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Thursday, May 29, 2014

Basilica De La Sagrada Familia, Barcelona Spain


 Hubby and I in Barcelona, Spain sitting in the park in front of the famous Basilicia De La Sagrada Familia.  La Sagrada Familia translates into "The Holy Family".  The gorgeous church/cathedral was consecrated on November 7th, 2010 by Pope Benedict XVI and declared a minor Basilica.

In 1882 this phenomenal project was begun by architect  Francisco de Paula del Villar.  He was replaced just 1 and half years later by Antoni Gaudi'.  Gaudi' worked on, rather dedicated his life from that point forward, until his death in 1926 to his "client, God".  At the time of his death in 1926, when he was hit by a tram, it was only 1/4 completed.

There have been slow and slower periods in it's completion.  Though work has always continued following Gaudi's plans and designs there many obstacles in the way.  The church has been totally funded by donations, which weren't always in abundance.
 There were very slow periods due to lack of understanding of Gaudi's theroy's.  He believe all art should mimic nature and be without straight lines and right angles.  There was sabotage during The Spanish Civil War, which broke out in 1936.  Revolutionists set fire to the crypt and burned the temporary schools, destroyed the workshops, plans, drawings, and some of the models used to carry on Gaudi's work.
 After The Civil War ended in 1939, areas destroyed were restored and work continued.  Click to enlarge and notice the different shapes, sizes, and colors of columns.  They are to resemble trees and a canopy above letting sunlight in. Again, the importance of nature.  The crucifix hangs as if suspended above all, lifting towards heaven.
 In the years since Gaudi's death there have many architects and sculptors involved with the continuation of the work.  This has caused some speculation and controversy that they maybe following their designs and not Gaudi's.  Experts are divided on that point.
 There have been controversy's regarding a proposed high speed rail from Barcelona to France, and or Barcelona to Madrid.  I list both, as I found articles regarding both.  The high speed underground rail could interfere with the stability of the Basilica due to it's proximity stated as one concern.
 Gaudi' was a very devote man, once going 40 days without food during lent.  He is buried here at The Basilica, where he devoted so much of his life.  Though difficult to see, if you look towards the middle of the picture where the candles are on the floor; that is his grave.
 A plaque showing a close up of his final resting place.  He has such a following, there is movement to have him made a Saint.
The story of Christ's life is depicted in very detail sculptures around the outside of facility.  Front and center is The Nativity, the story of his birth.  Gaudi' was so passionate about his work, it is said he once had a donkey hoisted on a crane up beside the area being worked on, so the sculpture could truly be accurate.  Another story indicates he visited the hospital and watched deaths, not to be morbid; but to capture when the soul left this earth and met The Holy Family.  He used passions such as these to create.  This is one of the examples why some feel his work cannot truly be carried forward; others are interpreting his passion.   This lush Nativity Facade

is in stark contrast to newest, very modern, Star Wars/comic and grim Passion Facade.  This cause perhaps the biggest controversy of all.  Thinking of pictures, sculptures you've seen throughout your life of Jesus on the Cross, has he not always been covered?  And yet, The Bible tells us he was stripped of his garments.  Some felt this vulgar and disrespectful.  If you scroll back to The Crucifix inside the Basilica, you'll note while Jesus is in-fact uncovered, Gaudi' had his knee's bent.  It's believed that was his way to show his respect.  This Passion Facade was completed by Josep Maria Subiraehs.

I've read "Art" at it's core should cause people to talk.  With that in mind, perhaps the controversy isn't a negative component.

"A church is the only thing worthy of representing the feelings of a people, for religion is the highest thing in people", Antoni Gaudi'

The grounds are open without charge, while entrance tickets are needed.  Many people pass by the opportunity due to the lines, and or the cost.  I encourage you to take the time, spend the money and do tour both the grounds and the inside.  We went yet a step further and had a private guide, Patrick Ducher; whom I highly recommend.  He got us to the front of the lines, knew how to get in and out of the traffic of people.  His driver dropped us in front and collected us when Patrick called to say we were departing.  Driving there, or trying to park truly isn't possible.  Don't short change yourself.  It is breathtaking, both spiritually  and architecturally. (I've linked to awesome reviews of this tour service, and the webpage).

Tickets were 12.50 Euro's a piece when we were there.  Around $18.00 US and worth every penny!  2 Million people visit annually, these funds along with donations keep this marvelous project going.  Currently, the projected completion date is 2026.

Blogging a-z in May, my focus is Spain Click the drop down box to leave your name and url of your blog post, not profile page.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Ronda Spain

 Ronda Spain is beautiful, quaint, and quite interesting.  There are remains of prehistoric settlements dating back to the nelolithic age.  You can see how steep this area is.  We're down in the river valley, looking up at the bridges and the town.
 The Celts called it Arunda ack in the 6th century BC.  Later The Phoenicians established near by and called it Ronda la Vieja, Arunda or Old Ronda.  Current Ronda has Roman origins, as it was a fortified post during 2nd Punic War, and by the time of Julius Caesar was named Ronda.
 Notice the wall completely around the village.  They had to keep people from falling.  The arch you see in the first two pictures with the bridge is located to the right in this picture.  Click if you need to enlarge it to see the details, and the depth of this gorge.
 Another view showing you how mountainous and picturesque the area is.  The large building is a hotel.  The village/town of Ronda was also called Hisn Ar-Rundah (Castle of Rundah) when it was Arab controlled.  At one time it was the Capital of a small Kingdom ruled by a Berber.  Islamic domination in the are ended in 1485 through out Spain.  After the conquests Jews and Muslims were forced to leave or to convert to Christianity.  Many converted publically, but continued to practice their religion in secret.   Many were persecuted and fled to the mountains here in Ronda.  Muslims who converted were forced to wear a blue star on their head dressings so they could be identified.
 Again the view looking up, myself, hubby, and Dear Friend Jane.
 In 1566 Philip, II decreed that the use of Arabic language was illegal, be it written or spoken.  Doors were to be open on Fridays so Friday Muslims Prayers couldn't take place.  There was an uprising and the Christians were overtaken.  Philip II declared those in Ronda should be killed and those who weren't were sold as slaves.  In the 9th century there was The Napoleonic Invasion and later The Peninsula Wars.  Given the land scape it's easy to see how it became an area for guerrilla warriors and bandits.
Hemingway and Orson Wells wrote about this period in Ronda's history.  Hemingway's "For Whom The Bell Tolls" depicted people being thrown off the cliff, which is believed to have been from Ronda's history.  The area was famous for it's bull fighting, and still has the oldest bull fighting ring in Spain.  Though it's a museum and not a ring any longer.

We walked the main street which is quite quaint with little shops and cafe's and enjoyed a glass of Spanish Wine catching our breath, as we waited for our tour guide to pick us up.

Do put Ronda on your list of places to visit.  We stopped here briefly on our return from a day visit to Seville.  I

Blogging a-z in May, my focus is Spain Click the drop down box to leave your name and url of your blog post, not profile page.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Spanish Paella

 Our first Paella, a must in the food department when traveling in Spain.  Many restaurants will only cook the dish for multiple people.  Such was the case in Old Town Malaga, where we toured after picking up our friend, Jane at the airport.  It's cook in a special Paella pan that looks like a cast iron skillet with 2 handles and seems to be a dish you do not order if you're pressed for time.  We noticed on several menu's it would indicated it might take 30 minutes once ordered.
 The first time we ordered it, we all 3 shared it and had too much food with the fact that we also order shared kabobs.  According to Wiki, Paella is a main dish of the mid 19th century from a lagoon in Valencia, Albufera (on the East coast of Spain).  It's an Valencia Rice Dish, a Catalan Dish. It can be fish, rabbit, duck or vegetables.  We ordered it twice in our travels, and saw it served many other times.  We noticed some difrferences.  Our first go round was difficult to eat, because all the seafood was still in it's shells.  You can see how wet, soupy the meal is.  Trying to hold onto a Lobster tail, snail, prawn etc to get the meat out was very difficult.  I ended up wearing some on my scarf and I believe Jane did as well.  I neglected to get the name of where we dined on that first day with Jane, as we were all pretty jacked up and talking a mile a minute.
The 2nd time it was order, was less oily, less soupy and the sea food was nicely already removed from the shells.  This was also made as a one person meal...though was too large for one person.  Jane ordered this the second time and said it was much nicer not fighting to get the meat out, better tasting and all together a better meal.  This was ordered in Marbella at a restaurant right next to Marriott's Marbella Beach Resort where we staying.  The restaurant, Merendero Cristina.  I'll blog more about it later...but the short story is, we ate there twice because it was soooooooo good.

**Suggestion, make sure you ask how it's prepared when you order Paella**

Blogging a-z in May, my focus is Spain Click the drop down box to leave your name and url of your blog post, not profile page.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Our Lady of Sorrows in Olde Town Marbella

 Olde Town Marbella is a quaint area of Marbella, the historic district that is a must see if you visit.  We walked, shopped, and ate and never tired of what there is to see.  This little blue shuttered area was a bit hard to see looking up to the 2nd floor, but you can click to enlarge and you'll see a religious symbol.
 Not to mention the most interesting and colorful and OLD Bourgainvillea Vine.  I covers almost 3 stories on this old house and look where the root is.
 Hornacina Virgen De Los Dolores.  Christian Faith was imposed on the city in teh XV century and many niches were made of Saints and Virgins on buildings, and balconies to bless the people and the city.  These are particularly common in areas with an Islamic past such as Marbella.  The house has been dated back to the 17th century.
 You can see the clay tiles on the roof, and there appears to be a pizza place on the top floor..or perhaps that's an old sign?  We couldn't tell.
Another sign talking about the many street niches and their importance.

Blogging a-z in May, my focus is Spain Click the drop down box to leave your name and url of your blog post, not profile page.

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