Walking is thirsty work!

The fuentes of Berja
by Robert Bovington

 Quite often my wife and I travel from Roquetas to the beautiful Alpujarras and often we stop in or near the attractive town of Berja for a coffee break.

However, occasionally we visit Berja because we like the town and like strolling along its quaint historic streets.

One of the noticeable features of Berja is its fuentes (fountains) –  there are more than thirty of them scattered around the town and its nearby environs! When you think that the province of Almería is the sunniest, driest part of Spain, you might wonder where the water is coming from! In the past, the Sierra de Gádor was heavily mined, mainly for lead and silver but now water is its biggest treasure. The mines were abandoned in the early nineteenth century but water, surprisingly, still appears to exist in sufficient quantities.

In villages like Berja there are numerous fuentes where water can be obtained – the meagre rainfall and the melted snow from the high sierra is efficiently stored and purified before being released as pure clean water.

So, a walk that takes in some of these fuentes is not a bad idea.

The place to start is the tourist office – the young lady there is most helpful and will provide leaflets in Spanish and English. One of the leaflets features the famous fountain routes – you don’t have to do them all in one day especially as some of them are rather off the beaten track.

Go in Spring or Autumn – it’s best to avoid going in the heat of summer – even winter can be pleasantly warm at times! Take a container to fill with water – it’s free and probably tastier than bought water!

Not far from the tourist office is the main plaza where the Town Hall and church (Iglesia de la Anunciación) are situated as well as one of the fountains  – the fuente de los 16 caños.

Enjoy your walkl(s)!

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“A delightful oasis of peace in the centre of Benalmadena”

Occasionally I yearn for some peace and solitude away from the noise and bustle of the Costa del Sol. One of the places I head for is Parque de la Paloma in Benalmadena.
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It is delightful.


There is a lake In the middle of the park. It is inhabited by swans, gulls, ducks, mallards and turtles. And, of course, fish. 
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The path around the lake makes a pleasant walk especially for the elderly – or should I say older people than me! There are many paths that criss-cross this attractive park, some with a bit of a gradient but not too steep.

Little animals roam freely. These include hens, chickens, roosters, pigeons, sparrows and rabbits. There are also ibex and ostriches but these are penned in.

There are a variety of trees, deciduous and evergreen which include eucalyptus, weeping willow, palm and cypress. There is also a cactus garden with other species as well as cactii.
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Los niños are catered for with a playground and other areas where they can be let loose safely. Some areas of the park are closed to dogs.

On my last visit in April 2016, I visited the little cafe near the south-east corner of the park for a beer. And very pleasant it was too.
The park is located in the centre of the town only 200 metres from the windmill roundabout on the seafront. I parked nearby without difficulty.


Robert Bovington
April 2016

www.tablondeanuncios.com

more blogs by Robert Bovington…

“Photographs of Spain”
“postcards from Spain”
“you couldn’t make it up!”
“a grumpy old man in Spain”
“bits and bobs”
“Spanish Expressions”
“Spanish Art”
“Books About Spain”
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Sierra de Gádor – a mountain range in southern Spain

by Robert Bovington

The Sierra de Gádor mountain range is situated in the south-western corner of the province of Almería. It belongs to the Betic system, specifically the Cordillera Penibética. The maximum altitude is 2249 meters – the summit of Launilla Morrón.
Enix © Robert Bovington
 To the north is the Sierra Nevada; to the south lies the Mediterranean Sea whilst the Sierras Alhamilla and Contraviesa lie respectively to the east and west.
At the foot of the Sierra de Gádor lies the region of the Poniente Almeriense (Western Almería), traditionally called the Campo de Dalias which, in my opinion, is by far the least attractive part of the diverse region of Almería. Author Gerald Brenan didn’t like it either – “…a depressing sight met my eye. For fifteen miles the road ran in a perfectly straight line across a stony desert…” was part of his description of the Campo de Dalías in his book “South to Granada”. Nowadays the stony desert is replaced by an ocean of plastic, the ubiquitous invernaderos. These greenhouses may have allowed the province of Almería to become Europe’s market garden but they sure look ugly!
Never mind! The Sierra de Gádor is a pleasant, largely unspoilt mountain range that is technically part of that delightful region of the Alpujarras. The following towns are within its boundaries:
Felix, Enix, Gádor, Alhama de Almería, Alicún, Huécija, Íllar, Instinción, Rágol, Fondón, Laujar de Andarax, Alcolea, Berja, Dalías and Vícar
In the past, the Sierra de Gádor was heavily mined, mainly for lead and silver but now water is its biggest treasure. The mines were abandoned in the early nineteenth century. Water, surprisingly, still appears to exist in sufficient quantities. In villages like Berja, Felix and Dalías there are numerous fuentes where water can be obtained – the meagre rainfall and the melted snow from the high sierra is efficiently stored and purified before being released as pure clean water.
Illar © Robert Bovington

 

Beninar © Robert Bovington

 

Beninar © Robert Bovington

www.tablondeanuncios.com

more blogs by Robert Bovington…

“Photographs of Spain”
“postcards from Spain”
“you couldn’t make it up!”
“a grumpy old man in Spain”
“bits and bobs”
“Spanish Expressions”
“Spanish Art”
“Books About Spain”
Posted in Alpujarras, Andalusia, Photography, Spain, travel | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Frigiliana – a pueblo blanco in Andalusia

by Robert Bovington

I have visited Frigiliana on a number of occasions. It is an attractive pueblo blanco, a short drive from the equally pretty coastal town of Nerja. Administratively it is part of Torrox in the Axarquia region of the province of Málaga.

Frigiliana © Robert Bovington
 The village lies on the southern slopes of the Sierra de Almijara and is 300 meters above sea level.
Places to see:
The village has a number of attractions:-
 
The Church of San Antonio de Padua, located in Calle Real, was built in the 17th century on the site of an old mosque. Its bell tower is the former minaret of the mosque.
Iglesia de San Antonio de Padua, Frigiliana © Robert Bovington
   
Another religious building is La Ermita del Ecce Homo. This small chapel was built in the 18th century. Nowadays, many citizens prefer to call it the “Ermita de Santo Cristo de la Caña”. 
 
The Palacio de los Condes de Frigiliana used to be a 16th century renaissance-style palace which belonged to the Count and Countess of Frigiliana, the Manrique de Lara family. Nowadays it tends to be known as El Ingenio and is believed to be the last remaining sugar cane honey factory in Europe. Just around the corner, Bar el Ingenio is a pleasant little place to drink. 
 
Nearby are the Reales Pósitos. Back in the 18th century, it was built to store grain. Nowadays, it is used for both dwellings and shops. And bars!
  
Calle Real, Frigiliana © Robert Bovington
  
The 17th century Casa del Apero originally served as a granary and a warehouse. In 1990, the building was restored and it is now the Municipal House of Culture. Inside there is there is a library, an exhibition room and the tourist information office. 
 
Tourist guides mention two other places of interest in the town – La Fuente Vieja and the 9th century Castillo de Lizar. The former is attractive enough but it is after all only a fountain! The latter is only worth visiting for the spectacular views because there is hardly anything left of the original castle!
La Fuente Vieja © Robert Bovington
 
So, there are a number of interesting places to see in the town but probably the best bit is just wandering around the old Moorish quarter!
 
 Festivals:
Like all Spanish towns and villages, Frigiliana has its fair share of festivals. A couple, in particular, are pretty spectacular:
 
The Cruces de Mayo celebration occurs on May 3 every year. Every plaza of the town gets a big wooden cross. The crosses are adorned with Spanish shawls, plants and flowers. Many villagers offer visitors tapas and wine for free. In the afternoon, the town band and other musicians make music. 
 
Cruces de Mayo
  
During the last week of August, the ‘Festival Frigiliana Tres Culturas’ brings together the influences of the Moors, Jews and Christian cultures with a festival of food, music, art and street entertainment.
 
http://mynerja.com/view/news/the-three-cultures-festival-in-frigiliana/
  
Other festivals in Frigliana are listed below:
   Fiesta de San Sebastián in January;
   Carnaval in February;
   The Feria of San Antonio in June;
   Feria de San Juan in June (usually on the beach in Nerja);
   Fiesta de las Candelarias in September.
 
Of course there are also the national celebrations including Christmas, Holy Week.
 
In summer, there are other cultural events held in Frigiliana including the traditional dance festival; the annual band contest, and the contest between choirs dedicated to Our Lady of El Rocío.
Robert Bovington

more blogs by Robert Bovington…

“Photographs of Spain”
“postcards from Spain”
“you couldn’t make it up!”
“a grumpy old man in Spain”
“bits and bobs”
“Spanish Expressions”
“Spanish Art”
“Books About Spain”
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Mezquita-Catedral de Córdoba

by Robert Bovington

Córdoba was once the most important city in Europe. It was the centre of the medieval Caliphate of Córdoba and capital of the western Islamic Empire. It reached its peak in the 10th century when it rivalled Baghdad and Constantinople as one of the great cities of the World. Its greatest surviving monument to the city’s magnificent past is its Grand Mosque – the Mezquita.


Córdoba Mezquita © Robert Bovington
Work on the mosque actually started in 786 when it was built on the site of an old Visigothic church. However, it was enlarged three times before reaching its present size in 987 when it became the largest sacred building in the Islamic world.

And big it most certainly is – so massive that a Gothic cathedral was built inside the mosque – and lots of chapels!

Following the Christian Reconquest of Córdoba in 1236, the mosque was consecrated as a Christian cathedral. During the 14th century, the Villaviciosa Chapel and the Capilla Real were built and then in 1523, work on the cathedral started with the building of a huge nave inside the mosque.
 
The interior of the mosque is spectacular – a forest of pillars and arches. 856 of the granite, jasper and marble columns remain – some were removed to make way for the Christian parts of the building. Horseshoe-shaped arches consisting of alternating red brick and white stone were placed above the lower pillars, which has given the Mezquita its distinctive character. 
Córdoba Mezquita © Robert Bovington
Of course, there is much more to this magnificent building than pillars and arches! The Mihrab is particularly magnificent with its intricately carved marble ceiling and exquisitely decorated chambers with their Byzantine mosaics. All this ornamentation is in great contrast to the worn flagstones – an indication that many Muslims prayed here.

The Villaviciosa and Capilla Real chapels are both quite splendid and are good examples of Mudéjar architecture.

There used to be many entrances into the mosque but nowadays, the only one open to the public is the Puerta del Perdón.

No self-respecting mosque should be without a patio where prospective worshippers can perform their ritual ablutions. The Patio de los Naranjos was used for this purpose. Visitors still pass through this delightful courtyard with its orange trees and fountains on their way into the Mezquita.
Patio de los Naranjos  © Robert Bovington
The minaret of the mosque is no longer visible. It is enveloped in a Baroque bell tower – the Torre del Alminar.
Torre del Alminar  © Robert Bovington
Finally, there is the Cathedral. Charles V later regretted the decision to build it within the Mezquita and many people since have agreed that its construction has devalued the mosque’s simple beauty. Nevertheless, the Cathedral has many impressive features, particularly the choir with its Baroque mahogany choir stalls that were carved by Pedro Duque Correjo in the 18th century. 
Mezquita Cathedral – part of the choir © Robert Bovington
Anything this special ought to be afforded special protection and it is – UNESCO has declared the Mezquita a World Heritage site.

more blogs by Robert Bovington… 

“Photographs of Spain”
“postcards from Spain”
“you couldn’t make it up!”
“a grumpy old man in Spain”
“bits and bobs”
“Spanish Expressions”
“Spanish Art”
“Books About Spain”
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The ‘Golden Tower’ of Seville

The Torre del Oro is a polygonal military watchtower on the bank of the Guadalquivir river in Seville. It was built by the Almohads in the thirteenth century as part of the city’s defensive system. It is located opposite the Triana area of Seville.

 

Other blogs by Robert Bovington:

 

“Photographs of Spain”
“Spanish Impressions”
“you couldn’t make it up!”
“a grumpy old man in Spain”
“bits and bobs”
“Spanish Expressions”
“Spanish Art”
“Books About Spain”
Posted in Andalusia, Photography, Spain | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Costa del Sol

by Robert Bovington

The Costa del Sol is essentially the coastal areas of Málaga province in the south of Spain. This ‘Sun Coast’ stretches from Estepona in the west to Nerja in the east of the province.Originally, it was a region of quiet fishing settlements but since the 1950s, it has become a massive urban abomination – sorry – agglomeration of high-rise hotels and apartment blocks running the length of the coastline.

This Mediterranean coastline includes the towns of Nerja, Vélez-Málaga, Torremolinos, Benalmádena, Fuengirola, Mijas, Marbella, Puerto Banús and Estepona together with the city of Málaga.

Benalmadena harbour © Robert Bovington

In my opinion, this coastal region suffers from all the worst excesses of mass tourism – a concrete jungle with parades of bars, supermarkets and shops selling cheap souvenirs and beachwear. ‘Full English Breakfast’, ‘Fish n Chips’, ‘John Smiths Smooth Bitter’, ‘Football on Sky TV tonight!’ appear on the signs outside many establishments. I think Spain is a fantastic country with beautiful cities and spectacular natural parks and yet the majority of British visitors to Spain head for the Costa del Sol. The good news, of course, is that it leaves the other areas of Spain free from beer swilling, football shirt-clad morons!

To be fair, not all the towns in this coastal strip are that bad – some are rather pleasant to live or visit including Marbella, Nerja and Mijas.

Marbella is rather swish. It is a jet-setting resort with many luxurious holiday complexes, mansions and shops yet despite this opulence it has managed to preserve its old Moorish quarter with its maze of winding streets and whitewashed houses.

Marbella © Robert Bovington

Nerja too consists of whitewashed alleyways, though the old Moorish houses here are perched on a rocky promontory. There are magnificent views of the Mediterranean below especially from the Balcón de Europa.

Nerja – Balcón de Europa © Robert Bovington

Mijas is one of my favourite places. It is situated in the foothills of the coastal mountain range that overlooks the coast – from the gardens of ‘La Muralla’ there are magnificent views of the coast below. This park is a quiet oasis away from the bustle of tourists, yet is only a few minutes walk to the centre of the village. Its maze of old Moorish streets are awash with colour – pottery, basketwork and other goods are displayed in the many shops and colourful floral displays adorn the walls of the houses. Mijas is a good place to get away from the urban sprawl of Fuengirola.

a street in Mijas © Robert Bovington

Another delightful place to visit is Puerto Banús. It is a magnificent marina filled with the most luxurious yachts imaginable. Alongside the moorings stand a huge array of luxury shops and plush restaurants where it is quite common to see Ferraris, Mercedes and other luxurious cars parked.

The main city in these parts is Málaga. Even though it is the international gateway to the Costa de Sol, Málaga has escaped the depressing image of brash tourism. In fact, it is refreshingly Spanish and has many examples of historic architecture, excellent museums and leafy parks and gardens. Just some of the sights on offer are the Alcazaba, Gibralfaro Castle, the Cathedral and the Palacio Episcopal. The Picasso Museum is well worth a visit.

more blogs by Robert Bovington…

“Photographs of Spain”
“postcards from Spain”
“you couldn’t make it up!”
“a grumpy old man in Spain”
“bits and bobs”
“Spanish Expressions”
“Spanish Art”
“Books About Spain”
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