Monday, May 19, 2008

More Photos of the Alhambra, Granada, Spain (May 14-15, 2008)

The red-hued walls of the Alhambra; the name Alhambra comes from the Arabic al-qala'at al-hanra, meaning "red castle"
The view of the Alhambra from the Generalife gardens
The beautiful Generalife gardens
Roses were in bloom throughout the garden
Cheerful flowers brighten the garden paths
The ramparts and towers of the Alcazaba, the original Moorish citadel

Photos of the Alhambra, Granada, Spain (May 14-15, 2008)

Granada is home to Spain's most visited monument - the Alhambra - which is considered the country's finest example of Moorish art. The Alhambra complex includes three distrinct groups of buildings: the 14th century Palacio Nazaries, the 14th century Generalife palace and gardens, and the 9th century Alcazaba citadel.
The view of the Alhambra from the Albayzin district; you can just make out the snow-capped Sierra Nevadas in the distance
Inside the Palacio Nazaries, built by Yusuf I and Mohammed V in the 14th century
The Patio de los Arrayanes, with its rectangular reflecting pool
The Palacio de los Leones, built by Mohammed V as the royal harem
Intricately carved marble columns in the Patio de los Leones
Pools and fountains are central elements to many of the Alhambra courtyards

Granada, Spain (May 14-15, 2008)

Granada was ruled by the Moors from 1238 until 1492, when Ferdinand and Isabella seized the city for Christian Spain. The city plays up its Moorish roots, with plenty of kebab stands, baklava shops and "teterias" (tea houses), complete with hookahs. In the evenings, locals head to the many tapas bars, where small plates of food are still served complimentary with a glass of wine or beer.
Iglesia de Santa Ana. If you look closely at the green hill behind the church, you can see one of the towers of the Alcazaba citadel.
Colorful plates, pots and flowers adorn the walls of many of Granada's homes
Residents of Granada receive their mail in style - by Vespa
A popular evening activity in Granada: tea and hookah
Bright fabrics for sale in the streets of the Albayzin district, originally the Moorish quarter of the city
Colorful flowers and matching laundry!

Photos of the Alcazar, Seville, Spain (May 12-14, 2008)

The Alcazar was built by Abd Al Raman in 931AD as a fortified palace. It was substantially rebuilt during the 1300s by Pedro I and today incorporates Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque elements.
The view from La Giralda over the Plaza del Triunfo and the Alcazar. In the distance, you can just make out the Guadalquiver River.
The Patio de las Doncellas (Patio of the Maidens) within the Palacio de Don Pedro
Intricately painted archways in the Palacio de Don Pedro, built in the 14th century
The Alcazar's Salon de Tapices holds massive tapestries from the 18th century
One of the impressive tapestries in the Salon de Tapices
The beautiful and peaceful Alcazar gardens

More Photos of Seville, Spain (May 12-14, 2008)

The view of the Plaza Virgen de los Reyes and the Barrio de Santa Cruz from La Giralda
Orange trees and pedestrian walkways line the Guadalquiver River that bisects Seville. On the left hand side of the river, note the 13th century Torre del Oro, which formed part of the Alcazar's defensive wall.
Purple jacaranda blossoms sprinkle the park grounds
A popular Spanish treat: churros con chocolate. First you dip the churros in the chocolate, then you drink the remaining chocolate!
A Seville weathervane
The Plaza de Espana is one of Seville's major landmarks, designed by Anibal Gonzales for the city's 1929 Exposicion Iberoamericana

Seville, Spain (May 12-14, 2008)

After periods of Roman, Vandal and Visigothic rule, Seville was conquered by the Moors in 712 and became an important center in Muslim Andalusia. With the Christian reconquest of the city in 1248, many of the original Moorish buildings were reconstructed to suit the taste of the new ruling class.

In the early 16th century, Seville was awarded a monopoly on Spanish trade with the Americas and grew to be one of the largest and richest cities in the world. This growth brought an influx of both artists and architects. As a result of its diverse history, Seville displays a unique fusion of Moorish, Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque and Romantic architectural styles.

The lively streets of the city are packed with tapas bars, flamenco theaters and colorful old churches and palaces. In the evenings, street musicians serenade tourists by lamplight from the town's many parks and plazas, which are lined with orange, palm and jacaranda trees.

The 97m high La Giralda tower was originally built in the 12th century by Abu Yacub Yusuf, the emperor of Morocco, as the minaret for a mosque. In the 16th century, it was converted into a bell tower for the cathedral.
Seville's massive Gothic cathedral was built from the 13th to the 15th centuries. It's the world's largest Gothic church and the world's third largest cathedral behind Saint Peter's in the Vatican and Saint Paul's in London. The remains of Christopher Columbus are contained within the cathedral.
Part of the organ, with the Capilla Mayor behind. The Capilla Mayor is a Gothic altarpiece of gilded and polychrome wood, built in the 15th and 16th centuries; it holds more than 1000 carved figures representing scenes from the Bible.
An example of Seville's layered architectural styles: the cathedral's Puerta del Perdon
The Plaza de Toros de la Real Maestranza was constructed in the 18th and 19th centuries. Seville is the second largest center for bullfighting in Spain, and the season runs from April to October.
A flamenco performance in Barrio de Santa Cruz; flamenco originated in Andalusia

Friday, May 16, 2008

Albufeira, Portugal (May 10-12, 2008)

Albufeira is a busy seaside resort on the southern coast of Portugal. Popular with British tourists, the town is packed with pubs boasting full English breakfasts and featuring the latest football matches on satellite TV.

The golden beaches of Albufeira are dotted with huge seashells and colorful rocks that wash up from the blue and turquoise Atlantic Ocean. Bougainvillea and other flowering vines brighten the whitewashed houses with red-tiled rooftops that overlook the water.
From near to far: Praia do Peneco, Praia dos Pescadores and Praia do Inatel
Looking back from Praia do Inatel to Albufeira's downtown area
A lone sailboat
The Marina de Albufeira
A secluded cove north of Albufeira
Bright purple flowers soak up the sunlight

Evora, Portugal (May 9-10, 2008)

Evora, in southern Portugal, is a city rich in both history and architecture, and is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Occupied by the Romans and the Moors, and later a leading center of Portuguese art, the town is full of ruins and ancient monuments that have been folded into the modern architecture.

Evora's local specialty is cork, and countless shops sell everything from carvings and cork-covered journals or picture frames to beautiful hats and purses.
Evora's impressive university courtyard, decorated with azulejos (blue painted tiles); the university was founded in the 1550s
Evora's Roman-Gothic Se cathedral and cloisters, built during the 13th and 14th centuries
Pieces of the original Roman wall and 16th century aqueduct can be found throughout the town incorporated into the modern architecture; here's a row of houses built into the arches of the aqueduct
Colorful Praca de Giraldo, with the 16th century Igreja de Santo Antao
The walls and pillars of the Capela dos Ossos, or Chapel of Bones, in the Church of Sao Francisco, are covered with bones disinterred from Evora's overflowing cemetery in the 17th century
The 1st century Roman Templo de Diana is the best-preserved Roman temple in Portugal

More Photos of Sintra, Portugal (May 8, 2008)

Sintra´s Moorish castle was built by the Arabs during the 9th and 10th centuries; it fell to Afonso Henriques, the first King of Portugal, in 1147
Here I am on one of the castle's winding walls, overlooking the countryside and the distant sea
Another view of the old castle walls
The Pena National Palace, with its colorful facade, was rebuilt during the 19th century in the Romantic style; it sits on an adjacent hilltop to the Moorish castle
Sintra's camara municipal, or town hall
Flowers were in bloom all over Sintra