The history of modern Spain is complex. Over periods encompassing many centuries, battles on the Iberian Peninsula for land and power raged between Christians and Muslims. Often conflicts also occurred between Christians as well as among different groups of Muslims.
Food, celebrations, cultural influences, and other facets of life blended or changed. As the powerful changed, so did the architecture of the day.
The period between 711 AD and 1492 AD is a time of significant upheaval in Spain. The architecture of this period reflects this turbulence in Andalucía in southern Spain. There the new architecture often built onto that of preceding rulers.
This story is about the architectural influences in southern Spain.
Having lived in Andalusia in the southern part of Spain, I was aware of history of Phoenicians, Romans, Moors, historical events related to the Reconquest, etc…. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when traveling north to the Galician city of Lugo.
Journeying all day by train, olive trees gave way to evergreens and flat land became more extreme with high hills, small snow-capped mountains, and very rocky terrain. My observations, although interesting, were not my motivation to go to Lugo, however.
I had learned about the 1700 year old, completely intact, Roman city wall constructed in Lugo. The wall is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and it was my principle attraction to the city.
It is “Dia de Reyes” (Three Kings Day) in Spain and I knew it wasn’t going to be easy to find a morning coffee on this holiday. I was somehow drawn to a British bar, the “Oasis” in Mijas Pueblo. I have been to the Oasis in the past for their soup in prior travels to the town.
Today I observed that they were abierto (open) as I saw the sign for coffee and brandy for 2.50 Euros. Not particularly excited about the contemplation of rather poor brandy, I wanted the coffee at midday.
I am a very discerning eater as many will tell you. As you may know, my ancestors have descended from nobility where they roamed the hills on the Iberian Peninsula and flourished by foraging for their (and my) favorite foods.
To this day our feasts include rare delights and delicacies appropriate for our station in life. This is my story about my family’s life in central Spain near La Alberca.
In a few days I will have an anniversary marking three years since I began my European adventures. When I began my exploration I also started to create my blog. I think of my blog not only as a journal of my discoveries but also as a place to remember the stories I have heard, the people I have met, and the cultural differences which I have encountered.
I maintain my blog for myself so I can enjoy reliving memories from the many places I have visited. However, I have shared my blog with everyone and I can’t help but notice that people in 61 countries have read at least one of the 75 stories I have written. I hope that you, my readers, enjoy the glimpse into my life and my explorations.
This story is different from others I have written. I always try to add several photos into my stories to help bring memories alive. I have also noticed that I have a significant collection of photos from the past three years that have not been posted. So, this story is all about the faces I have encountered over the past three years.
I began my nomadic adventure exploring Europe in October 2014. I recently realized that breakfast is my favorite meal when I visit local cafes. Not only is it my favorite meal but it also has become almost an obsession in what I eat. While in different cafes I have met some very interesting personalities who have helped me understand and appreciate their respective cultures. This story is about my breakfast obsession and the friends I have made as I have crossed Europe and found several mouth-watering breakfast delights.
I recently blogged about my adventure when I participated in “Pueblo Ingles.” I reserved my comments in that blog to my observations about the English immersion program and the students. However, there is more to my story about the nearby medieval Spanish town of La Alberca. This blog entry is about my exploration of that tiny Spanish town and my adventure there.
Located at an elevation of 1084 meters, the town with a population of around 1100 is rather isolated in La Sierra de Francia mountains close to the northern border with Portugal. The principle product in this region is delicious Iberian Jamon (ham) which is produced in the area from black Iberian pigs that grow fat eating acorns. This diet gives the ham a very special, enjoyable flavor that is savored by Spaniards as well as those from around the world who are fortunate to experience it. Hams are seen in several shops in La Alberca hanging from the ceilings.
During my explorations of Spain I have visited several Spanish communities and blogged about Cordoba, Granada, Ronda, Canary Islands, and Mijas Pueblo. As I walked the narrow cobblestone streets of La Alberca I was taken aback by the distinctive architecture of this community in comparison to the others I mentioned. While Cordoba and Granada are colorful and reflective of an integration of Moorish design and Mijas is a spectacular white, traditional Spanish pueblo, La Alberca, founded in the 1300’s, is dark and has a somewhat French feel. It is one of the best preserved Spanish towns of the period.
The half timbered buildings surrounding the Plaza Mayor and nearby narrow streets and alleyways are different as their materials come from the quarries and forests of the mountains. The town goes to great lengths to retain its medieval charm.
The Knights Templar had a presence in La Alberca. Today there are myths and legends about the “monk soldiers” who participated in the crusades and provided safe passage for pilgrims to the holy land. On the Iberian peninsula they also created a strong trading infrastructure, a banking system, and fought for the Spanish kings in the reconquest of Spain from the Muslims.
The town of La Alberca has a tourist interest as it is preserved in its architecture, food, and customs. For those exploring Spain it is a welcome transition into the Middle Ages from the modern communities of Spain and Portugal.
The next stop in my exploration adventure is Romania where I will be searching for Dracula. Stay tuned!
Although I write my blog for myself, I also recognize that a growing number of people from all over the world are now following it. If you would like to receive my blogs in your email as I post them, please enter your address where indicated on the right side of this page. If you have a reply about my blog, please use the link at the top of this story to let me know.