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


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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

 

Read more Hiking and Exploration posts HERE


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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


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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