Wednesday, November 25, 2015


by Robert Bovington
Toledo is a little bit like Sheffield - only a little bit mind you - the thing they have in common is steel. Like Sheffield, Toledo is famous for its steel and, in particular, swords, which have been forged in the city since the time of the Romans. Any other resemblance to Sheffield ends there because Toledo is an attractive and fascinating city with many important monuments to its historic past.

The Romans called it Toletum when it was the capital of the province of Carpentia. Later, it was the political and religious capital of the Visigoths. This was during the 6th century following the city's capitulation to the Vandals. Following the Arab invasion of Spain in AD 711, Toledo was incorporated into the Caliphate of Córdoba. In 1085 Alfonso VI of Castilla and Leon reconquered Toledo and made it his capital. This was the first crucial step of the Reconquista. The city remained the capital of Christian Spain until 1561 at which time Philip II moved the royal court to Madrid.

So with all that history it is no wonder that Toledo has so many important monuments. There are so many delightful and historic cities in Spain that there is a danger that the traveller might think "I've seen it all before". However, Toledo really is worth a visit. Not for nothing has it been awarded 'World Heritage' status. In fact, there are so many important buildings in the city that a whole book would be needed to do justice to them all so I will restrict myself to some of the "must see" monuments.

There are many religious buildings here including churches, convents, mosques and synagogues - testimony to the Christian, Muslim and Hebrew cultures that coexisted for centuries within the walls of the city, which has led to Toledo being called 'The City of the Three Cultures'. This merger of customs can be seen in the architecture and it is the Mudéjar style that predominates. This mix of Islamic and Christian styles can be found all over the city. Perhaps the most import monument is the Cathedral.

Toledo Cathedral was built on the site of previous temples. A church was built in the 6th century during the reign of the Visigoth King Recaredo I. Later, it was converted into a mosque and it was not until 1227 that construction started on the present building. History books tell us that King Ferdinand III and Archbishop Rodrigo Jimenez de Rada began work on the building but I am sure these illustrious personages did not get their hands dirty. I guess they just financed the work! Not that they lived long enough to see its completion - it was not finished until the 16th century. 

Toledo Cathedral (Wikipedia/Nikthestoned, CC BY-SA 3.0)

The Cathedral is an excellent example of Spanish Gothic art. It has five naves and eighty-eight columns support the roof. Within the building are many superb works of art such as the stained glass windows, the marvellous woodcarving of the choir stalls and the Baroque altar that is called El Transparente. It was created in the 18th century and is exceedingly tall as well as extremely elaborate with fantastic figures created from a variety of artistic medium including stucco work, painting, bronze castings and multiple coloured marble.

There are quite a few chapels in the Cathedral and the most outstanding are the Chapel of Don Alvaro de Luna, the Mozarab Chapel and the 15th-century Santiago Chapel, which has a rather

El Greco
'The Disrobing of Christ'
flamboyant Gothic style. There are many works of art in the Cathedral's museum too with paintings by Raphael, Rubens, Velázquez, Goya, Titian, Van Dyck, Morales and others. It is a veritable treasure chest of art and includes one of the greatest paintings by El Greco - 'The Disrobing of Christ'. In fact, there are many paintings of the artist throughout the Cathedral.

El Greco lived in Toledo and his works are displayed throughout the city. In the Cistercian Convent of Santo Domingo de Silos his first commission can be seen - he painted the reredos in this 11th-century building which is the oldest monastery in the city. In the church of Santo Tomé is one of El Greco's more famous paintings - 'The Burial of the Count of Orgaz'.

More of his work can be viewed in the 16th-century Hospital and Museum of Santa Cruz. It includes his masterpiece 'Crucifixion'. The Hospital was a home for foundlings and orphans under the patronage of Queen Isabella. The building is quite splendid in its own right and was constructed in Plateresque style. The Museum offers much more than just El Greco paintings - there are works by other artists and an archeological section that includes Roman mosaics.

The El Greco House Museum is an elegant building dedicated to the life of the celebrated painter. It also includes the works of other artists such as Murillo and Leal.

The Alcázar dominates the city. This huge fortress is perched on the highest point of Toledo and enjoys spectacular views of the city and the River Tagus. In the past it has been an imperial residence but it now houses a military museum. 

Toledo with Cathedral (L) and Alcázar (R) © Robert Bovington
There are quite a few museums in Toledo and most are located in historic buildings. For example, the church of San Román is currently a museum of Visigothic culture. The building was originally a Visigothic structure and later became a mosque. It is an attractive building, Mudéjar in appearance but with a mix of styles including Caliphal arches, Roman columns, Visgothic and Mozarab capitals, and even Byzantine elements. Romanesque paintings cover most of the walls.

Toledo was known for its religious tolerance and had large communities of Jews and Muslims - or it did until they were expelled from Spain in 1492! There are a number of synagogues and mosques in the city including the Synagogue of Santa María la Blanca, the Synagogue of El Tránsito, and the Mosque of Cristo de la Luz.

The Sinagoga de Santa María La Blanca was built in 1180 in Mudéjar style. It was turned into a church in the 15th century but, today, it is no longer used as a temple. It is, however, a splendid piece of architecture with its wooden coffered ceilings, Plateresque altars and horseshoe arches.

Samuel Levi, a 14th-century Jewish financier, built the Sinagoga El Tránsito. He also built El Greco's home. The synagogue is home to the Sephardic Museum and is also a National Monument. Intricate filigree artwork and Hebrew inscriptions from the Psalms adorn the walls of the building.

Sinagoga del Transito, Toledo
© All Rights Reserved by jesussilgado
The Mezquita del Cristo de la Luz dates from AD999 and functioned as a mosque until the Christian Reconquest. It is one of the most important monuments in Toledo because most of the original building has survived into the 21st century. The only change made to the building came in the 12th century when a Romanesque-Mudéjar sanctuary was added.

There are many more interesting monuments to see in Toledo - churches, convents, monasteries, arches, palaces and public buildings. There is even a Roman circus located just outside the city walls. 

It is easy to catch the flavour of this historic city because you cannot walk around the narrow, winding streets without coming across an important building. Toledo looks pretty good from a distance too! It almost looks like an island city - it is located on a hill surrounded on three sides by a bend in the Tagus River. 

Tolido & the River Tagus © Robert Bovington
There are so many places to visit in this unique city that I almost got carried away - I forgot to tell you whereabouts in Spain, it is! Well, Toledo is situated in the autonomous community of Castile-La Mancha. It is pretty central being only 42 miles south-southwest of Madrid. It is the capital of the province of the same name.

more blogs by Robert Bovington... 

"Photographs of Spain"
"postcards from Spain"
"you couldn't make it up!"
"a grumpy old man in Spain"
"bits and bobs"
"Spanish Expressions"
"Spanish Art"
"Books About Spain"

Friday, November 20, 2015

The Spanish Costas

by Robert Bovington

Costa Almería
The coastline of Almería is dotted with virgin beaches, particularly in the natural park of the Cabo de Gata-Níjar. Some of the coves here are only reachable on foot. Northeast of this spectacular park is Mojácar - a Moorish fortress town standing on a towering crag overlooking the sparkling waters of the Mediterranean.
I quite like Mojácar Pueblo with its maze of steep winding streets, old houses and tiny bars. However, it is rather touristy and has several souvenir shops. I do not like Mojácar Playa but many English people do. There are too many English bars and shops along the long coastal strip for my liking.
I much prefer Roquetas de Mar but then I am biased as I chose to live here! The town does not have the brash, mass tourism of other Spanish resorts.  Life here moves at a much gentler pace. There is a tourist area, in the Playa Serena part of the town, and it does have British and German bars and restaurants but these stand alongside typically Spanish hostelries.
At the south-western end of the Costa Almería, there is the resort of Almerimar, which has a fine marina, golf courses, hotels and many holiday homes and apartments.

Playa Monsul (Cabo de Gata, Almería) © Robert Bovington

Costa Blanca
Two thousand five hundred years ago, Greek traders founded the colony of Akra Leuka, meaning 'White Headland', near to present day Alicante. Successive invaders have colonised this area of Spain and not for nothing is it called the Costa Blanca. The brilliant light and the endless miles of white sandy beaches make the 'White Coast' one of Spain's favourite tourist areas.
It is the coastal region of the province of Alicante and extends from the town of Dénia in the north to Torrevieja in the south, and includes the major tourist destinations of Benidorm and Alicante.
Other popular places to visit are Calpe and Altea. Calpe was formerly a fishing village and has fine sandy beaches that are overlooked by the imposing rocky outcrop of the Peñon de Ifach. Altea is a pretty little town. Its old quarter has escaped the ravages of mass tourism - it is a perfectly preserved labyrinth of steep narrow alleys between whitewashed houses dominated by a blue-domed church.

Benidorm © Robert Bovington
Costa Brava
The Costa Brava is the most northerly coastal strip of Catalonia extending from Portbou near the border with France down to Blanes, the most southerly town in the province of Gerona near the border with the province of Barcelona. This stretch of the Catalonian coast is extremely rugged - waves of mountain ranges plunge abruptly into the sea.
The Costa Brava or 'rugged coast' has been a major holiday destination since the 1950s when Franco's government identified the area as suitable for the development of tourism. Since that time, seaside resorts such as Tossa de Mar, Lloret de Mar and l'Estartit have attracted millions of visitors from Northern Europe and especially the United Kingdom.
Not all the places along this coastal strip have had large-scale development - there are many small towns and fishing villages. The scenery of the Costa Brava captivated artists like Salvador Dalí and Pablo Picasso where the intense light and the raging fury of the sea were a constant source of inspiration. No more so than the little town of Cadaques where Dalí spent many years and where the Casa Dalí Museum is situated.

Callela © Robert Bovington

Costa Cálida
The Costa Cálida is the province of Murcia's seaside. It extends from El Mojón near the border with Alicante to Águilas near the border with Almería province. This 250-kilometre coastline is known as the Costa Cálida or 'Warm Coast' because of its favourable year-round temperature.
Near the northern end of this coastline is Mar Menor or 'Little Sea' - Europe's largest coastal saltwater lagoon. It is separated from the Mediterranean by a 22-kilometre strip of land called La Manga on which is built La Manga del Mar Menor a major tourist resort.
The biggest city on the Costa Cálida is Cartagena. It is a major port and the site of Spain's chief Mediterranean naval base. Because of its long history - the Carthaginians first founded it circa 230 BC - there are many historical monuments in the city including Punic and Roman sites, 19th century mansions and Modernist architecture.
La Manga - Cala del Pino © Robert Bovington

Costa de la Luz
The Costa de la Luz extends all the way from the Straits of Gibraltar to the Portuguese border. This 'Coast of Light' is the coastline of both Cádiz and Huelva provinces in Andalucía.  It is cooler than the neighbouring Costa del Sol because of the influence of the Atlantic.
This coastline has miles and miles of wide sandy beaches backed by pine groves. Much of the Costa de la Luz is unspoiled. There are a number of resorts but they are mostly Spanish in character.
There are three major towns along this coast - Tarifa, Cádiz and Huelva whilst the sherry town of Jerez is only a few kilometres inland. Tarifa is close to Gibraltar and is the most southerly point in Europe. It is only a few kilometres from the North African coast. Cádiz is midway along this beautiful coast. It is claimed to be the oldest city in Europe and legend has it that Hercules founded it. Huelva is quite close to the Portuguese border and is the capital of the province of the same name.
Located between Cádiz and Huelva is the Doñana National Park which is home to 150 species of birds. It is Spain's largest national park.

The coast of Morocco viewed from Tarifa (Cádiz) © Robert Bovington
Costa del Azahar
The coastal region of the province of Castellón is known to the Spanish as the Costa del Azahar and by English-speaking people as the 'Orange Blossom Coast' which is not entirely accurate because Azahar means orange or lemon blossom. In fact, this beautiful coast of white sandy beaches is bordered by mile upon mile of orange groves. There are also many lemon groves and fields of almond so, 'Orange, Lemon and Almond Blossom Coast' would be a more appropriate name!
The Costa del Azahar is adjacent to the Costa Brava - its southernmost point is at Gandia in the province of Valencia. The northernmost point of this coastal region is at the border of Castellón and Catalonia.
This coast is less commercialised than its brash neighbour and there are some delightful resorts - like Peñíscola with its sandy beaches dominated by a medieval castle built on a rocky promontory. Other resorts include Viñaros, Oliva, Benicassim and Torreblanca.
The main towns of the Costa del Azahar are Valencia and Castelló de la Plana. Valencia is Spain's third largest city. It is famous for its 'Fiesta de Las Fallas' - the pyrotechnic spectacular held during March every year. Of course, like other major towns, it has its fair share of historical monuments and museums but it has also entered the modern age - it is known as the 'City of Arts and Sciences'. The 'Ciudad de las artes y las Ciencias' is a huge parkland of futuristic buildings dedicated to fun and learning.
Castelló de la Plana is the capital of the province of Castellón. It has several historic buildings in the old part of the city including the 14th-century Gothic-style Santa María Church.

Costa del Sol
The Costa del Sol is essentially the coastal areas of Málaga province in the south of Spain. This 'Sun Coast' stretches from Estepona in the west to Nerja in the east of the province.
Originally, it was a region of quiet fishing settlements but since the 1950s, it has become a massive urban abomination - sorry - agglomeration of high-rise hotels and apartment blocks running the length of the coastline.
This Mediterranean coastline includes the towns of Nerja, Vélez-Málaga, Torremolinos, Benalmádena, Fuengirola, Mijas, Marbella, Puerto Banús and Estepona together with the city of Málaga.
In my opinion, this coastal region suffers from all the worst excesses of mass tourism - a concrete jungle with parades of bars, supermarkets and shops selling cheap souvenirs and beachwear. 'Full English Breakfast', 'Fish n Chips', 'John Smiths Smooth Bitter', 'Football on Sky TV tonight!' appear on the signs outside many establishments. I think Spain is a fantastic country with beautiful cities and spectacular natural parks and yet the majority of British visitors to Spain head for the Costa del Sol. The good news, of course, is that it leaves the other areas of Spain free from beer swilling, football shirt-clad morons!
To be fair, not all the towns in this coastal strip are that bad - some are rather pleasant to live or visit including Marbella, Nerja and Mijas.
Marbella is rather swish. It is a jet-setting resort with many luxurious holiday complexes, mansions and shops yet despite this opulence it has managed to preserve its old Moorish quarter with its maze of winding streets and whitewashed houses.
Nerja too consists of whitewashed alleyways, though the old Moorish houses here are perched on a rocky promontory. There are magnificent views of the Mediterranean below especially from the Balcón de Europa.
Mijas is one of my favourite places. It is situated in the foothills of the coastal mountain range that overlooks the coast - from the gardens of 'La Muralla' there are magnificent views of the coast below. This park is a quiet oasis away from the bustle of tourists, yet is only a few minutes walk to the centre of the village. Its maze of old Moorish streets are awash with colour - pottery, basketwork and other goods are displayed in the many shops and colourful floral displays adorn the walls of the houses. Mijas is a good place to get away from the urban sprawl of Fuengirola.
Another delightful place to visit is Puerto Banús. It is a magnificent marina filled with the most luxurious yachts imaginable. Alongside the moorings stand a huge array of luxury shops and plush restaurants where it is quite common to see Ferraris, Mercedes and other luxurious cars parked.
The main city in these parts is Málaga. Even though it is the international gateway to the Costa de Sol, Málaga has escaped the depressing image of brash tourism. In fact, it is refreshingly Spanish and has many examples of historic architecture, excellent museums and leafy parks and gardens. Just some of the sights on offer are the Alcazaba, Gibralfaro Castle, the Cathedral and the Palacio Episcopal. The Picasso Museum is well worth a visit.

Benalmadena © Robert Bovington

Costa Dorada
The Costa Dorada is the coastal region of southern Catalonia and extends from Barcelona down to the Ebro delta. This 'Golden Coast' is so called because it comprises over 200 kilometres of golden sands. These fine sandy beaches are washed by crystal clear waters and bordered by lush green mountains.
Sitges, Salou and Cambrils are the principle resorts of this region.
Salou is the biggest, more down-to-earth resort. Its main attractions are its theme parks like Port Aventura and Costa Caribe, its discos and its clubs. However, its beaches are pretty good and have 34 European Blue Flags for being the tidiest, safest and cleanest sparkling waters on the Mediterranean.
Sitges is more sophisticated and is popular with young weekenders from Barcelona. It has an old-world charm - its old town built on a promontory and there are a number of good museums there, especially those displaying works of art. The Cau Ferrat was the house-cum-studio of artist and writer Santiago Rusiñol and now houses work by famous artists including Picasso and El Greco. The Palau Mar I Cel was built by American Charles Deering to house his art collection and many paintings and objets d'art are on display there. The Museu Romàntic is a perfectly preserved 19th century house displaying the lifestyle of a family of Catalan householders.
Cambrils is a traditional Spanish fishing town, with narrow cobbled streets, traditional old buildings and excellent seafood restaurants. Fishing is still a feature of the town's economy - the fishing boats look rather odd with their large lamps that enable the fishermen to fish at night.
There are two major cities on the Costa Dorada - Barcelona and Tarragona.
Costa Tropical
The Costa Tropical is the coastal region of the province of Granada sandwiched between the Costa del Sol to the west and the Costa Almería in the east. It is called the Costa Tropical because of the exotic fruits that grow there. Its unique microclimate has enabled the cultivation of chirimoya, mango, kiwi, avocado and sugar cane.
Some of the guidebooks claim that the Costa Tropical is quite picturesque - probably because there are no high-rise hotels or apartment blocks nor many tourists. However, in my opinion, much of this coastal strip is spoiled by the ingress of the invernaderos - the plastic greenhouses that have become a feature of the west of Almería province. Nevertheless, I would concede that there are some delightful stretches of this coastal region. In particular, Almuñecar and Salobreña are extremely attractive.
Almuñecar derives from the Arabic name Hins-al-Monacar, or fortress city. The old town is strategically positioned on the top of a hill. The town has a long history dating from Phoenician times and much evidence of its historic past can be found there - the Castillo de San Miguel being the most obvious example. There are relics of its Roman occupants - aquaducts, baths, bridges, tombs and palaces. Evidence of the Moors occupation can be seen in the streets and buildings of the old town.
Other sites are the necropolis from the 7th century BC, a 4th century fish salting plant and a number of churches dating from the Christian reconquest.
Salobreña is rather splendid especially as viewed from a distance. It has been described as the Jewel of the Tropical Coast - swathes of whitewashed houses tumble down the sides of the Gran Peñón, a rocky outcrop crowned by a Moorish castle. The old town's narrow streets are awash with bougainvillaea. From here one can look down on orchards of sub-tropical fruit trees and sugar cane plantations as well as Salobrena's modern development - not the ugly tower blocks of its Costa del Sol neighbours but low-rise, attractive apartments gracefully spreading out towards the shoreline and the beaches of the Costa Tropical.
The biggest town in these parts is Motril. In the 18th century it was a small fishing village. Nowadays it is primarily a fishing port. It does have some attractive beaches and it is handily placed for driving to Granada and the Alpujarras. Its only claim to fame is the fact that Boabdil, the last king of Granada, lived there.

Calahonda (Granada) © Robert Bovington
Costa Verde
I used to think that Spain was a land of sun-baked villages and crowded beaches - a land of bullfights, flamenco, fiestas and fantastic Moorish cities.
I was misguided. There exists a different Spain - a Spain of verdant landscapes, babbling brooks and plunging waterfalls. The regions of Cantabria, Galicia and the Asturias, in the north of Spain, are a world away from the parched landscapes of the south. Not for nothing is it known as Green Spain.
Galicia has a diverse coastline - rugged and isolated in the south, white sandy beaches in the north.
Cantabria has plenty of variety to offer the traveller. There are fishing villages and miles of unspoilt beaches and, inland, there are the Cantabrian Mountains that include the snow-capped heights of the Picos de Europa.
The Asturias also has beautiful sandy beaches and verdant countryside. The Picos de Europa National Park extends into this region also.
The coastal strip of these delightful regions is known as the Costa Verde.
Costa do Marisco
The Costa do Marisco or “Shellfish Coast” is a label given to the coast of Galicia. It consists of the Costa da Morte; the Rías Altas and the Rías Baixas.
The Rías Altas ("Upper Rias") refers to the coast of the northern part of La Coruña province and the entire coastline of the province of Lugo. Ferrol is the largest city in these parts and is a major seaport.
The Rías Baixas ("Lower Rias") are a series of estuaries located on the southwestern coast of Galicia. The northernmost Rías Baixas begin below Cape Finisterre while the southernmost rias border the Portuguese coast, taking up the southern part of the province of Coruña and the entire Province of Pontevedra.
Lying between the relatively sheltered Upper and Lower Rias is the Costa da Morte or “Coast of Death” situated in the northern part of Coruña. The Costa da Morte received its name because of its treacherous rocky shore, exposed as it to the Atlantic Ocean. It is an area of shipwrecks, pirates and sea legends. Thousands have died and ships continue to sink along this treacherous coast and on a number of occasions Galicia's granite coastline has been painted black by oil spillages from stricken oil tankers.

more blogs by Robert Bovington...
"Photographs of Spain"
"postcards from Spain"
"you couldn't make it up!"
"a grumpy old man in Spain"
"bits and bobs"
"Spanish Expressions"
"Spanish Art"
"Books About Spain"

more blogs by Robert Bovington...
"Photographs of Spain"
"postcards from Spain"
"you couldn't make it up!"
"a grumpy old man in Spain"
"bits and bobs"
"Spanish Expressions"
"Spanish Art"
"Books About Spain"

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Casarabonela - a pueblo blanco in Málaga province

Casarabonela is on the easternmost edge of the area officially classified as the White Towns of Andalusia. It is situated in the Sierra de las Nieves and is yet another attractive pueblo blanco that has preserved its Arabic heritage with its narrow streets and whitewashed houses festooned with flowers. Like many of the villages some of the alleyways are rather steep.

An attractive church - the Iglesia de Santiago Apóstle is located in the main plaza. It has some interesting crypts and a museum of silver and religious artifacts.

There are a number of attractive fuentes, like the one below...

more blogs by Robert Bovington... 

"Photographs of Spain"
"postcards from Spain"
"you couldn't make it up!"
"a grumpy old man in Spain"
"bits and bobs"
"Spanish Expressions"
"Spanish Art"
"Books About Spain"

Monday, October 12, 2015

Málaga - the Costa del Sol's cultural centre

Málaga, the second largest city in Andalucía, is surprisingly attractive given its close proximity to the Costa del Sol. In recent years, it has made some concessions to tourism but the changes made have only further enhanced the city's reputation as a cultural tourist destination. For example, the Picasso Museum has recently been opened. Pablo Picasso was born in Málaga and the new museum has an extensive selection of his works. 

Picasso Museum, Málaga

Only a short walk away is the Renaissance Cathedral. It was begun in 1528 on the site of a mosque. However, the building is still incomplete, as one of the two towers remains  unfinished. To be fair most of the building - the interior, the main facade and one of the towers - were completed in 1782, a mere 254 years later! It was worth the wait for the building is quite splendid especially the Baroque façade which faces the Plaza del Obispo. Whilst the exterior is quite exuberant, the interior is rather solemn – mostly Renaissance but with some Baroque embellishments.

Málaga Cathedral © Robert Bovington

Málaga - El Sagrario
© Robert Bovington
Next door to the Cathedral are two more historic buildings - El Sagrario and the Palacio Episcopal. The former is a 16th century church that actually stands in the gardens of the Cathedral. The 18th century Bishop's Palace stands in the Plaza del Obispo. Its pink and grey doorway is especially attractive.
Málaga - Bishop's Palace © Robert Bovington
an alleyway in Málaga
© Robert Bovington
This area of the city has many monuments dating from the Christian era yet there are many little alleyways and tiny streets with a decidedly Moorish feel to them. There are numerous bars and cafés here, so it is a good place to obtain refreshments, which you'll need if you intend to visit the Alcazaba and the Castillo de Gibralfaro! These monuments are but a short walk from the cathedral – along Calle Cister to the Plaza de la Aduana.

Málaga is a big city but most of its main attractions are in close proximity.

The Plaza de la Aduana is where the Teatro Romano is situated. Following extensive restoration work, the theatre was opened to the public in 2011. 

Overlooking the theatre is the Alcazaba which stands near the foot of Gibralfaro Hill. From Calle Alcazabilla, a series of zigzag walkways gradually wind their way up to the fortress. The Moors built it between the 11th and 14th centuries when Málaga was part of the Kingdom of Granada. It is a delightful place to stroll. Bougainvillaea, jasmine and honeysuckle adorn its courtyards and gardens and there are views of the city and the port from the ramparts of the fort. 

Málaga Alcazaba © Robert Bovington

Málaga Gibralfaro
© Robert Bovington
For really spectacular views, however, a visit to the Castillo de Gibralfaro is necessary! The remains of the 14th century castle overlook the Alcazaba as well as the city that, from this height, looks rather attractive with its ribbons of greenery. 
Paseo del Parque fuente
© Robert Bovington
The Paseo del Parque, in particular, is a pleasant place to visit. A splendid way to get from the Alcazaba to the harbour is to walk the length of this verdant botanical garden. It is a quiet oasis amidst the bustle of the surrounding streets. 

There are many other interesting places to see in Málaga – churches, museums and attractive squares like the Plaza de la Constitucíon. 

One particularly fascinating place to visit is El Cementario Inglés. This English cemetery was the first Protestant burial place in Spain. It was founded in 1831 and among its famous visitors was Hans Christian Anderson. He visited in 1862 but didn’t stay – unlike Gerald Brenan, the English author, who did and is buried there! 

Most English people who fly to the busy Málaga airport miss the opportunity of sampling the delights of this fascinating city. Instead, they head for Torremolinos, Fuengirola and Marbella and good luck to them! It has meant that depite its close proximity to the Costa del Sol, the city of Málaga has retained its Spanishness. Amidst the high-rise blocks of the modern town can be found fascinating old buildings, leafy parks and tiny bars where the locals gossip over a glass of fino and a tapa.

Málaga © Robert Bovington

more blogs by Robert Bovington... 

"Photographs of Spain"
"postcards from Spain"
"you couldn't make it up!"
"a grumpy old man in Spain"
"bits and bobs"
"Spanish Expressions"
"Spanish Art"
"Books About Spain"

Friday, October 9, 2015

Cádiz - the oldest city in Europe?

Cádiz - the city

The city of Cádiz lays claim to being the oldest city in Europe - the Phoenicians allegedly founded the place in 1104BC.

Most of modern day Cádiz is not that old, however, but the architecture is nevertheless splendid and mostly dates from the 18th century. Only the ruin of the Roman theatre provides evidence that the city is much older than it looks.

Cádiz - Plaza de la San Juan de Dios

Manuel de Falla portrait
in the Cathedral crypt
There are many baroque buildings including the Hospital de Mujeres whose main attraction is a painting by El Greco - the 'Extasis de San Francisco'. Other places of note are the Museo de Cádiz and the Gran Teatro Falla, named in honour of composer Manuel de Falla, who is buried in the crypt of the Cathedral. There are lovely places to walk in the city like the palm-fringed Plaza San Juan de Dios and the bustling Plaz de las Flores.

The jewel of the city, though, is the cathedral - the Catedral Nueva looks particularly splendid from the waterfront. Its dome glitters like gold in the sunshine but in reality is made of yellow glazed tiles.

Cádiz Cathedral © Robert Bovington

Cádiz - the province 

Cádiz is also the capital of the province of the same name - one of the eight provinces of Andalucía. Other important cities are Jerez, famous for its sherry and Algeciras. Tarifa is an interesting place and is the most southerly town in Europe. It is also a tad windy - handy for those that go there for the windsurfing!

Tarifa - old town gate © Robert Bovington

But most of all the province of Cádiz has tremendous scenery and dramatic landscapes. It is a nature lover's delight with many protected areas including the Sierra de Grazalema and the Parque Natural de Doñana.

Sierra de Grazalema © Robert Bovington

Robert Bovington

more blogs by Robert Bovington...

"Photographs of Spain"
"postcards from Spain"
"you couldn't make it up!"
"a grumpy old man in Spain"
"bits and bobs"
"Spanish Expressions"
"Spanish Art"
"Books About Spain"