Seeing & Doing: Iberian Snapshots, Part 3

Photographs by Judy and Les Conklin

Part 1 published photographs taken in Portugal. Part 2 showed photographs taken in southern and central Spain. The part publishes more photos taken during our all-to-brief trip through southern and central Spain.

Part 3.

white town

Road to Ronda, Spain. On the road from Carmona to Ronda, we stopped for a coffee and enjoyed this view of one of Andalusia’s white hill towns. For centuries, these towns and their hilltop forts straddled the contested frontier between Moors and Christians, swapping hands as power shifted one way and the next. It’s a surprisingly “green” area, thanks to the heavy rains from November to April, and – in our case – into May.


Paradore de Ronda

Ronda, Spain. While in Ronda, we stayed in the Paradore de Ronda. It’s the large 4-story building (top left) situated on the edge of 360-foot-deep ravine. The paradore is housed in the former town hall building. The location is incredible, with views of the Tagus River, which eventually reaches Lisbon. The ravine is part of El Tajo Gorge. In his novel, “For Whom the Bell Tolls,” Ernest Hemingway describes how prisoners were thrown alive into the canyon during the Spanish Civil War.


white houses of Ronda

Ronda, Spain. A stormy sky provides a dramatic background as the sun shines on Ronda’s white houses.


Narrow streets of Ronda

Ronda, Spain. This photograph shows the narrow medieval streets of Ronda’s walled Moorish Old Town (La Ciudad). The narrow streets and whitewashed buildings reveal a Moorish inheritance.


View of landscape from Ronda

Ronda, Spain. Ronda offers dramatic views of the Andalusian landscape.


Young bull

Ronda, Spain. Near Ronda we visited a bull ranch owned by a famous bullfighter to learn about this way of life and the breeding ot toros. Young bulls, like this one, are kept in a separate pasture from the older bulls. The development and disposition of the bulls are carefully monitored as they grow and bulls that are judged to be not good candidates for the bull ring are sold. At age five, the remaining candidates are sold for use in bull fighting. Bull-fighting, a long-standing part of Spanish culture, is increasingly controversial. The owner-bullfighter and the ranch guide were very accommodating, answering questions about the ranch and bullfighting.


Statue of bull

Ronda, Spain. This statue stands outside Plaza de Toros, built in 1785. Ronda is the birthplace of modern bullfighting. Plaza de Toros is Spain’s second oldest bullring. Ernest Hemingway immortalized the romance of Ronda and bullfighting in several of his novels.


Bullring in Madrid

Madrid, Spain. de Toros de Las Ventas (shortened to Las Ventas) is a famous bullring with a seating capacity of 25,000. The price of the seats depends upon how close they are to the arena and whether they are in the sun or the shade (the latter being more expensive). The bullfighting season starts in March and ends in October; bullfights are held every day during the San Isidro Fiesta, and every Sunday or holiday during the season. Bullfights start at 6 or 7 PM and last for two to three hours. Several members of our group went to Las Ventas to watch the bullfights (there are six “rounds” with three bull fighters facing two bulls each). Judy and I had seen bull fights in Mexico and passed on the chance to see them again.


Interior courtyard of paradore

Ubeda, Spain. This photograph shows the interior courtyard of our accommodations in Ubeda, the Paradore de Ubeda Ubeda is an ancient provincial city often referred to as the “Florence of Andalusia.” This paradore was originally the palace of Dom Fernando Ortego Salido, the Dean of Malaga. The palace was altered and renovated in the 17th century and opened as a paradore in 1930. Major restorations took place in 1942 and again in 1947. In 2003, Ubeda together with the neighboring city of Baeza was named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.


Church of Santa Maria

Ubeda, Spain. The Paradore of Ubeda is in a square located in the old area of the town, next to some of the most beautiful buildings in the area, This photographs shows the 17th century Church of Santa Maria. The other buildings in the square are the sixteenth century Church of El Salvador, the Palacio Vazquez de Molina and the Palacio de El Marques. Romans and later Visigoths occupied the site of Ubeda as a settlement. The area became an important city in the Muslim conquest of the Iberia. Inn 1233, King Ferdinand III was able to wrest the town from the Muslim rulers. After that, the Muslim, Christian and Jewish cultures coexisted for many years.


Santa Maria da Blanco

Toledo, Spain. The former capital of Spain, Toledo is still the capital of the autonomous province of Castile-La Mancha. Located on a hill, overlooking the Tagus River, Toledo was known as the “city of the three cultures” for its harmonious blend of Christian, Jewish, and Muslim cultures from the 11th to the 13th centuries. This photograph is of Santa María la Blanca. Erected in 1180, some consider it the oldest synagogue building in Europe still standing. It is now owned and preserved by the Catholic Church. It was constructed under the Christian Kingdom of Castile by Islamic architects for Jewish use. Today, the building is a museum.


Toledo Cathedral

Toledo, Spain. The Toledo Cathedral was begun in 1226 under the rule of Ferdinand III and the last Gothic enhancements were made in the 15th century. El Transparente, partially pictured here using a zoom lens, is one of the cathedral’s outstanding features. It is several stories high and part of a large skylight cut very, very high up that is decorated with fantastic figures done in stucco, painting, bronze castings, and multiple colors of marble; a masterpiece of Baroque mixed media. Its name refers to the unique illumination that allows light to strike the tabernacle.


Gold alter in Seville Cathedral

Seville, Spain. Seville Cathedral is one of the largest and most impressive churches in the world. It was built in the 15th century at the site of a 12th century mosque. It is home to the golden Retablo Mayor, the largest alter piece in the world.


Interior of Seville Catheral

Seville, Spain. Interior of Seville Cathedral. The cathedral has been designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.


Columbus tomb

Seville, Spain. Seville Cathedral is the burial-place of Christopher Columbus. DNA tests have confirmed that the remains in the tomb pictured here are those of Christopher Columbus.


Alcaza in Seville

Seville, Spain. The Alcazar of Seville is a royal palace that was developed by Moorish Muslim kings. It is considered to be one of the most beautiful in Spain. The upper levels of the Alcazar are still used by the royal family as the official Seville residence. It is a UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.


Tile wall in Alcazar

Seville, Spain. Tiles in the Alcázar of Seville.


Seville, Spain. His photograph shows the plaza and some of the buildings that were created for the Ibero-American Exposition of 1929, a world's fair. The city of Seville had prepared for the Exposition over the course of 19 years. Many of the foreign buildings, including the United States exhibition building, were used as consulates after the closing of the exhibits.

Seville, Spain. This photograph shows the plaza and some of the buildings that were created for the Ibero-American Exposition of 1929, a world’s fair. The city of Seville had prepared for the Exposition over the course of 19 years. Many of the foreign buildings, including the United States exhibition building, were used as consulates after the closing of the exhibits.


Bridge over canal at exposition grounds

Seville, Spain. Bridge constructed for the for the Ibero-American Exposition.


pieces of tile cover huge plaza with pattern

Seville, Spain. Impressive plaza of Ibero-American Exposition of 1929.


Grocery store

Ubeda, Spain. Produce section of a grocery store. A large Apple store in Madrid was jammed with customers. Despite its tumultuous past, visitors find it relatively easy to see and do things in Spain.

Part 1 displays photographs from Portugal. Part 2 and Part 3 display photographs taken in Spain.

About the Trip

During our tour of Portugal and Spain, we travelled by bus with 14 other tour participants, a guide, and a driver. We arrived in Lisbon, Portugal on April 30, 2016 and our tour ended in Madrid, Spain. We arrived back in Phoenix on May 14, 2016. The trip ncluded stays in Libson (3 nights), Evora (2 nights), Carmona (2 nights), Ronda (2 nights), Ubeda (2 nights), and Madrid (3), with side-trips to Sintra, Merida, Toledo, Seville, and Segovia. With the exception of Lisbon and Madrid, we stayed in paradores and pousada, which are restored historic inns from convents, monasteries, castles, to town halls. Everything about the trip was excellent, except the rain in Spain. The tour is offered by Overseas Adventure Travel (OAT).

Related Articles & Websites

Seeing & Doing: Iberia Snapshots,  Part 1

Seeing & Doing: Iberia Snapshots, Part 2

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Author: Les Conklin

Les Conklin is the editor of A Peek at the Peak publications and the author of Images of America: Pinnacle Peak. He is the president of the Greater Pinnacle Peak Association and the Monte de Paz HOA. He founded Friends of the Scenic Drive and has served on the Scottsdale Pride Commission, McDowell Sonoran Preserve Commission, and on the boards of several local nonprofits. Les is a resident of north Scottsdale and a member of Scottsdale's History Maker Hall of Fame. Les is a volunteer school tour guide at the Musical Instrument Museum.

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