Córdoba, Andalucía: The Jewel of the Guadalquivir Valley

Córdoba, Andalucía

Visited on June 24, 2011. Located in Andalucía.

Mihrab in the Mezquita (mosque) portion of La Catedral de Córdoba, Spain

Mihrab in the Mezquita (mosque) portion of La Catedral de Córdoba, Spain

Attraction Checklist:

  • Roman bridge across the Guadalquivir River
  • La Catedral (Mezquita) de Córdoba
  • Calleja de Las Flores
  • Jewish Quarter
  • La Sinagoga (Synagogue)

A few hours after midday we arrived in Córdoba—a city that was founded by the Romans in 169 B.C. and became the capital of Baetica or Lower Hispania in 152 B.C. Later, it would fall under the hands of the Visigoths in the 5th century A.D. and then the Moors in 711. Under Abd ar-Rahman I of the Umayyad dynasty, Córdoba was the capital during 756-1031—its most prosperous and rich period rivaling the wealth and power of Constantinople and Baghdad. Today, the old city retains many architectural wonders from the Romans, Moors, Jews, and Christians.

Roman bridge entering Córdoba, Spain

Roman bridge entering Córdoba, Spain

We crossed a Roman bridge from Emperor Augustus’ era across the Guadalquivir River to enter the old city. At the end of the bridge, there is the Bridge’s Gate (also known as the Arch of Triumph) built by King Philip II 1572. Continue reading

Carmona, Andalucía: Of Olives and A Roman Fortress

Carmona, Andalucía

Visited on June 24, 2011. Located in Andalucía.

Iglesia de Santa María de la Asunción, Carmona, Spain

Iglesia de Santa María de la Asunción, Carmona, Spain

Attraction Checklist:

  • Olive Farm
  • Roman Fortress with La Puerta de Sevilla (entrance)
  • Iglesia de Santa María de la Asunción
  • Plaza de San Fernando

Olive oil production exhibit at the olive farm, Carmona, Spain

Olive oil production exhibit at the olive farm, Carmona, Spain

Ice cream with olive oil tasting, Carmona, Spain

Ice cream with olive oil tasting, Carmona, Spain

In the morning, we went on the optional tour to Carmona, where along the way we visited an olive farm. At the olive farm, we went to an exhibit on olive harvesting and olive oil manufacturing. The local farmer explained how he used the tools to harvest the olives and what was considered ripe olives for picking.

Then, we were allowed to taste the olive oil in a scoop of chocolate ice cream sprinkled with a little salt; to my surprise, it tasted delicious! For cooking, the farmer recommended that we use light olive oil due to the less fat content present in it. Continue reading

Seville, Andalucía: Port to the New World

Visited June 22-23, 2011. Seville is located in the Andalucía region of Spain.

Seville, Spain

Seville, Spain

Attraction Checklist:

  • Flamenco Show at El Palacio Andaluz (June 22)
  • La Catedral de Sevilla (also called Catedral y Giralda) (June 23)
  • Corpus Christi Procession (held on a Thursday after Trinity Sunday) (June 23)
  • Plaza Nueva (June 23)
  • Palacio Arzobispal (June 23)
  • Alcázar de Seville (June 23)
  • Plaza de España (June 23)
  • Murallas (June 23)
  • Basílica Macarena (June 23)

June 22, 2011

Monument to Christopher Columbus, Seville, Spain

Monument to Christopher Columbus, Seville, Spain

After a long day’s drive, we arrived in Seville—the capital and largest city of Andalucía and province of Seville— along the Guadalquivir River. Our bus took us through the city past the bull ring and ornately decorated buildings and into the heart of the city. Seville was founded by the Romans who called it “Hispalis” and later taken over by the Moors who called it “Isbilya.” As a result, the city contains evidence of several cultures as noted by the architecture. In the past, Seville was an important port of departure and commercial when the New World was discovered in 1492 and through the 16th century. At this high point of Spanish history, many people from Flanders, France, Italy, and other European countries would pass through this port and further influence the culture, especially during the Renaissance period. During the 17th century, renowned painters, such as Diego Velazquez, Bartolome Esteban, and Juan de Valdes Leal, were born in Seville and whose masterpieces would be inspirational to the rest of the world. Continue reading

Purullena-Guadix and Granada, Andalucía

Andalucía

The region of Andalucía was invaded by the Moors in 711. The name was derived from the old name, al-Andalus, after a group of Vandals– a barbarian tribe– that conquered the Strait of Gibraltar into North Africa. Today, it is a prosperous region known for its unique culture, artisan crafts, and cuisine: gazpacho (cold tomato soup in vinegar), jamones (ham), pescasito frito (fried fish), and sherry.

Purullena-Guadix, Andalucía

Visited on June 19, 2011. Located in the Granada Province of Andalucía.

From the Comunidad Valencia, we embarked on the longest road trip through the region of Andalucía. Our tour stopped briefly at a nearby rest area’s cafeteria for lunch: sandwiches, soups, and drinks. Then, we were taken to the villages of Purullena and Guadix located in the northern Sierra Nevada and known for their artisan crafts (e.g. the blue-white glazed potteries and dishes) and white-washed cave dwellings built into the rocky terrain. Named as the “Barrio Troglodyte” (Troglodyte Neighborhood), cave dwellings have been used since the Moorish days to escape from the intense heat of summer. Like any Spanish home, the dwellings are outfitted with bedrooms, kitchens, living spaces complete with electricity, internet, and television; and lined with marble floors. We were lucky to be invited into one of these homes to take a look around. The ceilings of the home are a little low but the interior is spacious and quite comfortable especially since it was about 38 degrees Celsius when we arrived. According to our guide, these cave dwellings can be rented today as apartments for visitors. After a brief tour of the home, we returned to the bus towards Granada.

Continue reading