Parador La Granja
Lovely place, awful food, cold, tinned and quite simply badly seasoned. For the price they charge go somewhere else. This is a general phenomenon in all Paradores in Spain, someone has obviously said save money, or make more money so they have started with their restaurantes, it is a pity because beforehand it was a treat to eat in a parador, now it is substandard, a waste of money, and more importantly a waste of time.
"Spain: a great nation"
WELCOME TO SPAIN.
Spain is a country that has been influenced in the last 2000 years by other nations and make us very proud pople to remember: Phoenicians, romans, arabs, old greeks, celtics, almoravides, even viking influences in some parts are visibles.
Later, Spain, after the merge of Castilla, Leon, Aragon and Navarra, and the conquist of Granada, started one of the biggest campaign of culturisation ever done in the planet: Here I mention a list of countries, nations and territories with a Spanish, hispanic taste in placesnamed, people, race, language:
In Europe: Portugal (north), Italy (Sicily, Napoli, Calabria, Sardegna), France (Le rousillon, perpignan, Barque Country), Germany (Aachen), Belgium and Netherland (King Charles V), Andorra (spanish language)
In America: Canada (basques settlements), USA (Southwest, Texas, Luisiana and Florida), Mexico, Guatemala, Belice, El Salvador, Honduras, Cuba, Nicaragua, Panamá, Costa Rica, Santo Domingo, Caiman, Little antilles, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, Brasil, Uruguay, Paraguay, Chile, Argentina and the Malvinas.
Africa: Morocco (Tetuan, Tangier, Ifni, Tarfaya), Argelia (Oran), Tunicia (Cartago), Ecuatorial Guinea, Western Sahara.
Asia-Pacifico: Guam, Filipinas, Northern marianas islands, Carolines Island, Salomon Islands, Vietnam (first european settlement).
Spain is made up of a pot-pourri of cultures belonging to civilisations which, down the centuries, gradually came to settle on Iberian soil and make it their home. This historical legacy draws its strength from the very variety of this mosaic, the wealth of nuance and the ultimate fusion of the respective contributions. Added to this is the fact that all the major currents in culture and art have found their echo in a native creative talent of true relevance.
Origins. The Altamira Cave (Cantabria), with its wall paintings dating from some 15,000 years ago, is only the most outstanding among a whole series of archaeological sites and caverns. Bronze-age stone towers (talaiots), altars (taulas) and mausoleums (navetas) in a good state of preservation are to be seen in Menorca, while the earliest examples of Iberian art dating from the Iron Age, such as the weathered animal figures in the foothills of the Gredos, known as the Toros de Guisando and the stately head of the Dama de Elche, are to be found in other points in Castile and the so-called Levant region (Valencia/Alicante area).
The Phoenicians, venturing in from the Mediterranean, set up colonies and left the imprint of their culture along the shores of Andalusia (Adra, Cadiz), the Levant region (Cartagena) and Ibiza. The Greeks founded colonies at points along the Levant (Ampuries, Roses) but it was the Roman conquest of the Peninsula in 218 A.D. that signalled the contribution of a vigorous civilisation.
So pervasive and profound was the process of Romanisation, that Spain produced its share of emperors, intellectuals and military men, and in return received a legacy of large-scale infrastructures and civil-engineering works (roads, mines, quarries, aqueducts, bridges) as well as the creation of a number of cities (Tarragona, Barcelona, Merida), which still conserve their heritage (hot springs, baths, amphitheatres, circuses), plus the ruins of many more in Cuenca, Soria, Seville and Malaga. The sheer wealth of their collections makes the Merida and Tarragona museums fundamental reference points.
"Spain and the history"
Once in Spain, the barbarian invaders from the north who had spelt an end to the Roman Empire, sowed the seeds of a fertile culture, the Visigothic, with Toledo acting both as capital and principal point of diffusion.
The Medieval Age: crucible of cultures. The invasion of the Moors in the year 711 and their ensuing sway for eight centuries, was to create a civilisation of great splendour and establish a formidable bridgehead between East and West. The imprint of Islam was so profound as to even impregnate the Christian style, giving rise to two new schools: Mozarabic, the style of the Christian minorities and Mudejar, that of the Moorish minorities. The Jewish community, the third culture present in Spain for a number of centuries, in many ways emulated the artistic forms favoured by Islam. The Jewish Quarters (juderías), ritual baths and synagogues (Tránsito and Santa María la Blanca Synagogues in Toledo, and the synagogue in Cordoba) are notable examples of the mark left by this community.
Christianity led to the emergence of the Romanesque School in the wake of the pilgrims as they trod the Way to Santiago (the Church of St. Martin in Frómista, St. Isidore’s Basilica in León, the Santiago de Compostela Cathedral) and to the Style’s subsequent evolution under Byzantine (Zamora) and French influences (Catalonia). Castles and monasteries lent expression to an era that was to reach a pinnacle of aesthetic glory during the age of Cathedrals. The 13th and 14th centuries signalled the pre-eminence of the Gothic Style, the most important examples of which are to be seen in the churches built in Burgos, Toledo, León, Palma and Girona. With the advent of the 15th century, the Perpendicular Style was to leave works of the stature of Seville Cathedral, the Royal Hospitals of Santiago, Granada and Toledo, San Juan de los Reyes Monastery (Toledo) and the Infantado Palace (Guadalajara).
In the 10th century, under the Caliphate, Moorish art attained its greatest splendour. The Cordoba Mosque and the Royal Court-City of Medina Azahara, nearby, are the period’s most representative works. Dating from the reign of the taifa kingdoms or factions (11th century), are the Malaga Alcazaba (Fortress) and the Zaragoza Aljafería (Moorish palace), and from the subsequent Almohad period, the Giralda and Torre del Oro (Golden Tower) in Seville. In the 14th and 15th centuries, Nasrid art in the tiny kingdom of Granada was to leave exquisite examples of intricate ornamental work, culminating in the complex formed by the Granada Alhambra and the Generalife Gardens.
The Age of Discovery and the Golden Age. The discovery of America (Indies Archives - Archivo General de Indias in Seville) and the humanist Renaissance which inspired a style based on classical forms that came to be known as Plateresque, left behind a series of splendid examples in the 16th century, such as the façade of University of Salamanca, the cathedral and palace of Charles V in Granada and, in keeping with the austere Herrera style, the Monastery of San Lorenzo de El Escorial.
Artists such as Morales and El Greco and sculptors such as Berruguete were to be the precursors of the period known as Spain’s Golden Age (Siglo de Oro - 17th century), thanks to the universal stature of sculptors of religious imagery (Gregorio Hernández, Martínez Montañés and Francisco Salzillo) and artists (Diego Velázquez, Zurbarán, Ribera and Murillo).
Through colonial art, the Baroque explosion made its presence felt in the Americas (Mexico; Cuzco and Lima, Peru; La Habana, Cuba), while in Spain the movement left a legacy of buildings of singular beauty, such as the royal palaces of La Granja (Segovia), Aranjuez and Madrid.
"Spain and its culture"
On the threshold of modernity. The return of Neoclassicism left its mark on buildings such as the Prado Museum in Madrid and heralded the appearance of the artistic genius of one, Francisco de Goya, a genuine forerunner of contemporary art. The eclecticism of styles in evidence in the 19th century looked to Romanticism for themes of an historical bent or those depicting customs and manners (Benlliure, Sorolla), and the appearance of Modernism in the closing years of the century spelt renewal at the hands of the Catalonian architect, Antonio Gaudí (Church of the Holy Family, Güell Park in Barcelona).
In the present century, the artistic avant-garde found a genius of universal appeal in the person of the Malaga-born artist, Pablo Ruiz Picasso, while Salvador Dalí and Joan Miró played key roles in the Surrealist and Abstract movements. Spanish contribution to art in recent decades has come from outstanding architects (Sert, Bofill, Calatrava) painters and sculptors (Tàpies, Antonio López, Barceló, Chillida), who have set their seal on works of great individuality.