All EOS blogs All Spain blogs  Start your own blog Start your own blog 

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...

The Last Roman Lighthouse - still in use today...
30 January 2018

 

 

The Tower of Hercules is an ancient Roman lighthouse on a peninsula about 2.4 kilometres (1.5 mi) from the centre of A Coruña, Galicia, in northwestern Spain. It is easily the most well preserved lighthouse remaining from the classical Roman age. According to myth, it also marks the resting place of one of Hercules' greatest conquests. As part of one of the mythic Twelve Labours of Hercules, the super strong son of Zeus is said to have killed the giant Gerylon with an arrow dipped in Hydra's blood. Then in a gesture that is more Celtic than Roman, the legend says that Hercules buried the giant with his weapons and ordered a city built atop the burial site. While the area where the tower is built was rather barren when it was originally built, the surrounding city of Corunna has sprung up around it across the millennia. While there are not actually titanic bones beneath the tower, the legend is so pervasive that an image of the tower atop a skull and bones is the centrepiece of the city's coat of arms.

Until the 20th century, the tower itself was known as the "Farum Brigantium" or “Brigantia Lighthouse”. The Latin word ‘farum’ is derived from the Greek pharos for the Lighthouse of Alexandria. The structure is 55 metres (180 ft.) tall and overlooks the North Atlantic coast of Spain. Almost 1900 years old and rehabilitated in 1791, it is the only Roman lighthouse still in use today. 

The Tower of Hercules is a National Monument of Spain, and since June 27, 2009, has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is the second tallest lighthouse in Spain, after the Faro de Chipiona.

The tower is known to have existed by the 2nd century, is thought to be modelled after the Lighthouse of Alexandria. At its base is preserved the cornerstone with the inscription MARTI AUG.SACR C.SEVIVS LUPUS ARCHTECTUS AEMINIENSIS LVSITANVS.EX.VO, permitting the original lighthouse tower to be ascribed to the architect Gaius Sevius Lupus, from Aeminium (present-day Coimbra, Portugal) in the former province of Lusitania, as an offering dedicated to Mars. The tower has been in constant use since then. The earliest known reference to the lighthouse at Brigantium is by Paulus Orosius in Historiae adversum Paganos written around 415-417.

 

 

In 1788, the original 34 metres (112 ft), 3-storey tower was given a neoclassical restoration, including a new fourth storey.(an additional 21 metres) The restoration was undertaken by naval engineer Eustaquio Giannini during the reign of Charles III of Spain, and was finished in 1791. Within, the much-repaired Roman and medieval masonry can still be appreciated.

The Romans who conquered this region of Spain believed it to be, in a figurative sense, the end of the earth, as described in "Finisterra". This region is notorious for shipwrecks, earning the name Costa da Morte, "The Coast of Death".

The positioning of the lighthouse is not very clear since it strongly favours an approach from the northwest. It does not provide a  true guide to safe harbour to vessels approaching either up the West coast of the Iberian peninsula, nor along the Rias of the north coast, as one might expect. This would imply that the lighthouse was built to satisfy the needs of regular traffic coming in from the Atlantic, perhaps taking a westerly route from the Côte d’Opale area to avoid the Bay of Biscay or direct from Ireland or even South West England.  Whatever its purpose was, the only thing that really matters now is that we have this wonderful example of Roman architecture to enjoy on what is one of Spain’s most stunning coastlines.



Like 2        Published at 13:41   Comments (3)


The Most Beautiful Plaza in Spain
18 January 2018

      

The Plaza de España in Sevilla is a plaza located in the Parque de María Luisa. It was built in 1928 for the Ibero-American Exposition of 1929 and almost bankrupted the city. It is a landmark example of the Renaissance Revival style in Spanish architecture.

1929, Seville hosted the Ibero-American Exposition World's Fair and the Plaza de España was the centre piece of the show. The entire southern end of the city was redeveloped at great cost into an expanse of gardens and grand boulevards and at the heart of the project lied the Parque de María Luisa, a park resembling a Moorish paradise with a half mile of: tiled fountains, pavilions, walls, ponds, benches, and exhedras; lush plantings of palms, orange trees, Mediterranean pines, and stylized flower beds of immense beauty. Numerous buildings were constructed within this heavenly complex for the exhibition.  But a price was paid for this spectacular enclave. The estimated final cost of the exhibition works was 27 times more than the original budget, which was presented in 1914, totalling a massive 17,000,000pts. It may not sound like much but in today's money, it would come in at over 200,000,000 pounds sterling, a fortune for a city like Seville, which was going through financial difficulties at the time. It was the most expensive and the hardest construction of any fair to that date, employing on occasions more than 1,000 workers simultaneously. It seems that construction budgets have never been a Spanish forte, but in this case, we’ll let it go, as the result was a masterpiece for anyone’s eyes.

 

 

The initial idea of holding a World Fair in Seville was promoted in 1909 with the aim of opening the city and, especially, to modernise it. It would be the perfect occasion to achieve civil works, thus improve employment, promote the tourism, enhance the image of Seville and strengthen relationships with American countries. The fair was initially going to be inaugurated on April 1st, 1911. It was then delayed to 1914 but World War I (1914-18) and political issues between Morocco and Spain delayed it even further and it was finally held from May 9th, 1929 to June 21st, 1930.

 

 

The Plaza de España, designed by Aníbal González, was the main pavilion building built on the edge of the park to showcase Spain's industry and technology exhibits. González combined a mix of 1920s Art Deco and 'mock Mudejar', and Neo-Mudéjar styles creating an atmosphere which was out of this world. The Plaza de España complex is a huge half-circle with buildings continually running around the edge accessible over the moat by a series of beautiful bridges representing the four ancient kingdoms of Spain. In the centre is the Vicente Traver fountain. By the walls of the Plaza are many tiled alcoves with benches, each representing a different province of Spain and served as meeting points.

 

    

 

In 1926 Anibal Gonzalez resigned from his position and the Plaza de Espana was finished in 1928 by Vicente Taverner, who added the central fountain. It was also the place where King Alfonso XIII inaugurated the Fair.

Today the Plaza de España mainly consists of Government buildings. The Seville Town Hall, with a slight redesign, is located within it. The Plaza's tiled 'Alcoves of the Provinces' are backdrops for visitors portrait photographs, taken in their own home province's alcove. They are still a meeting point for tourists. Towards the end of the park, the grandest mansions from the fair have been adapted as museums. Ánibal Gonzalez was also the chief architect of the event and designed other buildings such as the Mudejar Pavilion (better known today as the Museo de Artes y Costumbres), the Fine Arts Pavilion (transformed later in the Archaeological Museum) and the Royal Pavilion. All of them can be found in the Maria Luisa Park, at the America Square (Plaza de America).

 

 

The farthest, the Archaeological Musem, exhibits Roman mosaics and artefacts from nearby Italica. Nowadays the complex still remains a magical place with a style that recreates de Arab constructions of 10 centuries ago and that emphasises the regions of Spain and its union with America.

The Plaza de España has been used as a filming location, including scenes for the 1962 film Lawrence of Arabia. The building was used as a location in the Star Wars movie series — Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999) and Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones (2002) — in which it featured in exterior shots of the City of Theed on the Planet Naboo. It also featured in the 2012 film The Dictator.

 


Ver
mapa más grande



Like 1        Published at 12:36   Comments (3)


Valencia's Millennial Treasure
09 January 2018

 

Xàtiva castle is located in the town of Xàtiva near Valencia. It is strategically located on the ancient roadway Via Augusta leading from Rome across the Pyrenees and down the Mediterranean coast to Cartagena and Cádiz. It is situated on the mountain known as Vernissa and from this, a series of defensive towers and walls embraced the city, the origin of the building is possibly Iberian, the oldest chronicles located Hannibal on his way to Sagunto, the Roman period is visible through the water reservoirs located in the highest part of the fort where we can appreciate the Islamic medieval period and the prevailing styles in the work. The castle can be divided into two parts: the Lower Castle is the oldest and its origin is believed to be before the arrival of the Romans and the Castillo Mayor, whose construction would begin with the Romans and later modified by the Arabs, Christians, etc.. These two fortifications are joined by pieces of wall of different times and they tore the walls that embraced the city. It has been declared a Historic-Artistic Monument and has been partially restored.


In 1092, the castle fell into the occupation of the Almoravid dynasty who were expelled in an uprising that took place in 1145. During this uprising, the castle was besieged by the Governor of Valencia, Marwan Abd-al-Aziz. In 1171, the Castle finally fell, along with the rest of the Levante coast, into the hands of the Almohads.
King James I of Aragon began his crusade there in the summer of 1239, finally capturing Xátiva on 22 May 1244, following a five-month siege. After submitting to the Christian monarch and signing the Treaty of Játiva the Moors handed over the smaller nearby Castle to James I, while they were allowed to continue occupying the larger castle for another two years based on the terms of the treaty.
After the two years had elapsed King James I of Aragon repopulated a large part of the town with Catalan and Aragonese settlers.

 

 

As you approach Xativa, a 40-minute drive west from Valencia, its castle appears to built on a ridge but, as you get closer you will see that its walls rise up from the town itself. As you wind up the narrow streets of the old town, you get tantalizing glimpses of the castle high above. Soon you reach the lower walls scaling the hillside, but you continue on a twisting road upwards. Just as you pass a church on your left, you will see the entrance to the Hotel Restaurant Mont Sant in one of the most incredible landscapes in the south of Valencia, below Xativa’s castle and surrounded by a great natural spot. Since it was opened in 1994, Hotel Restaurant Mont Sant is one the most significant hotels in Xativa and in the Valencian Community. The hotel was declared an Architectural and Artistic Monument and many relevant historical and cultural events have been held there. It’s 16.000 m2 of gardens, full of orange blossom and jasmine, as well as, the silence, the charm you can breathe in every corner of the place and the comfort of its facilities, make the hotel a peaceful paradise. The restaurant in the Hotel Mont-Sant is one of the most popular in the area due to its Mediterranean and fresh food so you will not be short of good food.

The Latin poet Silius Italicus(101-25BC) in his poem on the ll punic War refers to Saetabis celsa arce, Xátiva with its tall castle, so there is proof that a castle existed in Roman times, even though a castle stood here in earlier Iberian days. Its strategic value was due to its situation on the Via Augusta that began in Rome and crossed the Pyrenees and travelled down the Mediterranean coast before heading on to Cartagena and Cadiz. The grand structure you see these days standing watch over the town is a mixture of Iberian, Roman and Moorish influences and later Christian fortifications.

 

Xátiva castle with its 30 towers and four fortified gateways, must rate as one of the loveliest in the Valencian Community, not only because of its historic value but also because of a lot of thought and work has gone into its surroundings. Fountains, small orange groves, herb gardens that perfume the air, give you a sense of what life must have been like in an important garrison town. The fountains and gardens aren’t just modern improvements but were an important part of the Moorish culture. What is equally impressive is that standing on the high tower at either end of the long thin castle, you become aware of just how massive an undertaking it was to build such a structure in such an inaccessible place.

The town below the frowning castle walls is equally steeped in history. It was the birthplace of two popes of the Borgia [Borja] Clan. They were Calixtus lll and Alexander Xl, whose family virtually controlled the papal power for almost two hundred years and sired the infamous Lucretia. It was the first town in Europe to manufacture paper, during the time of the Moorish occupation, and even today in Morocco paper is still known as Xativi.

The streets themselves are like a splendid public gallery requiring no entrance fee. Mounted high on almost every wall of the old town, family names linger on in tiled plaques celebrating the lives of the saints. In your meanderings seek out the Placa del Mercat, a square on the cusp of moving from semi-tumbledown to modern and cobbled with so much charm. Set back in a corner is the Posanda del Pescado, its names spelt out in an intricate shell-like patterning with a fat fish dangling from a chain clenched in a Lion's mouth. Its beautifully carved doors and shutters are weathered with years of neglect.

 



Like 1        Published at 11:47   Comments (1)


Wine Cathedrals
03 January 2018

 

The festive period which is now coming to an end has always been a traditional time to enjoy sherry and mince pies. Perhaps without even realising it, Spain has helped forge British traditions and Christmas 'spirits'.

The Jerez Region in Spain is the origin of a unique and millenary wine-producing tradition and the perfect destination for you to enjoy sense-awakening experiences.

This historical region is the cradle of some of Spain´s most world-renowned wines, sherries and brandies, but it is far more than just a point on the map for wine-lovers. The rich historical and cultural legacy of those who lived here throughout the centuries has left its mark. This, combined with its extraordinary beauty and mild climate, makes Jerez a top tourist destination, known and valued the world over.

At the very tip of the Iberian Peninsula, wedged between the Atlantic Ocean and the Guadalquivir and Guadalete Rivers, is the Jerez Region. Over 7,000 hectares of vineyards which, for centuries, have been the cradle of Sherry and Jerez Brandy, prized gems in the world of wine.

This privileged landscape lies within a triangle-shaped area whose vertices are the towns of Sanlúcar de Barrameda, El Puerto de Santa María and Jerez de la Frontera. This is the only place where the wines and brandies included under the Denomination of Origin Jerez-Xérès-Sherry, Manzanilla de Sanlúcar de Barrameda and the Specific Appellation Jerez Brandy can be produced.

 

 

The natural beauty of this wine-growing region is reflected by softly rolling hills of Albariza soil, endless beaches of fine, white sand and the Doñana National Park—all bathed in over 300 days of sunshine a year, lending the Jerez Region its distinctive "Southern flavour"

A journey into the Jerez wine-producing Region always ensures a wide array of pleasant, unforgettable experiences. But discovering the Jerez Region goes far beyond learning about its wines: it means delving into over 3,000 years of history which unfold around every corner you turn.

Greeks, Romans, Arabs...from the Phoenicians up to the present day, many different cultures and peoples settled here, leaving their indelible mark through a vastly diverse cultural and artistic heritage and another legacy...their love of wine.

 

 

It is one of the oldest wine-producing regions in the world and its Sherry wines and Jerez Brandy are the most international wines and spirits produced in Spain. Throughout the centuries, they have won the approval of widely diverse cultures and tastes

The Jerez Region landscape is dotted with the unmistakable design of its bodegas, where the ageing process of its wines is a matter of tradition, handed down from one generation to the next.

Located in Jerez de la Frontera, Sanlúcar de Barrameda and El Puerto de Santa María, the bodegas resemble temples that, with their grandeur, embody the winemaking tradition of the region, and have become a world-famous tourist attraction in their own right—proof is the fact that Jerez´ bodegas are Europe´s most-visited wine cellars!

 

 

Known as Wine Cathedrals for their majestic proportions, their stillness, tenuous light and unique architectural design with high ceilings and broad arches, the bodegas of Jerez are veritable sanctuaries where homage is paid to the passage of time.

Within the Wine Cathedrals´ walls, not only will you discover some of the world´s finest wines, but also priceless works of art, treasured by the local wine-producing families over the centuries.

The Jerez Region´s bodegas are veritable sanctuaries where homage is paid to the passage of time. In the silence of its aisles, Sherry and Jerez Brandy age, thanks to carefully preserved methods of production. Traditional practises, handed down from one generation to the next, which make these wines and brandies unlike any other in the world.

One of the most well-known sherry's in the UK is Harveys Bristol Cream. The Harveys story began back in 1796 when the company was first founded in an old house on Bristol’s historic Denmark St as an importer of foreign wines. At the time Sherry was imported into Britain from Spain in oak casks by ship, and then blended in Bristol. From there, the sherry making expertise grew and grew to become a national icon of the drink itself. 

Harveys vineyards are situated in this very same picturesque region of Jerez where the local winegrowers cultivate a selection of grapes. The region has its own microclimate that contributes to the character and style of the sherry. All of Harveys sherries are aged for an absolute minimum of three years in American oak barrels, known as ‘botas’ around Jerez. 

The dynamic ageing process follows the solera and criaderas systems, exclusive to the Jerez Region, according to which the youngest wines contribute their vigour to the older ones, allowing for an extremely long ageing process. That is why the bodegas of Jerez contain some of the world´s oldest wines, many over 20-30 years. Considered true gems, they are carefully stored in darkness in the safest corners of the bodega, known as Sacristies.

Likewise, Jerez Brandy is given repose over the years in these same temples where, just like their Sherry counterparts, cover the long journey of criaderas, in casks of American oak which previously held Sherry wines.

Why not pay them a visit? Here are some suggestions...

 

http://www.williams-humbert.com

http://http://www.bodegasfundadorpedrodomecq.com

http://www.lustau.es

http://www.bodegastiopepe.com

http://www.maestrosierra.com



Like 1        Published at 19:23   Comments (1)


Spam post or Abuse? Please let us know




This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse you are agreeing to our use of cookies. More information here. x