FIVE FUN AND FREE THINGS TO DO IN CADIZ!

Discover this amazing city overlooking the Atlantic Ocean: Cadiz

 

Cadiz, a fascinating city with plenty to do for young and old. Although not a typical tourist attraction the city offers history, culture and best of all some free places to visit and lots to do!

 

Art and History Together

Walk along the seafront and you’ll find the Baluarte de la Candelaria which is a military fortification and these days is a place where they hold interesting exhibitions with constantly updated artworks on show in the wonderful white-painted halls. The Baluarte is free to enter and well worth the visit, especially for the lovely views of the Atlantic from the windows in each display room.

Castles for All!

Although it’s not possible to go into the San Sebastian castle which is located at the end of a sea walkway (where you may get a little wet with the splashes from the sea – great for kids!). From its gates you can the city so the short hike along the sea walkway leading to the castle is worth getting wet for!

If the kids (big or small) want to see the inside of a castle the pop along to the Santa Catalina castle is a different story. Not only can you enter where you can visit plenty of rooms and where you’ll art exhibitions and more.

 

The Cadiz Museum


The museum is a treasure of treasure and none more so than two sarcophagi on display which were discovered in the early twentieth century in Cadiz. Also on display are some amazing Phoenician artefacts and displays showing modern art and religious works of the time. Upstairs, via a separate staircase, a puppet exhibition is not to be missed and the best thing is it’s all free if you’re an EU citizen or resident. And even if not the cost is just €1.50.

 

Walking Tour of Cadiz

One of the best things about Cadiz is that it is extremely easy to walk around the city with specially prepared walking routes which can’t be missed as they are all brightly coloured. En route you’ll discover the market a roman amphitheatre, the old town walls and the historic (and modern) cathedrals. Plenty of info too in both English and Spanish for the visitor, and again it’s all free!

 

La Pepa

 

This is the document that was signed declaring Spain’s constitution over 200 years ago and it can be found on display at Spain’s first constitution was signed 200 years ago, and you can learn all about it in the Oratorio de San Felipe Neria which, once again, is free. Well worth a visit even if the information is only in Spanish because the history of this document speaks for itself. Keep an eye out for some great hologram displays and a table hanging from the ceiling!

 

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5 PLACES NOT TO BE MISSED IN BILBAO

Fine arts, history and fresh sea air, Bilbao is refreshingly diverse!

  1. Guggenheim Museum

Anyone visiting Bilbao should head for the magnificent Guggenheim Museum, a spectacular architectural work of art that’s widely renowned as a ground-breaking example of 20th-century architecture. Designed by Frank Gehry and using advanced aerospace industry software it was built between 1993 and 1997.

And what you see outside is just a teaser for what you’ll find inside as the museum boasts over 24,000 square metres of floor space showing works of art in wonderful surroundings. With the huge windows letting in natural light you will see the masterpieces at their very best in the Atrium.

Also the Guggenheim has a rotating permanent collection and many temporary special exhibitions throughout the year. There is also a place to top up on those souvenirs at the museum shop or why not rest up with something tasty at the cafeteria.

 

  1. Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao

The Bilbao Museum of Fine Arts is an outstanding collection situated in two separate buildings and displays works by many of the famous European masters dating from the 14th to 17th centuries. Spanish paintings from the 14th and 15th centuries include works by Jaime Huguet, Bartolomé Bermejo, and Pedro Serra with even more from the 16th- to 17th-century Spanish with works by El Greco, Zurbaran, as well as paintings by Velázquez and Jusepe de Ribera.

There is a whole floor dedicated to Basque artists which includes 22 pieces by Dario de Regoyos while the more modern building displays mostly works by contemporary Spanish artists.

Look out for one of Bilbao’s Michelin-starred restaurants near the museum. Restaurant Zortziko (17 Calle Alameda Mazarredo) which serves wonderful haute cuisine and is well worth the walk!

 

  1. Casco Viejo (Old Town)

A must for anyone wanting to experience Bilbao as it was because the old town is just full of charm, and is a wonderful place for a stroll along the river or to stop and have a coffee as the world goes by. Linked by five bridges, the old town connects with the New Town (Ensanche) but the heart of the Casco Viejo is to be found on the Siete Calles (Seven Streets) where you’ll meander through quaint historic streets which are lined with terrific shops and cafés.

 

  1. Parque Doña Casilda de Iturrizar

the Doña Casilda Park is a very welcome respite from the hustle and bustle  of the city and with plenty of clean green areas that are superbly landscaped in a ‘Romantic’ style the walks through the park, via the many pathways, is peaceful and relaxing, and there’s plenty of places for a sit down if you need a little rest! . Statues and fountains can be found all over the park and a wander down to the lake to feed the ducks is a great way to spend an afternoon, whether in the shade of the trees or taking in the sun on the lawns.

 

  1. Museo Marítimo Ría de Bilbao

Formerly used as the outbuildings for the Euskalduna shipyard, this unique museum shows visitors what it was really like to be at sea with an outdoor exhibition that takes in the docks as well as several restored ships. When you go inside the museum, there are plenty of exhibits to educate visitors (young and old) on the environment of the Bilbao Estuary and the history of the maritime industry. You can also learn about the traditions of the local people who have spent their life and earned their living from the estuary. Open daily except Mondays it’s a nice refreshing look back at history next to the sea.

COME TO CADIZ AND BE CHARMED!

Cadiz: An intriguing little city sitting above the ocean

Welcome to what is the oldest continuously inhabited place in Europe! Yes, Cadiz has been home to settlers for well over 3,000 years and is full of the history and culture that is so typical of this region. The old town, which is really old, is almost completely surrounded by water, and is a wonderful place to explore with tiny streets and alleyways heading off while gulls make their noise above you and the air fills with the aroma of fish being cooked. Charm doesn’t say enough about this ‘place.

Famous for its seafood, sands and its fascinating and plentiful monuments and museums, Cadiz is also home to cheerful locals who arrange mad carnivals and upbeat music of the region to make you feel you really are in the heart of Spain.

Be sure to take a walk to the San Sebastian Castle which was constructed on a small island is access by a stone walkway from the nearby beach. Great views of the city and inside the castle are exhibitions. The Casa del Obispo is another place you must visit while in the city as this huge museum has glass walkways which allow the visitor to walk above excavated ruins while you learn about Cadiz’s past. The Casa was originally Phoenician and later a Roman temple and a mosque, before it was established as the Episcopal Palace.

The Roman theatre, in Barrio del Populo is another throw back to ancient times and a good place to imagine life of the times, nearby is the Centro de Interpretacion del Teatro Romano where more information is available.

Cadiz’s people are best known for their love of fun and it’s recommended to go there during the spring carnival, which is Cadiz’s largest annual event, and one that is prepared for months in advance by all the residents. Yes Cadiz is well worth seeing and a great place to use as a base to explore southern Spain. September is still very warm in Cadiz Province and with many of the crowds from the summer having gone it is a great time of the year if you like to be near the sea.

Cadiz, unlike many other cities in Spain, doesn’t have famous buildings, like the Alhambra in Granada or the Guggenheim in Bilbao; nor does it have the stamp of any well-known architects. But what it does have in abundance is cobbled streets that have been used for centuries by Andalusians. Houses painted in tasteful colours, typical cafes and of course those lovey narrow streets more than make up for the lack of a famous structure.

Before you leave, and as the sun sets, head on over to Cadiz’s 17th century cathedral, which is next to the Casa del Obispo, and watch the sunlight turn this beautiful building yellow. A magical sight with which to remember this lovely city!

7 THINGS NOT TO MISS IN GRANADA!

History, culture and family fun make Granada a favourite for tourists.

The Alhambra

Originally constructed for military use, the Alhambra was all at once more than just a beautiful and immense building it’s has three purposes; an “alcazaba” (fortress), an “alcazar” (palace) and a small “medina” (city). Its triple purposes explains its many unique and distinctive features with the name Alhambra coming from Arabic and meaning red or crimson castle, so called, allegedly, because the construction of the Alhambra fortress  was done by torchlight. A wonderfully place for all the family with tickets starting at 14€.

 

The Generalife Gardens (Garden of Paradise)

This place is found inside the Alhambra ground and is well worth a visit. A beautiful promenade takes the visitor to the “Patio de la Acequia” which is the best know area and what is known as the heart and soul of the palace grounds A wander around these gardens is a great way to spend an hour or two just enjoying nature and history too. If you head up to the north portico you’ll find the impressive Patio de los Cipreses, which has a pool in the middle. With a lovely fountain dating from the 16th century the gardens were originally olive groves.

 

Lorca’s House

Federico Garcia Lorca, Spain´s most famous 20th-century writer who was killed for his political opinions and sexual orientation in 1936 – just before the start of the Civil War. He was banned under Franco and after Franco died; his legacy was finally acknowledged by his home city. You can visit the Lorca family summer house in Granada for a look back to unsettled times in Spain.

 

Albaicin

El Albaicin is the old Moorish quarter of the city that is made oup of little streets and alley ways, all boasting lots of small shops selling anything from crafts to clothes. Facing the Alhanmbra the Albaicin in a steep climb to the top for some but well worth it as the view of the Alhambra from the Church of San Nicolas is impressive indeed. The moors first settled in the area in the 11th century and plenty of history remains from that time.

 

Granada Science Park

Covering a huge 70km² and split into two main buildings the park is fascinating for young and old as it takes you on a journey through our own body, our mind and our world – with help for foreigners with English explanations.

Just a 10 minute walk, the park is one of the best places to take the kids in Granada for some educational fun!

 

The Arab Baths

Dating back to the 11th century the Arab Baths are one of the most important cultural, historic and architectural places in Granada, symbolising, as they do, the religious chaos of the time. Water was a symbol of purity for the Muslims so the baths were built by the Muslims around the city but most were later destroyed by the Christians. A wonderful glance at the life of people in those times. Not cheap at 60€ for 90 minutes but an experience not to be missed if possible!

 

Corral de Carbon

Following the Moorish period charcoal vendors brought their goods into the town from the forests to be sold in its terrace and the Corral de Carbon became the trading centre for the area. It is one of Granada´s oldest and best preserved monuments and has a double-arched gate, a flag stoned courtyard and a central well. Once the Christians came the pace was used as a theatre. Take a look it’s easy to picture this place full of traders of theatre goers.

 

SIX STUNNING SITES IN ZARAGOZA

A walk amongst history in one of Spain’s oldest cities: Zaragoza

 The Aljaferia

Originally constructed as a palace of pleasure for Zaragoza’s Islamic rulers in the 11th century the Aljaferia is renowned as Spain’s finest Islamic-era building outside of Andalucia. It had its first refurbishment in 1118 when the Christians took over the city. By the 15th century the Catholic Monarchs took it over but it wasn’t long before it fell into disrepair. Renovations started in the last century and nowadays it is home to Aragon’s- regional parliament.

 

Basilica de Nuestra Senora del Pilar

The legend has it that it was here on the 2nd January AD 40 that Santiago saw the Virgin Mary descend onto a marble pillar and so a chapel was built around the remaining pillar which began this fascinating emblem of Catholicism. Plenty to see and if you pay 3€ a lift will take you almost to the top of the north tower of the Basilica de Nuestra Senora del Pilar for an amazing view of the city.

 

Museum of the Teatro de Caesaraugusta

Although it may almost be in ruins this place is still a joy and once seated 6000 spectators. The city has worked hard to try to recreate the buildings former glory with evening shows projecting a virtual performance and audio-visual displays that help the visitor understand about this once beautiful edifice.

 

Caesaraugusta’s forum

Now well below ground level Roman Caesaraugusta’s forum is a fascinating step back I time with the remains of porticoes, shops, and a sewer. There are lots of old items on display dating back almost 2,000 years, and a video show explains to listeners, in several languages, about life in Roman times and especially the goings on of the forum.

 

Museum of Zaragoza

Just 400m south of the Teatro Romano the city museum displays artefacts from prehistoric to Islamic times and is dedicated to archaeology and fine arts displaying many amazing mosaics from the Roman Caesaraugusta. Upstairs you’ll find some 15 paintings and at least 25 etchings by the famous artist Goya.

 

La Lonja

This beautifully built Renaissance-style building, just east of the basilica, was constructed in the 16th century as a trading exchange and is now used as an exhibition hall. Outside coloured medallions represent the kings of Aragon but it is inside where the stunning columns. Rising up to resemble giant palm fronds and blending into flowers that will have you saying ‘wow!’ Keep an eye out for regular exhibitions too.

RONDA – GETTING BETTER WITH AGE

A visit to the historic and stunning town is a must when travelling in Spain: Ronda

Famous throughout the world for its dramatic escarpments and wonderful views, and the El Tajo gorge that bares the Rio Guadalevin which runs through the middle of the town, Ronda is an historic town with plenty of centuries old architecture for visitors to enjoy. At its heart you’ll see the Puente Nuevo which was built in the 18th century and boasts fantastic views of the area from its lofty 100 metre high standing.

Said to be the home of modern day bullfighting Ronda has one of the oldest and most beautiful bull rings in the whole of Spain. Built in 1785 it holds 5,000 spectators and was built by the same architect as the Puente Nuevo. Spectacular it certainly is.

Another place on the ‘must see in Ronda’ list has to be the Arab Baths which are the oldest and best preserved in Spain. Built during the 13th century there is still a large cauldron visible which is what was used to heat the water. You can find the baths in the old Arab quarter, the San Miguel Quarter.

Devoted to Ronda’s rich history the Mondragon palace is where you’ll find the impressive municipal museum and the amazing gardens. It’s very old too having been created in in 1314 and later was home to Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand.  Inside you’ll find some great examples of Roman and Moorish tombs but it’s the gardens that stand out and are a great place to rest up in peace.

The Palace of the Moorish King and the Water Mine is a fine place to take a look around and legend says that this was where the Moorish King, Almonated, lived. A man reputed to take his wine from the skulls of his enemies. The building was finally finished in the 18th century and later refurbished by the Duchess of Parcent.

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