Spain – Spectacular Gardens & Gaudi Tour 2016
Granada, Cordoba, Sevilla, Barcelona and the Costa Brava Coastline
June 7th – June 16th, 2016


June 10th – Cordoba to Sevilla

This morning we visited the Alcazares de los Reyes Cristianos before leaving Cordoba to explore Sevilla. As well as the unique mosque-cathedral, Cordoba's treasures include the Alcazar, or Royal House, built by the Christians in 1328. The Alcazar served as one of the primary residences of Isabella I of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon. From 1490 to 1821 the Inquisition operated from here. Today the castle’s gardens are among the most beautiful in Andalucía and we also took time to enjoy the Roman mosaics…they are truly special.

Then on to the Palacio de Moratalla, dating back to the Romans. We had fun trying not to get wet with some of the sprinklers but I have to say it was warm on this tour so far and I don’t think they minded getting a sprinkle or two. It is currently owned by the Duke of Segovia. I wonder what impressed us more - the majestic 19th century gardens designed by JCN Forestier in the purest style of Versailles and eye popping pink palace nestled in green landscape or a wander behind this all to see acres and acres of orange trees, just hoping to find one on the ground that you can peel and enjoy – which we did!. Palma is the capital of citrus county located on the border between Cordoba and Sevilla. Oranges from this area are considered in the citrus industry as one the best worldwide.

Did you know? A short history lesson on the Seville Orange!

Although the Seville orange smells like a true orange, it does not have many other obvious award winning virtues. It’s rough, thick and bumpy deep orange colored peel clings tightly to its pale orange translucent flesh, making it hard to peel. It is sour, tart, sometimes bitter and laden with seeds. It has two primary attributes: the peel contains fragrant essential oils and its flesh, when ripe is extremely juicy. The most common usage for the Seville orange is for the production of marmalade where it can use its peel and juice to its advantage; any sour and bitter flavors can be developed and enriched into elements of depth. Sour oranges are native to China. Trade routes brought them to Africa and the Mediterranean in the 10th Century. Cultivation of sour orange varieties led to the Seville orange of Seville, Spain in the 12th Century, where it would accrue its name. The Seville orange was the only orange variety in Europe for the next 500 years. It was also one of the first citrus varieties brought to the New World where it was naturalized in the Caribbean, South, Central and North America. When sweet oranges were introduced to America, sour orange trees would begin to shift their role as edible fruit to rootstock. Cross pollination of the sour and sweet orange trees also proved to create bitter fruits in sweet orange varieties which forced farmers to reduce production of sour orange trees.

According to legend, Sevilla was founded by Hercules and its origins are linked with the Tartessian civilization. It was called Hispalis under the Romans and Isbiliya with the Moors. Sevilla lies on the banks of the Guadalquivir and is one of the largest historical centers in Europe, it has the Minaret of La Giralda, the Cathedral (one of the largest in Christendom), and the Alcázar Palace. Part of its treasure also includes Casa de Pilatos.

From the Palacio we head to Sevilla and our first stop is the Centro Andaluz de Arte. This large, walled complex of honey-coloured stone buildings, situated on the Isla la Cartuja has seen many ups and downs during its long, dramatic history. From monks who welcomed Christopher Columbus who stayed here while planning his second voyage, to barracks for Napoleon’s troops, a ceramic factory run by an Englishman producing world-renowned porcelain and those emblematic tall, cone-shaped brick kilns and chimneys are so much part of Seville’s skyline today, to a modern-day contemporary art gallery and open-air live music venue. The 16th-century monastery consists of a magnificent entrance gate with surrounding grounds and lake; domed church with various chapels and Mudejar cloisters; numerous patios; refectory with wood coffered ceiling; crypt; chapterhouse with tombs; and a beautiful walled garden with fruit trees and a small Mudejar torreon (tower) with mirador offering views over the river Guadalquivir to the city.

Then lunch at Azotea, some rest time at the hotel then out to see Casa de Pilatos with its beautiful tilework and luscious gardens.

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