Just in case you think it’s Portugal all the way from now on, I thought we’d pop over the border into Spain today. It’s about half an hour drive from our home in Tavira, but once there I couldn’t resist traveling a bit further. We did a lovely walk round the salt marshes at El Rompido with the Strollers, but then we carried on down the coast. I had my eyes set on the monastery at La Rábida and the Muelle de las Carabelas- the dock where replicas of the ships that sailed Columbus far beyond the Iberian peninsula can be found.
It’s a pleasant spot, looking out on a vast expanse of water. Boarding La Santa Maria, La Niña, and La Pinta I have to admit that I was in awe of the courage of their sailors, navigating by the stars. The reproductions were constructed in 1992 to celebrate the 5th centenary of the Discovery of the Americas. I could not imagine myself even sailing around the bay in them. The museum tells the story of Columbus and the locals who shared his spirit of adventure, brought to life on a wide screen video. Note that they are closed on Mondays.
My chief purpose in being there was to visit the atmospheric monastery of La Rábida, the Convento de Santa Maria. A broad, palm lined avenue leads from the dock of the caravels, past a huge amphitheatre and up numerous steps to the grounds of the friary. Surrounded by greenery, it’s a peaceful and lovely spot. The Franciscan friary was founded in 1261, on the site of a former Almohad watchtower, from which its name comes.
The loveliest aspect of the monastery, for me, was the tiled courtyard surrounded by richly patterned cloisters. The second storey, complete with battlements, was added in 17th century to protect from pirate invasion, but provides the most tantalising overlook on the mosaic tiles.
The friary is best known in history for the visit of Christopher Columbus in 1490. His request for funding his first expedition to the Indies had been turned down by King Ferdinand of Spain and Queen Isabella, but with an intervention from the friary it finally went ahead. The church lies just off the cloisters, still, serene and beautiful.
The artworks include frescos of Columbus and his adventures, by Spanish artist Daniel Vázquez Diaz, and some with an interesting 3D effect.
A wander through the grounds eventually brought us to some botanic gardens, a good place to sit and look out over distant Huelva, absorbing the surprising heat of December. A rill of water, a koi pond and identifying magnolia seed heads completed our afternoon. Time to head for home, waving goodbye to the Columbus statue as we pass by.
You know I can’t leave you without cake. I only ate the raspberries, one wafer and a mouthful. Honest!
Hope you enjoyed my little sidestep into Andalucia. Back in Portugal next week. Meantime, many thanks for sharing. I have some more great reads for you. Join me next time on Jo’s Monday walk? I love a bit of company.
Suzanne shares the beautiful landscape of New Zealand- a special place, I think you’ll agree :
It’s certainly shopping time of year. Join Alice in a stroll round the shops :
An ardent Liverpool supporter, my friend Drake :
A foodie and Barcelona- a match made in heaven for Jackie :
Kicking leaves rather than ass, with Geoff, this week :
Tobias shares some beautiful ‘roofscapes’ in a clear blue sky :
Don’t you love colour and drama? I think this is the place for it :
I like to share joy whenever I can, and this is a lovely post from Debbie :
Once again Cathy dazzles with her photography and epic tales of the native Americans :
Thanks again, everybody! I suspect you can tell how much I’m loving this new life. Wishing you all a great week!