Travel with Mona to Spain

We went to Spain several times, mostly to Madrid and Barcelona, but my favorite trip was the bus tour we took around the south and west. I will share here some of my favorite places, mainly Cordova and Seville.

We flew to Lisbon, Portugal, and drove through Andalusia, a region of hills, rivers and farmland bordering Spain’s southern coast. It was under Moorish rule from the 8th-15th centuries, a legacy that shows in its architecture, including such landmarks as the Alcázar castle in Seville, the capital city, as well as Córdoba’s Mezquita Mosque-Cathedral and Granada’s Alhambra palace.

Our first stop was in Cordova (Cordoba). It was an important Roman city and a major Islamic center in the Middle Ages. It’s best known for La Mezquita, an immense mosque dating from 784 A.D., featuring a columned prayer hall and older Byzantine mosaics. After it became a Catholic church in 1236 and the Cordova Cathedral, a Renaissance-style nave was added in the 17th century. 

A new capital

Following the overthrow of his family (the Umayyads) in Damascus by the incoming Abbasids, Prince Abd al-Rahman escaped to southern Spain. Once there, he established control over almost all of the Iberian Peninsula and attempted to recreate the grandeur of Damascus in his new capital, Córdoba. He sponsored elaborate building programs, promoted agriculture, and even imported fruit trees and other plants from his former home. Orange trees still stand in the courtyard of the Mosque of Córdoba, a beautiful, if bittersweet reminder of the Umayyad exile.

Known locally as Mezquita-Catedral, the Great Mosque of Córdoba is one of the oldest structures still standing from the time Muslims ruled Al-Andalus (Muslim Iberia including most of Spain, Portugal, and a small section of Southern France) in the late 8th century. Córdoba is a two hour train ride south of Madrid, and draws visitors from all over the world.

Temple/church/mosque/church

The buildings on this site are as complex as the extraordinarily rich history they illustrate. Historians believe that there had first been a temple to the Roman god, Janus, on this site. The temple was converted into a church by invading Visigoths who seized Córdoba in 572. Next, the church was converted into a mosque and then completely rebuilt by the descendants of the exiled Umayyads—the first Islamic dynasty who had originally ruled from their capital Damascus (in present-day Syria) from 661 until 750.

Seville

This southern Spanish capital is famous for its historic churches and palaces, Moorish buildings, flamenco dancing, and more.

Plaza de España is a semi-circular brick building, Renaissance/neo-Moorish in style, with a tower at either end (tall enough to be visible around the city, these towers – north and south – are major landmarks). In front of the building, following the curve of its façade, is a 500-metre canal crossed by four bridges, and in the center is the Plaza itself. Plaza de España, Seville’s most impressive after the cathedral, was built for the Ibero-American Exhibition of 1929 (Expo 29), along with many of the pavilions in and around the Parque Maria Luisa.

All along the wall by the canal are 48 alcoves with benches, one for each province of Spain, each with a relevant tableau and map, all designed on colorful azulejos (painted ceramic tiles). 

Considered the heart of Seville’s tourist district, Santa Cruz is easily one of the most beautiful barrios (neighborhoods) in the whole of Spain. This neighborhood is home to many popular tourist sites, including the Seville Cathedral and the Real Alcázar, an old palace with stunning gardens to explore.

We spend a day in Santa Cruz, walking through the picturesque streets of Seville.

Going from shop to shop, looking for unique handicrafts and ceramics.

The fans of Game of Thrones will recognize the Real Alcázar de Sevilla as the Water Gardens of Dorne. The incredible royal palace was built for King Peter of Castile, a Christian king and the Alcázar was constructed on the site of a Muslim fortress.

Cathedral of Seville

Also known as the Cathedral of St. Mary of the See, it is the largest Gothic cathedral in the world and the third Christian temple after St. Peter’s in Rome and St. Paul’s in London. Since the conquest of the city, on November 23, 1248, the building of the aljama, or the Almohad Mosque, was converted into the cathedral of the archdiocese of the Kingdom of Seville.

The Tomb of Christopher Columbus and behind the statues of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella
Inside the huge cathedral

A flamenco show to end a long day.

The next day, tasting wine in Malaga.

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About Mona Risk

New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author, Mona Risk, received an Outstanding Achiever Award from Affaire de Coeur Magazine. She's a two time winner of Best Contemporary Romance of the Year from Readers Favorite; a winner of Best Romance Novel of the Year from Preditors & Editors Readers Poll; and an EPIC Award finalist. Mona Risk's name has often been posted on the Amazon.com 100 Most Popular Authors in Romance list, and her books have garnered: Top Pick, Outstanding Read, Sweetheart of the Week, and Best Book of the Week from various reviewers, and received two mentions in Publisher's Weekly. Mona lives in South Florida and has traveled to more than eighty countries on business or vacation. She writes contemporary romances, medical romance, romantic suspense, and paranormal fantasy. Sprinkled with a good dose of humor, her stories are set in the fascinating places she visited or more simply at home. If you like to travel and love to read, come and enjoy her international romances. Meet the spirited heroines and special heroes who share irresistible chemistry in stories that simmer with emotion.  View website

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