Granada Cathedral and Alcaiceria Market

We are back home and although we had a good flight home it was still 24 hours from the time we got up until we arrived home. It is going to take a while to get back on Alberta time. I have fallen behind on my blogging but I am going to continue posting until I have it completed. Thank you for following along with us so far and I hope you will enjoy the rest of our trip.

Saturday, November 21

We spend another day in Granada, as we want to visit the Cathedral and the Alcaiceria, which is a reconstruction of the Moorish Market that burned down in 1843. This market is a maze of narrow streets and colourful shops that are absolutely crammed full of merchandise. We purchase a few souvenirs and Bob has a few laughs at my rather pathetic attempts at bargaining.

IMG_2488The Cathedral is right beside the market so that is our next stop.  Upon entering the front door this is the what we see.FullSizeRender  Here is a closer view of the magnificent dome over the altar.  FullSizeRender_3This cathedral has a very ornate very large organ. FullSizeRender_4I spotted this stand with several huge medieval books but it was in a roped off area so I couldn’t get any closer to get a good look.FullSizeRenderA bit further on down one of the side aisles I was thrilled to find a display of these ancient books. They were behind glass but I was able to get a much better look at them.FullSizeRender_4The lighting wasn’t the best, but there were several cabinets with books inside. While I was absorbed in studying the calligraphy and painted images, the lights in the cabinets shut off and it was too dark to see them anymore.  I had no idea why the lights shut off and although we returned a couple of times to check if the lights had been turned back on I was out of luck. I am glad that I at least had the opportunity to see what I had.
IMG_2490

We have seen similar skull and crossbones in almost every cathedral we have visited. They are on tombstones embedded in the cathedral floors.FullSizeRender_2The pillars and ceiling are quite ornate and the space they enclose is immense.  Notice how small the people are.
FullSizeRender_3This is a view of the back side of the Cathedral, seems I didn’t take one of the front. If you want to know a bit more about the Cathedral check out this link.  http://www.thousandwonders.net/Granada+Cathedral  It also has some nice pictures.DSC01159There is a suggested walk through the Albaicin, on the hillside opposite the Alhambra so we head out to explore it.  The beginning of the walk was quite nice.FullSizeRender_3I quite liked this ‘Granada’, or pomegranate, on the front of one of the buildings we passed on our walk.FullSizeRender_2We do find this lovely little garden and one other garden attached to a little museum along the way.  In the museum garden there are several orange trees loaded with ripe oranges, and we ‘borrow’ one to eat later.FullSizeRender

We spent a fair amount of time checking our map and trying to figure out which way to go. The route was not well-marked and we had to backtrack more than once. It was a long walk up lots of steep roads and really for what we saw we weren’t sure it was worth the effort and time, but at least we got some exercise.FullSizeRender_2

This is a view of the Alhambra from a viewpoint on a terrace by some restaurants near the end of our walk.FullSizeRender_4

On the way back to the bus we pass this building with its ‘street art’ and bricked up windows.  We saw so many apartments and buildings like this, empty and/or abandoned, right beside occupied buildings and shops. I sure wouldn’t want to be living in an apartment next to an abandoned empty building.  FullSizeRender

Sintra, Portugal, Day 2

Sunday, October 25

Our second day in Sintra starts out rainy but it is supposed to clear up by early afternoon. We catch the bus near the palace we visited yesterday and head up the steepest, narrowest road we have probably ever been on.  The bus had to stop and back up three times to navigate the hairpin turns.  We were standing in the front of the bus so had a view of the road ahead, which, by the way, soon lost the center line and became a one way road as it was too narrow for traffic in both directions.

image

A pretty little fountain on the walk through the park on the way to the Palace of Pena image  It was very misty so we couldn’t see very far but it was pretty.imageSoon we get our first glimpse of the Palace of Pena. This palace was one of the last residences of the Portuguese Royal Family. It is a fairy tale castle with Moorish and Manueline influences and is one of the finest example of Romantic Era architecture in Portugal. This link has more information about the palace and the park that surrounds it if you are interested.   https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pena_National_Palace#image

We enter through this grand gate.image

The next gateway is just as spectacular. Love it!imageThe Cloister is part of the original 16th century Monastery that was built into the present Palace.  It is decorated with Hispanic-Arabic tiles from 1520.image  The dining room has a sculpted ceiling and tiled walls…imageand here is one of the first bathrooms in the Palace. image

I am in the bedroom of King Ferdinand II.image and both of us in the Billiard room.image The kitchen is huge and has the original pots, pans and ovens.image  Next we explore the outside of the Palace.image image image imageThe weather hasn’t improved all that much but we decide to hike up to the Cruz Alta, where there is a carved stone cross.  This is the highest point in the Sintra Hills.imageThe walk up to the cross was lovely.  The park around the castle covers 85 hectares with several historic gardens and many buildings and grottos.image imageOn the way down from the cross we take this little crooked very winding path which eventually takes us to the Valley of the Lakes but not without some detours along the way.image

The view from one of the paths.  That village way in the distance actually had sunshine.image image image imageThe Valley of the Lakes has a castle tower for a duck house. We didn’t see many ducks, but we did see this beautiful black swan.image  The leaves are falling and they are huge!image

We still want to see the Moorish Castle so we hike over there and have about an hour and a half before it closes. This castle was built between the 8th and 9th century by the Moors to defend the local territory and the Maritime access to Lisbon. There was a bit of blue sky but it quickly disappears, along with the supposedly fantastic views from the walls and towers.  On a clear day it is possible to see the Atlantic Ocean, but we are barely able to see the castle! image

image

In some places along the castle walls the walkways are not much more than 18″ wide, and there are no railings!image imageWe finally admit defeat even though we have only seen a very small part of this ancient castle. We are cold and wet and can’t see much of anything so we decide to hurry back to the bus stop and try to catch an earlier bus and train home.  We get there just in time and we manage to get a seat for the ride, which takes us all the way to the train station. I am happy not to walk that long curving road from the station up to the Sintra Palace where we caught the bus this morning.imageimageThe Sintra Station is the only train station we have seen that isn’t coverd in graffiti. It has been a good day, but also a long cold, wet day and I am glad to be heading home.image