Córdoba Road Trip by Sherri McEwen

Headed to Córdoba to see the Mezquita -- an enormous 8th century mosque that has a 16th century cathedral sitting in the middle of it. 

Had reserved a small compact manual car but the Hertz rep upsold me to a larger automatic with GPS, which turned out to be a blessing ... and later a curse.

Orange trees as far as you can see

Orange trees as far as you can see

IMG_0007.JPG
'Fencing' around an orange grove

'Fencing' around an orange grove

Nothing like a fence of cactus to keep orange thieves out! 

Nothing like a fence of cactus to keep orange thieves out! 

Cotton fields, ready for picking

Cotton fields, ready for picking

Bull rings in many towns though few hold bullfights anymore

Bull rings in many towns though few hold bullfights anymore

Medieval streets of Córdoba.  The GPS said to drive down this street - got to this point and the question of 'Why do the side mirrors turn in like big trucks?' was answered.  Mirrors turned in and inched through the street, having to stop every foot or so to check on the clearance which was almost impossible to do given I couldn't open the car door.  Profusely sweating hands (and armpits), white knuckles, terrified a car would come up behind me and honk for me to move faster than the snail's pace I was at, or worse, come towards and insist that I have to back up ... got to a convurgence of 3 streets where a tavern had half a dozen tables set out.  Great, now I had an audience of locals who appeared to pick this tavern for beer/coffee solely for its entertainment value of watching pathetic tourists such as myself attempt to navigate the ancient donkey cart streets.   No one spoke English to let me know if the hotel was close (hand waving and pointing in various directions depending on who looked at the piece of paper didn't reassure me I was headed in the right direction) and a cursory look down the street the GPS thought I should go in (damned Google street maps and the horse and rider they sent in here to map) and the street GOT NARROWER!    The locals got an entertainment bonus that day -- sat and watched as I attempted to turn around and almost got wedged between the walls.  Nope, not a soul got up to direct.  I imagine there are still some sitting around a beer retelling the tale of the 'Woman Who Took 1,001 Attempts to Turn Around'.   Back through the goat path I had already driven down, worse the second time as there was a scooter behind me who kept honking for me to go faster.  Finally out and then found a parkade outside of the old town and happily dragged luggage over rough cobblestones streets for 4 blocks to finally reach the hotel. 

Medieval streets of Córdoba.  The GPS said to drive down this street - got to this point and the question of 'Why do the side mirrors turn in like big trucks?' was answered.  Mirrors turned in and inched through the street, having to stop every foot or so to check on the clearance which was almost impossible to do given I couldn't open the car door.  Profusely sweating hands (and armpits), white knuckles, terrified a car would come up behind me and honk for me to move faster than the snail's pace I was at, or worse, come towards and insist that I have to back up ... got to a convurgence of 3 streets where a tavern had half a dozen tables set out.

Great, now I had an audience of locals who appeared to pick this tavern for beer/coffee solely for its entertainment value of watching pathetic tourists such as myself attempt to navigate the ancient donkey cart streets. 

No one spoke English to let me know if the hotel was close (hand waving and pointing in various directions depending on who looked at the piece of paper didn't reassure me I was headed in the right direction) and a cursory look down the street the GPS thought I should go in (damned Google street maps and the horse and rider they sent in here to map) and the street GOT NARROWER!  

The locals got an entertainment bonus that day -- sat and watched as I attempted to turn around and almost got wedged between the walls.  Nope, not a soul got up to direct.  I imagine there are still some sitting around a beer retelling the tale of the 'Woman Who Took 1,001 Attempts to Turn Around'. 

Back through the goat path I had already driven down, worse the second time as there was a scooter behind me who kept honking for me to go faster.

Finally out and then found a parkade outside of the old town and happily dragged luggage over rough cobblestones streets for 4 blocks to finally reach the hotel. 

Making candy

Making candy

Jamon (cured ham), Iberico ham being the most desired, made from black Iberian pigs that are fed only acorns or olives close to slaughtering time to give the ham a unique flavor.  Triangular cups hanging underneath would catch any drippings.

Jamon (cured ham), Iberico ham being the most desired, made from black Iberian pigs that are fed only acorns or olives close to slaughtering time to give the ham a unique flavor.  Triangular cups hanging underneath would catch any drippings.

Not a leg hold trap as I first thought and wondered at the gruesomeness of the display, was actually a device to hold the leg of pork for carving. 

Not a leg hold trap as I first thought and wondered at the gruesomeness of the display, was actually a device to hold the leg of pork for carving. 

IMG_0037.JPG
Potato omelette! 

Potato omelette! 

IMG_0014.JPG
Spanish version of crows

Spanish version of crows

Part of the courtyard of the Mezquita 

Part of the courtyard of the Mezquita 

Ceiling of the gateway entrance

Ceiling of the gateway entrance

IMG_0016.JPG
Part of the original mosque, the conquering Christians saw the incredible beauty of the mosque and built their cathedral in the middle of the mosque, rather than destroy it. 

Part of the original mosque, the conquering Christians saw the incredible beauty of the mosque and built their cathedral in the middle of the mosque, rather than destroy it. 

IMG_0021.JPG
IMG_0028.JPG
IMG_0030.JPG
The mihrab, like a mosque's version of a church's high altar. 

The mihrab, like a mosque's version of a church's high altar. 

Mezquita covers an area 600 x 400 feet - start of the cathedral at the back

Mezquita covers an area 600 x 400 feet - start of the cathedral at the back

IMG_0023.JPG
IMG_0026.JPG
IMG_0027.JPG
Wealthy people would pay to be buried inside a cathedral/church so they were closer to God. 

Wealthy people would pay to be buried inside a cathedral/church so they were closer to God. 

Pretty much every hilltop had a fortress with walled city - after a dozen in an afternoon, didn't feel like I needed to explore every single one.

Pretty much every hilltop had a fortress with walled city - after a dozen in an afternoon, didn't feel like I needed to explore every single one.

Wandered down a side road lined by old trees ... 

Wandered down a side road lined by old trees ... 

... led to the Monastery Santa Maria de las Escalonias -  formerly the villa of a marquis and now a monastery where you can stay and be fed homegrown meals.

... led to the Monastery Santa Maria de las Escalonias -  formerly the villa of a marquis and now a monastery where you can stay and be fed homegrown meals.

Gateway to one of the multitude of hilltop villages. 

Gateway to one of the multitude of hilltop villages. 

IMG_0049.JPG
IMG_0054.JPG
Hotel Oromana - grand old dame of a hotel built on a hilltop park in the 1920's. 

Hotel Oromana - grand old dame of a hotel built on a hilltop park in the 1920's. 

IMG_0063.JPG
hotel terrace overlooking the town. 

hotel terrace overlooking the town. 

Park forest around the hotel

Park forest around the hotel

Part of the aqueduct system below the hotel and still used today to bring water to the town.

Part of the aqueduct system below the hotel and still used today to bring water to the town.

Driveway to the hotel. 

Driveway to the hotel. 

What do you say when this is the village you are from?? 

What do you say when this is the village you are from?? 

The Atlantic Ocean! 

The Atlantic Ocean! 

IMG_0071.JPG
IMG_0072.JPG
Great end of the day, sipping cerveza and watching the futbol game (Barcelona Vs Manchester) at a tavern terrace 

Great end of the day, sipping cerveza and watching the futbol game (Barcelona Vs Manchester) at a tavern terrace 

Granada by Sherri McEwen

Off to Granada - 500 km in 3.5 hours by high speed train and bus .  

Rooftops of the Moorish District - the Albayzin - dating back prior to the Reconquista of 1492.  There are 20 churches in the distract, each one built on the site of a former mosque after the Reconquista/Inquisition.

Rooftops of the Moorish District - the Albayzin - dating back prior to the Reconquista of 1492.  There are 20 churches in the distract, each one built on the site of a former mosque after the Reconquista/Inquisition.

Stayed in a 200 year manor house, one of three rooms they rented out.

Stayed in a 200 year manor house, one of three rooms they rented out.

Original courtyard and fountain

Original courtyard and fountain

IMG_0004.JPG
Terrace of the house with the Moorish Alhambra fortress and palace in the background.  

Terrace of the house with the Moorish Alhambra fortress and palace in the background.  

Courtyard between buildings

Courtyard between buildings

Start of The Alcaiceria - was the Moorish silk market that was gated and had armed guards as silk was very valuable -- nowadays, a tourist souk/marketplace 

Start of The Alcaiceria - was the Moorish silk market that was gated and had armed guards as silk was very valuable -- nowadays, a tourist souk/marketplace 

IMG_0108.JPG
IMG_0110.JPG
IMG_0005.JPG
Headed up the hill to the Fortress and Palace - need to buy tickets weeks in advance to see all of the fort/palace

Headed up the hill to the Fortress and Palace - need to buy tickets weeks in advance to see all of the fort/palace

End of summer trickle of the Darro River, runs between the Moorish Quarter and the Alhambra

End of summer trickle of the Darro River, runs between the Moorish Quarter and the Alhambra

Along the hike up the hill

Along the hike up the hill

The Alcazaba, dates from the 13th century - tower used to defend the 2000 citizens that lived within its walls

The Alcazaba, dates from the 13th century - tower used to defend the 2000 citizens that lived within its walls

View of the Albayzin from the tower ... My room in about the middle of the picture  

View of the Albayzin from the tower ... My room in about the middle of the picture  

Snow capped Sierra Nevada mountains in the distance  

Snow capped Sierra Nevada mountains in the distance  

Cat practicing its siesta skills

Cat practicing its siesta skills

Hammam - Arab baths

Hammam - Arab baths

Skylights for the baths

Skylights for the baths

Charles V Palace -- left his mark by building a Renaissance palace for official functions but lived in the Moorish Palacios Nazaries.   This palace was a square on the outside and circle on the inside. 

Charles V Palace -- left his mark by building a Renaissance palace for official functions but lived in the Moorish Palacios Nazaries.   This palace was a square on the outside and circle on the inside. 

Charles V Palace to the right, the Palacios Nazaries behind me  

Charles V Palace to the right, the Palacios Nazaries behind me  

Courtyard of the Myrtles -- wooden screens on the upper levels allowed women to look out without being clearly seen by others

Courtyard of the Myrtles -- wooden screens on the upper levels allowed women to look out without being clearly seen by others

Molded plaster walls and stucco 'stalactites' 

Molded plaster walls and stucco 'stalactites' 

Grand Hall of the Ambassadors - where the sultan would have sat to meet with others  

Grand Hall of the Ambassadors - where the sultan would have sat to meet with others  

IMG_0043.JPG
IMG_0044.JPG
Original door  

Original door  

IMG_0048.JPG
Courtyard of the Lions - Moorish marble fountain from the 1300's that the conuerying Christians took apar to figure out how it worked -- was not functioning again until 2012.  There are 124 columns in the courtyard that have lead fittings to allow the building to 'flex' during earthquakes 

Courtyard of the Lions - Moorish marble fountain from the 1300's that the conuerying Christians took apar to figure out how it worked -- was not functioning again until 2012.  There are 124 columns in the courtyard that have lead fittings to allow the building to 'flex' during earthquakes 

Hall of the Abencerrajes - the sultan's 'living room' 

Hall of the Abencerrajes - the sultan's 'living room' 

IMG_0051.JPG
Hall of Two Sisters - Royal bedroom

Hall of Two Sisters - Royal bedroom

IMG_0057.JPG
Carved wooden ceilings made in pieces then assembled like a jigsaw puzzle

Carved wooden ceilings made in pieces then assembled like a jigsaw puzzle

Fountains provided humidity and coolness during hot summers

Fountains provided humidity and coolness during hot summers

Ceiling of the 16th century Christian add on to the original Moorish palace

Ceiling of the 16th century Christian add on to the original Moorish palace

IMG_0070.JPG
Reflecting pool built on top of the ruins of a palace.  There were 7 different palaces built in the Alhambra - parts of 3 are left today. 

Reflecting pool built on top of the ruins of a palace.  There were 7 different palaces built in the Alhambra - parts of 3 are left today. 

Tower along the way to the Generalife, 15 minute walk up the hill from the Alhambra, past the terraces for the sultan's vegetable and fruit gardens, to the sultan's small summer palace

Tower along the way to the Generalife, 15 minute walk up the hill from the Alhambra, past the terraces for the sultan's vegetable and fruit gardens, to the sultan's small summer palace

IMG_0080.JPG
water was brought in by aqueduct, dispersed through channels to fountains and pools, then through the fruit/vegetable gardens, then to the Alhambra and residents within its walls. 

water was brought in by aqueduct, dispersed through channels to fountains and pools, then through the fruit/vegetable gardens, then to the Alhambra and residents within its walls. 

current resident of the gardens

current resident of the gardens

view of the Alhambra from the summer palace

view of the Alhambra from the summer palace

IMG_0089.JPG
Summer palace - quiet and cool retreat for the sultan

Summer palace - quiet and cool retreat for the sultan

IMG_0094.JPG

Holy Toledo! by Sherri McEwen

Off to Toledo on a 30 minute train ride to explore the magnificent cathedral (one of Europe's best) and its medieval walled streets.

Interior of Madrid's Atocha train station - a tropical garden! 

Interior of Madrid's Atocha train station - a tropical garden! 

High speed train, runs up to 300 kilometers per hour! (Also has better seats than any airline) 

High speed train, runs up to 300 kilometers per hour! (Also has better seats than any airline) 

Met a San Francisco couple on the train.  The conversation wandered to politics (theirs) and their strategy, while traveling, that if asked of what they thought about the campaign, they would say they were Canadian and didn't know much about it!

Toledo train station - Moorish influences  

Toledo train station - Moorish influences  

Interior of the train station

Interior of the train station

Fortress across the river from Toledo

Fortress across the river from Toledo

The expression 'Holy Toledo' originated from the Jewish community that lived here along with Moors who were conquered by the Christians in 1085.  While Jews were persecuted elsewhere in Europe, they thrived in Toledo and Sephardic (Spanish) Jews who later immigrated to America, considered Toledo to be the holiest Jewish city in Europe, hence 'Holy Toledo'.

Toledo sits on a rocky hill, the Tajo River protects it on three sides, with a mind blowing cathedral in the middle.

Eastern side of the walled city

Eastern side of the walled city

One of the gates into the city

One of the gates into the city

image.jpg
image.jpg
Thought the references to Lord of the Rings in shop windows was odd until I found out Toledo was where all of the swords for the movie were made!

Thought the references to Lord of the Rings in shop windows was odd until I found out Toledo was where all of the swords for the movie were made!

image.jpg
image.jpg
image.jpg
image.jpg
Shop selling handmade fans

Shop selling handmade fans

Dulces - pronounced 'dool-thays' - are pastries, baked and sold by nuns at some convents.  You knock on the door and enter a small room where a handwritten list advises of what is available and pricing, you write out your order and place it and your money on a tray that revolves below a small screened window.  The nun on the other side (whom you cannot see) swings the tray inside, places your order and change on the tray and swings the tray back out to you.

Dulces - pronounced 'dool-thays' - are pastries, baked and sold by nuns at some convents.  You knock on the door and enter a small room where a handwritten list advises of what is available and pricing, you write out your order and place it and your money on a tray that revolves below a small screened window.  The nun on the other side (whom you cannot see) swings the tray inside, places your order and change on the tray and swings the tray back out to you.

image.jpg
image.jpg
Model of one of the gateways made out of marzipan! 

Model of one of the gateways made out of marzipan! 

One of many shops that when excavating the interior (by law, the old exteriors cannot be changed), Roman ruins dating back prior to 500 A.D., were exposed and see thru floors installed to view. 

One of many shops that when excavating the interior (by law, the old exteriors cannot be changed), Roman ruins dating back prior to 500 A.D., were exposed and see thru floors installed to view. 

Hoping something was lost in the translation ... 

Hoping something was lost in the translation ... 

image.jpg
Synagogue de Santa Maria la Blanca, built by Muslim craftsmen around 1200, then became a church in 1492 -- later used as horse stables by Napoleon's troops.

Synagogue de Santa Maria la Blanca, built by Muslim craftsmen around 1200, then became a church in 1492 -- later used as horse stables by Napoleon's troops.

image.jpg

The Cathedral - the exterior is so wedged within the surrounding buildings, it's hard to get a good view of.  Building started on the site of a former mosque in 1226 and took 250 years to complete -- and with many additions after that, as archbishops would want to leave their mark. Historical mix of architectural styles and an art collection better than many museums -- the interior was jaw dropping and had me constantly whispering .. pardon the pun .. Oh My God. 

image.jpg
image.jpg
image.jpg
One of many pipe organs

One of many pipe organs

image.jpg
The Chapter House where church business was conducted, with paintings of Toledo archbishops circling the room in two rows -- the top row dating back to the 1500's.  

The Chapter House where church business was conducted, with paintings of Toledo archbishops circling the room in two rows -- the top row dating back to the 1500's.  

Chapel of the New Kings who reigned before the 16th century

Chapel of the New Kings who reigned before the 16th century

The'Transparente', unique to the Cathedral, a 'skylight' was cut in the ceiling in the 1700's to allow sunlight for Mass.   Carved out of marble, it faces east to catch the morning sun.

The'Transparente', unique to the Cathedral, a 'skylight' was cut in the ceiling in the 1700's to allow sunlight for Mass.   Carved out of marble, it faces east to catch the morning sun.

Closer detail of the 'skylight' 

Closer detail of the 'skylight' 

The Sacristy, where priests prepared themselves for Mass, like a small art gallery with works by de Goya, Titian, Velazquez, Bellini, Caravaggio and 19 pieces by El Greco

The Sacristy, where priests prepared themselves for Mass, like a small art gallery with works by de Goya, Titian, Velazquez, Bellini, Caravaggio and 19 pieces by El Greco

El Greco's 1579 painting - The Spoliation. 

El Greco's 1579 painting - The Spoliation. 

The choir, all of the wooden seats carved with individual scenes

The choir, all of the wooden seats carved with individual scenes

image.jpg
Hallway leading to the Cloister

Hallway leading to the Cloister

San Blas Chapel with marble tombs of bishops

San Blas Chapel with marble tombs of bishops

Used to parade 'towers' through the streets during holy festivals  

Used to parade 'towers' through the streets during holy festivals  

The High Altar, gold on wood depicting scenes from the life of Christ. 

The High Altar, gold on wood depicting scenes from the life of Christ. 

image.jpg
One of the objects from the Treasury - 10 feet high and over 400 pounds of gold plated silver with diamonds, emeralds and rubies, the piece on top 35 pounds of solid gold, built in 1517.

One of the objects from the Treasury - 10 feet high and over 400 pounds of gold plated silver with diamonds, emeralds and rubies, the piece on top 35 pounds of solid gold, built in 1517.

image.jpg

Madrid by Sherri McEwen

The vibe in Madrid is unlike other European cities I've visited -- lively and energetic from arrival at Atocha (main train/bus hub) and getting on the right bus (wrong direction though) to the apartment rented in the old section of Madrid.   

When I had an uneasy feeling that perhaps I had been on the bus too long without reaching the plaza that was supposed to be 6 minutes away, I pulled out my notes on the address and asked a woman near me if I was headed in that direction.   

She didn't speak English, as no one else on the bus seemed to, but my notes were handed around and everyone had loud overlapping discussions then appeared to be in agreement that I was headed in the wrong direction and pushed me and my luggage out the door at the next exit with charades and Spanish directions to cross the street and get the same # bus but in the other direction.

Made it to the apartment, dropped the luggage and headed out to enjoy the sunset and the nightly paseo of the local Madrillenos.   

Just before sunset, the locals will stroll the streets with their families, greeting neighbors, some until after midnight!  Couldn't figure out how they could be such night owls until the next day when many shops and businesses closed for the afternoon siesta.

Sunset from the apartment balcony - Madrid skyline. 

Sunset from the apartment balcony - Madrid skyline. 

Bakery around the corner - baguette $.50 - and coffee on the balcony.

Bakery around the corner - baguette $.50 - and coffee on the balcony.

15 minute stroll to Almudena Cathedral -- massive at 110 yard long (same as a Canadian football field) and 80 yards high.

image.jpg
Bronze sculpted doors

Bronze sculpted doors

image.jpg
5,000 pipe organ - bright and colorful ceiling, unusual as it didn't have religious images. 

5,000 pipe organ - bright and colorful ceiling, unusual as it didn't have religious images. 

15th century altarpiece with tomb of Queen Maria de la Mercedes below - congregation receiving Sunday blessings.

15th century altarpiece with tomb of Queen Maria de la Mercedes below - congregation receiving Sunday blessings.

View of the Cathedral across the Palace courtyard 

View of the Cathedral across the Palace courtyard 

The Royal Palace built in the 18th century on the site of a previous Christian fortress which was built on the site of a 6th century Moorish castle -- presently used for formal state receptions, Royal weddings and ceremonial occasions.

The Palace has 2800 rooms, almost 15 million square feet, and it took me almost 3 hours to see 20 of them. 

image.jpg

Built mostly of local stone to avoid the risk of fire that destroyed the previous castle. 

image.jpg
Grand stairs of the Palace lobby

Grand stairs of the Palace lobby

Last area where photographs were allowed - ceiling frescoe of the Spanish King surrounded by female virtues

Last area where photographs were allowed - ceiling frescoe of the Spanish King surrounded by female virtues

The Palace was King Philip V's version of Versailles (he grew up in France), now considered Europe's third greatest palace, incredibly sumptuous, opulent and filled with priceless antiques, breathtaking and a display of Spanish Royal history.

View of the Palace from the Plaza de Oriente (named as it faces the east). 

View of the Palace from the Plaza de Oriente (named as it faces the east). 

Mercado de San Miguel

Built in 1916 on the site of a former market -- vendors selling produce, ham, seafood wine, beer, meals -- jammed with tourists and locals.

image.jpg
Jamon -- cured ham of various types with the hoof still attached. 

Jamon -- cured ham of various types with the hoof still attached. 

image.jpg
image.jpg
Squid sandwiches, popular in Madrid. 

Squid sandwiches, popular in Madrid. 

Scenes from the streets of Madrid ...

Beer glass musician! 

Beer glass musician! 

Street art

Street art

image.jpg
Painted on the entrance to a parking garage

Painted on the entrance to a parking garage

Plaza Mayor - main square dating from the 17th century and had been used as an open air theatre, for bullfights, and during the Inquisition when the balconies were filled by the wealthy and bleachers built for spectators while the 'guilty' were tried and heretics burned, criminals strangled.

Plaza Mayor - main square dating from the 17th century and had been used as an open air theatre, for bullfights, and during the Inquisition when the balconies were filled by the wealthy and bleachers built for spectators while the 'guilty' were tried and heretics burned, criminals strangled.

'Living statue' street performers

'Living statue' street performers

Live theatre .. live theaters every 4 or 5 blocks.

Live theatre .. live theaters every 4 or 5 blocks.

Moorish architecture  

Moorish architecture  

Sculpture at the Centro de Arte Reina Sofia - modern art museum

Sculpture at the Centro de Arte Reina Sofia - modern art museum

The visit was especially to see this historical large mural, "Guernica", by Picasso.   In 1937, a northern Basque Spanish town  - Guernica - was the site approved by the Spanish dictator, Franco, for Hitler's Air Force to test the world's first saturation bombing raid on civilians.  Picasso was in Paris when he received news of the bombing and immediately went to work sketching and painting what he imagined the destruction to be.  In a few weeks he put together the 286 square foot mural.  On the left a woman holds her dead baby with her head raised in anguish, the bull represents Spain - usually strong but looking powerless - a man fallen from his horse with arm severed and sword broken, the horse screams, a woman drags herself along with wounded leg, a woman looks from a window trying to understand what is going on, another woman looks up to the horror of the skies.      The exhibition of the painting brought world attention to Spain's fascist rule and the destruction of modern war technology - Picasso vowed not to return to Spain while Franco ruled but Franco outlived him.

The visit was especially to see this historical large mural, "Guernica", by Picasso. 

In 1937, a northern Basque Spanish town  - Guernica - was the site approved by the Spanish dictator, Franco, for Hitler's Air Force to test the world's first saturation bombing raid on civilians.  Picasso was in Paris when he received news of the bombing and immediately went to work sketching and painting what he imagined the destruction to be.  In a few weeks he put together the 286 square foot mural.

On the left a woman holds her dead baby with her head raised in anguish, the bull represents Spain - usually strong but looking powerless - a man fallen from his horse with arm severed and sword broken, the horse screams, a woman drags herself along with wounded leg, a woman looks from a window trying to understand what is going on, another woman looks up to the horror of the skies.    

The exhibition of the painting brought world attention to Spain's fascist rule and the destruction of modern war technology - Picasso vowed not to return to Spain while Franco ruled but Franco outlived him.

Fountain of Retiro Park - once the private 300 acre park of royalty

Fountain of Retiro Park - once the private 300 acre park of royalty

Look out for gum on the sidewalks????. 

Look out for gum on the sidewalks????. 

image.jpg

The Crystal Palace, built in 1887 to display exotic plants of the Phillipines, a replica Phillipines village was built outside -- the Phillipines were still a Spanish colony at the time.   Built in the shape of a cross and about 70 feet high inside, nowadays used for art exhibitions.

image.jpg
image.jpg
Talented buskers everywhere

Talented buskers everywhere

image.jpg
image.jpg
Monument to King Alfonso XII -- today you can rent rowboats or sit to catch the sunset. 

Monument to King Alfonso XII -- today you can rent rowboats or sit to catch the sunset. 

Palace Velazquez - named for the architect who designed it (who also designed the Crystal Palace)  built in 1884 for exhibitions.

Palace Velazquez - named for the architect who designed it (who also designed the Crystal Palace)  built in 1884 for exhibitions.

Gardens leading to 1600's Buen Retiro Palace

Gardens leading to 1600's Buen Retiro Palace

image.jpg

Madrid buildings ... 

image.jpg
image.jpg
1910 to 1950 buildings along the Gran Via.

1910 to 1950 buildings along the Gran Via.

image.jpg
Madrid City Hall .. 'Refugees Welcome' banner hanging on the front

Madrid City Hall .. 'Refugees Welcome' banner hanging on the front

Secondhand book stalls ... more than a half kilometer lining a pedestrian street. 

Secondhand book stalls ... more than a half kilometer lining a pedestrian street. 

Old sign ... 'Food for children'  

Old sign ... 'Food for children'  

Not keen on an afternoon paseo ... would rather have had an afternoon siesta. 

Not keen on an afternoon paseo ... would rather have had an afternoon siesta. 

image.jpg
image.jpg
image.jpg
image.jpg
Afternoon break with beer and tapas

Afternoon break with beer and tapas

image.jpg
Most streets have old ceramic signs with a picture, for the illiterate or, in my case, those that don't read Spanish well! - this was the street where those that needed bits of armor would shop.

Most streets have old ceramic signs with a picture, for the illiterate or, in my case, those that don't read Spanish well! - this was the street where those that needed bits of armor would shop.

Madrid's oldest door on oldest inhabited building - 1480

Madrid's oldest door on oldest inhabited building - 1480

National Archaelogical Museum

National Archaelogical Museum

Egyptian sarcophagus with cloth wrapped mummy inside

Egyptian sarcophagus with cloth wrapped mummy inside

Bartender at taverna preparing tapas ... free if you order a beer! 

Bartender at taverna preparing tapas ... free if you order a beer! 

image.jpg
12:30 a.m. and people still sitting out chatting over a glass of wine or beer

12:30 a.m. and people still sitting out chatting over a glass of wine or beer