Monthly Archives: marzo 2021


Segovia and its aqueduct

At the confluence of the Eresma and Clamores rivers, protected by the imposing silhouette of the Sierra de Guadarrama, is one of the most visited cities in Spain. And there are so many things to see in Segovia that it is well worth a visit.
Segovia is a small and pleasant city, whose historic center has been declared, together with its mythical Roman aqueduct, a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. In it you can perfectly appreciate the cultural and patrimonial legacy left by the coexistence of Muslims, Jews and Christians.
We have been lucky enough to visit it and it has always seemed to us one of those cities that create the feeling of traveling through time. Such is the medieval beauty that it treasures.
In addition, you breathe clean air and eat luxuriously. What more can you ask for from a destination?
High-speed trains depart from Madrid to Segovia. So it’s easy to get there.
Without a doubt, the best place to see in Segovia is its aqueduct. This impressive work of Roman civil engineering was built at the beginning of the second century, at the end of the mandate of Emperor Trajan or the beginning of Hadrian, both emperors known for being one of the most powerful in the history of Rome and having been born in Hispania.
The Aqueduct of Segovia brought (until very recently) water from the Fuenfría spring – located about 17 kilometers from Segovia – to the city, supplying all its inhabitants. The most visited section, and photographed by tourists, is the one that passes through the Plaza del Azoguejo, where it saves the slope of the terrain with an arcade that leaves everyone who sees it for the first time with their mouths open. In its highest part it reaches 28 meters and has a total of 167 arches.
Really impressive.
Nothing is comparable to the sensation you experience when seeing it in front of you.
Another place you must visit in Segovia is The Alcazar:
Atop a crag and dominating the western part of Segovia, this celebrated palace has Roman and Moorish origins, but its Renaissance storybook appearance dates back to the reign of Philip II in the 16th century. Many Castilian kings lived in the Alcázar, such as the great Isabel la Católica, who inhabited it at the end of the 15th century.
A tour of the Alcázar of Segovia is absolutely essential to understand the history of the place.
From here, you can enjoy one of the best views to see in Segovia, with the entire center at your feet and the rugged mountains of Guadarrama to the southeast.
The cathedral is another must-see during a visit to Segovia.
After the destruction of the old cathedral of Segovia in the Revolt of the Communards of 1520, a new one was built on top of the old Jewish quarter, some distance from the Alcázar, where it would be out of danger.
Despite being built in the Renaissance, this magnificent building was erected in an Old Gothic style, making it one of the newest original Gothic structures in Europe.
A beautiful city where you can also enjoy some of the many tasty dishes that can be eaten in Segovia: such as the world famous Segovian roast suckling pig.

The Real Alcazar of Sevilla

The Real Alcazar of Sevilla is a walled palace complex built in different historical stages.
The original palace was built in the High Middle Ages. Some vestiges of Islamic art are preserved and, from the period after the Castilian conquest, a Mudejar palatial space and another in the Gothic style. In later reforms, Renaissance, Mannerist1 and Baroque elements were added.
It is the residence of the members of the Spanish royal family when they visit Seville.
This makes it the oldest royal palace in use in Europe.
Unesco declared it a World Heritage Site, along with the Seville Cathedral and the Archivo de Indias, in 1987.
In 2019 it received 2,067,016 visitors, making it one of the most visited monuments in Spain.
Throughout history, the Alcazar has been the scene of various events related to the Spanish Crown. Between 1363 and 1365, as the seat of the Castilian court, it was visited by the diplomats of the Granada court Ibn Jaldun, philosopher, and Ibn al-Jatib, chronicler and poet, to sign a peace treaty with King Pedro.
In 1367 the Prince of Wales sent the English diplomats Neil Loring, Richard Punchardoun and Thomas Balastre to this Alcazar to meet Don Pedro and collect payments.
On July 28, 1477 the Catholic Monarchs arrived in Sevilla, using the enclosure as a room after ten years without a king set foot in the city. Queen Isabel I of Castile, observing the poor condition of the building, ordered interventions and measures for the material and functional recovery of the site.
A year later, on June 30, 1478, his second son, Prince John, was born in the palace.
It is known that this royal birth was assisted by a Sevillian midwife known as «la Herradera» and that it was attended, as witnesses appointed by King Fernando, of Garci Téllez, Alonso Melgarejo, Fernando de Abrejo and Juan de Pineda, as marked Castilian norms, to dispel the slightest doubt that the son was the queen’s.
In 1526 the wedding of Carlos I with his cousin Isabel of Portugal was celebrated in the Alcázar.
Between 1729 and 1733 the Court was established in the Alcazar of Sevilla. Felipe V, Isabel de Farnesio and the future Carlos III lived there.
In 1823, on the occasion of the military intervention of the Hundred Thousand Sons of San Luis, the royal family, headed by Fernando VII, resided in Seville for two months, during which the Alcázar served as their royal residence.
Coinciding with this royal stay, on April 17, 1823, the Infante Enrique de Borbón y Borbón-Dos Sicilias was born in the city, son of the Infante Francisco de Paula de Borbón and Luisa Carlota de Borbón-Dos Sicilias, and to whom the king Fernando VII granted him, a few days after his birth, the title of Duke of Seville.
By decree of April 22, 1931, the Government of the Second Spanish Republic, at the proposal of its Minister of Finance, Indalecio Prieto, ceded the Alcazar and its gardens to the municipality of Sevilla.
On April 2, 1976, during the Spanish Transition, a meeting of the Council of Ministers took place here, chaired by Juan Carlos I.
The Council of Ministers met again in the Alcazar on March 19, 2010, this time without the presence of the monarch.
The last event related to the monarchy was on March 18, 1995, when a lunch and reception was held on the occasion of the wedding of the Infanta Elena de Borbón, daughter of King Juan Carlos I, with Jaime de Marichalar.

Cordoba, the Jewish Quarter

The Jewish quarter of Cordoba is an area of the Spanish city of Cordoba that was, between the 13th and 15th centuries, the neighborhood in which the Jews lived.
The area that is currently known by that name is located northwest of the Mosque-Cathedral.
It is part of the historic center of Córdoba that was declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco in 1994.
It is one of the most visited areas by tourists since, in addition to the Mosque-Cathedral, you can see monuments such as the Synagogue, the Municipal Souk or the Mudejar Chapel of San Bartolomé, as well as museums such as the Casa de Sefarad.
Although there is evidence that there was a Jewish presence in Córdoba since Roman times, the Jewish quarter of Córdoba has not always been located in the same place.
In fact, after the Muslim invasion, the Jews were expelled outside the walls, mainly in the north, between the gardens of La Merced and the church of Santa Marina.
The only Jewish tombstone found in the city, referring to Yehudá bar Akon, dated in the year 845, was found from this time in the neighborhood of Zumbacón; as well as the funerary square inside the church of San Miguel, which show the presence of a Jewish necropolis in the area.
The destruction of this first Jewish quarter came after the fall of the Cordovan Caliphate and the sacking of the city at the hands of Suleiman in 1013, for which many Hebrew families were forced into exile. However, the definitive repression and annihilation took place with the arrival of the Almohads in 1148, Berber radicals from North Africa, who prohibited the Jewish presence in the region.
After Fernando III recovered the city during the conquest of Córdoba in 1236, the Jews returned to settle there, while his son Alfonso X the Wise closed and delimited the Jewish quarter in 1272, in the northwestern area of the Mosque-cathedral , as it is currently known.
In 1315 what is probably the most representative building of the Jewish quarter was built: the Synagogue of Cordoba, made by the architect Isaac Moheb.
Cordoba lived a splendorous time when three peoples (Christian, Jewish and Muslim) with their corresponding religions coexisted, although not peacefully since the expeditions of punishment of the emirs and caliphs towards the suburbs where the non-Muslim population was located were periodic.
In the street of the Jews we now find a bronze statue dedicated to Maimonides, the great Jewish philosopher and doctor from Cordoba, whose family was forced to convert to Islam and in the end he himself had to leave the city during the Almohad persecution.
During the 10th century, Cordoba was, after Byzantium, the largest economic and cultural center in Europe, and although the Muslim, Jewish and Christian population coexisted in the city, this coexistence was far from peaceful.

Chefchaouen, the blue city

Chefchaouen in  Morocco is often called the blue city or the blue pearl.
In the north of Morocco, in one of the most beautiful places in the Rif mountains, this city of narrow streets and houses painted white and blue emerges. Indigo stains the streets of the medina of the city of Chefchaouen.
The city was founded in 1471 on the site of a small Berber population. Its original population consisted mainly of exiles from Al-Andalus, both Muslims and Jews, which is why the old part of the city has an appearance very similar to that of the Andalusian towns, with small streets of irregular layout and whitewashed houses.
The city was founded as a small kasbah (fortress) by Moulay Ali ibn Rashid al-Alami, a descendant of Abd as-Salam al-Alami and Idris I, and through them, of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. Al-Alami founded the city to fight the Portuguese invasions of northern Morocco.
Along with the Ghomara tribes of the region, many Moriscos and Jews settled here after the Spanish Reconquista in medieval times.
After eight years of the creation of the Spanish Protectorate in Morocco the Spanish Army could effectively take Chaouen, when General Dámaso Berenguer occupied the city on 14 October 1920.
Following the 1924 retreat of the Spanish army from the city  Chaouen was part of the Republic of the Rif (led by Abd el-Krim el-Khattabi) from 1924 to 1926.
In September 1925, in the middle of the Rif War, a rogue squadron of American volunteer pilots, including veterans of World War I, bombarded civilians in Chaouen.
Colonel Charles Sweeney had proposed the idea to French Prime Minister Paul Painlevé, who «warmly welcomed the Colonel’s request.
After al-Khattabi was defeated with the help of the French, he was deported to Réunion. The Spanish Army retook the city in 1926.
The city’s oldest and historically most important mosque is the Great Mosque located at Place Uta Hammam at the heart of the medina.
On a hill overlooking the town to the east there is also a disaffected mosque built by the Spanish in the 1920s, now a popular lookout point.
Also of great historical and religious importance to the city is the mausoleum dedicated to the patron saint of northern Morocco’s Jebalah region, Moulay Abdessalam Ben Mshish al-Alami. His tomb and the village surrounding it is roughly 50 kilometers northwest of from Chefchaouen on the old road to Larache.

Chefchaouen – or Chaouen, as it is often called by Moroccans – is a popular tourist destination because of its proximity to Tangier and the Spanish enclave of Ceuta.
The beauty of Chefchaouen’s mountainous surroundings are enhanced by the contrast of the brightly painted medina (old town). The main square in the medina is lined with cafes and filled to the brim with locals and tourist mingling easily.
Chefchaouen is a popular shopping destination as well, as it offers many native handicrafts that are not available elsewhere in Morocco, such as wool garments and woven blankets. The goat cheese native to the area is also popular with tourists.

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