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Max Abroad : The Best of Spain

Quite simply writing about the best things Spain has to offer and anything that might crop up along the way. Spain is a lot more than just sun, sand and sea...

Europe's oldest Synagogue is in Spain.
14 October 2019

The Ancient Synagogue of Barcelona, is located in the centre of Barcelona. It is believed to be  the oldest synagogue in Europe. Archaeological investigations show that the original structure of the building was built in the third or fourth century; whether this structure was the synagogue cannot be said with certainty. After many centuries of use for other purposes, the building re-opened as a synagogue and museum in 2002. No congregation prays regularly at the Sinagoga Major, but it is used for festive occasions. The building was significantly expanded during the 13th century. Medieval Barcelona is known to have had several synagogues, and the main synagogue was certainly in the immediate area. King James I visited the synagogue in 1263 at the conclusion of the Barcelona Disputation. Shlomo ben Aderet served as the rabbi of the Sinagoga Major for 50 years.  

  

It is believed that the original building was freestanding. To the north, it adjoined with what was then Escola Mayor Street and to the east with Marlet Street. The building ran southerly along “de les Dones” Street, where in the 19th century a narrow edifice was built. To the west there was probably an atrium, the site where later, around the 17th century, the stairs to the present-day building were erected. In the northern exterior wall, there is an effigy of Santo Domingo. Emblematic buildings in the Jewish Quarters were christianized with the effigy of a saint. The bloodiest day in the history of Barcelona’s Jewish community was August 5, 1391. On that day, the day celebrated as Santo Domingo, the Quarters were attacked.

 

After the uprising, the street name was changed to Sant Doménec. The building, along with all of the community’s belongings, passed into the hands of the king.

We find ourselves before a building whose foundations date back to Roman times. In addition, there are superimposed high-medieval constructions and a central structure from the 13th century. Also visible are 17th century modifications made when the upper level apartments were built.

At the end of 1995, the former owner put the property up for sale. The space was to be utilized as a bar. Before this lametable eventuality, Mr. Iaffa decided to purchase the property with the hope of bringing to light its historic past and preserving it from a use which would not dignify its extensive past.

Thus began the collaboration between Mr. Riera and Mr. Iaffa, with a common objective: to salvage a significant period of Catalan history from oblivion through the rehabilitation of the former Major Synagogue space.

 



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The Royal Quartet
09 October 2019

 

Among the ornate rooms and historic artworks at the Royal Palace of Madrid is a surprise for anyone who wants to catch a glimpse of music history.

Known as the Royal Quartet, the foursome of stringed instruments kept at the palace are unique examples of the work of Antonio Stradivarius, the renowned Italian instrument maker. The Royal Palace’s quartet—two violins, a cello, and a viola—are among the eleven decorated Stradivaris in known existence. 

The ivory-inlaid quartet were offered as gifts to King Felipe V in 1702 by Stradivarius, and are the only set of decorated instruments the master is known to have made. The quartet was originally a quintet and contained another viola. Both violas were stolen by French troops during the Napoleonic wars; one was recovered in the 1950s, but the other remains missing today. 

 

For most Palace visitors, the quartet is a look-but-don’t-touch experience. One group is an exception, though. The Royal Palace hosts public concerts featuring their quartet-in-residence, Cuarteto Quiroga, where visitors can see and hear these rare instruments in action. “They were created in order to make music,” explained music adviser Álvaro Guibert, “so not playing them would be denying them their fulfillment.” Since being reunited with the stolen viola, the quartet has never left the Royal Palace, and according to Guibert never will again.

A Stradivarius is among the most coveted items in the world, considered to be the best-stringed instrument ever created. The violins, violas and cellos produced by the Stradivari family during the 17th and 18th centuries are prized for their remarkable sound and incredible craftsmanship, and a new study explores the possible techniques used by Antonio Stradivari. 

A Stradivarius in pristine condition can fetch millions of dollars. In 2011, a Stradivarius violin made in 1721, named Lady Blunt after Lord Byron's granddaughter, Lady Ann Blunt, was sold at a charity auction for $15,9 M The money collected during the auction went to Japanese earthquake relief funds. 

Approximately only 600 string instruments made by Stradivari are still known to exist...

 



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Astorga, Leon's little-known treasure.
03 October 2019


Astorga is the place where two of Spain's most important cultural routes converge: the Way of Saint James and the Silver Route. With over 2,000 years of history, this city in Castile-León is home to a surprising monumental site, where Renaissance cathedrals and Roman baths jostle with the modernism of Gaudí.

To discover Astorga you have to head for the province of León, in northwestern Spain. It is located just 45 kilometres from the city of the same name, León, in a region known as La Maragatería. After being conquered by the Romans, the town became an important strategic centre, mainly on account of the area's wealth in deposits of gold. The heritage of that period and the remains of the mines themselves are some of the attractions you will find in Astorga, but not the only ones.

 

 

The first thing you will notice when you get to the town is the view of two of its most important monuments, Santa María Cathedral and the Episcopal Palace. The two buildings are set side by side and are surrounded by a Roman defensive wall which is in an excellent state of conservation. Take a close look, because the Cathedral is a beautiful synthesis of styles, with elements ranging from Florid Gothic to Baroque and Renaissance. This is because construction work began in the 15th century and was not completed until the 18th. Another unusual aspect is the difference in colour of the two towers that flank the main entrance - one of them was affected by an earthquake in 1775 and took longer to be finished. Inside, be sure to admire the stunning main altarpiece and choir stalls.

 

 

Beside the Cathedral is the Episcopal Palace, designed by the famous modernist architect Antonio Gaudí. It is a neo-gothic building that looks like something out of a fairy tale. In the garden outside you will be welcomed by three angels in zinc, and inside you can visit the Los Caminos Museum, which has an interesting collection of items related with the Way of Saint James. Astorga is home to other interesting buildings, such as Casa Granell House and San Andrés Church.

Next, head for Plaza Mayor Square where you will find the baroque Town Hall and a traditional street market held every Tuesday morning. A visit to the town's Roman remains is also not to be missed. You will find remains of the forum, thermal baths, "domus" (houses), the imperial temple, the camp of the legion and the drainage network. In the ancient Ergastula (prison) you will now find the Roman Museum with statues, amphorae, jewellery and reliefs. To make sure you see everything, it is best first to visit the town's Tourist Office.

 

 

If you have more time, head out to one of the surrounding villages and discover the charm and character of the traditional architecture of the La Maragatería region. Castrillo de los Polvazares, for example, just 5 kilometres from Astorga, is home to a good representation, and we would also recommend you try the typical dish of the region: maragato casserole. You can also do the “Gold Route”, that will take you to different villages around the region in search of ancient Roman mines. Be sure to make a stop to discover Astorga. You will be pleasantly surprised.

 



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Over 100 interconnected wine cellars hide beneath this town...
18 September 2019

Aranda de Duero is a small town, where just about everywhere worth going is within walking distance. It takes about 30 minutes to walk from one end of the town to the other, but quite a bit longer if you choose to stop off to eat, drink, and socialise along the way—which is almost inevitable.

A provincial town about 150 kilometres (93 miles) from Madrid, Aranda is the capital of the Ribera del Duero wine region (which is also famous for its lamb dishes). While there are many interesting places to visit nearby—Roman ruins, castles, walled villages, and so on—what makes Aranda so unique is the extensive network of underground wine cellars that interconnect below the streets of the town centre. 

 

Used since the Middle Ages, there are currently about 135 cave-based wine cellars, or “bodegas,” under Aranda del Duero (many others have either collapsed or are no longer used for winemaking). The 5-mile-long network of caves is about 24 to 33 feet deep. Most of the cellars are interconnected and divided just by wooden doors.

     

Many of these cavernous wineries offer guided tours and tastings, and obviously, all will try to sell you their wine (which is hard to resist). The winery of Don Carlos, built in the 15th century, invites visitors to explore the cave as part of a performance by costumed actors. Various clubs ó “peñas,” celebrate special events in these cellars and these clubs are clearly marked at street level. With a total length of around 7 km and excavated at a depth of 13m, the underground cellars of Aranda form the main tourist attraction of the city and undoubtedly show us part of the history of the Ribera del Duero.

The economy of the town, closely linked to wine, forced the locals of the 14th and 15th centuries to dig the cellars under their houses producing this network of incredible tunnels that were originally destined for the conservation of wines.

The medieval wine cellars of Aranda have a constant temperature and humidity throughout the year (if you happen to visit in the hot months, make sure you bring a jacket)

They possess an ingenious construction called zarcera, thanks to this, the historical cellars enjoy an excellent ventilation coming from the outside. These characteristics, together with the absence of noise and vibrations, made the wineries the ideal place for the elaboration and conservation of local wines until well into the last century.

The bodegas were designated as ”Assets of Cultural Interest” by the Spanish Government in 2015. 

 

https://www.bodegasdearanda.com/en/visitas-y-catas/



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Almagro, the Heart of the Fields of Calatrava
11 September 2019

       Following the towns and castles of the Order of Calatrava, facades painted in white and indigo, vast expanses of vineyards and cereal crops, landscapes of endless red soil plains and constant references to Don Quixote are everywhere one looks. This is La Mancha and home to one of the most delicious aubergines you will ever try, however, this land has far more to offer than just a unique vegetable and to discover it, it is best to start in Daimiel, with a visit to the Las Tablas National Park.

What once used to be the hunting grounds of King Alfonso XII and his son Alfonso XIII is today a forest of rushes, cattails, sedge and reeds that is home to ducks, herons and frogs. A total of 250 bird species inhabit these wetlands, which spread over 2,000 hectares, located between the municipal districts of Daimiel and Villarrubia de Los Ojos. One must come well prepared: canteen, during the hottest months, and binoculars, at any time of year. They are fundamental for the close observation of every species of wildlife. To move on to the next destination we should take the CM-4107 road, which will take us all the way to Almagro, a road which is lined with typical farmhouses whitewashed up to their roofs and windmills that are much more modern than those which Don Quixote fought.

 

Almagro is a place that breaks from its surroundings. The town has been declared a Historical and Artistic Site and is therefore well worth visiting, in addition to conserving the same Manchegan essence as its neighbouring towns. It was the headquarters for the Order of Calatrava, an the first Cavalry Military Order founded in 1158 by the Catholic Church.

 

 

The Plaza Mayor (Main Square), a really beautiful site flanked by porticoes with Tuscan columns, is the starting point from which to discover this town. Replete with terraces where one can eat a snack, it is the ideal place in which to try some local aubergines, Pisto (ratatouille)  or Migas (fried breadcrumbs). The 16th century Town Hall can also be found in the square, in addition to its most prized treasure, the Corral de Comedias (open-air comedy theatre). A group of actors act as guides on a dramatised tour during which a voice-over narrates the story of the building. It was built in 1628 as a comedy inn-house and declared a National Monument in 1955.  

The Fúcares Warehouse is located very near the square, built in the 16th century by this wealthy German merchant family to store the grain stemming from the Maestrazgo's earnings and mercury from the Almadén mines. But Almagro's real distinguishing feature is its bobbin lace industry, a skill that requires extensive mastery and was introduced by the Fúcares Family in the 1600s and has continued ever since passing down the generations from mother to daughter. The Lace Museum exhibits one of the best textile collections in the world. The Madre de Dios Church, built in the 17th century in the Gothic style with Renaissance details, or Asunción de Calatrava Convent, built in 1519, are also well worth seeing. 

However Almagro is most well known outside of its borders for a very simple local speciality, it’s aubergines. The cooking, fermentation and dressing process give these vegetables a unique flavour.  They are collected before they are very ripe, so they are stored while still small and before they have taken on their characteristic purple colour. They are prepared, cooked, dressed with oil, vinegar, water, salt, paprika, cumin, a bay leaf, freshly ground pepper and garlic, and left to marinate until they are ready to eat and served cold. They may also be split in half and then stuffed with pepper paste and skewered with fennel sticks.

 

The delicious dressed Aubergine from Almagro, of the Solarum melongena variety, was originally part of the Arabic cuisine, which introduced this practice to the area, where it has been maintained ever since.

This characteristic dressing used for the aubergines was at first an excellent way of preserving seasonal food in a location that is not known for its vegetables. The gastronomical peculiarity of the aubergines from Almagro has crossed Spain’s borders, so some of them are reserved for export. It is a product that is directly identified with La Mancha and the sign of the Denomination of Origin guarantees their quality. They are a fantastic snack to accompany an ice-cold beer especially this time of year, even though we are being drenched at the moment with torrential rain!

 



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Guadi's Casa Batlló - A must when visiting Barcelona
04 September 2019

Casa Batlló, located in the very heart of Paseo de Gracia in Barcelona, was built between 1904 and 1906 and is a statement of delight. It is a universe of symbolism, a canvas of marine inspiration, a dream world, which evokes nature with its organic elements and is suggestive of fantasy. 

Gaudí gave Casa Batlló a facade that is original, fantastical and full of imagination. He replaced the original facade with a new composition of stone and glass. He ordered the external walls to be redesigned to give them a wavy shape, which was then plastered with lime mortar and covered with a mosaic of fragments of coloured glass and ceramic discs.

At the top of the facade, the roof is in the shape of an animal’s back with large iridescent scales. The spine which forms the ornamental top is composed of huge spherical pieces of masonry in colours which change as you move along the roof-tree from one end to the other.

The long gallery of the main suite, the Noble Floor, overlooking Passeig de Gràcia, is composed of wooden-framed windows which are opened and closed by raising and lowering using counterweights. They are unusual in that there are no jambs or mullions, so that it is possible to raise all of the window panes and have a continuous panoramic opening running the full width of the room.

On the level of the ground floor, the Noble Floor and the first floor, the facade includes slender pillars of Montjuic stone which form bone-like shapes and are decorated with typically modernist floral designs.

 

The balcony railings in the shape of masks are made of wrought iron cast in a single piece and are secured by two anchor points in such a way that the balconies partly project outwards.

The work as a whole is a marvel of ornamental design thanks to its use of emerging trades. Gaudí worked with the most highly skilled craftsmen in every profession. The transformation of wrought iron, in which curves are not only for rhetorical and aesthetic purposes, but also provide structural support; undulating works in wood such as three-dimensional doors with surprising embossed patterns; colourful stained-glass windows which filter the natural light; raised ceramic tiles; decorative pieces of masonry made from Montjuic sandstone: all of these elements are testament to the skill of the craftsmen of the period.

The loft, which is an area of well-ventilated sweeping spaces reminiscent of Mediterranean architecture, stands out on account of its arrangement of arches. From the main room of the loft, visitors can observe Gaudí’s wonderful and organic world. In it, you can appreciate the structure of ribs and breastbone which create the parabolic arches, the latest in modernist design, which support the roof terrace. The spiral stairs leading to the roof terrace, with their structural minimalism, are also very striking. The iron handrail, with its simple lines, is a 20th century sculpture in its own right.

On the flat roof, the prominence of the dragon’s back, which is so important to the overall artistic equilibrium of the facade, gives way to the four groups of graceful chimneys. Behind the aesthetic aspect, functionality is ever-present: the wind cannot obstruct smoke from escaping thanks to the chimney caps on the tops of the chimneys, which are tiled with the same trencadís glazed mosaics as the facade. Gaudí covered the curved surfaces with cut tiles, in the style of the Byzantine builders.

Moving through the house, visitors are constantly surprised by the details which they discover with every step. The doors of each apartment are labelled in a modernist script specially designed by Gaudí for Casa Batlló. The massive windows on the landings of the communal stairwell, which are translucent rather than transparent, allow light to pass through selectively, while at the same time, depending on how you look at them, distort the shades of blue of the building well into beautiful waves of the sea. The shapes of the door handles, banisters, skylights, etc., are all ergonomically designed. It is the definitive work of art, with the artist encouraging everything to work together: design, space, colour, shape and light.

 

 

The building consists of a ground floor, a main floor with a courtyard, four further self-contained floors, a loft and a roof terrace. There is private access to the noble floor (the main floor), and a communal stairwell set within the building well which has been expanded and artistically tiled as though it were part of the exterior facade. The Coach Houses are accessed from the street, at street level, and these occupy the area below the courtyard of the Noble Floor, and from here you gain access to the Coal Cellars below.

In total, the house has a surface area of more than 5,000 m². The front of the building looks out onto Passeig de Gràcia, and the back faces the inner courtyard of the building.


The work as a whole is a marvel of ornamental design thanks to its use of emerging trades. Gaudí worked with the most highly skilled craftsmen in every profession. The transformation of wrought iron, in which curves are not only for rhetorical and aesthetic purposes, but also provide structural support; undulating works in wood such as three-dimensional doors with surprising embossed patterns; colourful stained-glass windows which filter the natural light; raised ceramic tiles; decorative pieces of masonry made from Montjuic sandstone: all of these elements are testament to the skill of the craftsmen of the period.

The loft, which is an area of well-ventilated sweeping spaces reminiscent of Mediterranean architecture, stands out on account of its arrangement of arches. From the main room of the loft, visitors can observe Gaudí’s wonderful and organic world. In it, you can appreciate the structure of ribs and breastbone which create the parabolic arches, the latest in modernist design, which support the roof terrace. The spiral stairs leading to the roof terrace, with their structural minimalism, are also very striking. The iron handrail, with its simple lines, is a 20th century sculpture in its own right.

On the flat roof, the prominence of the dragon’s back, which is so important to the overall artistic equilibrium of the facade, gives way to the four groups of graceful chimneys. Behind the aesthetic aspect, functionality is ever-present: the wind cannot obstruct smoke from escaping thanks to the chimney caps on the tops of the chimneys, which are tiled with the same trencadís glazed mosaics as the facade. Gaudí covered the curved surfaces with cut tiles, in the style of the Byzantine builders.

Moving through the house, visitors are constantly surprised by the details which they discover with every step. The doors of each apartment are labelled in a modernist script specially designed by Gaudí for Casa Batlló. The massive windows on the landings of the communal stairwell, which are translucent rather than transparent, allow light to pass through selectively, while at the same time, depending on how you look at them, distort the shades of blue of the building well into beautiful waves of the sea. The shapes of the door handles, banisters, skylights, etc., are all ergonomically designed. It is the definitive work of art, with the artist encouraging everything to work together: design, space, colour, shape and light.

The building consists of a ground floor, a main floor with a courtyard, four further self-contained floors, a loft and a roof terrace. There is private access to the noble floor (the main floor), and a communal stairwell set within the building well which has been expanded and artistically tiled as though it were part of the exterior facade. The Coach Houses are accessed from the street, at street level, and these occupy the area below the courtyard of the Noble Floor, and from here you gain access to the Coal Cellars below.

In total, the house has a surface area of more than 5,000 m². The front of the building looks out onto Passeig de Gràcia, and the back faces the inner courtyard of the building.



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The Rock Pools of Ontinyent
28 August 2019

 

Summer is coming to an end, but there is still time to enjoy this wonderful natural enclave if you happen to be in the area...

The Pou Clar, is the most important river section Ontinyent has, and is of great value, as much for the landscape, as for the wildlife it supports. The river Clariano has its source here and the first section of its course is marked by a series of pools and waterfalls, which have all been sculpted by the water and go to make up an attractive area, much used by the local people. Over the generations, each pool has acquired a name; The Pool of Slaves, The Clear Pool, The Frozen Pool, The Side Pool, The Dark Pool and finally The Pool of Horses. There is easy access to the Pozo Claro and the visitor can walk along the whole section, as they enjoy the contrasts of colour in the rock formations and water and maybe take a refreshing summer swim in the pools.

 

 

How to get there from Ontinyent:

• On foot or by bike. Take the Camino del Llombo which comes out onto the Western bypass and continue until you come to the old Alba factory. Turn right here and pick up the Alba track which takes you past the house of the same name. Follow the track amongst the trees and through the ravine until you come out at the Pou Clar. The route is not marked.

• By car. Take the CV-81 Ontinyent-Bocairent road and at the crossroads for Fontanars, turn right and park. Access to the Pou Clar is in front of the car park.

The area is very near (about 500 meters) to the beginning of a footpath PR V-121 which eventually leads to Bocairent (about an hour). This footpath also takes us to Vullgam surrounded by mills, trees and the distant murmur of water in the Barranco de Los Naranjos.

In the opposite direction and starting from the last pool, walk down a stairway and you come to a picnic area under pine trees. Well worth a visit.

 

 



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What makes this Prawn so special?
21 August 2019

 
 
 
Not all prawns were born equal and the most prized of them all is found in Dénia. This beautiful coastal town of the Valencian Community is located in a bay at the foot of the mountain range Montgó. In the very centre of the bay, there is, surrounded by palms, the harbour of Dénia. Despite its importance, it has conserved the ambience of a typical Mediterranean fishing port. From here you can take ferries to the Balearic Islands of Majorca and Menorca, which can be reached in about three and a half hours. Near the port, there is an area called "Baix la Mar" with traditional fishermen houses and picturesque squares and alleys. Here you can enjoy Dénia’s excellent seafood and amongst all that is on offer is the most famous prawn in Spain, the ‘Striped Red Prawn of Dénia (Gamba Roja/Rayada de Dénia). A unique crustacean found off the coast of this traditional fishing town and considered an international delicacy. 
 
The Red Prawn from Dénia has an intense flavour due to its unusually high concentration of iodine and salt mixed with its lean meat and has become a staple ingredient for chefs in the region and is now gaining international recognition. Unfortunately, this shrimp is not easy to catch so it’s not cheap as numbers caught on a daily basis are very low making it one of the most exclusive foods in the Valencian Community but on a special occasion, it is a real treat. This spectacular shrimp is also easily identifiable from an anatomical point of view, it has a strong red pigmentation different to the common white prawn with red stripes along its tail, while at the same time it has a much larger head which hides an exquisite explosion of flavours. The characteristics of the Red Prawn from Dénia have made it the signature dish of many famous restaurants both within Dénia and the rest of the Community.
 
One of the restaurants, which prides itself on dishes made with the Dénia Red Prawn, is the Quique Dacosta Restaurant, which has led to this seafood acquiring an international reputation. In the menu "Local Universe", Dacosta has created three different dishes with the Dénia Red Prawn: a plate of crispy crust Dénia Red Prawn served as a snack, a bowl of Dénia Red Prawn slightly cooked in seawater and finally a dish made with the juice from the head of the prawn inside a floating sphere. However, this is very fancy cooking and the majority of chefs in the region say that the best way to cook the Dénia Red Prawn is simply boiling it in seawater rather than cooking it on the hot plate as you would with most other crustaceans. Apparently, the seawater prevents their juices from being released and all the flavour is kept inside. For a large prawn, it should be in boiling water for approximately three minutes then taken out immediately and with a lot of care so it doesn’t break, placed immediately in ice-cold seawater to reduce its temperature. The ideal serving temperature is 15ºC. Whichever way you prepare it they all agree it should be served without any dressing, sauces or garnishes as these would only mask the natural flavour of this very special prawn.
 
 
The areas where you can fish Dénia Red Prawns are very limited and are found in the Mediterranean Sea between the Cape of San Antonio and Ibiza. There is actually a rather unique marine trench in the seabed where the highest concentration of Dénia Red Prawns can be found. However, this shady habitat is over 600m deep so virtually no sunlight ever reaches it and as a result of the shrimp's main food source is algae that grow at this depth and as the algae can’t photosynthesise they are a much finer food source than those found at shallower depths. Additionally, the sea current follows the trench bringing fresh water through it permanently and as there are practically no predators in the trench, it allows the shrimps to grow to a large size and obtain a good weight.
 
Without doubt, the best place to buy Dénia Red Prawns is the Lonja at Dénia port. Every day there is a traditional auction where local restauranteurs and the general public bid on lots of seafood and fish arriving in on the fishing boats. However, if you are not up for an auction, the temple of the red prawn in the city is definitely the restaurant El Faralló found in the area of Dénia known as Las Rotas. Originally the restaurant was just a bar that drew customers from a nearby campground. Nowadays The Faralló has managed to become one of the gastronomic temples of Dénia and one of the most highly recommended restaurants to taste the Dénia Red prawn, a fantastic place to celebrate a special occasion.
 
 
Dénia was recently recognised by UNESCO (the United Nation cultural organisation) as the town of origin for this special prawn launching it to international fame. So if you have never tried them and happen to be passing through Dénia, they are an absolute "must" to have on the agenda for any food lover.
 
 
 


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The only waterfall in Europe to fall directly into the sea...but don't be late!
15 August 2019

In the municipality of Dumbría, near Cape Finisterre, one can find the river Xallas and the Santa Uxía reservoir, a hydroelectric plant which unfortunately intervened with nature. Its gates are opened every Saturday and Sunday during the summer, creating once again the spectacular waterfall that can be seen in the photo – locally it is called “Cadoiro” - and the waterfalls from a height of 100m into a pit which is approximately 20 feet deep, forming an inlet that empties onto Ézaro beach, one of the most beautiful along the coast. However this is not because of the dam, the waterfall has always existed, the dam just regulates the opening hours, excuse the pun.

Before the dam was built, which by the way has ruined a little the landscape, this waterfall ran free and you might be asking what is so different about this one? Well, it is in fact the only waterfall in Europe that flows directly into the sea, however now it only falls during working hours and in peak season! The waterfall is open and running from 12:00 to 14:00 every Saturday and Sunday from 21 June to 21 September, and sometimes on bank holidays! One has to serve the tourists.

About a mile away is a viewpoint from which you can see the whole estuary of Corcubión. Ézaro, which is the only access to the sea within Dumbria, has three beaches: A Pedra Maior; Forcado, where the locals go and Area Pequeña, which as its name suggests is the smallest of the three.

Nearby there is the mountain O Pindo, which is an archaeological site where you can go trekking and discover the ruins and areas where ancient Druids carried out their rituals. From its summit -A MOA at a height of 641 meters, you can enjoy a great view and see stones with ancient inscriptions. Another place nearby is Carnota, which is famous for being home to the longest Hórreo (granary on stilts) in Galicia, supported by 11 pairs of columns and has been declared a national monument.

Following the route, one reaches Corcubión, a historic and artistic enclave. This region is full of legends and magical areas, noting especially, Cape Finisterre, which is almost mandatory to visit and contemplate its beautiful sunsets. In the same spot that people centuries ago considered the end of the earth, where the land ended and the sea began. The Phoenicians built an altar at which the Sun was worshipped. Many who came to Santiago on pilgrimage then continued to the lighthouse of Finisterre to burn the shoes that they had used on their long journey, a tradition that still stands today and is carried out beside the monument next to the lighthouse. 

 


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Anaga Natural Park
09 August 2019

A stones' throw away from the capital, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, lies Anaga Natural Park, which has been declared a Biosphere Reserve and has surprisingly succeeded in preserving its natural beauty.

If you have the opportunity to visit you are likely to be overwhelmed by its beautiful precipitous mountain range full of sharp jagged peaks. The deep valleys and ravines that cut across it eventually reach out to sea, forming a series of beaches where you can wet your toes or have a dip in the ocean. Naturally, the park is home to a wealth of fauna and flora and abundant with autochthonous species.

Anaga Natural Park covers much of the mountain range located on the north-east of the Island. With an expanse of almost 14,500 hectares (35,800 acres), it crosses quite a significant stretch of Tenerife, spanning the municipalities of La Laguna, Santa Cruz de Tenerife and Tegueste. It represents one of the region's major leisure areas and is a wonderful tourist attraction.

 

The impressive sight of its sturdy mountains rising high above the nearby sea is as attractive as it is unique. But if you really want to make the most of your visit, the best idea is to follow one of the many trails that will lead you to its charming little beaches of fine, shiny black sand (such as Benijo) dotted along the coast. 

 

 

The area's landscapes are also adorned with geological formations such as "roques" (old volcanic chimneys), dikes (fractures filled with solidified magma forming sheets of rock that look like walls), cliff faces and deep ravines. Another of the area's unforgettable sights is, without doubt, the blanket of clouds.

 

High up on the peaks you will find Tenerife's most wonderful areas of laurel forests. This vegetation could quite simply be classed as a living fossil, having survived more than 40 million years. The Mediterranean basin used to be covered in this greenery until the glaciers swept it away. A walk amongst this forest's twisted tree trunks lined with moss is like a journey back in time. Listen to the forest, feel it and breathe in its prehistoric air. As if all of this weren't enough, the Anaga mountain range is geologically one of Tenerife's oldest areas, which along with the varying altitudes, weather conditions and soils provide it with a huge biological diversity for such a relatively small space. Almost every kind of ecosystem on the Island can be found here, except high mountain flora and fauna. It contains coastal vegetation, populations of Canary Island spurges and euphorbia, dragon trees and Canarian palms.

 

And where the flora is rich and diverse, so too is the fauna. The undisputed kings are invertebrates. You will find almost a hundred species here that are unique in the world. If you are a keen birdwatcher, you might recognise such emblematic species as Scopoli's shearwaters, kestrels, owls, Bolle's pigeons and laurel pigeons (both of which are considered living relics and are native to the Canaries). In fact, the abundance of birdlife has led Anaga to become a Special Bird Protection Area. No less magnificent is the array of sea life, making quite a treat for divers, with such wonderful species as the Chucho (a type of ray), the Canarian cod, the Vieja and the endangered local eel.

The park also houses small villages and hamlets. You will find up to 26 inhabited by a total of 2000 people. Their residents live mostly off small-scale farming, tending traditional local crops such as sweet potatoes, potatoes, yams, vines and other fruit trees and plants.

 

 

 



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