Tour of Spain: Madrid, Toledo & Andalucia, May 2006 January 26, 2017 elizabeth.wasson Welcome to Spain: Showing detailed ornamentation of the arches at one end of this famed patio. We had wanted for some years to visit Spain, especially the southern province of Andalucia, where the Moors ruled over a brilliant civilization from 711 to 1492 to which Muslims, Jews, and Christians all contributed. Despite its share of upheavals, wars, and other problems, it is often viewed as a model of a multicultural society which might have much to teach us today. Paula had been in Spain many years before, but this was Paul’s first trip. We used the small travel agency called Madrid & Beyond to custom-design a tour for us based on our specifications, and we were delighted with the results. We asked to fly in and out of Madrid, then tour the south, with a special focus on Cordoba, Sevilla, and Granada, along with leisure time near the beaches and travel through small hill towns. MADRID: Pullman, Washington is named after Pullman, Illinois, which was named after its founder, George Pullman, inventor of the air brake and railroad sleeping car. The latter became known as “Pullman cars,” and the name was extended to buses and even hots advertising traveler comfort around much of the world. This bus was driving tourists past the Praado Museum in Madrrid. “Pullman” has come to mean “travel in comfort,” and there are all sorts of tour companies, hotels, vans, buses, etc. called “Pullman” as well. MADRID: The broad, leafy boulevard in front of the Prado is called, logically enough, the “Paseo del Prado,” but while we were there it was not entirely peaceful. We missed it, but we read about a large demonstration led by Baroness Carmen Thyssen against a plan to transplant or destroy many of these majestic trees in an ambitious rebuilding plan. MADRID: Sculpture honoring Spain’s most famous painter, Francisco Goya (1746-1828) outside the north entrance of the Prado Museum. At his feet is carved a replica of his famous Maja Desnuda (Naked Maja). Beside him a street musician plays a recorder. MADRID: A street musician plays Renaissance dance tunes on his recorder outside the entrance to the Prado Museum, Madrid. MADRID: Goya’s Naked Maja is his most famous, though least characteristic painting. MADRID: The most popular exhibit in the Prado museum is the side-by-side display of Goya’s pair of paintings: the naked and clothed majas. MADRID:After several hours of browsing the galleries (it took us part of two days to tour the whole collection), we set out through a narrow pedestrian street in search of food. Restaurants open late, so we had our first tapas of many during the trip. On the way, we walked past his lovely carved art nouveau door. MADRID: This palace has traditionally been used by royalty viewing public events and performances in the plaza below. The mural paintings on the facade were added only in 1993. MADRID: These lively paintings were added to the facade of this famous palace on the Plaza Mayor in 1993. It is from these apartments that the royal family has traditionally watched all sorts of public entertainments and pageantry. MADRID: The entrance normally in use, off Calle Bailn MADRID: Catdral Nuestra Seora de la Almudena, facade. The Madrid Cathedral, a relatively recent building, having been completed only in 1993, with many modern interior decorations. MADRID: The colorful modern decorations inside contrast strikingly with the neo-Gothic vaulting. MADRID: Scene in a plaza in front of some attractive apartment buildings. MADRID: Ornamental elephants on the ornate facade of the Banco Espaol de Crdito. That evening, we attended a performance of zarzuela, the classic operetta form of Spain. Although we had to puzzle out the plot from notes entirely in Spanish, it was a thrilling experience, and we wound up buying several CDs and DVDs of zarzuela. MADRID: Palacio Real, the seat of the kings of Spain, including the current monarch who visits on state occasions. Although it contains several government offices, most of it is a museum open to the public. MADRID: The mounted guards at the royal palace execute an elaborate ritual at the end of each shift. MADRID: The interior is a riot of rococo decoration. MADRID: The ceiling fresco depicting the triumph of Spain, by Tiepolo. MADRID: Colorful cut-out paintings look like they might have inspired the decorations on the royal apartments in the Plaza Mayor. MADRID: Fresco by Giambattista Tiepolo. MADRID: Almost every room contains an elaborate rococo clock or two. MADRID: Time with his scythe bears the face on this enormous ornamental clock. MADRID: Porcelain was invented in China and remained for a long time associated with it. Here the rococo decorations reflect ideas about the romantic Orient in plaster relief by Jos Gricci. It houses the royal porcelain collection. MADRID: A detail from the rococo ornamentation covering the walls and ceiling of the Royal Palace in Madrid, by Jos Gricci. MADRID: The music room contains a fabulous collection of instruments, including a Stradivarius string quartet . . . MADRID: A highly ornate guitar in the royal collection of musical instruments in the Royal Palace, Madrid. MADRID: The royal chapel is small, but stunning. We later bought a CD of performances on the organ here of compositions by royal organists. MADRID: Two-headed, two-tailed mythological figure in the Royal Palace. MADRID: The armor in this collection is displayed much more dramatically than in most such museums, with fully armored knights on fully armored horses. MADRID: This striking detail ornaments a shoulder piece showing Hercules slaying a hydra. In the Armera in the Palacio Ral. MADRID: That night we had a personal guided tour of some of Madrid’s top tapas bars near the Plaza Mayor, stopping at each one to sample its specialties. The streets stay lively late into the night. MADRID: On our stroll back to the apartment we passed this movie theater with striking art nouveau stained-glass windows. MADRID: When the Spanish built a modern replacement for their ornate Madrid railway station (the first built in the country), they preserved the old structure and turned it into a huge tropical conservatory which makes a very relaxing setting for travelers to pass through on their way to the trains. Mist machines moisten the air. TOLEDO: It was a long, hot hike from the train station to the entrance of the old city, and we found Toledo overly touristy, with every other shop offering swords, knives, and scissors purportedly made of “Toledo steel.” We were disappointed to discover that the city’s most famous landmark, the Medieval fortress of the Alczar, is not open to the public. TOLEDO: Outside the crowded tourist areas, Toledo does have charming residential streets. TOLEDO: The high point of our visit was the magnificent cathedral. Here is the side entrance where visitors can go in without charge to pray or just get a glimpse of the interior. We noticed over and over that Spanish churches very often feature large clocks, either outside or inside. TOLEDO: But the main entrance, where tourists pay to go in, has a magnificent Gothic arched doorway. TOLEDO: The tympanum depicts the 7th-century St. Idelfonso (patron saint of Toledo) receiving his chasuble from the Virgin Mary. He was especially noted for his devotion to Mary. TOLEDO: The 16th-century custodia is a 10″ tall portable vehicle meant to display a consecrated host in processions. Although it is sometimes called a “monstrance,” the latter is actually the term for a more fixed display not used in processions. This huge, very heavy work made of solid silver covered with gold. TOLEDO: In Toledo we also explored the first of several juderias (Jewish quarters) on our itinerary, including the imposing but empty Synagogue of Santa Maria la Blanca. The most important of Toledo’s synagogues is today known by its rebaptised Christian name though it has since been deconsecrated. The influence of Moorish architectural design is striking. TOLEDO: Detail of the arches in the Syagogue of Santa Maria la Blanca. TOLEDO: View of the spire of the Toledo Cathedral from across town. MADRID: The next day was largely devoted to exploring art museums. We were amused by the life-sized figures on a storefront balcony reproducing various figures from the paintings of Goya. MADRID: One night we enjoyed an excellent meal and flamenco show at the Tablao Flamenco Restaurante (Plaza del Conde de Miranda, 1). A guide later explained to us the etymology of the term flamenco, which literally means “Flemish.” Many years ago Spaniards tended to imagine that the gypsies who performed the music had come from Flanders. On May 11 we picked up our rental car at the Atocha Station and headed south, through the spectacular pass called El Desfiladero de Despeñaperros (“the gorge of the throwing over of the dogs”). This pass is the gateway to the southern province of Andalucia. ANDALUCIA: From now on the fields and hills were carpeted with green grass and wildflowers. May is the perfect time to view the countryside of Andalucia—after the rains and before the scorching heat turns everything brown. CARMONA: In Carmona we stayed in a palace converted into a very nice hotel, the Hotel Alcazar de la Reina (“palace of the queen”). CARMONA: The fancifully painted elevator in the lobby contains a mirror which reflects the entrance. The lady in the painting is, of course, the 15th-century queen alluded to in the hotel’s name. CARMONA: The hotel swimming pool. CARMONA: Carmona has a long history dating back to before Roman times. It is today a quiet and charming hill town which welcomes tourists but is not overwhelmed by them. In San Fernando square local adults gather to chat and children to play. Just beside it is the thriving local market. CARMONA: Because the streets are so narrow and twisting, it is easy to get lost; but because the town is so small, the consequences are rarely serious. CARMONA: Carmona is a traditional “white town” where all the buildings are whitewashed. CARMONA: The Church of Santa Maria. CARMONA: Like many other Andalucian churches, this one was built on the ruins of a Moorish mosque. Remaining from that period is the enclosed courtyard at the entrance where Muslim worshipers would have washed before entering to pray. CARMONA: Orange trees in the churchyard of the Iglesia de Santa Mara la Mayor, Carmona. CARMONA: View from the courtyard. This church was built on the site of a former mosque, and the courtyard, from which this shot was taken, is the only remnant of the old structure. CARMONA: Carmona is a real functioning town rather than a mere tourist center. These local women obviously were going to the church to pray rather than take in the sights. CARMONA: The ruins of Pedro alcazar, near the later structure now converted into an elegant hotel. CARMONA: The view from the Alcazar del Rey Don Pedro, now a luxury state-run hotel (Parador), is a bit incongruous, with the luxurious swimming pool right next door to a run-down chicken farm. CARMONA: In the Parque Maria Luisa, Sevilla CARMONA: A final view of a typical street in Carmona. CORDOBA: The gate into the historical city in the remaining section of city wall: the Puerta Almodóvar. CORDOBA: A typical street in the old city with a distant view of the bell tower of the Mezquita. CORDOBA: The Mezquita is the fabulous Córdoba mosque, the only one remaining more or less intact from the Moorish era in Spain. This is the Patio de los Naranjos (“patio of orange trees”); but in Moorish times it would have been planted with palms, and the fountains there would have served for ritual ablutions before prayer. Now crowds gather to wait for their guided tours. CORDOBA: The view across the courtyard to the tower gives some sense of the building’s immense size. The trees are planted in rows corresponding with the rows of pillars inside. Originally the courtyard would have been open and the effect more apparent. CORDOBA: This bell tower was built at the same time as the cathedral inside the mosque, 1523. CORDOBA: A capital on one of the pillars in the courtyard. CORDOBA: A guide talks with Paula Elliot out a tour of the mosque. Because of the cathedral which blocks its center, few photographs show the full width of the mosque, but this shot suggests the building’s size. CORDOBA: The famed forest of pillars inside the great Mosque of Corcoba (La Mezquita), used classical pillars of various designs and heights, so their bases and capitals were adjusted to hold up arches of uniform heights. The arches themselves are built of alternating strips of stone and brick (though in the latest hasty addition to the building the red stripes were merely painted on). The capitals differ greatly in design from one another to keep the arches at the same level with each other. Begun in the 10th century. CORDOBA: Another view of the arches. CORDOBA: A wall of more ornately sculpted marble arches. CORDOBA: Note the Kufic lettering around the border of the Moorish dome inside the Mezquita. CORDOBA: In 1523 a Christian cathedral was built right in the center of the old mosque, destroying forever the original effect of the vast hall of pillars. But the fact that the structure was the city cathedral may have helped preserve it in the following centuries. Here, a view from the Muslim into the Christian portions of the building. CORDOBA: This chapel facing out into the Mosque’s pillared hall is used for state occasions rather than the more cramped quarters of the cathedral. CORDOBA: Ornate dome inside the cathedral built inside La Mezquita. Constructed 1523. CORDOBA: Detail of the gilded dome over the altar of the small cathedral built inside La Mezquita. toward the top of the picture, angels read from a musical score. CORDOBA: After leaving the Mezquita, we walked around the old Jewish quarter, the Juderia. Córdoba likes to boast that the great Jewish scholar Moses Maimonides (also known as “Rambam”) was born here (in 1135), though he did most of his thinking elsewhere since his family was forced into exile by the Almohades when he was only thirteen. This modern sculpture memorializes the famous thinker on a little street named after him just outside the best-preserved synagogue in Spain. CORDOBA: This tiny Jewish synagogue, built in 1316, is the best preserved in Spain. The details of its ornamentation display Moorish influence. Note the Christian cross placed inside the niche. It was its conversion into a Christian chapel that saved this synagogue from destruction. CORDOBA: Hebrew inscription in the synagogue. All the texts engraved on the walls are passages from the Psalms. CORDOBA: More of the decor in the synagogue. CORDOBA: We were lucky enough to arrive during the annual patio competition in which private courtyards are temporarily opened to public view. Traditional houses all over the Mediterranean are built whenever possible around such a courtyard, providing shelter, beauty, and privacy. CORDOBA: Note the miniature spitting lions at the base of the fountain, reminiscent of those in the Alhambra. CORDOBA: One of several courtyards open for viewing during the annual city patio contest. Traditional Spanish houses follow the Roman/Moorish model of enclosed spaces around a central courtyard, usually featuring plants and a fountain or pool. CORDOBA: More patios. CORDOBA: Mudéjar gate in Córdoba. CORDOBA: Mudéjar gate in Córdoba. CORDOBA: These arched niches imitate the stripes of the arches in the Mezquita. ALMODVAR DEL RIO: We took the wrong road out of Córdoba and serendipitously came across the impossibly romantic Castillo Almodóvar del Rio. ALMODVAR DEL RIO: View from just beneath the castle to the town below. ALMODVAR DEL RIO: View of the countryside from between the crenelations of the castle walls. ALMODOVAR DEL RIO: The picturesque castle, with its soaring walls and perfect crenelated ramparts, is almost too good to be true. ALMODOVAR DEL RIO: As we entered, the music of Alfonso X, El Sabio, was playing. ALMODOVAR DEL RIO: Indeed, we learned by looking at these before-and-after pictures in the castle museum, it is too good to be true; the castle has been “restored” to such an extent that it is essentially a new structure—more theme park than historic monument. ALMODOVAR DEL RIO: However, as a theme park, it’s a lot of fun. Paula posed as various medieval personages. This sword-and-stone setup is obviously a picture-taking opportunity. ALMODOVAR DEL RIO: The ramparts make clear that the principal function of a castle was defense. ALMODVAR DEL RIO: The town below is mirrored in a tower window. SEVILLA: It had taken us much longer to get to the rendezvous with our guide in Córdoba than we had expected, so we set out early the next day for Sevilla, but that turned out to be a much shorter and easier trip, so we were quite early. We decided to treat ourselves to the lavish breakfast buffet at the Hotel Alfonso XIII and enjoyed looking out at the covered courtyard of this fantastic building, erected in 1929 but redolent of much earlier eras. (The city is usually called “Seville” in English, but we preferred to go with actual Spanish place names.) SEVILLA: Our guide led us toward the old royal palace of Sevilla, the Alcázar largely built by Moorish architects under the orders of Pedro I, the first Christian monarch of the region. SEVILLA: Paula Elliot and guide approach the entrance to Seville’s Royal Palace, built on Moorish ruins by Pedro 1 (1350-1369). SEVILLA: The highly stylized Kufic calligraphy in blue and white reads “There is no conqueror but Allah.” It is surrounded with a Spanish inscription praising the builder of the main part of the Alczar, the Christian Pedro I. SEVILLA: The same phrase is inscribed throughout the building, as it is in the Alhambra in Granada. SEVILLA: The rather tepid comments in our guidebook did not prepare us for the lovely interior. SEVILLA: Restored ceiling SEVILLA: Arched doorway leading to an enclosed patio. SEVILLA: Detail of the plaster decoraton. SEVILLA: From this exalted balcony the king received his visitors and handed down his judgments. SEVILLA: The brackets supporting the balcony are winged dragons. SEVILLA: Petitioners looked up to His Majesty beneath a dome whose magnificence testified to his power, wealth, taste—and the skill of his Moorish builders. The Mudéhar style evolved during the period that Christian conquerors were still under the spell of Moorish magnificence, and was created by workers at least nominally converted to Christianity, but whose creations breathed the spirit of Moorish Spain. SEVILLA: The heart of the 14th C. Palace of Pedro I is this Mudejar courtyard. Recent excavations had shown that it once hand a pool like this so it has now been reconstructed. The upper balcony was added by Carlos V in classic Renaissance style. SEVILLA: Details from a doorway. SEVILLA: Note the distinctly non-Muslim head carved in the framing decoration. A devout believer would avoid depicting the human form, especially in a public space such as this. SEVILLA: Another human figure. Combines Moorish, Gothic, and Classical influences. SEVILLA: An ornate wooden inlay door. DEVILLA: Pierced windows in the women’s quarters look out onto the elaborate gardens behind the palace. SEVILLA: No, the water is not spouting from the tree. SEVILLA: Acanthus, the plant whose leaves inspired the Corinthian capitals on Classical columns. SEVILLA: The original inhabitants would have been amazed by this towering bougainvillea, first brought back from the South Pacific by the French explorer Bougainville in the 18th century. SEVILLA: More plants in the elaborate gardens. SEVILLA: We saw orange trees everywhere; only here did we see a lemon tree. SEVILLA: The Seville cathedral is famed for its belfry built on top of a well-preserved Moorish minaret, which served the mosque which used to stand on this spot. The tower is called “La Giralda.” SEVILLA: The famed bell tower of the Sevilla Cathedral is composed of a Christian campanile built on top of a Moorish minaret (built 1184-1196). The sculpture on top, a figure depicting Faith, veers about with the wind, giving the tower its name: “La Giralda.” SEVILLA: The Moorish portion of the structure ends just below the bells. Open balconies were bricked up by the Christian architects. SEVILLA: The soaring Gothic interior makes this the largest Christian church in the world, as measured by volume enclosed. SEVILLA: Soaring Gothic pillars and arches frame the organ. SEVILLA: The elaborate gilded backdrop to the high altar. SEVILLA: This window depicts La Giralda, the cathedral’s famed bell tower. SEVILLA: The majestic organ in the choir. 17th Century. SEVILLA: Amusic stand surrounded for some reason by fire extinguishers. SEVILLA: Elaborate inlaid Renaissance stonework. SEVILLA: This monument, originally designated for Cuba, where Columbus was originally buried, was relocated to Seville when the island broke away from Spain. It was created by Arturo Mlida, and depicts representatives of the four Spanish kingdoms united by Ferdinand: Lon, Castile, Aragn and Navarra. A rival tomb exists in Santo Domingo, but DNA testing has confirmed that the remains in Seville are probably authentic, since they relate closely to samples from the remains of his brother. The remains in Santo Domingo have not been tested, but may conceivably also consist of parts of his body. SEVILLA: One of the most famous works of the Spanish sculptor Juan Martnes Montaez (1568-1649), Cristo de la Clemencia, in the Seville Cathedral. The inscription over Christ’s head is repeated in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin. SEVILLA: The carvings on the dome depict the Last Judgement, with the damned being condemned to flames in the outer rim and the saved taken up to heaven in the inner circles. SEVILLA: A closer look the the dome depicting the Last Judgement. SEVILLA: This building, completed in 1771, was originally constructed as a cigarette factory. Associated with it is the legend of Carmen, the cigarette-maker, who became the protagonist of the story by Prosper Mrimeee and the even more famous opera by Georges Bizet. Much more imposing and elegant than the factory which features in most productions of the opera. The structure now houses a technical university. SEVILLA: All over town, jacaranda trees were ablaze with blooms. SEVILLA: The Provincial Archaeological Museum contains a truly stunning collection of artifacts from the region, especially from the Phoenecian and Roman eras. Built between 1911 and 1919 for the Ibero-American Exposition of 1929 as an exposition hall for fine arts. It was converted to its present use in 1941. SEVILLA: The Museum of Popular Arts and Costumes has a modest collection of costumes and a number of installations of workshops and rooms from the 19th and early 20th centuries. Built in 1914 for the Iberoamerican Exposition. SEVILLA: The archaeological museum contains several outstanding Roman mosaics, including this one depicting a chariot drawn by tigers, led by Cupid. SEVILLA: A depiction of the famous beauty contest between Juno, Minerva, and Venus (Venus is the nude figure at right), with Paris giving the prize to Venus, who rewards him with Helen, triggering the Trojan War. Mosaic from the Casariche in Sevilla, 4th C. CE. SEVILLA: Mosaic floor with human busts, lions, and tigers at the Sevilla Archaelogical Museum SEVILLA: Detail of a Winged Hippocampus blowing a trumpet, from a mosaic in the Sevilla Regional Archaelogical Museum. SEVILLA: A rare painted portrait of a woman. Archaeological Museum, Seville SEVILLA: The Roman version of a three-way lamp.In Sevilla Archaeological Museum. SEVILLA: Carved on a pillar, she dances in Dionysian ecstasy playing a circular drum. In the Sevilla Archaelogical Museum. SEVILLA: From the reign of Hadrian the goddess Fortuna, depicted traditionally with a walled city on her head.(117-138 CE). In the Sevilla Archaelogical Museum. SEVILLA: Diana, a calf skin is draped by her left leg. In the Sevilla Archaelogical Museum. SEVILLA: Bust of a woman. Found in Sevilla, now in the Regional Archaeological Museum. SEVILLA: Figure of an adolescent girl. Sevilla Archaelogical Museum SEVILLA: In the pond in front of the Archeological Museum, Sevilla SEVILLA: White dove on a street light in the Parque Maria Luisa. For most of our stay in Spain, to be out of doors was to hear a constant background of birdsong. Parque Maria Luisa, Sevilla SEVILLA: Another dove on a Royal Pavilion window ledge, part of the structures built for the Ibero-American Exposition of 1929. SEVILLA: The Moors planted palms all over southern Spain to remind them of home. They remain the most visible reminder of their presence in the area. SEVILLA: Young lovers in the Parque Maria Luisa. SEVILLA: A young girl poses with the group of mourning female relatives at a sculpture in memory of a Spanish poet in the Parque Maria Luisa, Sevilla. SEVILLA: The Plaza de España was built as the centerpiece of the 1929 Ibero-American Exposition, and now houses various government offices. SEVILLA: Viewed from the side,The Plaza de España. SEVILLA: The Plaza de Espaa; A porcelain bridge in the plaza. VEJER DE LA FRONTERA: After several intense days of museums and monuments, it was time for some relaxation, and we headed for the town of Vejer de la Frontera, on Spain’s Costa del Luz, just a few miles from the Atlantic Ocean. VEJER DE LA FRONTERA: The view out our apartment window, on the edge of this hilltop town. VEJER DE LA FRONTERA: Vejer is a typical old Andalucian town, with narrow, winding streets. VEJER DE LA FRONTERA: More narrow streets, lined with beautiful flowers. VEJER DE LA FRONTERA: Vejer was noted for centuries for its enveloping female garb, which left only one eye uncovered. The woman walking by this plaque memorializing the tradition illustrates typical modern dress. VEJER DE LA FRONTERA: Flowers sprang from every crevice. VEJER DE LA FRONTERA: Wild snapdragons, which we saw blooming all over VEJER DE LA FRONTERA: Part of the old city walls. VEJER DE LA FRONTERA: All over Spain we saw courtyards and walkways paved with stones set on edge in patterns in concrete. This was one of the more elaborate patterns. VEJER DE LA FRONTERA: A typical patio VEJER DE LA FRONTERA: This design of a typical door knocker is common all over southern Europe. VEJER DE LA FRONTERA: The church of Nuestra Señora de la Oliva (Our Lady of the Olives). VEJER DE LA FRONTERA: A miniature copy of the picture on the outside of the church was posted in the hallway outside our apartment. VEJER DE LA FRONTERA: The entrance to the church. VEJER DE LA FRONTERA: In the distance, the church of Nuestra Seora de la Oliva. VEJER DE LA FRONTERA: Traditional enclosed balconies like this are very reminiscent of similar ones in the Middle East, though those are usually fitted with carved shutters for privacy. VEJER DE LA FRONTERA: Date palms in Vejer. VEJER DE LA FRONTERA: Different angle of the Date Palms. VEJER DE LA FRONTERA: Vejer seems to be booming, judging by the amount of new construction. Unfortunately much of the new architecture is uniform and characterless. VEJER DE LA FRONTERA: We were surprised to encounter a cafe named after one of our favorite childhood comic book characters, Little Lulu. It’s fascinating how old American comics like Tom & Jerry continue to be published in Spain and other European countries. VEJER DE LA FRONTERA: Even more surprising was this baby clothing shop named after Popeye. But the sailor did after all care for an “infink” named “Swee’ Pea.” Not much variety in his clothes, though. VEJER DE LA FRONTERA: Three old windmills, restored as a tourist attraction. In the background, the local broadcasting tower. VEJER DE LA FRONTERA: The Spanish are very conscious of their windmill heritage because of the famous scene in Don Quixote where the protagonist jousts with one under the delusion that it is a giant (hence the old English expression for combating imaginary evils: “tilting at windmills.” Unfortunately, we didn’t see a single traditional windmill equipped with sails, actually working. VEJER DE LA FRONTERA: However, we did see plenty of modern power-generating windmills, especially around the famously windy neighborhood of Tarifa. VEJER DE LA FRONTERA: Near windmills. How many snails can munch on a flower stem? VEJER DE LA FRONTERA: A lot! CONIL: The next day we relaxed at the nearby fabulous beaches at Conil. CONIL: Basking in the sun. CONIL: The beach at Conil is a shell-collector’s paradise. CONIL: The yellow sand is sprinkled with pretty shells, little trash, and no seaweed. CONIL: The shore slopes gradually here, which means breakers you can wade into, and warm water. CONIL: This shot makes clear the enormous breadth of this beach at low tide. CONIL: The beach in front of the town, Playa de los Bateles, has a few cafes along its edge. CONIL: In a cafe on Playa los Bateles, Conil CONIL: The area adjacent to the beach was carpeted with wildflowers. CONIL: A pair of horses grazed among the flowers. CONIL: This a beautiful but rather featureless beach. We found these rocks under a cliff by hiking way up the beach. CONIL: For splendid isolation, head south across the bridge from Conil to Playa Fuente del Gallo where an old rowboat lies stranded in the sands. CONIL: There’s a cattle ranch near the beginning of the beach. CONIL: But walk on a few minutes and you might be on the proverbial “desert island” if you ignore the scattered houses in the distance. At the southern end of the beach is the bluff marking the area of the Battle of Trafalgar where Nelson died while defeating Napoleon at sea. CONIL: For some reason, there were lots of these ladybugs on the shoreline, far from the vegetation. CONIL: A walk south takes you to the Torre del Castilnovo, the sole remnant of a Medieval fort which used to defend the coast from Barbary pirates and other invaders. CONIL: The specks in the sky are birds which gathered as the sun began to sink toward the horizon at Torre del Castilnovo. CONIL: I had seen a woman eating a huge plate of snails like these nearby; here they were gathered on a thistle stem under the tower. CONIL: At the end of the day, the sea was transformed, seeming to be illuminated by moonlight, though it was still the sun which was shining through thin clouds. CONIL: Only the chill of approaching evening persuaded us to leave this enchanting spot. CADIZ: The next day we drove up the coast to Cádiz. Although this bustling port city has ancient roots, it has been much rebuilt, and you have to search for the more picturesque spots. CADIZ: Crowded onto the tip of a narrow peninsula, there is no room in Cádiz for the sort of historic center that we found preserved in other cities. CADIZ: The Baroque 18th-century Cádiz cathedral. CADIZ: The cathedral is right next to the harbor. CADIZ: It is said that the “golden” dome of the cathedral was the first sight to signal to ships from the Spanish possessions in the Western Hemisphere that they were nearing home. The current building began construction in 1776. CADIZ: Netting has been installed to catch falling fragments during restoration. CADIZ: The pulpit and high altar under the dome. An organist was playing beautifully while we were in the church. CADIZ: An ornate baroque holy water font. CADIZ: The great Spanish composer, Manuel de Falla (1876–1946), is buried in the crypt of the cathedral in Cadiz. CADIZ: The slogan on the truck reads “Dessert for main course.” Compare with English “Eat Dessert First.” CADIZ: In the Museum of Fine Arts and Archaeology, Cdiz. Although displayed together, these two images were found separately and at widely different times, the male in 1887 and the female in 1980. CADIZ: Clay figurines, Phoencian 5th C. BCE, possibly related to the worship of Astarte. In the Museum of Fine Arts and Archaeology, Cdiz. CADIZ: Clay figurines, Phoencian 5th C. BCE, possibly related to the worship of Astarte. In the Museum of Fine Arts and Archaeology, Cadiz. 5th C. BCE. May be images of Astarte. CADIZ: Head, Phoenecian, 6th-5th C. BCE. In the Museum of Fine Art and Archaeology, Cadiz. CADIZ: Heads of Africans, 4th–3rd century BCE. In the Museum of Fine Arts and Archaeology, Cdiz. CADIZ: Heads of Africans, 4th–3rd century BCE. In Museum of Fine Art and Archaeology, Cadiz. CADIZ: Bronze bull figurine, Phoenecian, 7th–6th C. BCE. Found in San Roque, now in the collection of the Fine Art & Archaeological Museum, Cadiz CADIZ: Phoenecian terracotta of woman and child. In the Museum of Fine Art and Archaeology, Cadiz. CADIZ: Roman necklace. In the Museum of Fine Arts and Archaeology, Cadiz. CADIZ: Portrait of Trajan. In the Museum of Fine Art and Archaeology, Cadiz. CADIZ: Liva, the first wife of Nero. In the Museum of Fine Art and Archaeology, Cadiz. CADIZ: Reconstruction of a Roman tomb. In the Museum of Fine Art and Archaeology, Cadiz. CADIZ: Roman glass. In the Museum of Fine Art and Archaeology, Cdiz. CADIZ: Roman relief with cow skulls and garland of fruit. In the Museum of Fine Art and Archaeology, Cadiz. CADIZ: Roman sarcophagus. In the Museum of Fine Art and Archaeology, Cadiz. CADIZ: Detail of sarcophagus: ram and tree. In the Museum of Fine Art and Archaeology, Cadiz. CADIZ: The museum also contains a collection of Spanish paintings, among them this scene depciting the traditional women’s garb of Vejer. In the Museum of Fine Art and Archaeology, Cadiz. CADIZ: José Rico Cejudo: El contrato de matrimonio (“The Matrimonial Contract”, 1895) depicts a traditional scene of the signing of the register, an act which legalizeds the marriage of the young couple. Note how the notary ogles the bride while the oblivious groom signs in the background. Cejudo was from Sevilla (1864-1939). In the Museum of Fine Art and Archaeology, Cadiz. CADIZ: In the Museum of Fine Art and Archaeology, Cdiz. A clever modern variation on the classic theme, with the identities of the evangelists made clear only by their traditional symbols in the circles beneath them. ARCOS DE LA FRONTERA: ARCOS DE LA FRONTERA: Mudéjar facade, with pigeons. ARCOS DE LA FRONTERA: Parroquia de San Pedro, Arcos. ARCOS DE LA FRONTERA: Parroquia de San Pedroa, Arcos. ARCOS DE LA FRONTERA: An angel springing into the air inside San Pedro. From the Chapel of the Rosary (1784), Santa Mara de la Asuncin, Arcos de la Frontera. ARCOS DE LA FRONTERA: . Detail from the Chapel of the Rosary (1784), Santa Mara de la Asuncin, Arcos de la Frontera. ARCOS DE LA FRONTERA: Virgin Mary is learning how to read. Detail from the Chapel of the Rosary (1784), Santa Mara de la Asuncin, Arcos de la Frontera. ARCOS DE LA FRONTERA: Detail from the Chapel of the Rosary (1784), Santa Mara de la Asuncin, Arcos de la Frontera. ARCOS DE LA FRONTERA: The altar ARCOS DE LA FRONTERA: Detail of the ceiling. ARCOS DE LA FRONTERA: Music stand ARCOS DE LA FRONTERA: Detail from church door showing a skull wearing a mitre. ARCOS DE LA FRONTERA: Flying buttresses outside the church ARCOS DE LA FRONTERA: Bullfight poster. UBRIQUE: The town of Ubrique is noted for the manufacture and sale of leather goods. We spent some time shopping here. UBRIQUE: On hill overlooking Ubrique. PARQUE NATURAL DE LOS ALCORNOCALES: Horse grazing in a roadside picnic spot in the Parque Natural de los Alcornocales. PARQUE NATURAL DE LOS ALCORNOCALES: View of the mountain behind the picnic spot. PARQUE NATURAL DE LOS ALCORNOCALES: The ground was carpeted with flowers . . . PARQUE NATURAL DE LOS ALCORNOCALES: PARQUE NATURAL DE LOS ALCORNOCALES: . . . including these lovely white ones. PARQUE NATURAL DE LOS ALCORNOCALES: A bit further on we stopped to explore a cork-oak forest. PARQUE NATURAL DE LOS ALCORNOCALES: The lower part of the bark has been peeled away to harvest the cork. Parque natural de los Alcornodales. PARQUE NATURAL DE LOS ALCORNOCALES: We later drove by what looked like a huge lumber yard full of stacked sheets of peeled-off cork bark. PARQUE NATURAL DE LOS ALCORNOCALES: Bees in an apiary here were feeding on the abundant flowers PARQUE NATURAL DE LOS ALCORNOCALES: The air was redolent of honey. An enchanted spot. RONDA: The most famous of these white towns in Ronda RONDA: Perched picturesquely on steep crags. RONDA: A bridge takes visitors high over the stream below. RONDA: RONDA: We didn’t go into the famous bullfighting ring in Ronda, but we did park by this bronze bull in the lot next door. RONDA: Villa hanging off a cliff. RONDA: We found the Casa Don Bosco unimpressive, and the gardens rather unkempt. RONDA: Though this fountain featuring spitting frogs was nice. RONDA: This sign incorporates the Jewish star, the Christian cross, and the Muslim crescent in a gesture toward the mixed heritage of the area. We were uncertain whether to read the central wheel as Buddhist, since that religion has no roots here. RONDA: A rare surviving Moorish minaret, c. 14th C. The arch over the doorway is of distinctively Morish design. Now attached to private dwellings. It was converted into the belltower of a Christian Church devoted to St. Sebastian in the Christian era. RONDA: The inscription over the door reads “Maria Auxilium Christianorum Ora Pro Nobis.” (Mary the Helper of Christians, Pray for Us.” RONDA: The altar inside was covered with pink flowers. RONDA: A charming angel beside the altar RONDA: It is striking to see this saint in modern dress. RONDA: Yellow blossoms in the square outside. RONDA: Arch inside Santa María la Mayor. RONDA: RONDA: Christ with saint in front of musical score, inside Santa María la Mayor. RONDA: Iglesia de Espiritu Santo, constructed on the site of an old mosque in the reign of Ferdinand and Isabella in the late 15th and early 16th centuries. RONDA: The mothers and their children listen to a lively priest. RONDA: The view from the church belfry. RONDA: The long, narrow road south wound through picturesque mountains. RONDA: A rainbow of roadside flowers. RONDA: Families of storks raise their young atop electrical towers lining the tracks near San Roque. RONDA: Families of storks raise their young atop electrical towers lining the tracks near San Roque. RONDA: That night we watched the sunset from the balcony of our apartment in Vejer. RONDA: Reflection of the sunset in a pipe running down the wall. RONDA: Night falls, with just a few specks of light in the dark valley below. MALAGE: Tourists go to Málaga mainly for the large Picasso museum here, which houses Guernica, home at last in Spain in the post-Franco era. The artist had stipulated that the painting should never enter Spain until the fascist dictator had died. The museum is housed in a lovely old mansion beautifully remodeled. The entrance is a bit hard to find, and security is very high. Not only is photography forbidden—you have to check your camera at the entrance. So I have no photos from the museum. However, we also paid a brief visit to the Alcazaba (a Moorish castle) and the Roman theater excavated below it. Above, the view of the theater seats from behind the stage, with the walls of the Alcazaba rising on the hill behind it. MALAGE: Closer view of the ancient stage area. The strips to the left make up a modern metal stage on which performances are held. Málaga had been settled in this area by Phoencians some time in the 7th century; but the Roman theater was built in the early years of the reign of Augustus. MALAGE: Inside, the way to the gardens and terraces below the palace. MALAGE: MALAGE: Looking from the gardens at a sailing ship leaving the harbor below; obviously using its engines since no sails were set. MALAGE: The high walls make clear that while this was a palatial retreat, it was also a fortress. MALAGE: One of several small gardens. MALAGE: The way into the palace MALAGE: A view of another arch from above shows one of the channel that conducts water around the palace and into the gardens. MALAGE: Exterior arches MALAGE: Interior arches.As you penetrate further, they become more ornate. MALAGE: More arches, with some of their plaster decoration crumbled away. MALAGE: Patio with pool. MALAGE: Pierced windows. MALAGE: Fountain in a niche. MALAGE: We didn’t climb up the hill to the Castillo beyond, but here’s the view in that direction from the Alcazaba. MALAGE: Acanthus blooming in a patio. MALAGE: Leaving the Alcazaba. MALAGE: From the Alcazaba walls. MALAGE: Our hotel was very close to the Moorish-style Mercado Central de Atarazanas. Before leaving Málaga, we decided to explore it. MALAGE: Many of the stalls were run by butchers., Mercado Central de Atarazanas. MALAGE: Spaniards are especially fond of pork, and serve it in a wide variety of ways, including evidently pigs’ heads and livers., Mercado Central de Atarazanas. MALAGE: Fish in the next stall biting their own tails., Mercado Central de Atarazanas. MALAGE: There were also plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables available. We bought a paper cone full of intensely flavorful strawberries and ate them later that day with double Devon cream, available in a Spanish supermarket thanks to the EU. Mercado Central de Atarazanas. MALAGE: Also near the hotel was the wonderful little Museo de Artes y Costumbres Populares (Museum of Popular Arts and Customs), housed in a lovely old building with a central patio. MALAGE: View of the covered patio from the second story. MALAGE: An old carriage, In Museo de artes y costumbres populares, Mlaga. MALAGE: A steam engine. In Museo de artes y costumbres populares, Mlaga. MALAGE: Loom, In Museo de artes y costumbres populares, Mlaga. MALAGE: Olive oil press :In Museo de artes y costumbres populares, Mlaga. MALAGE: Little girls dress In Museo de artes y costumbres populares, Mlaga. MALAGE: Woman’s dress In Museo de artes y costumbres populares, Mlaga. MALAGE: Holy Week has long been an occasion for huge secular celebrations as well as religious processions, as this travel poster from the 1921 shows. In Museo de artes y costumbres populares, Mlaga. MALAGE: Another old travel poster. In Museo de artes y costumbres populares, Mlaga. MALAGE: A serious toilet, with handles (chamber pot not included). In Museo de artes y costumbres populares, Mlaga. MALAGE: An old printing press. In Museo de artes y costumbres populares, Mlaga. MALAGE: An old engraving block depicting a 20s glamour girl. In Museo de artes y costumbres populares, Mlaga. MALAGE: Another decorative printing block, depicting a country scene. In Museo de artes y costumbres populares, Mlaga. MALAGE: There were numerous souvenir miniatures like these made by local craftsmen, depicting traditional costumes and occupations. This one is a fish street vendor. In Museo de artes y costumbres populares, Mlaga. MALAGE: More locally made souvenirs, these are a guitarist and a dancer. In Museo de artes y costumbres populares, Mlaga. SALOBERNA: We headed west along the glitzy Mediterranean Costa del Sol, and stopped for lunch on the beach at the resort town of Salobreña. We were very glad to have done our own beach time on the Atlantic beaches near Vejer. SALOBERNA: Outside El Peon restaurant in Salobrea we dined on paella at a restaurant on the beach which roasted fish in an old boat outside. LAS ALPUJARRAS: We then headed north into hilly region of Las Alpujarras. Alongside the road were vast greenhouses covered in plastic. Acre after acre of white plastic shields crops from the fierce Andalucian sun. All those people and all that agriculture in a naturally dry region need a lot of water, and much of it is supplied by this dam. LAS ALPUJARRAS: Ruin on top of a rock viewed from the winding mountain road. LAS ALPUJARRAS: We stayed in the little mountain town of Capileira, hanging on a steep hillside with the Sierra Nevadas rising beyond. LAS ALPUJARRAS: A typical local house. LAS ALPUJARRAS: Traditional architecture, with natural wood beams shielding the house fronts from the summer sun and the winter snow. LAS ALPUJARRAS: The sign directs visItors to the wonderful “Ibero” restaurant. Note the capped chimneys typical of this region. They are a local trademark. LAS ALPUJARRAS: A more detailed view of the Sierra Nevadas. At the right of the photo, note the characteristic chimney pot which is a sort of trademark for the town. The region below the mountains is known as “Las Alpujarras,” a name whose origin is in some dispute. LAS ALPUJARRAS: Viewed from Capileira. As you drive uphill, you pass through Pampaneira, then Bubin, before ascending to Capileira. LAS ALPUJARRAS: Terraced slopes to the west. LAS ALPUJARRAS: Vegetables are grown in small plots below Capileira LAS ALPUJARRAS: View through the trees of the church in Bubión. LAS ALPUJARRAS: Water runs through various channels in the town from the mountains above. LAS ALPUJARRAS: Some of it winding up in fountains like this. LAS ALPUJARRAS: Some of the water winds up in the pool of the lovely Hotel Finca los Llanos, where Paula showed off her water ballet skills. LAS ALPUJARRAS: The church in Capileira. LAS ALPUJARRAS: This unfinished structure shows how modern builders imitate the traditional look of dry stonework by cementing the stones against a poured concrete frame. Unfortunately, the result is a building considerably more vulnerable to the area’s frequent earthquakes. LAS ALPUJARRAS: We had come to Capileira to hike and relax, but we did better at the former, partly because we found the trails so obscurely marked we had trouble finding our way. LAS ALPUJARRAS: But even getting lost could be fun. If you are part of a group, or plan ahead, there are professionally guided hikes available. LAS ALPUJARRAS: Flowers covered the fields we hiked through. LAS ALPUJARRAS: Mullein LAS ALPUJARRAS: LAS ALPUJARRAS: Wild snapdragons. Both are very common in Spain. LAS ALPUJARRAS: An interesting seed-head. LAS ALPUJARRAS: A natural bouquet. LAS ALPUJARRAS: Flowers cascading down over a lichen-covered rock. LAS ALPUJARRAS: One hike was interrupted when this sign made clear that we had made a wrong turn somewhere. LAS ALPUJARRAS: Cottonwood fluff was blowing around the town. LAS ALPUJARRAS: Cherry trees grow throughout the town and in an orchard above it. LAS ALPUJARRAS: On our final evening we spent a long time watching the sunset as we walked between Bubión and Capileira. GRANADA: Our last destination was nearby Granada, the last city occupied by the Moors as they were driven from Spain by Ferdinand and Isabella. GRANADA: On our own we visited the cathedral. GRANADA: The organ in the cathedral. GRANADA: The alter showing the scaffolding being used during its restoration. GRANADA: We also went through the even more interesting Capilla Real next door, but photography is banned there. GRANADA: Elaborate streetlamp in the Plaza Bib-Rambla near the cathedral. GRANADA: Detail of the dragons decorating the base. GRANADA: The next morning, May 23, we set out on a walking tour. GRANADA: This is from a visit to the courtyard of the Plaza del Salvador. GRANADA: Remains of an ancient Roman bridge across the Rio Darro. GRANADA: We saw cactus like this in many places, sometimes planted in hedges as a kind of natural barbed-wire fence. GRANADA: Our guide (appearing at the bottom of this photo) took us around the old quarter, the Albaicín (also spelled “Albaycín”). GRANADA: Colorfully painted windows in the Albaicín. GRANADA: A striking paint job. GRANADA: This is “Pio Naono,” named after Pope Pius IX, whose favorite dessert this reportedly was. A confection of cream-filled cake, absolutely delicious. GRANADA: An ancient Moorish cistern in the Square of San Nicolás. GRANADA: It is called the “Mezquita Mayor de Granada” (principal mosque of Granada) but is in fact the only Mosque in the city currently operating as such, opened in 2003 amid considerable controversy, especially since it looks across at the site of the Alhambra, which recalls Muslim rule over Andalucia. It serves the immigrant, mostly North African, community in Granada. GRANADA: Windows in the mosque. GRANADA: Courtyard of mosque with fountain. GRANADA: Gateway to a carmina (mansion). ALHAMBRA: One of the main reasons to tour the Albaicín is for its fine views of the Alhambra on the hilltop across the Rio Darro. ALHAMBRA: View of the Alhambra. ALHAMBRA: View of the Generalife. ALHAMBRA: View of the wall surrounding the Alhambra. ALHAMBRA: View from the Alhambra back across to Sacromonte and its “Gypsy caves,” rising above the Albaicín. ALHAMBRA: Our tour of the Alhambra was scheduled for late afternoon, which turned out to be a perfect time. First we paused to look at these bronze maps of the site as it was at its historical peak (above)… ALHAMBRA: Bronze map of the site as it is today. ALHAMBRA: View of the Albaicín from the walls. ALHAMBRA: Our tour began in the gardens of the Generalife, the summer palace located just up the hill from the Alhambra proper. ALHAMBRA: Roses are of course the signature flower of Spain, and there were plenty in bloom here. ALHAMBRA: Although the striking jets surrounding this pool are a favorite feature of documentaries about the Generalife, they are in fact a post-Muslim addition to the pool. ALHAMBRA: The Moors never used such jets. ALHAMBRA: The Generalife was once brightly painted. ALHAMBRA: Traces of the original paint. These palaces were originally brightly painted. ALHAMBRA: The inscriptions throughout the Alhambra and Generalife all say the same thing: “Allah is the only conqueror.” ALHAMBRA: The Generalife was designed to take advantage of cool hilltop breezes in summer; and this room is the coolest of all, with a marvelous view. ALHAMBRA: Detail of the decoration, created from molds and wet plaster. ALHAMBRA: Arches in the Generalife. ALHAMBRA: Another detailed archway in the Generalife. ALHAMBRA: Also known as the Patio de la Sultana because the 15th-century Sultana Zoraya reputedly met her lover here. The dead trunk preserved at left is supposedly where they met and were discovered by her husband, Sultan Abul Hassan; but it has been tested and found to date long after their period. In addition, the legend of the lovers long postdates their period and is almost certainly a romantic fantasy rather than history. ALHAMBRA: Viewed from near the tree trunk. ALHAMBRA: The Escalera del Agua (water staircase) whose handrail contains a ridged groove through which water flows and keeps up a refreshing sound in the garden of the Generalife. ALHAMBRA: Water flows down the handrail of the “Water Staircase.” The channel has a corrugated surface which creates a pleasant splashing sound. ALHAMBRA: Paseo de las Adelfas, Generalife. This arched walkway was created for a visit by Isabella II in the 19th C. ALHAMBRA:View of the fortifications and moat from the walls of the Alhambra. ALHAMBRA: The ruins of the Palace of the Abencerrajes, the oldest part of the Moorish Alhambra. ALHAMBRA: The Hotel America, inside the grounds of the Alhambra. ALHAMBRA: The Palace of Carlos V, its Renaissance architecture oddly out of step with its Moorish surroundings. ALHAMBRA: The unusual circular courtyard inside the palace. ALHAMBRA: The cow-skull motif was copied from ancient Roman buildings. ALHAMBRA: The Puerto del Vino (wine gate). ALHAMBRA: The Puerto del Vino (wine gate). ALHAMBRA: View of the Torre de la Vela (watchtower) in the Alcazaba ALHAMBRA: View of the Granada cathedral from the top of the tower. This is the view defenders would have had of attackers heading for the Alhambra. ALHAMBRA: Barrio Castrense, Alcazaba. ALHAMBRA: Slit toilet, Alcazaba. ALHAMBRA: View of the Alcazaba from the Torre de la Vela. ALHAMBRA: The imposing walls of the Alhambra fortifications. ALHAMBRA: Roman baths found beneath the Alcazaba. ALHAMBRA: Modern bathrooms housed in a building bearing a plaque that memorializes Spanish composer Isaac Albeniz, who lived here in 1882. ALHAMBRA: Looking from the Oratory toward the entrance. ALHAMBRA: Details of pillars in the Mexuar. ALHAMBRA: Note the traces of original blue paint on the capital. ALHAMBRA: The conqueror of the Alhambra, Carlos V, put his stamp on the building by erecting this plaque with his greedy motto, which became imperial Spain’s: “Plus Ultra” (“onward” or “more”) ALHAMBRA: A small room for prayer, but with a great view. ALHAMBRA: The fluidity of the Arabic lettering is evident in this inscription made by hand rather than impressed from a mold like most of the decoration. the inscription, like all of those in the Alhambra, reads “There is no conqueror but Allah.” ALHAMBRA: The design of the restored ceilings is largely conjectural, but based on Moorish motifs. ALHAMBRA: Another ceiling. ALHAMBRA: Patio del Cuarto Dorado. ALHAMBRA: Detail of windows. ALHAMBRA: Detail of wall decoration, Cuarto Dorado. ALHAMBRA: Patio de los Arrayanes. ALHAMBRA: Close-up of a pillar in Patio de los Arrayanes. ALHAMBRA: Niche in pillar, Patio de los Arrayanes ALHAMBRA: Detail of arch showing original color, Salón de Embajadores. ALHAMBRA: Salón de Embajadores, where foreign ambassadors and other distinguished guests were received. ALHAMBRA: Detail of floor tiles. ALHAMBRA: View through arch of the Patio de los Arrayanes. ALHAMBRA: View through arches of entrance to the Patio de los Leones. ALHAMBRA: The famous fountain of the spitting lions in the Patio de los Leones. ALHAMBRA: They weren’t spitting because they were undergoing restoration. As everyone notices, they are pretty crude approximations of the real thing; the Muslim artisans were experts at abstract design, but novices at depicting living animals, usually avoided for religious reasons. ALHAMBRA: Pointed arches around the Patio de los Leones. ALHAMBRA: Pointed arches around the Patio de los Leones. ALHAMBRA: The famous honeycomb domed ceiling, Sala de los Abencerrajes. ALHAMBRA: In the midst of all the pious Arabic calligraphy is a single Catholic boast: Tato Mota (“the whole world”). ALHAMBRA: Entrance, Mirador de Daraxa, also known as the ”Eyes of the Sultana.” ALHAMBRA: It was in this modest room that Washington Irving lived in 1829 while writing “Tales from the Alhambra,” the book which was largely responsible for reviving interest in the building and in the Moorish culture which produced it. The plaque reads “Washington Irving escribio en estas habitaciones sus Cuentos de la Alhambra en el ao de 1829.” ALHAMBRA: The sole remaining fragment of original stained glass in the Alhambra. ALHAMBRA: As the guards shooed the last visitors toward the exit, we crossed the gardens . . . ALHAMBRA: . . . past the roses . . . ALHAMBRA: . . . and out the Portico del Partal. ALHAMBRA: We decided to dine outdoors at the elegant Restaurante La Mimbre just outside the Alhambra’s gates. Paul had this artistically arranged (and delicious) plate of anchovies and vegetables as his appetizer. A great ending to a memorable day. MADRID: After a long day riding the train back to Madrid, chatting with friendly visitors from Australia, Japan, and the U.S., we decided to explore the Botanical Gardens, but were disappointed to find them rather scraggly and unkempt. However, these jasmine blossoms were very pretty. ALHAMBRA: There were also some spectacular blooms in the tropical plants hothouse. What we enjoyed most, however, was a very extensive exhibit in a pavilion within the garden featuring various photographers’ portraits of French movie star Isabelle Huppert. MADRID: We then went for a walk to Madrid’s largest park, Parque del Retiro, entering through the Puerta de Felipe IV. MADRID: Most of the buildings in the park were closed, and the formal gardens were not comfortable in the baking heat. MADRID: But we enjoyed the monument to Alfonso XII on the Estanque (pond). MADRID: We rested for a while in the shade of tall trees. We used the last shot in our camera to photograph our lengthening shadows as our last day in Spain drew to a close. It had been a wonderful trip. There is also a detailed account of our trip full of travel tips and personal comments which you can read by clicking here. First mounted July 4, 2006. All photos copyright Paul Brians.