Thursday, April 28, 2016

“A delightful oasis of peace in the centre of Benalmadena”


Occasionally I yearn for some peace and solitude away from the noise and bustle of the Costa del Sol. One of the places I head for is Parque de la Paloma in Benalmadena.
.
It is delightful.


There is a lake In the middle of the park. It is inhabited by swans, gulls, ducks, mallards and turtles. And, of course, fish. 




The path around the lake makes a pleasant walk especially for the elderly - or should I say older people than me! There are many paths that criss-cross this attractive park, some with a bit of a gradient but not too steep.


Little animals roam freely. These include hens, chickens, roosters, pigeons, sparrows and rabbits. There are also ibex and ostriches but these are penned in.


There are a variety of trees, deciduous and evergreen which include eucalyptus, weeping willow, palm and cypress. There is also a cactus garden with other species as well as cactii.




Los niños are catered for with a playground and other areas where they can be let loose safely. Some areas of the park are closed to dogs.


On my last visit in April 2016, I visited the little cafe near the south-east corner of the park for a beer. And very pleasant it was too.
The park is located in the centre of the town only 200 metres from the windmill roundabout on the seafront. I parked nearby without difficulty.

Robert Bovington
April 2016



www.tablondeanuncios.com

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"

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Sierra de Gádor - a mountain range in southern Spain

 by Robert Bovington

The Sierra de Gádor mountain range is situated in the south-western corner of the province of Almería. It belongs to the Betic system, specifically the Cordillera Penibética. The maximum altitude is 2249 meters – the summit of Launilla Morrón.

Enix © Robert Bovington



To the north is the Sierra Nevada; to the south lies the Mediterranean Sea whilst the Sierras Alhamilla and Contraviesa lie respectively to the east and west.

At the foot of the Sierra de Gádor lies the region of the Poniente Almeriense (Western Almería), traditionally called the Campo de Dalias which, in my opinion, is by far the least attractive part of the diverse region of Almería. Author Gerald Brenan didn’t like it either – “…a depressing sight met my eye. For fifteen miles the road ran in a perfectly straight line across a stony desert…” was part of his description of the Campo de Dalías in his book “South to Granada”. Nowadays the stony desert is replaced by an ocean of plastic, the ubiquitous invernaderos. These greenhouses may have allowed the province of Almería to become Europe's market garden but they sure look ugly!

Never mind! The Sierra de Gádor is a pleasant, largely unspoilt mountain range that is technically part of that delightful region of the Alpujarras. The following towns are within its boundaries:

Felix, Enix, Gádor, Alhama de Almería, Alicún, Huécija, Íllar, Instinción, Rágol, Fondón, Laujar de Andarax, Alcolea, Berja, Dalías and Vícar

In the past, the Sierra de Gádor was heavily mined, mainly for lead and silver but now water is its biggest treasure. The mines were abandoned in the early nineteenth century. Water, surprisingly, still appears to exist in sufficient quantities. In villages like Berja, Felix and Dalías there are numerous fuentes where water can be obtained – the meagre rainfall and the melted snow from the high sierra is efficiently stored and purified before being released as pure clean water.

Illar © Robert Bovington
 
Beninar © Robert Bovington
 
Beninar © Robert Bovington














www.tablondeanuncios.com

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"

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Frigiliana

by Robert Bovington
 

I have visited Frigiliana on a number of occasions. It is an attractive pueblo blanco, a short drive from the equally pretty coastal town of Nerja. Administratively it is part of Torrox in the Axarquia region of the province of Málaga.

Frigiliana © Robert Bovington

 The village lies on the southern slopes of the Sierra de Almijara and is 300 meters above sea level.

Places to see:
The village has a number of attractions:-
 
The Church of San Antonio de Padua, located in Calle Real, was built in the 17th century on the site of an old mosque. Its bell tower is the former minaret of the mosque.

Iglesia de San Antonio de Padua, Frigiliana © Robert Bovington
   
Another religious building is La Ermita del Ecce Homo. This small chapel was built in the 18th century. Nowadays, many citizens prefer to call it the "Ermita de Santo Cristo de la Caña". 
 
The Palacio de los Condes de Frigiliana used to be a 16th century renaissance-style palace which belonged to the Count and Countess of Frigiliana, the Manrique de Lara family. Nowadays it tends to be known as El Ingenio and is believed to be the last remaining sugar cane honey factory in Europe. Just around the corner, Bar el Ingenio is a pleasant little place to drink. 
 
Nearby are the Reales Pósitos. Back in the 18th century, it was built to store grain. Nowadays, it is used for both dwellings and shops. And bars!
  
Calle Real, Frigiliana © Robert Bovington
  
The 17th century Casa del Apero originally served as a granary and a warehouse. In 1990, the building was restored and it is now the Municipal House of Culture. Inside there is there is a library, an exhibition room and the tourist information office. 
 
Tourist guides mention two other places of interest in the town - La Fuente Vieja and the 9th century Castillo de Lizar. The former is attractive enough but it is after all only a fountain! The latter is only worth visiting for the spectacular views because there is hardly anything left of the original castle!

La Fuente Vieja © Robert Bovington
 
So, there are a number of interesting places to see in the town but probably the best bit is just wandering around the old Moorish quarter!
 
   
Festivals:
Like all Spanish towns and villages, Frigiliana has its fair share of festivals. A couple, in particular, are pretty spectacular:
 
The Cruces de Mayo celebration occurs on May 3 every year. Every plaza of the town gets a big wooden cross. The crosses are adorned with Spanish shawls, plants and flowers. Many villagers offer visitors tapas and wine for free. In the afternoon, the town band and other musicians make music. 
 
Cruces de Mayo
  
During the last week of August, the ‘Festival Frigiliana Tres Culturas’ brings together the influences of the Moors, Jews and Christian cultures with a festival of food, music, art and street entertainment.
 
http://mynerja.com/view/news/the-three-cultures-festival-in-frigiliana/
  
Other festivals in Frigliana are listed below:
   Fiesta de San Sebastián in January;
   Carnaval in February;
   The Feria of San Antonio in June;
   Feria de San Juan in June (usually on the beach in Nerja);
   Fiesta de las Candelarias in September.
 
Of course there are also the national celebrations including Christmas, Holy Week.
 
In summer, there are other cultural events held in Frigiliana including the traditional dance festival; the annual band contest, and the contest between choirs dedicated to Our Lady of El Rocío.

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"

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Mezquita-Catedral de Córdoba

by Robert Bovington

Córdoba was once the most important city in Europe. It was the centre of the medieval Caliphate of Córdoba and capital of the western Islamic Empire. It reached its peak in the 10th century when it rivalled Baghdad and Constantinople as one of the great cities of the World. Its greatest surviving monument to the city's magnificent past is its Grand Mosque – the Mezquita. 

Córdoba Mezquita © Robert Bovington

Work on the mosque actually started in 786 when it was built on the site of an old Visigothic church. However, it was enlarged three times before reaching its present size in 987 when it became the largest sacred building in the Islamic world.

And big it most certainly is - so massive that a Gothic cathedral was built inside the mosque - and lots of chapels!

Following the Christian Reconquest of Córdoba in 1236, the mosque was consecrated as a Christian cathedral. During the 14th century, the Villaviciosa Chapel and the Capilla Real were built and then in 1523, work on the cathedral started with the building of a huge nave inside the mosque.

The interior of the mosque is spectacular – a forest of pillars and arches. 856 of the granite, jasper and marble columns remain – some were removed to make way for the Christian parts of the building. Horseshoe-shaped arches consisting of alternating red brick and white stone were placed above the lower pillars, which has given the Mezquita its distinctive character. 

Córdoba Mezquita © Robert Bovington

Of course, there is much more to this magnificent building than pillars and arches! The Mihrab is particularly magnificent with its intricately carved marble ceiling and exquisitely decorated chambers with their Byzantine mosaics. All this ornamentation is in great contrast to the worn flagstones – an indication that many Muslims prayed here.

The Villaviciosa and Capilla Real chapels are both quite splendid and are good examples of Mudéjar architecture.

There used to be many entrances into the mosque but nowadays, the only one open to the public is the Puerta del Perdón.

No self-respecting mosque should be without a patio where prospective worshippers can perform their ritual ablutions. The Patio de los Naranjos was used for this purpose. Visitors still pass through this delightful courtyard with its orange trees and fountains on their way into the Mezquita.

Patio de los Naranjos  © Robert Bovington

The minaret of the mosque is no longer visible. It is enveloped in a Baroque bell tower – the Torre del Alminar.

Torre del Alminar  © Robert Bovington

Finally, there is the Cathedral. Charles V later regretted the decision to build it within the Mezquita and many people since have agreed that its construction has devalued the mosque’s simple beauty. Nevertheless, the Cathedral has many impressive features, particularly the choir with its Baroque mahogany choir stalls that were carved by Pedro Duque Correjo in the 18th century. 

Mezquita Cathedral - part of the choir © Robert Bovington

Anything this special ought to be afforded special protection and it is – UNESCO has declared the Mezquita a World Heritage site.

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"

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Pablo Picasso museum in Málaga

by Robert Bovington

Pablo Picasso was born in Málaga in 1881 and is perhaps the best known of modern painters - certainly he was one of the pioneers of Cubism.



He had a bit of a head start with his painting career because his father was an art teacher so no doubt he was already skilled in the basics when he entered the Academy at Barcelona in 1895 at the age of 14!

Whilst there, he painted 'Barefoot Girl (1895)'. Later, he studied in Madrid and won a gold medal for 'Customs of Aragón (1898)'.

In 1901 he started working in his studio in Paris - in the Montmatre area. He worked for many years there and, after mastering the traditional forms of art, he started developing his own style.

He went through his 'Blue' period - in colour as well as mood and then broke with tradition with his Cubism work.

One of his masterpieces, in Cubism style, was 'Guernica (1937)' - Picasso's horror at the bombing of the Basque town during the Spanish Civil War was expressed in this spectacular canvas.



His home city of Málaga has honoured him by opening the Picasso Casa y Museo in the city and very interesting it is too. When I visited the gallery recently, I was surprised how much I enjoyed the museum. Beforehand, I did wonder whether I would appreciate the exhibits there. I like a cow to look like a cow so artists like Constable are more my cup of tea. My perception of Picasso women was that they were too abstract for my tastes. Well, on my visit to the Picasso Gallery, I was pleasantly surprised. Yes - many of his works are abstract but nevertheless most are strangely attractive and most certainly I could appreciate that here was a true artist - the exhibits were true works of art unlike most of the garbage in Tate Modern where unmade beds and the innards of cows seem to be the norm. 

Picasso Museum Málaga © Robert Bovington

Picasso painted his first picture at the age of 10 and went on to produce over 20,000 paintings, sketches and sculptures. Some are in the museum in Málaga - well about 200 are! The artist's daughter-in-law has donated them. Many of Picasso's works displayed in the museum in Málaga are abstract and many are of his second wife, Jacqueline. I particularly liked one of Picasso's paintings of her - "Señora Z (Jacqueline con flores) 1954", which is an abstract but not so 'way out' as many of his works.

Another painting in the museum that I liked was "Olga Koklova con mantilla 1917". Olga was a prima ballerina who Picasso had met in 1916. They were married in 1918.

The artist shared his life with a number of women - he had a number of mistresses - and all featured prominently in his works. These paintings had varying degrees of abstractness - some like "Woman in Red Chair 1932" were painted during the artists surrealism period and bear little resemblance to real women. Other works by the artist do capture the likeness of the subject but exhibit Picasso's fondness for disfiguring part of the human form. "The Yellow Pullover 1939" is one such work. It is a portrait of Dora Maar, one of the artist's mistresses.

Picasso - "The Yellow Pullover" (1939)

Following my visit to the museum in Málaga, I determined to find out more about the artist. I discovered that there are many paintings by Picasso that I actually like - even some of the abstract ones but then, during his long lifetime, he had produced a tremendous variety of work and contributed greatly to the development of modern art in the 20th century!

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"