Spain

Madrid and Andalucia

1997



Google-Earth kmz-Map (open Google-Earth in your computer and click on the link)



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We flew to Madrid via London and stayed a few days, exploring the great museums: Museo del Prado, Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Museo de las Bellas Artes de San Fernando. A simple hostal near the Thyssen-Bornelisza was a convenient place one could even return to for a siesta after lunch. Dinner, in some small retaurant nearby was always very late (for me anyway). I had been in Madrid for a few days in 1977, since then the town, as all of Spain had changed dramatically. A supercharged atmosphere of excitement could be felt: Spain was soon to join the European Union. I felt as if electric sparks would issue from my fingers, if I stretched my hands out.

We went on a day excursion to Toledo, and decided finally to take the fast train to Cordoba, rent a car and spend 3 weeks exploring Andalucia.

Andalusian Panorama
Click on the image to enlarge it.

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Toledo

A narrow lane in the old quarter of Toledo with the Catrhedral in the background.

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Entrance

El Greco, The Burial of the Count of Orgaz

Toledo, I wanted to see the El Greco in the Chapel of Santo Tomé but tourist were clogging up the small space, and the entrance fee was disproportional. Only Barbara went in and took this photo of the altar leaf.

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Toledo, door of the Synagogue del Transito (1366), which we discovered by accident. It now is a museum of Sephardic Judaism.

 Cordoba

Map of Cordoba Province

Oh for the fast trains of Europe! The four-hour ride to Cordoba across the desolate, flat central highlands of Spain was a great pleasure.

Cordoba, entrance gate to the courtyard - one rang a bell and conversed with the padrona by shouting - of our Hostal Seneca in a hidden lane right behind the Mezquite, the beautiful old mosque of Cordoba.

The interior of the Mesquite a vast wood of columns and red-and-white Islamic arches. A very special place of peace and quiet devotion - into which Karl V plowed a baroque Christian cathedral which nearly destroyed the unit of its space. Very tired I found myself a corner and sat down and tried to meditate for half-an-hour - when two guards appeared and threatened to carry the "Moslem" out of the sanctuary by force. Thank God Barbara was waiting for me outside and did not get involved. A rather unpleasant confrontation, full of hatred and anger.

A beautiful old house with several courtyards now contains the archeological museum.

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View of the second courtyard from the upper story.

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Ceramic plates and baskets in a small souvenir shop.

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Along the road to Granada

.A finka in the hills near Baena

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And its Padrona on the eroded soil



The Poetry of Al-Andalus

The soul and spirit of Al-Andalus and its Arab-Jewish culture is its poetry. Suppressed during the Christian Reconquista because of its erotic sensuality and often ambiguous sexual freedom it is a uniquely beautiful and evocative ducument of the life of the upper classes. Enough of its verses have survived in Spanish translations from the Arabic and Hebrew to fill the small bibliophile volume “Andalusian Poems” superbly translated into English by Christopher Middleton and Leticia Garza-Falcón, published by David R. Godine, Boston, 1993.

I collected a number of their poems in a Google-Earth overlay which you find here. To open this kmz-file you need to download Google-Earth (free) to your had disk.

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Granada

Map of Granada Province

The heart of old Granada: Plaza Nueva in the Darro valley between the Alhambra (up to the right) and the hill town of Albaicin (out of sight to the left.)

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Arrow lane at the bottom of Albaicin near the 11th-cent Bañuelo, the old bath.

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The Alhambra seen from the top of the Albaicin hill. A wonderful but steep path, the Paseo del Rei Chico, leads to the left of the picture from the bottom of the valley and the river Darro, between the Generalife and the Alhambra to the entrance of the Alhambra

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Another view of the Alhambra from the upper lanes of the Arab quarter in Albaicin.

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House in Albaicin caught by the late sun.

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The Alhambra

Court of the Lions, the center of the Alhambra. Everywhere streams of water run through the rooms and courts.

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Reflecting pool mirroring the. Palace of El Partal and the houses of Albaicin in the background

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Most intricate Sufic patterns in the tiled walls

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The gardens of the Generalife on the same hill east of the Alhambra

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Travels across Andalucia

Map of Malaga Province

The formerly Arabic, White Villages of Southern Andalucia. Near Ronda(?)

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Everywhere new olive groves were being planted. Much of the harvest is sold to Italy from where it reaches us as Virgin Italian Olive Oil!

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Zahara de la Sierra.

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 The village of Sentenil

 

Sentenil's rooftops

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Coffee stop in Sentenil

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Near Gerusalema and Utrique.

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Cork-Oak stands in the hills south of Granada

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Harvested cork oaks. The bark, from which the corks are made, grows back in four or five years. - After passing Gibraltar, we ended at the Atlantic Coast west of Jerez.

Map of the Atlantic Coast south of Cadiz

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Ronda

Ronda rising above its gorge. Ronda is a new city (18th cent.), which has been home to a long line of literati and poets. They still provide an aura to the place. Already 20 miles before reaching Ronda we came across a car from the Driving School "Rilke", notwithstanding that he had no issue and never took driving lessons.

The pretty town boasts a large and famous arena for bull fights. This is the entry.

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Sevilla

Map of Sevilla Province

Sevilla. The tower of the Giralda, the minaret of the former Mosque of Sevilla (12th cent), now the city's cathedral. Barbara loves towers, and so she climbed the Giralda and took these pitures

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The domes and towers of the Christian cathedral

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And the court yards planted with orange trees of the former mosque - including the old fountains. A beautiful symbiosis.

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A Moorish fountain

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And a later, tiled one. Notice the profusion of flowers on the datura bush! In the morning their sweet odor filled the garden.

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Goldfish and orchid-tree blossoms in a pool below the Giralda.

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Barbara in the garden behind the Cathedral

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Three actors advertising their play (a Hemingway adaptation?) in Cathedral Square

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A Gothic window in the cloisters surrounding the orange tree garden.

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Madrid again.

Waiting for Barbara in front of the Prado in Madrid. She had gone back to stare one last time at the 12 tall Grecos essembled in one medium-sized room.

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Cornucopia. A variety of Spanish hams in our lunch and breakfast place in Madrid. The prices are still in pesos - before the arrival of the Euro.

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