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ANDALUSIA, SPAIN

RIOGORDO, FRIGILIANA, COMARES, ALHAMBRA, EL TORCAL, MALAGA, RONDA, SETINEL, SEVILLE, CÓRDOBA

sunny 14 °C

SATURDAY 21 JANUARY - Travel from Rome to Malaga via Madrid

Andalusia is a Spanish region established as an autonomous community. It is the most populated and the second largest in area of the autonomous communities in the country. The Andalusian autonomous community is officially recognised as "historical nationality". The territory is divided into eight provinces: Almería, Cádiz, Córdoba, Granada, Huelva, Jaén, Málaga and Seville. Its capital is the city of Seville.

Andalusia is in the south of the Iberian peninsula, in south-western Europe, immediately south of the autonomous communities of Extremadura and Castilla-La Mancha; west of the autonomous community of Murcia and the Mediterranean Sea; east of Portugal and the Atlantic Ocean; and north of the Mediterranean Sea and the Strait of Gibraltar. Andalusia is the only European region with both Mediterranean and Atlantic coastlines. The small British overseas territory of Gibraltar shares a three-quarter-mile land border with the Andalusian province of Cádiz at the eastern end of the Strait of Gibraltar.

The name "Andalusia" is derived from the Arabic word Al-Andalus. As well as Romani influences, the region's history and culture have been influenced by the earlier Iberians, Carthaginians/Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Vandals, Visigoths, Byzantines, Muslim Moors and as well as the later Castilian and other Christian North Iberian nationalities who conquered and settled the area in the latter phases of the Reconquista. Including an intense relationship with Naples, Italy.

Andalusia has been a traditionally agricultural region, compared to the rest of Spain and the rest of Europe. However, the growth of the community especially in the sectors of industry and services was above average in Spain and higher than many communities in the Eurozone. The region has, however, a rich culture and a strong cultural identity. Many cultural phenomena that are seen internationally as distinctively Spanish are largely or entirely Andalusian in origin. These include flamenco and, to a lesser extent, bullfighting and Hispano-Moorish architectural styles.

SUNDAY 22 JANUARY 2017 - An absolutely fabulous day travelling to Frigiliana, the seaside at El Torres del Mar and to a mountain top town and f Colmares. The weather was perfect - sunny and warm and the landscape was simply stunning. We are staying in the two story townhouse below and are being chauffeured by our hosts, Shane and Jess, of Spanish Detours. This is really living the dream.

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Frigiliana is a labyrinth of zigzagging streets and cobblestone lanes, darkened tunnels, obscure passageways, and inviting cul-de-sacs that often end in pretty courtyards or ornately decorated patios. You will be intrigued at every turn as you weave your way up, along, through, down and around a fascinating maze of limewashed stone and adobe houses.

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One of the most conspicuous historical buildings in Frigiliana and the first one that most visitors see on arrival is the Palace of the Counts of Frigiliana (El Palacio de los Condes de Frigiliana), a Renaissance palace built during the sixteenth century, which was later converted to a sugar mill and which continues to this day in full operation as such. It is the last remaining sugarcane factory still in operation in Europe. Known locally simply as “El Ingenio”, its proper commercial name is The Cane Honey Factory Our Lady Carmen (La Fábrica de Miel de Caña Nuestra Señora del Carmen). The walls of the front façade and other structural elements were built with stones derived from the destroyed Arab castle of Castillo Lízar (Lízar Castle), the Arab fortress that once served as an important defensive structure and refuge for the village folk during times of conflict or attack from opportunistic marauding bands of corsairs coming up from the coast.

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During the 14th and 15th centuries, Frigiliana maintained an important administrative position over numerous other villages and towns in the Axarquía, having had jurisdiction over many much larger towns and villages in the region, even as far away as Periana. Furthermore, it would be neglectful not to mention that, during this time, considered to be its most opulent and prosperous period, Frigiliana held important economic and political status in the region, proving to be a major centre of commerce and trade as a consequence of the esteemed quality of its products in both local and international markets, the productivity of its arable land, and the exploitation of the profuse natural resources of its immediate mountain environment.

Another of the most prominent landmarks in Frigiliana is The Church of San Antonio de Padua (La Iglesia de San Antonio of Padua). The church dates to the sixteenth century and is an architectural statement and religious symbol of celebration of the successful reconquest of Frigiliana from the Moors by the Christians. We had coffee in the little square in front of the church.

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he events of Frigiliana’s past has left an important historical legacy and a fascinating anthropological record during the course of its history. By far, the most extensive and pervasive of these events was the Moorish presence during more than eight centuries (711 – 1569), which certainly had a profound and long-lasting influence on all aspects of life, even to this present day. Frigiliana is also known as the “Village of the Three Cultures”, which refers to the period when Jews, Muslims and Christians co-existed in the village.

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We took a circuitous route down to the coast to have lunch at El Torres del Mar, a Mediterranean Sea side village. Casa Miguel does a barbecued Sea Bream for 10 Euros. Beer is incredibly cheap. The fish are s barbecued on the beach.

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After lunch we drove on up to Colmares a spectacularly pretty 'white village' high up in the mountains. The origin of the name Comares is from the Arabic word Qumaris or Hins Comarix, which means "Castle in the height." Comares was not founded by the Arabs, but by the Greeks and Phoenicians who arrived on the coast of Málaga in the seventh century BC. It was a Moorish fortress since the eighth century CE.

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We walked down through the cemetery. As the ground is rock, people cannot be buried underground so they use above ground crypts. It is quite competitive to get and keep a space. The crypts are leased for 10 years after which people must pay 5000 euros for the next ten years or they are removed.

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MONDAY 23 JANUARY - Visit to the ALHAMBRA

The Alhambra is a palace and fortress complex located in Granada, Andalusia, Spain. It was originally constructed as a small fortress in AD 889 on the remains of Roman fortifications, and then largely ignored until its ruins were renovated and rebuilt in the mid-13th century by the Moorish emir Mohammed ben Al-Ahmar of the Emirate of Granada, who built its current palace and walls. It was converted into a royal palace in 1333 by Yusuf I, Sultan of Granada. After the conclusion of the Christian Reconquista in 1492, the site became the Royal Court of Ferdinand and Isabella (where Christopher Columbus received royal endorsement for his expedition), and the palaces were partially altered to Renaissance tastes. In 1526 Charles I & V commissioned a new Renaissance palace better befitting the Holy Roman Emperor in the revolutionary Mannerist style influenced by Humanist philosophy in direct juxtaposition with the Nasrid Andalusian architecture, but which was ultimately never completed due to Morisco rebellions in Granada.

The first picture shows the scenery on the early morning drive to Granada.

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Alhambra's late flowering of Islamic palaces were built for the last Muslim emirs in Spain during the decline of the Nasrid dynasty who were increasingly subject to the Christian Kings of Castile. After being allowed to fall into disrepair for centuries, the buildings occupied by squatters, Alhambra was rediscovered following the defeat of Napoleon, who had conducted retaliatory destruction of the site, the re-discoverers were first British intellectuals and then other north European Romantic travelers. It is now one of Spain's major tourist attractions, exhibiting the country's most significant and well-known Islamic architecture, together with 16th-century and later Christian building and garden interventions. The Alhambra is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the inspiration for many songs and stories.

Moorish poets described it as "a pearl set in emeralds," an allusion to the colour of its buildings and the woods around them. The palace complex was designed with the mountainous site in mind and many forms of technology were considered. The park (Alameda de la Alhambra), which is overgrown with wildflowers and grass in the spring, was planted by the Moors with roses, oranges, and myrtles; its most characteristic feature, however, is the dense wood of English elms brought by the Duke of Wellington in 1812. The park has a multitude of nightingales and is usually filled with the sound of running water from several fountains and cascades. These are supplied through a conduit 8 km (5.0 mi) long, which is connected with the Darro at the monastery of Jesus del Valle above Granada.

We had fabulous weather once again. The walk in is lined with English Elms brought here by the Duke of a Wellington in 1812.

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Our first stop was at Generalife. The Palacio de Generalife was the summer palace and country estate of the Nasrid rulers of the Emirate of Granada in Al-Andalus, now beside the city of Granada in the autonomous community of Andalusia, Spain.

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On the way to the Alcabaza we passed through La Puerto del Vino (Wine Gate) and then went to see La Puerto de la Justica (Gate of Justice) which was just an external Gate dating from 1354. The bolts are original.

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The triangular Alcazaba (citadel) with its thick walls and towers was the main form of defence for the Alhambra against attack. This is the oldest part of the Alhambra complex and was the site of the original red castle. It was Mohammed I who built the surrounding walls and the three towers: the Torre de la Vela (Watchtower) in the far-right corner, the Torre Quebrada (the “Broken” Tower) and the Torre del Homenaje (the Keep). A further tower was added subsequently: the Torre de la Pólvora (the "Gunpowder" Tower). Work on the palaces began later and the Sultan lived here until they were finished. In the photo on the left, you can see the Torre de la Vela with its flags and belltower and the citadel.

The first picture is the view from the Alcazaba?

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The Palace of Charles V is a Renaissance building in Granada, southern Spain, located on the top of the hill of the Assabica, inside the Nasrid fortification of the Alhambra. The building has never been a home to a monarch and stood roofless until 1957.[1][2]

The structure was commanded by Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, who wished to establish his residence close to the Alhambra palaces. Although the Catholic Monarchs had already altered some rooms of the Alhambra after the conquest of the city in 1492, Charles V intended to construct a permanent residence befitting an emperor.

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We had to get in line and enter the Nasrid Palaces at a particular time ie between 1.00 pm and 1.29 pm or miss out.

Mohammed ben Al-Hamar (Mohammed I) was the first king to move to the Alcazaba and no records about a new palace being built are kept until those of Abu l-Walid Ismail (fifth king of the dynasty). A palace was built near the Great Mosque (Gran Mezquita) but only the Mexuar is now left because Yusuf I destroyed it completely. He started some improvements in the Comares Tower (Torre de Comares), the Court of the Myrtles (Patio de los Arrayanes) and the Baths (Baños). These improvements were finished by Mohammed V, who added them all to the Mexuar, extended the gallery that would later be called Machuca and constructed the Palace of the Lions (Palacio de los Leones). These two kings were the most important ones as regards the construction, reconstruction, and decoration of the Alhambra.

There are three independent areas in the Nasrid Palaces (Palacios Nazaríes): the Mexuar, which corresponds to the semipublic part of the palace or selamlik, for justice administration and State affairs; the Comares Palace (Palacio de Comares), which was the official residence of the king; and the Palace of the Lions (Palacio de los Leones), which was the private area of the palace, where the Harem was located. Not only were these areas different because of their functions, but also because of their artistic characteristics. The Comares Palace (Palacio de Comares) was decorated in a typically Muslim way, but the Palace of the Lions (Patio de los Leones) presents Christian influences, probably as a consequence of the friendship between Mohammed V and his Castilian counterpart Pedro I, the Cruel.

Here are some pictures taken on our walk through.

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We took a taxi up to the hill opposite the Alhambra. This area is called the Albaicin, the Arab Quarter. In the 756 Arabs are already in the peninsula. It is the time of Independent Emirate. The Arab population is manifested in two centers: the Albaicín and the Alhambra.

This neighborhood had its greatest influence at the time of the Nazari. The Albaicín maintains the urban fabric of the Moorish period, with narrow streets, in an intricate network that extends from the top (St. Nicholas) through the course of the river Darro and Calle Elvira, both located in Plaza Nueva.

In December 1499, Albaicín become the starting point of a rebellion throughout Granada, which were triggered by the forced conversions of the Muslim population to Christianity.

The traditional type of house is the carmen, consisting of a free house surrounded by a high wall that separates it from the street and includes a small orchard or garden.

We walked from the top down through narrow winding streets with souk like shops.

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TUESDAY 24 JANUARY - EL TORCAL AND MALAGA

We had a later start today to drive up to El Torcal. El Torcal de Antequera is a nature reserve in the Sierra del Torcal mountain range located south of the city of Antequera, in the province of Málaga off the A45 road in Andalusia, Spain. It is known for its unusual landforms, and is one of the most impressive karst landscapes in Europe. The area was designated a Natural Site of National Interest in July 1929, and a Natural Park Reserve of about 17 square kilometres was created in October 1978.

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Spain does not allow any roadside advertising. The first joy one allowed are the Osborne Bulls - 14 metres high showing El Toro in profile. There are 23 of these in Andalusia.

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We drove down to Malaga. It is a port city on southern Spain’s Costa del Sol, known for its high-rise hotels and resorts jutting up from yellow-sand beaches. Looming over that modern skyline are the city’s 2 massive hilltop citadels, the Alcazaba and ruined Gibralfaro, remnants of Moorish rule.

Here is a photo of the Alcazaba, the Moorish fortress, with a Roman Amphitheatre at the base.

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We walked through narrow streets without cars to the City Markets where there was an an abundance of fresh produce. We had beer, wine and tapas and then moved to a historic bar selling a unique fortified wine Pajarete, a sweet wine reminiscent of port.

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The markets were amazing. One end has a very large stained glass window.

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More wine at this very old establishment.

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The city's soaring Renaissance cathedral is nicknamed La Manquita ("one-armed lady") because one of its towers was curiously left unbuilt. The third picture is the Bishop' Residence just across from the Cathedral.

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We visited the Picasso Museum. Pablo Picasso was born here in Malaga. The first picture shows the building where he was born. It is the second floor apartment on the right hand building.

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The Picasso Museum. No photos allowed.
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WEDNESDAY 25 JANUARY - RONDA

Ronda is a mountaintop city in Spain’s Malaga province in Andalusia that’s set dramatically above a deep gorge. This gorge (El Tajo) separates the city’s circa-15th-century new town from its old town, dating to Moorish rule. Puente Nuevo, a stone bridge spanning the gorge, has a lookout offering views. New town’s Plaza de Toros, a legendary 18th-century bullring, is one of the city’s most recognizable landmarks.

It was a stunningly beautiful day with blue sky and warm weather despite this town being more than three times higher than Mt Coot-tha at home.

Our guide Jesus was excellent. In fact, he was the guide for Michelle Obama when she visited Ronda.

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The new bridge was built in 1789.

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Previously it was in the square in the old town in front of the oldest church, St Maria della Mare. The balconies were added to the church in the mid 18 th Century to allow visitors to sit and watch the bull fights and other important events.

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View from the old bridge which sits beside the even older bridge. The old bridge was built in medieval times while the even older bridge was built by the Moors.

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We left Ronda for Setenil de las Bodegas. It is a town (pueblo) in the province of Cádiz, Spain, famous for its dwellings built into rock overhangs above the Rio Trejo. According to the 2005 census, the city has a population of 3,016 inhabitants. It has an exact antipodal city: Auckland, New Zealand.

This small town is located 157 kilometres northeast of Cádiz. It has a distinctive setting along a narrow river gorge. The town extends along the course of the Rio Trejo with some houses being built into the rock walls of the gorge itself, created by enlarging natural caves or overhangs and adding an external wall.

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This one is for sale and would appear to be a bargain for the handyman. Perhaps a lick of paint might do the job!

THURSDAY 26 JANUARY 2017 - SEVILLE

Seville is the capital of southern Spain’s Andalusia region. It's famous for flamenco dancing, particularly in its Triana neighborhood. Major landmakrs include the ornate Alcázar castle complex, built during the Moorish Almohad dynasty, and the 18th-century Plaza de Toros de la Maestranza bullring. The Gothic Seville Cathedral is the site of Christopher Columbus’s tomb and a minaret turned bell tower, the Giralda.

Marta was our guide in Seville today. She was excellent as an official guide with just the two of us. First stop was the Alcazar. The Alcázar of Seville is a royal palace in Seville, Spain, originally developed by Moorish Muslim kings. The palace is renowned as one of the most beautiful in Spain, being regarded as one of the most outstanding examples of mudéjar architecture found on the Iberian Peninsula. The upper levels of the Alcázar are still used by the royal family as the official Seville residence and are administered by the Patrimonio Nacional. It is the oldest royal palace still in use in Europe, and was registered in 1987 by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, along with the Seville Cathedral and the General Archive of the Indies.

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The Cathedral of Saint Mary of the See (Spanish: Catedral de Santa María de la Sede), better known as Seville Cathedral, is a Roman Catholic cathedral in Seville (Andalusia). It is the largest Gothic cathedral and the third-largest church in the world. It is also the largest cathedral in the world, as the two larger churches, the Basilica of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida and St. Peter's Basilica, are not the seats of bishops. It was registered in 1987 by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, along with the Alcázar palace complex and the General Archive of the Indies.

After its completion in the early 16th century, the Seville Cathedral supplanted Hagia Sophia as the largest cathedral in the world, a title the Byzantine church had held for nearly a thousand years. The cathedral is also the burial site of Christopher Columbus. The Archbishop's Palace is located on the northeastern side of the cathedral.

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The Giralda is the bell tower of the Seville Cathedral in Seville, Spain. It was originally built as a minaret during the Moorish period, with a Renaissance style top subsequently added by Spaniards. The Giralda was registered in 1987 as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO along with the Alcazar and the General Archive of the Indies. The tower is 104.1 m (342 ft) in height and remains one of the most important symbols of the city, as it has been since medieval times.

Construction of the tower began under architect Ahmad Ben Baso in 1184. The tower was completed March 10, 1198 with the installation of copper spheres on the tower's top. The Almohads built similar towers in what are now Spain and Morocco during this period. The tower of the Koutoubia Mosque in Marrakesh served as a model for the Giralda and its sister, the Hassan Tower in Rabat.

The addition of the bell tower on the was in the Christian Era.

View of Giralda from cathedral.
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Colleen and Jess walked to the The Plaza de España ("Spain Square", in English). It is a plaza in the Parque de María Luisa (Maria Luisa Park), in Seville, Spain, built in 1928 for the Ibero-American Exposition of 1929. It is a landmark example of the Regionalism Architecture, mixing elements of the Renaissance Revival and Moorish Revival (Neo-Mudéjar) styles of Spanish architecture.
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FRIDAY 27 JANUARY 2017 - CÓRDOBA

Córdoba is a city in the southern Spanish region of Andalusia, and the capital of the province of Córdoba. It was an important Roman city and a major Islamic center in the Middle Ages. It’s best known for La Mezquita, an immense mosque dating from 784 A.D., featuring a columned prayer hall and older Byzantine mosaics. After it became a Catholic church in 1236, a Renaissance-style nave was added in the 17th century.

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We walked through the Jewish Quarter. In the 15th Century, Ferdinand and Isobella, the monarchs who finally ousted the Moors from the last outpost in Granada, ruled that all non Christians were to be given 3 months to convert or they would have to leave the country without any possessions.

Posted by Kangatraveller 11:49 Archived in Spain

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