The Almighty Alhambra!

Me Jenny has been talking about wanting to visit the Alhambra in Grenada for ages and here we are! Now there is A LOT of information to give about the Alhambra, so I’m going to try and keep it brief for all those not so interested in history (sorry MLD ūüôā

This ‚ÜĎ was our view of it last night from our hotel near the river. It’s quite lovely all lit up at night.

You can go on your own and wander through, but my recommendation would be to go with a guide (on your own if possible – the big groups were too big!) So Me Jenny and I headed down to the square to grab a cab to get us to the meeting place…

This wasn’t here when we went to bed last night!

Let me just give you a brief history of The Alhambra if I can….
(Scroll down to the ***** if you’re not that keen on this bit, although you might miss out on some nice pics – it’s up to you.)

The name Alhambra means ‘Red Castle’ in Arabic. It is located on top of the hill overlooking the city of Grenada and the hills of Sierra Nevada.

pic: getyouguide

It is located on a strategic point, with a view over the whole city and further across the fields. Roman ruins have also been found, leading people to believe that Romans were already on that site before the Moors arrived. The complex is a bit like ‘the house that Jack built’ – in that there doesn’t appear to be any reason to its muddled up layout and that’s because for approximately 900 years different people have stamped their mark on the place.

Pic: Alhambra Info

The first historical documents known about the Alhambra date from the 9th century when a chap named Sawwar ben Hamdun turned up in 889.

The Alcazaba was used as a military fortress with a view over the whole city, but it wasn’t until the arrival of the first king of the Nasrid dynasty, Mohammed ben Al-Hamar (Mohammed I, 1238-1273), in the 13th century, that the royal residence was established in the Alhambra.

Once the king arrived, some serious renovations began. Water was canalised from the river Darro, and many buildings were built.

These renos were carried on by Mohammed II(1273-1302) and Mohammed III (1302-1309), who apparently also built the public baths and the Mosque, which was later bulldozed and a church was built in its place.

You can see here the church is right next to Charles’ palace. This used to be, and still is, the main street of the Alhambra and down the right hand side you can just see a channel with water running down. The Alhambra was purposely built on this slight decline so that water could travel to the palaces using gravity.

Construction continued on with Yusuf I (1333-1353) and Mohammed V (1353-1391). Then in 1492 the Nasrid Dynasty finally fell to the Christians and the Alhambra became the royal court of Ferdinand and Isabel and the palaces were promptly altered to suit them Рin the Renaissance style.

Jump ahead a few years and 1526 came around and Charles I & V commissioned a new Renaissance palace better suiting the Holy Roman Emperor and it was in direct juxtaposition with the Nasrid Andalusian architecture.

He demolished a large section of the original palace in order to build this huge palace with his name all over it, but it was ultimately never completed due to¬†rebellions in Granada and there were other palaces that they decided to put their money into…. so this one was just left. (You can see in the pics below that every circle and statue shelf – there are about 200 of them – all empty.)

Also, at the end of the battle with Napoleon, in 1812, the French exploded the remaining gun powder so that it wouldn’t fall into the hands of their enemies (and probably out of a bit of spite) and destroyed many of the buildings.

Then an earthquake in 1821 did a bit more damage and then it was left abandoned…

Until 1829 when this bloke came along – Washington Irving. You might remember him from writings such as ‘Rip Van Winkle’ and ‘The Legend of Sleepy Hollow’. He had done a bit of travelling around Europe and fell in love with Andalusia. He visited Grenada twice and on his second trip he stayed at the Alhambra with his mate, Russian Prince Dolgorouki.

Pic: Cicerone Grenada Website

The Alhambra of 1829 was a little different to what it is today. It was abandoned and inhabited by vagabonds and travellers. This surprised them, however what was really shocking was seeing the walls covered in graffiti. Back then (and probably still today) this was how travellers immortalised the date of their visit. Washington thought this was an outrage and vowed to fight for the preservation and reconstruction of the Alhambra.

W.I. and his friend, the Russian prince¬†decided to give the First Guest Book of the Alhambra, so that visitors and travellers could sign that instead of the palace walls. A simple solution really. Then he wrote articles explaining the need to recover the Alhambra and give it the place in history that it deserved. He also wrote his book – ‘Tales of the Alhambra” which prompted people to stop and take notice.

Thank you Washington and your Russian friend. There is a monument in W.I.’s name in the Alhambra… This door is closed to the public, but behind it is apparently some pieces of original furniture.

If you’re still with me – well done you! We were at the Alhambra for hours and there was soooo much information – this is as shrunk as I think I could have made it.

***** (you may care to scroll backwards for some more pics – I found that whilst giving the background, I used some of the pics that I was going to show you anyway…. just ignore the boring history words)

Ok, on with the tour……

We started our tour in the Generalife Gardens which were built to resemble the moorish idea of heaven. When I first heard the name – ‘Generalife’ I immediately thought it was 2 words – general life – meaning that this is maybe where they spent their life generally…. but um, no. Generalife is a moorish word which means “Garden of the Architect”. There are thoughts that the gardens and house might have actually belonged to the actual architect or another thought is is the architect is God.

Either way – they’re beautiful.

There are a lot of walk ways and natural tunnels as symbols of the gateway to heaven and the garden is set out quite strategically with straight lines and symmetry with water in the middle and plants, trees and flowers surrounding it.

Just some of the beautiful flowers in the garden… Not as pretty as the flower above though.

We heard a lot about how the moors decorated their palaces and it was fascinating. They use Arabic words and phrases intertwined with plant motifs, and a lot of tessellating, and symmetrical patterns. The idea, which I thought was interesting is that the Islamic symbols are fluid and ask the view to let their mind wander around the patterns rather than focusing on one thing.

This grandiose room was designed for the Sultan to receive visitors and people wanting things from him. I couldn’t get a very good photo of the entire room, but it was huge and square with 3 little alcoves in each of the 3 walls (the 4th being the door). The Sultan would sit in the one in the middle opposite the door and he would have one advisor in each other 8. How they communicated and advised from those positions, I’m not sure – impressive, but not very practical.

Some of the palace buildings and indeed entire palaces that were destroyed were never rebuilt and gardens have since been planted in those locations surrounding the ruins which is a nice way to walk around and have a look.

Me Jenny got politely asked again to please not touch the walls in one of the palaces by our guide and there are signs all through the gardens to please not touch the plants. Bless her, she had to walk like this with her arms beside her side.

These photos are not doing this place justice. It was huge, with a million people and sometimes you just can’t capture amazing spaces in those circumstances. They let in 6,000 to 8,000 visitors every day and you have to work around big groups which our guide, Senny did with expert ease. He was so enthusiastic and explained everything really well. He was interesting to listen to and had some great stories.

And here’s the view from the top…

Jenny’s thoughts: “I thought is was breathtaking. It was historically interesting and beautifully restored and the gardens were beautiful.” She added: “At least I was short and sweet.” Whatever!

So there you have it.

Sing us a song Edith

So, we went into a frock shop and I popped upstairs to the mezzanine level to try on a frock. And this is what I heard….

Edith Piaf’s ‘La Vie en rose’ is playing on the speaker.

Me Jenny, who is sitting downstairs waiting for me says to the shop owner: “Oh I love this song.” – Shop Owner: “yes, I love it too.”
“What’s her name?” – Shop Owner: Edith Piaf.”
“Do you sing?” – Shop Owner: NO RESPONSE

When When I came downstairs there was a lovely dog in the shop and Jenny whispered to me: “Her name is Edith Piaf.” “Who? the dog?” I replied. “Yes!” Jenny said laughing.

As I as purchasing the frock I had to speak to the shop owner and I asked, “Your dog’s name is Edith?” and he looked at me confused and said, “No, why?” Confused, I asked again, “Her name is not Edith Piaf?” and it finally dawned on him what had happened and he roared laughing…..

“No”, he said, My dog’s name is Pep√©. The singer is Edith Piaf. Oh I get it now. You thought I said that the dog was Edith?”

So I thought that Jenny was asking the shop owner the name of the singer (maybe she couldn’t remember) and then asking him if he sang – which wasn’t really an odd question, except that wasn’t what was happening at all.

Poor unsuspecting Pep√© had come in unnoticed by the shop owner prompting me Jenny to ask her name at that exact moment…… and then hilarity ensued!

We all laughed – in English, in Spanish and poor Edith Pep√© didn’t know what the hell was going on. I think when I finally get a dog of my own, Edith Piaf will have to be on the list of names.

The road to Ronda

Ronda was a bit of a surprise. We’d forgotten we were going there… and what a lovely surprise she turned out to be.

Apparently the 3rd most visited town in the south of Spain and all because the town is split in half by a gigantic 100 metre deep gorge and connected by this amazing bridge. It’s called the “New Bridge” even though it was completed in 1793. There are two other bridges – the Puente Viejo (Old Bridge), which dates from 1616, and the Puento Romano, which actually dates back to the Moorish period, between the 9th and 15th centuries. The older two are nowhere near as spectacular as the New Bridge and are inconveniently in the wrong place for getting from one side of town to the other, but they’re there.

A bit like Mandurah – we used to have an old bridge, then they built a new bridge, then replaced the old bridge with a new bridge which we all call the new bridge…. but what of the old new bridge?

The two sides of town are the old town and the modern area. The construction of this bridge took 40 years and was so dangerous that 50 workers lost their lives.

Both sides of town and the bridge between them were packed with tourists. We noticed a hot air balloon getting ready for take off as we crossed over.

Once on the other side (it’s really not that far across) we got to have a sticky beak in the old buildings, which as you would have come to guess by now – I love.

This doorway, when open, has an amazing view across to the mountains. It’s also pretty lovely closed.

  1. view up the street
  2. an antique Moorish communications device
  3. traditional transportation
  4. a lovely view over to the mountains

In the street there are these lovely shaped trees with little fruit on them. When they’re ripe they turn red like a strawberry, but taste nothing like it.

The first stop along the street was the Don Bosco house, originally owned by Don Francisco Granadinos and his wife Do√Īa Dolores G√≥mez. Don Bosco had become friends with Frank and Delores and when they died they left the property to the Salesian Congregation – founded by St John Bosco, with the purpose of being a house of rest, healing, hospitality and care for the elderly members of the Congregation.

They did leave one slightly creepy condition – that they never leave the house….. Frank and Delores are in coffins in the upstairs part of the house, which I understand, ’cause why would you want to leave this view?

And this beautiful house…

Me Jenny with Delores and Frank…. oh they’re watching you alright!

A pretty garden and this view…

There is a lovely seating area dedicated to Don John Bosco done nicely on painted tiles…

However I can’t help think that perhaps the top of his head didn’t need to cross two tiles. Look, I’m not an art critic, I just know what I like.

We kept strolling up the street for more views…. as had everybody else. Luckily these groups move on pretty quickly as they have to keep up with the tour leader and her scarf on a stick.

Again, cars are meant to be limited in this area, and the streets are so narrow – some starting quite wide, but narrowing at the other end. Cars are meant to stop and wait for pedestrians to move past, but if they did that, they’d be sitting there all day.

Each time we got a glimpse of this balloon it tried to get off the ground, but then slowly floated to the ground again. Spoiler…. it never got into the air.

Also in this pic you can see the forest (the dark trees) are where the wild pigs live – the pigs of the famous Iberian ham. Our guide lived over in that area and she said if she leaves her car outside the fence at night, the pigs, after rolling in the mud, come and scratch themselves up against her car, leaving a brown mark at pig height.

Here’s something else I didn’t know. Orange trees come in sweet – the ones we eat and bitter – which you don’t eat, but they do have a lovely aroma, so they line the streets with them. You can tell the two apart because the bitter orange trees have this double leaf system going on. Spain sells all their bitter oranges to the UK for the making of marmalade and the skins are used to make gin – win/win/win!

There are iron bars on every window. Apparently this is for security, but most importantly so they can show off their iron working skills.

If you do have a car here – this is pretty much how you park… hard up against the wall and touch the car in front and and sometimes behind as well. I don’t know how they got in and out. Safe to say that you probably wouldn’t own an expensive car if you lived here and had to park on the street.

Another example of different religions having used the same building, or building on in their own style to extend the original building.

They charged a fee to see inside that church, so we went to have a look at the church of the patron saint of Peace… when Me Jenny heard our guide say this, she thought for a moment that she said ‘peas’ and thought, that’s a little odd, but maybe she’s the patron saint for ALL vegetables – you know how your thought process goes…. it turns out that Maria wasn’t the gardener Jenny thought she might have been. lol.

Isn’t this a pretty church?

This smaller church is looked after by the school next door and is run on donations. They have a statue of Mary/Maria at the front of the alter and if you zoom in you can see that she is wearing clothes made out of material. Apparently there was a famous bull fighter who came to the church to pray that nothing bad would happen to him during his fight and when he came out unscathed, he paid tribute to Maria by having a dress made out of the finest materials and jewels, which she’s wearing in pics 1 & 2, which is about 200+ years old. Since then she as acquired a number of different outfits and it can take a whole day to change her. Pic 3 is another statue who also has a wardrobe change every now and then.

Our next stop was to the famous bull ring. Let me get this out there – I don’t like bull fighting one bit and had some mixed feelings about going in there. In fact, I can’t quite believe that it still goes on today (it is banned in some places in Spain, but not all).

The bulls are privately owned, but they are put out into the wild, with little to no human contact so the they go crazy when they arrive here…

First, they are washed – cause, who wants to fight a dirty bull? The cleaner has to stand behind the wooden barrier to hose them down in case of death.

The bull ring is also a horse riding school, so there are horses, and these are the rooms the bulls are kept in before the fight. Pic 3 shows the upper level where there are rectangular doors in the floor that open up into the bull rooms below so they could throw them food.

Then out they come for the entertainment of the masses…

This bull ring is apparently the biggest in Spain (or probably the world?) in size of the actual ring was built in 1785. The stadium only holds 5,000 people. There are stadiums with bigger seating capacity, but with a smaller ring.

To finish our day we had a little luncheon overlooking the ‘Old Bridge’.

Thanks for your help Ronda.

Adios Sevilla

On our last night in Seville we wanted something a little bit easy. We’d had our tapas lunch and the thing about tapas is that you only have a few small dishes to share and that fills you up for a couple of hours and you think I couldn’t possibly eat dinner…. then dinner time comes around and you think – how could I possibly be hungry? But you are.

Across the road from our hotel is La Bartola, a nice looking restaurant/tapas bar that didn’t look like a plastic chairs tourist joint.

The whole way there (remember we have to walk through a 5km tunnel to get to the reception from our room!) I practised “una mesa para dos por favor” (a table for 2 please). Then Me Jenny walked in first and said “Hi” to which the waiter replied, “Hello, table for 2?” I was robbed, robbed I tell you. However from that point on they were very nice and let me brutalise their language for the rest of the evening.

A lovely spot.

Out there on our own

Our plan was always to go on day tours in each of the places we visited and thus far the tours and the guides that our lovely travel agent Lyn Tyson organised for us have been outstanding! Honestly, there hasn’t been one that we haven’t liked (except the lady at the cathedral – but we organised that one ourselves!) But we also enjoy a bit of down time where you can just stroll aimlessly through the streets to see what you might find. Today was one of those days.

We exited our hotel and turned right.

Shades over the street – ingenious!

We found ourselves back at The Mushroom and I gave it another look. I’ve decided that I don’t mind it (like my opinion matters to anybody in Seville!) but I still don’t think it goes with the beautiful old buildings it billows over.

We stopped off for a lovely coffee in this square not far from the ‘shrooms…

Then just because it’s all about the eating and the drinking – we stopped for Tapas and sangria. We tried a couple of lovely dishes while we watch the couple at the next table devour 2 whole chickens – that’s dedication.

Then she was home down some lovely streets…

As they are trying to restrict cars in the old town, there are plenty of other modes of transport around Seville. We’ve passed people on Segways, electric scooters, horse drawn carriages, pushbikes, motorbikes and the occasional mobility scooter!

And when you see the streets are this tiny and you have to resort to walking like Me Jenny here…. you can understand why.

C√°diz – by the coast

Today we’re heading to the beach and our luck was in – Delia was again our guide. She picked us up with our driver, David, who was also lovely. He spoke a little bit of English, so we ‘Spanglished’ our way through the day with Delia as our interpreter.

C√°diz, we learned is pronounced like Cardiff, but the a ‘th’ instead of the ‘ff’ at the end, and is Delia’s home town where she grew up, so again, this was a personal highlights tour. First we hit the breakwater wall out to the Castillo de San Sebastian. It was a pretty windy day, so the water was choppy, but you could imaging how lovely it would have been on a flat day.

This building used to be the place where royalty would come to ‘spa’. Heaven forbid they get a bit of sand on their feet or mingle with the common folk. It’s now the Underwater Archaeology Center Headquarters.

Here it is on a warmer day with more people – (obviously not my photo)

And here it is at low tide… (again, not my photo)

Once we’d taken in the sea breeze and I nabbed myself a couple of bits of seaglass (Chris – you would have been beside yourself!) we headed into the main part of town. The plan was to hit the markets, grab some food for a picnic and head to the beach.

Naturally in the middle of the town – there is a church.

The walk through the town was lovely – this old knife shop had been around since knives were invented.

And this building shows you what it was like back in the days where you paid taxes by the amount of windows you had…

Delia suggested that we try a local drink – sherry mixed with 7up. We weren’t sure ourselves, but with the assurance that somebody else would drink if it we didn’t like it – she bought the smallest amount on offer – 2 litres! This is also a way to support the local shops.

I think this shop keeper was a bit sick of answering this question…

Then – of course, churros, to eat while we looked around the market…

Then to the market… Stall after stall of fruit, cheese, meat, seafood and desserts.

We were discussing whether or not we would try a custard apple, and Me Jenny reached in, as she does, to give it a squeeze – well Delia almost tripped over herself – arms reached out with a slow motion “Noooooooo, please don’t touch!” Apparently the shop keepers prefer that you don’t squeeze their merch before you purchase it…. have you seen the avocados at Woolies? They might want to adopt the same approach.

With all our goods in bags we made our way back through town to the church square – check out this hotel pool that overlooks the church!

David picked us up in the van and we were away to our next stop of Vejer de la Frontera, which claims to be one of the most beautiful villages in all of Spain! Big call, I’ll let you be the judge, but it was certainly interesting…

Let me start with ‚ÄėLa Cobijado‚Äô – the traditional dress of the Vejer woman. At first glance I thought that she depicted a lady of Islamic faith as the scarf and dress look like the burqa, however, this dress comes from Castilian origins which would’ve been a mix of muslim, christian and jewish customs of women covering themselves (or at a least their heads) in public.

Over the centuries this traditional dress has been mandatory, discouraged and forbidden during the times of civil unrest because it was so easy to hide weapons underneath it and it is only recently that it has been bought back for special occasions.

The dress consists of a white petticoat with embroidery bands, a white blouse with lace, and a black skirt which is tied at the waist, then on the top – a black gathered cape, with a silk lining that enables the woman to be covered completely, except for an eye.

The cape can then be flung off to hang from the waist down to reveal the inside of the head covering and starts to look a lot like dress with a bustle… #fashion!

It seems that every city/town/village in Spain has a Plaza de Espana – some more grand than others. Vejer’s is the one with the lady and the fountain. It was at this spot that Me Jenny and I were waiting for our guide when we overheard two men and a woman walking up the street.

Man 1: (in a very posh English accent) Well, you’re not going to find a man bag up here Kevin!

We watched the trio heading up the street and into a shop where Kevin did in fact exit the shop with a purchase. Well done Kevin!

Up the hill, we had our own little win….. this chap was perched in his favourite spot….

Then as we passed he rolled over….. what was I meant to do?

Just wandering through these streets, cool with the shade and beautiful with their white colour and pretty flowers was proof that it deserved to be in at least the top 10 of pretty villages.

Remember I mentioned that Delia had told us in the Hidden Gems tour of Seville that there are no signs left that Jewish people lived there – they’d all been destroyed, Vejer was the same, except if you know where to look…. This is a Catholic Church, but if you look closely – there is a Star of David above the door.

Just a random door way….. why, what does your foyer look like?

Then we came to one of the prettiest views in the town…

All those people eating lunch clearly didn’t realise that if they had moved their chairs up the street a little they could be looking at this instead of the wall.

You see, it doesn’t take much to make your windows look pretty….. sure these are a little dead, but at least they tried.

There was one last thing to see in this town – the castle.

Where you could get these kinds of views….

  1. Back in the day there was a rule put into place that only residents of Vejer de la Frontera are allowed to work in on the lands around the village. You’re not allowed to bring your cousin in from Seville to work and that rule is still in place today.
  2. It’s very important to have a terrace attached to your property and it’s important to fill it with plants and antennas.
  3. That’s Morocco.
  4. Wind power the old fashioned way
  5. Wind power in the 21st century
  6. A pic of me – just in case you thought I wasn’t on this trip!

Time for lunch. It was late afternoon – just right for Spanish people, for us – we were a little peckish! We knew it would be too windy to eat at the beach, but it was nice to head down there and dip our toes into the Atlantic, and just to the right of that old fort you can vaguely see the outline of some hills – that’s Morocco again. Besides Tenerife in the Canary Islands, this is the closest to Africa that I’ve ever been.

So into the natural park we went for our picnic. Here Delia is mixing our 2 litres of sherry wine spritzer while David looks on to make sure the measurements are correct. Me Jenny can’t wait. We didn’t think we’d like it, but result – at least ¬Ĺ a litre was drunk.

I’ve not been good at taking photos of the food because I’m generally too hungry at the time and then when we’re finished I think – ‘Oh damn! should have taken a photo!’

However, I did get a pic of the figs. We also had a couple of different types of ham plus some dried tuna (which I didn’t love), 3 types of cheese, bread, olives, nuts, custard apple (non squeezed), and a special chocolate cake for dessert. Lovely!

Let’s just go back here for a little minute.

You’re welcome.

Seville’s Hidden Gems

This morning we were meeting our guide to take us on a little walk around the interesting neighbourhoods where the tourists don’t normally go. ¬†I was quite looking forward to it.

We waited in the hotel’s grand foyer…

Check out his awesome furniture collection in the grand foyer…

Then, the lovely Delia turned up – by far our favourite tour guide yet! She was lovely. Friendly, caring, interesting & funny. The type of person you’d want to be friends with (yes, I know we were paying her)

We started with the Santa Cruz area – where our hotel is located and worked our way outwards from there. The first laneway she took us down was this one with beautiful greenery making a natural ceiling, then she stopped at a gate and explained the tit was part of our hotel. It was completely familia to us…. then we walked to the next gate and saw – the door to our room! All this time we thought this laneway was a corridor of the hotel and thought people walking through there at all times of the day and night were a bit inconsiderate with their noise level – but it’s a street! and people walking probably didn’t even know that people were sleeping – just over there.

Santa Cruz is the old Jewish quarter and Delia, who is an archeologist told us how sad she thought it was that there are not many Jewish remnants left in the city. All of the old synagogs were either destroyed or converted into churches (as were all the city’s mosques). There are only a few bits and pieces and you need to know where to look for them.

Recently there has been some excavation happening around Seville and during the digs, they came across levels of Jewish graves (possibly one century and then another century buried on top of that). They wanted to preserve the tomb, so they kept it in the exact place where it was found – then built a car park over the top of it. This is just a piece of wall infant of a carpark – luckily the space happened to be empty so we could have a look, but you can see by the reflection that a car was trying to get in there – not the most peaceful memorial space, but at least they did something.

This square – Plaza Santa Cruz used to be where one of the city’s synagogue’s was located. It was turned into a a church, which was then later destroyed, so they made a lovely garden space instead of rebuilding. This statue in the middle used to be in a different location, but when they had the expo in 1929, they thought that the snakes like dragon figures didn’t fit in with the look they were going for, so it was up and moved to here, with the cross and the catholic symbols, they clearly didn’t give much thought to the fact it doesn’t really go with the Jewish faith, but here it is.

It gets very hot in the south of Spain, but as soon as you step out of the sun – you’re instantly cool making the city very pleasant to walk around when the sun is not directly overhead (but at that time you’re generally inside eating tapas!)

One thing that Delia told us was that the people who are from the south of Spain are very friendly. They’ll welcome you into their homes and be your best friend forever…. but when you actually need them, they’re generally busy that day. A little like this story behind these historical homes you can find all around the city. People who live there have to open the door for the the public to have a look as they are part of the city’s history, however they’ve gotten around that rule by opening the door to the courtyard, but putting a huge iron gate at the street, so you can still see in, but only from a distance.

Oh now… this is a sad story, but may also be a warning for some readers….

Just around the corner from this square lived a beautiful young lady named Susona Ben-Suson.

It was the year 1840, in the final years of the Jewish community in Seville. The newly-emerging kingdom of Spain was enforcing people to either convert to Catholicism, or leave the city. Some stayed and ‘converted’ – pretending to be Catholic in public and practicing their real faith in their homes. There was suspicion among some Christians that those who converted maybe did it with their fingers crossed behind their back and were fearful of a revolt.

A man by the name of Don Diego de Suson, a wealthy merchant, and a recent catholic convert. He was alarmed by the threat to his position, and the christian suspicion, so he convened a secret meeting of prominent converts to discuss the possibility of an armed uprising.

His daughter Susona, however, had a Christian boyfriend, a young chap who lived in another part of town. She overheard the meeting with her father and the other converts, (which took place in the square near her house) and she feared her boyfriend would be put in danger by an her father’s plan, so she waited until after dark and she hightailed it across town and told the boyfriend every last detail she knew. He promptly reported them all to the authorities, and they were immediately arrested, brought before the Inquisition, tried and executed right there in the square.

So now Susona’s father and brother (who was at the meeting) had been killed and she was left alone in the world. She went to her boyfriend and asked what was to become of the love after this and he told her that their relationship was finished as he could no longer trust somebody who would betray their family like she had done.

Stricken with remorse Susona joined a convent and never spoke again. When she died she had left instructions that her head be removed from her body and placed into the window of her house (where, morbidly, it stayed as late as the 18th century) as a warning to others not to betray the trust of their families. Apparently after her head was finally removed a wooden replica was put there in its place.

Now in the square, there is a small tile with Susona’s skull painted on it. After hearing this story right out the front of the house – I felt a little sick, goosebumpy and very loyal to my family.

Here we’re standing in the square of Elvira. The street on the left is called in Spanish – the street of death and the street on the right – the street of life. Apparently during a religious culling of the city christian soldiers chased Jewish people through this square and the people that ran down one street were able to escape and the people that chose the other met their fate. It’s also eery to note that at the end of the street of death is Susona’s house.

Apologies for the gruesome story….

Now, tell me this statue of Jesus doesn’t look exactly like Rohan Atkinson!

Here are some more lovely gated houses…. have a look, but stay back please!

Moving on from Santa Cruz and we headed out of the tourist area and into where the locals live. These re regular residential streets and here’s a very rare garage – I love that it’s painted to look like you’re driving into an estate.

Delia had told us that she was going to show us “the mushrooms” – it was a new art thing and I was imagining it to be a small installation… but we turned a corner and looked up.

It’s called the Metropol Parasol. It’s a wooden structure that is¬†150 by 70 metres (490 by 230¬†ft) and an approximate height of 26 metres (85¬†ft). It ¬†claims to be the largest wooden structure in the world.

I think I like it, but I don’t think I like it in this context. It’s surrounded by Seville’s beautiful old buildings and doesn’t really ‘go’. You can buy tickets and go to the top for a great view over Seville and there is a fresh food market and cafes on the ground floor.