Mudéjar Reflections

Seville’s Alcázar is Europe’s oldest royal palace still in use. Originally built by Almohad Berber-Muslims, the fortress was expanded by later Christian kings and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Hidden underneath the palace are the Baths of Lady María de Padilla, above, which were used to collect rainwater. Photo ©Mike Randolph

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A Pirate’s Lair

This small rocky island, a one-time hideout for Turkish and Barbary pirates, sits in front a town founded by the Moors which is now the most popular vacation spot holiday resort in all of Europe. Where is it? Photo ©Mike Randolph

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Barring smoke

Two men relax in a sherry bar in Jerez de la Frontera. What once seemed so normal to see–people smoking in bars–now seems strange. This image was taken in 2008, before smoking was banned in bars throughout Spain. Photo ©Mike Randolph

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A Flowery Fiesta

Every October the Fiestas del Pilar are celebrated in Zaragoza for ten days. On the 12th, a parade of 400,000 people dressed in traditional costume wait their turn to show devotion to the Virgin del Pilar by leaving an offering of flowers. In the plaza outside the Basilica, the Virgin’s dress at the end of the day is decorated by some ten million blooms. Photo ©Mike Randolph

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Unfriendly Giants

A cabezudo takes time out from chasing kids around during Pamplona’s Sanfermines fiesta. Cabezudos (roughly translates to ‘big heads’) are popular in fiestas throughout northern Spain, and are always accompanied by gigantes, people dressed up in costume and, usually, walking around on stilts. Photo ©Mike Randolph

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The cabezudos (in this case, kiliki) run after children, trying to Continue Reading →

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Seeing Red

On my way to watch last week’s Spain-France World Cup qualifying match, I thought about my friend James and shook my head with a chuckle. Dear old James. Poor chap is afflicted with the most absurd superstitions when it comes to sporting events. You probably know the type. If his team loses, it was because he was there. Or maybe because of something he did. Or something he didn’t do. Who knows where he got the idea he could jinx sporting events? I don’t pretend to understand the man and besides, that’s up to his therapist to figure out, not me.

The day of the game, Continue Reading →

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Rock climber at rest

An Iberian ibex rests on a rocky perch in the Sierra de Gredos, a mountain range to the west of Madrid. These sturdy goats escape predators by running uphill and reaching places where other animals can’t follow. Their rock-climbing skills are outstanding. But their resting skills are pretty good too. Photo ©Mike Randolph 

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Rioja’s red vines

Autumn in La Rioja and the cool temperatures turn vine leaves the color of a young red wine. Some of these vineyards belong to the famous Bodegas Muga. Mostly, they are the Tempranillo varietal, which researchers have concluded Continue Reading →

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The coolest street in Seville

The narrow, serpentine streets of Seville were not designed that way by accident. Building houses close together on winding streets has an advantage that anyone who has been to Seville in the summer will be able to appreciate–avoiding the ferocious Andalusian sun. Direct sunlight never penetrates the alleys for long, if at all, and that helps keep the houses as cool as possible.

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My turn

The Concurs de Castells takes place this weekend in Tarragona, Catalonia. I went in 2008 and shot a lot of still images, thinking all the time that this is one of those events that I would love to shoot on video. It is simply an unforgettable sight to see. The event is held every two years, so I went back in 2010, equipped with a Canon 5DMKII, a digital still camera which is also a professional-grade video camera. I shot this video, originally for Continue Reading →

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It’s a long and winding road

The setting sun paints lines of light and shadow across the mountain road towards Grazalema, in the province of Cádiz, Spain. The Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park, which covers over 50,000 hectares, is home to the rare, Continue Reading →

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Where Lammergeiers Dare

The Mallos de Riglos, in the foothills of Aragon’s Pyrenees Mountains, are conglomerations of sand and gravel from ancient rivers discharging into the Ebro depression. Birds of many species use the walls as nesting grounds, including one of Europe’s rarest raptors, Continue Reading →

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A Touchy Subject

When I first moved to Spain I used to get a kick out of touching fruit in supermarkets. I’d be walking through the produce section and say to my girlfriend, “Watch this…,” and as we passed near a bin piled high with oranges I’d reach out and tap one quickly with the tip of my finger–always looking around beforehand, naturally, to make sure nobody was watching. “Ooooh,” she’d say in mock horror, “you are bad!”

Perhaps I should explain. Continue Reading →

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Going Up

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A climber scales the Via Ferrata Regina-Oliana in the province of Lérida, Catalonia. One of Spain’s best ferratas, the Regina-Oliana is long, demanding and spectacular. This type of climbing route, while not without its dangers, Continue Reading →

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Marketing 101

A 14th Century Moorish gate serves as the main entrance into Malaga’s Atarazanas market. I remember when the market used to be a lot different–rundown, a little dirty, and decidedly nose-unfriendly in places. In 2008, the market underwent a renovation that would take two years. Some Malagueños were a little nervous about how it would turn out. There was a trend around that time to change mercados from a place to buy food to a place to go for tapas. Malagueños wanted a real market, not a Disney version built for tourists.

Happily, the Mercado de Atarazanas was saved from that fate. It’s now clean, with modern stalls, a lot brighter (thanks to a transparent roof) and most important, it’s still a real market, the heartbeat of downtown Malaga.

Click on an image to expand it. Photos ©Mike Randolph

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