#1--San Juan de Gaztelugatxe (Basque Country)
San Juan de Gaztelugatxe is a small, rocky island in Basque Country that has a small church built on it. The church was built in the 10th century and is accessed by a stone walkway that connects the island to the coastline. We went to San Juan early in the morning, so it was still foggy and cold, but it was still very beautiful. We were the only people there, so we had the whole place to ourselves (in other words, we were able to ring the church's bell without bothering other people). It was a steep walk up the stone stairs to get to the church, but we were rewarded with beautiful views of the ocean, the coastline, and the nearby town of Bakio.
The Mezquita is a Muslim mosque that was converted into a Catholic cathedral. The original mosque was originally constructed in 784 A.D. and then enlarged and modified during the next 200 years. Cordoba was recaptured by the Spaniards in 1236 and the Mezquita was consecrated a Catholic church. However, a lot of the structure retained its mosque architecture. The first picture below shows a part of the Mezquita that has maintained its original mosque architecture, and the second picture shows a part of the Mezquita where the arches have been repainted with Catholic frescoes.
Covadonga is a beatiful setting in the mountains of Asturias. The coolest thing at Covadonga is the small chapel built in a cave (constructed in the 8th century). There is a waterfall that goes through the mountain and comes out into a lagoon underneath the chapel. Also at Covadonga is the basilica that was constructed in the late 19th century and some beautiful views of Asturias.
Gijón is a large city located on the coast of Asturias. We enjoyed walking along the beach (although it was much too cold to go in the water), walking along the port, visiting the the park on the coast that includes the Chillida sculpture (which the locals lovingly refer to as "King Kong's toilet"), and wandering through the old town. The area around Gijón is also very beautiful, as shown by the third picture.
Ronda is a beautiful town in southern Spain. It is divided into two parts by a deep gorge. Our hotel was located right on the gorge (the second picture is taken from our hotel window). The highlight of the town is the bridge (constructed in the 18th century) that spans the gorge. Ronda is also the birthplace of bullfighting and has the first bullring built in Spain.