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"

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Yegen - a village with a literary past

by Robert Bovington

Yegen is a little village in the Alpujarra of Granada. Like other pueblos blancos in this region, it is situated amidst spectacular scenery lying as it does on the southern slopes of the Sierra Nevada.


a typical street in Yegen© Robert Bovington



Yegen was the setting for 'South from Granada' by the celebrated English author Gerald Brenan. He lived in the village between 1920 and 1930. A number of famous friends visited him there including Virginia Woolf.

Brenan was one of the foremost English chroniclers of Spain and its people. He wrote 'The Spanish Labyrinth' and 'The Face of Spain' but it was 'South from Granada' for which he is most famous. It was his autobiography of his time in Yegen.

There is a plaque over the door of the house where the author lived and one of the streets in the village is named after him. There is even a 'Sendero de Gerald Brenan' footpath - it is one of a number of walking routes in the vicinity of Yegen. The long distance GR7 passes nearby. It is part of the International E-4 footpath that runs all the way from Tarifa to Greece. So even without Gerald Brenan, Yegen can lay claim to being well and truly on the map!




 
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"