Andalusia, a trip to Córdoba, Sevilla, Malága and Granada from 27 August until 24 September 2022

Andalusia

With our friends Ruth and Jozef we left Zoetermeer on Saturday 27 August by car, with 6 bags, 3 backpacks, a photo slingbag, a coolbox, a walking stick and a ukulele to Andalusia. After 3 days and about  2.300 km, we arrived on Tuesday 30 August in Córdoba, our first stop in Andalusia. On the way we had stops in Tours (France), Barakaldo and Robledo de Chavela (Spain).

Andalusia is famous for the medieval Islamic state which covered most of Iberia, cathedrals and fortresses with Moorish influences like Alcazabas and Alhambra, but also beautiful nature like in Ronda and the Sierra Nevada. And of course the flamenco dances, delicious wines and tapas. It is our first time to Andalusia and these are the ingredients which made this trip fantastic and worthwhile to remember for a long time. The focus of our trip: Córdoba, Sevilla, Málaga and Granada, and we finished in Murcia to relax some days at Jos’.

The food in Andalusia needs certainly to be mentioned, delicious, and more variation than expected. So, with some pictures you will get a better idea of tapas and the Spanish food. Sometimes the tapas are small, sometimes free with a glass of beer or wine, and sometimes the size of the tapas, despite ordering the small portion, is a big surprise.
Jamon Iberico, Patatas Bravas, Patatas con aioli, Calamares fritos, Tortellitas bacalao, Boquerones en vinagre, Rabo de toro,
entrecôte de ternera iberico, cuchifrito de lechon and the refreshing wine Tinto de Verano.  

click on the pictures for Andalusian food

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Córdoba

Córdoba is the capital of the province of Córdoba and once was a Roman settlement. We reached our apartment in Córdoba on Tuesday 30 August and left after 5 days for our next stop, Sevilla.
In the 8th century Córdoba was conquered by the Muslims and became the capital of the Umayyad Caliphate of Córdoba. During this period the city was transformed into a world leading center of education and learning. By the 10th century it had grown to be the second-largest city in Europe. Following the Christian conquest in 1236, it became part of the Crown of Castille.
Córdoba is known for beautiful Moorish architecture like the Mezquita-Catedral and Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos, both from the 8th century, and the Roman bridge from the 1st century across the Guadalquivir river.

The Roman bridge of Córdoba is a bridge in the historic centre of Córdoba, Andalusia, southern Spain, originally built in the early 1st century BC, though it has been reconstructed at various times since. It is also known locally as the Old Bridge as for 2000 years and until the construction of the San Rafael Bridge in the 20th century, it was the city's only bridge across the river. Most of the present structure dates from the Arab reconstruction in the 8th century. At the city-side of the bridge we see the Puerta del Puente, with the Triunfo de San Rafael, and at the other side the tower, Torre de la Calahorra, built in 1369 under Hendrik II.

The most exciting part of Córdoba is the Mezquita or Mezquita-Catedral, the former mosque of the Western Islam. The oldest parts were already built in the period from 756 to 788. However, there was already another building on this location before that, a Visigothic church. Until 711 the region in and around Córdoba was mainly Christian. From 711 it was the Moors who conquered this area and left their mark on the architecture and culture. After the Christian Reconquista in 1236 not much changed with the building. Only in the 16th century the Mosque was (partly) transferred into a Catholic church within the Mosque, and from the original more than 1200 pillars only 860 remain. Still the Mezquita is very impressive and beautiful, with the Mihrâb Nuevo, the Capilla del Cardenal and the Arcades. The beautiful prayer house is hidden between the characteristic columns and was added by the then Moorish leader Edh al Rahman II. In addition to the beautiful decorations the impressive dome that decorates the highest point of the prayer house, is amazing.
We went to the top of the characteristic bell tower, also a typical example of the fact that several religions used the same complex over the centuries. The bell tower, Campanario, was in fact a minaret during the Moorish period and was changed into a bell tower in 1599. Besides being a beautiful old construction where you can clearly see the bells, it is situated on a beautiful square with many orange trees.

The Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos, close to the Mezquita-Catedral, built in the 13th and 14th century, was the fortress of the Catholic kings and queens. A fortress with many towers and thick walls. Here King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Castile received Christopher Columbus in 1486. A statue which reminds of that moment is placed in the beautiful garden of the Alcázar.

We visited the historical Jewish quarters, with some nice small streets, quiet squares, hidden courtyards and many antique, art  and souvenir shops. The Calleja de las Flores is the most atmospheric street of Córdoba and lies in the shadow of the Córdoba Mosque. Calleja de las Flores, street of the flowers, is a side street of the more famous street, Velázquez Bosco, and leads to a small square with an old fountain. Many flowers on the walls and in front of the windows give this street its own character. The synagogue, Zozo, Casa Andalusi and Casa Alchemisti, and finally Puerta Almodóvar, the Plaza de las Tendillas and surroundings for wine, beer and tapas (some just for € 0,99 each) completed our visit to Córdoba.

Outside Córdoba, about 10 km from the center, is the open-air museum Medina Azahara, or Madinat al-Zahra (“shining city”), a representative political and administrative capital, built under Abd al-Rahman III between 936 and 960, at the foot of the Sierra Morena. The city was destroyed by Berbers in 1010, but in the 20th century the excavations began. The Hall of Abd al-Rahman III, or the Hall of Envoys, is the most beautiful building of the ruins. The front with 5 arches in the form of a horseshoe with marble pillars and behind more arches and decorated flower and bird reliefs on the walls, are impressive. The surrounding gardens of the Medina Azahara (1500 x 750 m.) had an extensive canal system with water basins for the maintenance of the exotic plants. We entered the capital through the North gate near the guardhouse, the Trapezoidal.

For more information about Córdoba: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Córdoba, Spain

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Sevilla

Sevilla, is the capital city of the autonomous province Andalusia and is the most important city of southern Spain in terms of culture, politics, economy and art.
On the way to Seville on the 4th of September, we had a first stop at
Castillio de Almodóvar, on a hill near the town of Almodóvar del Rio. It turns out to have been one of the locations (Highgarden, the Tyrell’s house) for the Game of Thrones series, and it is indeed a medieval castle as you imagine it. Excitedly we explore every nook and cranny, the exhibition of swords and other weaponry, documents, and banners. The castle previously was a Roman fort, but the current structure is of Moorish origin, from 760. During the Middle Ages, it underwent several renovations and reconstructions and the castle was restored between 1901 and 1936.

After the castle we went to Carmona, where we saw beautifully dressed horse riders parade through the city, and several typically Spanish dressed women. We walked from Puerta de Sevilla to Puerta de Córdoba, and we enjoyed the view of the old churches, some still in Moorish style.

Finally we arrived late in the afternoon at our apartment in Sevilla to stay for 5 days. The apartment is close to the center with the highlights, the Catedral de Santa Maria de la Sede and Real Alcázar.

Our first sight-seeing is Plaza de España in the Parque de María Luisa. It was built in 1928 for the Ibero-American Exposition of 1929. Several buildings built under regionalism Architecture, mixing elements of the Baroque, Renaissance and Moorish Revival (Neo-Mudéjar) styles of Spanish architecture. On the square are 52 benches with Andalusian tiles representing all Spanish provinces. At the park were many families and horse-carriages, and we were surprised with a flamenco dance. At the end of our visit we made a bicycle trip with a, rather small, 4-person cyclo.

The Catedral de Santa Maria de la Sede is a large Gothic cathedral in the Spanish city of Sevilla and the main church of the Archdiocese of Sevilla. The cathedral is built in the form of a five-aisled cruciform church with chapels and is 127 meters long, 83 meters wide and 43 meters high inside. This makes it the largest church building in Europe after St Peter's Basilica in Rome and St Paul's Cathedral in London, and also the largest Gothic church building in the world. The cathedral of the Archdiocese of Seville was built on the site of a Moorish Almohad mosque. This mosque was captured from the Moors in 1248 and used as a cathedral. In the 13th century, this mosque was demolished except for the 'Patio de los Naranjos' (the orange garden) and the Giralda tower. The construction of the cathedral began in 1403 and the cathedral was finally consecrated in 1507.
The cathedral has one of the richest artistic treasures preserved in ecclesiastical spheres, which includes the choir stalls of the main altar,
Capilla Mayor, the royal chapel, with the gold decorated Altar Mayor, Capilla Real with the tomb of the conqueror of Sevilla, Ferdinand III, and the portrait of Virgin de los Reyes (13th century). In the cathedral the suspected grave of Christopher Columbus, who died in 1506, is a highlight. The plate with inscription, the bearers of Granada and especially the one with the bat dress, are marvelous.
The Puerta del Bautismo (Portal of the Baptism) and the Puerta del Nacimiento (Portal of the Rebirth) are the eye-catchers and are richly decorated. They represent the birth and baptism of Jesus; city saints of Seville are depicted in the side panels. The monumental stalls in the choir of the main chapel consist of one hundred and seventeen seats, high and low, made between 1464 and 1479; reformed in 1511, and had an important restoration at the end of the 19th century. The backs of the high seats are panels of Mudejar lacework, and on the bottom there are reliefs from the Old and New Testaments. The iconography is completed by an extensive program of prophets, apostles and saints located in the narrow streets and the upper part of the canopy, together with the allegorical motifs of mercies.
The monumental lectern in the choir is a Renaissance work in wood and bronze, dated between 1549 and 1599.

The Giralda tower (originally a minaret, built between 1184 and 1196) is the almost 94 meter high bell tower of the cathedral, and the hallmark of the city of Sevilla. The top is crowned by a bronze statue of Giraldillo. The way to the top is a slightly rising platform of ± 2.5 m wide, so that previously 2 horse riders could ride up side by side. The highest accessible point is the viewing gallery at a height of 70 m, and of course we have been there.

On Wednesday 7 September we visited the Real Alcázar. Originally the fortress of the Moorish rulers stood on this place. After the capture of Seville by Ferdinand III, the Christian kings took up residence here. From the Patio del Léon we enter the Patio de la Monteria. In one of the rooms, Cuarto del Almirante, Isabella the Catholic negotiated with Columbus the contract for the voyage of discovery of America. The centerpiece of the Alcázar is the Patio de las Doncellas, built between 1369 and 1379 with opulent zigzag arches and open-work walls, resting on marble columns. Other beautiful rooms are Salón de Carlos V and Salón de los Embajadores, a 2-storey hall covered with a beautiful cedar dome.
Many Moorish influences, shapes and colors of plants, caves and water features, can still be found in the gardens of the Alcázar, where we saw the old bath complex and the large ornamental basin with a bronze Mercury and the Galeria de los Grotescos.

Our last trip in Sevilla brought us by surprise at the Setas de Sevilla or the 'Mushrooms of Seville', a new highlight in Sevilla. A special wooden construction from 2011 with a panoramic terrace, a walking path with a beautiful view on the city, to protect an archaeological museum with Roman excavations, with beautiful mosaics and tiles.
In the Setas a nice 5D promotion movie with special effects is shown about Sevilla.

For more information about Sevilla: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sevilla

click on the picture for Sevilla

Ronda

It is Friday 9 September and we are on our way to Málaga, but first we had a stop in Ronda, 50 km inland from the Costa del Sol and 105 km from Málaga, and one of the most beautiful cities in Andalusia. The city is located in a mountainous area at an altitude of 750 m., and is split in two by the river Guadalevín, which has left a deep gorge. This deep gorge, the Tajo de Ronda, is what Ronda has become famous for.
We passed the Plaza de Toros, Ronda's bullring, which is the oldest stone bullring in Spain still standing. In front of the building there is a statue of the famous Ronda-born torero Pedro Romero. The arena for 5000 people was built between 1779 and 1785. Nowadays, only a few bullfights are organized each year during the festival week in September, so we just missed it or we were too early. In the Plaza de Toros is a museum, Museo Taurino. Originally the Plaza de Toros was the Real Maestranza de Caballería, the location of the oldest, 16th century, and most noble order of horsemanship, where horses were trained for the military. 
There are 3 bridges over the El Tago gorge: the Puente Romano, the Puente Viejo ('old bridge') and the most famous, the Puente Nuevo ('new bridge'). This impressive bridge of 120 meters high was built between 1751 and 1793 and is now the landmark of Ronda. The Puente Nuevo connects the old (Moorish) center with the newer El Mercadillo.
During our walk through the city we passed several beautiful views, every few meters a nice different view at the bridge, the gorge, 100 m deep and 50 m long, and the landscape surrounding of Ronda.
 

For more information about Ronda: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ronda

Click on the picture for Ronda

Málaga

We reached Málaga late in the afternoon. Our host was waiting for us with the keys of the apartment, again close to the center. Every apartment so far had a private parking place, some small, some even smaller. But after parking we had no need for the car so far. Walking from the apartments to the highlights of the visited cities was OK, between 15 and 30 minutes. Again we stayed for 5 days to visit the Alcazaba, the Gibralfaro fortress, the Málaga Catedral and the Jardín Botánico de Málaga.

The Alcazaba Málaga is the former Moorish fortress that is located on the slope of the Gibralfaro mountain. Alcazaba is derived from the Arabic word for citadel "al-qasbah", and throughout the walled fortress you will find numerous Arabic characters, decorations, mosaics and arches. The fortress was built during the Hammudid dynasty. The foundations of the fortress were laid in the 9th century In the 11th century it was further expanded as part of the fortress walls around Málaga. In the Alcazaba there are also Roman influences to be seen in some columns. Parts come from the demolition of the nearby Teatro Romano. The Roman theater dates back to the last century BC and was discovered by chance in 1951 during excavations of the building of La Casa de la Cultura (municipal archives and library). Of the Alcazaba we only saw the entrance. We had some difficulties with pickpockets (“your bag is open”), so SATE-time (The Emergency Tourist Assitance Service), stress and time… Too bad.

The Castillo de Gibralfaro is the castle and fortress located on the 130 meter high Gibralfaro mountain in Málaga. The castle is located above the palaces and fortress of the Alcazaba, and on the east side is a steep walking path that connects both fortresses. The castle was built in the 14th and 15th centuries by order of the Moorish Sultan Yusuf I of Granada. The main purpose of the castle was to defend the Alcazaba as a fortress. The word Gibralfaro comes from the Phoenician word gebel-faro, meaning lighthouse-rock. Probably it was used as a fire beacon to steer ship traffic. After the Reconquista in 1487 the fortress was taken over and partly destroyed by the Christians, but the former palaces of the Moorish government and the Moorish palace 'Palacio Nazari' still remain.
A specialty of the Moors was also the construction of irrigation systems, which still can be found in the ponds and gardens. From the gardens and ramparts of the fortress there is a fantastic view over the historic city, the port of Málaga with the Muello Uno promenade and the mountains of Montes de Málaga.

Monday 12 September. The Málaga Catedral is one of the most notable landmarks of Málaga and is located on the square "Plaza del Obispo" where the tower of the cathedral stands out from all sides of the city. The full name of the cathedral is 'La Santa Iglesia Catedral Basilica de la Encarnación'. In 1528 people started to build the cathedral, the building of which lasted for more than 200 years. The cathedral was built on the foundation of an old mosque from the 8th century, and the construction process was frequently interrupted by lack of funds. The left tower of 84 meters is complete, but the right tower is still only half finished. The cathedral therefore is popularly called "La manquita", 'one-armed lady'. The long construction process has also ensured that the cathedral has a wide variety of architectural styles. The base of the church is in Gothic style, the decorative elements of the facade are in Baroque style, and the temple doors are in Renaissance style. The highlights are the many chapels, the entirely carved 17th century choir and the organs with more than 4000 pipes. The tour to the roof of the Málaga Catedral and the view from the roof towards the Gibralfaro, the harbor and the city, are fantastic.

The next day we visited Jardín Botánico de Málaga, one of the larger botanical gardens in Europe. This garden has a wide variety of trees, flowers and plants from all over the world and covers an area of over 23 hectares. The garden is located about 5 km to the north?, so we went by bus, assuming that the bus-stop was close to the garden.
But it was not, so after a long walk we had to relax for some time before walking through the garden. In the garden we noticed the ripe? form of the pomegranate (in Spanish: Granada) and the overripe? form, the “grinning pomegranate”, which is used on many decorations in Andalusia. By the way, on our arrival to the garden we noticed a shuttlebus to ánd from the center.

For more information about Málaga: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Málaga

Click on the picture for Málaga

Granada, Alhama de Granada

It is Wednesday 14 September and today our trip lead to Granada, what would become the number 1 of our Andalusia trip, with the amazing Alhambra, the beauty of which cannot be described by pictures, but we give it a try.

We had a lunch in Alhama de Granada where the Alhama or Red Castle, built on an ancient Arabian citadel was our goal. The castle is made of irregular stones and was rebuilt in the early part of last century. Unfortunately it is being reconstructed to become a hotel and was not open for tourists.
The town is located on top of a huge rocky spur, and is surrounded by a deep pass where the river Alhama flows. This offers magnificent views, with or without the Patio and Iglesia del Carmen church.
During Islamic rule, the town was named Al-hama ("The Bath") due to the appraised curative properties of the thermal waters. Today, it is one of the most prestigious medicinal spa facilities in Spain, which could be a nice stop the next time.

Click on the picture for Alhama de Granada

Granada

We arrived early in the afternoon in our apartment in Granada, close to the highlights of the city, Alhambra and Cathedral, and close to a small square, Plaza Campo del Principe, with some restaurants and bars. The apartment is just 15 minutes walking from the Alhambra, but the road to the Alhambra is very steep and heavy to walk. Happily the bus-stop was very near and this saved us the energy we needed for the sightseeing.

The next day we first bought with identification our discount-tickets (pensionistas) for the day after at the Alhambra and of course we went by bus, standard € 1.60 per person.
Then we walked along the southern wall to Puerta de Carros to see the public part of the Alhambra: Torre de Justicia, Charles V Palace with the impressive Alhambra Museum, the entrance to the Alcazaba and the Nasrid Palace, Parador and the entrance from the cypress avenue, the excavations of the Palacio Abencerrajas. Then we walked down to the Puerta de Granada, passing Pilar Carlos V and the fountain of grinning pomegranates, and the coat of arms of the Habsburgs.

On Friday we went to the Alhambra, again by bus. This day is reserved for only 3 things, the palaces of the Nasrids, then the Alcazaba and finally Generalife. There is so much to see and there are so many impressions, so much beauty, well preserved, and the compound is so huge. After several hours we were exhausted and ready to fall asleep, but first food and drinks.

The Alhambra (original Kala al-Hamra, or Red Palace) is a medieval palace and fortress of the Moorish rulers of the Kingdom of Granada. The complex was begun in 1238 by Muhammad I Ibn al-Ahmar, the first Nasrid emir and founder of the Emirate of Granada, the last Muslim state of Al-Andalus, and was built on the Sabika hill, an outcrop of the Sierra Nevada. The Nasrid was the last Muslim dynasty in the Iberian Peninsula, ruling the Emirate of Granada from 1230 until 1492. Twenty-three emirs ruled Granada from the founding of the dynasty in 1230 by Muhammad I until 2 January 1492, when Muhammad XII surrendered all lands to Queen Isabella I of Castile. Nasrid rulers continuously modified the site. The most significant construction campaigns, which gave the royal palaces much of their definitive character, took place in the 14th century during the reigns of Yusuf I and Muhammad V. The entire complex covers an enormous area of 140,000 m² and includes palaces, walls and gardens. The grandson of Ferdinand and Isabella, emperor Charles V, after his visit to Granada in 1526, ordered the construction of a Renaissance palace in the middle of the Alhambra, for which part of the Alhambra was demolished.

The most interesting attraction of the complex is Los Palacios Nazaríes, Palaces of the Nasrids. The royal palace complex consists of three main parts, from west to east: Mexuar, Comares Palace, and Patio de los Leones. Collectively, these palaces are also known as the Casa Real Vieja (Old Royal Palace), to distinguish them from the newer palaces erected next to them during the Christian Spanish period.
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Mexuar is probably the oldest of all the Royal Chambers and served as the entrance wing of the Comares Palace, the official palace of the sultan and the state, and housed various administrative functions. In the back the beautiful prayer room with the Mihrab is situated ,consisting of a highly decorated wall with 4 “ajimaces” (double arch windows) with marble pillars and alabaster capitals. Above the entrance we see tiles with the imperial coat of arms of the Habsburgs and at the bottom of all walls tiles with decorations from the 16th century, “alicatado-ceramic”.
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Comares Palace forms the center of the Alhambra with its 45 m high Comares tower. The Fachada de Comares, Comares Façade, is the entrance to the Salón del Trono and Salón de Embajadores and dates from the time of Muhammad V. It is one of the most heavily-decorated walls in the Alhambra. The Diwan or Serail (Royal Palace), the courtyard with the long myrtle hedges, Patio de los Arrayanes (Court of the Myrtles), was the center of diplomatic and political activity, the place where the various dignitaries were received and/or had to wait for the audience. The Salón de los Embajadores is very beautiful with its dome of cedar wood (consisting of 8017 pieces of cedar wood ingeniously put together around a rosette in the center of the dome), tiles and ornaments with many floral shapes and geometric patterns and Quranic verses.
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Patio de los Leones (Patio of the Lions) is the most famous place of the Alhambra. It is so called because of the twelve lions that throw jets of water, and which are part of the fountain in the middle of the patio, built by order of Mohammed V. The patio is surrounded by a gallery in the style of a Christian cloister, different from the typical Muslim Andalusian patio style. The gallery is supported by 124 white marble columns with fine shafts, which are decorated on the exterior side with many rings, and which support cubic capitals and big abacuses, decorated with inscriptions and stylized vegetal forms. At the middle of each of the two longer sides of the patio arches lead to the Hall of the Abencerrajes (Sala de los Abencerrajes) and the Sala de Dos Hermanas (Hall of the Two Sisters), the chambers where the sultan's wives and children lived.
The Sala de los Reyes (Hall of Kings) is at the East side of the patio and is divided in 7 parts, 3 square rooms, separated by 2  rectangular sections and 2 bedchambers at the end of them. The center room was probably the room of the sultan, with a perfect view on the courtyard where the pillars resemble palm trees, and the fountain. The paintings, dated end of the 14th, beginning of the 15th century, were made on lambskin, applied to the three ellipse-shaped wooden domes support, using the paste technique and bamboo nails. The middle painting represents the first ten kings of the Nasrid dynasty, red bearded to make them more imposing. The dresses are ceremonial, as are the swords they carry, the belts and the characteristic Nasrid turban. The other paintings show hunting scenes and romantic scenes; they possibly tell legends or adventures of the Muslim kings and probably correspond to the reigns of Mohammed VII (1395-1410) or Yusuf III (1410-1424).

At the end of the visit to the Palaces of the Nasrids, a look into the Patio de la Reja and Patio de Lindaraja with the fountain and a small view at the Royal baths, Baño. It seems that this baths were mainly used to discuss politic matters in a relaxing surrounding. Finally, just before lunchtime in restaurant America, we came to the Partal Palace, originally built in the early 14th century by the Nasrid ruler Muhammad III, making it the oldest surviving palatial structure in the Alhambra. The Torre de las Damas (Tower of the ladies) is probably used as watchtower and has a beautiful view over the Albalcin, and the gardens of the Generalife.

The Palace of Charles V (Charles I from Spain) was built from 1526,has an open circular courtyard with a diameter of 30 m and is surrounded by a colonnade of 2 floors. On the ground floor the museum of the Alhambra is situated, with the famous 1.30 m high Alhambra-vase from 1320.

The Alcazaba is the oldest part of the complex and used to be a military fortress, a citadel, built from the year 1238 on. It was the centerpiece of the complicated system of fortifications that protected the area. Its tallest tower, the 26 m high Torre del Homenaje ('Tower of Homage'), was the military command post of the complex. Next to it there is the entrance through the Torre Quebrada. The Alcazaba may have also been the first residence of Ibn al-Ahmar inside the Alhambra while the complex was being constructed. The westernmost tower, the 25 m high Torre de la Vela, acted as a watch tower. In 1843 the tower became part of the city's coat of arms. Inside the enclosure of the inner fortress was a residential district that housed the elite guards of the Alhambra. It contained urban amenities like a communal kitchen, a hammam and a water supply cistern, as well as multiple subterranean chambers which served as dungeons and silos.

The Generalife of Alhambra, the beautiful old garden around the Alhambra complex is also recommended. In this area you will find all kinds of terraced gardens, ponds with fountains and beautiful shrubs. The highlight in this garden are the many rose bushes and the old Summer palace (14th century) of the Sultans, The Patio de la Acequia. Dominating the Patio is the water channels in the center that runs its length: they look like two long ponds with a fountain at each end. The palace is divided in a North (Kings chambers) and South (wives and family of the Sultan) Pavilion. The West Porticoed Pavilions were originally closed by means of a high wall with a continuous overhang in the Nasrid period. In the center there was an arch that lead to a viewpoint with three windows on the sides. The central viewpoint must have been the only original opening of the Patio to the outside. The East pavilions finally. The Generalife has some beautiful viewpoints with a view on the Alcazaba and the Palaces.

For more information about Granada: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alhambra

Click on the picture for the Alhambra

On Saturday 17 September we visited the Capilla Real of Granada, the Catedral and Real Monasterio de San Jerónimo.

The Capilla Real de Granada, Royal Chapel of Granada, was built between 1505 (one year after the death of Queen Isabella) and 1517 and was originally integrated in the Granada Catedral. The Gothic-style Chapel houses, among others, the mortal remains of King Fernando II of Aragón and Queen Isabella I of Castile, the Catholic monarchs who united Granada and Castile. Above the crypt their beautiful royal mausoleums and those of Queen Joanna (“the Mad”) and Philip I (“the Handsome”) of Castile: very impressive pieces of marble art. The main altarpiece and the collection in the SacristyMuseum, with the legacy of the Catholic Monarchs are the other highlights of the Royal Chapel. A gallery with paintings of the Flemish, Italian and Spanish schools: Juan de Flandes, Hans Memling and other 15th century painters like Rogier van der Weyden, Dierck Bouts, and Jan Provoost, collected by Queen Isabella. Also the crown and the scepter of the Catholic monarchs, tissues?? and books are in the collection. Unfortunately, it was not allowed to make pictures in the chapel.

Next to visit is the Catedral Santa María de la Encarnación. The Cathedral is the main church of the Archdiocese of Granada and is a very large church building, mainly from the Renaissance period. The Cathedral is impressive, highly decorated and huge, 115 meters long and 67 meters wide, and is dedicated to the Virgin of the Incarnation. After it was reconquered by the Christians in 1492, Granada became the seat of an archbishop, and in 1501, the Catholic royal couple decided to build a new, large cathedral on the site of the city's main mosque. A burial chapel for the kings in the Cathedral was an important requirement. Originally the entrance to the Royal Chapel was planned in the Cathedral, but now the chapel has its own entrance.
The round choir in pure Renaissance style is architecturally the most important and original part of the cathedral. The Capilla Mayor, the cupola, is the most important part of the cathedral. Its stained glass windows let in a great amount of light. The structure of the cupola uses the medieval technique of buttressing with traditional buttresses and flying buttresses. The diameter is 22 meters, the height up to the vault is 45 meters. A series of chapels surrounds this presbytery. In the nave, the two large gilded organs from the 18th century are particularly striking. In the main chapel, stained glass windows from the sixteenth century, made in Antwerp, depict scenes from the life and suffering of Jesus.

After lunch we visited the Real Monasterio de San Jerónimo. The monastery was founded originally by Isabella I of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon in Santa Fe, a place outside of Granada.
The amazing, highly decorated Renaissance interior of the monastery church, features coffering, scalloping and sculptures, on the ceiling, walls and pillars. The church was built between 1513 and 1522 and the iconographic program highlights the military and the heroic grandeur of Gonzalo Fernández de Córdoba, the Gran Capitán ("Great Captain"), who is buried in the crossing with his wife, Doña Maria de Manrique.
The monastery is still in use: we hear the nuns singing behind closed doors, and in the refectory the dining benches and tables, and the balcony from where was read aloud during meals, are still used. In the room also a fountain to wash your hands. The oldest tombstone in the procession dates from 1520, when the order was still based in Santa Fe. In the old location there were so many mosquitoes that the monks looked more like lepers than monks, according to the guidebook, so the monastery was relocated to Granada. It is really beautiful, no time to get bored.

For more information about the Cathedral of Granada https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Granada Cathedral
and the Monastery de San Jerónimo:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ Monasterio de San Jerónimo, Granada

Click on the picture for the Cathedral of Granada and Royal Monastery of St. Jerome 

Murcia and Cartagena

It is Monday 19 September and today our trip will lead us to Murcia to visit Jos in El Valle for some days to relax. At least that was the idea, but Jos had different plans with us, so after lunch at the beach at Playa de Los Narejos and the “check-in”, we left for an Italian diner to Murcia, with a first view on the illuminated cathedral of Murcia, the square and the Real Casino.

The next day we went to Cartagena, which has been inhabited for over two millennia, being founded around 227 BC by Hasdrubal the Fair, a Carthaginian military leader and politician. Nowadays Cartagena is a major naval station and a special port for cruise ships and expensive yachts, as we noticed.
The city had its heyday during the Roman Empire, when it was known as Carthago Nova (the New Carthage, to distinguish it from the mother city Carthage, Tunisia) and Carthago Spartaria, capital of the province of Carthaginensis. We visit the old Roman Theatre close to the Cartagena City Hall and the Harbor. The Theater of Cartagena was one of the largest amphitheaters of the Roman Empire and is the 2nd largest in Spain. The oldest part was built in the 1st century BC, remains of which are still visible. At the time the theatre offered space for 11.000 spectators. With the fall of the Roman Empire, this theater also fell into disrepair. In the 19th century a part was demolished for the construction of a bullfighting arena.
The theater complex is very special because of its integration with the later built Santa Maria la Vieja.

We still continue with our sightseeing tour of Andalusia with the city of Murcia. First we visit Santuario Nuestra Señora de la Fuensanta (“holy well”), in Los Alcazares in the hills south of Murcia. The sanctuary is known as the spiritual center of the Murcianos and has a beautiful church. Drop € 1,- in a special box and the light switches on have a better view and to make better pictures. The construction of the church began in 1694 on the remains of an old medieval hermitage. The sanctuary houses the image of the Virgen de la Fuensanta, patron saint of the city of Murcia. For the city festivals the image is transferred to the Cathedral of Murcia, originating pilgrimages.
The doorway of the church is decorated with 2 angels holding the coat of arms of the Murcia cathedral chapter, in the center the figure of the Virgin of Fuensanta and on its sides San Fulgencio and San Patricio (St. Patrick). In the dome and the choir there are wall paintings that deal with the pilgrimages and the coronation of the Virgen de la Fuensanta. There are 10 sculptural reliefs in the side chapels with scenes from the life of the Virgin Mary.
The Holy Fountain with a Renaissance-style front is located below the hillside, the Neo-Arabic style Cabildo house is located on a nearby hill and the monastery of the Benedictine nuns next to the sanctuary.

After a drive through the hills, shortcut and sightseeing tour, we arrive in Murcia. First we do some shopping, traditional Spanish pillows, and after that and the lunch we visit the Iglesia Catedral de Santa María en Murcia (Cathedral Church of Saint Mary), the seat of the Diocese of Cartagena. It is located at the Plaza Cardenal Belluga. The Christian king Jaime I the Conqueror conquered the city during the Mudéjar revolt of 1264–1266. Jaime I took the Great Mosque or Aljamía to consecrate it to the Virgin Mary, but it was not until the 14th century that construction of the cathedral would begin. In 1385 work on the foundations started and the building continued until October 1467. The bell tower, built between 1521 and 1791, is about 95 m. high and is probably the largest in Spain. Today we had no energy to climb the tower, we just visited the cathedral and the museum in the Gothic cloister, tired as we were. The main entrance gate is in Gothic style and is called “Puerta de los Aposteles”, because 4 apostles are depicted on it. In the cathedral there are very beautiful stained glass windows and the altar is said to hold the hearts of the medieval Spanish kings. The most impressive are the 23 chapels, paintings on the wall, Latin inscriptions and the imposing organ.
In the museum various artistic pieces from the religious world that are of great value, historical remains of the ancient mosque or monastery, paintings and altarpieces are exhibited.

For more information about Murcia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Murcia
and about Cartagena
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cartagena, Spain

Click on the picture for Cartagena and Murcia

And with Murcia our trip to Andalusia ended, although Murcia of course is no part of Andalusia. On Thursday 23 September we left for La Jonquera in the North of Spain for the first stop on the way home. In Dijon, in France we had a second stop and on Saturday 25 September we arrived in Zoetermeer after another 2.100 km.
Totally we drove about 5225 km and paid for the petrol only € 480,-, partly because of subsidies from the Spanish government (also for tourists). After all the exertion, the delicious food and drinks and the long journey with many tiring walks, uphill and downhill, some have lost weight and others have gained weight, which is an interesting thing.