Andalusia, Spain

This was a two week solo trip taken in August 2018 visiting Seville, Cordoba and Granada.

Andalucia Map

Day One – Seville

I flew from Gatwick to Seville with EasyJet airlines. After clearing customs and collecting my baggage I took the EA bus from the airport to Seville bus station (Plaza de Armas). The journey cost 4 euros. From the bus station. I then walked to my apartment in Calle Atienza using Google maps to find the way.

After settling in I went out to find a supermarket and bought some food for my evening meal. It had been a long day travelling so I ate dinner and had an early night.

 

Day Two – Seville Cathedral

I was up early and after enjoying breakfast on my patio I walked to Seville Cathedral.

The Cathedral was originally built as a mosque in the 12th century. In the 15th Century, work began making it into the impressive Gothic structure it is today.

Seville Cathedral

 

Seville Cathedral is comprised of many different areas and chapels and I spent a couple of hours wandering around the cathedral taking in its sheer size and majesty.

The tomb of Christopher Columbus is truly magnificent, carried aloft by four kings, representing the four kingdoms of Spain – Castile,, Aragon, Leon and Navarre.

Columbus Tomb

 

After viewing the Cathedral I climbed the Girala Tower. The path to the top is formed of 35 sloping areas so that a horse could be ridden to the top. There are then 17 steps to the bell tower where you can look out over the city of Seville.

Seville Panorama

 

Day Three – Seville Real Alcazar

Having seen the queues to get into the Alcazar yesterday, I decided to plan my visit for lunchtime. This was a good choice as I only had to queue to get in for 20 minuted.

The entrance price is currently 11.50 euros, which might seem a bit expensive if you are not a fan of old Spanish architecture. The palace is absolutely beautiful with tiled floors and walls and intricately carved ceilings and the upper floors of the palace are still used by the Spanish royal family when they are in Seville.

Real Alcazar Seville

 

Outside the place the sprawling gardens and criss-crossed paths allow you to wander among the plants and water features.

Real Alcazar Seville Gardens

 

The palace was used as a film set for ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ and more recently as a setting for the land of ‘Dorne’ in ‘Game of Thrones’.

 

Day Four – Seville Plaza de Espana

This impressive piece of architecture was built in 1928 for Expo 1929. It is designed in a C shape and stands 2 storeys high. Each storey is a walkway offering amazing views of the building and plaza below. A large fountain dominates the spacious plaza area. A waterway flows round the edge of the plaza and bridges cross the waterway. It is possible to hire a rowing boat and row around the waterway.

Plaza de Espana Seville

 

At ground level the walls are decorated with tiled panels depicting every city in Spain.

Plaza de Espana tiled image

 

There is no charge to visit and wander around the site. I visited on a Sunday and there were street musicians and flamenco dancers performing for visitors making a very pleasant atmosphere.

 

Day Five – Seville

An amber weather warning had been issued for high temperature, high humidity and thunder so decided to spend a lazy day at my apartment reading and resting up.

 

Day Six – Seville, Italica, Santiponce

Today, I decided to go and see Italica, an ancient Roman settlement and birthplace of Emperors Trajan and Hadrian.

I walked to the Plaza de Armas bus station then caught the number 170 bus to Italica, price 1,60 euro each way.

The bus stopped right outside the archeological museum which is free entry for citizens of the EU and 1,50 euros for other visitors.

The site is still being excavated but it is possible to see the layout of the town and also some lovely mosaic floors. Most of the stone from the houses was taken by locals to build the town of Santiponce after the Romans left so only the foundations remain.

Italica Santiponce

 

The amphitheatre, however, still exists and it is possible to walk through the walkways under the seats as well as around the ground floor and the first floor.

Italica Amphitheatre

 

Day Seven – Seville to Cordoba

Today I said farewell to Seville and took the train north-east to Cordoba. After unpacking, I went to see the Roman bridge built across the Guadalquivir River. There is a Roman arch at one end of the bridge and a Medieval tower was built at the other end to protect against invaders.

Roman Bridge at Cordoba

 

The Calahorra Tower is home to a museum that shows how the Muslims, Jews and Christians lived together in Andalusia. Although the exhibits and models are very good, the audio guide in English was not good. Rather than give the facts about what is in front of you the narrator launched into an overly poetic and flowery monologue that became boring to listen to.

It is possible to climb to the top of the tower and look out over Cordoba and the stunning view made the visit worthwhile.

Cordoba view

 

Day Eight -Cordoba Mezquita Cathedral

This building was originally built in 784 as a Mosque for the Muslim population of Cordoba and features row upon row of decorated arches and pillars.

Mezquita Mosque

 

When Cordoba was conquered by the Christians in 1286 a new Catholic cathedral was commissioned. However, rather than destroy the mosque and then build a new Cathedral, it was decided to build the Cathedral inside the mosque. This resulted in the juxtaposition of styles that can be seen today.

Catholic Cathedral inside Mezquita Mosque

 

Day Nine – Cordoba Alhambra de los Reyes Christianos

The Castle of the Christian Monarchs was given its name because it was one if the main homes of Ferdinand and Isabella who drove out the Moors from Spain and started the Spanish Inquisition.

The castle building largely comprises empty rooms but it shows the layout of the castle and you can get an idea of how it would have looked if the walls were hung with tapestries and carpets on the floors.

Cordoba Alhambra

 

The palace also has beautiful gardens that incorporate paths and water features.

Cordoba Alhambra Gardens

 

In 1492 Ferdinand and Isabella met with Christopher Colombus here before he took his first voyage west and this is commemorated with a statue in the gardens.

Cordoba Columbus Statue

 

Day Ten – Cordoba to Granada

Today I travelled from Cordoba to the city of Granada around 200 km south-east. I took the Alsa bus from the bus station at Cordoba then took the number 33 bus from the bus station to the centre of Granada. The journey took a total of 5 hours including walking from and to my accommodation. Once I was settled in I went to the shops and bought some food then had an early night.

 

Day Eleven – Granada Cathedral and Royal Chapel

Granada Cathedral is a large cathedral which was built on the order of Charles V, grandson of Isabella and Ferdinand, the Catholic Monarchs. It is beautifully decorated in Renaissance style.

Granada Cathedral

 

Around the walls are paintings and relief work depicting religious scenes.

Inside Granada Cathedral

 

I listened to the audio guide for about 10 minutes but was put off by the emphasis on Christianity and its dogma rather than the history of the Cathedral. Once I took the decision to abandon the audio guide I was able to appreciate the beauty of the building much more. I would advise sitting for a while just taking in the atmosphere and beauty of the place.

Inside Granada Cathedral

 

The Royal Chapel – Although connected to the Cathedral, the door between is locked and entry is via a separate entrance. The audio guide here was much more interesting and told the story of the Catholic Monarchs. The main features of the Chapel are the ornately decorated tombs of Isabella, Ferdinand, their daughter Joanna and her husband Philip.

Catholic Monarchs tombs

 

There is a passage that goes down to the side of the tombs where you can view the coffins of the Catholic monarchs, their daughter Joanna and her husband Philip. Unfortunately taking photographs is not allowed so if you want a picture you have to buy a book or postcard.

Catholic Monarchs coffins

 

Day Twelve – Granada Alhambra

Granada Alhambra

I had pre-booked a ticket to visit the Alhambra today. I decided to walk to the Palace which, though not far in distance, involved some quite steep inclines.

The Alhambra comprises the Nasrid Palaces, the Palace of Charles V and the Generalife.

The Nasrid Palace complex, built by the Moors, is eastern in style with arches and fountains in courtyards that are surrounded by living accommodation. All are beautifully decorated with tiled and carved walls, ceilings and floors.

Inside the Alhambra

 

There are numerous fountains in the courtyards that intersperse the buildings.

Alhambra fountain

 

The Palace of Charles V lies inside the Nasrid area and was intended to be a residence for the Emperor when he was in Spain. It is built in the Renaissance style and inside has two floors arranged around a large central patio.

Charles V Palace

 

The Generalife is some distance away from the Nasrid Palaces and was used as a summer residence and has beautifully laid out gardens. I had arrived well before my allotted time to visit the palaces so began my visit at the Generalife.

Generalife Alhambra

 

Days Thirteen and Fourteen – Granada

Having spent the last 12 days immersed in the architecture of Andalucia, I decided to spend my last two days in Spain enjoying the sunshine and relaxing with a good book.

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