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Spain Trip from July 14 to 16 and July 28 & 29, 2008.

With only four (4) days in Spain we made the best of it.  We knew we would be back one day to give it the time and attention it required.  We were at the end of our Africa trip and headed for Germany. En-route we stopped at Merida, Burgos and entered France through the Valle de Roncal (Navarrese Pyrenees). To proceed to the Spain Journal.

Our Route through SPAIN. Covered 1500km on the motorcycles.

July 14, 2008. We arrive from Ceuta on the African Continent at Algeciras, Spain and head straight north to Merida.

2km east of MERIDA we find a nice campground & treat ourselves to some homemade fresh sandwiches.

July 15, 2008. We set out to explore the ancient Roman ruins scattered all over the town of Merida (an UNESCO World Heritage Site).

The ticket booth opens at 9:30am. A 10Euro/person ticket allows entrance to all the monuments.

Our first stop is the Amphitheatre.

It was inaugurated in the 8th Century BC.

Excavation of the Amphitheatre and adjacent Theatre started in 1919.

The Amphitheatre was used for staging gladiatorial combats and fights between animals or between animals & men.

One of several entrances to the Roman Theatre.

The highlight of Merida is this beautifully restored Roman Theatre.

To this day Festival of Classical Theatre are performed on stage.

Paved with marble tiles is the area where the orchestra or chorus was situated.

The stage facade consists of two tiers of Corinthian-order columns.

Between the columns are sculptures.

The Amphitheatre House. Seen here is the Peristyle - colonnaded patio...

...around which the home was arranged.

The dining room (triclinium). The mosaic depicts the Wine harvest. Treading of the Grapes.

Corridor with mosaic paving depicting geometric motifs.

This room is named Fish-Mosaic Room due to its mosaic motifs.

Another restored Roman room.

The Roman Circus, which used to stage similar events as those in the Amphitheatre.

It is one of the few examples of its kind for which the complete ground plan is still visible today.

Adjacent to the Circus is the remains of the San Lazaro Aqueduct.

This aqueduct channeled water from several streams and springs north and north-east of the city.

To support the channel across the depression of the Albarregas river,...

...a strong series of arches was constructed, in a combination of brick and granite.

The Santa Eulalia Church was refurbished in 1990 which resulted in the discovery of...

... an archaeological site below the church.

Though the main floor of the church as been restored,...

...visitors are able to walk underneath the church to view the excavation site.

The remains of a cemetery or Christian necropolis.

A tomb with inscriptions.

Several crypts had paintings.

The walls of a former basilica and...

...the paintings are well preserved.

Looking up along a pillar from the underneath the church to the present day interior of the church.

In the 3rd century Roman houses occupied this area underneath the church.

The Temple of Diana is located in the midst of Merida, surrounded by modern houses.

The temple was devoted to the imperial cult.

One of the oldest building in Merida it was constructed in the 1st Century BC.

Remains of Roman dwellings can be found all over the town.

The Portico of the Forum.

It mainly been reconstructed to its present stage.

The Mithraeum House consists of underground rooms & beautiful mosaics.

It is an example of a noble family residence.

Painted walls dating back from the original construction can been seen.

Rooms with geometric style mosaics.

Central motif of this room depicts Eros.

A stairway that lead to the underground rooms.

The Roman baths.

A few hundred meters from the Mithraeum House is the Columbaria.

This open air funerary area is located outside the Roman city walls...

...and have the remains of two (2) main families.

It is interesting to see old Roman writing and at...

...the same time find Arabic grave stones.

The motorcycles were parked just outside this Moorish Citadel (Alcazaba).

Constructed in 835AD, it was the first monument of this type to be built by the Moslems in Spain.

Entrance to the cistern the only Moslem surviving structure.

Steps leading into the darkness.

Old Roman pillars were used in the construction of this cistern.

Water can still be found here today...

...and fish.

Another example of a Roman column c/w capital used in the citadels structure.

View of the remains of a Roman House in the midst of the citadels courtyard.

A Neo-Gothic Patio.

From the Citadel walls we have a great view of the Roman Bridge.

The Roman Bridge spans across the River Guadiana.

It is 792m long and has 60 Arches.

Our last stop of the day is the Los Milagros Aqueduct.

This stretch of Aqueduct is 830m long, up to 25m high and...

...spans across the River Albarregas. From Merida we went into Portugal (see Portugal Pictures).

We re-entered Spain on July 28, 2008 at Puebla de Sanabria from the Parque Natural de Montesinho in Portugal.

The only stop we allowed ourselves in Spain was BURGOS. We spent an afternoon...

...exploring the UNESCO World Heritage City. Seen here is the gate of Santa Maria.

To appreciate the grandness of the Cathedral...

...we climbed the hill to the castle.

The main facade of the Cathedral called the Royal Gate or Gate of Pardon.

It has a large rose window and...

...a gallery with 8 statues of the monarchs of Castile.

Burgos Cathedral is Spain 3rd largest and was founded in 1221.

It is almost entirely Gothic.

The following are examples of the great architecture and detail of the Cathedral.

The Sarmental Gate and visitor entrance.

Carved wooden doors.

Once inside the cathedral will take away your breath.

The Latin-cross layout with three naves is surrounded by...

...19 chapels, a sacristy and a cloister from the 13th Century.

The rose window above the Royal Gate.

Each Altar is gold plated.

Marble tombs...

...depicting a Bishop.

Another rose window letting in the light.

Tomb after tomb decorates the interior walls.

The Tomb of another Bishop.

Stained windows.

The Golden Staircase by Diego de Siloe.

The rails and parapets are in gilded iron.

Silver and gold sparkle everywhere.

The lantern of the transept forms the main chapel.

It is decorated with effigies of prophets and saints.

The magnificent star-ribbed central dome.

The choir boasts extraordinary choir stalls... Felipe de Vigarny.

Each chair is carved out of wood.

A Renaissance altar-piece by Rodrigo Martin de la Haya.

Chapel of Los Condestables...

...which houses the tomb of Constable of Castile and his wife.

The detail of the marble sculptures are truly amazing.

This is the work of Simon de Colonia.

Great detail.

Several of the reliefs around the chancel...

...were carved by Philippe de Bigarny. The road to Calvary.

The Sacristy, built in Baroque style with a plasterwork vault.

The Cloister dating to the 13th Century.

Vaulted walkways lead into the courtyard or into the Chapels.

High above the ground of this Chapel hangs the coffin of El Cid.

The windows are all stained glass...

...and with the sunlight the motifs are mirrored on the corridor.

This chapel displays the pictures of all the past Bishops.

Another great painting.

At last we wander up the hill to the castle of Burgos.

Not much remains of this place, but it offers great views of the town.

A 59m deep well along with a staircase can be explored...

...but only a small portion is open to visitors.

The motorcycle is parked below this Plaza (Plaza Mayor).

July 29, 2008. From Burgos we stayed on the N120 to Logrono. On a small road we made it to the N240 and turned into the heart of the Spanish Pyrenees at Lumbier.

The FOZ DE ARBAYUN - Natural Reserv located between lumbier and Romanzado in the Sierra Leire.

It is the longest gorge in Navarra and covers an area of 1,164 h.

It was cut by the Salazar and has a length of 6km and depth of 385m.

Many species of birds can be found here.

The NA178 turned into the NA137 at Burgui and then cuts right through the Valle de Roncal.

This spectacular road winds its way from Isaba to the tree-lined mountain via many switchbacks.

It is the highest and most mountainous part of the province. At the top (3) separate valleys greeted us.

At 1453m just before the border crossing from Spain into France and the COL DE LA PIERRE ST-MARITN (1760m) the road is blocked ...

... and we are told that we had to reroute and return to Isaba and take the road over Uztarroz to the NA2011.

The detour leads us through this beautiful mountain range.

What a tough life we have riding all these superb roads, so what is a little detour when we can enjoy more fun riding.

We cross into France at the PORT DE LARRAU at 1573m.