Thursday, February 9, 2012

The wonderful tales of the South- Andalucia

I was very blessed to be able to take an educational trip down to the southern portion of Spain to study the art and architecture of some of the most famous buildings in the world J (Ok, maybe not all of them are world famous, but they seem like they should be.)
Our First stop Granada.

Granada is a beautiful, cold city nestled in a little valley surrounded by mountains. It was first named after Pomegranates that come from the area as the decorative “do not drive here” posts show. Besides being serving the purpose of protecting the civilians from crazy drivers, these iron pomegranate-topped posts serve the ironic multipurpose of tripping those very civilians that they are supposed to protect! Thankfully, after 4 of us tripped, we learned to look down when we walked.
Granada is known for two things that we were able to see: the Albayzin (old Arabic neighborhood) and the Alhambra (old Caliphate palace). These pictures will depict our time there. My favorite part of these two tours, the color! The Mosaics and oranges everywhere held incredible color!
                                                                  The Albayzin

The Alhambra with the Sierra Nevadas behind it :).. breathtaking!

This was some AMAZING tea :).

These were all taken at the Alhambra
The Main Patio (to impress the Ambassadors :))
The Patio of the Princesses

The Summer Gardens.

The next morning we were able to visit the Cartuja (monastery) and the Cathedral of Granada in order to compare Renaissance and Baroque styles. The easiest way I can depict the difference between these two styles is by having you think of the style that my mom loves (most likely your mom as well ;))- structured, clean-cut, tranquil- versus the state of the room of very busy college student who does not care about cleaning his room- shocking when you first walk in, but you when you stay looking, you will find treasures. Here are some pictures of each of those.
The sun rising behind the Cartuja (monastery).

 The Cathedral.

            After a quick lunch we jumped onto the bus for a 3 hour ride to our next location- Sevilla.
The first night in Sevilla was INCREDIBLE! We walked across the whole city to find our way to the river. We were able to walk along the riverwalk and actually ran into a band that was practicing. The horn, trumpets, and drums made this trip worth it all by themselves!
            After that fun, we woke up the next morning to go visit the Roman ruins of Italica. They were no where near the beauty of the mayan ruins ;) but they were gorgeous! The decoration of the individual floors with covered in mozaics or “azulejos”. Can you imagine living in a house like that?!?
The entrance

The Theatre/ coliseum

a floor

This floor had several of the Roman gods on it. The one depicted here is Jupiter/Zeus.

            Right after leaving Italica and having some lunch, we went to the Palacio de los Reales or Alcazar. This palace is still in use by the royal family when they are in town, but belongs to the city of Sevilla. It is known for it’s Mudejar style of art and architecture, which is a architecture done by the Arabics for the Christian or Jewish people. As you can see in the photos, the style of the art follows suit.

            Speaking of the Palacio de los Reales, they had pavos reales (peacocks) as their pets. When we first walked around, we only ran into a few females, but after taking a tour of the palace and walked around for a little bit, we ran into a lady feeding the birds. She fed them bread as all sorts of birds including several male and female peacocks flocked towards her. She very kindly offered us some bread to feed them as well. J We happily accepted, and then had two funny things happen. A friend was “attacked” by a duck (it just got too close) as she was trying to feed the peacocks. Another friend and I told her not to be afraid and that nothing would happen to her just one minute before I fed a male peacock. That in itself was fine, but then another male peacock got too close. Lo and behold the fought and one took flight, hitting me in the face with its tail feathers as it tried to escapeJ!

After escaping the peacocks and the maze in the Palacio Alcazar, we walked around the old “barrio Judio”, and we able to get lost for a little while. The streets we filled with little shops, flowers, and white and yellow walls everywhere. Thankfully, we did not stay lost for long! We stumbled upon our very own “Don Juan” J.

We then walked around a little bit more, before finding a little restaurant and eating a full course meal. My meal was a pretty typical one in Spain, consisting of bread, vegetable soup, tortilla espanola (like a potato quiche), and flan. My friend, on the other hand, because she was not very hungry, ordered just dessert. This is what appeared!
We finally (after getting lost only one more time) meandered our way back to the hotel for a good night of studying Arabic/Mudejar Art and sleeping.

Next Morning- Sevilla Cathedral.
The Cathedral in Sevilla is one of the biggest Gothic Cathedrals in the world, if it is not the biggest. Here we studied some of the beautiful Gothic Architecture, but to confuse poor little students like us, there is a little mix of every type of art and Architecture inside (even including an Arabic tower (Giralda) and patio).

This is a picture from the giralda :).

We are so blessed!
 After finishing our tour of the tower, we all decided to go out to eat. Well, in all sincerity, we split up into smaller groups and just happened to meet up again. The poor people who had to figure out how to get us all to fit!   
Cordoba: The city of three religions.

After our free afternoon we made our way to Cordoba- the most magical of the three cities. I don't know what made me like it so much. The part of the town that we stayed in was right across from the Mesquita. It was old, beautiful and quiet! I think what made it the most incredible was the sunset over the river as we arrived. As beautiful as buildings are, God's creating always wins!  Isn't it beautiful!!
The next morning we saw the Mesquito and the Jewish synagogue. I will let the pictures tell the story.


The Mesquita was a big mix of Arabic and Barroque styles. They  were both EXQUISITE apart, but together? It was too much! It was almost as if there was the Mosque, then someone dropped a Cathedral inside. It was shocking! But honestly, even though I disliked the mix, the arquitecture was beautiful, filled with horseshoe arches, color, and different building materials. Apparently the people who built the Mosque used some of the old Roman ruins as building material. The whole mosque was filled with collumns of different colors and sizes. It was so pretty!

Then followed the Jewish neighborhood and Synagogue. The Jewish neighborhood was filled with flowers- even in the winter! Our Professor said that in the spring they have a festival of the flowers where the whole neighborhood is completely filled! People then go and visit everyones patios, they eat a little, drink a little, sing a little, and just have fun together.

This is Miamonides- the Jewish philosopher who is also our professors twin!

This was the Synagogue. It was a tiny place, but filled with character!