Spectacular Sevilla…

After years (no, really) of waiting, I finally made it–which is to say, I’ve finally visited Sevilla, the capital of Andalucía and the last major city here in the Dirty South…With more than 700,000 residents, it’s the 4th-most populous city in Spain, and it’s tourism sector is one of the most important in Spain…

Our first main stop was the Plaza de España…Unlike most other plazas in Spain (or Europe, period), this one was buil in the 20th century…Completed in 1929, it was built as part of the Exposición Iberoamericana held that year as a way to present Sevilla and the rest of Spain to the foreigners in attendance…One of its distinctive features are the bancos along the wall–one for each province in Spain (in alphabetical order) with the crest, map, and an image of an important historical event for each province…This way, foreigners can get to know all of Spain without leaving Sevilla!!…

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Rambling Through Ronda…

On the 5th day of our trip, we hit up Ronda, a small city of roughly 40,000 people located in the province of Málaga that has been around since Ancient Rome…

One of the reasons Ronda is important is that it’s considered to be the legitimate birthplace of tauromaquia (bullfighting)…In 1572, Felipe II founded the Real Maestranza de Caballería de Ronda (The Royal Armoury of the Calvary of Ronda), where horses were trained to be more agile and quick (in order to defend the border) through excersises in which they had to avoid bulls…Eventually, in the 18th century, there emerged the toreros (bullfighters) (who faced the bulls–without horses, of course), and the Romero family (a local family whose members were some of the most important matadores of the age) rose to prominence…

Given all these contributions to the “sport” of bullfighting, the Plaza de Toros was inaugurated in 1785…It’s the arena with the largest ruedo (floor) in the world, making it more dangerous to fight here than anywhere else–for this reason, only the best matadores can torear here…

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Glorious Granada (Part 2)…

My second day in Granada was quite eventful…After sleeping in and spending a good deal of my morning doing homework (I’m a nerd, I know), I went out for lunch with some peeps…We chose an Indian restaurant–an interesting experience, because I had never eaten Indian food before…I had some sort of prawns in a medium sauce with mushroom basmati rice–spicy, yet delicious…

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After eating, I headed off to the Catedral de Grenada…Commisioned by Carlos I (I think–dang it, where was Marta when I needed her?!?!) and constructed from 1536-1561, it has a distinct stylistic mix of the Renaissance-iness and the Baroque…It’s really, really pretty, with all the gold and paintings (including some by El Greco and Juan Ribera), and even though technically I wasn’t supposed to take photos, a lot of people were–and nobody stopped them (I figure that rule isn’t enforced)…

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Glorious Granada (Part 1)…

The third major city in our viaje is Granada, a very bustling (and touristy) city filled with sights and sounds…

In the 11th century, Granada was the capital of the reino zirí, one of the independent Islamic kingdoms that formed when the Califato (Caliphate) of Córdoba started to disintigrate…From the 13th-15th century, it was the capital of the reino nazarí, the time in which the Alhambra (which I’ll talk about in a bit) was built–and, the last reino of Al-Andalus…

Emirato de Córdoba

…Al-Andalus at its peak (when Córdoba was its capital)…

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…Grandada, the last kingdom standing…

In 1492, after many years of resistance of resistance, Granada was finally overcome by the Christian forces…Thankfully, as was the case with the Mezquita, the Alhambra was not destroyed after the city was conquered, given its artistic merit…

The Alhambra is a sort of city-palace–that’s to say, it’s a conjunction of various palaces, patios, and neighborhoods where the royal court resided…It’s name derives from the Arabic Al Qalá al-hambra, which means “red fortress”–a reference to the color of the the stone it was constructed with…

As you can see from these photos, the Alhambra has two key characteristics of Islamic architecture: a mixture of nature and architecture (e.g. the many luscious plants, the fountains with water directly from the Sierra Nevada [a nearby mountain]) and intricate decoration using simple elements (plaster and ceramic)…

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Captivating Córdoba…

Our second day was spent in Córdoba, an absolutely stunning city of approx. over 300,000 people–And boy, what a city…

Once the capital of Al-Andaluz (which was the name of the territory occupied by the Muslims from the 8th century-1492), Córdoba at the height of its splendor had over 1,000,000 people, and it was a place where the 3 major cultures of Europe (Jewish, Catholic, and Islamic) blended together and a thriving center of advancement in philosophy, the sciences, and the arts–For this reason, it was considered the most important city in Europe…

There are 3 particular places that stuck out for me–the first of which was the Capilla de San Bartolomé (Chapel of Saint Bartolomé)…

Situated in the Barrio Judío (Old Jewish Quarter) of the city, it was constructed towards the end of the 15th century after the Jews were expelled from Spain in 1492, in order to “Christianize” the area…It’s distinctive for it’s style–a mixture of Islamic and Gothic…

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Roman Bridges, Aqueducts, and Theatres (Oh My): Mérida…

As I’ve explained previously, the first city of our little excursion was Mérida–the capital city of the autonomous community of Extremedura…Founded in the year 25 B.C. under the name Emérita Augusta (part of the name was inspired by Augustus, the emperor who made its foundation possible), one can clearly see testaments to the extension and influence of the Roman Empire here, like…

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El Puente Romano,

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El Acueducto de los Milagros (The Aqueduct of Miracles),…

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…and, the most magnificent of them all, el Teatro Romano… Continue reading “Roman Bridges, Aqueducts, and Theatres (Oh My): Mérida…”

YEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH–Dirty South!!!!…

In the event that you did not get my titular reference to Li’l Jon (who’ll always be the King of Crunk), tomorrow I embark on my final “official” group excursion…

Now for those of ya’ll who ain’t in the know, right now, I’m on Spring Break…While some of my fellow U.S. college students like to brag about going to Cabo or Alcapulco or South Beach, I think I got them all beat, because I’m going to… Continue reading “YEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH–Dirty South!!!!…”