Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Granada

by Robert Bovington

Granada is a city in the autonomous region of Andalucía, situated at the foot of the Sierra Nevada. It is one of the great cities of Spain if not the World.

Alhambra Granada © Robert Bovington

When visiting Granada it is tempting to spend all one's time admiring the Alhambra. From afar one can admire the beauty of its red walled parapets contrasting with the snow capped Sierra Nevada whilst once inside one can absorb oneself in the sheer splendour of its fantastic palaces and its tranquil gardens. However, Granada has much more to offer the visitor. It is a city where both Moorish and Christian history is visible in art and architecture.


Moorish Granada is exemplified by the UNESCO World Heritage Sites of the Alhambra, the Generalife and the Albaicín district whilst the Capilla Real and the Cathedral represent Christian Granada.

Alhambra and Generalife

The Alhambra is a museum of Islamic memories. It is essentially a number of palaces with extensive gardens surrounded by a fortress. There is much to see there including the Nazarite Royal Palaces that are interconnected via the Courtyards of the Myrtles and the Lions. Arabic-Granada art can be appreciated in many locations in the Alhambra as well as in the museums situated in the Renaissance Palace of Charles V that is also located within this spectacular complex.

Alhambra - Courtyard of the Myrtles

There are numerous water features in the garden of the Generalife. However, this is not a common or garden estate - it is a summer retreat fit for kings - well sultans anyway! It was the summer residence of the sultans of Granada and consists of a palace surrounded by magnificent terraced gardens amidst avenues of cypress trees. Running water plays an important role in the Generalife with fountains and water jets.

Generalife © Robert Bovington
Albaicín

The Albaicín district is an area of winding alleyways and narrow stairways clinging to the side of a hill. It is the ancient Arab quarter but nowadays it is a mix of Moorish and Christian monuments. The churches of San Salvador, San Bartolomé and San José have all been built on top of mosques. A number of small villas are to be found in the Albaicín called 'carmens' - modern versions of a type of Moorish residence comprising a house and its adjoining garden. Other Arab features in this quarter include the underground reservoirs, the Arab baths and the Moroccan shops selling traditional handicrafts. From various locations in the Albaicín there are fantastic views of the Alhambra and the Sierra Nevada.

The Sacromonte district contains thousands of caves that for more than 600 years have been inhabited by gitanos. It is the area to encounter impromptu flamenco at gypsy fiestas called zambras.

The Capilla Real or Royal Chapel is an impressive Gothic building that was built by Ferdinand and Isabella in 1504 as a mausoleum for themselves - they wanted to live forever in the last of the Arab kingdoms in Spain.

The Cathedral was built in 1523 on the site of the city's main mosque. Like the Capilla Real, its main objective was to unequivocally establish Christian rule in the last city in Spain to be occupied by the Moors.
 
Granada Cathedral © Robert Bovington
There are many other places of note in the city including the Palace of the Córdobas, the church of San Pedro, the Renaissance convent of Santa Catalina de Zafra, the Royal Chancery, the Almanxarra Palace and the House-Museum of Manuel de Falla.

Manuel de Falla and Federico García Lorca



© Robert Bovington
Manuel de Falla, the famous Spanish composer was born in Cádiz but lived for many years in Granada. He was a friend of another Andalucian - Federico García Lorca, the greatest Spanish poet and playwright of the 20th century, who was born just outside of Granada. Lorca died in 1936, during the Spanish Civil War. Fascist soldiers shot him!
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Over seventy years later, his home city of Granada has started to honour him. Granada's airport is called 'Aeropuerto Federico García Lorca'; postcards of the poet and his drawings are displayed alongside those of the Alhambra in the city's shops and kiosks and the tourist industry has jumped on the bandwagon by offering 'Lorca route' itineraries. Visits can be made to a number of sites in the area related to Lorca's life including Víznar near Granada, the site of his murder. Situated only a few miles from Granada is the House Museum of La Huerta de San Vicente, where the young Federico lived with his family.
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There are very many more places to visit in this wonderful city and it would need a whole book to describe them all. In fact, the Alhambra itself has been the subject of a book - Washington Irving's famous 'Tales of the Alhambra' is an excellent account of the jewel in the crown that is Granada.
 



This article is an extract from “Spanish Impressions” by Robert Bovington
ISBN 978-1-4452-2543-2 available from:
http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/bobdotbovingtonatgmaildotcom

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, June 10, 2015

Huelva - the city

by Robert Bovington

Huelva is the most westerly of the Andalusian capitals. It is not as famous as other cities in Andalucía but, nevertheless, it has a long history and some splendid monuments to its rich heritage. 


Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Romans and Moors are just some of the peoples who have populated this historic town. Then in 1257, Alfonso X the Wise of Castile recaptured Huelva for the Christians. However, the most significant historical event for the people of Huelva was the discovery of America. It was from this area of Spain that Christopher Columbus undertook the first of his voyages to the New World in 1492. 

Huelva - Parque de las Palmeras - public domain

The Avenida Andalucía is the main artery of Huelva situated in the modern part of the city. It is a pleasant place to stroll with its parks and gardens. The main green space in the city, though, is El Conquero, an area of green hills with delightful views. Nearby is Parque Moret another attractive green area with fruit trees and water features. On the northernmost edge of El Conquero is the Santuario de Nuestra Señora de la Cinta. This 15th century church has been declared a site of Cultural Interest. It was here that Columbus allegedly prayed after returning from his first trip to the Americas.

Catedral de la Merced © Robert Bovington

There are many other religious buildings in Huelva. One of the most important is the Cathedral of La Merced, which began life as a church - the Convent of La Merced was constructed in 1605. It was converted to a cathedral in 1953. It also has been declared a site of Cultural Interest.
Just south of the cathedral is the historic part of the city, an area of narrow pedestrian streets located on both sides of Avenida Martin Alonso Pinzón. There are many beautiful buildings here including the neoclassical Town Hall and the Convento de las Agustinas de Santa María de Gracia. The latter is a bit of a mouthful but is a delightful convent with a Mudéjar courtyard.


Ayuntamiento Huelva - public domain


Not only did Carthaginians, Romans and Moors populate this city but also the British! Huelva has had a long mining tradition and, in the 19th century, British mining companies established themselves in the city. In the Barrio Reina Victoria area of the city there are some grand old English style houses - worth a visit for any of you Brits who are homesick! 

 
English-style houses in Huelva - public domain


Huelva is the fourth largest port in Spain. Near the port is the Columbus Monument, which was built in 1929 by the North American Columbus Foundation.




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"

www.tablondeanuncios.com







Antequera

dólmen
by Robert Bovington

Antequera, as its name suggests, is old - so old that the Romans named it Antiquaria. Bronze Age burial grounds are to be found in the north-eastern outskirts of the town - the Dólmen de Menga and the Dólmen de Viera are said to be the largest such structures in Europe.


Antequera has such a wealth of historic buildings and structures that it is a microcosm of the area as a whole. There are Roman remains including villas and baths and, from the times of Moorish rule, there is the Alcazaba. 


If you like looking at churches, you will like Antequera because it has quite a few including the Iglesia Señora del Carmen. There are twenty-eight churches in all but the finest of the religious buildings is the 16th century Real Colegiata de Santa María la Mayor, which has been designated a national monument. In fact, the whole of Antequera's old town has been placed under a preservation order.

some of Antequera's churches...
Between the 16th and 18th centuries a number of interesting palaces were built. One of them, the Palacio de N'ajera , houses a fine museum - the Museo Municipal.  


Arco de los Gigantes
 

There are many other attractive and historic buildings in Antequera including the bullring - considered one of the most attractive in Spain - and the Arco de los Gigantes. It is called this because it is a rather large arch. The Alcazaba can be reached by strolling through this magnificent 16th century structure, which was erected in honour of Philip II, and partly constructed of inscribed Roman masonry.

Because of all this splendid architecture and because the city's museums hold a large proportion of the art and antiquarian artefacts to be found in the province of Málaga, Antequera has acquired the nickname 'el corazón de Andalucía' - the heart of Andalucía. Maybe it also has something to do with the fact that it is situated between Málaga, Granada, Córdoba, and Sevilla. It is only twenty-two miles from Málaga, however, so forget about the beaches of the Costa del Sol and visit Antequera.

 
Antequera & Peña de los Enamorados, ("The Lovers' Rock")



Between Málaga and Antequera is the Parque Natural del Torcal - a nature spot popular with climbers. Nearby is a saltwater lagoon, the Fuente de Piedra, where flamingos can be seen. Also nearby is the Garganta del Chorro where torrents of foaming water from the Guadalhorce river force their way through a narrow gorge. So if superb architecture doesn't make you leave the beaches of Torremolinos and Fuengirola perhaps spectacular natural spaces will!

http://www.turistum.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/torcal-de-antequera.jpg
Torcal de Antequera. photo: http://www.turistum.com/antequera/



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"

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Algeciras-Ronda railway

Robert Bovington

The Algeciras to Ronda train journey is a trip through some of the most beautiful countryside in Andalucía. The little three-carriage train winds its way past some of the attractive 'white towns' of the region and through the spectacular scenery of the Los Alcornocales and Grazalema Natural Parks.


British engineers built the line when Victoria was on the throne - I have often wondered whether she had some sort of stomach disorder the amount of time she spent there - sorry - I couldn't resist that!  

Many of the stations still have the original equipment and furnishings that were shipped out from Britain in the 19th century.

La línea de los ingleses - the 'English Railway' - is actually 110 miles long and continues beyond Ronda to the town of Bobadilla. The line is just one section of a large scenic route that stretches eastwards through Granada and on to Almería.




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"

www.tablondeanuncios.com

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Álava

Álava is one of the three provinces of the Basque Country. 



If you visit this area of Spain it will be no use you practising your newly learnt Castilian Spanish on the locals as they probably won't understand you - they speak Euskara. Come to that, if your Spanish pronunciation is anything like mine, the locals in other areas of Spain won't understand you either! 


Never mind! A visit to Vitoria, the capital of the province, should cheer you up - as long as you like architecture! There are medieval buildings, Renaissance mansions and attractive churches.


Plaza de la Virgen Blanca en Vitoria-Gasteiz. by Guyletsbuild (public domain)
 
Catedral de María Inmaculada (Catedral Nueva) de Vitoria-Gasteiz
by Zarateman (public domain)



If you are not a culture vulture you can console yourself by eating, as the food's pretty good. Some say (probably the Basques) that the region has the finest cuisine in Spain!


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"