THE UNFORGETABLE ALHAMBRA

SONY DSCA palace and a fortress, Alhambra is located in Granada, Andalusia. Granada is located in the southern part of Spain and at the foothills of the Nevada Mountains. Alhambra sits atop a rocky hill and its construction as a fortress was started in 889 A.D. on the site of am old Roman fort. It was later renovated in the mid 13th century by the Emir of Granada, who built palaces on the same grounds in the Nasrid style. The image above is the Coat of Arms of the Emirate of Granada, the rulers of the Nasrid Dynasty that reigned from the 1200 until around the late 1400.

 

0. THE ALHAMBRAClaims were made that the name Alhambra comes from an Arabic Al-Ḥamrā which means “red or crimson castle”, which could be a reference to the reddish bricks used to construct the towers. The Alhambra was originally a fortress – an Alcazaba. Palaces were added called Alcazar in Arabic were added in the succeeding years.

 

Above is the  El Partal, the oldest building in the Alhambra. Its name is derived from the Arabic partal for portico.

This image shows the the Palacio de Comares. It contains several rooms and features galleries and porticoes. One of the rooms is called the Sala de la Barca or Hall of the Boat and it boasts of a beautifully wooden ceiling.

5a. PALACIO DE COMARES WOODEN CEILINGThe ceiling of the Sala De la Barca

A bigger hall, the Salon de los Embajadores is quite impressive with its walls decorated in Arabic inscriptions and in repeating decorative motifs. A cross-section of the one of the walls is shown in the following photograph.5b. WALL OF PALACIO DE COMARES

 

Decorative tiles in different colors and patterns adorn half of the walls.5c. WALL OF PALACIO DE COMARES

 

The same tile patterns are ubiquitous in Spain as they decorate handbags, plates, cups, postcards, note books, T-shirts, scarves and other numerous items that are sold as souvenirs.

 

7. PALACE OF THE LIONSThe jewel of the Alhambra is the Palace of the Lions. This palace is a masterpiece in the use of Arabesque and other decorative arts using wood, plaster, ceramics and inscriptions of Muslim poetry in Islamic calligraphy. It stands as a testament of cooperation and the marriage of Moorish and Christian architecture known as Nasrid style that was greatly influential as an architectural expression in later years. This palace features private chambers meant for the royal family with baths, a harem and a central courtyard flanked by beautiful columns on the three sides.

 

8. PATIO DE LEONES

The courtyard, called the Patio de Leones, boast of a fountain at the center with an alabaster basin supported by 12 lions made of white marble that spout water from their mouths. The lions are meant to symbolize strength, power and sovereignty.

 

9. PALACIO DE CARLOS - AThis is the Palacio de Carlos V. The architect, Pedro Machuca, hails from Toledo, Spain but received his training in Rome and was reputedly influenced and taught by the great Michelangelo.

The building is square in shape and has 32 columns courtyard.This courtyard functions today as a great venue for performance arts.

The Palacio De Carlos V now houses two museums: Museo de Alhambra on the ground floor and Museo de Bellas Artes on the Second Floor.  The Palacio de Carlos V is said to be the first Renaissance structure in Spain.

 

16. ALCAZABAThe Alcazaba is from the Arabic word Al Qasba, The Alcazaba is believed to have been started in the 9th century for military purposes. Additions were made in later years by succeeding rulers.

It was the very last stand of the Moorish resistance against the Christians, a period in Spanish history known as Reconquista or the fall of the Nasrid Emirate of Granada.

It is claimed that the original sections of the Alcazaba were started in the 9th century. The 5th marked the fall of the Roman empire and their subsequent departure from the Iberia. I can only speculate that the Alcazaba must have been started then by the Visigoths as the time coincides with their arrival in Spain.

The Alcazaba fortress has three towers: Torre Quebrada, the Torre del Homenaje and the Torre de la Vela.

 

23. IGLESIA DE SANTA MARIAThe above structure, the Iglesia de Santa Maria, stands on the grounds of the Alhambra.

Above is the Iglesia de Santa Maria and it stands on the grounds of the Alhambra.Built around the 16th-century, the church stands on the former site of the Alhambra’s Great Mosque. Traces of its Moorish origins is quite evident with the designs on the walls and above the door of the church.

 

28. PALACIO GENARALIFE - PATIO DE ACEQUIAThe Palacio de Generalife or Gineralife (derived from the Arabic word Jennat Al Arif) means Garden of the Architect. The Villa has a 14th century provenance and served as the summer palace of the Nasrid rulerss of the Emirate of Granada.

29. PALACIO GENARALIFEThe Palace and the gardens were built around the 13th hundred. The patio of the villa is called Patio de la Acequia or Court of the Water Channel. It features long flowerbeds, fountains and colonnades. As one visiting the Alhambra during the summer months, this place provided a cool and refreshing respite from the stifling heat of the day.

Other structures on the grounds are shown in the following photographs:

 

The Grounds of the Alhambra:

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This photograph of a section of the Alhambra gardens as well as the following photographs are testament of how gardening was made into an art on the grounds of the Alhambra.

 

Below is some of the plant life around the complex. 43aBougainvilleas of different colors are everywhere on the grounds of the Alhambra.

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A window view of the village below the Alhambra.

 

48The nearby village of Sacromonte as seen from the Alhambra.

 

49The city of Granada and the Nevada mountains as viewed from the highest point of Alhambra.

 

 

SACROMONTE: A MYSTICAL PLACE IN GRANADA, SPAIN

 

1A. ABADIAMy first foray in Granada was in the Sacromonte Area, one of the districts of Albaycin,  which is located in the eastern section of the city of Granada.  Sacromonte ( Holy Mount) sits on the hilly side and the valley of Val Paraiso and is better known as the Gypsy district of Granada.

One of the must see in Sacromonte is the Abadia, or the Sacromonte Abbey, which is at the top of the Valparaiso hill. ABADIA (6)

3. ABADIA

3A. ABADIA

4. ABADIAThe construction of the Abbey was completed around the middle of the 15th Century. It is made of three complex has three main parts: the Abbey made in Seventeenth and Eighteenth centuries, the College of the Seventeenth Century and the Seminary.

As a visit to the inner sanctum of the Abbey is by guided tour only (in Spanish) I had to content myself with prowling around the grounds.

One prominent structure on the grounds of the Abbey is a large cross which is the starting point of the Hillside Calvary of Sacromonte.5. ABADIA

 

As I slowly negotiate the side of the very steep hill, I encountered more crosses.

 

Once safely on terra firma, my wondering brought me the last cross which is infront of the Capilla de Santo Sepulcro, an unassuming building of Baroque architecture built around the 16th hundred.8. ABADIAThe station of cross or Via Crucis and the creation of thousands of crosses was meant to celebrate and proclaim the religious fervor of the Spanish people after the defeat of the Moors (Iberian Muslims of North Africa who are also called Moros or Moriscos) who occupied Spain from 711 A.D. to 1224 A.D.

A few meters from this small church,on Camino del Sacromote is this unusual house that is decorated with numerous ceramic plates. 8A

Along the Camino De Sacromonte are cave dwellings which dapple the hillside and has made this area quite unique. The exterior of the cave dwellings appear to be ordinary homes but the interior part of the houses were hollowed out of the hillsides. It is said the caves were created by the Arabs who found the that the earth were ideal for carving out to be made into dwellings. When the Arabs were expelled during the Reconquista (a period in history where Christian have taken over territories that were  under Arab control) the Gypsies or Gitanos took over the caves. 9. CAVE

 

 

This area is still a thriving Roma community today, and some of the caves are used as Museums, Bars and Restaurants. where Zambra Mora (feminine form of Moro a name given to North African Muslims who occupied Spain) is the main expression of dance, a fusion of East Indian and Moorish dance movements and music. The East Indian character of this dance is from the nomadic East Indians who wandered around Europe and North Africa who later settled in Moorish Spain in around the 14th century. Zambra Mora is characterized by barefoot stomping and hand castanets with vibrant singing and accompanied with guitar playing. This kind of dance would then evolve into what is known today as Flamenco. This area of Spain is considered the cradle of the Art of Flamenco.1314The entertainment in some of these caves offer an exciting and raw expression of flamenco that is both exhilarating and exhausting because of the unabated energy that is expressed in the dance and singing and guitar playing. 15a

 

I start my way down to the valley and I give the hills one last look. It is almost difficult to believe that people continue to live in caves these days but who can blame them when these caves offer a cooler alternative of escaping the Spanish heat during the summer and a warm and cozy place in the winter.  I took the chance to explore some of the hillside neighborhood without being intrusive. 21

I now make my way to the valley and negotiate the narrow streets of Sacromonte with the hope that my legs will not fail me as there are too many to take as I wend my way down.22

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I find myself back at the Camino del Sacromonte and, a little later, I discover by chance the La Casa De Chapiz Y Jardines on Paseo de Tristes on the eastern edge of Albaicin which offers a cool respite from the Sun and the overwhelming heat of the day. The Casa De Chapiz are two mansions that was owned by two Arab families who converted to Christianity when the Arabs were driven out of Spain.

 

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The Chapiz mansions are notably a mix of Christian and Moorish Elements that were  typical of 14th Century Architectural expressions.

The Garden on its own is quite a delight featuring trees, plants and flowers that fans that provide a cooling respite for visitors of the gardens.

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On top of the beautiful garden and cool air of the Chapiz mansion is a view of the grand Alhambra.33

One of the noteworthy building is  the Palacio de Madraza on Calle De Officios which was a mosque school established in the mid 13th hundred by the Nasrid ruler Yusuf, Sultan of Granada. The architectural style of this building is a blend of Arabic, Baroque, Mudejar and Moorish. The building is now part of the University of Granada. 34

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The afternoon was getting hotter but one cannot ignore other beautiful buildings in the area. I was too exhausted from the heat to check the names and significance of the buildings but I was content in merely taking photographs as I go along.

I now find myself at Carrera Del Darro just above the Rio Darro. It was time for food and refreshment and simply sit and enjoy the cool breeze from the water below.

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VALENCIA, SPAIN: THE CITY OF ARTS & SCIENCES

A comfortable train ride to Valencia from Barcelona was 3 hours and 30 minutes ride for a measly 45.

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Located on the east coast of Spain, Valencia is its 3rd largest city after Madrid and Barcelona. The city boasts of its Ciudad De Las Artes Y Las Ciencias buildings – The City of Arts and Sciences. It was completed in 1996.

The City of Arts and Sciences is an entertainment-based cultural and architectural complex in the city of Valencia, Spain. It is the most important modern tourist destination in the city.

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My favorite building of all in Valencia is the Banco de Valencia building that stands out  at the end of the Carrer de les Barques. Completed in 1942, the structure represents a mix of Beaux-Arts and Art Deco style.BANCO DE VALENCIA

Other remarkable buildings that utilizes and follow the trend of either Beaux-Arts or Art Deco style are as follows:

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Below are two friezes that represents the art deco style of ornamentation that most represent what is seen in buildings in Valencia.

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Two water fountains that are impressive in style are as follows.

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The above water fountain is welcoming as its sprays cools the hot air in mid-summer Valencia.

The water fountain  as shown below is quite impressive from a distance.13

At Closer inspection, however, the fountain is quite a disappointment. It has been turned into a pissoir and the smell of urine that reeks to high heavens is proof enough of how the residents of the city treated this site.12

Valencia is without ancient buildings as it is as old as the other Spanish cities. It was founded as a Roman Colony around in the year 138 B.C. There are a few ancient buildings that had survived the passing of time. Such an example is the Basilica de La Vigen de Los Desanparados built around the 1400’s. The church houses the statue of Our Lady of the Forsaken  and is the patroness of the city of Valencia.32 BASÍLICA DE LA VIRGEN DE LOS DESAMPARADOS - BAROQUE

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The Statue of the Virgen de los Desamparados.

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The pictures above is the Iglesia de San Lorenzo. It was built in the 13th century and is  located at Placa de Sant Llorenc.

Below is The Metropolitan Cathedral-Basilica of the Assumption of Our Lady of Valencia or better known in Spain as Iglesia Catedral-Basílica Metropolitana de la Asunción de Nuestra Señora de Valencia, alternative known as St.Mary;s Cathedral was completed in and around 1238. The church is built in Gothic style of architecture but has Romanesque Baroque and Neo-Classical elements. 33 Metropolitan Cathedral-Basilica of the Assumption of Our Lady of Valencia

Valencia can be said to be calmer and slower than the frenetic pace of Madrid and Barcelona. Below is a street scene where locals are seen to relax on a Sunday afternoon.15

 

LA PEDRERA – BARCELONA, SPAIN

CASA MILA

Previously called Casa Mila and, named after Pere Mila who had it commissioned, it was  the last residence designed by Antoni Gaudi. The building was started in 1906 and was completed in 1912. What is unique about this building is that Antoni Gaudi relied on organic shapes in designing the outside and the interior of the building including the decorative shapes and forms that are all over the building.

 

Façana Pedrera

 

The above view of La Pedrera was taken an upper floor of a building across the street. La Pedrera was built on a continuous curve all around outside and inside of the building. It is one of the finest example of a Spanish Modernisme or Art Noveau architecture in Spain today.

 

4. FACADE

A view of the decorative balconies that seems to be made of wrought iron as it taken from above the street level.

 

5. HALLWAY & DECORATIVE GATEThe above image is one of the entrances to building with a rather ornate gate.

 

6. STAIRS

A rather ornate stairs leading to the upper levels of the building. Some of the decorative features of the wrought iron railing mimics the form and shape of the gate as shown above.

8. STAIRSB

 

9. SUPPORTING PILLAR WITH DECORATIVE CEILING

Decorative ceiling of the La Pedrera and a supportive column with carvings from the ground level of the building.

 

10. THE ATTIC

There were areas of La Pedrera that were not open to the public as they are apartments and inhabited. Rooms that are inhabited by tenant. Once I reached the attic, I was confronted with a dark cavernous space that also feature exhibits (sadly the images are lost as I took the pictures with my cellphone that was stolen from me while I was at a store buying water). One wends around the cavernous room to reach the entrance to the -5+6rooftop that offers a garden of beautiful sculptures.

 

The following images are the Rooftop Sculptures of La Pedrera by Antoni Gaudi.11. SCUPLTURE1

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17. SCULPTURE718. SCUPTURE8

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25. LA PEDRERA AT NIGHT

La Pedrera at night located at 92, Passeigh De Gracia, a rather busy street lined with Boutiques, Cafes and Restaurants.

SAGRADA FAMILIA – THE ARCHITECTURAL JEWEL OF BARCELONA

It has been over 30 years since I have been in Barcelona and it has grown stronger as a melting pot of different races. One has only to walk around Las Ramblas to witness the thousands of people who have come from different parts of the world to have a taste of Spanish culture.

One of the major attractions in this Spanish City is the Basilica known all over the world as the Sagrada Famila. Officially known in Spanish as Templo Expiatorio De La Sagrada, the Basilica of the Sagrada Familia, a Roman Catholic Church that is shaped like a Latin Cross. There is no known church or building like the Sagrada Familia. The Sagrada Familia is a unique and a grand masterpiece that is located in the heart of  Barcelona.IMG_0663

The monumental church is dedicated to Jesus, Mary and Joseph, or the Holy Family, which the church has derived its name. Jesus, Mary and Joseph are  considered the most important saintly figures in all of the Catholic pantheon.Construction of this magnificent church was started in 1882 under architect Paula de Villar who resigned a year later. Antoni Gaudi, a Catalan Architect, took over as the Chief Architect. Gaudi‘s artistic vision was a mix of Gothic and Art Nouveau, with curvilinear forms, which is how the Basilica appears today. 

 

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The church‘s construction history is not replete with changes. Historical background of the church records more than a few obstructions of its construction. These include the death of Gaudi in 1926 with only about 25 percent of the church complete; an interruption of work during the Spanish Civil War in 1936 which had caused the destruction of Gaudi‘s plans and workshop by the Catalan Anarchists and, in 2011, an arsonist started a fire in the sacristy. Despite all of these unfortunate events construction of the Basilica continues today under the direction of Jodi Fauli as Chief Architect. It is expected that the Basilica will be complete in 2026. 

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The Church has three important facades: The first is the Nativity Facade which faces east.

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The Passion Facade is well oriented facing west. IMG_0881

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The Glory Facade faces south.

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The images below are full of symbolism. The symbol that they represent can be best explained by someone well versed with the story of Jesus, Mary and Joseph and the lives they led.

There are architectural details that can escape the eye and can only be appreciated if one is up at the observation tower. The following can then be seen up close from that vantage point.

As one enters the church from its eastern entrance, one could not miss the colorful bronze door of the Portal of Charity of the Nativity facade. The door was created by the Japanese Sculptor Etsuro Soto. Inspired by nature, Etsuro Soto  adorned the door with Flowers, Ivy leaves and insects.

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While standing on the middle of the central nave, one eyes pans upward on the large columns to reveal the most magnificent vaulted ceiling. The design was intended to mimic trees and reveals Gaudi’s love of nature.

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A crucified Christ is suspended from the ceiling with a decorative umbrella over it.

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The stained glass windows are central to Gaudi’s design to allow natural light to illuminate the interior of the church. The impressive stained glass windows are as high as a two story building and stands for some christian symbolism. The window at the transept area represents the Resurrection of Christ while others represent different saints and religious figures.

 

 

 

One of interest is a holy water font that is attached to a wall. The font is a big sea shell and the information about it reveals that it was donated by the Philippine Government. I did not notice whether there are more of this sea shell but I must admit that I have not seen anything like it in size.

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There are more beautiful and artistic impressions that are woven with religious symbols that are in this magnificent church. Photographic images, such as in this page, do no render them justice. One may only appreciate the beauty of the vision of Antoni Gaudi by visiting the church in person. I hope you do.

 

 

 

ZARAGOZA, SPAIN

Merely a one hour and fifteen minute ride by Renfe train, Zaragoza is a quieter city than Madrid or Barcelona. It also takes another a maximum of two hours train ride to Barcelona.

This ancient city, founded around 25 BC, has three most notable ancient landmarks: The Basilica De Nuestra Senora Del Pilar, La Seo and the Aljaferia.

The Basilica De Nuestra Del Pilar, decidated to the Virgin Mary. It is claimed that the Basilica had a more simple origin as a small chapel built by St. James, one of the Apostles of Christ around 40 A.D. The church has gone through reconstructions and architectural changes through the centuries from Romanesque to the its present Mudejar Baroque  form.

FRONTAL FACADE OF THE BASILICA

Among the impressive exterior features of this church are its seven mini-domes around a central dome. Each of the mini-domes are covered with tiles of  yellow, blue, green and white lending a Byzantine air to its over-all appearance.

The church is flank by four towers on each corner.

 

 

 

3. BELL TOWER

THE BELL TOWER OF THE BASILICA DEL PILAR

The two aisles, flanking the central nave, are darkened as devotees stand in devotional contemplation in front of the numerous chapels along the sides of the Basilica.IMG_0390_2

The vaulted ceiling is a lavish display of the ornamentation of Baroque design is evident with the use of ribbons, cherubims, the use of light and shadow and dramatic embelishments.

4. VAULT & PILARS

The pillars are massive and are expressions of faux finishing to make them look as if they were made of marble.

5. PILLARS

The Basilica is the center piece of the Plaza Del Pilar which is always buzzing with tourists and locals.

IMG_03817. THE PLAZA

8. THE PLAZA

The La Iglesia La Maria Magdalena is a classic example of the Mudejar Architecture Santa Magdalena Church. Mudejar Architecture is a Gothic form with Islamic influence. It became prominent in Spain around the 12th Century A.D.

9. A PART OF THE LA IGLESIA DE LA MARIA MAGDALENA IN ZARAGOZA, SPAIN UNDERGOING RECONSTRUCTION. NOTE THE MUDEJAR DETAILING OF THE CHURCH.

The Iglesia De Santa Maria Magdalene was built sometime around the early 14th century. As shown above, it has a distinct tower that mimics an Almohad style minaret. It is located at Plaza de la Magdalena, a stone throw away from the Plaza Del Pilar.

10. SANTA MAGDALENA CHURCH

Another special ancient building with its Gothic-Mudejar tower is the Iglesia De San Pablo. It sits close to large mythical god water fountain on one end of the Plaza del Pilar.

11. IGLESIA DE SAN PABLO

Another structure of Gothic-Mudejar style is the tower of the Iglesia de San Pablo which can be seen behind the building in the forefront in the above photograph. The tower is octagonal in shape with Moorish design details. This building is merely a few steps from one of the end of the busy plaza.

Not far from the Plaza is the Cathedral de San Salvador or better known as the La Seo.

12. THE CATEDRAL DE SAN SALVADOR OR LA SEO

The northwest facade of the church is in Mudejar design in dark brickwork and colorful ceramic decorations in geometric patterns.

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The most interesting part of the church is its collection of 14th and 17th century Flemish and French Tapestries housed in its Museo De Tapices. The tapestries are massive in size and some cover an entire wall and from the ceiling down to the floor. Photographing the tapestries is not allowed but below are scanned images from the catalogue of the museum and from a postcard.

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Below is a section of one of the tapestries showing more of a close-up detail of the beautiful art. 16. TAPESTRIES

Back at the Plaza, one cannot miss the massive water fountain that has a statue of mythical water God sitting naked. The size of the statue is quite impressive.

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On the south end of the plaza are statues dedicated to Goya.

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Not far from the above statues is the Museo De Goya. The statues and the Museum are a fitting tribute to an artist who spent a good number of years as a resident of Zaragoza.

24. MUSEO DE GOYA

On the east end of the plaza is the La Lonja, which was intended as a trading exchange building in the 16th century. It is now an exhibition hall. La Lonja architectural design is purely Renaissance in style.

LA LONJA

The vaulted ceiling of the La Lonja makes it one of a kind.

26. LA LONJA

The Mercado Central in Zaragoza was built 122 years ago and still bustles with activity with the usual assortment of meat, fruit and vegetables for the taking.

 

27. THE MERCADO CENTRAL OF ZARAGOZA WAS BUILT 122 YEARS AGO

The following images are taken from the top of an observation point a short distance from the Plaza Del Pilar.

28. DOMES

The above image is the rooftop of the Basilica de Nuestra Senora Del Pilar. The small domes surround the central dome seen on the background. The smaller domes are covered in Blue, Green, Yellow and White tiles reminiscent of Byzantine art form.

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30. DOMES

31. BELL TOWER

The Basilica is flanked by four bell towers on each corner.

32. BELL TOWER

The central dome of the Basilica.

33. CENTRAL DOME

The image below is the rooftop of an unidentified building in the same area.

34. ANOTHER ROOFTOP

 

A DAY IN SEGOVIA, SPAIN

Segovia is better known for its magnificent Aquaducto and the city and the Aquaducto were declared a Unesco World Heritage in the mid 1980‘s. 

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This marvel of ancient engineering work was built by the Romans around the 1st century A.D. The Aquaducto has a span of 15 km and was constructed to transport water into the city from a river from the mountain about 17 km away.

The Aqueducto reaches its highest point at 93 ft. and is simply a magnificent piece of ancient architecture.

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Among the ancient treasures of Segovia is the CATEDRAL DES DE SAN MIGUEL that sits at the center of the Plaza de Mayor. It is the same church where Isabel was crowned queen of Castille. This cathedral is symbolic of Spain‘s position as one of the strong bastion of Catholicism in the ancient times. 

CATEDRAL DE SEGOVIA - PLAZA MAYOR

The interior of this Gothic church is of white walls and stone vaulting. The original cathedral was built near the alcazar and was transferred to its present location.

The impressive bell tower reaches a height of about 90 meters.

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The church boasts of stone ribbed vaultings.

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There are numerous chapels and altars inside the church in honor of saints and previous priests and bishops.

THE VAULTED CEILING OF THE CATEDRAL DE SEGOVIA

 

 

The church has numerous altars and chapels housing icons and statues honoring saints and of persons of religious importance of the ancient times.

 

 

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The above statue is one of the Famous saints from Avila, Santa Teresa De Avila, considered a prominent mystic of the Roman Catholic religious pantheons. She is regarded as the patron saint of Spain.

One of the most impressive religious art work in the cathedral is a colorful stained glass window called the Vitraux of Virgin Mary which must have consisted of several hundred pieces of stained glass to form the art work.

VITREAUX OF VIRGIN MARY

One interesting piece of ancient art a baptisimal font that must have been carved painstakingly to depict religious figures. As it is housed in the Capilla De La Piedad De Conception. As all the chapels, including the Capilla De La Piedad De Conception, are protected from public incursions with the installation of ornamental bars, the baptisimal font can easily be missed.

BAPTISIMAL FONT OF THE CAPILLA DE LA PIEDAD DE CONCEPTION - CATEDRAL DE SEGOVIA

Another ancient building of note is the Iglesia De San Martin sitting along Calle de Juan Bravo. It is a simple and more humble in appearance but it was built during the middle ages, around the 12th century. The original architectural style is considered Romanesque with Mozarabic influence which is an Arabized style that was adopted by Iberian Christians during the middle ages.

Another gem in Segovia is the beautiful Iglesia De San Martin. It is a simple and more humble in appearance but it was built during the middle ages around the 12th century. Located at Plaza Medina Del Campo, the original architectural style is considered Romanesque with Mozarabic influence which is an Arabized style that was adopted by Iberian Christians during the middle ages.IMG_0204

The colonnade of the church features fourteen columns altogether.

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SIDE OF ST MARTIN

The image above is a section of the of the Iglesia De San Martin that reflects a Romanesque architectural influence.

And below is the Belfry of the Iglesia De San Martin built in the Mudejar style, which in essence is part Gothic and part Islamic that was in prevalent use in the medieval Spain.

MUDEJAR BELFRY OF THE IGLESIA DE SAN MARTIN

I found myself inside the church, but a mass service was just beginning. I held back from taking pictures wishing not to be disrespectful of those in attendance.

As I wandered around, I came across a stone sculpture, the Los Leones Fountain on Plaza De San Martin. The top section of the sculpture features two young children with their arms wrapped around a big fish.

LA FUENTE DE LOS LEONES - PLAZA SAN MARTIN

Below is a Statue of Juan Bravo located at the Plaza De San Martin. He was a resident of Segovia who became the rebel leader of the Revolt of the Comuneros, an uprising of the citizens of Spain that took place in 1520 to 1521 against Spanish authorities.

MONUMENTO DE JUAN BRAVO - PLAZA SAN MARTIN

My wandering around the small city led me to the Plaza Mayor. The Plaza is the convergence point of most of the streets of the city. The plaza is lined with several establishments such as coffee shops, Jewelry stores and stores that display wares to tempt tourists and the like to bring home to their respective countries as a memento of their visit to the beautiful city of Segovia.

As the day advanced, the desire for lunch by the body became insistent. I was intrigued by the description of what is claimed to be a national food of the area called Cochinillo asado en horno de leña. Sadly the acclaimed gastronomic pride of the area did not meet my expectations.

COCHINILLO DE SEGOVIA - 3 EURO - RESTORANTE EL BERNARDINO

As I wend my way back to my starting point, I was fascinated by the narrowness of the streets of the city, which tells me that the ancients had not presaged the birth of the automobile in the 19th century.

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Midway to my starting point is a symbol that is known to those who have traveled the Camino de Santiago – the scallop shell.

SCALLOP SHELL SYMBOL OF THE CAMINO SANTIAGO

The Camino de Santiago, or the Way of Saint James, is a pilgrimge route that has several starting points in Spain, France and Portugal. The Camino ends on the seashores of Galicia where the Cathedral of St. James the Apostle is found and is believed to house the remains of St. James. The scallop shell carved in the stone reveals that the City of Segovia is one of the major stops of ancient and present day pilgrims as they trek towards Galicia.

As I finally reached my starting point, the beauty of Alcazar de Segovia is revealed from below the city. Of Moorish origin, the word Alcazar roughly translates as Fortress or Castle or citadel. This imposing structure is considered unique because of its shape, that of the bow of a ship. The castle had been used differently over time, either as a fortress, a royal residence, a prison, etc.but presently serves as a museum.

It is then time to take the nearly two hour bus ride back to Madrid where I was deposited infront of the Plaza Del Toros which was awashed with awashed with spectators of one of the most popular entertainment in Spain, the slaying of bulls.

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According to one of the spectators, the arena was capacity full because the featured matador was Jose Mari Manzanares, Jr. who is considered the top Matador to the present time. Manzanares also owns his popularity from his movie star good looks.

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