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Filmoteca revives Andalucian Super-8 home movies

September 23, 2016 – 9:15 am

 

A new project by La Filmoteca Española aims to collect and digitalise home movies made by Andalucians in the 1960s and 1970s.

The idea behind Proyecto Mi Vida is to create a digital archive of family films, showing regional travel, customs and fiestas to form part of a collective memory – an Andalucian visual heritage.

La Filmoteca Española is an official institution of the Spanish Ministry of Culture, based in Cordoba, whose objective is to restore, investigate and conserve the film heritage of Spain and its diffusion.

You can see children – who would now be in their 40s and 50s, with their own offspring – jumping in the waves on Andalucian beaches, or playing with the dog in their garden. The family’s first-ever plane journey, filmed as they arrive at Barcelona airport. An outing through villages in the interior of one of Andalucia’s provinces – the people, the food; the cousins who came along for the summer holiday…. Family memories which many recorded on Super-8, the most popular format of cine film all those decades ago, and which have been left for years in a forgotten corner of the house.

So Filmoteca is asking Andalucians to search their attics, wardrobes, storerooms, garages (and presumably their parents’, too); find those cardboard boxes hidden under piles of unwanted clothes and books, where family photo albums are stacked, and unearth the recordings which are also hidden away in a dark, dusty spot. Send them to Filmoteca, and their technicians will convert them into a digital format which can be used in today’s devices.

“They are films made by normal citizens recording their lives”, explained Filmoteca director, Pablo García Casado in an interview with El Diario. “They are an important film heritage which tells us about Andalucian life in the 1960s and 1970s.”

The first films have now been converted in this historic fly-on-the-wall project. Each week, La Filmoteca will upload to its YouTube channel short fragments of the films. You can see family beach holidays at Salobreña (Granada), a visit to the wineries in Montilla (Córdoba), family parties, the night of the Reyes Magos (Three Kings, 5 January) at home, and games in the swimming pool. Scenes of daily life – people riding a donkey – a common form of transport back then.

“Anyone who has a Super-8 reel at home can send it to us or email us at informacion.filmoteca.ccul@juntadeandalucia.es, so that these memories don’t get lost,” says García Casado.

In the film clips you can see in the video above, it is fascinating to note how Andalucia’s towns and cities, the region’s coastline and beaches, countryside and roads, looked in those bygone days. It’s also fun to see everything from the cars to clothes and hairstyles of the period. These films are equally entertaining for the next generation of children, to see how their parents’ generation spent their summer vacations, as they are for those who experienced them.


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Personal account of the Cascamorras Festival in Baza

September 16, 2016 – 3:39 pm

 

Journalist Anastasia Sukhanova and Sarah Gatward with her GoPro were thrilled to run alongside anther 12.000 in the Cascamorras, Baza.

Journalist Anastasia Sukhanova and Sarah Gatward with her GoPro were thrilled to run alongside anther 12.000 in the Cascamorras, Baza.

 

Personal account of the Cascamorras Festival in Baza

 

Guest post by Anastasia Sukhanova

 

6th of September is an important day for Baza – the whole town and its 20.000 inhabitants are brought together for the celebration of the Cascamorras festival. The tradition originates from the 15th century, when an ownership dispute arose over a sacred image of the Virgen de la Piedad (Our Lady of Mercy) between Baza, and its neighboring town, Guadix. Cascamorras was the nickname of a workman from Guadix, who tried to appropriate it for his town, but failed. Ever since, each year on the saint’s day, the newly nominated Cascamorras tries to complete the challenge of reaching the main church of Baza clean in order to take the sacred image back to Guadix. And each year thousands of people smear him (and each other along the way) with black oil – making sure the image of the Virgen stays where it belongs. The crowd, mostly made up of young Spanish people, had already gathered as we drove up the hills on the outskirts of Baza overlooking the town. Read this post in our Baza section.

 


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Game of Thrones Season 7 to film in Andalucia again

August 22, 2016 – 3:26 pm
The Alcazar as seen in Game of Thrones - the palace of Prince Doran, ruler of the Kingdom of Dorne. (Photo: HBO)

The Alcazar as seen in Game of Thrones – the palace of Prince Doran, ruler of the Kingdom of Dorne. (Photo: HBO)

For the third season running, HBO’s globally successful, multi-award-winning fantasy drama series Game of Thrones will be filmed in Andalucia. Season seven will be shot in various locations around the region later this year.

In season five (filmed in October 2014, aired in spring 2015),  some episodes were filmed in the Alcazar Palace of Seville, which stood in for the Water Gardens of Dorne, home of Prince Doran; and the bullring of Osuna which was a fighting pit of Mereen.

Season 6 returned to the Alcazar, as well as the Alcazaba fortress of Almeria - for a bloody deed scene in an early episode, filmed last October and shown in April this year. This was shot in the Patio del Gobernador of the 12th-century Moorish fortress, morphed with the grotto wall in the gardens of Seville’s Alcazar (see on left of above picture). Further locations in the eastern province included the Tabernas Desert.

Other Andalucian locations for this seventh season will include the town of Santiponce outside Seville, home to the Roman site of Italica, as well as the historic riverside settlement of Almodovar del Rio in Cordoba, home to the spectacularly situated castle.


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Dolmens of Antequera win UNESCO World Heritage status

July 30, 2016 – 11:35 am
Map of Dolmens de Antequera (C)Instuto de Estadiscica y Cartografia de AndaluciaMap of Dolmens de Antequera, shown as  small red dots (C)Instituto de Estadistica y Cartografia de Andalucia

As expected, Andalucia’s latest UNESCO World Heritage site was confirmed recently: the Dolmens of Antequera were inscribed on the list earlier this month at the committee meeting in Istanbul.

We’ve mentioned this topic a few times on this blog, from when the idea was first proposed, until more recently when it was almost definite.

The complex consists of five elements: Antequera’s three prehistoric dolmens, plus two mountains towards which the dolmens were built. Together, this combination of millennia-old manmade and natural features presents to visitors an offering of unique archaeological and cultural value.

UNESCO says the dolmens are: “Outstanding examples of megalithic architecture and are amongst the most recognized and quoted in the world.”

The three monuments and two natural rock formations included in the World Heritage site are:

Menga dolmen

Viera dolmen

El Romeral tholos

La Peña de los Enamorados rock

El Torcal mountains

 

This is from the UNESCO website:

“The properties nominated to be included on the World Heritage List as a series of cultural properties are the Antequera Dolmen sites, an ensemble of megalithic monuments made up of the Menga and Viera dolmens and the tholos of El Romeral. They are outstanding examples of megalithic architecture and are amongst the most recognized and quoted in the world. They are also connected to two first-class landmarks:  la Peña de los Enamorados (Lovers’ Leap) and the mountains of El Torcal, Antequera. They are two mountain formations of outstanding geomorphological make-up which were the focal point for positioning the megalithic monuments; Menga is positioned towards the Peña de los Enamorados, whilst the Tholos de El Romeral is positioned towards El Torcal. Indeed, these natural landmarks themselves hold priceless archaeological sites.

Menga and Viera dolmens are very near to each other, whilst El Romeral is around 1.700 m away from them. La Peñade los Enamorados (Lovers’ Leap) focused from the Menga dolmen, it is 7 km away.  The tholos of El Romeral is the same distance away from El Torcal, which it is positioned towards.”

Justification of Outstanding Universal Value

“The Antequera Dolmens have been nominated for their inclusion on the World Heritage Indicative List due to the monumental character of the megalithic constructions, the beauty of the natural formations surrounding them, and the importance of the relationships established during the Neolithic period between the elements of cultural heritage and their natural setting.

It is a culture in which the natural landmarks acquire the value of monuments whilst constructed monuments appear to be part of the natural landscape.

This close liaison between culture and nature is especially apparent in the precise positioning of the megaliths in the architectural site. Also, the relationship between mountains with a sacred or cultural significance and megalithic architecture is outstanding.”

Modifications still to be made

A inspector from International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) visited the site in September last year and produced a list of outstanding points, most of which will take some years to rectify. The site was awarded WH status despite these conditions not being met, as stated at the meeting in May to ratify the nominations. It was felt that granting status would give impetus for the improvements to be funded.

 The improvements requested were:

  • direct access between the dolmens
  • improvement of industrial access to El Romeral
  • reducing the height of the concrete building designed by the Junta as a museum (never opened due to lack of funds), as it blocks the line of site to the Peña – the first floor will be removed
  • a 10km-via verde to be converted from the railway line – but this section will remain in use until the new AVE linking Antequera and Granada is finally completed and active.

This is from the UNESCO statement (which seems to contradict the reason for earlier requests):

“The nomination proposes a wide area which includes the nominated property, the three dolmen sites forming part of the Archaeological Ensemble of the Antequera Dolmens, and a buffer zone made up of visual cones [see map above] which connect them to the aforementioned natural landmarks. 

This area is under the authority of Antequera, a very dynamic city due to its historic role, and at present, it is in a central position for communication in Andalusia.  However, due to this reason, some buildings and infrastructures have recently been built in the visual protection zone, however, they are not tall buildings and they do not hinder the vision of said natural features. This condition, of keeping the vision unhindered, should be maintained in the management of the nominated area.

The buffer zone corresponds to the field of vision from the “Dolmens” to the two natural landmarks [see map above].”

Under the “Integrity” Section

“However, some threats do exist to the landscape of the dolmens today, (connected with the plans for new infrastructures in the surrounding area). Nowadays there are improving plans to correct this situation.”

For more information, see the UNESCO World Heritage List entry on the dolmens here.


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Summer in Seville 2016

July 13, 2016 – 5:23 pm

 

The night concerts in the Alcazar start on on 14 July.

The night concerts in the Alcazar start on on 14 July.

As the mercury soars into the low 40s (low 100 F), nightlife and cultural activities move outside and upwards – onto terraces, often on rooftops, to catch any possible slight evening breeze; and into gardens, to be near shady green plants and the refreshing sound and temperature-lowering effect of running water. The 17th summer season of outdoor concerts in the Alcazar Palace Gardens, Noches en los Jardines del Real Alcazar,  starts on 14 July, and lasts until 30 September. This is one of the most magical venues for after-dark live music, with the stage in front of the grutesco gallery, under palm trees, on a balmy evening. Arrive early and walk around the gardens – the Alcazar itself lit up is a sight to behold. As usual, the concerts are classified into various genres: old music, classical, flamenco, world, and other.  For the full programme and to book tickets (you can also buy them in person at the Patio de Banderas), see their website. Moving to terraces, a number of which are located on rooftops, a programme called Summer Hotel Time offers the best Seville hotel bars with views – whether of the street, the river, the cathedral, Metropol Parasol (Las Setas), or other picturesque churches and historic buildings – with an accompanying app called Espacios Miticos, which lists all the participating hotels.

 

Espacios Miticos is the new app for Seville's hotel roof terrace bars.

Espacios Miticos is the new app for Seville’s hotel roof terrace bars.

 

Sherry on Top – wine and music with a view Part of this summer programme is Sherry On Top, a series of outdoor events incorporating night-time sherry tastings and live music. The first of these concerts is by Las Criaturas, and takes place on 20 July at Hotel Murillo. The rest of the performances, which last until 15 September, are still to be announced – keep an eye on their website. With a Sevilla Summer Hotel Time Card, you get 15% off drinks on the Summer Hotel Time rooftop bars. The card costs 29 euros for adults and 16 euros for children up to 13 years, and includes a panoramic City Sightseeing bus tour, a ride on the Noria de Sevilla (Big Wheel), an Aquarium entry or a Guadalquivir river cruise, 20% discount on Aires de Sevilla arab baths, 20% discount at the Museo del Baile Flamenco and 30% discount at the Palacio del Flamenco. ne euro from each card is donated to the Fundacion Pequeño Deseo ((Spanish Make a Wish Foundation), which helps chronically and terminally ill children to be granted a wish. You can buy the card at City Expert offices on Avenida de la Constitución, Patio de los Naranjos in the Cathedral, Plaza de Armas shopping centre, Metropol Parasol and the Basílica de la Macarena. Hotels taking part ìn Summer Hotel Time are: 5* Gran Melia Colon, Alfonso XIII, Barceló Sevilla, Palacio de Villapanes, EME Catedral; 4* Alcazaba de la Reina (Carmona); Doña Maria, Inglaterra, NH Plaza de Armas, Parador de Carmona, Ribera de Triana, Los Seises by Fontecruz, Sevilla Center, Silken Al-Andalus, TRH Alcora (Mairena del Aljarafe), Vincci Rabida, Alcoba del Rey, Amadeus, Don Paco, Oromana, Patio de la Cartuja, Casas del Rey de Baeza, Murillo. You can also watch outdoor movies, visit outdoor art exhibitions, and attend a wide range of cultural events over the summer taking place in various spaces all over the city, such as 21 Grados and Asomate al Patio. Pick up one of the widely-available free listings magazines, such as La Giraldilla, for the latest details, or visit their website. For details about an unusual summer theatre festival in the Alpujarra mountains (Granada province), see the previous blog post.

 

Las Criaturas - Sherry Concert

Las Criaturas – Sherry Concert


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Me Vuelves Lorca: summer cultural festival in Alpujarras open-air theatre

July 7, 2016 – 3:19 pm

 

Me Vuelves Lorca

Me Vuelves Lorca 2016

 

A couple of years ago on this blog, I interviewed a dynamic and enterprising Brit called Anna Kemp, who was organising a project to build a mountainside open-air theatre in the tiny Alpjuarras village of Laroles (population: 600).

The aim was to bring visitors to a stunningly beautiful, if forgotten, mountainous corner of Granada province, as well as providing seasonal work, including traditional artisanal skills, for local people. Jobs are not easy to come by in Andalucia, and even less so in rural areas, so many people have abandoned centuries-old Moorish villages to move to the cities. Inspiring projects like Anna’s play an essential role in helping to prevent isolated communities from dying out.

The boutique theatre, whose stage is an old wheat-threshing circle, with hand-carved stone seating built into the hillside, is now about to start its second summer season. With views across the Alpjuarra mountains, Un Teatro Entre Todos is one of the most spectacularly located theatres in Spain; it seats 250.

The 2016 summer season is called “Me Vuelves Lorca” (a pun on me vuelves loca – you drive me crazy – and the Spanish playwright Federico Garcia Lorca). The programme, which starts later this month and runs at weekends until mid-August, covers music, dance and theatre. Shakespeare and Cervantes are both featured, as part of the commemorations for the 400th anniversary of the deaths of both writers – arguably the most famous in England and Spain, respectively.

Me Vuelves Lorca

Me Vuelves Lorca 2016

As always, Anna has brought together an eclectic and entertaining group of works and performers, including one of Lorca’s most famous plays, the House of Bernarda Alba (16 July) by award-winning Madrid theatre company, Tribueñe; a homage to Cervantes on (23 July); and The Tempest – in English (30 July), being performed by a group from near my home town in England, Sudbury Drama Society.

Music lovers will enjoy the night of tango with guitarist and singer Osvaldo Jimenez (22 July), and how could any cultural festival in Andalucia be complete without flamenco? In this case, Las Migas, a female dance and singing quartet from Barcelona influenced by latin, folk and jaz (12 August). You can also see a Weekend of Monologues, on 5-6 August featuring political and social commentary on Spain today, including España Ingobernable (Ungovernable Spain). On 13 August there’s a night of improvised theatre and comedy from Jamming Compañia, while those who like to take part can enjoy a workshop with this Madrid theatre company the same day.

Me Vuelves Lorca takes place in Laroles (Granada) from 16 July to 13 August 2016.

For full details of the programme with timings and how to book tickets, as well as places to stay and eat in Laroles, see Me Vuelves Lorca. To read about how the theatre was built, see Un Teatro Entre Todos.

 

 


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Acting Prime Minister Rajoy’s statement about immediate impact of Brexit vote

June 24, 2016 – 8:30 pm

EU flagunion jackYesterday, 23 June 2016, British people voted to leave the European Union. The final share of the Brexit Referendum was Leave 51.9% (17.4 million votes) and Remain 48.1% (16.1 million votes).

This morning, acting Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy made this statement (this is an edited version; you can read the full text in English here), including clarification regarding the situation of British citizens living in Spain.

The British government has just announced the results of the referendum about whether the United Kingdom should stay in the European Union. The Spanish government is saddened to hear the result in favour of leaving the Union. Now the British government will have to decide how and when to officially notify the European Council of UK’s decision to leave the EU. Only then will the process laid out in Article 50 of the European Union Treaty begin, which regulates the voluntary departure of member state.

The first response to this decision which I want to convey is peace and calm. Although it’s the first time a member state has decided to abandon the union, the treaties allow for a negotiated and ordered exit process. This process will most probably last for at least two years from the official notification, and in the meantime I would like to stress especially that the legal situation of relations between the EU and the UK will not change in any way.

In other words, the EU treaties, all the entire EU legal system, the freedom of movement of workers, goods, services and capital, the rights of the European citizen and in general all aspects of relations between the UK and the other EU member states and its institutions remains fully active.

For this reason, I want to send a message of peavce and calm to Spanish citizens, especially those who, due to their residence in the UK  or their activity there may feel particularly affected by this decision of the British people. Spanish citizens will keep their rights under the same terms in the relation to the UK. Their rights to work, earn a salary and receive a pension, to invest, to vote in local elections in the place where they live will not be affected, probably for at least the next two years. 

The same applies to the rights of British citizens who live and work in [Spain] or other EU states. My message of peace and calm is also for businesses and economic operators. The freedom to supply services, contract workers, invest, export and import goods remain active.

And finally, in relation to Spanish citizens who work in Gibraltar, their rights haven’t changed in any way, and they can continue to work, earn, and travel normally in the territory.”

 

David Cameron, who announced his resignation as British PM shortly after the vote result was announced on Friday, has said he will not invoke Article 50 until the Conservative Party Conference in October. This means that the exit process will not start until at least October 2016.

 

Article 50 from the Treaty of Lisbon:

1. Any Member State may decide to withdraw from the Union in accordance with its own constitutional requirements.

2. A Member State which decides to withdraw shall notify the European Council of its intention. In the light of the guidelines provided by the European Council, the Union shall negotiate and conclude an agreement with that State, setting out the arrangements for its withdrawal, taking account of the framework for its future relationship with the Union. That agreement shall be negotiated in accordance with Article 218(3) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. It shall be concluded on behalf of the Union by the Council, acting by a qualified majority, after obtaining the consent of the European Parliament.

3. The Treaties shall cease to apply to the State in question from the date of entry into force of the withdrawal agreement or, failing that, two years after the notification referred to in paragraph 2, unless the European Council, in agreement with the Member State concerned, unanimously decides to extend this period.

4. For the purposes of paragraphs 2 and 3, the member of the European Council or of the Council representing the withdrawing Member State shall not participate in the discussions of the European Council or Council or in decisions concerning it. A qualified majority shall be defined in accordance with Article 238(3)(b) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.

5. If a State which has withdrawn from the Union asks to rejoin, its request shall be subject to the procedure referred to in Article 49.


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First-ever transatlantic solar electric flight to land in Seville

June 22, 2016 – 10:29 pm

 

Solar Impulse

Solar Impulse 2 is a solar-powered electric plane currently crossing the Atlantic.

 

In a few hours, at around 5am tomorrow, Thursday 23 June, a historic event will take place at Seville’s San Pablo airport.

The first ever flight in a solar-powered electric plane across the Atlantic, with no fuel and no emissions, is due to touch down after a three-day flight from New York.

Solar Impulse 2, also known as Si2, left JFK airport at 2am local time (8am Spanish time) on Monday 20 June, piloted by doctor and explorer Bertrand Piccard. The journey was expected to take around 90 hours, but will be considerably shorter – less than 72 hours.

The plane weighs less than a car, but has the wingspan of a Boeing 747. Its wings are covered in solar panels, which power the aircraft.

The total distance to be covered is 5726km, and is the 15th leg of a 35,000-km round-the-world journey. The plane was designed and built by Solar Impulse, a Swiss-based company. The other pilot, engineer and technical team head Andre Borschberg, has flown various legs of the epic voyage.

You can follow the plane’s progess on their excellent website, which has live coverage of the cockpit and  control centre, with live information on altitude, distance travelled and time taken, and battery charge remaining, as well as on Flight Radar 24, a website tracking every commercial flight in the air at any one time.

 

 

 

 

 


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A mosque in Seville at last?

June 1, 2016 – 7:57 pm

For a number of years – over a decade – the Islamic community has been trying to build a mosque in Seville.

As anyone who has ever visited the city will be aware, during the 500-year period when the Seville was an Islamic city, it had a number of mosques, including the Grand Mosque built by the north African muslim dynasty, the Almohads, which was situated where the cathedral is now. The mosque’s minaret became the massive Gothic structure’s bell tower, the iconic Giralda, while its main entrance, the Puerta del Perdon (Gate of Forgiveness) and Patio de Naranjas still remain today.

Since Fernando III reconquered the city from the Almohads in 1248, Seville has been firmly Catholic; its Semana Santa (Holy Week) processions attract many hundreds of thousands of visitors from all over the world.

A newly-constructed mosque opened in Granada in 2003, the first mosque to be built in the city for more than 500 years. The Great Mosque of Granada is located on a prime site at the top of the Albaicin, opposite the Alhambra and with superb views of one of the greatest existing Islamic monuments in the world.

 

The Garden - Mezquita in Granada

The Garden of the Mezquita in Granada.

 

Water Fountains - Mezquita in Granada

Water Fountains – Mezquita in Granada.

In the 2000s, the CIE (Islamic Community in Spain) backed a proposal to build a mosque in Los Bermejales, a residential district in south-east Seville. This was blocked by local residents, on the grounds that the proposed site, close to the SE30 motorway, was designated for public and social interest, which did not include a mosque.

Subsequent attempts in La Cartuja and Sam Jeronimo also failed, and the project stalled for several years.

A small space in Plaza Ponce de Leon, on the edge of Seville’s historic centre, has been used as a mosque since 2002. This was bought by Sevilla FC footballer Kanoute in 2006 to ensure that it remained open, and the mosque still being used today, as can be seen in the video below.

Now the plan has been given a boost by a fundraising campaign in Malaysia. Women celebrities from the Asian country have pledged their support in a video, with a slogan entitled “A Tile for Seville”, organised by the Fundacion Mosque de Sevilla and a muslim travel agency called Visita Al Andaluz. A site is still being sought for the new 17-million-euro Seville mosque and Islamic Cultural Centre. According to the Foundation’s website: “The framework where our project is inspired is the Imaret, traditionally conceived containing spaces for education, health, library and study rooms, communal dining, spiritual center and mosque.”

There are currently around 1,400 legally-registered mosques in Spain, including 201 in Andalucia, with further makeshift ones. Seven of the mosques are purpose-built, of which four are in Andalucia: in Granada, Malaga, Marbella and Fuengirola – the last three are areas which attract many visitors from the Middle East. There’s also a mosque in Gibraltar, at Europea Point – the southernmost mosque in continental Europe – shown in the video.

Estimates of the number of Muslims in Spain are around 1.3 million (3-4% of the population).

Muslim tourists to Andalucia are a growing market, so a magnificent new mosque would give Seville a valuable multicultural offering, encouraging visitors of the Islamic faith to the city.

The video is in Malay, although we’re told that a version subtitled in English and/or Spanish is coming soon.

 


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Andalucia’s monuments on the world stage: from prehistoric to islamic

May 25, 2016 – 11:31 pm
The interior of the Mezquita of Cordoba, Europe's fourth-top attraction, according to Trip Advisor users. Photo: Michelle Chaplow

The interior of the Mezquita of Cordoba, Europe’s fourth-top attraction, according to Trip Advisor users.

Trip Advisor has just released its top ten landmarks in Europe, as voted by users of the frighteningly influential reviewing website. Two of these, both in the top five of the list, are in Andalucia.

Number 2, rather surprisingly, is the Mezquita. The 10th-century mosque in Cordoba is a wonder of Moorish architecture, with its forest of striped brick arches and jasper columns, but it would normally play second fiddle to the monument which comes in at number four, according to Trip Advisor users.

Yes, the top visitor attraction in Spain by numbers, the Alhambra, has slipped down into fourth position on the Trip Advisor leader board. The Moorish hilltop palace in Granada, which dates from the 13th century and is famous for room after room adorned with intricate Arabic plasterwork, exquisite geometrically-patterned ceramic tiles, and serene gardens with pools and fountains, was pushed down the list by its fellow Muslim monument. First place in the European hit parade was held by St Peter’s in Vatican City, Rome, and third by a church in St Petersburg, which (according to Trip Advisor) goes by the unsavoury name of “the Saviour of Spilled Blood”.

These two monuments, which any visitor to Andalucia, shouldn’t miss, also held very respectable positions in the world ranking – number 6 and 8 respectively. Topping the global countdown is Machu Picchu, the Incan city in Peru, followed by Sheikh Zayed Mosque in Abu Dhabi (2), and Angkor Wat in Cambodia (3).

Religious heritage plays a strong role, with four of the top ten being Islamic buildings – the two mosques and the Alhambra, plus the Taj Mahal in India (5), a Muslim tomb, while Angkor Wat is a Buddhist site; the St Petersburg church (7) is Russian orthodox; and St Peter’s Rome and Milan cathedral in Italy (10) – Roman Catholic. Faiths, while causing endless wars across the centuries, have also left us with some of our most spectacular, and popular, monuments.

 

Peña de los Enamorados (Lovers' Rock), part of the Monumental Compex of Anterquera, entered as Spain's application for UNESCO World Heritage Status for 2015, to be decided this July. Photograph: Michelle Chaplow

Peña de los Enamorados (Lovers’ Rock), part of the Monumental Compex of Anterquera, entered as Spain’s application for UNESCO World Heritage Status for 2015, to be decided this July.

Dolmens PM

Dolmens PM.

The other exciting news for Andalucia is that the Dolmens of Antequera have moved a step closer to being declared UNESCO World Heritage (Patrimonio de la Humanidad in Spanish), at the next meeting in Istanbul this July.

The three stone structures, built in the Neolithic period (fifth millennium BC), together with the natural rock formation Peña de los Enamorados, are very likely to be given the coveted status, and the funding that comes along with it. Other UNESCO monuments in Andalucia include the aforementioned Alhambra and Mezquita, as well as the Alcazar and Cathedral in Seville, and the Renaissance towns of Ubeda and Baeza in Jaen.

After a recent visit by an assessor, at the end of last year, a report specified that the area surrounding the dolmen complex must be protected (from development), and the visual impact of the museum reduced – it will lose its first floor. Another ruling was that the old railway line near the site be turned into a via verde (green pathway) more than 10km long. Then, at a meeting of ICOMOS (International Committee of Monuments and Sites) in Paris last week, it was accepted that these modifications were being addressed, and the application was given the green light.

The final decision is set to be made at the UNESCO World Heritage Committee meeting in the Turkish city on 10-20 July. After this rubber-stamping, the town of Antequera – at the very heart of Andalucia, and closest to the dolmens of Viera, Manga and el Romeral, the first megalithic complex in Spain to gain World Heritage status – will be put firmly on the global historic monument map.

 


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