Friday, March 28, 2008

> Alhambra, Granada

The Alhambra is a palace and fortress complex of the muslim rulers of Granada in southern Spain.

Perhaps the most beautiful palace constructed by the Arabs.

Built towards the end of Muslim rule in Spain, the Alhambra is a reminder of Muslim culture as it was in Iberia 600 years ago.

The pond is 34 metres long and 7,10 meters wide.

One of the palaces of the complex.

The Court of the Lions is probably the most famous place of the Alhambra. It is so called because of the twelve lions that throw jets of water and which are part of the fountain in the middle of the patio. The big basin rests on top of these twelve lions that are around it.

To our disappointment, the lions had been taken away for restoration.

Another view of the court of the lions.

Islamic architecture at its best.

Islamic architecture at its best.

View of Alhambra from the gardens (Generalife).

The Alcazaba, a fortress, is the oldest part of the Alhambra.

The original construction had 24 towers but only a few remain.

The Alcazaba acted as military headquarters for the Nasrid dynasty. It was built on the highest point of the hill to defend the royal family and house their army.

View of the city of Granada (from Alhambra)

> Palacio de Generalife

The Palacio de Generalife (Arabic: Jannat al-'Arif - Architect's Garden) was the summer palace and country estate of the Nasrid sultans of Granada.

The palace and gardens were built during the reign of Muhammad III (1302-1309) and redecorated shortly after by Abu I-Walid Isma'il (1313-1324).

The Generalife is one of the oldest surviving Moorish gardens.

The city of Granada an be seen in the background.

View of Alhambra from Generalife

> Tarifa

Tarifa is a small town on the southernmost coast of the Iberian Peninsula. The town is located on the Costa de la Luz ("coast of light") and across the Straits of Gibraltar from Morocco, from which the lights of Tarifa are visible at night.

A view across the Strait of Gibraltar taken from the hills above Tarifa, Spain.

Another view

Atlantic Ocean

Mediterranean Sea

The Strait of Gibraltar connects the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea and separates Spain from Morocco. There are 13 km of ocean separating Europe from Africa at the strait's narrowest point. The strait depth ranges between 300 and 900 meters.

The coast near Tarifa is also popular with windsurfers and kitesurfers due to the stong winds of the straits. For this reason Tarifa is also dotted with hundreds of wind turbines.

> Rock of Gibraltar

Gibraltar is a British overseas territory located near the southernmost tip of the Iberian Peninsula overlooking the Strait of Gibraltar. The territory shares a border with Spain to the north.

The name of the territory is derived from the Arabic name Jabal Tāriq, meaning "mountain of Tariq", or from Gibel Tāriq, meaning "rock of Tariq". It refers to the Ummayad Berber general Tariq ibn-Ziyad who led the Islamic conquest of Hispania in 711.

The territory covers 6.843 square kilometres. It shares a 1.2 km land border with Spain.

The Rock of Gibraltar was one of the Pillars of Hercules and was known to the Greeks as Mons Calpe, the other pillar being Mons Abyla or Jebel Musa on the African side of the Strait.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

> Cordoba

Córdoba is a city in Andalucía, southern Spain, and the capital of the province of Córdoba.

Today a moderately-sized modern city, the old town contains many impressive architectural reminders of when Córdoba was the thriving capital of the Caliphate of Córdoba.

The main reason we visited the city of Cordoba was to see the Mezquita. The Mezquita of Cordoba is the only Great Mosque built under Islamic rule in Spain(700s AD) that still stands today.

Views of the Mezquita from the bridge

Adil and Zainab

One of several beautifully decorated entrances to the Mezquita.

Today, the Mezquita is the cathedral of Cordoba and no longer a mosque, but the vast majority of its architecture owes its origin to the Islamic architects who built it as a mosque in the 8th century.

The Mezquita de Cordoba is most notable for its giant arches and its forest of over 1,000 columns of jasper, onyx, marble, and granite.

Amazing views !!!

The Mahrab, considered one of the most beautiful in the world was built by Al Hakam II (961-76). It's decorated with golden mosaic designs and Arabic script.

Another view of the Mahrab.

The spectacular domed ceiling above the Mahrab.

Views of the bridge.

Alcazar (castle), another of the major attractions of Cordoba. The gate was closed so we could not go inside.

> Barcelona

Barcelona is the capital and most populous city of Catalonia and the second largest city in Spain, with a population of 1.6 million.

The Sagrada Família church, Gaudi's masterpiece. Photo UFM
The Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família, often simply called the Sagrada Família, is a massive Roman Catholic church under construction in Barcelona. Construction began in 1882 and continues to this day.

Park Güell. Photo UFM
Park Güell is a garden complex with architectural elements situated on the hill of el Carmel in the Gràcia district of Barcelona. It was designed by the Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí and built in the years 1900 to 1914. It is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site "Works of Antoni Gaudí".

Site of 1992 Summer Olympic games, Photo UFM

Barcelona Harbour, Photo UFM

Torre Agbar, Photo UFM
The Torre Agbar is a 21st century skyscraper in Barcelona. It was designed by French architect Jean Nouvel. It opened in June 2005 and it was inaugurated officially by the King of Spain in September 2005.