Southern Spain (and Barcelona too)

Gothic Barcelona; City snapshots; beachBarcelona and it's beaches

Posted by Lauren Rock Wed, April 25, 2018 22:25:29

Barcelona has been rebuilt many times and by many people. Most people trace her start to Roman times where the Gothic Quarter is today.
At the top of these steps is where Columbus was greeted by Ferdinand and Isabel when he returned from his first voyage to the "New World".Blog image

The beautiful Barcelona Cathedral (a visit here contrasts dramatically with the Sagrada Familia and shows how "ahead of his time" Gaudi was, and why his work was controversial and way beyond the norm.)
Blog imageNarrow "streets' and alleyways are the norm

Blog imageOpening to lovely plazas, often filled with outdoor cafes and shops

Blog imageThe area also had a Jewish Quarter
Blog imageOther parts of the city are more "modern" and feature wide pedestrian boulevards lined with shops, outdoor cafes, pocket parks and dedicated bike lanes.
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Nightlife is vibrant in Barcelona. From dinner...
Blog image walks on the beach
Blog image Blog imageBlog imageBarcelona is filled with beauty!

Sagrada Familia + Gaudi's worksBarcelona and it's beaches

Posted by Lauren Rock Wed, April 25, 2018 21:37:25

After a week of breathtaking Gothic cathedrals and Moorish masterpieces Barcelona supplies something completely different: Gaudi's Sagrada Familia - a wonder of stained glass and light. Construction began in 1882 and is ongoing with a hopeful completion planned for 2030. The church is breathtaking for it's light, Gaudi carefully planned the placement of a multitude of windows to capture the light at all times of day; Even planning for different colors of light to shine in sync with the biblical chapter or theme he was displaying in the stained glass. Unlike any cathedral we saw in Spain - or anywhere else in the world, the Sagrada Familia is a must-see while in Barcelona.

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Gaudi touched all parts of Barcelona, in addition to the Sagrada Familia you can see his work at the Guell Monumental park:

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Alhambra palace fortressAmazing Alhambra

Posted by Lauren Rock Tue, April 24, 2018 21:24:16

Believed to have been first constructed in the 9th century, the Alhambra in it's current form dates to the 13th century when Granada's Nasrid rulers transformed it into a fortified palace complex. Following the Christian conquest of 1492 it's mosque was removed for a church and some of it's palaces removed for construction of the Hapsburg's Charles V building. In early 19th Century French Napoleonic forces destroyed part of it, and tried to blow up the rest. Reconstruction began in 1880 and continues to today.

Blog image(no those aren't clouds in the background - that's snow on the Sierra Nevada's!)

Blog imageNote that the original tile floors of the homes can still be seen.

These shots are from the Nasrid palace rooms:
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Blog imageBelow you can see where the carvings on the wall meet the wood hand made ceiling:
Blog imageBlog imageBlog imageBlog imageBlog imageBlog imageThe citadel/military lookout post
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Blog imageLook in the distance and you can see walls around the city of Granada

Superb SevilleReal Alcazar "Dorn" + Seville

Posted by Lauren Rock Tue, April 24, 2018 20:37:07

Seville is more than "just" the Real Alcazar. It's Cathedral is a gothic masterpiece:
Blog imageAnd is also home to Christopher Columbus's tomb:
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Seville's streets are charming and her parks include the Plaza Espana. It and many other buildings were created for the 1929 world expo.

Blog imageBlog imageBlog imageAs in Toledo, Cordoba and Barcelona, Seville has a Jewish quarter remembering the vibrant Jewish community that existed before the Inquisition.
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Real AlcazarReal Alcazar "Dorn" + Seville

Posted by Lauren Rock Tue, April 24, 2018 16:25:00

Perhaps the most famous landmark in Seville is the Real Alcazar. This royal palace is a Unesco-listed complex. First developed as a fort in 913, it has been revamped many times over the 11 centuries of its existence. In the 11th Century it was known as Al-Muwarak (the Blessed). Then in the 14th century it became a Catholic landmark when King Pedro took over.

(It's current fame is as the setting for "Dorn" to Game of Thrones fans.)

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La Mezquita and Calleja de FloresColorful Cordoba

Posted by Lauren Rock Fri, April 20, 2018 00:09:35

Cordoboa is a UNESCO world heritage city. It's most famous landmark is La Mezquita, an immense mosque dating from 784 A.D.that became a Catholic church in 1236, and had a Renaissance-style nave added in the 17th century.

Part of the outer wall that surrounds the complex
Blog imageThe main hall
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Some of the Islamic carvings on the walls

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Here you can see Islamic era arches, along with the columns and church added chapels along the sides.

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Altar of the church that took over and is within the pre-existing mosque...

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And it's ceiling....

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View of the entry wall and courtyard from the top of bell tower added by the church
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Cordoba is also home to the famous Calleja de Flores - street of flowers. This lovely alleyway is lined with flowers and has a wonderful view of the Cathedral tower.

Blog imageCordoba's Jewish Quarter was home to the famous Jewish philosopher Maimonides
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Ancient city on the hillHoly Toledo (seriously!)

Posted by Lauren Rock Tue, April 17, 2018 23:41:57

Toledo is known for the medieval Arab, Jewish and Christian monuments in its walled old city. Located only a 30 minute train ride from Madrid it's a great day trip locale. Here are just some of the highlights:

Here is the approach to the city.
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Filled with many examples of Spanish Gothic art the church sits on the site of a former Muslim mosque. Construction as a church began in 1226. This is just one part of the cathedral- The altarpiece in the main chapel has five sections, depicting scenes from the New Testament, along with life-sized polychromatic sculptures made of gilded wood. It was commissioned by Cardinal Cisneros and made between 1497 and 1504.
Blog imageThis large sculpture is called El Tracnsparente - the Transparent- it's a Baroque sculpture finished in 1732 and made of marble, alabaster and golden bronze. Note the beautiful painted ceiling above it.
Blog imageOutside of the cathedral.
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Some of the stained glass in the interior.
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The Main Synagogue of the Toledo Jewish Quarter. It was built at the end of the 11th century.Considered the oldest synagogue building in Europe still standing.It is unique among surviving buildings as it was constructed under the Christian Kingdom of Castile by Islamic architects for Jewish use. It is considered a symbol of the cooperation that existed among the three cultures that populated the Iberian Peninsula during the Middle Ages. It became a Catholic Church in the early 1400's and is now known as Santa Maria Blanco.
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Blog imageNo these aren't tapestries, they are carvings!
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While there is no Jewish life left in the city (impact of the Inquisition of course) the Jewish history of the area is being remembered.

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How Madrid is like these strawberriesMarvelous Madrid!

Posted by Lauren Rock Mon, April 16, 2018 00:24:22

A strange post heading but it fits. Like these palm sized berries (in the Mercado San Miguel) Madrid is bigger than it seems, each piece a beauty in its' own right, and together a marvelous display. Blog imageWith it's beautiful buildings, historic sights, and pedestrian only plazas Spain's capitol city is ripe and ready for you to explore! Here are a few more pictures, I would need a book to show them all.
Blog imageGardens of the Palacio Real (Royal Palace) Madrid
Blog imageOne of the city's gates

Blog imageJust an average building along the Gran Via (Madrid's 5th Ave or Miracle Mile)

Blog imageThe historic Plaza De Villa

Blog imageBuen Retiro park

Blog imageWide pedestrian only areas are lined with shops and restaurants leading to more plazas waiting to be explored.

Blog imageGracious buildings abound

Blog imageThe Palacio Real (Royal Palace)

Blog imageBeautifully decorated building facade
Blog imageVibrant nightlife in a city where 9pm (2100 by the clocks here) is on the early side for dinner.

There is so much more to see just a few posted pictures can't do justice to this wonderful place, you just have to "taste" it for yourself!