Posts tagged ‘Andalucia’

Estepa

On our last day in Andalucia we visited the small, but pretty town of Estepa. We spent a very pleasant couple of hours walking around the quiet streets, killing time before we headed back to Osuna to prepare for the journey home:

I hope you’ve enjoyed my posts and images from Andalucia over the past couple of months………but that’s all folks……..and now time for something different I think!

© Mark Simms Photography (2013)

The Alhambra: Generalife

If the Nasrid Palaces are the Alhambra’s most popular attraction, then the Generalife is, in my opinion, the most beautiful. Built as a summer palace for the Emir‘s of Granada to escape the daily routine of court life, it is a calming oasis of pathways, courtyards, pools, fountains and gardens – a haven of peace and tranquility:

This is my last post on the Alhambra and I only have one more post planned from our trip to Spain in late September…….then I can move on to other subjects!

© Mark Simms Photography (2013)

The Alhambra: Nasrid Palaces

The magnificent Nasrid Palaces, named after the dynasty of Moorish rulers who built them between 1333 and 1391, are arguably the Alhambra’s most famous attraction:

There are in fact three palaces that make up the Nasrid complex – the Comares Palace, The Mexuar Palace and the Palace of the Lions. However you don’t really get a sense of their being three distinct palaces when you walk round them. They all run into one another and the whole complex is a confusion of courtyards, corridors, covered walkways, alcoves, pavilions, pools, gardens and rooms. Hence the reason, I suspect, why everyone just refers to them as the collective Nasrid Palaces.

The rambling nature of the complex though does add a certain air of mystery and excitement to the whole experience. With a little imagination it’s not hard to see that their very nature would have provided the perfect stage for palace intrigue, court gossip, secret trysts, treasonous plots and scandalous affairs…….OK, maybe I’m getting a little carried away, but I hope you can see where I’m coming from…;0). 

© Mark Simms Photography (2013)

The Alhambra: Palace of Charles V

Directly opposite the entrance of the Alcazaba, covered in my last post, stands the magnificent Palace of Charles V. Charles visited the Alhambra in 1526, after his wedding to Isabella of Portugal.

Without question it is a very impressive example of Spanish Renaissance architecture, but to my mind, when compared to the beautiful Nasrid Palaces (which will be the subject of my next post) it just looks a little austere and imposing……but then maybe that was the point.

© Mark Simms Photography (2013)

The Alhambra: Alcazaba

The 13th Century Alcazaba is one of the oldest parts of the Alhambra Palace complex. Defence and security were far more important considerations than luxury and comfort during the often brutal and warlike Middle Ages in Europe, hence the reason why the Alcazaba was built primarily as a military fortification. It is a particularly impressive example though, with its huge towers and domineering strategic position, which is saying something considering the number of superb examples of medieval castle building we have here in the UK.

© Mark Simms Photography (2013)

The Alhambra Palace

By way of introduction to the magnificent Alhambra Palace, I thought I would start with a few shots that were taken from a restaurant terrace across the valley in the old Arab quarter of Granada. Although these were taken at the end of the day (whilst enjoying a meal with a few glasses of Rioja and watching the sunset) it makes sense to start with these as it gives you a good idea of what the whole palace complex looks like in context with the landscape.

For me the Alhambra was the main reason why I wanted to visit Andalucia……it’s been on my bucket list for years, so I’m pleased to have finally ticked this one off. It definitely didn’t disappoint:

I’d hoped to have finished sharing my images of Andalucia by now, but life (work, decorating, birthday celebrations etc) have been getting in the way. Not that I’m complaining you understand, just explaining why I’ve been so damn slow! Anyway I still have 4 or 5 more posts from Spain planned…..which I hope to get done over the next couple of weeks.

I have to admit that part of the reason for my slow rate of posting of late is that I have been pre-occupied with my move from DSLR to Mirrorless – researching, selling, more researching and, finally, making a decision to purchase the Olympus OMD EM1 with 12-40mm F2.8 lens. My new camera only arrived yesterday and so I haven’t really had time to play with it yet – however first impressions are very positive. It’s beautifully built, but a lot lighter and more compact than my Canon 7d – which was what prompted the move in the first place. My intention is to write a post about my decision to move away from my DSLR and my thought processes in choosing the EM1…..it might help if any of you are thinking about doing something similar.

© Mark Simms Photography (2013)

Moorish Bath Houses

To bridge the gap between my previous posts on Ronda (starting here) and my forthcoming posts from the Alhambra Palace in Granada, here are a few images of the fascinating Moorish bath houses from both places. The first three are from Ronda and the second three are from the Alhambra:

I love exploring places like this – it really gives you an insight into the lives of ordinary men and women from a different culture and from a different time……real social history!

© Mark Simms Photography (2013)

Puente Nuevo

Arguably Ronda‘s most famous site is the mighty Puente Nuevo, or New Bridge, which spans the 120m deep fissure of the El Tajo gorge that separates the old and new towns. The span itself isn’t that wide, but it’s the fact that the bridge structure rises all the way up from the bottom of the gorge that makes this a truly remarkable piece of late 18th Century civil engineering.

The most impressive shots I’ve seen of this bridge are taken from the bottom of the gorge, from where you really get a sense of the towering nature of the structure. However we didn’t really have time to do that on this visit, we were only there for the day and we wanted to see the rest of Ronda.

I’ve been a little pre-occupied of late researching new cameras, hence the reason why it’s been a few days since my last post. I’ve decided to make the move to a mirrorless compact system camera and as such I’ve taken the plunge and sold all my Canon DSLR gear. When I’ve finally made a decision on which MCSC to go with, I’ll probably do a post giving my reasons for the switch. 

© Mark Simms Photography (2013)

Plaza de Toros

Ronda‘s bullring is over 200 years old and is one of the oldest in Spain. The fighting area is 66m in diameter and is apparently the largest in the world, although the stadium itself only holds 5,000 spectators which isn’t actually that big.

It’s a very pretty bullring, not that I’ve been to any others so have nothing to compare it against, but the soft sandstone colours and the ring of arches and pillars are particularly attractive. It’s also a fascinating place to wander around, especially some of the “behind the scenes” areas and the very interesting bullfighting museum.

Of course this is all tempered somewhat by the fact that its main purpose is to host a blood sport for the “entertainment” of others. That isn’t to say that I wouldn’t watch a bullfight (if you excuse the double negative) as I do feel that you should experience these things for yourself before passing judgement. However, I’m fairly sure that it would take a lot to convince me otherwise that this wasn’t a cruel and totally unnecessary activity in this day and age.

© Mark Simms Photography (2013)

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