Barcelona, Spain: Castell de Montjuïc

To start off our second morning in Barcelona, we took a cab to Castell de Montjuïc, also known as the Montjuïc Castle.

During a revolt in 1640, a fortification was built atop the Montjuïc mountain. It was attacked the following year, and eventually became a castle in 1694. In 1751, after a back-and-forth struggle of who had possession of the castle, the old fort from 1640 which stood inside the walls of the castle had been demolished. A moat was placed around the castle, and from 1779 to 1799, construction to provide accommodations took place within the castle, since the population within the walls was growing.  120 cannons had also been placed within and around the castle.

In the mid 1900’s, the castle served as a military prison, but in 1960, the castle was given back to the city. The following three years were spent turning the site into a military museum, and it opened as such in 1963 (http://www.bcn.cat/castelldemontjuic/en/welcome.html).

We walked around the grounds of the castle, and each angle of the castle had a different view of the city—one side of the castle provided us with a view of La Sagrada Familia, whereas the other side provided us with a view of the Port of Barcelona (pictured below). After touring the castle, we headed towards Telefèric de Montjuïc, which is the Montjuïc Cable Car. As the cable car brought us down the hill, we saw the entire city from a 360 degree angle. It was absolutely breathtaking!

 

 

Enjoying Lisbon, Portugal: Part 3

After spotting the Igreja Santa Luzia, my sister and I continued walking through the Alfama district, until we came across the final destination of our walking tour—Castelo São Jorge.

“This castle was built by the Moors in the mid-11th century as a last defensive stronghold for the elite who resided on the citadel: the Moorish governor whose palace was nearby and the elite city administrators” (http://castelodesaojorge.pt). The castle was modified in the 13th century, and housed the first king of Portugal as well as many other members of the royal class.

In the late 1500’s, the castle served a military purpose, but renovation work had to commence after Lisbon experienced an earthquake in 1755 (http://castelodesaojorge.pt). As you can see in some of the pictures below, the castle offers beautiful panoramic views of both Lisbon and the Tagus River.

Day 1 In Cartagena, Colombia Continued: El Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas and Las Bóvedas

As we continued with the city tour of Cartagena, our next stop was El Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas, which took more than 130 years of construction, and was finally completed in 1657. It is all made by hand and it was built from the top to the bottom by African slaves who were brought to Colombia. As you might notice, the walls are inclined and not straight because if a cannon were to hit the walls, it would not be able to go through it.

On top of the fortress, we came across the Colombian flag which is yellow, blue, and red. The yellow is meant to represent gold, the blue is supposed to represent the ocean (Colombia is the only South American country with two oceans), and the red represents the blood of the country’s martyrs. Some say that the yellow represents blonde hair, blue represents blue eyes, and red represents red lips since Colombian women are known for their beauty.

Throughout the fortress, there are small tunnels because years ago, the Spaniards were small and were able to enter the tunnels and run through them. The British and French were tall though, so they had to duck their heads and were not able to dedicate their complete concentration to running since they had to worry about not hitting the top of the tunnels. There are also various cabins that can be found throughout the tunnels where individuals would hide, and if they didn’t have a password to enter, they would be killed.

The only person to actually live in the fortress years ago was the leader of the army. Everyone else lived in what was called the walled city (since the city was walled off from pirates as mentioned in a previous post), and when enemies arrived, someone was in charge of ringing a bell, and when it sounded, soldiers would go running up the fortress. As we made our way to the top of the fortress, it began continuously pouring rain. After waiting for nearly 40 minutes, our group decided to walk down the fortress in the rain and go back to the bus. By the time we got onto the bus, we were soaking wet, and of course, the rain stopped within minutes. After this downpour, floods filled some of the streets due to the rain, and we were told that by 2017, the sea level will rise nearly feet due to poor drainage throughout the city.

At the bottom of the fortress, there is a statue commemorating Blas de Lezo who was once known as “Patapalo” or “Pegleg” and eventually as “Mediohombre” or “Half-Man” due to the numerous injuries he suffered during his time in the military. In the statue, “The man is brandishing a sword in his left arm, because he lost his right arm in the Battle of Barcelona; minus one leg lost in the Battle of Gibraltar; and wearing an eye patch covering his left eye lost in the Battle of Toulon. This same man lost his life in the Battle for Cartagena, the last of his 23 campaigns. This man is Don Blas de Lezo” (http://www.cartagenainfo.net/glenndavid/blasdelezo.html).

After drying off at the hotel and changing our clothes, we got back onto the bus made our way towards Las Bóvedas. Las Bóvedas, also known as “The Vaults” were built as dungeons and consists of 23 dungeons which were used to hold ammunition and at one point, prisoners. These dungeons were the last thing built by the Spaniards to close off the walled city. Las Bóvedas currently consists of shops, and it is where many tourists can be found purchasing locally hand-made items goods and artwork.