Sunday Special – The Alhambra, Granada, Spain


In the Andalusian city of Granada you can see the stately Alhambra, a red-brick fortress and former residence of kings standing on the rocky hillside overlooking the River Darro.¬† It’s name in Arabic, qa’lat¬†al-Hamra, translates as The Red Castle, reflecting the colour of the fortress.¬† Considered one of the finest examples of Muslim architecture in all of Spain it¬† is not a surprise that it is one of the most visited places in the country.¬† The history surrounding this complex spans centuries. Historical records indicate that it was built in the 9th century CE as a minor military fortress though its illustrious history truly began when it was rebuilt in the 13th century and a royal residence was constructed by the Nasrids. Reconstruction the oldest part of the complex (the¬†Alcazaba) took place along with additions of towers and ramparts. Through the centuries it became a citadel with the adding of courts, royal palaces, a medina, army barracks, gardens, and more. It grew in size and splendour.¬† Later constructions were in the Renaissance style, during the time when King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella held court there. In the early 1500s Charles V tore down and began building a new palace that bears his name.¬† Time went on and the fortress was eventually abandoned through the 1800s and even Napolean had a hand in the destruction of a portion of this incredible complex. Seemingly lost, Alhambra was found again in the 1900s. Extensive restoration of the complex and UNESCO World Heritage Site designation in 1984 has given life once again to the is fine example of Moorish design.¬†

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Inside a Nasrid Palace in Alhambra РPhoto credit: Ronny Siegel, Alhambra in Granada 011, CC BY-SA 4.0

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Alhambra at night РGranda, Spain РPhoto credit: Javier rodriguez jimenez, 037 (2)fotofrafia nocturna del patio de los leones, CC BY-SA 4.0

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Alcazaba portion of Alhambra, Spain РPhoto Jebulon, Alcazaba, Alhambra, Granada, Spain, CC0 1.0

 

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Sunday Special – Bergen, Norway


A good friend of mine is travelling through Scandinavia and is enjoying herself very much. She has been sending me and our friends photos and videos of all the places she has visited, which I have to say I love seeing. One her favourite places so far is Bergen, Norway. So I thought I would post about it today. Let’s take a look!

Situated on the southwest coast of Norway, Bergen is its second largest city and sits on the Bergen Peninsula (Bergenshalv√łyen in the Norse language). Historically it has played an important role as an administrative capital in the 1200s CE and been a key player in maritime trade and shipping well into the 1800s CE. Today it still boasts various industries including shipping, petroleum, tourism, and subsea technology in addition to being a hub for education, finance, and culture. Set in the backdrop of awe-inspiring nature this city has much to offer.¬†

  • Fjords¬†– With 1,190 fjords in Norway it would make sense to take in the beauty they offer. Bergen is a natural stop to start exploring some of these amazing inlets in various ways. Bergen is only one of many stops along the ‘fjord route’. Many day cruises, trains, hiking trails, and kayaking options are in the general area.
  • Bryggen – This wharf along the harbour of Bergen is an important historical trade area and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The original buildings were built in the 1300s and repeatedly rebuilt after destruction due to fire, each time keeping meticulous care to the same building techniques as the original buildings. Today you see the buildings that have stood since 1702 CE.
  • Fl√łibanen Funicular – Spectacular vistas can be taken in at the top of¬†Mount Fl√łyen. And to get there take this funicular all the way to the top. Not only does it have a great view it is a wonderful starting point for walks and hikes in the area. Additionally there is a restaurant and a fun children’s playground.
  • Bergen Fish Market (Fisketorget) – A part of Bergen since the 1200s it now has both an outdoor market (May – Aug) and indoor market (open year round). Its original location was in Bryggen but was moved in the 1556 to its current location and in later centuries buildings were constructed around it.
  • Museums – Bergen is home to a number of different museums. Some of them are the Hanseatic Museum and¬†Sch√łtstuene; West Norway Museum of Decorative Art; the Norwegian Fisheries Museum; University Museum of Bergen (with various collections); and the Edvard Greig Museum Troldhaugen (former home of the composer).
  • Bergenhus Fortress¬†– This fortress is home to building dating as far back as the 1200s and as recently as post WW II. The castle is the one of the best preserved stone structures in Norway.

These are only some of the many ways to take in this Norwegian city of history, nature, and culture. My friend is have a great time and the photos she has shared certainly show how pretty Bergen is and that there is always some event happening.

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Bryggen, Bergan (Norway), UNESCO World Heritage Site РPhoto credit: giggel, 2010-08-06 РBergen РBryggen РKontore der Hanse-Kaufleute Рpanoramio, CC BY 3.0

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Fjords of Norway РPhoto credit: The original uploader was Eltouristo at French Wikipedia., Fjord, CC BY-SA 3.0

Sunday Special – Tikal, Guatemala


Found in the dense Guatemalan rain forests in the northeast of this Central America country are the ruins of ancient Mayans. One of the largest and most significant archaeological sites is Tikal. This pre-Colombian city was an important political, military, and economic area and was inhabited from 600 BCE to 900 CE.¬† The site of¬† Tikal not only includes its buildings and monuments it encompasses the vast jungle and nature surrounding it. The area is located within Tikal National Park in the Peten Province and has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1979, including both the historic buildings and the diverse nature of the land.¬† Tikal is a popular place to visit by both those touring Guatemala and day trippers from Belize’s San Ignacio Town as it’s only 2 hours away.

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A wild turkey making its way around Tikal РPhoto credit: Adam Jones from Kelowna, BC, Canada, Wild Turkey Struts by Temple II РGran Plaza РTikal Archaeological Site РPeten РGuatemala (15870775832), CC BY-SA 2.0

Sunday Special – Hadrian’s Wall, England


The reach of the ancient Roman Empire was quite an expanse. At the time of Emperor Hadrian (117 – 138 CE) parts of what is now modern-day north Africa, Turkey, Europe and England were under Roman rule. In hopes of preventing invasions from the northern “barbarians” and to maintain his northernmost border Hadrian had the wall built. This wall, much of which remains standing today, runs 117.5 km (73 miles) from east to west from Wallsend to Bowness-on-Solway in Northern England. Today, it is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Visiting this ancient wall is relatively easy. Many sections have cycling paths or can be seen on foot. Hadrian’s Wall Path spans the length of the wall and is often quite close to it.  Walks, farms, castles and Roman history can be experienced at many places along the wall. Additionally, it is completely unguarded, thus allowing people to touch or stand on it should they desire. Though one may want to remember that doing so may damage this part of English history.

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Portion of Hadrian’s Wall near Housestead, England (photo is Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons)


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Remains of Housesteads Roman Fort along Hadrian’s Wall (photo credit: Owned and taken by Mediatus via Wikimedia Commons)