Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Cuenca - a UNESCO Heritage site in Spain

The beautiful and ancient city of Cuenca is steeped in history and perfectly preserved and that is why UNESCO declared it a World Heritage Site. Famous for its ‘Hanging Houses’, there are many other reasons why this city is so special.
.
Image
.
The old town is perched on a precipice above two deep gorges carved out by the rivers Huécar and Júcar. It is here that the medieval Casas Colgadas – the Hanging Houses literally overhang the Huécar gorge.

Within the old quarter are handsome old mansions interspersed with interesting religious buildings. The 12th century Cathedral is quite unique in that it combines Gothic and Anglo-Norman style. Queen Leonor, the wife of Alfonso VIII, ordered its construction. There are a number of museums in the city including the National Museum of Abstract Art and the Provincial Archaeological Museum.

Robert Bovington

Granada – carmenes

One of the delights of the Albaicin area of Granada is its carmens (carmenes in Spanish). They are hillside townhouses with private walled gardens. They originated in Moorish times and their design expresses the Islamic idea of the inner paradise, a reflection of heaven. They gardens usually have mosaic floors, shady grottos and lush flora usually comprising rose, honeysuckle, palm, wisteria and, this being Granada, pomegranate. (granada is the Spanish word for pomegranate). Of course, these delighful townhouses have Alhambra views.


Granada carmen by Robert Bovington

Granada – Carrera del Darro

..
The Carrera del Darro is a picturesque street that runs from the Plaza Santa Ana to the Paseo de los Tristes. 
It is presumably called the Carrera del Darro because the River Darro runs alongside. 
In Roman times the river was called aurus meaning ‘River of Gold’ – in those days panners made meager living searching for the precious mineral in the riverbed. 
Several name changes later it became the Río Darro.
Robert Bovington

Granada Alhambra – Torre de la Vela

view from the Plaza Santa Ana © Robert Bovington
 
 .
The tower in this photo is the Torre de la Vela. The bell was used by the Arabs to announce disasters. From this privileged position a vast expanse of territory could be seen including the Vega of Granada. 
 
The tower was, therefore, critical for defence and surveillance. 
Later, the Christians used the bell to strike the hours and to announce the time that farmers could irrigate their fields. 
The Spanish flag was placed on the tower on January 2, 1492 at 3 pm.

Paseo de los Tristes ( “walk of sorrows” )

Granada - paseo de los Tristes © Robert Bovington

.
Paseo de los Tristes translates as “walk of sorrows” – before the motor car, the inhabitants of Granada carried their dead along this road and up the Alhambra hill to the cemetery.

Mar Menor

La Manga_Cala del Pino © Robert Bovington

.
The Mar Menor is a vast salt-water lagoon that is sheltered from the Mediterranean by a 14-mile finger of land. Unfortunately, high-rise resorts have sprouted up along this sandy strip of coast. One of them, La Manga, has become one of the most important resort areas in the Costa Cálida.

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

El Palmeral - the palm grove of Elche

Iberians, Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Visigoths and Moors have in turn, invaded the Land of Valencia and nowhere in this region are the legacies left by these ‘guests’ more evident than in Elche.
The most visible memento is the palm trees that were planted by the Moors. Elche is simply inundated with them! Over 200,000 palm trees surround the city making it more like a forest than an urban landscape. The Moors formally laid out the ‘Palmeral of Elche’ in the 10th century. They installed elaborate irrigation systems and these are still functioning today as are the agricultural practices developed by these enterprising people. 
Elche is a World Heritage site because the palm forest is so impressive and important…. 
(extract from “Spanish Matters (chap 3 – El Huerto de Cura)”
Other blogs by Robert Bovington:
.
“Photographs of Spain”
“Spanish Impressions”
“you couldn’t make it up!”
“a grumpy old man in Spain”
“bits and bobs”
“Spanish Expressions”
“Spanish Art”
“Books About Spain”

Mijas – La Muralla

Mijas - La Muralla © Robert Bovington

.
A favourite spot of mine is ‘La Muralla’ – a park with balconies from where one can view the coast below. It is a quiet oasis away from the bustle of tourists, yet is only a few minutes walk from the centre – just up past the Plaza de Toros.

Monday, 28 November 2016

Ronda – view from the Alameda Gardens

Ronda - view from the Alameda Gardens © Robert Bovington

.
The views from the Alameda Gardens are breathtaking. The gardens were built at the beginning of the nineteenth century and financed, as the story goes, by fines levied on townspeople found to be behaving improperly. My wicked sense of humour makes me wonder in what way the inhabitants  were behaving in an improper manner. Were they peeing into the gorge? It takes me back to my early schooldays when we would see who could aim the highest!
Other blogs by Robert Bovington:

“Photographs of Spain”
“Spanish Impressions”
“you couldn’t make it up!”
“a grumpy old man in Spain”
“bits and bobs”
“Spanish Expressions”
“Spanish Art”
“Books About Spain”

Pueblo Blancos of the Alpujarras

 
Mairena (a village in the Alpujarras) © Robert Bovington
It is not just the flora and fauna that make the Alpujarras such a special place. The white villages, with their peculiar architecture that resembles that of northern Africa, are charming. The houses are built with stone, adobe and clay and their facades whitewashed. A typical feature of the houses is their flat roofs, many of them crammed with flowers. The stone-paved streets are often very narrow, winding and steep which add to the enchantment of the villages. Some of them appear to cling perilously to the sides of the mountainsides when viewed from a distance, but of course, most have survived for many hundreds of years since the Moorish times of Al-Andalus.
 .
 Other blogs by Robert Bovington:
.
“Photographs of Spain”
“Spanish Impressions”
“you couldn’t make it up!”
“a grumpy old man in Spain”
“bits and bobs”
“Spanish Expressions”
“Spanish Art”
“Books About Spain”

Mecina Bombaron (Alpujarra Granada)

Mecina Bombaron (Alpujarra Granada)
 
.
This area of the Alpujarras is particularly delightful located as it is on the wooded slopes of the Sierra Nevada. A recent census revealed that 2100 different types of plant exist in the Sierra Nevada National Park. Chestnut trees, in particular, are abundant here and the local architecture incorporates chestnut beams. The houses of Mecina-Bombarón are set amidst forests of chestnut. 
 .
Other blogs by Robert Bovington:
 .
“Photographs of Spain”
“Spanish Impressions”
“you couldn’t make it up!”
“a grumpy old man in Spain”
“bits and bobs”
“Spanish Expressions”
“Spanish Art”
“Books About Spain”

Trevélez hams

one of the drying sheds in Trevélez © Robert Bovington


Trevélez is famous for its ham and thousands of pigs’ legs are hung in drying sheds to produce large hams up to 10kg in weight. The dry and cold climate of the area is perfect for the production of Jamón Serrano. Trevélez is on the same slope as Mulhacén, which with a height of 3481 metres is the highest mountain in mainland Spain.
.
 Other blogs by Robert Bovington: 

“Photographs of Spain”
“Spanish Impressions”
“you couldn’t make it up!”
“a grumpy old man in Spain”
“bits and bobs”
“Spanish Expressions”
“Spanish Art”
“Books About Spain”

Cabo de Gata Natural Park – flora & fauna

Cabo de Gata - Las Salinas © Robert Bovington

.
The Cabo de Gata natural park is really rather splendid. It is one of my favourite areas in the province of Almería.
High temperatures and the lowest rainfall in the Iberian Peninsula have created a large semi-desert area but, despite its aridity, it is a nature lover’s delight. There are thousands of different species there including the pink flamingo and the rare Italian wall lizard. There are storks, cormorants and kestrels, puffins, oystercatchers and eagles.
The extraordinary wealth of wildlife is unbelievable. There are many native species that are unique to the park including the pink snapdragon (antirrhinum charidemi), known locally as the dragoncillo del Cabo, which flowers all year round. Dwarf fan palms are to be found here. They are Europe’s only native palms.
In the sea, there are grouper, bream, squid and prawn. There are also 260 species of seaweed, which are home to many varieties of crustacean, mollusc and fish
.
Other blogs by Robert Bovington:
“Photographs of Spain”
“Spanish Impressions”
“you couldn’t make it up!”
“a grumpy old man in Spain”
“bits and bobs”
“Spanish Expressions”
“Spanish Art”
“Books About Spain”

Almeria Cathedral

Almería cathedral © Robert Bovington
 
.
The ‘Cathedral’ is one of the major attractions in Almería. It was designed as a place of prayer and of war, when it was built in the sixteenth century. This was because the shores of Almería were continually under attack from Turks and Berbers and so it was designed as a place of refuge as well as worship. It was built in a Gothic style with a Renaissance façade.
.
“Photographs of Spain”
“Spanish Impressions”
“you couldn’t make it up!”
“a grumpy old man in Spain”
“bits and bobs”
“Spanish Expressions”
“Spanish Art”
“Books About Spain”

The Walls of Ávila

 
 
Las Murallas de Ávila © Robert Bovington
.
 
Las Murallas – the walls – are magnificent and encompass the whole of ancient Ávila. Building started at the end of 11th century and they are 2.5 kilometres long, 14 metres high and around 3 metres thick. They are still in pretty good nick. Alfonso VI ordered their construction after his conquest of Avila in 1090. Moorish prisoners were allegedly employed to build the wall. 
 .
Other blogs by Robert Bovington:
 .
“Photographs of Spain”
“Spanish Impressions”
“you couldn’t make it up!”
“a grumpy old man in Spain”
“bits and bobs”
“Spanish Expressions”
“Spanish Art”
“Books About Spain”

Alcaiceria of Granada (Street of Arab Shops)

Located next to the Cathedral, the Alcaiceria is a maze of narrow alleyways with a distinct Moorish feel. It was formerly the Moorish silk market.

Alcaiceria © Robert Bovington

Friday, 25 November 2016

Alcázar de Molina de Áragon

Alcázar de Molina de Aragón © Robert Bovington
 .
The Alcázar de Molina de Aragón is a castle in Molina de Aragón. The town is not in the Aragón region, however, but in Castile-La Mancha in the province of Guadalajara. El Cid once resided here and in 1129 it was conquered from the Moors by Alfonso I of Aragón. Presumably that's why the town is so named.
 .
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"

Almería - port

puerto de Almería © Robert Bovington
.
I like Almería. I like its mix of old and new. It is essentially a Spanish city with a North African flavour. It is one of the most ancient cities of Andalucía. Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Greeks and Romans have all left their mark, but it was the Moors that really put Almería on the map! The Romans called it 'Portus Magnus', but later it was called al-Mariyah, meaning 'Mirror of the Sea'.
.
Other blogs by Robert Bovington:
 .
"Photographs of Spain"
"Spanish Impressions"
"you couldn't make it up!"
"a grumpy old man in Spain"
"bits and bobs"
"Spanish Expressions"
"Spanish Art"
"Books About Spain"

Albacete Catedral de San Juan Bautista

Albacete has a pretty good cathedral - the Cathedral of San Juan Bautista is one of those Spanish monuments that took ages to construct - over 400 years! Because of the amount of time it took to build, the Cathedral is a cornucopia of architectural styles. Construction started early in the 16th century in Gothic style but four great Renaissance columns were incorporated as well as a number of Baroque elements, together with a Neogothic main front. The tower of the Cathedral was completed in the 20th century. 
.
Albacete Catedral de San Juan Bautista - photo: public domain (by Zarateman)

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

Algeciras

Algeciras is a coastal town in Cádiz province. It is not the sort of place to linger unless you like industrial towns - and Arab things like mosques and mint tea!
I have been there twice. The first time was to catch a boat to Morocco so all I saw was the quayside. The second occasion I did see more of the town but found it rather drab.
It does have an attractive central square - Plaza Alta. Tiles, depicting scenes from Don Quixote, adorn the benches and walls surrounding the central fountain and cafes and bars line the perimeter of this delightful square.
.

Plaza Alta Algeciras
 .
Other blogs by Robert Bovington:
.  
"Photographs of Spain"
"Spanish Impressions"
"you couldn't make it up!"
"a grumpy old man in Spain"
"bits and bobs"
"Spanish Expressions"
"Spanish Art"
"Books About Spain"

El Nacimiento


 .
About 1 kilometre north of Laujar is 'El Nacimiento' - a delightful area of waterfalls, picnic areas and places to walk. My wife and I usually go there in Spring and Autumn on weekdays and, mostly, we have the place to ourselves. It is a haven of peace and tranquillity. Nacimiento means 'birth' and it is here that the Río Andarax starts its journey to the sea near Almería.
 .
more blogs by Robert Bovington...
 . 
"Spanish Impressions"
"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"