Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Monuments in Valencia

World Heritage Site
The Silk Exchange – is considered as the jewel of European Gothic civil architecture. This was built in the 15th century and is Valencia’s excellent Gothic monument. Major portion of the silk exchange was built between 1482 and 1492. It is similar to old medieval castles that had stone walls similar to that of the fortress. It consists of four parts – The Sea consulate room, tower, room of columns and orange tree patio.
Other Monuments
1.Quart Towers – is a 15th century Gothic tower built by Pere Bofill and is a part of an old defensive wall of medieval times. This was also used as a prison for women. There are two towers and they are cylindrical on the outside and flat behind. These towers are joined by a rectangular construction and a door is positioned there.
2.Serranos Towers – is a 14th century gateway provided in the defensive wall built during the late middle ages. This was built to guard Valencia’s busiest entry point. There are two pentagonal structures on both sides of the gateway. During the 16th century this was the prison for knights and noblemen.
3.La Exposición Bridge – is traditionally known as La Peineta which means an ornamental comb. It got its name because of its peculiar shape. The construction is a combination of aesthetics and engineering. High tensile steel has been used for constructing the bridge.
4.Regional Government Palace – is a 15th century palace built in the Renaissance period. This building is a Gothic building that was built in 1421. It is a three storey building where ground floors have rectangular windows. The main floor has 3 windows and columns and there is a gallery on the top floor. A renaissance tower was added in the 16th century.
5.Valencia Cathedral – was built in the 13th century during Gothic period. This is the largest church in Valencia and its tower – Miguelete – is considered as one of Valencia’s emblems. This was constructed on a site where there was a mosque. The church’s interior has the Chapel of the Holy Grail, Coronation of the Virgin Mary, Former chapterhouse vault and Image of heaven with the 12 apostles.
6.Plaza Redonda Square – is popular because of its shape and commercial activities. This was built in the 19th century and was designed mainly for conducting commerce. It was built circular so as to have an enclosed area. In olden days it was called ‘el clot’ meaning ‘the hole’. There are shops on the lower floor. There is an 1850 fountain in the centre.
In addition there are other monuments - Palau de la Música auditorium, San Miguel de los Reyes Monastery, Central Market, Santa Catalina Church and Tower, Los Santos Juanes Church, Estación del Norte Station, El Miguelete Tower, Virgen de los Desamparados Basilica and Old Almudín Building.

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Monuments in Seville

World Heritage Site
Indias archive – was built in the 16th century and has undergone a number of modifications over a period of time. Important documents depicting the Spanish relationship with American colonies are stored here. This was originally the Mercaderes Market and was built in 1572. Juan de Herrera was the architect whereas construction was done by Alonso de Vandelviva and Juan de Minjares.
Seville Cathedral – has been built on the site where a 12th century Great Mosque existed. This is built based on Gothic architecture and is the world’s 3rd largest temple. The parts of the Great Mosque that exist even today are – the 16th century minaret, Abluciones courtyard and Puerta Del Perdón door. This structure has undergone lots of changes over a period of time and hence reflects the Mudejar, Renaissance, Gothic, Baroque and Neo-classical architectural styles.
The Royal Alcázar of Seville – is the place where Carlos V married Isabel of Portugal. This palace deteriorated over a period of time and was renovated by Isabel II. Inside the building there are two courtyards – Las Doncellas where official work was done and Las Muñecas which was used for private purposes. The 16th century staircase provided for accessing the top floor has the paintings of Madrazo and Roelas.
Other Monuments
1.María Luisa Park – was gifted by the Duchess of Montpellier in 1893. Its shape is a trapezium and it has two avenues – Pizarro and Hernán Cortés – that crisscross each other. This park is full of plants and fountains and is ideal for strollers. Statues and fountains are provided at the meeting points of the avenues making it appear like an open air museum. Frogs fountain and Lions fountain are the best fountains. Duck and Lotus pools are also famous.
Plaza de España Square – was designed and built in 1929 by Aníbal González for conducting the Ibero-American exhibition. The ceramic benches were put all round the square and painted to represent all Spanish provinces. It is being used as a cultural meeting place. Exposed bricks, wrought iron and ceramics were used in this building. It has a semicircular floor plan. There are two main towers that prevail in this building.
Real Maestranza Bullring and Museum – was built in 1761 and the age of this bullring is more than 240 years. This building is one of the significant buildings in Seville. This bullring is oval in shape, thereby making it unique. Originally stones were used for the seating arrangement; but this was replaced by bricks in 1914. It has a bullring museum showing costumes, photographs and paintings that are related to bullfighting, thereby educating the visitors.
In addition there are other monuments - Plaza de América Square, The Torre del Oro tower, La Giralda tower, El Divino Salvador Church-College, Los Venerables Hospital, La Caridad Hospital, etc.

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Monuments in Cordoba

World Heritage Site

Fortress of the Christian Monarchs – is the residence of Isabella and Ferdinand, the Catholic Monarchs who ruled this fortress-palace for 8 years. Originally this palace was intended to be the residence of caliphs of Cordoba and then it became the Christian Monarchs’ palace. Later on it was used as inquisition headquarters, civil prison and lastly military prison. This palace had a number of beautiful gardens out of which the garden, Avenue of the Monarchs, displayed the statues of all the monarchs connected with this palace. In 1931, this was declared as a historical monument. UNESCO declared this as a world heritage site in 1994.

Other Monuments

1.Cordoba City Walls – were constructed in the 10th century and were meant for defending the town. However only some stretch of the walls as well as some entrances still remain. The 10th century Seville gateway and the 16th century gateways Jews Gate and Puente Gate next to the cathedral still exist. The arches Belén and Portillo also remain.

2.Cordoba Grand Theatre – is a 19th century theatre and the architect was Amadeo Rodríguez. This opened on 13th April 1873. It underwent lots of modifications in its layout up to 1970 when it was closed. The building owners were keen to demolish the building but in 1982, the council of Cordoba took over and declared this as an artistic and historic interest. This has been redesigned/ renovated and at present it is used as a theatre for conducting programs of music, dance and opera.

3.Great Mosque of Cordoba – is the 8th century mosque of renaissance period and it has inherited a number of architectural styles over many centuries. The mosque is situated in the heart of the city and represents a beautiful piece of Muslim art in Spain. This was constructed in the year 785 on the ruins of the church St. Vincent,an old Visigoth church. In 1523, after the Christian conquest, a cathedral was built inside. The decoration of interiors has been done with marble and mosaics.

4.Roman Temple – was built in the first century and this is a temple of mythological Gods. You can see the remains of this temple adjacent to the town hall. This temple was dedicated to the mythological Gods and from the ruins you can see the huge size of this building. It is situated in the arcaded square center.

5.San Rafael Triumphal Monument – is dedicated to the patron saint of Cordoba and was built in the 18th century. Many monuments in this town are dedicated to San Rafael but the most important of them are those situated adjacent to the Triumphal arch and the mosque. This was created as a thanksgiving to the patron saint for having saved the city from the earthquake. The monument is decorated with the fruits and animals of Cordoba.

In addition there are other monuments – 15th century Malmuerta Tower, 14th century Calahorra Tower, 14th century Synagogue, 14th century San Hipólito Royal Collegiate Church, Roman Bridge and Gate, 15th century Potro Inn, etc.

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Places of interest in Spain - The Sierra Nevada

There is a paradise on earth and that is Spain. With these words it does not need further explanation to say how beautiful the place is. Nature is spread in all her colors and glory throughout Spain. Stunningly beautiful beaches, mountains, aesthetically beautiful buildings, rich vegetation and what not; it is something unimaginable. A tourist finds it difficult to plan his itinerary in Spain. This is because every place is beautiful and he finds it very difficult to make a choice of the place.

Sierra Nevada:

Now let us make a choice to go round the mountain range Sierra Nevada. Normally when we speak of a mountain range, the first place which comes to our memory is the Sierra Nevada. This mountain range runs from east to west and has some of the tallest peaks of Europe. Sierra Nevada is actually located to the South of Granada and is at a distance of about 40 kms from the nearest Coast.

Most beautiful place:

Rich in rarest species of Fauna, Sierra Nevada has some wonderful rock formations along the track of the mountain. It is needless to mention how beautiful nature would look when viewed from the top of the mountain. But the mountain can be accessed only up to a height of about 11000 feet. There are good roads and coach service is also available to reach up to this height.

A good news for the tourists; en route to the mountain enough villas and resorts are available at various points. So the tourists can make it a holiday home. Many sports like cycling, mountain trekking, winter sports, etc. are available. These resorts are available at Pico de Veleta, Borrequiles and Pradollano. Tourists can also visit some of the villages surrounding Alpujarra.

The small town ‘Jaen’ in this mountain range is proud of priceless buildings like Santa Catalina castle, provincial museum, cathedral, Moorish bath and some of the aristocratic homes. These are places which every visitor will visit and admire while touring the Sierra Nevada. Some of these houses belong to the Renaissance period.

As we descend the mountain, we are on the plain and we are not far from the beautiful Mediterranean Sea. Water sports are available for people of all ages. The beach is perfectly maintained. Children have separate area for playing. Along the beach there are many villas which offer comfortable stay at most moderate rentals. Sierra Nevada is well connected by road.

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Places of interest in Spain – Seville

A tourist plans his tour expecting beautiful weather with beautiful nature, great monuments, imposing buildings, clean and tidy beach so that he can make his tour memorable. Seville is the only place in Europe which meets all the expectations of the tourist. Seville, the capital of Andalusia is regarded as the fourth largest province of Spain. It has a long history dating back to the Romans. Tourists are of the opinion that some of the historic buildings found in Seville are so unique that they have no parallel in entire Europe.

Places of interest:

Seville Cathedral built in 1401 is the first place of visit by every visitor. The cathedral is a monumental building of Gothic architecture. It has the largest interior and is luxuriously decorated. Historians say that the cathedral is built on a mosque which was built by Moors. The bell tower is most attractive. The statue of Ei Giraldillo has been installed just near the bell tower. The interior has many works of stunningly beautiful sculptures.

Facing the cathedral is the Alcazar which is believed to be a palace built by Moors. Interestingly, the palace took about 500 years to complete. Historical records say that the construction of the palace was completed in the year 1681. The garden abutting the Alcazar is another place which no one should miss. The garden has the blend of Moorish, Andalusia and

Christian tradition.

Watchtower is another place of interest in Seville. In Spanish language it is called Torre Del Oro. The watchtower is believed to have been built by the Almohad dynasty. It was actually used for defense purpose. The watchtower is built on the river bed and it is one of the most beautiful watchtowers ever built.

The tourists never miss visiting the town hall which is built in Plateresque style. Archaeologists say that the town hall is among the very few buildings built in Plateresque style and it has been very well preserved.

The University of Seville is another place of visit by all tourists. The building in which the university is now housed was actually a tobacco factory. In fact, that was the first tobacco factory ever established in Europe. The building is the best example of Baroque architecture. Now the building is surrounded by a beautiful garden.

Seville is very well connected by road, rail and by air. There are enough villas, apartments and hotels where the tourist can enjoy a comfortable and luxurious stay. The hotels serve the traditional food at the most reasonable rates.

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The beautiful island of Denia is located in Spain on the North side of Costa Blanca. From Spain, Denia is usually approached through the scenic N332 coast road or through the AP-7 highway. The name Denia is considered to have been inspired from a Roman temple or from the Arabic word “Daniah”. The area of Denia is beautifully located in the mid of Javea and Gandia. Denia can be reached from Alicante by way of Benidorm through the slender gauge railway.

Denia is famous for its large number of tourist visits and is the most successful visiting destination in Spain on the North side of Costa Blanca. Denia offers its visitors a 20 km long coastline with amazing beaches and rocky caves to be explored. Some of the famous beaches include: Les Deveses, Les Bovetes, Punta Raset and La Marineta Cassiana.


Denia has the best harbors in Spain and the essential ferry docks. In Denia, every day a large fish selling bazaar takes place due to its large fishing flotilla. Besides visiting the attractions, the fishing trade is one of the major sources of income for Denia’s government. Water undertakings are perfect for a place like Denia due to its fine weather situation and it has a broad locality proposing surfing and breeze surfing to the visitors. Being enclosed by the climb on Montgó Natural reserve, Denia is a fine place to visit. In the Center of Denia, there is an ancient palace constructed by the Moorish Empire in the 11th century. This palace is a very interesting Archaeological repository, proposing ancient annals summaries. The current community of Denia is around 30,000, which changes with the tourist season.

Places to visit and things to enjoy

The Denia ancient castle must be visited if anyone is an ancient history lover. For nature lovers Denia offers ample opportunities to get to know the different plant and animal species in the Mount Montgó Natural Park. For scuba diving fans, the outcrop of San Antoni’s marine park offers great opportunities and is specially licensed for it. Other places to be visited include The Cultural Museum, The Fish Market, Calle Caldero’s Museum for Toys and the very famous Town Foyer.

The whole series of canary Iles in Spain are famous for their Carnivals and fiestas and so is Denia. It offers its tourists huge festivals full of Spanish culture and traditions. So next time when you plan your vacation to Spain, do not miss including Denia on your list of places to be visited.

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Sunday, September 5, 2010

Seville Cathedral

Mystery of Christopher Columbus

Seville Cathedral was the third largest church in Europe until a few years ago, before the construction of the Church of Christ the Redeemer in Moscow. However, when it was built in 1507, Cathedral of Santa Maria de la Sede was the greatest. Furthermore, it is still the biggest Gothic church. From 1987 it is under the protection of UNESCO.

Grandiose Gothic construction hides a lot, and the most famous is the tomb of Christopher Columbus. It is a monumental tombstone inside the church, with four giant bronze figures. In addition, some guides point out that these figures hide a secret under the marble floor. They claim that it is probably his son, Fernando. However, other stories say that Christopher was transferred from Cuba in 1898 after the declaration of independence of the Caribbean islands. However, the cathedral in Santo Domingo, the Dominican Republic “advertises itself" as the place of Columbus’s grave. You are free to decide where his tomb is and there should soon be results of the DNA test that would show whose tomb that is. On the other hand, it is magnificent to see how people from Spain respect their national hero, one Italian ... However, it is certain that here lie some crowned people: Alfonso X, Fernando and Pedro III Cruel.

Interior of the Cathedral

Seville Cathedral has an impressive interior, it seems as if gold is placed everywhere. In the center of the cathedral is placed “coro” from the fifteenth century. Behind the “coro” there is the biggest altarpiece. This magnificent altarpiece is made in wood and decorated with gold by Fleming Pieter Dancart. He also made forty five scenes from Jesus’ life.

Furthermore, Murillo, Goya, and Zurbarán made some great art pieces here.

La Giralda

Its pink square tower Giralda is very well known. However, first it was a strict and undecorated minaret of the mosque. Since Spaniards had the habit of worshiping and transforming others into their own culture, this minaret continued to live as a bell tower. They added several meters in floral Renaissance style to it. Surprisingly, this harmonious stylistic confusion with weather vane on the top in the form of an angel named Vera looks nice. Moreover, this tower got its name after this weather vane, since “girarse” means- rotate.


For centuries, Holy Sunday is the biggest holiday in Seville. During that week Cofradiosi (members of the brotherhood) carry on their shoulders religious figures from their churches to the Cathedral and back. They go through the narrow streets of the city by the shortest possible route. Figures represent the various phases of crucifixion of Jesus Christ.

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