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


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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



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


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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.