“Pic of the Week”, May 28, 2021: Great Green Wall, Madrid

Great Fauna Wall, Madrid (1)

It’s not every day you see a garden growing VERTICALLY! My wife and I stopped and did a double-take when strolling by this lovely wall, across the street from the famous Prado Museum in Madrid.
A little research revealed that the wall was designed by Patrick Blanc, who specializes in creating vertical gardens. This wall, which is four stories tall, has more than 15,000 plants representing 250 different species. The plants are watered by a drip irrigation system.
The wall was once part of a power plant dating to 1899, but today the building within it has been converted to an arts and cultural center.
(Click on thumbnails to enlarge, right arrow to advance slideshow)

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Barcelona’s Other Cathedral

11 Barcelona Cathedral (29)

If you’re in Barcelona, then you absolutely MUST visit the still unfinished Sagrada Familia Cathedral, Gaudi’s masterpiece.  It’s a church unlike any other and must be experienced in person.  But if you have time, then by all means you should also visit the historic and beautiful Barcelona Cathedral.  It’s also a busy place, with many people waiting in line to enter.

Main entrance to the Barcelona Cathedral

Main entrance to the Barcelona Cathedral

Barcelona Cathedral, also known as the Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia, is a lovely Gothic construction. The site where the Cathedral currently sits has been home to various Christian temples dating to the fourth century.  Construction of the Cathedral you visit today began in 13th century and it was mostly completed by the 15th century.  …

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A Day in Arcos de la Frontera, Spain

00 Arcos de la Frontera (90)

Arcos de la Frontera is one of Andalusia’s famous white hill towns (puebla blanca), situated on a steep hill with cliffs.  The area has long been inhabited by man, with archaeologic remains found in nearby caves dating to the Stone Age.  It’s surrounded on three sides by the Guadalete river and, given it’s geography, would have been a strategic defensive community in past centuries.  Today the town provides some dramatic views of farms in the region.  The town’s name originates from it being at the frontier of Spain’s battle with the Moors, which didn’t end until Granada fell in the 15th century.  

Arcos de la Frontera, Spain

Arcos de la Frontera, Spain

After the expulsion of the Moors from Arcos in the 13th century, ending two centuries of Moorish rule, the …

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A Market in Barcelona’s Gracia Neighborhood

Gracia Market, Barcelona

Having visited Barcelona’s huge and busy La Boqueria market, an interesting place but teaming with tourists rather than residents, I made a point of trying to visit a smaller community-oriented market in the city during our week’s visit.

Gracia is a small neighborhood within Barcelona that doesn’t have any major tourist attractions within it.  It’s a place in which people work and live, rather than a tourist destination.  We walked through Gracia on our way to Gaudi’s Park Guell and passed a community market on our way, so we popped in.  I wish I’d noted the name of the market, but sadly I did not.  

In any event, it’s a great market.  Much smaller and more intimate than La Boqueria, …

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“Pic of the Week”, January 18, 2019: The Metropol Parasol, Seville


It’s hard to miss the massive Metropol Parasol, which is said to be the “World’s Largest Wooden Structure”.  Not sure how to verify such a claim but it certainly is large.  It measures 150 x 70 meters (490 x 230 ft) and is about 26 meters (85 ft) tall.

The structure was designed by German architect Jurgen Mayer and was completed in 2011 as part of the revitalization at Plaza de la Encarnacion.  It consists of 6 interwoven large mushroom-like structures built of birch panels which provide welcome shaded relief from the warm Spanish sun.

Metropol Parasol is one of Seville’s newer structures and is becoming an icon.  It’s home to a museum (with Roman and Moorish ruins displayed), a market, restaurant …

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Granada’s Other Great Attraction — a Visit to the Granada Cathedral

06 Granada Cathedral (9)

Most visitors to Granada come to explore the fascinating and beautiful Alhambra, with good justification, but you shouldn’t skip the chance to stop by Granada’s Cathedral as well.  In fact, it’s most pleasant to walk through the relatively compact historic core of Granada.

After the expulsion of the Moors from Granada and take-over by Spanish Christian forces, it makes sense that a new Cathedral was called for, but that did not happen right away.  The war had been very expensive and other conflicts were diverting the monarch’s monies away from Granada.

View of Granada Cathedral from the Alhambra

It was not until 1523 (31 years after the conquest) that construction on the Cathedral began atop the site of a mosque.  The project was not finished for 181 years (in …

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An Evening Stroll in Barrio Santa Cruz

An Evening walk in Santa Cruz, Seville (50)

My wife and I spent a fun week in Andalusia with our two dear friends from Germany, Bernd and Monika, whom we’d met some years back while on safari in Botswana.  We’d arranged to meet in Seville, we arriving in a rented car and they in their RV.  Our first rendezvous was near Seville’s glorious Cathedral, in Barrio Santa Cruz.  This neighborhood was once a busy and crowded Jewish Quarter but, as with much of Europe, few Jews remain today.  Instead, Barrio Santa Cruz has become an area popular with tourists looking to experience the “real Seville”.

What you’ll find when visiting Barrio Santa Cruz is a pleasant neighborhood of narrow lanes arranged in a maze-like manner, charming homes and restaurants, …

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“Pic of the Week”, April 20, 2018: Views of Seville

07 Seville views

For over 800 years the tower of Seville’s magnificent cathedral (the Giralda) stood as the tallest structure in the city, built at 103 m.  Completed in 1195, it was originally the minaret of the Aljama mosque before it became the bell tower of a Christian Church.  The structure took 12 years to build.

The name Giralda means “she who turns” after the weather vane on top of the tower.  The figure on the weather vane, called El Giraldillo, represents faith.

The Giralda, originally used for calling faithful Muslims to prayer and as an observatory,  was highly valued by the Moors.  There were plans to destroy it before the Christian conquest of the city in 1248, but a threat by King Alfonso X …

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