Tag Archives: unesco world heritage

Barcelona – Spain

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Founded as a Roman city, Barcelona became the capital of the County of Barcelona.

After merging with the Kingdom of Aragon, Barcelona continued to be an important city in the Crown of Aragon.

Particularly renowned are the architectural works of Antoni Gaudí and Lluís Domènech i Montaner, which have been designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

The headquarters of the Union for the Mediterranean is located in Barcelona.

The city is known for hosting the 1992 Summer Olympics as well as world-class conferences and expositions and also many international sport tournaments.

It was going to be difficult to top our experiences in Valencia (https://the-tin-man.com/2013/07/23/chapel-of-the-holy-grail-valencia-spain/), but we felt that we must stop in Barcelona.

The Hotel was quite nice and centrally located.

We immediately found the city to be much more dirty than other cities in Spain.

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I know, I know, I know……everyone raves about Barcelona………

…..and a trip there is not complete without a visit to see the works of Antoni Gaudí i Cornet

Gaudí was a Spanish Catalan architect born in Reus, in the Catalonia region of Spain in 1852.

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Much of Gaudí’s work was marked by his big passions in life: architecture, nature, religion.

Gaudí studied every detail of his creations, integrating into his architecture a series of crafts in which he was skilled: ceramics, stained glass, wrought ironwork forging and carpentry.

He introduced new techniques in the treatment of materials, such as trencadís, made of waste ceramic pieces.

After a few years, under the influence of neo-Gothic art and Oriental techniques, Gaudí became part of the Modernista movement which was reaching its peak in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

His work transcended mainstream Modernisme, culminating in an organic style inspired by nature.

Gaudí rarely drew detailed plans of his works, instead preferring to create them as three-dimensional scale models and molding the details as he was conceiving them.

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 Between 1984 and 2005, seven of his works were declared World Heritage Sites by UNESCO.

Gaudí’s works reflect his highly individual and distinctive style and are largely concentrated in the Catalan capital of Barcelona, notably his magnum opus, the Sagrada Família, his masterpiece, and still-uncompleted ,

is one of the most visited monuments in Catalonia…..so of course we had to go….

…this is when my realization that I did not like Barcelona began to take form..

The walk to the church was through sidewalks strewn with litter and with people bumping into you and panhandlers in the streets…….so very, very different from any other city I have ever visited in Spain…

Then we come upon the Gaudi masterpiece…………

…a carnival atmosphere, shouting, lines of people, tour buses with loud speakers, walking tour guides with bullhorns……….for the love!!!

Then there is the church…………sorry to all you Gaudi lovers…………it is ugly…

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After that visit, I needed a more traditional building……The Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia

The cathedral was constructed from the 13th to 15th centuries, with the principal work done in the 14th century

europe2 130The cathedral is dedicated to Eulalia of Barcelona, co-patron saint of Barcelona, a young virgin who, according to Catholic tradition, suffered martyrdom during Roman times in the city.

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One story says that she was exposed naked in the public square……….

and a miraculous snowfall in mid-spring covered her nudity.

The enraged Romans put her into a barrel with knives stuck into it and rolled it down a street, according to tradition, the one now called Baixada de Santa Eulàlia, see much more traditional.

The body of Saint Eulalia is entombed in the cathedral’s crypt.

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The choir stalls retain the coats-of-arms of the knights of the Order of the Golden Fleece.

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Augustine found that his people had also left their mark in the Cathedral…

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….but wait, there is more…….more Gaudi…now off to Parccount eusebi Guell

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The park was originally part of a commercially unsuccessful housing site, the idea of Count Eusebi Güell, after whom the park was named. It was inspired by the English garden city movement

We did pass this most beautiful entrance to a private home on our walk to the Parc….

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Upon our arrival at the Parc, we were once again taken by the carnival atmosphere…the Parc was filled with vendors, street hawkers and panhandlers….and so very, very dirty and littered with garbage….

…..a World Heritage Site……………..REALLY!

……here are some shots from inside….

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the view was nice….

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Okay off to see more sights….one more Gaudí……

Casa Milà, better known as La Pedrera  (meaning the ‘The Quarry’)

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 the building was designed by  Antoni Gaudí and built during the years 1906–1912. It is located at 92, Passeig de Gràcia

Standing outside the balconies reminded me of Mardi Gras masks…

The work of Gaudí is too whimsical, too hobbit-like, too gnomish and just a bit too creepy for me…

Some other sights around town…

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Then we come upon the Torre Agbar.

According to the designer, the shape of the Torre Agbar was inspired by Montserrat, a mountain near Barcelona,

by the shape of a geyser rising into the air, and by the male genitalia, designed by French architect Jean Nouvel in association with the Spanish firm B720 Arquitectos and built by Dragados.

Jean Nouvel, in an interview, described it as having a phallic character. 

As a result of its unusual shape, the building is known by several nicknames, such as “el supositori” (the suppository), “l’obús” (the shell) and some more scatological ones.

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It is quite striking at night…

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Well we enjoyed our exploration of Barcelona, as we know it holds great memories for many; however, we did not find it enchanting.

…………off to the Train Station and on to France…….

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Tarxien Temples – Malta

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The Tarxien Temples (Maltese pronunciation: [ˈtarʃi.ɛn]) are an archaeological complex in Tarxien, Malta.

They date to approximately 3150 BC.   

The site was accepted as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1980 along with

the other Megalithic temples on the island of Malta.

See my post on the Hypogeum : https://the-tin-man.com/2013/06/22/hypogeum-of-hal-saflieni-paola-malta/

The Tarxien consist of three separate, but attached, temple structures.

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The main entrance is a reconstruction dating from 1956, when the whole site was restored.

acma-Tarxien-TempleAt the same time, many of the decorated slabs discovered on site were relocated indoors for protection at the Museum of Archaeology in Valletta.

The first temple has been dated to approximately 3100 BC and is the most elaborately decorated of the temples of Malta.

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The middle temple dates to about 3000 BC, and is unique in that, unlike the rest of the Maltese temples, it has three pairs of apses instead of the usual two.

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The east temple is dated at around 3100 BC. The remains of another temple, smaller, and older, having been dated to 3250 BC, are visible further towards the east.

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Of particular interest at the temple site is the rich and intricate stonework, which includes depictions of domestic animals carved in relief, altars, and screens decorated with spiral designs and other patterns.

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Demonstrative of the skill of the builders is a chamber set into the thickness of the wall between the South and Central temples and containing a relief showing a bull and a sow.

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Excavation of the site reveals that it was used extensively for rituals, which probably involved animal sacrifice.

Especially interesting is that Tarxien provides rare insight into how the megaliths were constructed: stone rollers were left outside the South temple.

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Additionally, evidence of cremation has been found at the center of the South temple, which is an indicator that the site was reused as a Bronze Age cremation cemetery.

The visit was most amazing and I was so taken by the skills and dedication of our predecessors to create something that would last over 5,000 years.

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When we were exiting I saw some archeologists working on a dig….they saw me taking a photograph and bent into the dig and began to yell with excitement and then popped up holding a spoon…..

……love people with a sense of humor!!!

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Pena Palace – Sintra, Portugal

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We decided to take a private guided tour to the town of Sintra in order to visit the many palaces and learn more of this marvelous place.  Our guide was a lovely young Portuguese woman who had a real passion for the history of her country and knew some great places to eat!   Off we went in our minivan to find new and amazing places……….

The palace stands on the top of a hill above the town of Sintra, and on a clear day it can be easily seen from Lisbon.   It is a national monument and constitutes one of the major expressions of 19th century Romanticism in the world.

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The palace is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the Seven Wonders of Portugal.   It is also used for state occasions by the President of the Portuguese Republic and other government officials.

The palace’s history started in the Middle Ages when a chapel dedicated to ”Our Lady of Pena” was built on the top of the hill above Sintra.  According to tradition, the construction occurred after an apparition of the Virgin Mary.

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In 1493,  King John II, accompanied by his wife Leonor of Viseu, made a pilgrimage to the site to fulfill a vow. His successor, King Manuel I, was also very fond of this sanctuary, and ordered the construction there of a monastery which was donated to the Order of Saint Jerome.   For centuries Pena was a small, quiet place for meditation, housing a maximum of eighteen monks.

In the 18th century the monastery was severely damaged by lightning.   However, it was the Great Lisbon Earthquake of 1755, occurring shortly afterwards, that took the heaviest toll on the monastery, reducing it to ruins.   Nonetheless, the chapel (and its magnificent works of marble and alabaster attributed to Nicolau Chanterene) escaped without significant damage.

For many decades the ruins remained untouched, but they still astonished young prince Ferdinand.   In 1838, as King consort Ferdinand II, he decided to acquire the old monastery, all of the surrounding lands, the nearby Castle of the Moors

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and a few other estates in the area, including Monserrate Palace..

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Monserrate Palace

The Monserrate Palace is an exotic palatial villa, the traditional summer resort of the Portuguese court. It was built in 1858 for Sir Francis Cook, an English baronet created visconde de Monserrate by King Luís

and the Convent of the Capuchos…

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of course we cannot forget the home he built for his second wife, The Chalet of the Countess of Edla…

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King Ferdinand then set out to transform the remains of the monastery into a palace that would serve as a summer residence for the Portuguese royal family.

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The commission for the Romantic style rebuilding was given to Lieutenant-General and mining engineer Baron Wilhelm Ludwig von Eschwege.   Eschwege, a German amateur architect,  was much traveled and likely had knowledge of several castles along the Rhine river.   The construction took place between 1842–1854, although it was almost completed in 1847:  King Ferdinand and Queen Maria II intervened decisively on matters of decoration and symbolism.   Among others, the King suggested Vault architecture,  Medieval architecture and Islamic architecture elements be included.

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….., and he also designed an exquisitely ornate window for the main façade inspired by the chapter house window of the Convent of the Order of Christ in Tomar

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After the death of Ferdinand the palace passed into the possession of his second wife Elisa Hensler, Countess of Edla.    The latter then sold the palace to Luís I of Portugal,  who wanted to retrieve it for the royal family, and thereafter the palace was frequently used by the family.   In 1889 it was purchased by the Portuguese State, and after the Republican Revolution of 1910 it was classified as a national monument and transformed into a museum.   The last queen of Portugal, Amélie of Orléans,  spent her last night at the palace before leaving the country in exile.

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The palace quickly drew visitors and became one of Portugal’s most visited monuments. Over time the colors of the red and yellow façades faded, and for many years the palace was visually identified as being entirely gray.   By the end of the 20th century the palace was repainted and the original colors restored, much to the dismay of many Portuguese who were not aware that the palace had once displayed such chromatic variety.

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In 1995,  the palace and the rest of the Cultural Landscape of Sintra were classified as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

Pena Palace is so large and so magnificent.    We so enjoyed our visit …………. now off for some food!

Caldo Verde……….delightful……recipe at end of post…….

………followed by one of my favorites……….Roasted Octopus….

what a fantastic day……..oh yeah, here is the Caldo Verde recipe…

  • 4 tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1 Onion, minced
  • 1 clove Garlic, minced
  • 6 Potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 quarts Cold Water
  • 6 ounces Linguica Sausage, thinly sliced
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons Salt
  •  1 pound Kale, rinsed and julienned

Directions

 In a large saucepan over medium heat, cook onion and garlic in 3 tablespoons olive oil for 3 minutes.  Stir in potatoes and cook, stirring constantly, 3 minutes more.  Pour in water, bring to a boil, and let boil gently for 20 minutes, until potatoes are mushy.
Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium-low heat, cook sausage until it has released most of its fat, 10 minutes.  Drain.

Mash potatoes or puree the potato mixture with a blender or food processor.  Stir the sausage, salt and pepper into the soup and return to medium heat.  Cover and simmer 5 minutes.

Just before serving, stir kale into soup and simmer, 5 minutes, until kale is tender and jade green.  Stir in the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and serve at once.