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Holiday, Vacation & Tour

 

Spanish Attractions With A Higher Calling

There are many buildings and attractions in Spain that look as they did centuries ago, but there are few that still operate like they did in the generations that have past. The Monasterio de las Descalzas Reales is one such location. It is the monastery of the barefoot nun, and while that may sound like a funny name, it is a location of serious religion and serious art.

The convent was originally created in 1559 by Charles V’s daughter. She envisioned the location as a no...

spain, attractions, tourist

There are many buildings and attractions in Spain that look as they did centuries ago, but there are few that still operate like they did in the generations that have past. The Monasterio de las Descalzas Reales is one such location. It is the monastery of the barefoot nun, and while that may sound like a funny name, it is a location of serious religion and serious art.

The convent was originally created in 1559 by Charles V’s daughter. She envisioned the location as a noblewoman’s retreat. At that time, it was a royal palace that allowed the noblewomen of Spain to retreat to silence. The next 200 years saw the location known as a completely practicing convent. Eventually outsiders were kept out, and the property became solely a convent.

In addition to an area to contemplate and grow in their religion, those inside the convent could also grow in their appreciation for art, as it houses a private art museum with a number of pieces of art as well as historical artifacts.

In recent years, the convent opened its doors to tourists, who are allowed to come inside the walls during scheduled tours.

The convent is an architectural spectacle in itself. The walls are made of vibrant orange stone with inviting archways, Renaissance doors and construction. Walking through the grounds and the carefully tended gardens you will feel as if you have gone back to the time of Charles V himself.

The art collection is varied and beautiful. Many of the items that are in the collection were brought to the convent by those who wished to reside within its walls. They would bring the pieces of art and artifacts as their dowry or offering to become a 'bride of Christ'. Now all those items are one of the attractions many want to see when visiting the area. Among the paintings in the gallery are those by Brueghel, Titian, and Zurbarán . There are also Rubens inspired hand-woven tapestries and sculptures by Crescenci and Mena.

Since the 1960’s the public has been able to take part in enjoying the grounds that the Franciscan nuns have so lovingly cared for all these years. They opened the convent to the public, and tourists are invited to see the area through tours that they conduct. While many wonder if they can just wander the grounds and take it all in by themselves, that is not allowed. The only way an outsider can visit the convent is by being a part of one of the tours guided by the nuns. On the tour, visitors will see both the convent grounds and the art collection on the site.

If you don’t speak Spanish, you will not understand much of what is said on the tour, since it is only given in the native language, but as you walk through, you may well find the tour fulfilling without even knowing what is being said by the tour guide. If you do have questions, English questions are allowed at the end of the tour and answers will be given to your questions.

 

Spanish Charm

Moraira has all the charm you would expect of a quaint old Spanish fishing town. Lying north of the city of Alicante and south of Valencia with the Mediterranean Sea stretched out at its feet Moraira remains one of the unspoilt resorts of the Costa Blanca. Its 8km of beautiful coastline backed by mountains attracts visitors from all over Europe, seeking a luxury holiday in Spain.

The town has expertly managed to preserve the traditional way of life whilst embracing modern ...

luxury holiday Spain,luxury holidays in Spain, Spanish luxury holidays

Moraira has all the charm you would expect of a quaint old Spanish fishing town. Lying north of the city of Alicante and south of Valencia with the Mediterranean Sea stretched out at its feet Moraira remains one of the unspoilt resorts of the Costa Blanca. Its 8km of beautiful coastline backed by mountains attracts visitors from all over Europe, seeking a luxury holiday in Spain.

The town has expertly managed to preserve the traditional way of life whilst embracing modern tourism and offers an impressive variety of shops and amenities. Stylish cafes like 'Deli' on Calle Calatayud are popular, serving home cooked dishes including quiches and exotic curries. For more authentic Spanish cuisine visit Las Gaviotas which lies in the main square by the town’s church. To sample fresh local produce try the main fish restaurants located on the waterfront overlooking the port or the fish market (La Lonja) held every morning except on Sundays. Dining in is also an option as there are many supermarkets to choose from and the Continente Hypermarket is just half an hours drive away.

Moraira boasts two lovely sandy beaches with EEC Blue Flag Status which can be enjoyed by all the family. There are also plenty of other activities to keep you busy including water sports, golf courses, tennis, squash, boat hire and excursions. Apart from the resorts of Javea and Calpe, other places of interest are the mountain top fortress of Guadalest, the ancient city of Murcia and Europe’s largest palm forest all accessible by day excursion.

If you are lucky enough to be there during July, you will see a wonderful display of fireworks, parade and procession in honour of the Virgin of the Unsheltered and the Virgin of Carmen, protector of sailors and fishermen. The town of Teulada, the old town of Moraira is just 8km inland and is also well worth a visit. There is a great street market held here every week which is full of buzzing activity.

Moraira averages 3,000 hours of sunshine each year, 325 days of every year. The climate stays pleasantly warm whilst cool sea breezes ensure it is never sweltering, making it the ideal holiday location all year round. The relaxed traditional ambience of Moraira with its stunning views across to El Peñon de Ifach, the rock of Calpe, and the luscious green countryside of the Mediterranean canvas is a flawless setting for a luxury holiday in Spain.

 

Spanish Fiestas Make Your Trip Complete

Planning on visiting Spain? Whatever else you want to do, you should make sure you attend at least one "fiesta." There are several traditional festivals held in Spain throughout the year, celebrating different events, and the joy and excitement involved will stay with you for a long time to come. Below we list just a few.

• Travel Spain: Sanfermines

This event is more commonly known by its English title: the Running of the Bulls. The Festival of San Fermin in Pamplona s...

Spain, cycling, tours, bike

Planning on visiting Spain? Whatever else you want to do, you should make sure you attend at least one "fiesta." There are several traditional festivals held in Spain throughout the year, celebrating different events, and the joy and excitement involved will stay with you for a long time to come. Below we list just a few.

• Travel Spain: Sanfermines

This event is more commonly known by its English title: the Running of the Bulls. The Festival of San Fermin in Pamplona starts on July 7th of every year and lasts for a week. Each morning men, wearing the traditional white shirt and red sash, take to the streets, trying to outrun the bulls behind them. There's more to it than just the bulls, of course. You'll find carnivals and ferris wheels during the day, (as well as "drunken revellers".). At night the Comparsa de Gigantes - gigantic puppets - are paraded through the streets, accompanied by brass bands. The festival culminates at midnight on July 14 at the Plaza Consistorial, where people congregate to sing the traditional mournful notes of the "Pobre de Mí".

Similar festivals on a smaller scale are held in Tudela (July 24th – 28th), Estella (first Saturday in August), Tafalla (August 20th – 25th), and Sanguesa (September 11th – 17th).

• Travel Spain: Semana Santa

Almost a million people will pour into Seville during Easter Week to witness the processions of this holy festival, which begins on Palm Sunday and culminates on Eastern Sunday.

In the 16th century, the Catholic church decided that the Passion of Christ should be brought home to the common people through the medium of art. The Church commissioned the best artists to craft the holy figures out of wood and costume them in the richest of fabrics. They then achieved pride of place in front of the parades winding through the city. Today, 57 "brotherhoods" march through the city from their church to the Cathedral of Seville and back.

If you'd like to see the Semana Santa you must make reservations years in advance. It is that popular.

• Travel Spain: Feria de Abril

Just a couple of weeks after Semana Santa, tourists will pour back into the capital city of Andalusia for the Feria de Abril. Perhaps the most visited tourist spot in Seville is the city's cathedral, the Catedral de Santa María de la Sede. - the largest Roman Catholic cathedral in the world, and the largest medieval Gothic religious edifice as well. Construction began in 1402, it was completed in the 1600s. Facing this cathedral is the Alcázar, or Moorish Palace. Construction on this building began in 1181 and continued for over 500 years.

In addition to its architecture and its Barber, Seville is famous for its two festivals held within weeks of each other, the Easter Holy Week, (Semana Santa), and the April Fair or Feria de Abril.

Flamenco dancing and bull-fighting. That's what you'll find at the Feria de Abril. There are no set dates for the festival - the exact dates are not decided until December, but its going to take place some time in April!

Flamenco: beautiful women in flowing dresses, slim men in tight-fitting white and black, clapping, stomping, and the classical guitar.

Bull-fighting: The flamenco dancing starts in the evening. During the day, revelers can get tickets to see the traditional Spanish "corrida." Several fights take place each day.

This festival takes place in a huge area on the far bank of the Guadalquivir River. You'll recognize it immediately because of row upon row of tents which are temporarily built on the fairground. There are two sections of these tents - one an essentially private area for the hundreds of Spanish families who congregate to celebrate, and the other section for the tourist.

• Travel Spain: Las Fallas de San José

Seville is way down in the south of Spain. But Valencia is located on its eastern, Mediterranean coast, overlooking the Gulf of Valencia.

If you're in Spain in the spring, then Valencia is the place to go. For ten days in March – from March 13-19, you'll want to attend Las Fallas de San José. The Fallas are gigantic models made out of papier mache, wood and wax. Models are chosen from Spanish social and political current affairs. After the ten days of celebrations the fallas are burnt on the final night to the accompaniment of cheers and fireworks.

• Travel Spain: Romeria Vikinga

If you like a bit of action with your festivals, you'll want to visit Catoira in the region of Pontevedra, Galicia. On August 3 of each year, they hold the Romeria Vikinga. It's a festival that's not concerned with religion at all, but with a reenactment of a Viking raid on the Spanish coast.

Catoira looks out over the North Atlantic Ocean. In the reenactment, a Viking longship sails into view to attack the remains of the 'Torres de Oeste' - 'Towers of the East'. Usually 30 armed 'Vikings' come ashore and fight each other, calling for wine. After the reenactment, a feast of red wine and seafood is devoured, to the accompaniment of dancing and folksongs.




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