Spain Trip Recap
November 11th – 20th, 2014
Bella España – Beautiful Spain!


November 13th

We drive to Cordoba today – the countryside is just plain magical. Citrus and olive trees for as far as you can see. Roads that are wonderful to drive on.
Then we reach Moratalla Garden - These gardens were created in around 1910-1915 on an Andalusian estate belonging to the Marquis of Viana to turn it into a recreational residence and a base for big game hunting. The gardens were designed by J. C. N. Forestier and integrate the French style with the Neo-Sevillian style he created. A great avenue between the façade of the House/Palace and the ornamental iron gate at the entrance develops into seven terraces of slightly sunken lawn. On the terraces there are various whimsical motifs like fountains, benches and tables, serpentines etc, made of brick and tile. The rest of the garden area is in a more intimate, slightly romantic style, shady and wooded. The citrus orchards surrounding the garden are incredible and if lucky you may find that perfect orange laying on the ground just ready to eat!

From there we drove to the Botanical Gardens of Cordoba. Not large and so easy to walk as it was all flat. So much to see here too. A whole citrus area with even those funny looking finger lemons called Buddha's hand. Olive tree varieties and three glass houses full of plants. The hothouse has 130 plant species from the Canary Islands, divided into three areas by climate: moist such as geranium; desert plants, such as spiny and succulent (cacti and aloes); and a diverse group which includes ferns and Cycads (palms and ferns), as well as many native Spanish plants, also found in the Andalucian mountains and the Balearic islands.

Then to the Palacio de Viana - 5 centuries of the history of Cordoba are here and what an outstanding collection of both stately homes and courtyard gardens passed down from Roman and Muslim times... so much I just had to buy the book to grasp it all. The palace of the Prince of Viana has 12 patios and a garden covering the Renaissance and the Baroque periods which have been restored by the owners at the beginning of the century. The garden features citrus trees, date palms and rose bushes. The Patio de la Madama is the oldest part and has a small temple in the center formed by an arch and clipped cypresses around the figure of a woman.

This Palace, which was declared a National Monument and important Artistic Garden, has a surface of 6,500 m2, more than half of which is occupied by the garden and the rest by a building with two floors and two little entresols. The inside of the palace is fascinating. You can still feel its homely atmosphere, revealing the sensitivity of a lady who was able to weave different elements in perfect harmony to create these special rooms. Visitors, more than 70,000 every year, are especially attracted by the elegant patios and the superb 18th century garden of this palace which has lately become a museum, thanks to the collaboration of an important institution in the town. With its open area formed by the twelve patios and the garden, the palace is a virtual Museum of Patios - a place closely linked to the history and tradition of Cordoba.

Then I was dropped off at my hotel which was very close to the gardens of the Alcazar so even though it was dusk I headed over there just to get a feel for it as I was leaving early the next morning for Sevilla. Not enough time here…need two nights here as there is more I want to add to the tour. I got to the Gardens of the Alcazar just too late to really see anything. I ran around to get a feel for the place and it will be wonderful to see it in the are a couple outside and you can see how dark it was. A couple from inside to see the mosaics. The Alcázar is the place where Ferdinand and Isabella welcomed Christopher Columbus who explained his plans to find a westbound sea route to India. The major attraction of the Royal Fortress are its magnificent gardens. Beautiful fountains, basins and well-cut hedges give evidence of advanced Moorish horticulture experience which was taken over by their Christian followers. There is a wide variety of plants, palm trees, cypresses, orange and lemon, trees to be seen which overlook stone fountains and large ponds. Originally the water was brought in by an aqueduct from the Sierra Morena and the great Albolafia waterwheel in the River Guadalquivir nearby helped with the supply. The large ponds were added in the 19th century. Spanish kings such as Alfonso X, Peter I or Charles V have walked through this place, and you can find out about the legends that accompany each garden. Did you know that the Prince’s Garden got its name when Catholic Queen Isabella gave birth to Prince John in a room whose window overlooked this garden? The Diners Garden, meanwhile, is home to the Pavilion of Charles V, where the Spanish Emperor used to have dinner in the summer.

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