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


I was going on a mission … to hopefully see enough beauty in the areas I was going to in Spain that I could come home and put a tour together … I found it everywhere I went – in the people, the architecture, the surrounding countryside, the small cities, the olive trees and the orange trees…it was everywhere and what surprised me the most was how utterly comfortable I felt here. It was simply amazing. I was also surprised at how many people spoke English. The areas that I travelled in were so magical…I actually kept thinking that I had been here before – so similar in a lot of ways to Italy, Morocco and other countries. It just felt very comfortable to be here and now I will tell you what I saw while there and then begin to use these as stepping stones in my tour that I want to do for June 2016. There is so much more I want to add to make this just the perfect tour for you!

November 11th I arrived into Madrid airport to catch my short flight to Malaga to meet my ground handler. On the way to Granada we stopped at La Concepcion Gardens.
La Concepcion Historical-Botanical Gardens belong to the “City of Malaga” Municipal Botanical Trust. They were created in about 1855 by the Marquis and Marchioness of Loring and subsequently extended by the Echevarria-Echevarrieta family. They are home to an exquisite open-air collection of tropical and subtropical flora. Plant species from Europe, America, Asia, Africa and Oceania are all on show here. In addition to its botanical riches, La Concepcion boasts an equally-significant historical heritage. In the XIX century, La Concepcion served as a meeting point for a whole host of illustrious figures of the time. Politicians, artists, aristocrats and the noble Malaga bourgeoisie all frequented its gardens. As a result, a number of distinguished buildings were erected here: the magnificent Stately Home, the cypress house, the administrator’s house, the gardener’s hut and the schoolhouse; two iron greenhouses; a large arbour; fountains, footbridges, flights of steps, a delightful viewpoint, and, most impressive of all, the Loring Museum, a small, Doric-style building which housed the archaeological discoveries unearthed in the excavations financed by the estate’s first owners. Some of these archaeological pieces are on display around the museum, having recently been relocated as part of a project by the architect Jose Fernandez Oyarzabal.

La Concepcion is home to a romantic-style garden that was officially recognized as a “garden of historical-artistic importance” in 1943. Worthy of particular note among the 2,000-plus species to be found on the estate are the trees that make up the enormous wood, where ficuses, araucarias, casuarinas, magnolias, pines, cypresses and cedars, some over 100 years old, create a remarkable arboretum. Species from subtropical climes predominate here. The gardens’ collection of palm trees is considered one of the finest in all of Europe, comprising almost 100 species, some of which are unique exhibits, such as a 7-bough date tree and a Chilean palm which is one of the biggest of its type in Spain, as well as a number of trees rarely found in these latitudes. La Concepcion also boasts a large collection of aquatic plants, bamboos, cycads, zamias and encephalartos, a wide variety of traditional Malaga vines, cactus, insectivorous, orchids, bromeliads, fruit trees and natural areas of Mediterranean forest.

Jardin Nazari Gardens in Velez de Benaudalla

The Nazarí Gardens were built by the Arabs, centuries ago when the Moors ruled most of Spain. There are in fact Moorish castles all over Spain, and Al-Andalus was the name given to the area ruled by the Moors, today we know it as Andalucia. It is one of the last Nazarian gardens in Andalusia. So there is a lot of Islamic influence here, as in many gardens in this region of Spain.
Gardens with an Islamic influence were designed to provide men and women with the five most important benefits of life:
  • The spiritual – a vision of paradise on earth
  • The aesthetic – it must stimulate the senses of sight, touch, smell, hearing to inspire us to be more artistic and create art
  • The psychological – to help us to relax, contemplate, observe, enjoy and rest
  • The botanical and scientific – to create a place for research (these gardens were chosen to grow new plants and spices brought from other continents).
  • The nutritional – the Nazari gardens grow fruit, vegetables and herbs.

Water is the strongest element, coursing through every part of the garden in a different way. At the top of the garden is a natural water cascade which gushes down into a channel that carries water to areas in the rest of the garden. If you go down to the lower level you can enter some caves as well. I didn’t have time for this.

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