Baixa: An Architectural Delight

I walked around the part of Baixa closest to our hostel, bewitched. Lisbon, you are a surprise.

flower-stand-by-figueira-square

Elegant squares, streets filled with cafes and shops, old tramcars, street performers, Neo-classic and Art deco buildings, street vendors selling everything… All this adds to the charm of downtown Lisbon.

tram-in-figueira-square

Baixa borders the river in the bottom of the valley and nestled among the hills of Alfama, Chiado, and Bairro Alto. It’s grid like area stands in contrast to the winding and complicated alleyways of neighboring Alfama.   A central location extending to the Tagus River and Avenida da Liberdade (the Liberty Avenue) and is considered the most elegant of all districts in Lisbon.

Rossio-Square

Rossio. Where the main central square is found. Officially named Praca Don Pedro IV, the square is also called Rossio Square because it revolves around Rossio. It is the heart of the city and surrounding it is nothing but a bundle of architectural delights and here’s sharing with you a bit of Baixa.

Figueira Square (Square of the Fig Tree)

figueira-square-transport-hub

Neighboring the imposing Rossio Square is one of the city’s important transport hub. The metro, the buses, and the charming trams stop here and many shops, cafes, and guesthouses surround the square because of it.

figueira-square

The bronze equestrian statue of King João I stand on a pedestal in the middle of the plaza, the beautifully designed grounds covered with pigeons.

Teatro Nacional Doña Maria II

teatro-nacional-rossio-square

This beautiful neo-classical building survived the earthquake but was destroyed by fire in 1964. It was rebuilt in the 70’s and with it founded Lisbon’s municipal orchestra. Named after Dom Pedro IV, the theater’s façade dominate the northern side of Rossio Square and now hosts some of the most spectacular performances of Lisbon.

Rua Das Portas de Santo Antão

rua-das-portas-de-antao

Just behind the National Theater Doña Maria II and a stone’s throw away from Pensao Residencial Portuense (our hostel) is a lively pedestrian street buzzing with outdoor cafes and restaurants.

steak-at-Locanda-Italaina

It is a mecca for seafood lovers but ironically, we found Locanda Italiana where we were served a superb steak dinner.

Elevador de Santa Justa

elevador-de-santa-justaThis beautifully crafted lift southeast of Rossio Square is the area’s highlight. Raoul Meisner du Ponsard, an engineer, born in Porto to French parents and a Gustave Eiffel student, built this alternative transport to climb up the many steep hills of the city.

walkway

A challenge to Lisbon citizens for centuries. And until the underground Baixa-Chiado metro station opened in 1998, the Santa Justa Elevator was the easiest way to get to the Bairro Alto and Chiado district from Baixa.

metro-station

Rossio Station

rossio-station-entrance

One of the most beautiful train stations I’ve ever seen. Looking more like a temple, the façade is decked with horseshoe doorways and the roof is topped with small turrets and a clock tower.

rossio-station

Influenced by the 16th century Portuguese Manueline style, the façade dominates the northeast side of the Rossio Square. Here, the trains depart for Sintra.

Restauradores Square

Restauradores-Square

Surrounded by beautiful 19th and early 20th century buildings, an obelisk standing in the middle of the rectangular square. It has names and dates of battles fought during the Portuguese Restoration War and this entire square is dedicated to the country’s liberation from Spanish rule.

hard-rock-cafe

Nearby is the former Condes Cinema, a Modernist building built in the 1950s that reopened in 2003 as Hard Rock Café.

elevador-da-gloria

The square is also a few steps away from the Elevador da Gloria, a funicular linking downtown with the Bairro Alto district.

And this is just downtown Lisbon.

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Alfama: The Home of Lisbon Blues Music

“Alfama” recommends Hossein. For an authentic fado vadio, our “unofficial” guide guaranteed that this place is it, writes down the name and address of the bar, then points it out on our map.

A-Tasca-do-Chico-signage

On Rua Dos Remedios, we found A Tasca do Chico. It was Fado Vadio (amateur fado singers) night.

A-Tasca-do-Chico

The small joint only had a few tables, perfect for intimate and informal performances.

tapas-and-sangria

Dinner was simple but we were there for Fado anyway. It was an absolutely enjoyable evening of soulful music. A must in Lisbon.  Really.  Don’t leave Lisbon without a live experience of Fado music.

Fado

So what is Fado? I too, have  never heard of it until I read up on Lisbon. It is a music genre traced back to the 1820s and 1830s at best. Although difficult to trace, it seems to have its roots in the merging of Portuguese, Moorish and African culture. Fado songs can be about anything but it is a traditional form of urban folk music. The Portuguese language has a word, saudade, which roughly means nostalgia or homesickness with a bittersweet longing. Fado music is exactly that. It often conveys a yearning for what could have been or what cannot be. Most of its lyrics are about lost or unrequited love, jealousy and passion, death, and the lives of the Fadistas (fatalists).

There is no better place to experience the nostalgia of Fado than in Lisbon’s oldest district, Alfama. But it is not only famous for its Fado music as to visit Alfama is to visit the architecture, sound and smell of old Lisbon.

And so we went back the following day. Alfama is Lisbon’s most symbolic quarter. The oldest district of Lisbon spreads down the southern slope from Castelo de Sâo Jorge to the River Tagus. The Mouraria and Alfama (both old districts) were relatively spared during the Great Earthquake,

narrow-street

thus remains the charm of winding narrow streets and crumbling walls.

castelo-de-sao-jorge

A walk through the old-fashioned residential neighborhood is like stepping back in time.

Alfama

It’s a village still made up of tiny spaces, whitewashed houses with iron balconies adorned with pots of flowers and drying laundry.

The best way to get to know Alfama is to wander around.

view

The outstanding views, the churches, and the breathtaking panorama of the city from the castle were worth another trip back the next day. Some scenes from our wanderings:

from-castelo-de-sao-jorge

Although we didn’t have time to explore, Castelo de Sâo Jorge is a Moorish castle occupying a commanding hilltop overlooking the historic center of Lisbon and Tagus River.

IMG_9367As in from Baixa.

It can be seen from almost everywhere on the city.

Miradouro-de-Santa-Luzia

Miradouro de Santa Luzia is a romantic terrace by the church of Santa Luzia with a view of the river and Alfama. On the outside wall of the church are 2 tiled panels, one of Gomercio Square before the quake and another showing Christians attacking the castle.

Miradouro-das-Portas-do-Sol

A few steps away from Miradouro de Santa Luzia is a balcony that opens to the river offering spectacular views over Alfama.  A statue of St. Vincent holding a boat and 2 ravens also stands proud watching over the district. Miradouro Das Portas Do Sol.

Sao-Vicente-de-Fora

From the balcony, one can spot Sâo Vicente de Fora Monastery, an exceptional 16th-century monument located outside the city walls. “De Fora” means on the outside.

Santa-Engracia-Church

Church of Santa Engracia or Portugal’s National Pantheon. This 17th-century monument was converted in the 20th century into the National Pantheon. It is now the burial-place for a number of Portuguese personalities.

approaching-alfama

entertainment

IMG_9665

Useful Info:

Getting There: 

tram-28

Walk from Rossio or take tram no. 28

A Tasca do Chico (Alfama)
Rua Dos Remedios, 83
+351 965 059 670
 
 
References:
Portuguese Fado Music 101 – About. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://worldmusic.about.com/od/europeanjudaica/p/PortugueseFado.htm
Posted in Lisbon, Portugal | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Good Eats: Portugal

Portugal-EatsCredits: Quickpage from 4EVER kit by Sarah H.

Not as famous a cuisine in my part of the world, my first encounter with Portuguese cuisine was in Macau. Technically, what I had was Macanese food—more like a mix of Portuguese and Chinese with influences from cuisines of other Portuguese speaking nations but this sparked an interest in Portugal (and of course its cuisine).

So we made our way there last year. Little did we know that this land offers more than just an awesome cuisine but boasts of picturesque landscapes, colorful cityscapes as well as a rich history.

Lisbon

The primary goal, however, is to delve deeper into its cuisine. And as soon as we arrived in Lisbon, we immediately solicited advice on where to find authentic Portuguese restaurants around the city.

touristy-restos

And thanks to Hossein, we found our way to some unforgettable good eats even though eateries catering more to the tourist crowd dominated the area near his hostel.

Portugal’s colonial possessions influenced the use of spices and ingredients that are today widely used in their cuisines such as chilies from Angola called piri-piri, black pepper, as well as cinnamon, vanilla and saffron. The result is rustic and robust, often described as peasant food. Portuguese restaurants run a broad spectrum from rustic eateries to fancy hotspots.

Lisbon has left an indelible impression on me and a lot of it had to do with the food.  Here’s why I know I’ll be back.

Chicken Piri Piri at Bonjardim

Chicken-Piri-Piri

Chicken Piri Piri. One of Portuguese’s simple pleasures. This chicken is roast to perfection with a blend of potent small chili peppers. Top on our list, the first thing we did was head to this unpretentious eatery where locals go for the charred and plump piri-piri spiced roast chicken.

Bonjardim

Just within walking distance from the hostel, in a side street east of Praca Restauradores is Bonjardim Cervejaria.

On a rainy day, it was comforting to be enjoying chicken cooked to perfection – moist in the inside, skin crispy and gently spiced.

Piri-Piri

For added heat, a piri-piri sauce comes on the side and should be taken with caution. Hossein’s first recommendation, I give it a two-thumbs up.

Maritime Bounty

Being a seafaring nation with a well-established fishing industry, fish and seafood dominate the menu. Often relying on a traditional repertoire of grilled fish, meat, hearty stews and the ubiquitous salted cod, the cuisine is best when simply prepared.

The Ubiquitous Bacalhau

Codfish is a staple and is almost always used dried and salted because this is how this fish was preserved pre-freezer days. Today, they say that there are 365 different ways to cook bacalhau—one for every day of the year. The strong flavor of this salty fish represents the real taste of Portuguese food.

bacalhau-riceBacalhau Rice

Sardinhas

sardinhas-de-escabeche

Another popular sardine dish— Sardinhas de Escabeche, fried sardines marinated in olive oil, vinegar, onions and bay leaves.

Next to adorn the tables of rich and poor are the Portuguese sardines. The country’s 6-8 inch long “slave of the sea” is found off the Atlantic coast of Iberia and France.   They are known to have layers of fat content that melts when cooked (usually grilled), giving it a unique flavor.

Caldeirada

This very Algarvean dish is a stew consisting of a variety of fish and shellfish with potatoes, tomatoes and onions and usually served at the table from a large pot, usually from where it was cooked in.

caldeirada

It is a Portuguese bouillabaisse that calls for a generous splash of white wine and lots of herbs, resulting to a hearty one pot dish often served with crusty bread to soak up the delicious soup.

Porco

From fried pork cubes to the national favorite—roast suckling pig. Portuguese love their pork.

Leitão

leitao

Or suckling Pig is served throughout Portugal. Rubbed with garlic, pork fat, rock salt and pepper, then traditionally roasted in a spit. The result is usually crisp skin and succulent meat.

Bifana

TendhinaTendhina, a hole in the wall in Rossio serving lovely sandwiches.

It’s a simple pork sandwich, really. A humble combination of grilled pork sandwiched on a hard roll that pairs perfectly with a few squirts of tart honey mustard.

Bifina-sandwichMay not look very appetising but this sandwich is heavenly.

A deliciously simple meal to grab when busy or while exploring the town.

Caldo Verde

Caldo-Verde

A hearty soup more common in the north but is found in menus all over Portugal. Made from a thick creamy base of onions and potatoes with very finely shredded collard green (sometimes substituted with kale) and chouriço (Portuguese sausages).

Feijoada

Our kind of dish—hearty and full of flavor.

Hossein pointed us to an address in Rua do Norte. No name, just a number and a street name. Small restaurant with a few tables, the signage inconspicuously positioned somewhere on a window revealed the restaurant’s name—Cantinho do Bem Estar. It was still closed. Someone from inside came out to tell us to come back at 1 (pm). So we walked around, had a few beers and by the time we returned (at precisely 1pm), there was a table already occupied.

IMG_1866

And no sooner than we are settled, it was full. And by the time we were done, there was a line.

Because it came highly recommended by the server and almost everyone had this dish on the table, we went for Feijoada.

feijoada

A dish consisting of beans and pork braised in a sauce of tomatoes, carrots, and cabbage to which traditional sausages (we had a mix of blood sausages and chorizo) and bacon are also added. Definitely a great meal to have on a rainy day.

Cantinho do Bem Estar. Thank you, Hossein, for this marvelous find.

Doces

I’ve always looked forward to Macanese / Portuguese desserts when in Macau, not only because I love sweets but also because they were all divinely addicting. Portuguese love their dessert that’s why.

portuguese-sweets

Convent made cakes and desserts introduced in the 15th century brought forth this fascination for sweets. There is an abundant list of Portuguese desserts from cakes, pastries and tarts to mousses and puddings. And of course, I can’t end this post without mentioning some of my favorites

Pasteis de Belem

As it is in Spain, eggs especially the yolks were in abundance (Portugal being Europe’s largest egg producer).

pasteis-de-nata

Pasteis de Nata became Portugal’s favorite sweet treat. So good that it has made its mark in other countries, Macau being one of them. These are small open pastries with a sweet custard filling and a caramelized sugar topping.

pasteis-de-belem-2

Available in every coffee shop in the land but the best can only be found in the Belem area of Lisbon called Pasteis de Belem. A carefully guarded recipe since it was introduced in 1837. The lines are long and I hate lines.

pasteis-de-belem

But when you bite into the flaky pastry shell, and tasted the sweet, creamy filling dusted with sugar and cinnamon, you know that however long the wait, it will be worth it. Believe. You. Me.

Sintra’s Travesseiros and Queijadas

After touring around this magical UNESCO World Heritage Site, our guide pointed us to A. Piriquita to cap our simple yet beautiful lunch.

sintra

As we walked in, the smell of the buttery goodness of freshly baked goods greeted along with a display full of heavenly sweets. The café though is known for Sintra’s delicacy, the travesseiros, a puff pastry filled with custard and almond, and dusted with sugar. The looks do not prepare you to the light and flakey crust and the moist, creamy almond filling that oozes out when bitten.

Piriquita

Along with this, the jewel of the crown is the famous cupcakes / cheesecake called queijadas. It is essentially a small round custardy tart wrapped in pastry, unlike the cupcake / cheesecake we are familiar with.  It is made with simple ingredients of cow’s cheese, sugar, flour, eggs and cinnamon. With a pronounced cinnamon flavor, these simple ingredients gave rise to an exquisite dessert not quite a cupcake or a cheesecake.

Impressive recommendations, which suffice to say, left me longing to go back.

Useful Info: 

Bonjardim
Travessa de S. Antão 11
+351 213 427 424
 
A Tendinha do Rossio
Praca Don Pedro IV, 6
Rossio, Lisbon
+351 212 468 156
 
Cantinho do Bem Estar
Rua do Norte, 46
Bairro Alto, Lisbon
+351 213 464 265
 
Pasteis de Belem
Rua de Belem, 84-92
1300-085 Lisbon
+351 213 637 423
 
A Piriquita
Rua Padarias 1/7
Sintra
+351 219 230 026
Posted in Portugal | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Passing Through Faro

marina-4

It was a beautiful, balmy day. Blue skies, gorgeous clouds, splendid sunshine.

planning-the-route

We sat outdoors, right beside the marina. We ordered our beer and then planned our day. First agenda was deciding on lunch.

Not particularly known as a tourist destination with little to boast in terms of tourist attractions.

quiet-plaza

The gateway to Portugal from Southern Spain is a quiet town in the Algarve region.  Quiet relative to all the places we’ve visited on this trip.  Tourists more like pass through Faro on their way to a beach resort or a fairway nearby. But I love it for the quietness.

graffiti

If you look beyond the graffiti walls, Faro is charming. Small enough to cover by foot and without an agenda, we went with the flow, stopping for beer or sweets when tired or just felt like it.

The journey by bus from Seville took about 2 hours.  We arrived mid-morning and it took about 10 minutes from the bus station to our cozy B&B, comfortable enough for one night (read: tiny room).

azothea

“What can we do for the day?” we asked the young lady in charge. “Here?” she thought for a second. “Nothing much” she replied. We could go to Lagos for the day if we wish. Her advice.

We didn’t.  Into our third week of traveling, we felt like doing nothing.  We needed to recharge so we stayed put.  Never mind that we didn’t get see the fort up in Lagos.  So after a few beers at the marina, we followed the map to Adega Nova along Rua Francisco Barreto.

Adega-Nova

Beautiful lunch and a superb dessert—a place I highly recommend when in the area.

Then we walked towards Cidade Velha (the old town) through shops and cafes along the city’s pedestrianised shopping center.

pedestrian-shopping-street

We entered the old town through Vila Adentro and was magically transported to another world.

old-town

Streets cobbled and lined with whitewashed houses maintaining the Portuguese character,

cobbled-street

a large section of this old walled city is still surrounded by walls built by the Muslim conquerors.

wall

This medieval walled city survived two earthquakes, they say.

Palacio-BelmarcoThe Palacio Belmarco

The hodgepodge of Baroque, Gothic, and Moorish architecture provides a fascinating insight into its past.

Linked by medieval gates or arches, the Arco do Repouso is the most impressive section of the walled city,

arco-do-repouso

 and the Arco do Porta Nova or the Portes do Mar (doors of the sea) near the water, is usually where many would end their walk, us included.

jardim-manuel-bivar

Walking at the water’s edge heading back to Jardim Manuel Bivar near the marina, many offered us a trip to Ria Formosa Natural Park, a marshland supposedly teeming with birdlife.

We declined. Instead, we headed to Clube Naval.

clube-naval

We read that this harbor-side bar offers good views of the park and the city from the top floor,

beer and ice cream

but they were closed for the day so we settled for a cafe nearby, spending the rest of the day admiring the harbor and the city until we were ready for dinner.

boardwalkWhere one take the trip to Ria Formosa.

harbour marina-2 marina-3

Contrary to the lady’s (from the B&B) enlightenment or lack thereof, Faro is a delightful destination in its own right.  The charming old town had impressed and makes for a wonderful, unforgettable break.  I wonder why she thought otherwise? Perhaps we need to start seeing beyond our ordinary. I too am guilty of that in many ways.  We tend to take for granted the (what we think are) ordinary things.

Here are more photos of our wonderfully surprising day well-spent.

Capuchin-conventCapuchin Convent close to the guesthouse

charming-city   estatua-d-afonso-III

At the Largo do Don Afonso III, named after the 13th century king whose statue dominates the square.
governo-civilGoverno Civil
igreja-de-sao-pedroIgreja de Sao Pedro

museu-municipal

The Municipal Museum, Faro’s cultural highlight, is in a former convent built around a Renaissance cloister containing exhibits related to the city’s Roman and Islāmic heritage.

Useful Info:

Adega Nova
Rua Francisco Barreto
+351 289 813 433
www.restauranteadeganova.com
 
Azothea
Rua Baptista Lopes, 40
+351 289 802 536
www.facebook.com/Azotheabnb
Posted in Faro, Portugal | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

A Glimpse of Granada

Glimpse-of-GranadaCredits: Papers by Scrapmuss Design; label and border element by Splendid Fiins; Suede Alpha by MissBhaving

Outside of (the little I know of) the Alhambra, I know close to nothing about Granada. After all, I didn’t plan to venture out this far from Seville. So expectation was kept to a minimum.

calle-puerta-realThe NH Hotel at Puerta Real, the crossroad of the city’s shopping zone.

Crossing Calle Puerto Real on our way to lunch, the beautiful bourgeois architecture instantly left an impression.

desolate

Although we passed some streets that seemed desolate, we soon found ourselves in the heart of the city where the Cathedral and the Alcaiceria, the Moorish Silk market of way back, impressed once more.

cathedral

Lunch, arranged by the Noval brothers (our guide and driver), was at the Restaurante Sevilla—a stone throw away from the Cathedral, at the fringe of the Alcaiceria.

restaurante-sevilla

In a small, old style Spanish bar, we were served yet another excellent meal of tapas.

tapas

Quite in keeping with the cuisine’s good repute. Andalusian cuisine has yet to disappoint.

The best way to experience the city’s old yet vibrant center is to walk it.

Alcaiceria

So after that fulfilling lunch, we inched our way out of the Alcaiceria to the busy Plaza Nueva, which despite the name, is the oldest square.

busy-plaza-nueva

Lively cafes and bars, along with Moorish and Renaissance monuments and landmarks scatter around here.

A short distance on the east, right where the Carrera de Darro begins, the Rio Darro emerges from underground.

Iglesia-de-San-Gil-y-Santa-Ana

Here too lies one of the best remaining churches of Mudejar architecture, the 16th century Iglesia de San Gil y Santa Ana.

cafes-along-carrera-del-darro

It was strolling along the Carrera de Darro that Granada called to me. “One day,” I told Anton, “we will sit and absorb the pulse of the city in one of these cafes.”

artists

To assimilate with the carefree students and free-spirited artists that fill the streets for even just a few days would be pretty cool.

Follow the river and you will come across Paseo de los Tristes.

Alhambra

A picturesque street with a river running along it, the Alhambra keeping watch from atop.

Granada has an unmistakable Moorish soul, most likely because it was the last city to be reconquered by the Catholic Monarchs.

darro-river

Lying at the confluence of 4 rivers—the Beiro, Darro, Genil, and the Monachit, separated by the gorge of the Rio Darro. The city is set between 2 outlying hills, the Alhambra hill on the south and the Albaicin, on the north.

Albaicin, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is the old Moorish quarter of Granada.

cobbled-streets

Walking through its narrow and winding cobbled streets will take you back over 1500 years. It holds a vast amount of Granada’s historic buildings and plazas.

residential-district

Although a residential district on the whole, it is host to many restaurants, bars as well as guesthouses oozing with classic Andalusian charm.

andalusian-charm

Above all, this beautiful residential neighborhood delivers some incredible view of the Alhambra and much of the city.

view-of-the-city-from-AlbaicinView of the city from Albaicin
alhambra-from-albaicinAlhambra from Albaicin

More of Granada through my lens:

albaicin-restaurantsA Plaza in Albaicin
calle-caldereria-nuevaCalle Calderreria Nueva–a narrow street close to Plaza Nueva, holding tourist shops, a few restaurant and a few merchants typical of the old Moorish quarter.  Not quite similar but oftentimes referred to the medina found in Morocco.
carmen-es-2The Carmen es—rows of beautiful houses—line the streets of Albaicin.
real-chancilleriaThe Real Chancilleria at Plaza Nueva
cathedral-surroundingsSteps of the Cathedral where people hang out
narrow-streetsNarrow streets of Albaicin
musiciansMusicians found in every corner — Alcaiceria
GranadaA glimpse of the city from the Alhambra

Useful Info:

Restaurante Seville
Calle Oficios, 12
+34 958 221 223
Posted in Andalusia, Granada, Spain | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

La Alhambra

We didn’t plan this, going to Granada that is. I was thinking Cordoba because it is closer to Seville. And of course, the beautiful Mezquita de Cordoba tickled my fancy. In Cadiz, however, our host was bewildered that we weren’t going to Granada and urged us to take a trip there. Curiosity got the better of us and the Mezquita will have to wait.

pic-3

So what is there in Granada that captivated the hearts of even its own? It was the pride in their faces that convinced me to change plans. La Alhambra, the most renowned building of the Andalusian Islamic historical legacy, is in Granada, and this Moorish citadel and palace is one big reason behind the region’s appeal.

pic-1

The private tour we booked included tickets to this UNESCO World Heritage Site. They say that when in Granada, you cannot miss the grand Alhambra because it is a city, a fortress and a palace all in one site.

overlooking-the-modern-Ganada

On a hill overlooking the modern lower town, the Alhambra (consisting of three parts—the Nasrid Palace, the Alcazaba and the Generalife) snake around the Sabika hill.

Alhambra

It is the pinnacle of Moorish Art that captured well the Muslim Spain. One of the great architecture sights of Europe, it is an outstanding example of royal Arab residences of the medieval period.

pic-12

A series of courtyards surrounded by rooms present a varied repertoire of Moorish arched columns, fountains, and light reflecting water basins.

pic-16-partal-palaceThe Partal Palace

Here’s more captures… the details, the grandeur, the lushness– a great source of pride indeed.

pic-2The tall hedges of the Generalife Garden.

pic-4 pic-5

pic-6-ceiling-designCeiling Design

pic-7 pic-8 pic-9 pic-10   pic-11   pic-13

pic-14The garden of the Nasrid Palace
pic-15The facade of the Alcazaba, the battlements

   

Useful Info

The Nasrid Palace is booked by time and date, and visitors must be mindful of the time stated on their tickets. There is always a queue so make sure not to be late or you might not get in.

La Alhambra
Calle Real de la Alhambra
+34 958 027 971
Posted in Andalusia, Spain | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

The Alcazar and Barrio Santa Cruz

CollageCredits:  Template by J Sprague Photo collage; Paper by Scrapmuss Designs

After a night of soulful music and dancing, elated from the cultural assimilation, we were back on the street the next day for more. The Santa Cruz district, also known as Barrio Santa Cruz, the old Jewish quarters, is just a hop away from our hostel.

Best known for its small plazas—Plaza de Santa Cruz, Plaza de los Venerables,

plaza-alianzaPlaza Alianza
plaza dona elviraPlaza Dona Elvira

Plaza Alianza, Plaza de Dona Elvira among others—hidden around the lively labyrinth of narrow streets and alleys awash with shops not only of touristy souvenirs

shopSangre Espanola–burnt my MC here.

and bars indulged too by locals,

bars

it is a natural gathering of visitors and the community alike. Picturesque lime-washed houses added to its charm.

And in this district stands 3 UNESCO World Heritage sites:

cathedral-from-triunfoThe Cathedral from Plaza del Triunfo

the Cathedral and its Giralda, the Archivo de Indias (which we failed to enter), and the Alcazar.

On the southeast side of the Plaza del Triunfo stands the Real Alcazar, supposedly the oldest European palace still in use.

alcazr-from-triunfoThe Alcazar from Plaza del Triunfo

Walking through the Alcazar is like walking through the history of Seville.

alcazar-collage

Art and architecture designs throughout the palace are marked by the diversity of cultures starting in Moorish times to the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, Baroque, and the XIX century.

Before it became the royal palace of Christian Kings, it was once a Moorish fortress. Today, it is still used as a part-time residence of the Spanish royal family, although only a few rooms are closed to the public.

alcazar-2

Built by Moorish architecture, the structure standing today still has details of a medieval fortress.

gardens

The gardens are outstanding, but I say that the picturesque Patio de las Doncellas, the Ambassador’s Hall,

patio-de-los-doncellas-2

patio-de-las-doncellas

patio-de-los-doncellas-3

with its tranquil pond that reflects the Mudejar plasterwork will transport you to another time. The intricate carvings and mosaic will leave you in awe.

The castle is huge, which took up half of our day. All the walking left us craving for tapas. And my notes tell me that Bodega Santa Cruz is the place to be when in the area.

bodega-santa-cruz

The bar wasn’t swarming with people yet, as it was only half past 11, so we easily found a table at the corner, in plain view of our bartender who wrote our orders down in chalk.

Bodega-sta.-cruz-dishesLeft to right: pringa, berenjenas con miel (fried aubergines with honey and salt), lomo chipiona

One by one, he calls out our orders, pringa, lomo chipiona, alitas de pollo, berenjenas con miel… all good that left us gratified.

And after wandering through the barrio, we were back for more tapas, al fresco this time.

Cafe-Alianza

We settled for Café Alianza at the plaza of the same name.

Restaurant-Alianza

Satisfying early dinner in a lovely square, a great way to cap the day.

Useful Info:

Bodega Sta. Cruz
Calle Rodrigo Caro, 1A
+35 954 21 32 46
 
Café Restaurante Alianza
Calle de Rodrigo Caro, 9
+34 954 21 76 35
 
Royal Alcazar of Seville
Patio de Banderas
+34 954 50 23 24
 
Sangre Española
Calle Santa Teresa, 4
+34 954 22 72 26
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