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Archive for March, 2016

Discover some beautiful small cities with all the charm and history Spain has to offer!

Pampeneira

In Pampaneira, the cultural heritage left by Moorish people in the region of Alpujarra, Granada, is preserved intact, with its narrow streets and alleys, its inviting squares, and its traditional houses. It is one of three mountain villages of the Barranco de Poqueira in the Alpujarra region. The other two villages, Bubión and Capileira, are located higher in the Poqueira gorge. The Poqueira gorge starts below the mountain peak of Mulhacén, where the river Rio Poqueira rises.

Squeezed between the steep sides of the Sierra Nevada, and the Mediterranean coast, the beauty and the charm of Pampaneira made this town the winner of different awards, like the First Provincial Embellishment Award (1976), and, for two consecutive years 1977 and 1978, the National Tourism Award for the Embellishment and Improvement of Spanish Towns. The small village, with a population of around 300, centers on its pretty square dominated by a 16th century Mudéjar church, the Iglesia de Santa Cruz, with a wooden coffer ceiling and a couple of gilded altarpieces dating from the 17th and 18th centuries. The church is flanked by several bars and handicraft shops. Less than 2km outside Pampaneira is a Tibetan Buddhist monastery, Osel Ling, meaning “clear light”. Its stupa offers spectacular views of the Sierra Nevada, the coast and Órgiva.

There are many opportunities for hiking in the area. One of the highest all year-round lived-in mountain village in Spain, Trevélez is located nearby in the mountains to the east of the three villages.

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Vejer de la Frontera

Declared a Historic-Artistic Site in 1976, and winner of the First National Embellishment Award in 1978, Vejer de la Frontera’s most stunning feature is the Arab-Andalusian popular architecture. The town is located on a hill, a few kilometers away from the coast from where the visitor can have a magnificent panoramic view. The walled enclosure and the historic quarter, with its narrow, winding streets and whitewashed houses, are a gorgeous sight. Highlights are the medieval castle, from the 11th century, the Jewish quarter, and the arch of Segur. Also noteworthy are the church of Divino Salvador and the sanctuary of Nuestra Señora de la Oliva, in whose altar they worship a 16th-century image.

Parish Church of El Divino Salvador was built on the site of an old mosque. This church has a basilica layout, with a rectangular apse and three naves. The central is taller than the two lateral naves, which have three chapels. The architectural ensemble has two different parts, corresponding to two different construction phases. It has a Gothic-Mudéjar apsidal from the 15th century, and a later enlargement of the Late Gothic style built in the turn of the 16th century.

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The Castle dates back to the 10th and 11th centuries, the period of Abd al-Rahman I and his heirs. It is located on the highest part of the hill, which is probably the oldest inhabited area of Vejer, and on the location of a previous Arab castle.

Moreover, Plaza de España is a square built in the 16th century, when the town grew beyond its walls. During the 16th and 17th centuries, it was devoted to the celebration of bullfighting events due to the initiatives led by the most relevant noblemen and knights of Vejer. In 1957, a fountain was built in the center of the square, made of Sevillian tiles. Since then, this square is popularly known as “Plaza de los Pescaítos”. The Town Hall is located in this square, and to mention are also the houses 12 and 13, the location of the Justice of the Peace Court.

Finally the silhouette of the windmills is one of the most representative symbols of Vejer. All the 19th-century flour windmills in Vejer worked with water. Among all of them, the most famous ones are those of the Duke of Medina Sidonia located in the quarter of Santa Lucía.

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 Frigiliana

Just 7km north of Nerja is the typical pueblo blanco (white village) Frigiliana situated high on a mountain ridge overlooking the sea with spectacular panoramic views. The village is a tangle of narrow cobbled streets lined by whitewashed houses, their wrought-iron balconies filled with planters of brilliant red geraniums. Small plazas provide shady seating while the village bars are popular with visitors who come here to taste the locally produced wine. There are also several excellent shops selling pottery and ceramics, including decorative plates with their distinctive Arab design.

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The village is comprised of two sections: the old part of the town, which is of Moorish origin, and the newer part of the town which is built in the traditional style of a white Andalucian village. The importance of the Moorish history to the village is evident in the ceramic mosaics that are dotted around the old part of town. These mosaics, designed by Pilar Garcia Millan, narrate the story of the Moorish uprising in the area.

Voted as the “prettiest village in Andalucía” by the Spanish tourism authority, Frigiliana is also important from an historical viewpoint. El Fuerte, the hill that climbs above the village, was the scene of the final bloody defeat of the Moors of La Axarquía in their 1569 rebellion. The hill is topped by scanty remains of a ruined fort from which some of the Moors reputedly threw themselves rather than be killed or captured by the Spanish. It is said that bones and rusted weapons dating from this encounter still lie among the scrub on El Fuerte.

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Don’t miss our next post with more picturesque places to discover in Spain!

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A different activity for those who want to explore beyond the famous Spanish tourist spots is to visit the old “Real Fábrica de Cristales de La Granja”, a huge space that houses inside a set of buildings that together totalized about 25.000m2 of floor area.

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That factory was built according to the plans of the Royal Site inspector, Joseph Diaz, alias Gamones, between 1770 and 1784.

The Royal Glass Factory of La Granja is a singular and unique space in which one can develop multiple activities related to the world of glass. From visiting the Tech Museum with magnificent collections of pieces of glass, through the actual demonstration of the work on the ovens, to receive training on techniques applied on glass or even buying in the store a set of glasses made right there.

All this with the founding purpose of maintaining the building, collections of pieces, and the glazier trade as the only reference site in Spain, in the field of handmade glass.

The Royal Glass Factory of La Granja, born in the heat of the new dynasty, was one of the most important examples of actual manufacturing of the entire eighteenth-century Spain. The main purpose of these articles was to supply of luxury items Palaces and royal residences so that it could emulate the luxury of Palaces of the European Court without resorting to costly imports.

In the same location is the National Glass Centre Foundation, the building is a true sign of identity for Segovia and its surroundings. It represents one of the few examples of industrial architecture of European royal character, built in the eighteenth century, preserved today.

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All pieces made in the workshops of the Real Fábrica de Cristales de La Granja are scrupulously maintaining the same processes and manufacturing techniques in the eighteenth century, what means, by hand, with blowpipe and with the help of molds.

Thanks to the skills of blower teachers, the current handcrafting stays true to the traditional production of the Real Fábrica de Cristales de La Granja.

The excellent quality of crystal La Granja and skill of artisans, make this type of glass in one of the most appreciated and with most international fame!

The Tech Museum of Glass discloses didactically glassmaking, shows temporary and permanent collections of European glass from the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries.

Visitors can observe closely the magic of working the glass in our furnaces, where several blowers reproduce by hand known pieces of glass from La Granja, using ancient techniques, which can be purchased at the shop.

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The Real Fabrica de Cristales de la Granja is located in Castilla y León, near Segovia and can be visited from tuesday to sunday. Contact us at info@across-spain.es to add a visit to this great place once traveling to Spain!

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