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The Colours of Spain - Andalusia in Springtime

Spain has an intensity of light and color that we've experienced in few other places. There's a vividness to the scenes that seems to burn into one's consciousness and never quite diminish. Months after our springtime visit to Andalusia, the warmth of Spain and its people remains with us. We visited many hilltowns but it was Iznajar that called out most strongly to us at first. The beautiful Patio de las Comedias, above, was at the very top of the town just around the corner from where we stayed. If you walked just down the steps at the back right of this photo, you were greeted with an incredible view down over the embalsee (dam) of Iznajar that encompassed all the beauty of the Andalusian countryside.

The pretty Plaza Nueva, at the top of town, has a little fountain and a view of the church and the lower ruins of the castle that crown the hilltop of Iznajar.

The castle evokes all the moods and spirits of the past...

The town cemetery is up here too and some of the older townspeople climb up the steep hill each night to visit and share the view out over the olive tree covered hillsides.

Nighttime in Iznajar is magical as the lights come on down below in the village...

Priego de Cordoba is not far away. It's one of Idyll's hometowns and one of the prettiest and friendliest you could find anywhere in this area of the Subbetica. No matter how often you get lost, there's a friendly local who will take all the time you need to help you find your way. Our favorite area of Priego was the Barrio de la Villa, a maze of winding streets filled with impeccably white-washed houses, potted plants, and little squares. Many of the narrow streets have icons tucked away in little nooks among the flowers and fancy grillwork and lovely doorways.

The narrow little streets seem to go on forever...and so do all those hanging flower pots!

Make sure to look up too...the rooftops are wonderful as well.

Cordoba is within an hour's drive as well and has amazing sights. Its Mezquita is well worth a visit and its Patio de los Naranjos, just outside the entrance, is beautiful. The16th century belltower here replaced the original minaret and continued the changes the Spanish clerics made to the mosque itself, changing it from a structure open to the courtyards and streets on each side with all its wonderful light into the dark wall-enclosed mixture of mosque and cathedral it is today.

The outside walls of the Mezquita contain all the memories of another time and place...

Browsing the little shops just outside the Mezquita walls, in the Juderia, one finds fascinating little shops like this one with all its colorful Spanish fans and hats...

The streets of Cordoba resound to the sounds of horses' hoofs as carriages slowly make their way past all the wonderful sights.

Here one of the carriages is passing the Alcazar walls...

Granada calls us next with its enticing promise of a visit to the Alhambra and all its treasures. No matter how often one sees pictures of it, being there is an unforgettable experience. The Patio de los Arrayanes invites one to linger and enjoy its beauty...

Walking through the Alhambra is a walk like no other; its treasures go on and on...

The interior courtyard gardens are mystical and haunting....and somewhat surreal at times as in this somewhat embellished rendering of one of my photos.

Walk around a bit outside the Alhambra too and view Granada through an archway...

If you'd like to find a quiet part of Granada, take a stroll down the delightful Carrera del Darro. Walk to the far end and find a large outdoor cafe that seems to attract mostly the locals and the little children of Granada.

If you want a view out over Granada and the Sierra Nevada mountains, take a walk or a taxi up to the Mirador de San Nicolas. The views are amazing...those are mountains, not clouds!

There's a beautiful church up here which could blind you with its brilliance against the deep blue sky that seems to be everywhere in Analucia in May...

After all the towns and cities, we wanted to see the Costa del Sol. We'd heard wonderful things about Nerja...and it is amazingly beautiful. Its filled with rocky cliffs and cascading flowers...

...and stunning views through the arches out over the Mediterranean Sea with the Sierra Nevadas beyond.

There's a beautiful palm lined promenade that ends with views in all directions...

We followed our stay in the Subbetica area with three nights in Seville. It's a walker's dream city. We stayed at the Hotel Dona Manuela with a balcony overlooking the Murillo Gardens with Barrio Santa Cruz as our backyard.

Barrio Santa Cruz is Seville at its most romantic. Its maze of narrow streets encompasses tapas bars, cafes, picturesque alleys, little courtyards, hidden away plazas, and flower decked patios. It is impossible not to fall in love with it. We were even lucky enough to be at one of its churches, the Basilica de la Macarena, where a throng of people had gathered to watch the moving of the beautiful statue, La Macarena, through the streets of Santa Cruz. We found out later that it is the most loved statue of the Virgin in all of Seville.

A walk through the lovely Murillo Gardens led us to the Seville Cathedral and La Giralda, the Moorish bell tower that is the symbol of Seville. The Cathedral is the biggest Gothic cathedral in the world; it takes hours to do it justice.

The Giralda is well worth climbing...and is actually a walk rather than steps.

The view from the top of the Giralda shows the elegance and beauty that is Seville...

Seville's Alcazar is a worthy competitor to Granada's Alhambra. The beauty greets you as soon as you approach its entrance.

Its gardens are magnificent and one might almost spend as much time outside as inside.

Seville's Hotel Alfonzo XIII seems omnipresent whenever walking through the heart of the city so one day we decided to go in and see how grand it really is. Pretty amazing...

A little south of the city center and through the beautiful Maria Luisa Park, lies the Plaza de Espana. In the lusty days of the 1920's, the people of Seville put up a building even bigger than the legendary Tobacco Factory to call attention to the Iberoamericano Exhibition of 1929.

It is very impressive with its immense colonnades and fancy bridges...

The Sevillianos still love it and gravitate here on weekends to enjoy what they have created.

After Seville, we headed towards Ronda and the country to enjoy Spain's mountains and some of the hiking we enjoy so much. We stayed at the beautiful Cortijo de las Piletas - just a few minutes drive from Ronda.

It was very rural and very beautiful. We found beautiful mountain drives and wildflowers were in bloom everywhere we looked - especially the poppies.

We drove up twisty narrow roads and enjoyed the views when I wasn't contemplating the sheer dropoffs on their edges. Stopping the car definitely enabled better views!!

We found the pretty little town of Grazalema which is the rainiest spot in all of Andalusia, but the sun was shining when we arrived.

Just a bit up the road from Grazalema was the start of a beautiful hike we'd been told about by the owners of the cortijo. We practically had it to ourselves except for the goats...

We loved being so close to Ronda with its beautiful and oft photographed bridge...

and the beauty of the gorge and the buildings that encompass it...

We even did a day trip to visit the very British Rock of Gibralter...

where we saw many of the Barbary Apes cavorting on the walls above the Strait of Gibralter...

We spent our last day in Spain exploring some of the pretty little white villages near Ronda that this area is known for...

and found the castle on the hill in each of them...this one in Zahara.

Mostly, we just relaxed these last days in Spain and soaked in all its beautiful color...

Andalusia leaves an indelible imprint.

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Comment by Powen Shiah on November 13, 2007 at 11:36am
The title of your post is really apt -- the colors in many of your photos are stunning. It's hard to image a sky so blue or leaves so green.
Comment by Bob Young on November 17, 2007 at 1:12pm
Stunning pictures, Doris, which you have woven very effectively with commentary. Terrific! Last year on a "tour-tour" of Portugal and Spain, Sally and I were in Ronda, staying in a hotel on the lip of the gorge ---- we'd like to return to this area, and the Andalusian UNTOUR sounds like a great way to drop anchor and explore. /// Incidentally, there's a wonderful one week tour --- we were the only Americans among the eight people on a small, nice Mercedes bus --- offered by "Portugal Online," whioh I found by Googling Portuguese tours. This is a Lisbon-based tour operator, and they do a very good job, making a large circuit throughout Portugal, beginning and ending in Lisbon. If you're interested e-mail me and I'll send you the link to their website. Bom Dia!
Comment by John DeVogt on November 18, 2007 at 1:09pm
Great post. My wife and I were in Andlusia a few years back, but didn't have the time to explore the are. We just might have to go back.
Comment by Doris M on November 18, 2007 at 4:46pm
Thanks for the comments, Powen, Bob and John. The southern part of Spain is pretty special and, even better, it's one of the most affordable countries in Europe. Dinners out are very reasonable and wine is even more reasonable. It's fun to stop at outdoor cafes even in the heart of Granada or Seville and have a $3.00 glass of the local wine - and the glasses are large!!
Comment by Everett W. Arnold on January 28, 2008 at 11:29pm
Great pictures. We visited that area many years ago. We stayed at the Andelusia Plaza in Marbella. I have a slide show on that also.
Comment by Liss Poulson Small on December 29, 2008 at 7:11pm
Gorgeous post, Doris - it is wonderful to see your stunning photos and evocative musings on some of our favorite haunts! You really do an excellent job of relating how special Andalusia is. Thank you for sharing your story!
Comment by Doris M on December 30, 2008 at 9:54am
It was so good hearing from you again, Liss. Thanks for getting me back to view this blog again; it is a beautiful part of the world and I remember loving the pictures you and Gabe took of Andalusia too. Happy Holidays to both of you....
Comment by Liss Poulson Small on December 30, 2008 at 12:28pm
Thank you! We enjoyed a lot of down-time and reminiscing over the holidays, and it has me back here, to finish my "tales of Andalusia". Thanks for your well-wishes, and all the Best to you, too!

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