Gibraltar, UK: One of the Legendary Pillars of Hercules

Visited June 22, 2011. Gibraltar is now a part of the United Kingdom.

Scenic oceanview of Gibraltar, UK from the Rock

Scenic oceanview of Gibraltar, UK from the Rock

Attraction Checklist:

  • Rock of Gibraltar
  • St. Michael’s Cave
Map of Gibraltar, UK. Courtesy of Mappery.

Map of Gibraltar, UK. Courtesy of Mappery.

Located at the southern tip of the Iberian Peninsula of Spain is Gibraltar that is now held by the United Kingdom. In ancient times, Rock of Gibraltar was considered one of the Pillars of Hercules by the Greeks in the B.C. era. It was not disturbed until Tariq Ibn Zeyad conquered it and gave its name—Jebel Tariq (“Mount of Tariq”)—in 711. A military fortress that was built and held by the Moors from 1160 until it was conquered by Juan Alonso de Guzmán, 1st Duke of Medina Sidonia, in 1462. Throughout its history, Gibraltar was held by the Spanish, French, and eventually the British via the Treaty of Utrecht on July 13, 1713. Continue reading

Zaragoza, Aragón

Visited June 16, 2011. Zaragoza is located in the Aragón region.

Commercial District, Zaragoza

Commercial District, Zaragoza

Attraction Checklist:

  • La Basílica del Pilar/Santo Templo Metropolítano de la Santa del Pilar
Buildings in Zaragoza

Buildings in Zaragoza

Zaragoza (or Zaratruzca) is located along the River Ebro in the Aragón region of Spain. The nearby region of Rioja is known for its vineyards of national grapes that are used in red wine production. In the past, Zaragoza was the capital of the Aragón kingdom but also loyal to the royal Hapsburg family. However, it fell under French control in 1808. The atrocities of the Napoleonic French army were depicted in the works of Spanish painter, Francisco de Goya: The Second of May 1808 and The Third of May 1808. Both of these works depicted innocent people being murdered by soldiers. Continue reading

Pamplona, Navarre

Visited June 15, 2011. Pamplona is located in the Navarre region.

Attraction Checklist:

  • La Plaza del Toros
  • Hotel de Perla

Pamplona (or Iruña) was founded by the Vascons and later established as a Roman settlement by General Gnaeus Pompey Magnus, who gave the city its name, “Pompaelo” or “Pamplona,” in 75 B.C.E. The city became the capital of the Navarre kingdom when Iñigo Arista became king after fighting the Moors and Visigoths in 824. After the last great king, Sancho III, passed away, the Navarre kingdom began to lose its influence and control over its territory. By the 1500s, Navarre became part of the Spanish kingdom. Continue reading

Donostia-San Sebastián and Bilbao, Basque Country

The Basque Country (país vasco) is a region that extends from Bilbao, Spain to Bayonne, France. It is home to the Basque people (about half a million in population), who share the Euskara language, cuisine, and national colors: green, red, and white. We had the opportunity to briefly visit two cities in the Basque Country: Donostia-San Sebastián and Bilbao on June 15, 2011. Continue reading

Toledo, the Fortressed City

Visited on June 13, 2011. Toledo is located in the Castile-La Mancha region.

Panoramic View of Toledo

Panoramic View of Toledo

Attractions:

  • La Puerta de Bisagra
  • Town Hall
  • Primate Cathedral of Saint Mary of Toledo
  • Fundación El Greco, the location of The Burial of Count Orgaz mural
  • Santa María la Blanca
  • Bridge of San Martin (west)
  • Puente de Alcántara (east)
Streets of Toledo

Streets of Toledo

We had woken up early at 6:30AM to head to the city of Toledo—a fortressed city approximately one hour from Madrid. Located along the Tagus River, the longest river in Spain, Toledo is known world-wide for its steel making and leather working. Local hotels in Toledo are called las cigarrales, Spanish-style country houses; in the past, nobles would stay at these “stately country houses” for recreation. In the past, Toledo was the Visigoth’s capital. The city was conquered by Alfonso VI during the Reconquista of Spain.
Continue reading