30.1.16

Niebla and it's castle






The village of Niebla (which means fog or mist in Spanish) is about 30k from Huelva, west of Seville, situated on the shores of the river Tinto.









It’s a beautiful walled village of great historic interest, dating back to Medieval times, and quite prosperous.







Originating before the Roman period it is packed with narrow streets, lovely houses, restaurants, a church, originally a Mosque, and squares, gates, monuments and turrets. Beyond the confines of the wall, there is a Roman bridge and aqueduct.



The most interesting place to visit within the enclosed town is the castle. This was the alcázar or fortress of the Count of Niebla.





It is large and rectangular set on two levels with rooms that include the Countess’s Chamber, a kitchen and Armoury, and Dungeons complete with equipment of torture set in and around the courtyard. There’s even a floor below this if you wish to go down the ladder into the deep and dark interior.




You can also climb up a long flight of steps to walk around the upper walls of castle where there are yet more rooms to investigate. There are wonderful views from here of the surrounding area.

It’s a most quiet and charming village.





You can find out more here:

http://www.discoverhuelva.com/town/niebla

Related posts on my blog:
http://fredalightfoot.blogspot.co.uk/2016/01/christopher-columbus.html

http://fredalightfoot.blogspot.co.uk/2016/01/donana-national-park.html

29.1.16

Christopher Columbus

Muelle de las Carabelas is a fascinating museum close to Huelva, just west of Seville, in Spain. Its main exhibits are replicas of Christopher Columbus’s three ships, the Niña, the Pinta, and the Santa María.

Pinta, Santa Maria and Niña

In 1992 to celebrate 500 years since the discovery of America, these three replica ships sailed the route of Columbus’s first voyage to the Americas. They’d taken two years to build.


I loved exploring these quite small ships, even if climbing up and down the ladders had to be done with caution. Below deck there are replicas of food stores and work areas with statues of sailors working and climbing the ropes up the masts. There was also a display of cottages around this dock with statues replicating the natives. There is also a small area depicting the homes of ordinary English folk, food, and an imitation market of that time. It’s quite inexpensive to visit, and there’s a little shop, of course.


Columbus’s plan to explore the world was rejected by his home country of Italy, the Portuguese and initially by Isabella of Castille and Ferdinand of Aragon, as they were focused upon a war with the Muslims. He continued to work hard to persuade them and once the war was over in January of 1492, the Spanish monarchy agreed to finance his expedition.



He set out on his first Voyage to the New World in August of 1492, sailing from Spain in the Santa Maria, together with the Pinta and the Niña. His aim was to reach Asia (the Indies) via the western route, where he hoped to find gold and other riches. After over a month at sea they finally spotted land, not Asia but the Bahamas.


You can find out more about Columbus here:

http://www.eyewitnesstohistory.com/columbus.htmhttp://www.biography.com/people/christopher-columbus-9254209#mixed-legacy

Related links:

http://fredalightfoot.blogspot.co.uk/2016/01/niebla.html
 




27.1.16

Doñana National Park

This is a magnificent area that stretches for miles. It’s situated west of Seville, quite close to El Rocio, which is also worth visiting.




We went on a bus tour that started quite early in the morning, fortunately they have a cafeteria so we were able to have breakfast before the tour started at 8.30. The bus was for about 20 people and had huge tyres to cope with the natural domain of sand and woodlands.





The beach is one of the longest in Europe, set between Matalascanas and the Guadalquivir river. The tour lasted for four hours, taking in the beaches, Dunes and Pine woods and marshlands.

Wild boar (jabilí)




As the bus travelled we spotted various animals and birds: fallow deer, stags, wild boar, linx, imperial eagles, kites, buzzards, stork and many more creatures. Absolutely fascinating. What I need is a better camera that zooms in closer.





A Stork

 


















The bus stopped occasionally for us to take a walk around, including visiting a replica of an ancient village with thatched cottages.







Fishing very much a sport here.



I loved visiting this beautiful area. Absolutely amazing. Can highly recommend a visit. We stayed in the local Parador at Mazagon. This is the view from our room. An easy walk down to the beach.



You can find out more here:

http://www.discoveringdonana.com/?gclid=CNefoZz3ycoCFcfgGwod0vkFSA

Related links:
 


6.1.16

January 6th, Three Kings Day

Traditionally, Spanish children do not get their presents on Christmas Day from Santa Claus, or Papa Noel, as he is called. They have to wait until the Fiesta de Los Reyes. What we would call Epiphany. By now we’re packing our Christmas decorations away, but the Spanish are still partying.

In the run up to the 6th of January, children can meet the wise men at some department stores and tell them what they would like for Christmas, just as our children tell Santa Claus. On the 5th, the excitement starts in the late afternoon or early evening when there is often a parade through the streets of camels, yes, real ones, carrying the three kings, Melchor, Gazpar and Baltasar, who throw sweets into the watching crowds. A custom that no doubt started in Moorish times. A whole procession of dancers and musicians, trailers and even floats, will follow. Children run around with their little bags catching their gifts. It is truly a sight to see. The little girls dress up in their flamenco dresses, little boys as kings or drummer boys. And the shops remain open until after midnight.

Before going to bed the children leave their shoes on the door step so that the Kings will know who to leave presents for. Some Spanish families are starting to put presents under a Christmas tree, perhaps because there are too many to put in a shoe. And just as British children leave a mince pie and a drink for Santa and his reindeer, Spanish children also put out something to eat and drink for Melchor, Gaspar, and Baltazar, and water and grass for their camels. Well they do have a lot of work to do that night.

The children wake in great excitement the next morning to find their presents. For breakfast or after lunch, families eat the typical dessert of the day, the ‘Roscón de los Reyes’. This is a large ring shaped cake or sweet bread that is decorated with candied fruits, symbolic of the emeralds and rubies that adorned the robes of the three kings, sometimes a gold paper crown is often provided to decorate the cake. Hidden inside it are surprises ‘sorpresas’.


The one who finds the lucky prize is King or Queen for the day while he who ends up with the unlucky bean is expected to pay for next years Kings’ Cake – and they are not cheap!

We usually attend a wonderful day out watching a drama take place in the village square where King Herod is ordering his men to search for baby Jesus. There's a fair and market and lots of activities going on, people in fancy dress, very medieval and great fun.