A DAY AT THE REALES ALCAZARES DE SEVILLA

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The Alcazar is a royal palace that was built for Pedro of Castille over the site of a muslim palace that was destroyed during the period called Reconquista –  a period in Spanish history that resulted in the final retaking of Spain from the Muslims that occupied Spain since the year 711.

The following is pictorial account of my day at the Reales Alcazares De Sevilla or better known at the Real Alcazar of Seville.

 

 

 

The Alcazar De Seville is one of the most visited place in the world. The architectural influences of the Alcazar include Arabic, Mudejar, Renaissance and Baroque.

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Almost all areas of the Alcazar can be accessed by visitors.  The upper floors of the palace, however,  is for the exclusive use of the royal family which serves as their official residence.

 

The Alcazar is considered the oldest royal palace in Europe still in use as a residence.

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The buildings boast of wide and beautiful hallways replete with decorative motifs that reveals Spain’s long Islamic past.

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The patterns of decorative motifs are also seen in other ancient structures around Spain, from such a the Aljaferia de Zaragoza and The Alhambra in Granada.

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While all of the above decorative features are meant to embellish walls, floors and ceiling, patterns used in ceramic tiles are more commonly used these days for scarves, handbags, and ceramic plates which will serve as token of a visitor’s time at the Alcazar.

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The Chapel in the Alcazar, better known as the Capilla del Palacio Gotico, prides itself with a beautiful ceiling with its rib vaulting. One section of the hallway wall is richly decorated with colorful tiles. The end of the hallway is an iconic painting of the Virgin Mary and Child.

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Further into the chapel are more paintings and tapestry. The colors are a bit faint revealing their age.

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One of the special treats of this glorious walk in history is the beautiful Jardin De Alcazar or the Garden of Alcazar. For some, this garden may evoke a picture of the mythical garden of Eden. This gem is a sprawling 60,000 square meters with over 1,000 years of history.

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If you plan to visit the Alcazar sometime in the near future, come late in the springtime when the Seville weather is more temperate.

Besos. Adios a todos. Hasta La Proxima Vez!!!!!


	

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.

 

 

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.

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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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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.