Valletta, Malta – A Walk back in time.

The capital city of Malta is a sight to behold. We went here in February of 2016. Malta – a small island in the southern Mediterranean Sea to the south of Italy – is one of the warmest destinations in Europe that you can visit when it is at it’s coldest in England. If winter is becoming too much to bear, Malta is a great winter escape. The climate is similar to spring or autumn with ample sunshine to brighten your day. It was amazing that this tiny country has so much to offer during the day and night. Here are a few photos I have taken whilst wandering around the streets of Valletta. Valletta is a port city and being half way between Gibraltar and the Suez Canal was strategically important to the British.

The Flag of Malta.

If you love doors, you will have a feast on the different doors of the houses and establishments around Valetta.

You will not miss the door handles in Valletta.

It was the end of the Baroque Festival when we arrived.

We were lucky to catch a glimpse of the street decorations. It was actually the day that they started to take them down.

Apartment blocks are adorned with balconies, not just in one street but almost in the entire city.

Malta is a very Catholic country, well, their national flag has an emblem of the cross, but the cross is actually the St George’s Cross, awarded to the entire island for their bravery during the Second World War by King George VI of the United Kingdom.

Malta was a British Crown Colony until 1964. Valletta was badly bombed during the Second World War and it’s inhabitants lived underground in tunnels during this period.

One part of the city contains crossroads featuring statues of Christian Saints.

The best way to go around Valetta is on foot. Even though the city was heavily bombed during the Second World War it has a historic feel to it with plenty of interesting architecture and sites to visit. I will add more of these in my next update.

TOLEDO, SPAIN – A City of Three Cultures

If you are travelling to Madrid, don’t miss out on this beautiful and ancient city nearby.

 

“Toledo is one of the Spanish cities with the greatest wealth of monuments.”

 

Known as the “city of the three cultures”, because Christians, Arabs and Jews lived together there for centuries,

behind its walls Toledo preserves an artistic and cultural legacy in the form of churches, palaces, fortresses, mosques and synagogues.

“This great diversity of artistic styles makes the old quarter of the capital of Castile – La Mancha a real open-air museum,

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which has led to it being declared a World Heritage Site.”  -http://www.spain.info/en

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“Toledo (Latin: Toletum) is mentioned by the Roman historian Livy (ca. 59 BCE – 17 CE) as urbs parva, sed loco munita (“a small city, but fortified by location”).” – Wikipedia

“Toledo stands virtually in the centre of Spain.  It is strategically situated on a rocky bluff dominating a gorge, and surrounded on all sides but the north by the fast-flowing Tagus.” – http://www.toledo-turismo.com/es

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“Toledo thrives on tourism. In 1986 it was named a World Heritage Site. Thanks ironically in part to its easy access from Madrid, sightseers flock by day through the twisting streets visiting its national monuments, purchasing imitation swords, damascene shields, El Greco reproductions and Talavera tiles;

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by night Toledo recovers its silent magic, and its brilliant past is easily evoked by shadows cast in those dimly lit laneways and by the echoing footsteps of some lonely night owl. – http://www.spainthenandnow.com/spanish-history/toledo-historical-overview

 

Madrid.Plaza Toro Las Ventas. Part II. CORRIDAS DE TOROS – A Form of Art

The captions on my photos are excerpts from an article in the Daily Telegraph by book author Alexander Fiske-Harrison.

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 “It is for beauty that the real aficionados attend the corrida, not for pomp, not for thrill and certainly not for blood.” 

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“In Spain bullfighting is written about in the cultural pages of newspapers, not the sports section.” 

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“However, I came to understand that the fighting bulls’ lot of five years on free-release followed by 25 minutes in the arena is equal if not better than the meat cow’s 18 months corralled in prison followed by a “humane” death.”

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“Bullfighting is so much more than a sport. Even the dubious phrase “field” or “blood” sport is inapplicable (whatever the League Against Cruel Sports say.)”

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“It was not long before I started to see the beauty of toreo – bullfighting as a word does not exist in Spanish, and in English comes from our artless, riskless and brutal hobby of bull-baiting.”

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“Don’t take my word for this. Here is what Orson Welles had to say on the matter: “What is the essence of this art? That the man carry himself with grace and that he move the bull slowly and with a certain majesty. That is, he must allow the inherent quality of the bull to manifest itself.”

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“This is usually in the final and most famous of the three acts of the fight, the “Third of Death”, in which the matador passes the bull with a red cape, as closely and as elegantly as he can.” 

 

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“However, bullfighting is the only art form that both represents something and is that thing at the same time: the matador’s elegant immobility in the face of the bull not only represents man’s defiance of death, it is a man defying death.”

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“Love it or hate it, bullfighting is not a sport. To devotees and opponents alike, it is much more important than that.”

 

MADRID.PLAZA TORO LAS VENTAS. Part 1 – The Pageantry

The home of bullfighting in Spain, and arguably in the world as well, is at Plaza Toros Las Ventas in Madrid. The architect who designed it was José Espeliú. He employed a Neo-Mudéjar style, one that was popularised by the Arabic Moors of the 12th century. This gives the structure a more ancient look than it actually is. -www.gomadrid.com
Plaza Toros Las Ventas is the third largest bullring in the world. The largest is the Plaza de Toros México in Mexico City, and the second largest is Plaza de Toros Monumental de Valencia in Venezuela. Plaza Toros Las Ventas is of course the largest bullring in Spain. It can seat 25,000 people and it measures an impressive 60 metres in diameter. -www.gomadrid.com
Bullfighting traces its roots to prehistoric bull worship and sacrifice in Mesopotamia and the Mediterranean region. -Wikipedia
In medieval Spain bullfighting was considered a noble sport and reserved to the rich, who could afford to supply and train their animals. -Wikipedia
Empty seats before the start of the bullfight.

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Stucture: The modern corrida is highly ritualized, with three distinct stages or tercios (“thirds”); the start of each being announced by a bugle sound. – Wikipedia
The participants enter the arena in a parade, called the paseíllo, to salute the presiding dignitary, accompanied by band music. -www.gomadrid.com
The Dignitaries.

 

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A picador is a bullfighter who uses a special lance called pica while on horseback to test the bull’s strength and to provide clues to the matador on which side the bull is favouring. -Wikipedia

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Bullfighting on foot became a means for poor, able-bodied men to achieve fame and fortune, similar to the role of boxing in many countries. When asked why he risked his life, one famous torero reportedly answered, Más cornadas da el hambre (“[There is] more goring from hunger”). Today, it is common for a bullfighter to be born into a family of bullfighters. -Wikipedia
The first bull to rush out onto the new bullring floor was one called Hortelano. -www.gomadrid.com
A bullfighter nicknamed “Aguililla” was the first to face the bull. -www.gomadrid.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Majorca : Mallorca Photo Essay

The largest island in the Balearic Islands archipelago, which are part of Spain and located in the Mediterranean. -Wikipedia
Agatha Christie visited the island in the early 20th century and stayed in Palma and Port de Pollença. -Wikipedia
With thousands of rooms available Majorca’s economy is largely dependent on its tourism industry. Holiday makers are attracted by the large number of beaches, warm weather, and high-quality tourist amenities. -Wikipedia
Together with French writer George Sand, the Polish composer and pianist Frédéric Chopin resided in Valldemossa in the winter of 1838–39. -Wikipedia
Majorca has been jokingly referred to as the 17th Federal State of Germany, due to the high number of German tourists. – Wikipedia
BCM Planet Dance – Is The Biggest Nightclub in Mallorca and has been nominated the 5th best club in the World.