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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

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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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Seville’s Awesome Cathedral!

04 Seville Cathedral

Seville’s cathedral, Santa Maria de la Sede, is the largest Gothic cathedral in the world and is a UNESCO World Heritage site.  The cathedral was built in the 15th century (1401 to 1506 A.D.) on the site of the 12th century Aljama mosque.  Portions of the mosque survive within the Cathedral’s structure, most notably the belltower known as Giralda.

Seville’s Cathedral is very popular with visitors and unless you arrive early or late, you’ll likely have to wait in line to purchase your ticket.  It’s one of the most magnificent churches I’ve ever seen, and I found it well worth the wait and price of admission.  While you wait in line you’ll have time to study and enjoy some of the beautiful craftsmanship adorning the …

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“Pic of the Week”, November 10, 2017: Las Teresas Tapas Bar, Sevilla, Spain

05 An Evening walk in Santa Cruz, Seville (109)

While exploring the winding alleys and lanes in Seville’s old Jewish quarter of Santa Cruz, one of the people showing us around suggested we stop for a snack at a small tapas bar.  We were all game because it looked like an interesting place.

Founded in 1870, Las Teresas has been run by the same family for almost a century.  Las Teresas is what a typical, traditional tapas bar feels like and I was charmed by it.  There are, of course, a number of Iberian hams (jamón) hanging from the ceiling.  I loved the old feel to the place and how the walls were plastered with memorabilia.  The food we tried was extremely good.  The service was friendly and the clientele …

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“Pic of the Week”, October 13, 2017: Christopher Columbus’ tomb, Seville

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One of the most popular attractions within Seville’s fabulous Cathedral is this unusual tomb, constructed in honor of famous resident, Christopher Columbus.  The great 15th century explorer, widely celebrated for his successes, died in poverty in Valladolid. The tomb itself is more recent, from 1892, with statues of four royal bearers carrying the suspended tomb.

Columbus traveled far in life but likely even further in death. Posthumously his remains have journeyed from Northwestern Spain to Seville, the Dominican Republic, Cuba, the USA and finally back to Seville. With all that travel, one might begin to wonder if this is indeed the remains of Christopher Columbus, but recent DNA tests were pretty convincing that this tomb does hold Columbus remains.

(Click on thumbnails …

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