seville

Even the requisite rest stop provided intersting sights such as large pig legs and other meats offered for sale. One sign is for Paleta Ibérica Bellota, acorn-fed free range pigs. Interestingly enough hams from front and rear legs are differentiated: paleta is ham from the front leg while jamon would be from the rear leg. One famous producer is Fermin in Salamanca, Spain. (read more HERE)


Hams for sale at a highway rest stop

Learn more about The Roman Theatre of Mérida HERE

 

Next stop, Seville


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Read previous posts about our adventures traveling in Portugal and Spain:

Portugal – Alfama District, Lisbon Part 1

Portugal – Alfama District, Lisbon Part 2

Portugal – Lisbon Streets & Garden

Lisbon Portugal – The Belem and Tejo River District

Sintra Portugal – National Palace and Quaint Streets

Portugal – Seaside Resort of Cascais

Portugal – Lisbon’s Edward VII Park

Lisbon, Portugal – Walking the Avenue to the Rossio District

Lisbon, Portugal – Unique Gift Shop

Portugal – Evora’s Capela dos Ossos

Portugal – Historic Evora

 

Read more Hiking and Exploration posts HERE


**********


All original content on this blog is copyrighted by Jeffrey B. Ross with ALL Rights Reserved. While reference links back to JBRish.com are appreciated and encouraged, please acquire approval for any reproduction of original content from this website.

Portugal – Historic Evora


As noted in my previous post about Evora, the town is quaint with typical Portuguese trappings such as the red-orange tile roofs, tiled walls, etc. It is the typical mix of the very old, the old and the new.


Historic Evora with tile roofs

Most towns in Europe, and Portugal is no exception, have a major square. This is the somewhat understated square in the center of Evora.


Evora's town square

It was another beautiful day enjoyed by all. Small balconies open on to the square to allow even the smallest apartments to have a view of what is taking place below.


A dog sitting on a small balcony

This unusual storefront is an example of the old style mixed with modern accents. Notice the contemporary wooden door and the security system in the upper-left.


A shop with a mix of the old and the new

The drain pictured below was part of the ancient aquifer system…


A pipe from the ancient aquifer

and this water box was part of the Silver Water aqueduct storage facilities.


Ancient water storage facility

Narrow side streets in the old part of town where support beams cross the alleyways to help stabilize the walls of the buildings had many twists and turns.


A side alley

Once again we see tiles used as artistic accents outside this ceramic and craft shop. The name of the shop, Artesanato Beijinho, translates to Handicrafts Kiss.


A craft shop with tiles and ceramics

Little did I know prior to this trip that Portugal produces nearly half of the world’s supply of cork. Apparently those countries in and around the western Mediterranean have ideal conditions for the cork oak (Quercus suber L.) When considering countries that have the ability to grow this tree, it is said that: “…Portugal, rightly occupies the foremost position. It has 500 factories, which employ about 20,000 workers…” and “Cork is the most important of Portuguese exports and alone represents about 16 percent of the total foreign income derived from trade.**”

** The cork industry in Portugal

At one stop, our guide showed us a piece of the bark from this tree as she explained role Evora plays in this prolific Portuguese industry.


cork tree bark

Here she demonstrates the thickness of the bark and how corks are punched from their casing. We were able to find many items made from cork including hats and pocket books.


How corks are punched out of the bark

Evora is also home of fabulous ruins of The Roman Temple. Read more about the Temple by clicking HERE. Our guide had a pictorial representation of how the original temple appeared when complete.


Ancient Roman ruins


Picture of the completed ruins as they were

Évora’s cathedral (Sé Catedral de Évora) has architecture influenced by the Moors and thus resembles a fortress. The Christians who later inhabited this area, made their own modifications to the structure. This is touted as the largest medieval cathedral in the country. While it’s main facade can be seen from far away, I particularly liked this side view from a nearby courtyard.


A side view of Evora's Cathedral

The main chapel contained an ornate altar constructed and trimmed in the Baroque style and is one reason why it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site.


Main chapel of Evora's Cathedral

Perhaps one of the most curious artistic touches is the statue of a pregnant Virgin Mary.


statue of a pregnant Virgin Mary

Before leaving, we had a pleasant and very worthy lunch at the historic Pousada Convento de Evora – Hotel Loios.


sitting room of the Pousada Convento de Evora – Hotel Loios

Even the sign for the men’s restroom had a creative, artistic touch!


Men's room sign of the Pousada Convento de Evora – Hotel Loios

Our last stop in Evora this day was at another historic hotel and spa, the Convento do Espinheiro, developed from an 1834 monastery. We occupied one of the older heritage rooms which was crafted from monk’s quarters and exuded old world charm.


 the Convento do Espinheiro

As one might anticipate, there were areas of the old monastery that were preserved as unique and beautiful examples of religious architecture. The Church of Our Lady of Espinheiro is open to guests and they are encouraged to visit and admire the various artworks.


Church of Our Lady of Espinheiro

Also worthy and unique was the Restaurante Divinus with vaulted ceilings in the dining area. It was quite romantic and offered excellent cuisine.


 Restaurante Divinus with vaulted ceilings


 Restaurante Divinus with vaulted ceilings

There is much to explore both inside and out. The sitting room below was laden with antiques and had cozy seating areas!


sitting room with antiques

There was a special resident we were pleased to find as we explored the hotel grounds.


resident cat

As devotees of gardens and plants, we were also delighted to pay homage to an olive tree that was more than one thousand years old.


Very old olive tree

Before settling in and preparing for dinner, we walked to the front of the hotel and crossed the small village road opposite to take a distant glance at Evora from afar.


Evora from afar

Read previous posts about our adventures traveling in Portugal and Spain:

Portugal – Alfama District, Lisbon Part 1

Portugal – Alfama District, Lisbon Part 2

Portugal – Lisbon Streets & Garden

Lisbon Portugal – The Belem and Tejo River District

Sintra Portugal – National Palace and Quaint Streets

Portugal – Seaside Resort of Cascais

Portugal – Lisbon’s Edward VII Park

Lisbon, Portugal – Walking the Avenue to the Rossio District

Lisbon, Portugal – Unique Gift Shop

Portugal – Evora’s Capela dos Ossos

 

Read more Hiking and Exploration posts HERE


**********


All original content on this blog is copyrighted by Jeffrey B. Ross with ALL Rights Reserved. While reference links back to JBRish.com are appreciated and encouraged, please acquire approval for any reproduction of original content from this website.

©Jeffrey B. Ross 2014 – 2019 – JBRish.com