Turkey Travel Part X: Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace & Blue Mosque

Day 8

Sunday, 20 Oct 2019

Journey to Istanbul

In the morning of 20 Oct 2019, writer and tourmates left Ankara, the capital of Turkey, and travelled 400 km south-west to Istanbul, the largest city of 15 million people in Turkey.

Arrival in Istanbul City

On arrival in Istanbul City, we crossed Bosphorus Bridge over Bosphorus Strait from Asian side to European side at 12 noon on 20 Oct 2019. The bridge was built in 1973, the first one to be built across Bosphorus Strait.

Writer and tourmates crossed the Bosphorus Bridge that links the Asian side to the European side in Istanbul City on 20 Oct 2019.

Lunch Time

After crossing the bridge, we went to a restaurant, Sultan Kosesi Restaurant, to have lunch.

Visiting Hagia Sophia Museum

Immediately, after lunch we went to visit three places of interest, viz. Hagia Sophia or Ayasofya Museum, Topkapi Palace Museum and Blue Mosque in the city of Istanbul.

Pictorial map below shows the location of the three famous places in Istanbul City the writer and tourmates would visit after lunch on 20 Oct 2019.

Group photo for remembrance at Hagia Sophia Museum in Istanbul City

Hagia Sophia, a Byzantine Cathedral

Hagia Sophia was a Byzantine cathedral from 537 until 1453. Then it was an Ottoman mosque from 1453 until 1931. Finally, it is a museum since 1935.

Side view of Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, Turkey

Entrance of Hagia Sophia or Ayasofya Museum in Istanbul, Turkey

Writer and wife were in the Hagia Sophia Museum on 20 Oct 2019.

Quranic Writings

In Hagia Sophia Museum, there were two large circular boards with quranic writings hanging on the vaults above the prayer niche(mihrab).

There were another two large circular boards with quranic writings hanging on the vaults above the back of the nave in Hagia Sophia Museum.

The inner part of a large dome above the nave of Hagia Sophia Museum was written with quranic verses.

Upper Gallery

The ceilings of the upper gallery of Hagia Sophia Museum were richly painted with motifs.

Marble-Stone Ramp

There was a ramp covered with smooth marble-stones for visitors to go up to the upper gallery of Hagia Sophia or Ayasofya Museum.

Prayer Niche(Mihrab)

View of the prayer niche(mihrab) in the background as seen from the upper gallery of Hagia Sophia Museum in Istanbul.

Marble Wall

On the upper floor of Hagia Sophia Museum there was a marble wall of the 6th. Century separating the Emperor’s private chambers from the meeting chamber for church members.

Coloured Mosaic Murals

In the upper gallery there were several coloured mosaic murals on the walls with pictures of Christian religious figures. But they were partially removed when the cathedral was transformed into a mosque by the Ottoman Empire in 1453.

Here are some of the vandalized mosaic murals.

(i) The damaged mosaic mural of Christ with a book flanked by John and Virgin Mary or “Deesis”

(ii) The damaged mosaic mural of “Deesis” should have been like the picture below.

(iii) The lower part of the mosaic mural of Virgin Mary with her child, Emperor John II and his wife, Eirene, was damaged.

(iv) Similarly, the lower part of the mosaic mural of Christ, Emperor Constantine IX Monomachos and Empress Zoe was damaged when the Ottoman Empire took over the cathedral in 1453.

Untouched Columns

Some columns in Hagia Sophia Museum were untouched by the Byzantine Empire, as shown below.

(i) A column in Hagia Sophia Museum was untouched when the Ottoman Empire took over the cathedral in 1453.

(ii) Another column in Hagia Sophia Museum was untouched when the Ottoman Empire took over the cathedral in 1453.

Removal of Christian Images

Christian images were removed from all the pillars and walls in Hagia Sophia Museum since the Ottoman Empire ruled Turkey in 1453.

(i) A Christian image was removed on the pillar in Hagia Sophia Museum when the Ottoman Empire ruled Turkey since 1453.

(ii) Another Christian image was removed from another pillar in the museum since the Ottoman Empire ruled Turkey in 1453.

(iii) A column with a cross was removed from Hagia Sophia Museum and left outside the cathedral since the Ottoman Empire ruled Turkey in 1453. A cross is a symbol of Christianity.

(iv) Many parts of Hagia Sophia with Christian symbols or images were excavated in the compound of the cathedral when it became a museum in 1935.

Minarets

When the Ottoman Empire took over the cathedral, Hagia Sophia, in Istanbul, in 1453, it was transformed into a mosque with minarets being erected.

Topkapi Palace Museum

At 2.50 p.m. we left Hagia Sophia Museum and walked to a palace nearby. It is known as Topkapi Palace where the Ottoman Empire rulers stayed from 1478 until 1853 and high ranking officers stayed from 1853 until 1924. Since 1924 the palace becomes a museum for visitors to see.

View of Topkapi Palace Museum and Marmara Sea in the distance as seen on a printed entrance ticket.

Imperial Gate is the main gate or first gate that allows visitors to enter Courtyard 1 of Topkapi Palace in Istanbul, Turkey.

Gate of Salutaion is the second gate of Topkapi Palace that allows visitors to enter Courtyard 2.

Imperial Kitchens with chimneys in Courtyard 2 of Topkapi Palace in Istanbul, Turkey

Imperial Council Hall, Harem, Imperial Stables and Imperial Kitchens are located in Courtyard 2.

Imperial Kitchens with chimneys are in Courtyard 2 of Topkapi Palace in Istanbul, Turkey

Harem or women’s quarter in Courtyard 2 of Topkapi Palace

Imperial Council Hall in Courtyard 2 of Topkapi Palace was a place for informal gatherings of senior ministers presided over by the Sultan.

Informal gatherings of senior ministers presided over by the Sultan were held in Imperial Council Hall.

A colourful, gilded wall in the Imperial Council Hall of Topkapi Palace

Smart-looking guards on horses can be seen in Courtyard 2 of Topkapi Palace

Gate of Felicity is the third gate that allows visitors to enter Courtyard 3 of Topkapi Palace in Istanbul, Turkey.

Audience Hall, Imperial Treasury, Library of Sultan Ahmet III and Library of Manuscripts are located in Courtyard 3.

Audience Hall or Chamber of Petitions is in Courtyard 3 of Topkapi Palace.

Library of Sultan Ahmet III or Inner Palace Library in Courtyard 3 of Topkapi Palace in Istanbul, Turkey.

Interior of Library of Sultan Ahmet III in Topkapi Palace

A model of a learned man in the Library of Sultan Ahmet III in Topkapi Palace

In Courtyard 4, there are Mecidiye Kiosk, Sofa Mosque, Wardrobe Room, Tower Gate, Circuncision Chamber, Chamber of the Physician, Bagdad Kiosk and Revan Kiosk.

Mecidiye Kiosk

Mecidiye Kiosk in Courtyard 4 was built by Sultan Abdulmecid(1823-1961) in the 18th. Century for enthronement ceremonies and Sultans’ temporary residence in Topkapi Palace, Istanbul, Turkey.

Wardrobe Room

Wardrobe Room in Courtyard 4 of Topkapi Palace was used by Sultan Abdulmecid(1823-1861) whenever he visited the palace.

Twin Tower Gate

Twin Tower Gate is the back gate of Topkapi Palace in Istanbul, Turkey, and opens into Bosphorus Strait.

Breathtaking View

A breathtaking view of Bosphorus Bridge and the Strait of Bosphorus as seen from Topkapi Palace, Istanbul, Turkey

Visiting Blue Mosque

The last place we visited for the day was a large mosque known as Blue Mosque or Sultan Ahmed Mosque which was opened in 1616 as shown in the photo below. This photo was taken at the mosque.

Blue Mosque is near Hagia Sophia Museum

We walked a few hundred metres from Topkapi Palace to Blue Mosque or Sultan Ahmed Mosque. The mosque is near Hagia Sophia or Ayasofya Museum.

Front of Blue Mosque

Prayer Hall

The large prayer hall in Blue Mosque has many columns supporting five main domes and 8 smaller ones. The hall has a capacity of 10 000 worshipers.

Exit and Entrance Door

The exit and entrance door of Blue Mosque or Sultan Ahmed Mosque in Istanbul, Turkey

Courtyard

The courtyard of Blue Mosque or Sultan Ahmed Mosque

Visitors relaxing in the courtyard of Blue Mosque or Sultan Ahmed Mosque

Sultan Ahmet Square

At 5.10 p.m. we left Blue Mosque and walked in an open-air area adjacent to the Blue Mosque. It was known as Hippodrome of Constantinople which was developed by Byzantine emperor, Constantine VII(905-959 AD). It was used for chariot racing and other entertainments. Besides, a few monuments were erected there to adorn the place which is now known as Sultan Ahmet Square.

Below are some of the monuments left in the square.

(a) Obelisk of Pharaoh Tutmose III(1481-1425 BC)

This obelisk was brought over from Egypt and erected in the square by a Roman emperor, Theodosius I(347-395 AD).

(b) Walled Obelisk

This obelisk with the missing gilded bronze plaques was built and erected by a Byzantine emperor, Constantine VII(905-050 AD).

(c) Serpent Column

This column with three entwined snakes with missing heads was brought over from Greece and erected in the square by a Byzantine emperor, Constantine VII(905-959 AD).

Later, we checked in and had dinner at a hotel, Golden Tulip Hotel, in Istanbul City.

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Places visited during Turkey Tour(13-22 Oct 2019):

Trojan Horse/Ancient Troy Cities Asklepion Ephesus Hierapolis/Pamukkale Travertine Sultanhani Caravanserai Pasabag Valley Uchisar Valley/Kaymakli Underground City Gerome Valley/Turkish Night Show Hot Air Balloon/Lake Golu/Anitkabir Hagia Sophia/Topkapi Palace/Blue Mosque Bosphorus Boat Cruise Spice Bazaar/Grand Bazaar

Turkey Travel Part XI: Bosphorus Strait Boat-Cruise

December 8, 2019 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Bosphorus Strait Boat Cruise, Turkey Travel 

Day 9

Monday, 21 Oct 2019

Last Day of Turkey Tour

Monday, 21 Oct 2019, was the last day of our tour in Turkey before we flew back to our country, Malaysia.

Boat Cruise on Strait of Bosphorus

The first thing we did then was to cruise in a boat on the Strait of Bosphorus enjoying the cruise and sights of the strait.

Bosphorus Strait

Bosphorus Strait is 31 km long separating the European side from the Asian side in the City of Istanbul, Turkey. Besides, it links the Black Sea in the north to Marmara Sea and then Mediterranean Sea in the south.

Boat Cruise Route on Bosphorus Strait

The pictorial map below shows the orange-coloured route on the Strait of Bosphorus our boat took to see the important bridges and historical buildings on its shores at close range.

Cruise Boat, “Istanbul City”

At 10.30 a.m. we boarded a boat called “Istanbul City” at a waterfront of the Strait of Bosphorus.

Cruise Boat Owner

The owner of the boat soon brought us around for a sightseeing tour of the Strait of Bosphorus in Istanbul.

Writer and wife together with tourmates were enjoying the boat ride and sightseeing of the Strait of Bosphorus on 21 Oct 2019.

Importance of Bosphorus Strait

Bosphorus Strait or Strait of Istanbul in Turkey is an important waterway between Europe and Asia, and Black Sea and Marmara Sea.

In World War I(1914-18), the Allied Powers fought against the Ottoman Empire to take control of the Strait of Bosphorus, Marmara Sea and Strait of Dardanelles, but they failed in 1916.

Bosphorus Strait Measurements

The photo below shows Bosphorus Strait that links the Black Sea in the north and Marmara Sea and then Mediterranean Sea in the south. Its length is 31 km, minimum width 700 metres and maximum depth 110 metres.

Three Bridges Across Bosphorus Strait

There are three bridges spanning the waterway as shown in the photos below.

(i) Bosphorus Bridge or 15 July Martyr’s Bridge was the first bridge to be built between Europe and Asia. Built in 1973, it is 1560 metres long.

(ii) Faith Sultan Mehmet Bridge, the second bridge built to link Europe and Asia, was opened in 1988. It is 1510 metres long.

(iii) Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge, the third bridge that connects Europe and Asia, was opened in 2016. It is the longest bridge among the three of them. Its length is 2164 metres.

Galata Bridge

Galata Bridge in Istanbul spanning the Golden Horn estuary is 490 metres long. Opened in 2003, it links the traditional place and the place where most of the non-Muslims, foreign merchants and diplomats live and work.

Importance of Boats

Boats in the Strait of Bosphorus between Europe and Asia have been an important public transport for many commuters, tourists and vehicles for many years.

Boats of different kinds use the Strait of Bosphorus every day. Small ships pass through the strait, too.

A ferry carrying passengers, tourists and vehicles past our boat in the Strait of Bosphorous in Istanbul, Turkey.

New and Old Buildings

While sailing on our boat, “Istanbul City”, in the Strait of Bosphorus, we saw new and old buildings on its shores.

Below are photos showing historical buildings on the shores of Bosphorus Strait.

(i) Dolmabachce Mosque which was built in 1855

(ii) Ortakoy Mosque which was built in1856

(iii) Dolmabahce Palace which was opened in 1856 and home to 6 sultans of the Ottoman Empire from 1856 until 1922

(iv) Ziya Kalkavan Vocational & Technical Anatolian High School

(v) Kuleli Military High School which was established in 1845

Promontory

We saw from the Golden Horn estuary two monumental buildings, viz. Topkapi Palace and Hagia Sophia Museum on a promontory.

Lunch-Time

After an hour of boat-cruise in the Bosphorus Strait, we stopped at a restaurant, Imperial Galata Restaurant, located under Galata Bridge and had lunch.

Happy Moment

At the restaurant, our tour-manager, writer and tourmates toasted to each other for having, successfully, visited almost all the places of interest in our Turkey tour on 21 Oct 2019.

Writer’s Last Lunch in Turkey

My last lunch in Turkey at Imperial Galata Restaurant in Istanbul on 21 Oct 2019

A Visit to Two Famous Bazaars

After lunch, we walked across Galata Bridge spanning the Golden Horn estuary in Istanbul to visit two famous markets, Spice Bazaar and Grand Bazaar.

Anglers on Galata Bridge

While crossing the bridge, we saw many local anglers fishing from the bridge.

An angler’s pail of fish caught in the Golden Horn estuary.

Camilica Mosque or New Mosque

On the way to Spice Bazaar, we saw from Galata Bridge a new large mosque which was opened on 4 May 2019. Known as Camlica Mosque or New Mosque, it is the largest mosque in Turkey.

(continued next page)

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Places visited during Turkey Tour(13-22 Oct 2019):

Trojan Horse/Ancient Troy Cities Asklepion Ephesus Hierapolis/Pamukkale Travertine Sultanhani Caravanserai Pasabag Valley Uchisar Valley/Kaymakli Underground City Gerome Valley/Turkish Night Show Hot Air Balloon/Lake Golu/Anitkabir Hagia Sophia/Topkapi Palace/Blue Mosque Bosphorus Boat Cruise Spice Bazaar/Grand Bazaar

Turkey Travel Part XII: Spice Bazaar & Grand Bazaar

December 8, 2019 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Spice Bazaar, Grand Bazaar, Turkey Travel 

(continued)

Day 9

Monday, 21 Oct 2019

Visiting Two Large Bazaars of Istanbul

After lunch at Imperial Galata Restaurant, we walked across Galata Bridge and went to two large bazaars known as Spice Bazaar and Grand Bazaar in Istanbul City.

The location of the two bazaars are shown in the pictorial map below.

Spice Bazaar

Opened since 1664, Spice Bazaar is the second largest bazaar after Grand Bazaar in Turkey. It houses over 80 shops selling spices, Turkish Delights, jewellery, souvenirs, dried seeds, nuts and fruits, and many more. It is a tourists’ favourite place.

Main Entrance of Spice Bazaar

The photo below shows the main entrance of Spice Bazaar.

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Tourists Throng Spice Bazaar

Tourists throng Spice Bazaar every day. It is a market place where goods ranging from spices to jewellery are sold.

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Writer and wife together with tourmates visited Spice Bazaar on 21 Oct 2019.

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Shops in Spice Bazaar

The following photos below show shops selling the Turkish products in Spice Bazaar.

(i) A Spice Bazaar shop selling a wide variety of Turkish edible products

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(ii) Different kinds of spices for sale at a Spice Bazaar shop

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(iii) Boxes of Turkish Delights with different flavours for sale at a Spice Bazaar

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(iv) A wide variety of sweet Turkish Delights for sale at a Spice Bazaar shop

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(v) Dried seeds, nuts and fruits for sale at a Spice Bazaar shop

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(vi) A wide variety of dried flowers and fruits for making tea for sale at a Spice Bazaar shop

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(vii) Dried seed, nuts and fruits for sale at a Spice Bazaar shop

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(viii) Boxes of Turkish tea with flavours of apple, orange, rose, cinnamon, pomegranate, honey and ginger for sale at a Spice Bazaar shop

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(ix) A souvenir shop at Spice Bazaar

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(x) White table-cloths, bar-napkins, tea-towels, etc. for sale at a Spice Bazaar shop

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(xi) A Spice Bazaar’s gift shop

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(xii) An ice-cream seller tricked a customer in getting the ice-cream the latter asked for at a Spice Bazaar shop

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(xiii) Beef for sale at a Spice Bazaar shop

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(xiv) A Spice Bazaar shop selling “kebab” which is bread stuffed with slices of meat, salad and some sauce

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(xv) Photo below shows “kebab” for sale at a Spice Bazaar shop

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Grand Bazaar, Istanbul

Grand Bazaar was the next Turkish bazaar we visited. It is a couple of hundred metres from Spice Bazaar.

Grand Bazaar was established in 1461. Now it has over 60 covered streets lined with over 4000 shops selling a wide variety of products ranging from spices, dried nuts and fruits, souvenirs to handbags and jewellery. An average of 300 000 people visited the bazaar, daily.

Entrances into Grand Bazaar

There are many entrances into Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, Turkey. Below is one of them.

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Another entrance into Grand Bazaar

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Turkish National Flag

A Turkish national flag hanging in one of the covered streets in Grand Bazaar

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Shops in Grand Bazaar

Below are photos taken at Grand Bazaar on 21 Oct 2019 showing many kinds of Turkish products sold by the shops.

(i) Colourful dried fruits for sale at a Grand Bazaar shop

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(ii) Handbags for sale at a Grand Bazaar shop

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(iii) Jewellery for sale at a Grand Bazaar shop

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(iv) Colourful scarves for sale at a Grand Bazaar shop

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(v) Nazars that ward off evil eye, talismans, amulets, etc. for sale at a Grand Bazaar shop

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(vi) Colourful Turkish lanterns for sale at a Grand Bazaar shop

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(vii) T-shirts for sale at a Grand Bazaar shop

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(viii) A cafe at Grand Bazaar

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Chinese Dinner at The Wox Restaurant

After a couple of hours at the two large bazaars in Istanbul, we went to a Chinese restaurant called “The Wox” in Sultanahmet for our first Chinese but last dinner in Turkey. It is about 1 km from Grand Bazaar.

“Home Sweet Home”

After dinner, we checked in at Turkey’s New Airport in Istanbul and flew back to Malaysia, our homeland, after midnight on 22 Oct 2019.

It was a safe journey home, thanks to Turkish Airlines.

Return Air-Flight Route

Map showing the air-flight route back home from Istanbul, Turkey, to KLIA, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on 22 Oct 2019

Acknowledgement

Writer and tourmates would like to thank Chiu Travel Agency in Malaysia for the memorable tour in Turkey.

Thanks, too, to Brian Wong, our tour-manager, Cenmal, our Turkish tour-guide, and Metun, our Turkish coach-driver. Without them, our successful tour would not be possible.

Writer and wife thank all our tourmates for the wonderful time we have together during the Turkey tour from 13-22 Oct 2019.

THE END

Previous Page / Home

Places visited during Turkey Tour(13-22 Oct 2019):

Trojan Horse/Ancient Troy Cities Asklepion Ephesus Hierapolis/Pamukkale Travertine Sultanhani Caravanserai Pasabag Valley Uchisar Valley/Kaymakli Underground City Gerome Valley/Turkish Night Show Hot Air Balloon/Lake Golu/Anitkabir Hagia Sophia/Topkapi Palace/Blue Mosque Bosphorus Boat Cruise Spice Bazaar/Grand Bazaar

Spain & Portugal Travel Part I: Toledo

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

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.

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

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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.

Cybele Palace

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.

Royal Cantones

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.

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

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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

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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 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

                                                                             

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 of Prince Henry the Navigator

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

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.

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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

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