Posts Tagged ‘al-andalus’

This past  Sunday I took  a stroll around up  in the old town and visited not only the castle but the Church of El Rosario.   My confession is that I had never until now stepped foot inside the door.   I have to  say  I was pleasantly surprised and I learned some interesting facts about the church itself.

The church is built in the Mudéjar style.   Mudéjar is the name given to individual Moors or Muslims of  Al-Andalus who remained in Christian territory after the reconquest by the Christians but were not converted to Christianity.  It also denotes a style of Iberian architecture and decoration, particularly of  Aragon  and Castile, of  the 12th to 16th centuries, strongly influenced by Moorish taste and craftsmanship.

The church was built on the site of a Muslim mosque in the 16th century.  The original roof and interior were destroyed by fire in 1821, and subsequently rebuilt. The first Christian church in this spot appeared in the year 305,  however this church was conquered and converted to a Muslim mosque in the year 718.  Seven hundred and sixty six years later in 1489, a reconquest by the Christians that year saw the reconversion of the mosque back into a Christian church.   In 1989, it celebrated it 5th  Centenary, that makes our beloved church 522 years old this year.

One more interesting fact, is that the present day church square was used as a cemetery up until 1789.

Here are a few snaps. The religious statues seen in the photos are the same statues that are carried through the town during the Semana Santa processions.

The main altar

Above the altar

John the Baptist

I liked the golden cross created by the sunlight.

Taken from the altar looking down the center aisle.

Side Entrance

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Taken just inside the entrance to the Nazarí Gardens

Massive Cypress trees in the Nazarí Gardens-see staircase for size comparison.

18th Century building being restored internally to match the era of the Nazri Garden

Okay so on Sunday the 30th we toddled off to Vélez de Benaudalla for a an incredibly interesting visit to the Nazari Gardens and then a 2hour walk through the countryside.  Both were hugely enjoyable, and I will be doing both again soon I hope.  Vélez de Benaudalla is just 20 minutes up the road from Salobreña, very easy to get to and lots of parking in town.

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.

In Vélez, the castle is quite different, it is a 7 sided building sitting high above the town for all to see.

Vélez Castle top centre, Church far left. Photo obtained from Vélez town hall's website. http://www.velezdebenaudalla.org

To the left of  the church  and just out of view, you will find the Nazarí Gardens located on the edge of town, cliffside.

Amazingly, you could walk right by them and not realize they were there.   You enter through a door, of what looks like a house and immediately you are in the area shown in the first photo shown above.  The Al-Andalus gardens are typically made up of 5 areas in order to provide man with the five  essentials of life. Those 5 essentials are

The Spiritual :  The  Muslims believed that they were mirroring heaven here on earth in praise of Allah with the building of these gardens.

The Aesthetic :  To design a  place that stimulates us and inspires us to create, a place that demands us to be more artistic, to make music, write poetry etc.

The Psychological: The garden should invite us to observe, contemplate, rest, relax and enjoy.

The Botanical and Scientific: A place for research, a place for experimenting.  Much study was done with new plants from around the globe to ensure a healthy and well fed people.

The Nutritional:  Condiments, herbs, vegetables and fruit trees were grown to feed the inhabitants.

I have included a small video that was made to show how the gardens look today and what the plan is for the future. The Vélez town hall has spent around 2million euros to bring the gardens back to life.

And now, more photos taken this past Sunday.

Entering the grounds

Part of the vegetable garden with fruit trees.

Aromatic Garden- Lavander, Allysium, Rosemary are just a few examples of the plants grown here.

Small treacherous staircase that leads to the level where some of the cave entrances are.

Cave entrance

Small reflective pool inside one of the caves

Another old cave entrance

Going in.

Cave ceiling.

Big old tree

Water naturally flowed thru this area, the Arabs built channels to control the flow and bring it to other parts of the garden.

Beautiful little waterfall

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