Marvellous Marbella

Last trip of our Spanish holiday now, a return to the lovely little town of Marbella.

Despite it’s reputation as the go to place for vacuous reality stars it’s actually a wonderful place.

Its beautiful old town is crammed full of character, whitewashed walls and splashes of hot pink bougainvillea draped across every surface.

As usual you find a plethora of colourful details tiles on every wall and surface.

Again I enjoy the wonderful displays of red geraniums all mounted in pale blue plant pots.

We take a brief stop for some tasty tapas at the lovely Virgin of the Balcony restaurant.

So named because it is literally underneath this ornate pale blue shrine of the Virgin Mary.

Then its onto the hub of Marbella old town – Plaza de los Naranjos or the Orange Square, named for the fruit trees that fill the square.

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Orange Square dates back to 1485 and is laid out in a typical Spanish Christian design, with whitewashed houses and a town hall, a governor’s house and a chapel on the corners.

After getting out fill of traditional architecture we get our feet wet at the beach.

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Then it’s back to Malaga for a final potter on Malagueta beach before heading home.

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Another superb Spanish trip completed! Fantastic food and beautiful sights. Next up Kos and terrifying earthquakes . . .

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Tonnes of tiles

This post is mainly dedicated to the joy that is the Azulejo. This is a form of Spanish and Portuguese painted tin-glazed ceramic tilework.

Ornate Azulejos are found everywhere – on churches, palaces, homes, restaurants, bars and even subway stations.

They are not only used as an ornamental art form but also act as a form of temperature control in homes, keeping them cool in the hot summers.

The word azulejo is derived from the Arabic az-zulayj meaning “polished stone”.

Seville became a hotbed for the tile industry with potters from Italy established workshops there in the 16th century.

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Over the centuries the Spanish love affair with these highly decorative tiles has grown and grown until they are a ubiquitous sight around the country.

 

Malaga moments

After sating my need to snap mountains of fruit and veg we head into Malaga town to check out some sights.

I’ve previously only seen Malaga cathedral from the outside but as the mum enjoys a good church potter we headed inside!

Original plans would have seen the structure with two towers but funds ran out.

The fact that only one tower has been finished led to the cathedral being called “La Manquita” AKA “The One-Armed Lady”.

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The cathedral is a mix of diverse architectural styles including Gothic in the ground floor, Renaissance and Baroque.

The cathedral was built between 1528 and 1782 near to the site of a former mosque.

Once we’ve had our fill of inspiring religious architecture we mooch around to the Picasso museum (not to visit obviously – that costs money!)

But I snap a few souvenir pics so I feel that i have seen the main bits anyway!!

Then it’s off for a spot of tapas and sangria but en-route I am entranced by some epic scale wall art.

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These fantastic rainbow murals depict a variety of traditional Spanish themes including sultry dancing ladies.

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These fantastic creations are the work of artist Jonathan Morillas and adorn the square of the Jewish quarter.

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Mum acts as a measuring scale to show the epic proportions of these colourful images.

Meanwhile I get a bit freaked out by how many eyes are in this pictures! A bit creepy. . .

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That’s the joy of exploring different cities and countries, so many details to discover!

Seville Cathedral

Seville cathedral, AKA, Cathedral of Saint Mary of the See is the largest cathedral in the world.

This is because the world’s two largest churches, the Basilica of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida and St. Peter’s Basilica, are not the seats of bishops.

In 1401, city leaders decided to build a new cathedral to replace the grand mosque that had served as the cathedral until that point. It took until 1506 to complete.

According to local legend, the members of the cathedral chapter said: “Let us build a church so beautiful and so grand that those who see it finished will think we are mad”

Sadly, just a few years after completion, in 1511, the crossing lantern, or cimborrio, collapsed and work on the cathedral had to start again.

It collapsed again in 1888 and work on the dome continued until at least 1903.

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The builders kept some elements from the original ancient mosque that stood on the site.

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The mosque’s sahn, that is, the courtyard where the faithful would conduct ritual cleansing before entering the prayer hall. Today it is known as the Patio de los Naranjos.

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However, the most well known is its minaret, which was converted into a bell tower known as La Giralda, and is now the city’s most well-known symbol.

So that’s our incredibly fast whizz around the cathedral. It’s a beautiful building that warrants a longer tour than we gave it, but as mentioned before, you have to get up very early to miss the immense queues or wait until nearly closing for a fast visit.

Turquoise lakes

Hitting the road from Malaga we’re heading for our next destination – Seville. One route I spot several of these iconic bull silhouettes high on the hillsides along the way.

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The Osborne Bull is the black silhouette of bull that stands on hilltops and along the roadside in many  Spain.

It began life as an advertisement in 1956 when the Osborne Group wanted to promote ‘Veteran’ brandy. Artist Manolo Prieto suggested the bull and the rest is history.

In recent times there have been attempts to remove the bulls on traffic safety grounds but this raised such a stink that they have since been classed as Andalucian heritage.

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West of Alora you will find Malaga’s “Lake District”. A series of stunning turquoise lakes surrounded by fragrant pine forests.

It’s actually three artificial lakes created by a dam built across the incredible 200 metre high Guadalhorce river gorge, known as the Garganta del Chorro.

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The Conde de Guadalhorce dam was officially opened in 1921 by King Alfonso XIII of Spain.

During the visit he took a walk along a specially constructed catwalk, called El Caminito del Rey meaning The King’s little Path.

The elevated walkway hugs the cliffs in a vertiginous, adrenaline junkie’s wet dream.

Below is a close up of the Guadalhorce river gorge with its vertigo inducing, bridge strung precariously across the middle.

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Mercado Central de Atarazanas

Malaga central market is another foodie heaven, crammed to the rafters with a veritable cornocopia of fresh goods, meats and jars of anything you can imagine.

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Malaga Central Market, also known as The Mercado Central de Atarazanas is a gorgeous piece of architecture as well as a haven for nibbles and tasty treats.

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The gorgeous stained glass window portrays the history of the building before its current incarnation as a market.

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The now land locked market was once the city’s shipyard, a place where the ruling Moors used to repair their ships 600 years ago. The water once made it all the way to the market’s entrance

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Whether you’re after a selection of olives or a dollop of greased up meat, this is the place to come.

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Iberian pork loin covered in an oily looking orange grease. Apparently it comes from special, acorn fed piggies!

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There’s lots of by products too. Above is the Chorizo iberico – a cured sausage made from chopped pork, pork fat and paprika. There are hundreds of regional varieties, some containing garlic and herbs.

Lomo Iberico is the cured tenderloin of the pig covered in lard made from the fat surrounding the pig’s kidneys.

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However as a life long vegetarian I prefer to loiter in the less meaty aisles with the amazing piles of fresh produce.

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From onions the size of your head to all types of leafy salads, spices and garnishes. There’s a mouth watering selection to chose from.

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Of course the market would grind to a halt if it wasn’t for the stall holders. Above are just two of the colourful characters we encountered.

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Below are some of the famous Malaga almonds. Almonds were one of Malaga’s major exports, in addition to being highly popular in local cuisine.

They are one of main ingredients in a variety of traditional recipes such as “ajoblanco”, a cold soup with crushed almonds.

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Has it got your mouth watering yet? if so why not head over to Spain and sample of few markets yourself!

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