Posts

Hotel Alfonso XIII, Sevilla

Hotel Alfonso XIII, Sevilla

After leaving Andalusia, one of the things we missed the most was the Alfonso XIII. The hotel is the quintessential old Europe, featuring great warm service, luxurious home away from home. It’s the exact opposite of modern and trendy boutique hotels.
Definitely not a party place, but a great place where you get to relax without being annoyed by loud music in common spaces, where you can actually take a nap around the pool and where you can enjoy spectacular local food.

Gallery Hotel Alfonso XIII, Sevilla

Our room was perfect and featured a terrace with views of Sevilla.

The construction of the building, designed by architect José Espiau y Muñoz, begun in 1916. The place was inaugurated in April 1929 by King Alfonso XIII and Queen Victoria Eugenia.

Room Hotel Alfonso XIII, Sevilla Patio Hotel Alfonso XIII, Sevilla Hotel Alfonso XIII, Sevilla

The Hotel currently offers 4 restaurants:
The San Fernando, on the patio and gallery area,
The Taifas, inspired by Lebanese cuisine
Ena, on the terrace
and the Bar Americano

Pool, Hotel Alfonso XIII, Sevilla Hotel Alfonso XIII, Sevilla Chloe on the terrace, Hotel Alfonso XIII, Sevilla

Sacromonte, Granada

Cuevas de Sacromonte-Granada

Sacromonte is a district of the city of Granada in Spain.
The area takes its name from the Sacromonte Abbey, located on top of the Valparaiso hill.
The Abbey was built in the 17th century on top of Roman catacombs.
According to local legends the catacombs preserve the relics of the city patron saint, Cecilio.

Sacromonte, San Cecilio Sacromonte, Granada Sacromonte, Granada

Sacromonte is known for the cuevas, the caves in which the local gitanos (gypsies) perform music and dance in flamenco shows. The Zambra was born here, a traditional flamenco dance, influenced by early Moorish dances and featuring elements of belly dancing.

Flamenco in Sacromonte, Granada Flamenco in Sacromonte, Granada Flamenco in Sacromonte, Granada

During the day you can hear music coming our from every window, while musicians and dancers reharse for their evening shows. I suggest visiting during the day, to see the place in full sunlight and then coming back at night for one show to get the full experience.

Cuevas de Sacromonte, Granada Cuevas de Sacromonte, Granada

You can get to Sacromonte using the bus number 31 or 32 to Paseode los Tristes and then walk up to Sacromonte.
It’s a steep road, if you don’t feel like walking up, take a taxi to the top of the hill and then walk down.

To know more about the history of the neighborhood visit the Museo Cuevas Sacromonte, Barranco de los Negros, +34 958 215 120 (info@sacromontegranada.com),Summer: Daily 10:00-14:00 and 17:00-20:00; Winter: Daily 10:00-14:00 and 16:00-19:00.

You will also get to enjoy incredible views of the Alhambra.

The Alhambra from Sacromonte

 

The Alhambra complex, Granada.

La Alhambra

The name La Alhambra refers to a complex of palaces, gardens and a fortress in Granada, Andalusia.

The original construction of the fortifications begun in 899, was later abandoned and resumed in the mid 11th century by the Moorish king Mohammed ben Al-Ahmar. Yusuf I Sultan of Granada, transformed it into his royal palace in 1333.
The palaces hosted all the Muslim Emirs in granada and the Nasrid dynasty until the christian conquest, which happened in 1492.
Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor built his palace in 1527.

The site is immersed in beautiful green gardens dotted with colorful flowers, oranges and myrtles and it’s one of the best examples of Spanish Islamic architecture.

Alhambra gardens, snow capped Sierra Nevada

The complex can basically be didived into two big sections, The Alhambra and the Generalife, both UNESCO World Heritage sites.

The Alhambra itself follows the blueprint of many other medieval strongholds, comprising a fortress a royal palace and residences for the court.

The fortified citadel, the alcazaba, is the oldest section of the Alhambra. It features the Torre de la Vela, the original watchtower with a later (18th century) turret and bell addition and the Arms Square.

View of Granada from the alcazaba Alhambra Royal Complex on the left and Charles V palace on the right Torre de la Vela

Beyond the alcazaba on the southern side we find the Charles V palace and on the northern side what’s known as the Alhambra proper, comprising the palaces of the Moorish rulers Nasrid Palaces. Further up east, the Alhambra alta, the original residence of the officials and courtiers.

The Royal complex is divided in three sections: Mexuar, Serallo, and the Harem.

The Mexuar was used to conduct business and administrative functions. It’s simply decorated, dark wood and plaster walls.

The Serallo is instead much richer in his finishes, featuring colored interiors, dado panels and finely decorated ceilings called artesonado. The most prominent feature of the Serallo is the Patio de los Arrayanes (Court of the Myrtles). The reflective pool at the center of the patio helped cooling the palace and it was also a symbol of power;only  the sovran could afford the complicated technology to deliver water ,in short supply at the time, to the patio.
Next is the Torre de Comares, the big tower hosting the Salón de los Embajadores (the Ambassadors Hall). In this very room Christopher Columbus received help from the Queen Isabella and King Ferdinando to jumpstart his new world adventure.
The Palace of the Lions is next. Here the Nasrid art reaches the top of its expression. The geometrical patterns of the previous era are abandoned for a Christian influenced natural style. The peak is reached in the Patio of the Lions (Patio de los Leones) with its beautiful alabaster fountain.

Patio de los Arrayanes (Court of the Myrtles) at night Alhambra, Serrallo details Alhambra, Serallo color details

Continuing to the Harem section we find the Sala de los Abencerrajes (Hall of the Abencerrages). The legend narrates that one young member of the prominent Abencerrajes family was caught by the King climbing the window of a lady of the royal family. The King enraged ordered a rival family, the Zegris to kill every Abencerrajes in the very hall that now carries their names.
Next is the Sala de las dos Hermanas (Hall of the two Sisters) The room features an incredible dome honeycombed ceiling, one of the highest examples of Moors stalactite vaulting.

Alhambra Salón de los Embajadores Alhambra

Sala de las dos Hermanas, ceiling

The Palacio de Generalife is a villa dating back to the beginning of 14th century. The structure is separated from the main Alhambra complex. The villa was built under Muhammad III to house the Nasrid Emirs in summer time. The most remarkable features are the Patio de la Acequia (Court of the Water Channel or Water-Garden Courtyard), and the Jardín de la Sultana (Sultana’s Garden or Courtyard of the Cypress), the oldest surviving Moorish garden.

Patio de la Acequia, Generalife

 

Generalife, Alhambra Generalife, Alhambra Generalife, Alhambra

 

 

La Feria De Cordoba

Also known as Feria de Nuestra Señora de la Salud (Our Lady of Health) or simply as Feria De Mayo, the festival takes place in the last week of May, right outside the city of Cordoba in Spain. Everything happens inside a perimeter called El Real de Arenal, which means the area with sand. It’s similar to the […]

Sevilla

Sevilla,Plaza Triunfo, Giralda and Cathedral

Sevilla,Plaza Triunfo, Giralda and Cathedral

Sevilla, the capital of Andalusia, founded approximately 2,200 years ago, conquered by the Romans, the Moors, the Visigoths, each different culture leaving clear layers of their unique personality embedded in this beautiful city.

Sevilla was the birthplace of two Roman emperors, Trajan and Hadrian, it became the first seat of a cora under the Caliphate of Cordoba, in Al-Andalus (Muslim Spain). It was the capital of the short lived kingdom Taifa of Seville, then part of the Christian kingdom of Castile.

It sits on the baks of the river Guadalquivir and features three Unesco World Heritage sites:
the Alcazar, the Cathedral and the Archivo de Indias.

We visited the city on our way to a wonderful wedding in Jerez de La Frontera, in May 2012. Our visit became a stop in a larger 10 days tour of Andalusia. We had an amazing time, perfect weather (it gets really hot after May), great food, music and awesome sight seeing.

Jacaranda Tree in Sevilla Orange and Jacaranda Sevilla Night Orange Tree

The city was in full bloom, purple jacaranda and orange trees every where.
We stayed at the Hotel Alfonso XIII, steps away from all the major historical attractions and the cafe’s of the old jewish quarter.

The Cathedral of Sevilla was completed in early 16th century.
It’s the largest Gothic cathedral and third largest church in the word.
The church hosts the burial site of Chrstopher Columbus.
The clock tower, the Giralda, used to be a muslim minaret, started in 1184 by architect Ahmad Ben Baso.

Sevilla, Giralda Sevilla, Giralda and Cathedral

Right in front of the cathedral, sits the Archivo General de Indias, a beautiful palace containing the archival of historical documents, illustrating the history of the Spanish Empire, from the first Conquistadores to the end of 19th century. One of the highlights of the Archivo is Christopher Columbus journal.

Sevilla, Archivos General de Indias and Cathedral

Sevilla, Archivos General de Indias and Cathedral

 

We had a great dinner with a bunch of friends at the restaurant Infanta. Food was delicious and the atmosphere very friendly.

One thing you should not miss is a flamenco show, consult this great site Sevilla Flamenco to find out the best shows, events and bars where flamenco is performed.

For more information on Sevilla, please see the other posts on this site:

The Hotel Alfonso XIII (post coming soon)
The Alcazar
The Plaza De Espana

Sevilla entrance to the Alcazar Sevilla, Portugal Consulate Iglesia de la Santa Cruz, Sevilla

Archidiocesis de Sevilla Sevilla, patio Sevilla, baclony

 

 

Plaza De Espana in Sevilla

Plaza De Espana, Sevilla

The Plaza De Espana was built in occasion of the Ibero-American Exposition of 1929, under king Alfonso XIII. The Expo was a fair where every Spanish region and Portugal, the United States, Brazil, Uruguay, Mexico, Peru, Argentina, Chile, the Republic of Colombia, Cuba, Venezuela, the Dominican Republic, Bolivia, Panama, El Salvador, Costa Rica, and Ecuador were represented.
The huge semicircular square sits in the park Maria Luisa, the main park in Sevilla, stretching along the river Guadalquivir; it was designed by Architect Anibal Gonzalez to showcase Spain’s industries and technology during the Expo.

Plaza De Espana, Sevilla Plaza De Espana, Sevilla Plaza De Espana, azulejos, Sevilla

The main building in the square hosts several Government offices, on the outside the tiled alcoves represents each Spanish province.
It’s a tradition for Spanish tourists to have pictures taken in front of the alcove representing their native province.

The grandest mansions built for the fair at the end of the park are home to several museums.

The complex is decorated with thousand of Azulejos, painted ceramic tiles typical of Sevilla.

Plaza De Espana, Sevilla, interior detail

 

Plaza De Espana, Sevilla, azulejos Plaza De Espana, Sevilla, tile Plaza De Espana, Sevilla, tile

 

The Alcazar, Sevilla

Alcazar Gardens, Sevilla

The Alcazar is the oldest royal palace still in service in Europe. It was built by the Almohads, a Berber dynasty, as a fort, in the 12th century. It was subsequently rebuilt in 1364 for the Christian ruler Pedro I (“The Cruel”).

Sevilla entrance to the Alcazar, Almohad walls and Puerta Del Leon

The palace is arranged in sections on three side of a rectangular courtyard.
The entrance is trough an arch in the old Almohad walls, the Puerta Del Leon.
The first large patio after the entrance is the Patio de la Monteria, featuring the beautiful facade of the Palacio del Rey Don Pedro.

Alcazar, Patio de la Monteria, Sevilla

Alcazar, Palacio del Rey Don Pedro, Sevilla

alcazar-sevilla-006 alcazar-sevilla-007 alcazar-sevilla-005

Next after the Palacio del Rey Don Pedro is the stunning Patio De Las Doncellas, with his central fountain and reflecting pool, surrounded by beautiful halls, featuring carved wood doors and ceilings and multicolored dados (tiled panels). The lower section of the patio was built for king Peter who’s described in several inscriptions on the walls as the sultan.
The name of the patio refers to the myth of the Muslim rulers requiring 100 virgins to be given by the Christian kingdom every year.

Alcazar, Patio De Las Doncellas, Sevilla

Alcazar, Sevilla Alcazar, Sevilla

The next patio is a smaller interior courtyard, finely decorated, which was considered the focal point of the private area of King Pedro’s palace: the Patio de las Muñecas (Patio of the Dolls). The public focal point was the Patio De Las Doncellas.

Alcazar, Patio de las Muñecas, Sevilla

The ancient baths sitting under the Patio del Crucero are known as Los Baños de Doña María de Padilla, named after the mistress of Peter the Cruel.

Alcazar, Los Baños de Doña María de Padilla, Sevilla

The largest remaining portion of the Alcazar complex is occupied by the wonderful gardens.

The complex was inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1987.

Alcazar, Sevilla Alcazar, Sevilla Alcazar, Sevilla

Alcazar, Bougainvillea, Sevilla Alcazar, Sevilla Alcazar, Sevilla