Spain & Portugal Travel Part I: Toledo

January 30, 2019 by · Leave a Comment
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Spain & Portugal Travel Part I: Long Travel to Spain and Toledo Visit

Spain and Portugal have many interesting historical places that are now designated as UNESCO World Heritage sites.

Places of Visit

My wife and I together with 22 people from my country, Malaysia, went to Spain and Portugal to visit some of their historical landmarks from 22 Oct 2018 until 2 November 2018.

Writer and Wife

Writer and wife on Spain and Portugal Tour

Tour Group from Malaysia

Tour group on the Spanish & Portugal Tour from 22 October-2 November 2018

We would begin our tour from Toledo and end at Barcelona, as shown in the map below.

Map showing the places the tour group would visit

Touring Spain and Portugal

A Brief History of Spain

Spain was ruled by the Romans in around 200 BCE. Subsequently, she was ruled by the Christian Germanic tribal confederations, Visigoths, then the Muslim Moors from North Africa in 7th. century and Christians again in the 15th. century.

King Ferdinand III, a Holy Roman Catholic monarch, recaptured Spain from the Muslims in 1492. The country became a republic in 1873 when the last monarch, King Amadeo I(1845-1890), abdicated his throne.

47 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Spain

Spain was ruled by different kingdoms in the past and many places and buildings left behind have become UNESCO world heritage sites totalling about 47.

Long Travel to Spain from Malaysia

Day 1    Mon, 22 Oct 2018  Air Flight

On the first day of our travel to Spain, we flew from KLIA, Malaysia, to Madrid in Spain via Bangkok(Thailand) and Amman(Jordan) on Royal Jordanian airlines.

Flight from KLIA to Bangkok(2 hrs 10 mins) 

Flight from KLIA to Bangkok on Royal Jordanian Airline on 22 Oct 2018

Flight from Bangkok to Amman(9 hrs 20 mins)

Flight from Bangkok to Amman on 23 Oct 2018

Flight from Amman to Madrid(4 hrs 30 mins) 

Flight from Amman to Madrid on 23 Oct 2018

Jeff Lee, a tour manager of Golden Destinations

Jeff Lee, a tour manager of Golden Destinations Travel Agency(Kuala Lumpur), took care of us during the whole tour as shown in the photo below.

Jeff Lee, tour manager of Golden Destinations

Jeff Lee, a tour manager of Golden Destinations Travel Agency(Kuala Lumpur)

Tue, 23 Oct 2018  Arrival at Madrid, Spain

After a long, tiring journey that took almost a whole day from Malaysia, we finally reached Madrid international airport known as Madrid-Berajas Airport on the second day, Tue, 23 Oct 2018.

At the airport, we boarded a dark orange coach. Then Sergio, a Spanish driver, drove all of us to a small town, Segovia, which is about 90 km north-west of Madrid.

Sergio, a Spanish coach driver

Sergio, the coach driver(L), and the writer(R)

Hotel Puerta de Segovia

On arrival at Segovia, we checked in and rested for a night at a hotel, Hotel Puerta de Segovia. We would begin our Spain-Portugal tour on the following day.

Hotel Puerta de Segovia

Hotel Puerta De Segovia, 90 km north-east of Madrid

Day 3     Wed, 24 Oct 2018

Toledo and Madrid

On this day, we would begin our long-awaited tour in Spain and Portugal.

We would visit Toledo first and then Madrid on the same day.

In the morning, my wife and I had a hearty breakfast at Hotel Puerta de Segovia, our first breakfast in Spain. After breakfast, we and others travelled by coach from the hotel to the former capital of Spain, Toledo, which is located 157 km south-west of Segovia and the journey would take 2 hours.

Writer’s Breakfast

Writer’s first mouth-watering breakfast in Spain at Hotel Puerta de Segovia

Wife’s Breakfast

His wife’s first breakfast in Spain at Hotel Puerta de Segovia

Berta, a Toledo tour-guide

On arrival at Toledo, a Spanish guide, Berta, joined us and brought us round to see the landmarks in the old town of Toledo.

Berta, a Toledo tour-guide

Berta, the Toledo guide

Toledo

Toledo is a quaint and charming town in a hilly area. It is known as the “City of Three Cultures” due to the cultural influences of the Christians, Muslims and Jews in the past.

Map showing the location of Toledo

Location of Toledo in Spain

While travelling on a hill in Toledo, we saw the picturesque old town of Toledo on another hill separated by a river, River Tagus.

Alcazar of Toledo

On top of the hill is the Alcazar of Toledo which is a majestic looking fortress on the highest hill in Toledo.

It was used as a Roman palace in the 3rd. Century, restored by a Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V, and his son in the 1540s, and rebuilt between 1939 and 1957.

Now, it houses the regional library and military museum.

Alcazar of Toledo

Alcazar of Toledo that was a fortress in the olden days houses a regional library and military museum.

Alcantara Bridge

To enter the old Toledo town, we crossed a bridge over River Tagus. The bridge known as Alcantara Bridge was built between 104 and 106 A.D. by the Romans.

A medieval castle, Castle of San Servando, located on a hill near the bridge was founded in the 7th. Century.

Alcantara Bridge

Alcantara Bridge was constructed in the years 104-106 A.D. by the Romans

Castle of San Servando

Alcantara Bridge and Castle of San Servando, Toledo

Wall and Gates

Toledo was surrounded by a wall in the olden days to prevent sudden attack by invaders. Now some parts of the wall and two stone gates remain as monuments.

Wall Round Toledo 

Wall was built round the town to prevent sudden attacks from invaders in the olden days

Stone Gate to Alcazar of Toledo

This  massive stone-gate is an entrance to Alcazar of Toledo. a fortress on the highest hill in Toledo.

Stone Gate in Toledo

A massive stone gate is an entrance to a fortress, Alcazar of Toledo, located on the highest hill in Toledo.

Alcazar of Toledo

Toledo Alcazar was used as a Roman palace in the 3rd. Century, restored by Charles V and his son in the 1540s and rebuilt between 1939 and 1957.

Narrow Old Streets and Squares

When we were in the old town of Toledo, we walked along narrow old streets. We stopped when we came across some ancient cathedrals.

Narrow Old Street

A narrow street in the old Toledo town

Souvenir Shops

Souvenir shops along narrow street

A Lot of Walking

We walked a lot in the town and sometimes took opportunity to rest for a short while, like these two good, old friends, Roland and Voon, from Sarawak did as shown in the photo below.

Resting in a Toledo Narrow Street

Two good, old friends, Roland and Voon, from Sarawak resting in a narrow street in Toledo Old Town

Zocodover Square

While going to Toledo Cathedral, we stopped for a moment at an open-air space known as Zocodover Square.

In the olden days, it was a busy market place and a place for public execution of prisoners. Now, it is a place where important social and political activities take place.

Zocodover Square

A square in old Toledo town, Zocodover Square

Toledo Cathedral

Then we continued walking to a cathedral, Toledo Cathedral, near the square. It is a famous cathedral and the largest in Toledo. It is  also known as “Primate Cathedral of St. Mary of Toledo”.

Built in Gothic architectural style, it is a Roman Catholic church that was constructed in 1223 and completed in 1493.

Toledo Cathedral

Toledo Cathedral in Gothic architectural style

Facade of Toledo Cathedral

Detailed facade of Toledo Cathedral

City Council of Toledo Building

On the way to another church, Church of Santo Tome,  we were attracted by a charming building with two towers in Baroque style. Besides, it looks symmetrical.

It was constructed from 1575 until 1793 with lots of problems. It is now the seat of the city council of Toledo.

City Council of Toledo

City Council of Toledo, a charming building that was constructed from 1575 until 1703

Church of Santo Tome

Then we visited another church known as Church of Santo Tome.

While waiting to enter the church, we were amused by an old,  Spanish lady-busker dramatising a play “Don Quxiote” in front of the church. Some generous passers-by donated her some money.

A Lady-Busker

An old, unemployed lady busking in front of Church of Santo Tome

Painting of “The Burial of Count Orfaz”

When we entered the church, we saw a famous painting on a wall, “The Burial of Count Orfaz”. It was painted by El Greco(1541-1614), a Greek Spaniard, who was a painter, sculptor and architect.

Church of Santo Tome

Church of Santo Tome that houses an El Greco’s famous painting, “The Burial of Count Orfaz”

Details of “The Burial of Count Orgaz”

This painting shows heaven on the upper painting and earth on the lower painting.

The heaven shows Mary and John the Baptist gathering at Christ’s feet, whereas the earth shows Saints Augustine and Stephen lowering the body of Count Orgaz into a tomb. Christ was watching and going to judge Count Orgaz’s soul.

El Greco’s famous painting

El Greco’s famous painting, “The Burial of Count Orgaz”

Count Orgaz

Count Orgaz was a native of Orgaz. When he passed away in 1312, he gave away a large sum of money to Santo Tomes Church and wished to be buried in the church.

According to the legend, two saints, Augustine and Stephen, came down from heaven and buried Count Orgaz in the church.

The church commissioned El Greco to paint a picture in the church showing the burial of Count Orgaz. El Greco finished painting it on a wall in the church in 1586. Art scholars consider it as a masterpiece of Western Art and late Mannerism.

Portrait of El Greco(1541-1614)

El Greco, the painter of “The Burial of Count Orgaz”

Back of the Church of Santo Tome

The back of the Church of Santo Tome, Toledo

Toledo Escalators

Later, we went to the top of a Toledo hill by escalators.

The escalators are constructed in six parts in a zig-zag manner totaling 100 metres long. They help tourists to gain a height of 36 metres to reach the hill-top to see the breathtaking view of the new town of Toledo in the distance.

Escalator to the hill-top 

Toledo elevators help tourists to gain a height of 36 metres

Panoramic view of the new town of Toledo

Panoramic view of the new town of Toledo from the old town

Lunch Time

After a short tour of the old town of Toledo, we went to a restaurant, Restaurante Ciggaral Monte Rey, that perched on a high ground in Toledo old town for lunch.

A Toledo Restaurant

A restaurant, Restaurante Cigarral Monte Rey, in Toledo, Spain

Tour group having lunch in Toledo

Tour group having lunch at Restaurante Cigarral Monte Rey in Toledo, Spain

Some Dishes Served in the Restaurant

Fried Rice with Seafood

Fried with seafood served at Restaurante Ciggaral Rey, Toledo

Bread with Cheese, etc.

Bread with cheese, fried egg, etc. served at Restaurante Ciggaral Monte Rey, Toledo

Two Objects at the Restaurant

At Restarante Ciggaral Monte Rey, two objects attracted my attention as shown in the photos below.

Medieval Armours

In olden days, medieval armours were made of metal and used by soldiers to protect their bodies.

The armours at the restaurant looked heavy. The poor soldiers in ancient times had to wear them for protection during wars.

Medieval Armours

Medieval armours used by soldiers for body protection during ancient wars

Coat of Arms of Toledo

A carved wooden Coat of Arms of Toledo was on a wall of the restaurant.

Coat of Arms of Toledo

A carved wooden Coat of Arms of Toledo

Next Destination

After a sumptuous lunch, we travelled to the capital of Spain, Madrid, which is 73 km north-east of Toledo(Time taken: 1 hour). On arrival in Madrid we visited some heritage sites.

Home / Next(Madrid)

Places visited during Spain & Portugal Tour(22 Oct-02 Nov 2018):

Toledo   Madrid   Salamanca   Porto   Lisbon   Seville   Cordobo   Granada   Valencia   Barcelona

Spain & Portugal Travel Part II: Madrid

January 30, 2019 by · Leave a Comment
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Spain & Portugal Travel Part II: Madrid

Day 3     Wed, 24 Oct 2018

Madrid

On this day, we were going to Madrid, the capital of Spain, in the afternoon, after visiting Toledo in the morning.

Map showing location of Madrid

Location of Madrid

After lunch in Toledo, we travelled 73 km north-east to Madrid for an hour.

Ines, a Madrid tour guide

Arriving at Madrid, we met a Madrid tour guide, Ines, who brought us round.

Ines, a Madrid tour guide

Ines, the Madrid tour-guide

Bullring, Las Ventas

The first place we visited in the city was a large bullring, Las Ventas, that has a seating capacity of about 24000 and opened for bullfighting in 1931. It is also used for concerts, tennis competitions, cultural celebrations and other activities.

Bullring, Las Ventas

Madrid Bullring, Las Ventas, that has seating capacity of about 24000

In the Bullring

Diameter of Las Ventas Bullring is 65 metres and its seating capacity is 24000.

Bullfighting Sculpture

Bronze sculpture of bullfighting outside Las Ventas Bullring, Madrid

Writer and wife visiting the bullring

Writer and wife visiting Las Ventas Bullring, Madrid

Santiago Bernabeu Stadium

On the way to the Royal Palace of Spain from the bullring, we passed by a large football stadium that is known as Santiago Bernabeu which was opened in 1947 and has a seating capacity of about 81000.

Many grand final matches, such as European Cup, UEFA and World Cup, have been played in the stadium. Besides, it is a home to Real Madrid Football Club, a famous professional football club since 1947.

Santiago Bernabeu Stadium

Santiago Bernabeu Stadium that has hosted many grand final matches and is a home to Real Madrid Football Club

Cybele Palace

Then we passed by a stunning, white building called Cybele Palace. It was opened in 1919 until 2007 as headquarters for postal and communications services. Now it houses Madrid City Hall and a cultural centre known as CentroCentro.

Charming, white Cybele Palace and beautiful fountain known as Cibeles Fountain in front of the white building

Cibeles Fountain

In front of Cybele Palace is a roundabout that has a beautiful fountain in its centre. It has a sculpture of a Phrygian goddess, Cibeles. riding a lion-drawn chariot.

Royal Palace of Spain

Later, we arrived at the Royal Palace of Spain. It is a grand palace where the current king, King Felipe VI and his family do not live. It is used for state ceremonies and opened to public for them to see the valuable things left behind by former kings and queens of Spain.

Royal Palace of Spain

Writer and wife visiting Royal Palace in Madrid, Spain

Miguel de Cervantes Monument

In a square, Spain Square, near the royal palace, there is a monument in memory of Miguel de Cervantes(1547-1616), a famous Spanish writer. “Don Quixote” is one of his novels.

The story of “Don Quixote” is about a nobleman, Alonso Quixano. He knows so many romances of chivalry that he loses his mind and becomes a knight-errant trying to revive and serve his country under the name Don Quixote de la Mancha.

Knight-errant is a medieval knight who travels around doing brave things and helping people in trouble.

Monument to Miguel de Cervantes

Monument erected in Spain Square in memory of Miguel de Cervantes

Statue of Miguel de Cervantes

Statue of Miguel de Cervantes, the writer of novel, “Don Quixote”, at its monument in Spain Park, Madrid

Bronze sculpture of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza

Bronze sculpture of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza, the two important characters in Miguel’s novel, “Don Quixote”

Oriental Square(Plaza de Oriente)

In another square near the royal palace, Oriental Square, there is a bronze equestrian of King Felipe IV of Spain(1605-1665). He ruled Spain from 1621 till 1665. The king commissioned an Italian sculptor, Pietro Tacca(1577-1640), to made this equestrian of himself.

Bronze equestrian of King Felipe IV(1605-1665)

Bronze equestrian of King Felipe IV in Plaza de Oriente in front of the Royal Palace, Madrid

Sabatini Garden

Located near the Oriental Square is the Sabatini Garden. It was opened by King Juan Carlos I(1938-     ) in 1978 in honour of an Italian architect, Francesco Sabatini(1722-1797), who had made a lot of contributions to the architectural landscape of Spain in the 18th. Century. King Juan Carlos I ruled Spain from 1975 until his abdication in 2014.

Francessco Sabatini’s Work

The photo below shows the main gate into the city of Madrid, Puerta de Alcala, in the Plaza de la Independencia. It was built in 1778 and looks like a triumphal arch that is one of Sabatini’s works.

A Sabatini’s Work, Puerta Alcala

Puerta Alcala was built in 1778 as the main gate into Madrid city and is one of Francessco Sabatini’s works.

Statues of Spanish Kings in Sabatini Garden

In the shady garden of Sabatini Garden near the Royal Palace there are about 20 statues of Spanish kings arranged in two rows, including King of Visigothic Kingdom, Ataulfo(370-415), King of Visigothic Kingdom, Suntila(588-633), King of Asturias, Alonso I(693-757), King of Leon, Alonso V(994-1028), King of Aragon, Ramiro I(1007-1063) and Emperor of Spain, Fernando(1015-1065), as shown in the photos below.

Altaulfo(370-415)

Altaulfo(370-415), King of Visigothic Kingdom

Suntila(588-633)

Suntila(588-633), King of Visigothic Kingdom

Alonso I(693-757)

Alonso I(693-757), King of Asturias

Alonso V(994-1028)

Alonso V(994-1028), King of Leon

Amiro I(1007-1063)

Amiro I(1007-1063), King Aragon

Fernando(1015-1065)

Fernando(1015-1065), Emperor of Spain

Spanish Traditional Clothes

Near the Monument to Miguel de Cervantes, I saw four colourful Spanish traditional clothes. They were meant for tourists who wanted to be photographed in them for remembrance, but they had to pay a fee to the owner.

Spanish Traditional Clothes

Take photos in these clothes for a fee in the Royal Garden, Madrid, Spain

Royal Palace Guards

In a Royal Palace garden, I came across two palace guards on horses patrolling the palace area. They were very friendly and allowed me to take a photo of them.

Two Royal Palace guards on horses patrolling the palace area

Dinner at a Chinese Restaurant, Royal Cantones

Soon we left the Royal Palace in Madrid and went to a Chinese restaurant, Royal Cantones Restaurant, for dinner in the city. After dinner we travelled back to Hotel Puerta de Segovia in Segovia which is 90 km north-east of Madrid.

Dinner at a Madrid Chinese restaurant, Royal Cantones

Below are photos showing some dishes served at the Chinese restarant, Royal Cantones Restaurant

Steamed Fish

Steamed fish with with sauce

Tofu

Tofu with vegetables

Fried Chicken

Fried Chicken

Next Destination

Our next destination would be Salamanca on the following day, Thurs, 24 October 2018.

Previous(Toledo)  / Home / Next(Salamanca)

Places visited during Spain & Portugal Tour(22 Oct-02 Nov 2018):

Toledo   Madrid   Salamanca   Porto   Lisbon   Seville   Cordobo  Granada   Valencia   Barcelona

 

Spain & Portugal Travel Part III: Salamanca

January 30, 2019 by · Leave a Comment
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Spain & Portugal Travel Part III: Salamanca

Salamanca

Day 4   Thursday, 25 Oct 2018

On this day, we were going to visit Salamanca.

We left Hotel Puerta de Segovia in Segovia in the morning and travelled 310 km west to Salamanca and the travelling time would be 3 hours 20 minutes.

Short History of Salamanca

Salamanca was first ruled by the Romans, then the Christian Visigoths from western Germany, later the Muslim Moors from North Africa and finally the Christians again.

Map showing the location of Salamanca

Visiting Salamanca on Day 2, Thu, 25.10.2018

Economy of Salamanca

The economy of Salamanca depends mostly on tourism and students going for university education in the old town.

There are few heritage sites and old churches that attract tourists to Salamanca, including Roman Bridge, old churches, the oldest university in Spain and old public squares.

Below are some of the landmarks we visited in Salamanca

Roman Bridge

The Roman Bridge that crosses River Tormes in Salamanca was built over 2000 years ago. It is 176 metres long and 37 metres wide.

Roman Bridge

Roman Bridge crossing River Tormes was built over 2000 years ago in Salamanca.

The Roman Bridge of Salamanca is 176 m long and 3.7 m wide.

Bronze Sculpture

Erected near the Roman Bridge is a bronze sculpture of Lazarillo, a young boy leading a blind man. It was created by a Spanish artist, Agustin Castillas.

This monument is dedicated to the anonymous novelist who had written a story titled “The Life of Lazarillo de Tormes”(published in 1554). The story is about a poor boy who is sold to some masters who treated him, cruelly.

Lazarillo and Blind Man

Bronze sculpture of Lazarillo leading a blind old man erected near the Roman Bridge of Salamanca

Sculpture of a Headless Boar

At the entrance of the Roman Bridge, there is a sculpture of a headless boar on a high pedestal. This stone animal is known as verraco in Spainish.

So far about 400 monuments of this animal have been identified, especially in the high central plain of Iberian Peninsula. It is believed that they were created between the 4th. and 1st. Century B.C. and had some religious protective significance.

Headless Boar

Sculpture of a headless boar near the Roman bridge of Salamanca

Gate into the Old Town of Salamanca

Before entering the old town of Salamanca, we noticed a large gate standing opposite the Roman Bridge and there was no wall for protecting the town in the olden days.

Salamanca Gate

A gate into the old town of Salamanca

Old and New Salamanca Cathedrals

There are two cathedrals which are close to each other near the gate. One was built in Gothic and Baroque styles in the 12th. Century and is known as Old Salamanca Cathedral. The other one which is larger was built in Romanesque style between the 16th. and 18th. Century and is known as New Salamanca Cathedral.

Old Salamanca Cathedral

Old Salamanca Cathedral was built in Gothic and Baroque styles between 12th. and 14th. Century.

New Salamanca Cathedral

New Cathedral of Salamanca joined to the old one was built between 16th. and 18th. centuries in Gothic and Baroque styles.

Statue of Padre Camara

In the Juan XXIII Plaza next to Salamanca Cathedral is a statue of Padre Camara(1847-1904). He was a bishop of Salamanca Cathedral from 1885 until 1904.

Statue of Padre Camara

Padre Camara(1847-1904) was a bishop of Salamanca from 1885 until 1904.

Episcopal Palace of Salamanca

Episcopal Palace of Salamanca is located in the same square. Opened in 1890, it was the residence for bishops until 1964. Now it houses the Museum of History of Salamanca.

Episcopal Palace of Salamanca

Episcopal Palace of Salamanca opened in 1890 was a residence for bishops unti 1964. It now houses the Museum of History of Salamanca.

Writer and wife visited Salamanca Cathedral 

Writer and wife at the Salamanca Cathedral on 25 October 2018

University of Salamanca

Located near Salamanca Cathedral is the 3rd. oldest university in the world, University of Salamanca.

Thousands of students are studying at the university and contribute to the economy of Salamanca, annually. It was opened in the 11th. Century.

University of Salamanca

Salamanca University, the 3rd. oldest university in the word

Statue of Fray Luis de Leon(1527-1591)

Erected in front of the university is a statue of Fray Luis de Leon(1527-1591). Luis graduated from the university with Master’s Degree of Theology in 1560 and later, he lectured at the institution.

Statue of Fray Luis de Leon(1527-1591)

Fray Luis(1527-1591) had graduated from the University of Salamanca and became its lecturer.

House of Shells or Casa de las Conchas

Near the university there is a house that was built in Gothic and Plateresque styles between 1493 and 1517. Known as House of Shelle or Casa de las Conchas, it was built by Rodrigo Arias, a professor of University of Salamanca.

It has a unique facade as it is decorated with over 300 stone shells. The shells are a symbol of the Order of Santiago and pilgrims performing the Way of St. James. Besides, the facade has the coat of arms of the Catholic monarchs of Spain and four Gothic styled windows of different shapes.

This historical building is now a public library.

House of Shells

House of Shells with walls of over 300 stone shells

Courtyard of House of Shells

Courtyard of House of Shells and the Clerecia Church behind

Clerecia Church

Right in front of the House of Shells is a church known as Clerecia Church. Built in Baroque style in the 17th. Century as the Royal College of the Jesus, it is now a headquarter of Salamanca Pontificial University.

Clerecia Church

The Clerecia Church built as a Pontical university in the 16th. Century

Next Destination, Porto

After visiting the landmarks in Salamanca, we had lunch at a Chinese restaurant known as Mei Shi Restaurant in the old town of Salamanca. Then we left the town and travelled to the next destination, Porto in Portugal. Porta is 350 km west of Salamanca and time taken for the journey is 4 hours.

Mei Shi Restaurant, Salamanca

Lunch at Mei Shi Restaurant in Salamanca old town

Tour Group having lunch

Tour having Chinese lunch at Mei Shi Restaurant, Salamanca

Previous(Madrid) / Home / Next(Porto)

Places visited during Spain & Portugal Tour(22 Oct-02 Nov 2018):

Toledo   Madrid   Salamanca   Porto   Lisbon   Seville   Cordobo  Granada   Valencia   Barcelona

Spain & Portugal Travel Part IV: Porto

January 30, 2019 by · Leave a Comment
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Spain & Portugal Travel Part IV: Porto

Porto

Day 4     Thursday, 25 October 2018

On this day, we continued our journey from Salamanca in Spain to Porto in Portugal which is 340 km west of Salamanca and the journey would take 4 hours.

As we arrived in Porto in the evening, we stayed at a hotel, Hotel Black Tulip, for a night.

Day 5    Friday, 26 October 2018

On the following day, Friday, 26 October 2018, we left Hotel Black Tulip and travelled to Porto Old Town.

Map showing the location of Porto

Visiting Porto on Day 3, Fri, 26.10.2018

Bridges over River Douro

While travelling along River Douro to Porto Old Town, we saw a few bridges crossing the river, including Flexio Bridge(1995), Infante Bridge(2003) and Luis I Bridge(1886), as shown in the photos below.

Fleixo Bridge

Fleixo Bridge crossing River Douro was built in 1995 and is 705 metres long.

Infante Bridge

Infante Bridge crossing River Douro was built in 2003 and is 371 metres long.

Luis I Bridge

Luis I Bridge crossing River Douro was built in 1886 and 172 metres long.

Luis I Bridge, a two level bridge

Luis I Bridge is a special bridge. Built in 1886 over River Douro connecting Porto City to Vila Nova de Gaia, this old bridge has two levels. The upper level is for light rail train(Metro), and the lower one for pedestrians and cars.

Diogo, a Porto local tour guide

On arrival in Porto City, we were joined by a local tour guide called Diogo. He showed us around to see a few old landmarks in the old town.

Diogo, a Porto local tour guide

                                                                             Diogo, a Porto local tour guide

Livraria Lello or Livraria Chardron Bookstore

While we were on the way to two old churches in Porto Old Town,  we saw a shop with a facade that was quite different from the rest in the same row.

It had a white facade of an elegant architectural design with some simple paintings. It was a bookstore known as Lavraria Lello or Livraria Chadron Bookstore opened in 1960.

That shop was frequented by J.K. Rowling who was teaching English in Porto from 1991 until 1993. She is a famous writer who has written Harry Potter series.

Livraria Lello or Livraria Chardron Bookstore

Livrari Lello or Livraria Chardron Bookstore is a well-known bookstore and opened in 1960 in Porto, Portugal.

Carmilitas Church and Carmo Church

Soon we arrived at two churches which were very close to each other.

The left church is known as Carmilitas. It is a convent for nuns built in Classical style with a bell tower on the left in the 17th. Century.

It is separated from another church, Carmo Church, for monks by a very narrow row of houses which prevents the contact between the monks and nuns.

Carmo Church was built in Baroque style in the 18th. Century.

Carmilitas Church and Carmo Church

Carmilitas Church(left) was built in 17th. Century and Carmo Church in 18th. Century

Interior of Carmilitas Church

The interior of Carmilitas Church is long. Its woodcarvings and the altar are richly gilded with gold.

Interior of Carmilitas Church

Rich gold-gilded interior of Carmilitas Church, Porto

Coffee Time

After visiting the two churches, we crossed the road in front of them to one of the cafes to have coffee.

Cafes

Cafes opposite Carmelitas and Carmo Churches, Porto

Assorted Pastries at a Cafe

A cafe had assorted pastries which were mouth-watering as shown in the two photos below

.Assorted Pastries

Assorted pastries at a cafe opposite Carmelitas and Carmo Churches, Porto

More assorted pastries at a cafe opposite Carmelitas and Carmo Churches

After coffee we took a long walk to Freedom or Liberty Square

Statue of Ramalho Orthigao(1836-1915)

On the way to Freedom or Liberty Square we came across a statue in Cordoana Garden. It was a statue of a famous Portuguese writer, Ramalho Orthigao(1836-1915).

“The Mystery of the Sintra Road” and “As Farpas” were among his notable writings.

Ramalho Orthigao(1836-1915)

Statue of Ramalho Orthigao(1836-1915). Orthigao was a well-known Portuguese writer.

University of Porto

Then we passed by a large building which was University of Porto.

The university was founded in 1911 and is the 2nd. largest by number of enrolled students after University of Lisbon in Portugal.

University of Porto

University of Porto founded in 1911 is the 2nd. largest in Portugal.

Church of Clergy and Tower of Clerics(Clergy)

While walking away from the university, we saw a tall bell tower and a white building adjacent to it. The building is a Roman Catholic church known as Church of Clergy built in the 17th. Century for the brotherhood of clergy. The bell tower known as Tower of Clerics was built several years later.

Visitors can climb up the steep steps in the tower and have a breathtaking view of Porto City.

Church of Clergy and Tower of Clerics(Clergy)

Tower of Clerics is a Roman Catholic church built in Baroque style in the 17th. Century.

Freedom or Liberty Square

Soon we arrived at the Freedom or Liberty Square.

The square is in the busy business area of Porto. In the centre of the square there is a equestrian statue of King Peter IV. It is a monument in memory of King Peter IV(1798-1834).

King Peter IV was the supporter of constitutional monarchy. He played a very important role in Liberal Wars(1828-1834) in which he defeated his younger brother, Miquel(1802-1866), who supported absolute monarchy. After the war in 1834, Portugal restored the constitutional monarchy.

Freedom or Liberty Square

Freedom or Liberty Square in a busy business area of Porto City that has a statue of King Peter IV in its centre

Court and Chain of Relation

A historical building can be seen near the Liberty Square. It was built in 1767 to house the Court and Chain of Relation. Besides, it was used as a prison until 1974 when Portugal returned to democracy.

Portuguese Photography Centre

In 1997 the Portuguese Photography Centre took over the building of Court and Chain of Relation to safeguard, value and promote the photographic heritage of Portugal.

Court and Chain of Relation

This building was built in 1767 and housed the Court and Chain of Relation. Then it housed the Portuguese Photography Centre since 1997.

Douro Fort or Foz Castle

On the way to Prince Henry the Navigator Square and River Douro Valley from Liberty Square, we saw a fort near the river-mouth of River Douro. It was built in the 16th. Century to protect the port of Porto from being attacked by Spanish fleets from the north. It is called Douro or Foz Castle.

Douro Fort or Foz Castle

Douro Fort was built in the 16th. Century to protect the Douro Port

Streets of Old Town of Porto

As we passed through the old city we noticed that its streets were narrow and lined with old buildings of a few storeys. Some of the roads were cobble-stoned.

A Street of Old Town of Porto

A narrow street in Old Town of Porto

Old houses in Old Town of Porto

Old houses in Porto Old Town

A cobble-stone street in Porto Old Town

A cobble-stone street in Porto Old Town

Churches in the Old Porto City

There are a few old churches in the city. Among them is Church of the Third Order of St. Francis, a Roman Catholic church on a low hill.

It was built in Gothic style with a large rose window on its facade between 1383 and 1425.

Church of the Third Order of St. Francis

Church of the Third Order of St. Francis, a Catholic church on a low hill in Porto old town

Heritage Trams

In the Old City of Porto, we also noticed that old trams or heritage trams run by electricity were still in operation.

Trams in the city were first pulled by mules, then powered by steam engines and now by electric motors.

Heritage Tram

Trams in Porto were first pulled by mules, then powered by steam engines and later by electric motors.

Prince Henry the Navigator Square

After passing through the picturesque Old City of Porto, we arrived at the Prince Henry the Navigator Square.

Prince Henry the Navigator Square

Statue of Prince Henry the Navigator in the centre of a square

Monument of Prince Henry the Navigator

Erected in the centre of the square is a monument in memory of Prince Henry the Navigator(1394-1460).

Prince Henry played an important role in the early development of Portuguese maritime exploration in the 15th. Century. The period from the 15th. until 18th. Century was known as the Age of Discovery or Expansion.

He sponsored some voyages that led to the discovery of Medeira Islands and other islands off the coast of West Africa, and also some coastal areas in West Africa. He was considered as the initiator of the interest in overseas discovery in Europe.

Monument in memory of Prince Henry the Navigator(1394-1460).

Buildings around the Square

There are a few important buildings around Prince Henry the Navigator Square, including the following:

Church of St. Nicholas

Church of St. Nicholas which was built in the 18th. Century is a small church in Baroque-Classical styles.

Church of St. Nicholas

Church of St. Nicholas built in the 18th. Century

Stock Exchange Palace

Stock Exchange Palace was built in Neoclassical style in the 19th. Century. It is now the seat of the Commercial Association.

Stock Exchange Palace

Stock Exchange Palace in the background was built in the 19th. Century and a monument of Henry the Navigator in the foreground

Church of St. Francis

Church of St. Francis is adjacent to the Stock Exchange Palace. It was built in Gothic style in the 15th. Century.

Church of St. Francis

Church of St. Francis built in the 15th. Century with the Stock Exchange Palace built on its burnt-down site

Rebeira Walk

Then we walked down a short distance to a waterfront of River Douro known as Rebeira Walk.

Standing on the waterfront, we saw a beautiful scenery. It was a picturesque view of River Douro on our right, Luis I Bridge over the river in the distance, tourists and foodstalls(cafes) on Rebeira Walk, and old. traditional and colourful shophouses on a higher ground on the left.

Rebeira Walk

Rebeira Walk, a waterfront along River Douro is a popular tourists’ spot in Porto

Colourful Shophouses

Colourful, rectangular houses along riverside of River Douro

Lunch on Rebeira Walk

As it was lunch-time, my wife, a tour-mate, Roland, and I had lunch together at one of the waterfront cafes. The prices of food and drinks were pricey, but we had no choice as we were hungry.

Writer and wife at a cafe

Writer and wife waiting for lunch at a cafe on Rebeira Walk, Porto

Writer and wife sharing lunch

Writer and wife sharing black noodle and salad for lunch at a cafe on Rebeira Walk, Porto

Writer and tourmate, Roland, having lunch

Writer and tourmate, Roland, having lunch on the waterfront of River Douro, Porto

River Boat Cruise 

There is a place at Rebeira Walk where tourists can embark in boats for a river cruise.

Old traditional cargo boats known as Rabelos are now used for carrying tourists for river-cruises.

A river cruise may start from Rebeira Walk to the river-mouth of Douro, into the Atlantic Ocean and back. It goes under six bridges crossing River Douro and tourists on board can enjoy the quaint sights along the river.

River Douro boat cruise from Rebeira Walk

Tourists go for River Douro boat cruise from Rebeira Walk

Next Destination

We left Rebeira Walk and went to Hotel Black Tulip in Porto to stay for a night.

The following day we would leave for the next destination, Lisbon, which is 320 km in the south of Porto.(Time for the journey: 3 hours 30 minutes)

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Places visited during Spain & Portugal Tour(22 Oct-02 Nov 2018):

Toledo   Madrid   Salamanca   Porto   Lisbon   Seville   Cordobo  Granada   Valencia   Barcelona

 

 

Spain & Portugal Travel Part IX: Valencia

January 30, 2019 by · Leave a Comment
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Spain & Portugal Travel Part IX: Valencia

Valencia

Day 9     Tuesday, 30 October 2018

On this day, we were going to visit Valencia.

In the morning, we left Hotel Port Elche in Alicante where we stayed the previous night and travelled 165 km north-east to Valencia. The journey would take 2 hours.

Valencia

Valencia is a large city of 800,000 inhabitants.

When we arrived at Valencia, we visited a modern place known as “Arts and Sciences City”.

Map showing the location of Valencia

Visiting Valencia on 30 October 2018

Arts and Sciences City, Valencia

In 1957, Valencia City experienced a disastrous flood when the water of River Turia overflowed and flooded the city. Later, the river was diverted elsewhere and the dry river-bed in the city was converted to a unique, modern place known as “Arts and Sciences City”.

Plan of Arts and Sciences City

Arts and Sciences City has buildings built in modern architectural style designed by Santiago Calatrava and Felix Candela. Each building has one or more functions.

The plan of the place below shows the locations of the following buildings, Museum of Sciences, Agora, Umbracle and Hemisferic to name a few.

Plan of Arts and Sciences City

Plan of Arts and Sciences City

Some of the modern buildings are described below.

Museum of Sciences(Museo de les Ciencies)

Museum of Sciences looks like a whale skeleton built in 2000. It is an interactive museum that has three floors of different Science exhibits.

Museum of Sciences

Museum of Sciences

Agora

Agora built in 2009 looks like a flower-bud and is used for many activities, including concerts, exhibitions, conventions and sports.

Agora

L’Agora

Umbracle

Umbracle built in 2001 looks like a bridge that is 320 metres long and 60 metres wide. Below it is a road but its top is a garden. The garden has more than 1000 plants of different species and sculptures, too.

Umbracle

Hemisferic

Hemisferic looks like an eye with an eyelid was built in 1998. It houses an IMAX cinema, planetarium and laserium.

Hemisferic

Hemisferic

Bridge of the Dam of the Gold(El Pont de l’Assut de l’Or)

This bridge was built in 2008 over the dry river-bed of River Turia. It is supported by a 125 metre high tower and cables.

Bridge of the Dam of the Gold

Bridge of the Dam of the Gold

The photo below shows part of the Arts and Sciences City.

Part of Arts and Sciences City

Part of Arts and Sciences City

Sculptures in Arts and Sciences City

There are several sculptures of different forms and sizes all over Arts and Sciences City, including the two shown below.

Bronze Sculpture

A bronze sculpture in a pool of water. It is known as “Mixed Feelings” which was created by a British artist, Anthony Cragg.

Bronze Sculpture

Bronze sculpture

White Fibre-Glass Sculpture

Anthony Cragg created another sculpture that is made of fibre-glass and known as “Untitled”. It is erected in another pool of water.

White Fibre-Glass Sculpture

White fibreglass sculpture

Modern Buildings near Arts and Sciences City

From the Arts and Sciences City, a visitor can see some modern residential buildings nearby, including the ones shown in the two photos below.

Modern Building

Modern residential building

A Cluster of Modern Buildings

A cluster of modern residential buildings

Journey to Valencia Old Town

When we were on our way to the Valencia Old Town from Arts and Sciences City, we passed by two landmarks, Valencia Bullring and the North Station as described below.

Valencia Bullring

Valencia bullring(Plaza de Toros de Valencia) was opened in 1859 and has a seating capacity of 12,000. It is built in Neoclassical style and looks like the Colosseum in Rome.

Valencia Bullring

Valencia Bullring

The North Station(Estacio del Nord)

This attractive building is the main railway station of Valencia. It is built in Neoclassical style and opened in 1852.

The North Station

The North Station

Serranos Gate

When we reached the Valencia Old Town, we got down from our coach and walked a short distance to the town.

On the way, we saw was an imposing gate of the town known as Serranos Gate.

There were twelve gates with walls round the old town built in the 14th. Century to protect it from foreign invaders. But now only two are left and a few parts of the old wall remain.

Below is the Serronos Gate that we came across and it is kept as a monument.

The Front of Serranos Gate

The front of Serranos Gate

The Back of Serranos Gate

The back of Serranos Gate

The Side of Serranos Gate

The side of Serranos Gate

Central Market(Mercado)

Soon we arrived at the centre of the town and saw the largest market in Valencia. Known as Central Market or Mercado, it was built in Valencian Art Nouvema style at the old open-market site from 1914 until 1928.

Central Market

Central Market

Facade of Central Market

Facade of Central Market

Writer and Wife Visited Central Market

Writer and wife visiting Central Market, Valencia, on Tuesday, 30 October 2018

Interior of Central Market

Interior of Central Market

Stalls in Central Market

The market is large and has over 100 stalls selling fruits, vegetables, meat, cheese, wine, souvenirs, etc.

Below are some photos showing different stalls at the market.

Meat Stall

Meat stall

Fruit Stall

Fruit stall

Vegetable Stall

Vegetable stall

Cheese Stall

Cheese stall

Wine Stall

Wine stall

Souvenir Stall

Souvenir stall

Historical Buildings

Coming out of Central Market, I saw some historical buildings in front, including two buildings described and shown in the photos below.

Stock Exchange Building(Llotja de la Seda)

Stock Exchange Building that looks like a castle is in front of Central Market. Built in Valencian Gothic style in the 15th. Century, it was the main trading centre in Valencia. Besides, it housed a marine merchant tribunal and prison for merchants who could not pay their debts in the olden days.

Now the building is a monument and tourist attraction.

Stock Exchange Building

Stock Exchange Building

Church of St. John(Santos Juanes)

Near the Stock Exchange is a church, Church of St. John. It is a Roman Catholic church built in Gothic style in the 16-17th, Centuries. It replaced the 13th. Century church that was burnt down in 1592.

Church of St. John

Church of St. John

Church of Catalina

Having visited Central Market, we walked to a public square called Royal Square(Plaza de la Reina).

As we were walking to the square, we saw a church, Church of Catalina which is a Roman Catholic church. It was built in Gothic style in the 13th. Century. Adjacent to the church is a bell-tower of five levels with a hexagonal base. It was built in Baroque style between 1688 and 1795.

Church of Catalina

Church of St. Catalina

Royal Square(Plaza de la Reina)

When we were in an open space known as Royal Square, we noticed that it was a busy business-place surrounded by Cathedral of Valencia, Octagonal Bell-Tower, restaurants, shops, hotels, etc.

Royal Square

Royal Square(Plaza de la Reina} is an old, busy place

Virgin Mary Square

Then we walked to another open space nearby called Virgin Mary Square. In this square, there are two well-known historical buildings, viz. Cathedral of Valencia and Basilica of Our Lady of the Abandoned(Virgen de los Desamparados).

Virgin Mary Square

Virgin Mary Square

The photos below show the two historical buildings in Virgin Mary Square.

Cathedral of Valencia or Saint Mary’s Cathedral

Cathedral of Valencia or Saint Mary’s Cathedral is a Roman Catholic church built in Gothic style in the 13th. Century. There is a tall, octagonal bell tower built behind the church.

Cathedral of Valencia

Cathedral of Valencia

“Door of Irons”, the Main Entrance of the Cathedral

“Door of Irons”, main entrance of Cathedral of Valencia

Basilica of Our Lady of the Abandoned(The Virgen de los Desamparados)

A basilica built in Renaissance-Baroque style is close to Cathedral of Valencia. It was constructed from 1652 until 1666.

Basilica of Our Lady of the Abandoned

Basilica of Our Lady of the Abandoned

In the centre of Virgin Mary Square there is a fountain known as Turia Fountain that represents River Turia of Valencia.

Turia Fountain

On the upper level of the fountain is a bronze statue of Neptune, a Roman god, relaxing and enjoying the flowing water. He is surrounded by eight bronze statues of naked women pouring water out of their jugs on the lower level. They represent the eight irrigation channels in agricultural lands of Valencia.

Turia Fountain

Turia Fountain

Lunch in Valencia Old Town

When we left Virgin Mary Square we went to a Spanish restaurant, La Cigrona Restaurant, in the Valencia Old Town to have lunch.

La Cigrona Restaurant

La Cigrona Restaurant, Valencia Old Town

Food for Lunch

Below are two photos showing some of the food we ate at the restaurant.

Salad

Salad at La Cigrona Restaurant, Valencia Old Town

Roasted Chicken

Roasted chicken at La Cigrona Restaurant, Valencia Old Town

Next Destination

After the delicious meal in Valencia, we left for another destination which was Barcelona, 350 km in the north-east and the journey would take 4 hours.

On arrival in Barcelona in the evening, we went to a Chinese restaurant, Rio Azul Restaurant, to have dinner and then stayed at a hotel, Sercotel Ciutat da Montcada, for a night.

We would be visiting the heritage sites in Barcelona on the following day.

Rio Azul Restaurant

Rio Azul Restaurant, a Chinese restaurant in Barcelona, Spain

Sercotel Ciutat de Montcada, Barcelona

Sercotel Ciutat de Montcada, Barcelona

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Places visited during Spain & Portugal Tour(22 Oct-02 Nov 2018):

Toledo   Madrid   Salamanca   Porto   Lisbon   Seville   Cordobo  Granada   Valencia   Barcelona

Spain & Portugal Travel Part V: Lisbon

January 30, 2019 by · Leave a Comment
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Spain & Portugal Travel Part V: Lisbon

Lisbon

Day 5    Friday, 26 October 2018

On this day, we left Porto in the morning and travelled to Lisbon, the capital of Portugal, which is 320 km in the south and the time for the journey would be 3 hours 30 minutes.

Map showing location of Lisbon

Visiting Lisbon on Day 3, Fri, 26.10.2018

Maria, the Lisbon Tour-Guide

When we arrived at Lisbon, Maria, a local tour-guide welcomed us and brought us round to see a few historical landmarks.

Maria, the Lisbon tour guide

Jeronimos Monastery, Belem, Lisbon

The first historical landmark Maria brought us to see was Jeronimos Monastery which was a few hundred metres from River Tagus in Belem, Lisbon.

The monastery was constructed in 1506 and completed 100 years later. The construction was started by King Manuel I of Portugal(1469-1521) and funded by taxes on goods imported from overseas.

The monks of the Order of Saint Jerome at the monastery gave spiritual guidance to sailors during the “Age of Discoveries” and prayed for the King Manuel I’s soul.

Jeronimos Monastery

Jeronimos Monastery constructed in 1506 and completed in 1606 in Belem, Lisbon

Writer and Wife visited Jeronimos Monastery

Writer and wife visiting Jeronimos Monastery in Belem, Lisbon, Portugal

Southern Entrance of the Church of St. Mary, Jeronimos Monastery

The monastery has a church, Church of St. Mary, adjacent to it. The southern entrance of the church is beautifully decorated with statuettes of saints.

Southern Entrance of the Church

The southern entrance of the Church of St. Mary that is adjacent to Jeronimos Monastery in Belem, Lisbon

Western Entrance of the Church of St. Mary

The western entrance of the Church of St. Mary is also beautifully decorated with statuettes of saints.

Western Entrance of the Church

Entrance or side-door of Church of St. Mary

Interior of the Church of St. Mary 

The nave in the church is long and the ceiling is high.

Interior of the Church

Interior of Church of St. Mary

St. Mary Chapel in the Church

There is a chapel in the church that is dedicated to St. Mary. The worshipers believed that St. Mary brought back the sailors home, safely, during the “Age of Discoveries” from 15th. until 17th. Century.

St. Mary Chapel in the Church

St. Mary Chapel in the Church of St. Mary, Jeronimos Monastery, Belem, Lisbon

Tombs of Great Portuguese Figures

In the church there are tombs of famous figures and royal members, such as the tombs of  Vasco da Gama(1460-1524) who discovered a sea route to India in 1498, Luis Vaz de Camoes(1524-1580) who was a famous Portuguese writer glorifying the triumphs of Vasco da Gama, King Manuel I(1469-1521) and King Sebastian(1557-1578) to name a few.

Tomb of Vasco da Gama(1460-1524)

Tomb of Vasco da Gam(1460-1524) in the Church of St. Mary, Jeronimos Monastery, Belem, Lisbon

Tomb of Luis Vaz de Camoes(1524-1580)

Tomb of Luis Vaz de Camoes(1524-1580) in the Church of St. Mary, Jeronimos Monastery, Belem, Lisbon

Archaeological and Maritime Museums

In the west wing of Jeronimos Monastery is a long building that houses the National Archaeological Museum and Maritime Museum now.

Monument to Discoveries, Belem, Lisbon

Then we left Jeronimos Monastery and went to see a huge monument erected on the riverbank of River Tagus in 1939. It is a few hundred metres from the monastery.

It is known as Monument to Discoveries created in memory of the brave Portuguese navigators who went overseas to discover new foreign lands in the 15th.-17th Century period.

It looks like a caravel, a Portuguese traditional ship, carrying the Portuguese people to new foreign lands in South America, Africa and South Asia.

Monument to Discoveries

Monument to Discoveries erected in 1939 in memory of the brave Portuguese navigators

Close-up of Monument to Discoveries

Monument to Discoveries that looks like a caravel carrying brave Portuguese navigators to new foreign lands

Maps of Portuguese Discoveries

On the floor in front of the Monument to Discoveries, there are two large maps. One is showing the places and years in America and Africa, and the other South Asia discovered by the Portuguese navigators in the 15th.-17th. Century period.

Portuguese Discoveries in Africa

Map on the floor in front of the Monument to Discoveries showing the places and years of Portuguese discoveries in America and Africa

Portuguese Discoveries in South Asia

Map of Asia on the floor in front of the Monument to Discoveries showing the places and years of Portuguese discoveries in South Asia

View of the Monument to Discoveries, 25th. April Bridge and Statue of Jesus the King

Standing at a spot on the bank of River Tagus, a visitor can see three main structures, viz. Monument to Discoveries on the left, 25th. April Bridge over River Tagus and large, white Statue of Jesus the King in the distance on the right.

Monument, Bridge and Statue

Monument to Discoveries, 25th. April Bridge and Statue of Jesus the King in Lisbon

25th. April Bridge

The 25th. April Bridge is a 2277 metre-long suspension bridge that looks like the one in San Francisco in California. It has two decks. The upper deck carries six car-lanes and the lower one carries a double track railway.

When the bridge was opened in 1966, it was called Salazar Bridge. Then in 1974 it was renamed “25th. April Bridge” in commemoration of the Carnation Revolution. The revolution was a military coup organized by the Military Forces Movement to overthrow the authoritarian regime of Estado Nova on 25th. April 1974.

Tower of Belem

A 30 metre-high fortress was built on an islet in River Tagus in Belem in the early 15th. Century to protect Lisbon from being invaded by Spain or France. Built in Portuguese Manueline style, it is known as Tower of Belem or Tower of St. Vincent. Owing to the deposit of soil in River Tagus, the fortress is now seen to be on the bank of the river.

In 1983 Tower of Belem was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site due to its important role it played in the Portuguese Age of Discoveries.

Tower of Belem

Tower of Belem built in the early 15th. Century to protect Lisbon from being attacked by France or Spain.

Sunset at Belem, Lisbon

It was sunset when we were going to leave Belem, a historical maritime place in Lisbon.

Before we left Belem, we had a last look at the river-mouth of River Tagus in the west. In the distance, we saw a silhouette of a larger fortress against the colourful sky at sunset. It is near the port of Lisbon.

Sunset at Belem

Sunset at Belem, Lisbon, and silhouette of a fortress, Sao Juliao da Barra, at the mouth of River Tagus

Fortress of Sao Juliao da Barra

That fortress is known as Sao Juliao da Barra. In 1556 King John III of Portugal(1502-1557) ordered the fortress to be constructed at the mouth of River Tagus to protect the Lisbon port and city from being attacked by foreign invaders.

Soon we left Belem for dinner and stayed at a hotel for a night, Hotel Leziria Parque, in Lisbon.

Hotel Leziria Parque, Lisbon

Leziria Parque Hotel, Lisbon, Portugal

Next Destination

We would be going to Seville in Spain the following day. It is 450 km south-east of Lisbon and the journey would take 4 hours 30 minutes.

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Places visited during Spain & Portugal Tour(22 Oct-02 Nov 2018):

Toledo   Madrid   Salamanca   Porto   Lisbon   Seville   Cordobo  Granada   Valencia   Barcelona

Spain & Portugal Travel Part VI: Seville

January 30, 2019 by · Leave a Comment
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Spain & Portugal Travel Part VI: Seville

Seville

Day 6     Saturday, 27 October 2018

On this day, we left Lisbon in Portugal in the morning and headed for Seville in Spain which is located 450 km in the south-east. It might take 4 hours and 30 minutes to reach the city.

Map showing the location of Seville in Spain

Visiting Seville on Saturday, 27 October 2018

Lunch at Badajoz, Spain

After travelling over two hours from Lisbon in Portugal, we stopped at Badajoz in Spain for lunch at a restaurant known as El Chozo Extremeno. Badajoz is about 226 km east of Lisbon and near the Spain-Portugal border.

El Chozo Extremeno Restaurant

Tour group having lunch at El Chozo Extremeno Restaurant, Badajoz, Spain

One of the Dishes

Grilled chicken with potato was one of the dishes served at the restaurant.

Grilled Chicken at the Restaurant

Grilled chicken with potato, one of the dishes at El Chozo Extremeno Restaurant in Badajoz

Photos of Tourmates for Group Album

At the restaurant, I had the chance to take photos of all my tourmates, as shown below.

Clockwise: Sze Yee, Chian Perng, Ling Ling and Kwai Lian

Clockwise: Chee Mei, Yoon Khow, Siew Peng and Ah Mooi

Clockwise: Hei Meng, Kim Fat, Guik Joo and Hung Heong

Clockwise: Fung Ling, Fok Foy, See Kim and Gan Boon

Clockwise: Stzu Chiang, Roland, Ah Chee and Hoe Seng

Clockwise: Geik Peng, Yit Fah, Yoon Fah and Choo Chaw(writer)

After lunch in Badajoz, we continued our journey to Seville in the south-east, another 210 km to go.

Manuel, the Seville Tour Guide

When we reached Seville, it was late in the afternoon and we met Manuel, a local tour-guide. Fearing that the Seville Cathedral might close soon, we walked together to the cathedral, quickly.

Manuel, a Seville tour-guide

Manuel, the Seville tour-guide

Seville Cathedral

When we reached the cathedral, we were relieved to be told that we had enough time to see the cathedral.

Seville Cathedral or Cathedral of Saint Mary of the See, a Roman Catholic church, is the largest Gothic Church, and 3rd. largest church in the world. It was built from 1401 until 1528 on the site of a Moorish mosque retaining some Moorish parts of the old mosque.

Seville Cathedral

Seville Cathedral built from 1401 until 1528 is the largest Gothic church and the 3rd. largest church in the world.

Plan of Seville Cathedral

Diagram showing top view of Seville Cathedral

Doors of the Cathedral of Seville

Cathedral of Seville has several large doors such as Door of Conception, Door of Assumption and Christopher Columbus Door or Prince Door, to name a few.

Below are photos showing the three mentioned doors.

Door of Conception

Door of Conception

Door of Assumption

Door of Assumption

Christopher Columbus Door or Prince Door

Christopher Columbus Door or Prince Door

Giralda, the Bell Tower of Seville Cathedral

Adjacent to Seville Cathedral is a tall bell tower that is known as Giralda.

Giralda was converted from a Moorish mosque’s minaret and is 105 metres high. Visitors can go up the tower to have a breathtaking view of the old town of Seville.

Giralda, the Bell Tower

Giralda is the bell tower of Seville Cathedral. It is converted from a Moorish mosque’s minaret.

Courtyard of Seville Cathedral

In front of Seville Cathedral is a courtyard which is full of orange trees that make the place shady and cooling.

There is an exit door known as Door of Forgiveness or Pardon which is opposite the Door of Conception of the cathedral.

Door of Forgiveness or Pardon

Exit door of Seville Cathedral, Door of Forgiveness or Pardon

Outside the Door of Forgiveness or Pardon

The outside of the Door of Forgiveness retains the Moorish features of the former mosque.

Outside Door of Forgiveness or Pardon

Outside the Door of Forgiveness or Pardon

Interior of Seville Cathedral

We entered Seville Cathedral through the Door of Conception.

The interior of the cathedral is large. Its length is 117 metres, width 76 metres  and the height of the ceiling 42 metres.

Large Interior of the Cathedral of Seville

Interior of Seville Cathedral is large. It is 117 metres long, 76 metres long and 42 metres high.

42 metre-high ceiling

High ceiling that is 42 metres high.

Stained Glass Windows

There are some colourful stained glass windows that make the interior of the cathedral beautiful but sombre. They were made between 16th. and 19th. Century.

Photos below show some of them each depicting a religious scene.

Stained glass window I

Stained glass window II

Stained glass window III

Stained glass window IV

Chapels in Cathedral of Seville

There are 80 chapels in the cathedral. Some have altarpieces that are stunning as shown in the photos below.

Main Chapel(Capilla Mayor)

Main Chapel has the most awesome altarpiece. It is a large gold-gilded, intricate, Gothic woodcarving that depicts 45 scenes of the lives of Christ and Virgin Mary.

Main Chapel(Capilla Mayor)

Main Chapel has an awesome altarpiece

Chapel of St. Mary

This chapel has a silver altar and a painting of St. Mary.

Chapel of St. Mary

Silver Altar of St. Mary

Chapel of Crucifixion

This chapel has an altar of a wood-carving of Christ crucified on a cross.

Chapel of Crucifixion

Chapel of Crucifixion

Chapel of the Virgin

This chapel has an altar of Virgin Mary surrounded by statuettes of saints.

Chapel of the Virgin

Chapel of the Virgin

Tombs of Important Persons in the Cathedral of Seville

There are several tombs in the Cathedral of Seville belonging to some Spanish kings, royal members, important religious figures and navigators.

Below are photos showing some tombs in the cathedral.

Tomb of Christopher Columbus

The tomb of Christopher Columbus is the most eye-catching one in the cathedral. His tomb is held aloft by four figures. These figures are allegoric representing the four Spanish kingdoms during Columbus’ life, i.e. Castile, Aragon. Navara and Leon.

Christopher Columbus(1451-1506) was an Italian explorer who discovered America in 1492. His four voyages across the Atlantic Ocean were sponsored by the Spanish kings. When he died in 1506 his was buried in Seville Cathedral.

Tomb of Christopher Columbus

Christopher Columbus Tomb

Tomb of Cardinal Sir Juan Cervantes(1380-1453)

Another tomb in the cathedral is that of Cardinal Sir Juan Cervantes(1380-1453). Born in Seville, he was made a Catholic Church’s cardinal in 1426 by Pope Martin V(1369-1431).

Tomb of Cardinal Sir Juan Cervantes

Tomb of Sir Cardinal Juan Cervantes(1380-1453) Tomb

Other Tombs

Other important Spanish figures were buried in a special place in the Cathedral of Seville

A Spacial Burial Place in the Seville Cathedral

A special burial place for important Spanish figures in the Cathedral of Seville

Priceless Paintings

There are many priceless paintings in the Cathedral of Seville. Some are displayed in rooms and others in chapels, as shown in the photos below.

Paintings in one of the rooms

Priceless paintings by Spanish painters in a room in the Cathedral of Seville

Paintings: “Baptism of Christ” & “Vision of St. Anthony of Padua”

In a chapel, there are two paintings on a wall. The top painting shows the “Baptism of Christ” and the bottom one the “Vision of St. Anthony of Padua”.

“Baptism of Christ” & “Vision of St. Anthony of Padua”

“Baptism of Christ” & “Vision of St. Anthony of Padua”

Painting: “Saints Justa and Rufina”

In another chapel, there is a painting of  “Saints Justa and Raufina”. They were martyred for refusing to worship the image of Goddess Venus.

“Saints Justa and Rufina”

Saints Justa and Rufina

Later, we came out of the Seville Cathedral and spent some time looking around outside the cathedral.

General Archive of the Indies

We saw a white building that looks like a palace.

It was built in Spanish Renaissance style in the 16th. Century and known as General Archive of the Indies. It houses important documents of the history of the Spanish Empire in the Americas and the Philippines.

General Archive of the Indies

General Archive of the Indies houses 43000 volumes of 80 million pages of the history of the Spanish Empire in the Americas and the Philippines.

MetroCentro Tram System in Seville

Then we saw a modern tram arriving at the station near the Cathedral of Seville.

There is a MetroCentro Tram System running a distance of 1.4 km from Plaza Nueva to San Bernado. There are 3 stations in between them, including the station near the Cathedral of Seville.

MetroCentro Tram System

MetroCentro Tram System in Seville

Tourists arriving at Seville

Trams bringing tourists arrive at the General Archive of the Indies Station near Seville Cathedral

Horse-Drawn Carriages

In the area around Seville Cathedral, we saw many horse-drawn carriages carrying tourists.

Horse-drawn carriages are in demand by the tourists in Seville. It is a convenient means of going round the old town to see historical buildings, monuments and gardens or squares.

Horse-drawn carriages

Horse-drawn carriages for sightseeing in Seville Old Town

Horse-drawn carriage carrying tourists for a sightseeing tour in Seville Old Town

Tour Group Photo near Seville Cathedral

One photo was taken near the Seville Cathedral for the tour group album, as shown below.

Group photo taken near the Seville Cathedral

Seville Bullring

Having visited the Seville Cathedral and the area around it, we walked to a Seville bullring nearby.

Seville Bullring has a 12000 seating capacity near the cathedral. It is known as Plaza Real Maestranza built in Baroque style from 1749 until 1765. The regular bullfighting season is from March until September, annually.

Seville Bullring

Seville bullring known as Plaza Real Maestranza was built from 1749 until 1765.

Bronze Statue of Bullfighter

A bronze statue of a bullfighter can be seen outside the bullring. It is a statue of Curro Romero(1933-2018) who was a well-known Spanish bullfighter. He started his professional career at the age of 21 and retired at 66.

Statue of Bullfighter

Bronze statue of bullfighter known as Curro Romero

Another Tour Group Photo in Seville

Another photo was taken in front of the Seville bullring, Plaza Real Maestranza, for the Tour Group album.

Tour photo in front of Seville Bullring

Hotel Sevilla Congresos, Seville

After visiting the cathedral and bullring, we went for dinner and stayed at a hotel, Hotel Sevilla Congresos, for a night in Seville.

Next Destination

The following day, Sunday, 28 October 2018, we would be going to Cordoba which is 141 km east of Seville. The journey would take about 2 hours.

Previous(Lisbon) / Home / Next(Cordobo)

Places visited during Spain & Portugal Tour(22 Oct-02 Nov 2018):

Toledo   Madrid   Salamanca   Porto   Lisbon   Seville   Cordobo  Granada   Valencia   Barcelona

Spain & Portugal Travel Part VII: Cordoba

January 30, 2019 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Spain & Portugal 

Spain & Potugal Travel Part VII: Cordoba

Cordoba

Day 7     Sunday, 28 October 2018

On this day, we were going to visit Cordoba. We left Hotel Sevilla Congresos in Seville in the morning and travelled 141 km east to Cordoba. The journey would take 2 hours.

Map showing the location of Cordoba

Map showing the location of Cordoba

 

On arrival at Cordoba in the morning, we went to see a Roman bridge.

Writer and wife at Roman Bridge

Roman Bridge Visit

Roman Bridge of Cordoba

The Roman Bridge of Cordoba was built in the 1st. Century B.C.. It is 247 metres long and 9 metres wide crossing River Quadadquivir.

Roman Bridge of Cordoba

Roman Bridge of Cordoba was built in the 1st. Century B.C. crossing River Quadadquivir.

Mosque-Cathedral in the Distance

From the bridge an ancient Roman Catholic church can be seen in the distance. It is commonly known as Mosque-Cathedral.

Mosque-Cathedral on the right in the distance

On Roman Bridge, Mosque-Cathedral can be seen on the right in the distance.

Mosque Becoming Roman Catholic Church

A mosque was built in the Muslim Umayyad Dynasty(929-1031). Later it was converted to a Roman Catholic church when a Spanish Catholic monarch , King Ferdinand III(1199-1252), captured Cordoba in 1236. It is therefore known as Mosque-Cathedral.

Mosque-Cathedral

Mosque-Cathedral was originally a mosque during the Umayyad Dynasty. It was converted into a Roman Catholic church when King Ferdinand III captured Cordoba in 1236.

Mosque-Cathedral seen from Courtyard of Orange Trees

Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba as seen from the courtyard of oranges.

Back Wall of Mosque-Cathedral

Back wall of Mosque-Cathedral as seen from outside

Cordoba Main Gate or Roman Bridge Gate of Cordoba 

The old town of Cordoba has a large, high gate that looks like the triumphal arch known as Arc de Triomphe in Paris.

Located near the Roman Bridge, it was built in Renaissance style in the 16th. Century replacing the old one. It was the main gate into the old town and is known as Roman Bridge Gate. The wall connected to the gate is already gone.

Main Gate or Roman Bridge Gate

Cordoba Main Gate or Roman Bridge Gate built in the 16th. Century

Bell-Tower of Mosque-Cathedral

We entered the old town of Cordoba through the gate and visited the Mosque-Cathedral.

The cathedral has a bell-tower. It was converted from a mosque’s minaret when Cordoba was captured by a Holy Roman Catholic monarch, King Ferdinand III, in 1236.

Bell-Tower of Mosque-Cathedral

Bell -Tower of Mosque-Cathedral was converted from a mosque’s minaret.

The Main Gate of Mosque-Cathedral

Mosque-Cathedral has retained many parts of the former mosque, including the main gate, walls and the building.

Main Gate of Mosque-Cathedral

Main Gate of Mosque-Cathedral

Wall of Mosque-Cathedral

Wall of Mosque-Cathedral

Almodovar Gate 

Near the Mosque-Cathedral there is a partial wall with a gate known as Almodovar Gate. It was built during the Muslim rule in Cordoba(920-1031).

Almodovar Gate 

Almodovar Gate in Almodovar Town was built during the Muslim rule in Cordoba(929-1031).

Cordoba City Walls

Walls were built round Cordoba Old Town during the Muslim rule in Cordoba(929-1031) during the Umayyad Dynasty. Now we can see some remaining parts of the wall.

Old Walls in Cordoba Old Town

Cordoba’s Old City Walls

Sandstone Wall

An old remaining wall that is not restored exposes its sandstone blocks in the Cordoba old town.

Old Sandstone Wall

Old sandstone wall that is not restored is exposing its sandstone blocks.

Lunch at Restaurante China Town

Before we continued walking to the next landmark, Tendillas Square, in Cordoba Old Town, we stopped for lunch at a Chinese restaurant, Restaurante China Town.

Restaurante China Town

Restaurante China Town, a Chinese restaurant in Cordoba Old Town

Writer’s Lunch

Writer’s lunch at Restaurante China Town in Cordoba Old Town

After lunch, we  walked to the square, Tendillas Square. On the way, we saw a church called St. Nicholas Church.

St. Nicholas Church, Cordoba 

St. Nicholas Church is a parish church. It was built in Gothic-Mudejar style in the 13th. Century after the end of the Muslim rule in Cordoba in 1031. Later in the 16th. Century, it was changed to Baroque style.

St. Nicholas Church

St. Nicholas Church is a parish church. It was built in Gothic-Mudejar style in 13th. Century and then Baroque style in 16th. Century.

Bronze Statue of an Unknown Lady

Then we came across an interesting bronze statue of an unknown lady reading a newspaper, as shown in the photo below.

Statue of an Unknown Lady

Bronze statue of an unknown lady

Roman Temple

Later, we came across the location of a Roman temple.

Roman temples were built  around 50 A.D. in Cordoba. One was discovered in 1950s in the old town and columns were erected to show its location, as shown in the photo below.

Location of a Roman temple

Roman temples were built in 50 A.D. in Cordoba

Tendillas Square

Soon we came to the largest square in Cordoba known as Tendillas Square.

It is a public place where social and political activities are carried out, frequently.

Located in the centre of the busy business area of the Cordoba City, it is surrounded by large buildings, including Union and Phoenix Building owned by an insurance company of the same name, Casa Colomera built for the counts of Colomera in 1928 and House of Enriquez Barrios built for the mayor of Cordoba, Enriquez Barrios(1913-1916), in 1928.

Tendillas Square

Tendillas Square is surrounded by large buildings and an equestrian statue of the Great Captain is in the centre.

Casa Colomera and House of Enriquez Barrios

Casa Colomera and House of Enriquez Barrios in Tendillas Square

Equestrian Statue of the Great Captain

Erected in the centre of the square in 1927 is an equestrian statue of the Great Captain, General Gonzalo Fernandez(1453-1515).

Gonazal0 Fernandez was a Spanish general and statesman who led successful military campaigns during the Conquest of Granada and the Italian Wars. Owing to his military victories and widespread popularity, the Spanish people called him “El Gran Capitan” or the “The Great Captain”.

Equestrian of “The Great Captain”

Equestrian Statue of the Great Captain in the centre of Tendillas Aquare

While walking away from the Tendillas Square, we came across a few old churches, as described below.

Church of St. Paul, Cordoba

Church of St. Paul was built in Baroque style in the 14th. Century dedicating to St. Paul.

In 2006, it became a minor basilica.

Front Gate to Church of St. Paul

Front gate to Church of St. Paul built in the 14th. Century

Facade of the Church of St. Paul in Baroque Style

Church of St. Paul in Baroque style

Interior of the Church of St. Paul

Interior of Church of St. Paul

Chapel of Christ and Virgin Mary in the Church

Chapel of Christ and Virgin Mary in the Church of St. Paul

Basilica of the Oath of St. Rafael

This minor basilica in Cordoba was built in the 18th. Century. It was built because St. Rafael(an archangel) promised Father Roeles that he would protect the city in 1578.

Facade of Basilica of the Oath of St. Rafael

Basilica of the Oath of St. Rafael was built in the 18th. Century.

Side view of Basilica of the Oath of St. Rafael

Side view of the Oath of St. Rafael in Cordoba

Church of St. Lawrence(San Lorenzo)

Church of St. Lawrence was built in the Romanesque-Gothic style between 1244 and 1300. It has a bell tower and a large rose window.

Church of St. Lawrence

Church of St. Lawrence(San Lorenzo)

Church of Our Lady Grace

Church of Our Lady Grace was the last church we saw in Cordoba. It is a Roman Catholic church built in Baroque style in the 17th. Century. It was founded by San Juan Beautista de la Concepcion(1561-1613) who was a religious and ascetic writer.

Church of Our Lady Grace

Church of Our Lady of Grace

Restaurante China Town, Cordoba

Having seen the landmarks in Cordoba Old Town, we went for lunch at a Chinese restaurant, Restaurante China Town, in the town.

Hotel Macia Condor, Granada

After lunch we left for Granada which is 208 km away and the travelling time would take 2 hours and 30 minutes.

On arrival at Granada, we checked in at a hotel, Hotel Macia Condor.

Dinner at a Granada restaurant, El Tempo del Flamenco

In the evening we left the hotel and walked over 500 metres to a restaurant known as El Tempo del Flamenco for dinner and Flamenco show.

The interior of the restaurant was small and looked like a cave that was white-washed. There was a semi-circular stage in front for the Flamenco show.

Flamenco Show Stage

Flamenco Show Stage

Sumptuous Dinner

Tour group were enjoying the sumptuous dinner at the restaurant before the show started.

Dinner at El Tempo del Flamenco Restaurant

Dinner at a Granada restaurant

Dinner before Flamenco Show started

Tour group having dinner before Flamenco show started

Food for dinner provided by the restaurant

Hard-rock Bread

Rock-hard bread

Salad and Slices of Sausage

Salad and slices of sausage

Chicken Meat

Chicken meat

Fried Eggs with Slices of Bacon

Fried eggs with slices of bacon

Fried Mixture of Potato and Eggplant

Fried mixture of potato and eggplant

Flamenco Show at the Restaurant

After the sumptuous dinner, the Flamenco show started with a handsome man singing a traditional Flamenco song to the accompaniment of the sounds from guitar, cajon drum box and clapping.

Solo Flamenco singer

Solo Flamenco Singer

Flamenco Dancing

Then ladies in Flamenco dresses took turn to dance. They danced with expressive movements of their arms, bodies and legs. Their legs stomped on the stage, rhythmically.

A Solo Flamenco Dancer

A solo Flamenco dancer in a long red dress

Another Solo Dancer

Another solo Flamenco dancer dancing Tango

Two Flamenco Dancers dancing together

Two Flamenco Dancers dancing together

A Solo Flamenco Guitarist

Solo Flamenco guitarist strumming Flamenco musics

After enjoying the Flamenco show, we walked back to the hotel, Hotel Macia Condor, and retired for a night.

Change of Coach Drivers

First Coach Driver, Sergio

When we arrived in Cordoba City, we had to bide farewell to our first coach driver, Sergio. He had driven us, safely, from Madrid to Cordoba to see heritage sites for four days.

Saying goodbye to Sergio, the first coach driver

Sergio saying goodbye to everyone in Cordoba as his job is taken over by another driver, Juan.

Second Coach Driver, Juan

We welcomed our second coach driver, Juan, who would drive us from Cordoba to Barcelona which was our final destination for the last four days in Spain.

Welcoming Juan, the second coach driver

Juan is taking over Sergio’s job as a coach driver in Cordoba.

.Garden of Triumph and Monument to the Triumph of Virgin

On the following morning of Monday, 29 October 2018, I walked 200 metres from the hotel, Hotel Marcia Condor, to a garden.

It is a large garden known as Garden of Triumph(Granada).

Garden of Triumph and Monument to the Triumph of Virgin

Garden of Triumph and Monument to the Triumph of Virgin, Granada

Past History of Garden of Triumph

Originally, the garden was a large Arab cemetery in the 13th. Century. Later, it was reduced in size when part of it was urbanized in 16th. Century due to increase in population.

The garden was used as a place for execution of Spanish patriots during the French rule from 1808 until 1813, and it remained so until 1840.

In the 19th. Century the garden was beautified and a tall monument known as Monument to the Triumph of Virgin was erected in its centre.

Next Destination

Then we travelled to Alhambra Complex, a historical heritage site on the outskirts of Granada.

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Places visited during Spain & Portugal Tour(22 Oct-02 Nov 2018):

Toledo   Madrid   Salamanca   Porto   Lisbon   Seville   Cordobo  Granada   Valencia   Barcelona

Spain & Portugal Travel Part VIII: Granada

January 30, 2019 by · Leave a Comment
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Spain & Portugal Travel VIII: Granada

Granada

Day 8     Monday, 29 October 2018

On this day, we were going to visit some historical sites in the outskirt of Granada City.

Map showing the location of Granada in Spain

Map showing the location of Granada in Spain

Ramon, a Granada tour guide

In the morning, we left Hotel Macia Condor in Granada City and headed to a hilly region known as Alhambra on the outskirts of the city.

Ramon brought us to a historical site known as Alhambra Complex.

Ramon, a Granada tour guide

Ramon, a Granada tour guide

Alhambra Complex in Granada, Spain

Alhambra Complex consists of three main parts, i.e. Alcazaba Fortress, Generalife Garden and Generalife Summer Palace.

Diagram showing the Alhambra Complex in Granada

Diagram showing the Alhambra Complex in Granada, Spain

Alhambra Complex Visit

Our tour-manager, Jeff Lee, bought tickets for us to enter Alhambra Complex. Then we f0llowed the guide and walked for several minutes to a fortress, Alcazaba Fortress,  built during the Muslim rule(1230-1492).

Entrance to Alhambra Complex

Entrance to Alhambra Complex

Part of Alcazaba Fortress wall

On the way to Alcazaba Fortress, we saw part of the fortress wall on a high ground.

Part of Alcazaba Fortress wall, Alhambra Complex

Part of Alcazaba Fortress wall, Alhambra Complex, Granada

Tower of Justice, the main entrance to Alcazaba Fortress

To reach Alcazaba Fortress, we entered the main entrance to the fortress known as Tower of Justice.

Tower of Justice, the main entrance to Alcazaba Fortress

Tower of Justice, the main entrance to Alcazaba Fortress, Alhambra Complex, Granada

Charles V Palace

While walking to the fortress, we stopped at a palace, Charles V Palace.

Tour group walking to Charles V Palace, Alhambra Complex

Tour group walking to Charles V Palace, Alhambra Complex, Granada

Charles V Palace was built for a Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V(1500-1558), in the 15th. Century. But he had no chance to stay at the palace as it was completed in the 20th. Century.

The palace now houses two museums, viz., Museum of Alhambra and Museum of Fine Arts of the Nasrid Dynasty(1230-1492)

Palace of Charles V

Palace of Charles V(1500-1558) was built in the 15th. Century and completed in the 20th. Century. No monarchs had ever stayed at the palace as its construction was not completed until the late 20th. Century.

There is a circular courtyard in the centre of Palace of Charles V.

A circular courtyard in the centre of Palace of Charles V

Palace of Charles V has a circular courtyard in its centre.

Alcazaba Fortress

Then we walked on and, finally, we arrived at Alcazaba Fortress.

The fortress located on a small plateau overlooking Albaicin City is large and its facade has two tall, majestic-looking towers.

It was built in the 13th. Century by the Muslim rulers who made it as a military stronghold and their residence, too.

Facade of Alcazaba Fortress

Facade of Alcazaba Fortress with two large, tall towers, Alhambra Comples

Wide Ramparts and Tall Watch-Towers

The ramparts of the fortress are wide and a few watch-towers are very high.

There were some soldiers in one of them watching the visitors below, while we were there.

Wide rampart and Tall Towers of Alcazaba Fortress

Wide rampart of Alcazaba Fortress in the foreground and the tallest watch-tower of the fortress in the background

Tallest watch-tower of Alcazaba Fortress

Tallest watch-tower of Alcazaba Fortress, Alhambra Complex, Granada, Spain

Writer and wife at Alcazaba Fortress

While my wife and I, together with our tourmates were at the fortress, we were awe-stricken by its immense size.

Besides, the sights of the Albaicin City, agricultural land and the Sierra Nevada mountain range seen in the distance from Alcazaba Fortress were breathtaking.

Writer and wife at Alcazaba Fortress

Writer and wife at Alcazaba Fortress on 29 October 2018

Breathtaking Sights from Alcazaba Fortress

Albaicin District

Albaicin District as seen from Alcazaba Fortress in Alhambra Complex

Albaicin’s agricultural land

Albaicin’s agricultural land in the distance as seen from Alcazaba Fortress in Alhambra Complex

Sierra Nevada Mountain Range

Sierra Nevada, a mountain range in the distance as seen from Alcazaba Fortress. The highest peak is Mulhacen(3479 metres).

St. Mary Church, Alhambra

Later, we left Alcazaba Fortress, passed  Charles V Palace again and came across a small Roman Catholic church, St. Mary Church. It was built on a demolished mosque site in the 15th. Century

St. Mary Church

St. Mary Church was built on the site of Alhambra’s Grand Mosque in the 15th. Century.

Ruins of Living Quarters for Soldiers

Further down the road from St. Mary Church, we saw a place where remains of the living quarters for soldiers during the Muslim rule were preserved.

Remains of living quarters for soldiers

Remains of living quarters for soldiers during the Muslim rule in Alhambra Complex, Granada

Generalife Garden

Soon, we came to another part of the Alhambra Complex, i.e. Generalife Garden.

It was created in the 13th. Century during the Moorish or Muslim rule.

The garden is shady and cooling, and its trees are neatly trimmed.

It is a garden that is well-taken care of.

Entrance to Generalife Garden

Entrance to Generalife Garden in Alhambra Complex that was created in the 13th. Century during the Moorish rule.

Manicured Generalife Garden

Generalife Garden is well taken care of.

Sight of plants in Generalife Garden

Walking and enjoying the sight of plants in Generalife Garden

Part of Alhambra Complex

As we were walking away from the garden to the Summer Palace of Generalife, we saw the part of Alhambra Complex where we had visited Alcazaba Fortress, Charles V Palace and St. Mary Church.

Part of Alhambra Complex

Part of Alhambra Complex seen from Generalife

Summer Palace of Generalife

Soon we arrived at the Summer Palace which was for the Muslim rulers during the Nasrid Dynasty (1230-1492).

To enter the palace, we walked up a narrow stairway and saw a garden in front of the building.

Entrance of Summer Palace of Generalife

Entrance of Summer Palace of Generalife

Long Garden and Islamic Calligraphy

The garden is long with walls round it. In the middle, there is a long rectangular pond with small fountains. On the inner walls of the porch of the palace, Islamic calligraphy has been written.

Summer Palace of Generalife

A summer palace for the Muslim kings in Generalife, Alhambra Complex, Granada

Islamic Calligraphy

Islamic calligraphy on the inner walls of the summer palace of Generalife

Shady Path in Generalife

Later, we left the Summer Palace of Generalife, walked along a shady path and exited the Alhambra Complex at a gate where a road went down to Albaicin City.

Shady Path in Generalife

Shady path in Generalife, Alhambra Complex, Granada

Exit Gate of Alhambra Complex

Exit gate of Alhambra Complex, Granada, to the road down to Albaicin Town

Albaicin Town

As we were walking down the curved, narrow and steep road from the gate to Albaicin Town, we noted that three storeyed old buildings were on both sides of the road.

Albaicin Town was inhabited by the Moors during the Nasrid Dynasty(1230-1492). It still has some of the Moorish features, e.g. narrow, winding roads, Moorish buildings and traditional trades.

Narrow, Winding Road

Narrow, winding road down to Albaicin Town, Granada

Busy Albaicin Town

Albaicin was declared as a UNESCO World heritage site in 1984.

Some of the streets in the town are wide and busy.

A Typical Street in Albaicin Town

A typical street in Albaicin Town, Granada

A Busy Street

A busy street in Albaicin Town, Granada

Estrella Oriental Restaurant, Granada

In the afternoon, we left Albaicin Town and went to Granada Old Town to have lunch at a Chinese restaurant known as Estrella Oriental Restaurant.

Estrella Oriental Restaurant, a Chinese restaurant in Granada Old Town, Spain

Some food served at Estrella Oriental Restaurant, Granada

Fried Chicken

Fried Chicken

Fish Fillets

Fish fillets with vegetables

Slices of Cucunber

Slices of cucumber

Fried Egg

Fried egg

Hotel Port Elche, Alicante

After the delicious lunch, we left Granada and travelled 350 km east for 4 hours to Alicante. When we arrived at Alicante , we at Hotel Port Elche for a night.

.

Tour group staying at Hotel Port Elche in Alicante on 29 October 2018

Next Destination

Our next destination on the following day, Tuesday, 30 October 2018, would be Valencia. It is 165 km in the north-east and the travelling time would be 2 hours.

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Places visited during Spain & Portugal Tour(22 Oct-02 Nov 2018):

Toledo   Madrid   Salamanca   Porto   Lisbon   Seville   Cordobo  Granada   Valencia   Barcelona

Spain & Portugal Travel Part X: Barcelona

January 30, 2019 by · Leave a Comment
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Spain & Portugal Part X: Barcelona

Barcelona

Day 10    Wednesday, 31 October 2018

On this day, we were going to visit some heritage sites in Barcelona which has a population of about 1.6 millions, the second most populous city in Spain.

(Barcelona was the last destination of our Spain and Portugal tour.)

Map showing the location of Barclona

Visiting Barcelona on Wednesday, 31 October 2018

In the morning, we left Sercotel Ciutat de Montcada Hotel and went to visit a famous park known as Park Guell. It is on a forested hill, Carmel Hill, which is on the outskirts of Barcelona City.

Eusebi Guell(1846-1918)

The Park Guell land, originally, belonged to a rich Spanish entrepreneur, Eusebi Guell(1846-1918).

He commissioned Antoni Gaudi(1852-1926), a famous Spanish architect, to develop an estate on the land for the rich people of Barcelona, but the project failed.

Anyway, Gaudi had created a sensational garden on the land known as Park Guell, using Catalan Modernistic design and calling it Park Guell.

In 1923, Guell’s family gave the land away to the city.

Antoni Gaudi(1852-1926)

Antoni Gaudi(1852-1926) was a Spanish architect whose unique architectural works included Park Guell, Sagrada Familia and Casa Mila.

Park Guell

Park Guell is a large, beautiful garden created by Antoni Gaudi(1852-1926) from 1900 until 1914. The picture below shows the Park Guell.

Picture of Park Guell

Picture of Park Guell

Marianna, the Barcelona Tour Guide

When we arrived at Park Guell, a local tour guide, Marianna, greeted us and brought us round at Park Guell.

Barcelona Tour Guide

Marianna, the Barcelona tour guide

Forested Carmel Hill

It was raining lightly when we were at Park Guell.

Walking up Carmel Hill to Park Guell

Walking up forested Carmel Hill to Park Guell, Barcelona, Spain

Nature Square, the roof of Hypostyle

At the park, we walked up to the roof of Hypostyle Hall which is a flat open space known as Nature Square. It is a place where social and political activities are sometimes held.

Nature Square

An open-air space, Nature Square, on the roof of Hypostyle Hall

Views of Guell Park from Nature Square

From Nature Square, visitors can see two different, unique buildings below, viz. Casa de Guarda that houses Park Guell Museum and Porter’s Lodge that receives visitors. The latter has a tall, cylindrical tower with a large cross atop.

Casa de Guarda and Porter’s Lodge

Casa de Guarda(left), a house for Park Guell museum, and Porter’s Lodge(right) for receiving visitors

View of Barcelona City

Visitors can also see a panoramic view of Barcelona City and Mediterranean Sea beyond in the distance from Nature Square at Park Guell, as shown in the photo below.

Barcelona City and Mediterranean Sea

Barcelona City and Mediterranean Sea can be seen from Park Guell

Antoni Gaudi’s Residence

Antoni Gaudi lived in a red house at Park Guell for 20 years from 1906 until 1825, as shown in the photo below.

Now it is a museum exhibiting his and his co-workers’ belongings, like furniture, paintings, sculptures, drawings and other objects.

Antoni Gaudi’s Residence

Antoni Gaudi’s residence for 20 years(1906-1925)

Hypostyle Hall

There are steps going up to the Hypostyle Hall. The roof of the hall is supported by 86 high, strong columns. On top of the roof is Nature Square, an open-air square.

Steps to Hypostyle Hall

Steps to Hypostyle Hall at Park Guell

86 Columns in Hypostyle Hall

Hypostyle Hall with its roof supported by 86 high, strong columns. On top of the roof is Nature Square for social and political activities.

Portico of Washerwoman

There is a covered walkway or portico near the Hypostyle Hall. As one of its pillars has a sculpture of a washerwoman, the walkway is therefore named as Portico of Washerwoman.

Portico of Washerwoman

Portico of Washerwoman is a walkway to Hypostyle Hall

Sculpture of a washerwoman on a pillar

Sculpture of Washerwoman on one of the pillars of Portico of Washerwoman

Underside of Portico of Washerwoman

The underside of Portico of Washerwoman looks like the underside of a dinosaur.

Underside of a Dinosaur

Underside of Portico of Washerwoman that looks like the underside of a dinosaur

Spiral Columns

Another part of the portico has spiral columns.

Spiral Columns of Portico

Portico with spiral columns is a walkway to Hypostyle Hall

Sagrada Familia

After visiting Park Guell, we went to the centre of Barcelona City to see an awesome basilica that is known as Sagrada Familia.

Sagrada Familia in centre of Barcelona City

Sagrada Familia, a basilica, in the centre of Barcelona City

Plan of Sagrada Familia

Plan of Sagrada Familia

Sagrada Familia

Sagrada Familia is a Roman Catholic church designed by Antoni Gaudi, too. Construction of the basilica started in 1882 and it is expected to be completed in 2026, taking 144 years to complete.

Sagrada Familia

Sagrada Familia, a Roman Catholic Church, was designed by Antoni Gaudi(1852-1926).

Nativity Facade

The front of Sagrada Familia is known as Nativity Facade that is decorated with ornate sculptures depicting the scenes of the birth of Jesus Christ.

Nativity Facade

Nativity Facade is the front of Sagrada Familia

Lower Part of Nativity Facade

Lower part of Nativity Facade is decorated with statuettes of religious figures involved in the activities related to the birth of Jesus Christ.

Lower Part of Nativity Facade

Lower part of Nativity Facade with small ornate sculptures depicting the activities related to the birth of Jesus Christ

Interior of Sagrada Familia

Interior of Sagrada Familia is large and high. Below are photos showing some parts of the interior.

Nave and Altar

Nave in the foreground and altar in the background in Sagrada Familia

Nave

Nave of Sagrada Familia

West Transept

West transept of Sagrada Familia

East Transept

East transept of Sagrada Familia

Narthex

Narthex that is opposite the Altar in Sagrada Familia

Stained Glass Windows

There are several stained glass windows in the cathedral, making the interior of the cathedral colourful and sombre. Each glass depicts a religious scene.

Stained Glass Window

Stained glass window in Sagrada Familia

Stained Glass Window

Stained Glass Window in Sagrada Familia

Stained Glass Window

Stained glass window in Sagrada Familia

Passion Facade

The back of Sagrada Familia is known as Passion Facade. It is decorated with statuettes of religious figures involved in the final short period of Jesus Christ’s life, i.e. from the time of the Last Supper until the time of the Ascension of Jesus Christ.

Passion Facade

The back of Sagrada Familia known as Passion Facade

Lower Part of Passion Facade

Lower part of Passion Facade

Peter’s Three Denials

Sculpture showing Peter who denied he knew Jesus Christ three times

Scenes of Crucifixion and Ascension of Jesus Christ

Passion Facade showing Crucifixion and Ascension of Jesus Christ

Glory Facade

The Glory Facade of Sagrada Familia Cathedral is still under construction and will be ready in 2026. The photo below shows the Glory Facade on the left handside of the Cathedral which is under construction.

The left handside of Sagrada Familia Cathedral is still under construction and will be ready in 2026.

Sunshine in Barcelona

It was good sunshine when we visited Sagrada Familia Cathedral in Barcelona. Our young tourmates took the opportunity to enjoy the Spanish sunshine outside the cathedral.

Spanish Sunshine

Casa Mila designed by Antoni Gaudi(1852-1926)

Casa Mila is another building in Barcelona City that was designed by Antoni Gaudi(1852-1826). Built in Valencian Modernistic style between 1906 and 1912, it is now a cultural centre opened to tourists and used for conferences and other purposes.

Casa Mila(La Pedrera)

Casa Mila was designed by Antoni Gaudi. Built between 1906 and 1912, it is now a cultural centre opened to tourists, and used for conferences and other purposes.

Then we left the spectacular Sagrada Familia and went to Barcelona Cathedral which is 2 km south of Sagrada Familia.

On the way, we passed by the Barcelona bullring.

Barcelona Bullring

Barcelona bullring, La Monumental, was opened in 1914 for bullfighting until 2012 when the law of banning the activity was introduced.

Since 2014 the bullring has been used for sports, concerts and circuses.

Barcelona Bullring

Barcelona bullring, La Monumental, as seen from writer’s moving coach

Barcelona Cathedral

When we reached Barcelona Cathedral, we had a look at its exterior only.

Barcelona Cathedral was built in Gothic style from 13th. until 15th. Century. Also known as Cathedral of the Holy Cross and St. Eulalia, it was built in dedication to a young virgin, Eulalia, who suffered martyrdom during Roman times in Barcelona and her body is entombed in the crypt of the cathedral.

Barcelona Cathedral

Barcelona Cathedral was built in Gothic style from 13th. until 15th. Century.

El Reloj Restaurant

After seeing Barcelona Cathedral, we went to a Spanish restaurant nearby known as El Reloj Restaurant and had seafood for lunch.

El Reloj Restaurant

El Reloj Restaurant, a Spanish restaurant in Barcelona, Spain

Some food served by El Reloj Restaurant

Fried rice with Seafood

Fried rice with seafood

Fish with Green Peas

Fish with green peas

Cake for Dessert

Chocolate cake for dessert

Then we moved on to the Barcelona Olympic Stadium(Estadi Olimpic Lluis Companys) which is 6 km south-west of Sagrada Familia.

Barcelona Olympic Stadium

The entrance to the Barcelona Olympic Stadium looks like the triumphal arch, Arch de Triomphe, in Paris, France.

Triumphal Arch

Entrance to Barcelona Olympic Stadium

Barcelona Olympic Stadium

Barcelona Olympic Stadium was built in 1927 with a seating capacity of 56000 for the 1929 International Exposition in Barcelona City. In 1992 it held the 25th. Summer Olympic Games.

Barcelona Olympic Stadium

Barcelona Olympic Stadium was built in 1927 with a seating capacity of 56000. In 1992 it held the 25th. Summer Olympic Games.

Writer and wife at Barcelona Olympic Stadium

Writer and wife visited Barcelona Olympic Stadium on 31 October 2018.

Having visited the Olympic Stadium, we moved on to another stadium which was for football. Located 8 km south-west of Sagrada Familia, it is known as Barcelona Football Stadium or Camp Nou

Barcelona Football Stadium or Camp Nou

It was opened in 1957 with a seating capacity of 100,000. It is the largest in Europe and 3rd. in the world. It has hosted many grand football competitions, including the final competition of the Summer Olympic Games in 1992, UEFA European competitions and FIFA World Cup.

When the stadium is empty, four large Spanish words in yellow on the seats can be seen, “MES QUE UN CLUB”, meaning “MORE THAN A CLUB”.

Barcelona Football Stadium

Barcelona Football Stadium or Camp Nou was opened in 1957 with a seating capacity of 100000.

Exterior of Barcelona Football Stadium

Exterior of Barcelona Football Stadium

Barcelona Football Club Players

Camp Nou is owned by a professional Spanish football club known as FC Barcelona which was founded in 1899. It is the most successful club in Spanish football. There are many great players in this club, including Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Gerard Pique who are playing, currently.

Below are photos of three of the FC Barcelona players.

Lionel Messi

Lionel Messi playing forward for Barcelona Football Club

Luis Suarez

Luis Suarez is playing striker for Barcelona Football Club

Gerard Pique

Gerard Pique is playing centre-back for Barcelona Football Club

Dinner and Hotel in Barcelona

In the evening, we left Camp Nou and went to the Chinese restaurant, Rio Azul Restaurant, again to have the last dinner in Spain.

Rio Azul Restaurant, Barcelona

Dinner at Rio Azul Restaurant, a Chinese restaurant, in Barcelona

After dinner we went back to stay at the hotel, Sercotel Ciutat de Montcada, for another night which is 7 km north of Sagrada Familia.

Sercotel Ciutat de Montcada Hotel

Sercotel Ciutat de Montcada is the last hotel the tour group is staying in Spain

Next Destination

On the following day, we would leave Barcelona for home in Malaysia.

Day 11    Thursday, 1 November 2018

In the morning we left the hotel and travelled 20 km south to the Barcelona international airport known as El Prat Airport and checked in early. We would fly back home in Malaysia by the Royal Jordanian airplanes.

Barcelona International Airport(El Prat Airport)

Barcelona International Airport known as El Prat Airport is the second largest and busiest airport in Spain.

Tour group checking in at El Prat Airport

Writer and tourmates checking in at Barcelona international airport, El Prat, before flying back home in Malaysia

Departure for Home

Finally, at 3.35 p.m.(Spain time) we flew off from Barcelona by a Royal Jordanian airline to Amman in Jordan first. It took 4 hours and 25 minutes to fly from Barcelona to Amman which is 3186 km away.

Flight from Barcelona to Amman

Flight from Barcelona to Amman in 4 hours 25 mins. Distance is 3186 km.

Day 12    Friday, 2 November 2018

At Amman Airport we boarded another Royal Jordanian airplane that took us to Bangkok in Thailand which is 6836 km away. The plane took 8 hours and 10 minutes to travel that distance.

Flight from Amman to Bangkok

Flight from Amman to Bangkok takes 8 hrs 10 mins. Distance is 6836 km.

When the plane arrived at the Bangkok International Airport, some passengers disembarked. An hour later, we continued our journey on the same Royal Jordanian plane from Bangkok to KLIA(airport) in my country, Malaysia. The plane took 2 hours and 10 minutes to travel a distance of 1220 km to KLIA.

Flight from Bangkok to KLIA

Flight from Bangkok to KLIA takes 2 hrs 10 mins. Distance is 1220 km.

Safe Arrival

After travelling for almost a day from Spain to Malaysia, we reached our home, safely.

Conclusion

That was our unforgettable, enjoyable tour in Spain and Portugal.

Acknowledgement

My wife and I would like to thank Chiu Travel Agency, Golden Destinations Travel Agency, Tour Manger{Jeff Lee), Spanish tour guides, Spanish coach drivers and last but not least our tourmates for making our tour a successful, enjoyable and memorable one.

Thanks to all my tourmates for the wonderful time we had together during the tour

Thanks to Jeff Lee

Thanks to Jeff Lee, tour manager of Golden Destinations, for his knowledge and care during the Spanish & Portugal Tour(22.10.2018-2.11.2018)

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Places visited during Spain & Portugal Tour(22 Oct-02 Nov 2018):

Toledo   Madrid   Salamanca   Porto   Lisbon   Seville   Cordobo  Granada   Valencia   Barcelona