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Through My Lens: The Alcázar of Seville (aka Dorne)

Alcázar Gardens

As per usual, I was late to the party in discovering only recently how entertaining Game of Thrones is ― years after the rest of the planet. Now that I’m a fan (better late than never!), and now that I’ve had a week to recover from last Sunday’s Season 5 finale, I thought I’d make a connection between the TV show and travel.

Because Game of Thrones has some awesome filming locations.

It’s filmed in a few places that are on my bucket list (Croatia and Iceland), and in a few places where I’ve already been (Northern Ireland and Spain).

A new location that debuted this past season was the Alcázar in Seville, Spain. It was put to good use standing in for the Water Gardens, the palace of the rulers of Dorne.

Alcázar comes from the Arabic word al-qasr, which means “the castle.”

Through My Lens: San Jeronómo Monastery Outtake

San Jerónimo Arches

The thing is, when you troll through dozens of photos to find the ones you want to post for a Lenten series on cloisters, you’re bound to end up with more photos than you could possibly use.

Here is another look at the Cloister of the Monasterio de San Jerónimo in Granada, Spain.

Through My Lens: Cloister of the Monasterio de San Jerónimo

San Jerónimo

The Monasterio de San Jeronómo is in Granada, Spain. I didn’t realize this Hieronymite monastery had a cloister until I wandered inside to explore ― I was so pleased to see it. I was particularly entranced by the staircase at the end of the walkway in this photo. Carved into the stone above the two arches are the words, “Soli Deo honor et gloria.”

This cloister is my photo choice for the Fifth Sunday of Lent.

Through My Lens: Cloister of Silence of the Real Monasterio de Santo Tomás

Cloister of Silence

We’re still at the Real Monasterio de Santo Tomás in Avila for the Fourth Sunday of Lent. This is a photo of the Cloister of Silence ― the second of the three interconnected cloisters. It contains 18 arches at ground level and 38 on the upper level and is where the monks were buried.

I love this stone well. I remember the feeling I had when I walked into this cloister ― it was as if I’d passed into Narnia and was wandering through the ruins of Cair Paravel with Peter and Susan and Edmund and Lucy.

Through My Lens: Cloister of the Monarchs of the Real Monasterio de Santo Tomás

Cloister of the Monarchs

My photo choice for today, the Third Sunday of Lent, is the Cloister of the Monarchs of the Real Monasterio de Santo Tomás in Avila, Spain.

Work on this Dominican monastery started in 1482 and was completed in 1493. Real is Spanish for “royal” ― the cloister includes a palace built for Ferdinand and Isabella, who are commonly known as the Reyes Católicos (Catholic Monarchs).

I thought I’d died and gone to cloister heaven when I walked into this monastery. There are three sets of interconnected cloisters; the Cloister of the Monarchs is the third and largest one and contains 40 arches at ground level and 56 arches on the upper level.

Through My Lens: Puerta del Sol

Christmas Lights Sol

Just in case I am giving you the impression that only Paris knows how to dress for Christmas, here is a photo I took in Madrid’s Puerta del Sol in November 2010. This is the famous Tio Pepe neon sign framed by a towering Christmas tree of lights.

Camino de Santiago de Compostela

My cousin and his wife completed the Camino de Santiago de Compostela today. They started their walk 36 days ago in St. Jean Pied-de-Port, France.

The Way of St. James has been a major pilgrimage route for Christians since the Middle Ages. There are other Camino routes in addition to the 800-km way across northern Spain that my cousins chose to walk. One of them starts in Granada, which is where I took this photo. The yellow scallop and arrow are a way marker to Santiago de Compostela. Santiago is Spanish for Saint James. In France, scallops are known as coquilles Saint-Jacques (Saint James’ shells).


Happy Easter!

Interior, Santa María la Real de La Almudena, Madrid, November 2010

Interior, Santa María la Real de La Almudena, Madrid, November 2010

Through My Lens: Iglesia de la Vera Cruz

Vera Cruz

For Palm Sunday, I’m posting a photo of Iglesia de la Vera Cruz (Church of the True Cross), which is located in Segovia. This church is one of the most extraordinary churches I’ve ever set foot in.

(But then, I could say that about Córdoba’s Mezquita. Or Barcelona’s La Sagrada Família. Why don’t I just put it out there that Spain does churches in a way all its own?)

Iglesia de la Vera Cruz is a Romanesque church that was built by the Knights Templar and consecrated in 1208. Its name comes from the reason for its existence: to house a fragment of the True Cross ― the cross on which Christ was crucified. The relic has since been moved to another church in another town.

What’s so curious about this church is its twelve-sided (that’s dodecagonal to the geometry nerds among us) shape. In the centre is a two-storey chapel, called an edículo, accessible by twin staircases. The lower level of this chapel has four arches corresponding to the four cardinal directions of north, east, south, west, and the upper level contains an altar. The church is said to be modelled after the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem (which is where, according to legend, the True Cross was found).

It’s not a big church and its unique design allowed the knights to come in on horseback, form a circle around the chapel in the centre, and hold vigil over the relic.

Through My Lens: Mosque–Cathedral of Córdoba

Cathedral of Córdoba

Last Sunday, I promised you a photo of the nave of Córdoba’s Mezquita. Here it is, for the Fifth Sunday of Lent.