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The Golden Andalusian Triangle
The Golden Andalusian TriangleBy car, 420 km, 6 days
Cordoba, Seville and Granada inevitably conjure up images of whitewashed alleys, picturesque flower-filled patios, romantic plots, but also the soft murmur of garden fountains, the fragrance of orange blossom... Three cities where memories of Al-Andalus remain intact.Customise this route and add it to My travel book
This is the history of a fascinating era told to us by the architecture of this unique monument. The mosque was built from 780, on the site of the Visigothic church of St-Vincent, and successively extended by the addition of new naves until 987 when it had its current dimensions. After the reconquest, the Christians built a Gothic cathedral in the heart of these delicate spaces. The mosque is without doubt a masterpiece of Muslim art. First you will see the Orange Tree Courtyards with its fountains of the era and others in the Mudejar style and the Al-Mansour reservoir from the 10C. Inside, you will dive into a forest of columns and arches where shadow et light play. You will visit in particular the extension by Al-Hakam II. Admire the pure wonder that is the mihrab, the superb dome which comes before the three domes of the «maksourah». As for the Christian constructions, having visited the Royal Chapel of Alfonso X, admire the two pulpits by Michel de Verdiguier in the cathedral, the spectacular coro, and the superb Baroque choir stalls by Pedro Duque Cornejo. Not forgetting a monumental altar curtain of the 16C by Enrique Arfe and a splendid Baroque Christ in marble in the Cardinal's chapel. Outside, notice the minaret by Abd-er-Rahman III which was surrounded by a Baroque tower towards the end of the 16C, the attractive Pardoners gate and, in the north wall the station that contains the Virgin with lanterns, which is a copy of a work by Julio Romero de Torres.
White alleys, doors opening onto floral patios, ornamental grills and typical bars, from which comes a sound accompanied by guitars and handclapping, it is impossible to resist the charm of the Jewish district. The Jews arrived in Cordoba before the Arabs and very quickly occupied an important place in business and the teaching of science. They greeted the Muslims sympathetically and grouped together in this district made up of a multitude of small streets concentrated around the Almodóvar gate, before undertaking the construction of a superb synagogue in the Judíos street. When Ferdinand III completed the reconquest of the town (1236), the Jews maintained the influence that they had gained through their academies. But little by little they were the target of racial persecution (in the middle of the 13C) and they were taxed under the guise of maintaining the Catholic church. Thereafter they were accused of all sorts of crimes until in 1492 Isabel the Catholic ordered their expulsion from Spain.
This palace was successively extended between the 14C and the 19C, which gives you an idea of the changes in civil architecture in Cordoba in this period You will be at the heart of a unique and surprising group of buildings on an area of about 6,500 m2! On Don Gome square, the way in to the palace is through a large doorway in a corner made up of two registries: one bears a lintel decorated with a broken frontispiece and a balcony flanked by two warriors bearing the arms of Argote and Figueroa. The arms of Saaverda crown the balcony. Inside, notice the attractive 16C main staircase in the Renaissance style, the magnificent Mudejar craft worked ceiling from the same period and the furniture in perfect keeping with it all.. Notice also the craft worked ceilings in the private family dining room (Renaissance, 16C) in the main living room (Mudejar era) as well as in the personal office of the Marquis. Cordoba owes its reputation to its patios... in this palace there are twelve marvellous patios perfectly illustrating this tradition. Here they are all different but, like a garden, they give an impression of irresistible charm and grace. As for the collections, the ground floor has porcelains from various sources (17C-20C.) and some harquebusiers and on the upper floor, you will particularly admire 236 tiled pieces (13C-19C), the most wonderful series of embossed Cordovan leathers (15C-19C) and some tapestries, some of which were made in the style of Goya cartoons Not forgetting the library which brings together more than 7 000 volumes (16C-19C)!
«Let us build a church so big that those who see it will think us mad», that is what the cathedral chapter decided in 1401 when the mosque had to be knocked down. It is one of the last Spanish Gothic cathedrals, and the Renaissance style is already evident there. Its impressive size makes it the third largest in the Christian world. The exterior shows off particularly well the artistry of the unknown architect in playing with volumes and spaces. You enter by the Pardoner's door, formerly the majestic entrance of the old mosque and you will see another vestige: the peaceful Orange tree courtyard. Inside you will be struck by the size and richness of this universe of stone, stained glass windows and wrought iron work. The lightness of the columns accentuates the height of this hall-church with five spaces and lateral chapels. The simple crossing ogive vaults cover the nave except for the transept crossing where the flamboyant vaults stand 56 m tall. A mirror in the floor lets you appreciate the superb carving. The capilla Mayor, of an unparalleled richness, is closed off by splendid 16C plateresque grills. Its immense Flemish retable gleaming with gold (1482-1525) is the largest in Spain (20 m high). The great sacristy, an attractive 16C room in the form of a Greek cross, houses the superb Renaissance Monstrance by Juan de Arfe. In the plateresque style, the capilla Real impresses by its size. Many other chapels and the treasure house allow you to admire some wonderful works by such as Murillo, Valdés, Leal and Zurbarán.
Emblem of Seville; the Giralda is an elegant and tall silhouette for the visitor. Built in the 12C, the minaret (96 m) of the old mosque was crowned with three golden orbs which disappeared in the14C during an earthquake. In the 16C the Cordovan architect Hernán Ruiz gave it its current appearance of a belfry by adding the bell chamber and four upper rooms and by adding the balconies. The whole thing is now topped by a statue symbolising faith and acting as a weathervane hence the name of the tower and the nickname of Giraldillo for the statue. A masterpiece of Almohad art, its subtle, delicate decoration exemplifies perfectly the principles of the Almohad religious movement. It is rigorous, austere and against all forms of luxury. This was the origin of an artistic trend linking beauty and simplicity. The Koutoubia tower in Marrakesh, built just before, served as the model for it. Each one of its four sides is divided into three vertical sections decorated in sebka brick (the repetition of multileaved arcs forming a network of lozenges). You can climb up to bell chamber (70 m) up a thirty-four-flight staircase. Take your time and benefit from the views over the courtyard of orange trees and over the gargoyles and the pinnacles of the cathedral and over the Alcázar. Once up there, you will not regret the effort as the panoramic view over the town is superb.
This attractive palatial ensemble is characterised by its architectural diversity. Begun in the 10C, it was completed and modified over the centuries. Of the Almohad Alcázar (12C), only the Plaster patio and the fortified arches separating the Hunting patio from the Lion's patio remain. In the 13C Alfonso X the Wise had this Gothic palace built, now the the rooms of Charles V, in which you will admire especially portion of the superb collection of tapestries made in the Royal tapestry factory in Madrid (18C). A masterpiece of Mudejar art, the main hub of the palatial group of building, the palace of Peter the Cruel, was built from 1362 by Peter I, who called upon Grenadine craftsman to create splendid decoration like that of the Alhambra. There you will find subtle decoration on the Ladies' patio, on the ceiling of the Charles V room, in the bedroom of the Moorish Kings and on the ceiling of Philip II's room. But the most spectacular part of the Alcázar is the Ambassadors' room, crowned by an impressive hemispherical 15C cedar dome. It leads you onto the dolls' patio, where the arches reflect the Grenadine influence. If the splendid retable of the Virgin of the Navigators by Alejo Fernández 16C housed in the Admiral's appartment, completes your look at the marvels of the Alcázar, don't forget the marvellous gardens. Designed over various eras, these gardens of Eden, where water has an important role, stretch over 4/5 of the total area.
Here you are in the heart of Seville. It is impossible to resist the charm of this district with its winding alleys, its picturesque lime-washed houses, its delicate hardly visible flowery patios and its small squares As the Jewish district in the Middle Ages, it benefited from the protection of the Crown after the reconquest but at the end of the 14C it was taken over by the Christians who changed all the synagogues into churches. A walk in this district, the heart of Seville and you will get the impression of travelling back in time..... Start off through the Judería arch (a covered passage communicating with the courtyard of the Pavilions), and follow the callejón del Agua, along the walls. Or alternatively, coming out of the same courtyard on to the Triunfo square, immediately take the right turn into Romero Morube street ; perhaps a little theatrical but pleasant nevertheless. You will go alongside the Alcázar as far as the Alianza square, which you cross to continue along the callejón de Rodrigo Caro, which narrows little by little into a winding street and comes out into the Doña Elvira square, one of the most typical squares in the district with its tiled benches and its little stone fountain under orange trees. Then, along Gloria street, go into the dainty los Venerables square where you will find the eponymous hospital. By day and by night you will be unable to let go of this miracle of harmony...
The «Calat al-Hamra», which means «red castle», is universally considered as one of most attractively preserved Arab palaces. The Alhambra was built on the highest hill in the town, the Sabika as it was known in the Middle Ages. The poet Ibn Zamrak (1333-1393) recalls this in these words: «the Sabika is a crown which decorates the face of Granada... and the Alhambra (God preserve it) is the ruby that adorns it». Fascinating architecture in perfect symbiosis with gardens and water features, sumptuous decor, a refinement pushed to the limit.. Words cannot do justice to this paradise of gardens and palaces created by the Nasrid Emirs, as a support for their declining power. As you cross the first wall through the Granada gate built by Machuca under Charles V you wil be in the shady glades and the wonderful journey will begin... You will find something that was at the same time a fortress and a Royal city, a masterpiece which has resisted all the mishaps of history. From the Nasrid palaces, the palace of Charles V, the Generalife, The Wine gate, the Justice gate, the Alcazaba, the towers and the gardens of the Alhambra, don't miss any aroma, any colour or any detail of the turbulent history of this beautiful monument which is without equal You will share some moments that will stay in your memory..
This district, which is quite typical of the town, bears the name of the hill on which it is situated and is a preferred viewpoint over the Alhambra. There the first Arab fortress in Granada was built. Today only the walls remain. Narrow streets interspersed with small pretty squares climb the hill lined with wealthy villas the carmens. Make this visit on foot to grasp all the charm of this Arab origin district.
The Catholic Monarchs had it built (1506-1521) in order to be buried in the town that was the origin of all their glory. A masterpiece of Isabeline Gothic both for the unity of style as well as the richness of its ornamentation, which is by Enrique Egas. Outside, notice the attractive pinnacles and the elegant crenellations which delineate the various levels. The lower crest is decorated with the letters Y and F, initials of the Catholic Monarchs. The Lonja is an elegant 16C plateresque monument in a rectangular plan on storeys. Heraldic elements decorate the inside consisting of a single nave unique and lateral chapels. There is a spectacular grill of Bartholomew of Jaén which closes in the transept and in which is the twin mausoleum of the Catholic Monarchs and of their daughter Juana the Mad and her husband Philip the Handsome The first, in Carrara marble, was created at Gênes in 1517 by the Tuscan Domenico Fancelli. In the shape of a pyramid, it is decorated with reliefs of the apostles and medallions. The second mausoleum is the work of Bartolomé Ordóñez (1519). Around the magnificent plateresque retable of the main altar (1520-1522), Felipe Vigarny has given the people an unbelievable energy and great expressiveness. The museum has exceptionally valuable historical objects : the crown and sceptre of Isabel the Catholic and the sword of Ferdinand of Aragon. You can also admire an extraordinary collection of works by Spanish, Flemish and Italian masters as well as the triptych of the Passion by Thierry Bouts.