Andalusian Arabic Festival : Salares (Axarquía Costa Del Sol). DATE: From September 18 2015 to September 20, 2015.
The municipality of Salares, in the foothills of the Natural Park of Sierra Tejeda and Almijara, in the heart of the Axarquía, is part of the Mudejar route. Therefore, each year during a weekend in September, celebrating the Arab Andalusian Festival, in which the heritage of its multicultural past is highlighted .
During the day on Saturday you can enjoy from the craft market and ecological agriculture, intercultural workshops and tasting of typical products of the area along with the shooting contests with slingshots, catapults and ribbon race. At night, the Andalusian music invades the streets.
Sunday is customary to take the tasty popular breakfast and continue the day by attending cetrerías shows, storytelling, playing short films and literary readings.
Ronda, The Capital of the Spanish White Villages (II)
There were three bridges crossing the gorge which divided the city in two parts. It’s not that large, but incredibly deep. About 120 meters! First, we wanted to visit the Puente Viejo, the Old Bridge. It is only accessible for pedestrians and it’s a round arch on top of the gorge. More than 100 meters underneath us, the river Guadalevín was flowing.
The second bridge was the Puente Romano or Puente Árabe, Roman or Arab Bridge. It was built by the Moors, but there was already a bridge in Roman times, this is why it is famous as Roman Bridge. This one should be the least impressive one. The best, the Puente Nuevo, we wanted to visit in the afternoon – we wanted to save the best for last.
banos arabes ronda
Close to the Puente Romano there were the Baños Árabes, the Arab Baths. They were built between the 13th and 14th century and today are said to be the best preserved baths on the Iberian Peninsula. Most of the Moorish buildings were destroyed after Ronda was reconquered by the Christians, but this one lasted. We paid the entrance fee and started by watching a film which explained to us how the baths worked. It was very useful and without the film we probably would not have understood it. Some parts of the baths still had roofs and others were in the open air. It was very interesting to see the old Moorish architecture. Marvelous that all of this had already lasted for more than 800 years! Star-shaped holes in the ceiling lit the building up and the patterns were visible on the floor.
Ronda – Casa del Rey Moro
Close to the baths there was the Casa del Rey Moro, the House of the Moorish King. However, before going there we wanted to have a snack. Right next to the Casa there was a nice restaurant.
After lunch we entered the Casa del Rey Moro. The name is misleading because it was built in the 17th century when the Moors no longer lived in Andalusia, so no Moorish king has ever lived in that house. However, from the Casa, which is now a hotel, we could visit the water mines of Ronda.
mina de agua ronda
There were a lot of stairs to go down. They started on top of the cliff and meandered down to the river. In the past it was very important for the citizens of Ronda because it was their only access to water because the city is so high up on the cliffs. There is also a myth that says that there are secret chambers full of gold and other treasures somewhere in the mines…
Jerez de la Frontera, Feria, Sherry, and Bikes (II)
The bodega was already close; there were a lot in Jerez, but we decided to visit the Tío Pepe Bodega. Why Sherry? Such a British drink? The name of the drink sherry comes indeed from the city Jerez! This is because the city is famous for the production of this good. To get to know this tradition we visited one of the great sherry bodegas, the wineries, where we could see where and how the wines are made. The bodegas have a very long tradition: about 250 years ago Irish and Scottish entrepreneurs came to Jerez and established their own winery businesses. Because of the soil in the area around Jerez, a special sort of grapes can be cultivated there. This is what makes Jerez’ wine industry so special.
BODEGA TIO PEPE JEREZ PRIMA RENT A CAR
Out of this tradition, some sort of wine aristocracy was formed. The descendants of British emigrants ruled the culture, but in the past centuries somehow converted into a typical Spanish wine dynasty. Their love for horses is still visible until today and is shown by the Real Escuela Andaluza del Arte Ecuestre, the Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art. After just under 10 minutes in our rental car, we arrived at the area of the school. But before entering, we wanted to have a snack.
ESCUELA ARTE ECUESTRE JEREZ PRIMA RENT A CAR
Unfortunately we didn’t visit on a Tuesday or Thursday so we could not attend to a show, but we still had the possibility to watch the stallions in training. It was amazing to watch and everyone who has a passion for horses will definitely melt away: beautiful harnesses for the horses and wonderful costumes for the riders. The animals were performing an interesting choreography and it looked as if they were dancing.
MUSEO CARRUAJES JEREZ PRIMA RENT A CAR
After enjoying the show, we visited the Carriage Museum in which contains old carriages and attachments for those. The exhibits were very decorative and beautiful and it was a good experience, especially after seeing the horses’ performance.
Besides the sherry and horse culture, Jerez is also home to a typical Spanish, but very different tradition: The Flamenco. This is why we decided to have dinner at a restaurant called La Taberna Flamenco which offers local food and dancing shows. It was really interesting and a lot of fun; and of course delicious.
TABERNA FLAMENCA JEREZ PRIMA RENT A CAR
Another aspect unique to Jerez would have been the race track a little outside the city: it’s a ground where many important teams, for example from the Formula 1, use to train and where a lot of important events were and are hosted. One of them will be the World Motorcycling Championship of 2013.
CIRCUITO CARRERAS JEREZ PRIMA RENT A CAR
But because none of us was really interested in races and it was almost night, we skipped that point of interest and directly drove home to our hotel in Málaga; our head full of new impressions of a day that was definitely worth the long journey…
Being a nice trip in the winter, we went to Jerez.
Jerez, often called Jerez de la Frontera because of its past, is a city in Andalusia, which is close to the Costa de la Luz. So we were leaving the Costa del Sol and the Mediterranean Sea for one day to visit the Atlantic side of Spain, more precisely the province of Cádiz. It was a long ride: about 230 kilometers from Málaga to Jerez which meant two hours and 20 minutes in our rental car. Luckily it was very comfortable.
Jerez for a long time was a border town between the Moorish and the Christian Kingdoms; this is why it is called ‘de la Frontera’ which means ‘of the border’. There are still a lot of remains from the Moorish times like the Alcázar that we wanted to visit first. It’s a former fortress which now contains a park. It is located in the city center on a little hill.
JEREZ DE LA FRONTERA TRIP PRIMA RENT A CAR ALCAZAR
Even though we had already seen a lot of similar buildings and parks, this one was still impressive. Ponds, trees and plantings surrounded by a Moorish building with horseshoe arches, fountains in the inner courtyards and star-shaped lights in the ceiling. And, because the Alcázar is on top of the city we had a beautiful view from up there.
JEREZ DE LA FRONTERA TRIP PRIMA RENT A CAR STREET
We could already see our next destination: a bodega. But first we decided to go for a walk through the charming old town of Jerez. Beautiful narrow streets with small shops and decorative house entrances; some of the streets were even made out of mosaics.
JEREZ DE LA FRONTERA TRIP PRIMA RENT A CAR BODEGA CELLAR
Even though it was very cold in the large stone building, we spent a long time in it because there were so many tiny details to see: on the walls there were little chambers with relics, statues and treasures; not forgetting the Mihrab and the Choir.
cordoba dome mosque
After taking so many photos, we all had to change either the batteries or the memory cards of our cameras. Then, we went back on the streets to heat up in the sun. We walked through the narrow streets of the Judería, the former Jewish district, where we visited one of the just three remaining synagogues in Spain.
Later, we decided to go to the Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos, the palace of the Christian Monarchs. It was the residence of the Isabel I de Castilla and Fernando II de Aragón; the heroes of the Reconquista in the end of the15th century. There were beautiful gardens with fountains, trees and bushes cut in shape. Some of them were even jug-shaped. There also was a statue of Isabel’s and Fernando’s wedding, surrounded by beautiful planting.
We could enter the palace to visit some of the rooms and one of the towers from which we had a beautiful view. It was definitely a royal residence! I would have loved to live there at their times.
cordoba alcazar isabel fernando
We went back to our car because we had one last activity on our list: The Medina de Azahara which once was a Moorish city. We wanted to arrive there before dusk and it was a little outside the city (7 km in the west), so we had to hurry up.
cordoba medina azahara
The Medina was a big, almost rectangular area. It was a medieval masterpiece of city planning because it was built according to plan. This way, in the 10th century they wanted to create a new capital in the caliphate. We had an impressive view of Córdoba, the river and the countryside. The Medina is terraced and all the old buildings are stunning. The second time today that we had the chance to marvel at Moorish architecture! The buildings were full or horseshoe arches, just like the Mezquita-Catedral. Until today, only about 10% of the city was excavated so in the future there will be many more new things to see.
The old stones were reflecting the red light of the sunset and were indicating us that it was time to go home to our hotel. So we said good-bye to the beautiful city of Córdoba and drove back south, back to Málaga, direction Costa del Sol. It was a long and exhausting day, but it was definitely worth it!
The museum taught us about the multicultural and peaceful society of al-Andalus: Muslims, Christians and Jews lived together in Córdoba and the idea of peace between religions was so open-minded at that time, it’s incredible that in the following years and even until today there were and still are so many conflicts for religious reasons.
The museum also offered a great view of the city from the top of the Tower Calahorra. We enjoyed the sun and then decided to cross the bridge one more time to visit the Arab water wheels which were close to the Roman Bridge. After seeing them, we wanted to have lunch close to the Mezquita-Catedral so we could visit it right after eating when it would re-open at 2 p.m.
After entering the courtyard of the Mezquita-Catedral, we already were so impressed that we thought the inside of the building couldn’t even surpass it. Beautiful gardens, big old trees, arcades surrounding the green areas, fountains, the façade … But we were wrong. The Mezquita-Catedral was even more amazing from inside!
Cordoba Mosque, a forest of columns
It was huge with so many arches inside (there are so-called horseshoe arches which are also known as Moorish arches because it was typical of their architecture). Just describing its size doesn’t encapsulate the atmosphere; you just have to see it!
At the place where now stands the Mezquita-Catedral, in Roman times there was a temple and later a Visigothic Cathedral. After the Moors conquered the area, it was replaced by an Arab mosque when Córdoba was the most important city of the western Islamic world as capital of the Emirate of Córdoba.
cordoba mosque visigotic remains
After the Reconquista, when the Catholic Kings had reconquered the Iberian Peninsula, it was converted into a Cathedral, but in general it was left the way it was, just some small changes were made and a Gothic nave was built in the middle of the building.
Mihrab of Cordoba Mosque
So you can still see traces of the Arab times, for example the Mihrab facing the Kaaba in Mecca.
And in the next Article….. Visit to Córdoba with Prima Rent a Car (III)
Our visit to Córdoba definitely was one of the most interesting ones. The city in the South of Spain offers a wide range of historic buildings and other sites. With about one hour and 45 minutes from Málaga, Córdoba is a good destination for one day trips around Andalusia.
We left our hotel early in the morning because there were so many things for us to see. I was driving, so my friends had time to plan in a detailed way which monuments we wanted to visit. Of course the Mezquita-Catedral! But there were so many things in the old town in the city center waiting to be visited.
We were very lucky and the weather was amazing! The weather forecast of the day before had predicted rain, but luckily they were mistaken. The sun was shining and not a single cloud was in the sky.
Entering the city from south, we crossed the famous Guadalquivir River. We found a parking space close to the city walls of the old town. As the streets in the old town are very narrow and parking spaces are rare, it’s easier and also a lot more interesting to walk. We first went down to the river again. We wanted to see the famous Roman bridge of Córdoba. It was built about 45 BC and was part of the Via Augusta.
After the Roman era, the Arabs built the Tower Calahorra and the Puerta del Puente at each side of the almost 250 m long bridge. The bridge is an impressive building with many arcades. There were many people on the bridge; tourists, musicians, artists of any kind.
When we arrived at the other side, we visited the Museo Vivo de al-Andalus in the Tower Calahorra which shows the visitor in a very interesting and modern way the history of the former Moorish kingdom. We received headphones and could walk around and visit different rooms; in each room we heard music, historic facts or interesting stories in a language of our choice and could watch the exhibition.
We stood together with people from different nations in front of impressive models of the Mezquita-Catedral and Granada’s Alhambra and so many more models which were so accurate in every detail. And, everyone could hear the texts in their own language. Such a good idea!
And in the next Article….. Visit to Córdoba with Prima Rent a Car (II)