Another beautiful sunrise!

Hello all! I hope you are keeping well in these difficult times…

As you can see, this morning I was met with a beautiful sunrise!

An impressive daybreak looking eastwards beyond the haunted castle of Almodóvar del Río towards Cordova

I would also like to take this opportunity of introducing to you one of my favourite blogs that I follow, written by a talented lady who lives in beautiful Yorkshire: https://lisafeatherstone.co.uk/ .

The posts are very articulate, well-written and enlightening, with topics ranging from hand-knit designs, birds, books, plants and thoughts (wellbeing, drawing and accessibility). There’s also a quiz on Fridays which not only serves as a mental gymnasium but is sure to test and increase your general knowledge too.  In short, there is something there for everyone!

Oh — and if you wish to view Lisa’s hand-crafted delights on Etsy, you can see them here: https://www.etsy.com/es/shop/LisaFeatherDesign.  You can also follow Lisa on instagram at https://www.instagram.com/lisa.featherstone

Happy interesting reading!

But to finish with, I’d like to include a poem that celebrates the early morning:

DAWN by Ella Wheeler Wilcox (1850-1919, Wisconsin, America)

Day’s sweetest moments are at dawn;
Refreshed by his long sleep, the Light
Kisses the languid lips of Night,
Ere she can rise and hasten on.
All glowing from his dreamless rest
He holds her closely to his breast,
Warm lip to lip and limb to limb,
Until she dies for love of him.

Thank you for visiting — stay well! xxx

A golden sunrise!

This morning’s sunrise over the medieval castle of Almodóvar del Río (province of Cordova, Spain)

Full many a glorious morning have I seen — William Shakespeare (1564-1616, Stratford-Upon-Avon)

Full many a glorious morning have I seen
Flatter the mountain tops with sovereign eye,
Kissing with golden face the meadows green,
Gilding pale streams with heavenly alchemy;
Anon permit the basest clouds to ride
With ugly rack on his celestial face,
And from the forlorn world his visage hide,
Stealing unseen to west with this disgrace:
Even so my sun one early morn did shine,
With all triumphant splendour on my brow;
But out, alack, he was but one hour mine,
The region cloud hath mask’d him from me now.
Yet him for this my love no whit disdaineth;
Suns of the world may stain when heaven’s sun staineth.

Thank you for visiting — take care! xxx

Sunrise, sunset (Posadas, Cordova)

Hello all! I just couldn’t resist putting up these photos of the morning sunrise and yesterday’s sunset. Rain’s forecast for today so it’s got a bit gloomy since then!

You can just spy the shadowy outline of the haunted castle of Almodóvar del Río in the distant left…
…but the sunrise wasn’t as bright as yesterday’s…
…though there was a lovely show of pinks and greys between the eucalyptus trees last evening at dusk

(You can see more of our local sunsets here and here)

Thank you for taking a look — take care! xxx

The legend of the enchanted castle of Almodóvar del Río (province of Cordova, Andalusia)

Sunrise over the castle of Almódovar del Río, looking east towards Cordova

Not only is this enchanted, medieval castle one of the best restored in Andalusia, but it is also known for having staged the seventh season of HBO’s Game of Thrones, and now more recently, chapter 3 of Netflix’s Warrior Nun(https://cordopolis.es/2020/07/08/el-castillo-de-almodovar-vuelve-a-las-pantallas-netflix-ya-ha-estrenado-warrior-nun/).

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In 1967, Camelot, starring Vanessa Redgrave and Franco Nero was filmed there, as well as the famous Martini advert (1972). Fourteen years later, in 1986, the castle was again the stage set for another film, Harem / Dardanelos with Ava Gadner, Nancy Traver, Omar Sharif and Silvia Marsó, as well as the children’s Dutch series Pippo in 2002, the Russian singer’s Tiger Cave video clip in 2015, and later, in 2019, for a Budweiser advert, among various documentaries that took place in between.

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However, the castle is wrapped in history and legend.

An indigo sunset over the castle
Looking east towards Córdoba as the sun rises

The legend of the castle dates back to the 11th century when Andalusia was part of the Moorish caliphate, under the rule of Berber Almohad tribe (from The Atlas Mountains). The caliph of Cordova (‘Qurṭuba’, in Arabic) at that time was Prince Abu Nasir al-Fatah al-Mamum; his beloved wife was Princess Zaida, now referred to as ‘La Encantá’ (‘The Enchanted’).

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However in 1091 (or round about then), the Almoravids launched a brutal attack on Cordova, wanting to claim this prosperous city for themselves. Princess Zaida was whisked off to Almodóvar castle where it was thought that she would be secure, and where she would await the safe return of her prince. Soon after, however, the fortress at Cordova fell, and with it, the prince. His assassination marked the end of the Almohad rule.

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The enchanted castle at night, illuminated by a golden aura and seranaded by ghostly medieval music

It is said that the princess woke up at the exact time of his death and wandered out to the Homage Tower dressed only in a white tunic. She searched long and hard into the horizon looking for her husband. Her eyes though, were met only with the sight of his white stallion galloping riderless towards the castle. She was filled by despair and fell into a state of depression. 

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Princess Zaida continued living within the confines of the castle as if a prisoner, accepting the attention only of her handmaids. Every night she would wander to the Homage Tower where she would look out across the Guadalquivir Valley in the direction of Cordova, anxiously awaiting the return of her beloved.

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The legend holds that on the 28th of March, one can spot the princess attired in her white gown, forlornly roaming the tower in search of her loved one.

The story is remembered every year when, during the 28th and 31st of March a play is acted out on a stage that forms part of the Medieval market named in Princess Zaida’s honour. The market is called ‘Zoco de la Encantá’ (The Enchanted’s Souk) and takes place upon the slopes of the castle’s Cerro de la Floresta hill.

If you would like to read other similar stories or know more about me and this neck of the woods where I live (the province of Córdoba, the Sierra Morena and the Guadalquivir Valley), you can find out more from my fully-illustrated, humorous book, An English Lady in Cordova — the ‘Alternative’ Guide available at https://www.etsy.com/es/shop/GillysWork?ref=search_shop_redirect

I hope you’ve enjoyed this blog – thank you for reading!

The view from my southeasterly-facing porch — the enchanted castle of Almodóvar del Río (Córdoba, Spain)

View of the castle of Almodóvar del Río at dawn — looking eastwards

Being forced to stay at home because of this disgusting virus certainly does make one reflect. I am lucky enough to be living in the country so I can still enjoy nature that is blooming all around — every morning I am greeted the bluetit that alights on my bedroom grille — and I listen out to the variety of springtime birdsong, from the insistent ‘ka ka ka ka ka’ of the hoopoe (which I originally mistook for a woodpecker because of its long beak) to the strident ‘caws’ of the buff-coloured magpies as they bustle, push and shove their way to the most profitable spot on the mulberry tree in order to pluck off the fattening fruit from the laden branches that dip so low they almost touch the ground.

 And in the background, while I am writing this blog I can hear the melodious warble of the thrush and the distant song of a nightingale; and on the nearby eucalyptus and Pride of Persia trees I can hear a pair of stone chats talking to each other with that distinctive chinking sound of theirs.

The pride of Persia tree with fragrant purple flowers

But enough of birds for now (if you would like to know more about the wildlife around this neck of the woods, or of the very rich biodiversity that can be found in the protected ecological niche of Hornachuelos Natural Park, then you could take a look at my illustrated book An English Lady in Cordova — the Alternative Guide, available from https://www.etsy.com/es/listing/770288445/illustrated-book-self-published-with?ref=shop_home_active_6. Also there are some great photos of Iberian birds on this Facebook page: Aves de España).

Now back to the matter in hand: the enchanted castle. This ancient monument lies about 9 km from my house and about 40 km from Córdoba and crowns the whitewashed village of Almodóvar del Río.

But before relating the legend, I would just like to briefly mention a little bit about its background, one which reflects the very rich cultural and historical past of not only Cordova, but Andalusia as a whole.

The name ‘Almodóvar’ harks back to the time when the Moors inhabited Andalusia, or Al-Andalus as it was known during their eight-hundred year occupation (from 711 to 1492). The village’s original name during these times was Al-Mudawwar-al-Adna, which roughly means ‘round’ or ‘safe’; it refers to the rounded and steep profile of the shrubby hill, La Floresta upon which it is set. During the Moorish (or Arabic) occupancy, each region had its own castle and was ruled by its own caliph; often there was rivalry between the caliphates and also from outside tribes.

The castle of Almodóvar was presided over by Caliph Abd al-Malik ben Qatan in 740 A.D; he served under Caliph of Damascus, part of the Umayyad Dynasty. Due to the rivalry between the various tribes of the Arab world, several revolts took place (such as the Berber Revolt of 740–743 A.D.) which resulted in a shift in power within the ruling Umayyad clan.

The best preserved castle in Andalusia – stage of Game of Thrones

This dynasty held its capital in Damascus but had a major seating in Cordova. It was associated with time of richness and splendour, and so became known as the ‘Golden Age’ of the Moors in Spain (extending from 756–1031 AD more or less).

The Umayyad Caliphate was then succeeded by the Berber Muslim dynasty which included firstly the Almoravids (ruling from 1085–1145 A.D.) and later, the defeating Almohads who ruled from 1147 to 1238 A.D. (This is all fairly approximate by the way—I’m not a historian.)

The legend of the castle dates back to the 11th century when Andalusia was part of the Moorish caliphate, as mentioned before, and under the rule of Berber Almohad tribe (from The Atlas Mountains). The caliph of Cordova (‘Qurṭuba’, in Arabic) at that time was Prince Abu Nasir al-Fatah al-Mamum; his beloved wife was Princess Zaida, now referred to as ‘La Encantá’ (‘The Enchanted’).

However in 1091 (or round about then) the Almoravids launched a brutal attack on Cordova, wanting to claim this prosperous city for themselves. Princess Zaida was whisked off to Almodóvar castle where it was thought that she would be secure, and where she would await the safe return of her prince. Soon after, however, the fortress at Cordova fell, and with it, the prince. His assassination marked the end of the Almohad rule.

It is said that the princess woke up at the exact time of his death and wandered out to the Homage Tower dressed only in a white tunic. She searched long and hard into the horizon looking for her husband. Her eyes though, were met only with the sight of his white stallion galloping riderless towards the castle. She was filled by despair and fell into a state of depression. 

Princess Zaida continued living within the confines of the castle as if a prisoner, accepting the attention only of her handmaids. Every night she would wander to the Homage Tower where she would look out across the Guadalquivir Valley in the direction of Cordova, anxiously awaiting the return of her beloved.

The legend holds that on the 28th of March, one can spot the princess attired in her white gown, forlornly roaming the tower in search of her loved one.

The story is remembered every year when, during the 28th and 31st of March a play is acted out on a stage that forms part of the Medieval market named in Princess Zaida’s honour. The market is called ‘Zoco de la Encantá’ (The Enchanted’s Souk) and takes place upon the slopes of the castle’s Cerro de la Floresta hill.

Well – that’s all for now folks. Hope you’re all keeping well and enthusiastic in your projects and the things that you pursue.

Thanks for visiting me and hope to be back soon…

Nature knows no confinement.

While the population observe confinement in the trying virus-filled days, nature continues expressing itself freely outside, unhindered by our cares.

I have just wanted to share a few photos with you, which I think, underline just how free nature is. To keep this post short and hopefully sweet, I am concentrating only on the sky. I think you’ll like the photos if you like pinks, purples, burnished orange and pomegranate — and even dusky indigos and pigeon greys. Because these are the unrestrained colours of my sky at sunrise and sunset — ‘my’ because I am referring to the sky that forms a mantle and a canopy above my rustic home — a sky in which the colours spread freely, unrestricted in its state of non-confinement.

(And, no, I haven’t photoshopped the photos or retouched them, the skies are often truly biblical skies, especially when Andalusia becomes veiled by the hazy ‘calima’ sand particles in suspension that waft over to the Iberian Peninsula from Africa. These particles diffract the light, accentuating and diffusing the matinal and twilight colours.)

So here goes:

Looking from my porch in an easterly direction, towards Cordova
Looking west in the direction of Seville (some 70 miles away from my country abode)
Sunrise spied through the young, tender shoots of an olive tree
The sun steadily rises between the olive trees
Sunrise behind the enchanted castle of Almodóvar del Río (lying approx 6 miles east from my home)
And the morning sun still continues in its path upwards…
just to set some hours later.

I hope you have enjoyed the photos — (more about the castle in a further post).

Thank you for visiting — back soon !