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Cordoba, Spain travel tips! Kipkalinka Goth skull rings & fine Gothic jewelry. Mosque-Cathedral, Jardines del Alcazar.

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Hello, 2022! I’ve been taking some time offline (I’m currently busy with a major project, which I’ll announce soon). But I promised you more fashion and travel stories from Spain… so let’s go!

First up: an introduction to Kipkalinka Gothic jewelry, and my travel guide to Córdoba. In November 2021, I visited this historic city in Andalusia (south of Spain) and loved everything about it.

review Jardines del Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos cordoba

Cordoba is only a 45 minute train ride from Seville, making it the perfect day trip. The ancient city of learning is known for its Moorish aesthetics, stately royal gardens, and impressive structures (particularly the Roman bridge, and Mosque-Cathedral).

women's sterling silver skull rings

Elegant Cordoba was the perfect place to debut my skull and bones rings by Kipkalinka! I’ve long adored Christine Kipka’s work, and was thrilled to wear her creations dedicated to dark goddesses and mythical women of power. Her Goth jewelry is exquisitely handcrafted, and edgy yet subtle. As she puts it in her manifesto, “they can help you, a beautifully strange and unusual individual, to sense that you are not alone in your otherness.”

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I paired her accessories with this “Wednesday” dress by The Apiologist, a London-based indie Goth fashion label. Fit for a ghost-lady, the design has antique touches such as gathered sleeves and buttons down the front, and an embroidered bee. It’s also made with 100% Lyocell, an eco pulp-made fabric.

kipkalinka skull ring kitsune morena wandika stack

Here’s a closeup of my Kipkalinka stack. From top to bottom: Wandika ring in white gold with aquamarine (with a skull on either side of the gorgeous gemstone). Kitsune in London blue topaz (inspired by a fox bone, and the Japanese spirit). Morena tri-skulls (love the expressions!). She works with nickel-free sterling silver, platinum, and gold alloys of at least 14K.

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I’m on the rooftop of Torre De Calahorra, a tower built when Cordoba was under Islamic rule. It’s a stellar photography spot, and houses the Museo Vivo de Al-Andalus. (Photos by Joey Wong.)

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My Satanic nail art (by Glam Nail Studio in Vancouver, BC) matches the fine blue gemstones of my Kipkalinka rings. Based in Leipzig, Christine Kipka runs her small business with her assistant Jana; both are natural born witches and professionally trained goldsmiths with 25 years of combined experience. Using age-old techniques and noble materials, Kipkalinka creates exceptional jewelry inspired by myth and lore.

kipkalinka goth jewelry skull dangle earrings

In addition to a variety of skull / Gothic rings, Kipkalinka offers handmade earrings, pendants, and necklaces with dark and witchy elements — such as these black onyx and skull dangle earrings. 

On her website, she has a customizer that lets you create your dream wedding / engagement set. Christine can customize her rings in a variety of fine metals and gemstones. Since she works directly with every customer, you can be assured that the finished design will be a perfect fit for you.

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Furthermore, Kipkalinka is conscious of the impacts of extracting metals from the Earth. She says, “To keep resources in the ground, all precious metal we use are sustainably recycled from old jewelry, and we collect all scrap to return it to a perpetual reuse-circuit.”

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Her rings fit like a glove on me, and aren’t bulky or heavy (they won’t catch on your clothes). The detail and quality of her work are incomparable.

Please take a look at Kipkalinka’s site and Etsy to see more of her jewellery. (And keep reading for additional close-ups!)

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Speaking of astonishing designs… anyone who visits Córdoba, Spain cannot miss out the Mosque–Cathedral, or Mezquita. Built around 784-786 ACE, the Great Mosque represents the pinnacle of Islamic Umayyad architecture with a minaret, intricate mosaics, and rows of arches.

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After the Christian takeover of Andalucía (the Reconquista), the new rulers built a cathedral inside the mosque while retaining most of the original structure. As a result, the Mezquita is a unique fusion of Islamic and Catholic architecture.

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The place of worship has changed over the years. These dramatic Gothic choir stalls were crafted out of dark mahogany, in the mid-18th century.

 visiting Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba tickets entry

Anyone who wishes to visit Mezquita-Catedral de Cordoba must get advance timed tickets through their website.

(Wearing a long Goth dress by The Apiologist, and of course a face mask as required indoors.)

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Do look up, at the glorious Renaissance ceilings. The nave and transept are the work of Juan de Ochoa, completed in 1607.

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The light from the windows illuminates the mihrab and multifoil arches (the scalloped design found in the Moorish architecture of al-Andalus).

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Praying to the Prince of Darkness in my The Apiologist dress, and large gold Eddie Borgo Safety Chain choker necklace. I’m fond of black neoprene face masks, as they don’t smudge my makeup or tug on my ears.

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The Mosque-Cathedral’s main altar features a large canvas of the Assumption.

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Look closely, and you’ll see some devilish details in the surrounding carvings.

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Here’s the episcopal throne that tops the choir, with a life-size representation of the Ascension.

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In contrast, the Islamic hypostyle prayer hall has 850 columns with red and white stripes on the arches.

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The mix of styles is dazzling, especially with the play of light.

 Mezquita-Catedral de Córdoba Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption

Be sure to plan ahead and reserve tickets, so that you can see the Mosque-Cathedral (aka Catholic Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption) in person.

 bell tower cordoba mosque cathedral Court of Oranges

Outside, there is a lovely Court of Oranges lined with the fruit trees. It frames the bell tower, which encases the mosque’s former minaret. 

 Memorial plaque to poet Luis de Gongora, Cordoba

Walk around the historic district of Cordoba, and you’ll come across other eye-catching details — such as this memorial plaque to Cordoba poet Luis de Gongora, and Eastern style doors.

rooftop Torre De Calahorra terrace

For a view of the city, go up to the terrace of Calahorra tower (Torre de la Calahorra). The Islamic fortress is located at one end of the Roman Bridge.

 Statue of angel Raphael on roman bridge Cordoba spain san rafael

From this viewpoint, you can see Cordoba’s famous Roman Bridge, which was erected in the early 1st century BCE, and reconstructed over time (the arches have an Arabic feel). A statue of the angel Raphael (San Rafael) guards the passage over the water.

fine gothic skull engagement rings wedding ring kipkalinka

Cordoba’s centuries-old artisanship harmonizes with Kipkalinka’s approach. Jeweler and owner Christine takes up to 50 hours to perfect the prototype for each design. She executes them directly in metal, which allows her to create details (such as the skull faces) in microscopic scale. Then, everything is refined, polished, and filed to perfection.

Above: Wandika, Kitsune, and Morena rings in a stack.

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Her graceful, Gothic designs stand out — even at a distance.

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A Goth travel tip: visit Cordoba in the colder months, as this is the hottest area of Spain. If I were here in the summer, I wouldn’t be able to go around exploring.

jardines del alcazar cordoba fortress walls

Onward to the Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos (Castle of the Christian Monarchs), another top Cordoba attraction. The exterior looks like a military fortress, but the interior is a splendid garden that shows a mix of cultural influences.

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The Alcazar was one of the primary residences of 15th century Spanish monarchs, Isabella I of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon. The grounds are resplendent with stone statues, fountains, and groves of bitter oranges (which are also seen throughout Sevilla).

Gardens of the Alcazar of the Christian Monarchs, Córdoba

Wouldn’t it be nice to be the Queen, and loiter in these magnificent gardens and courtyards all day…

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The gardens include this stately Promenade of Kings, with tall hedges and fountains…

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… as well as fruit trees, flower gardens, and ponds filled with koi fish.

Tower of the Gardens fortress architecture

Alcazar’s four towers include this rectangular one, which has gargoyles in the shape of lions up top.

Torre de los Jardines gardens hedges

I could have spent hours in the Gardens of the Alcázar (Jardines del Alcázar) enjoying the sounds of the water, scents of the flowers, and changing light throughout the day.

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The sunlight radiated off my Kipkalinka rings. Her jewelry is both classic and edgy, with a touch of the macabre — perfect for anyone with a Gothic disposition.

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If you’re inspired and intrigued, check out more of Kipkalinka’s jewellery on her website and Etsy.

Alcazar of the Christian Monarchs gardens tickets entry hours

Cordoba is an extraordinary destination for anyone who loves art, history and culture. In these increasingly difficult, unpredictable and restrictive times (“The Collapse”), I’m forever thankful for opportunities to safely travel. (I was in Spain in Nov 2021 as part of a press trip, and mainly stayed outdoors / always masked indoors.)

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PS: I leave you with a close-up of my Satanic nails by Glam Nail Studio in Vancouver, BC! (I hadn’t gotten any gel nails done professionally in two years.) My nail art has pentagrams, brimstone and Lucifer sigils, 666 in binary numbers, The Satanic Temple of Salem Baphomet… Hail to the team for nailing it.

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Seville, Spain top photography spots! Setas de Sevilla architecture, Hotel Dona Maria, 5 Senses food & flamenco.

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Here we go again, into a rough winter… I’m all-the-more thankful that I was able to experience Seville, Spain in November before things started to shut down again.

Located in Andalusia (south of Spain), Seville is a magnificent historic city that bears the Eastern imprint of the Moors. And it turned out to be one of the best places I’ve visited for photography!

In this travel diary, I’ll show you some of Sevilla’s most Instagramable photo spots — including the terrace of Hotel Doña Maria, overlooking the famous Cathedral.

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We’ll also explore the impressive architecture through the ages, including the Setas de Sevilla wooden “parasol” at golden hour.

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The ancient cities of Seville, Cordoba and Granada make up Andalucia’s “Golden Triangle.” Southern Spain has a different feel from Barcelona and other regions. This is the birthplace of tapas and flamenco, and you can sense the Arabic influence in the art.

(I’ve previously visited Granada and the Alhambra; this time, I completed the triangle with Seville and Cordoba.)

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I experienced the best of the culture thanks to Sevilla City Centre, which has a “5 Senses” customizable tour package for visitors. Our concierge was wonderful at arranging experiences for us over What’s App — including tapas restaurants, a flamenco show, transfers, and more. (5 Senses also provides bookings at our hotel, Dona Maria.)

Outfit of the Day: Wearing a Strathberry East/West purse, Fantasmagoria Goth top and skirt, and hat from Tenth Street Hats.

hotel dona maria sevilla review lobby seville

I loved staying at boutique Hotel Doña Maria – as soon as you walk into the lobby, you know you’re in for an immersive and luxurious experience. The stately hotel is located in a former 19th century palace, and filled with classic Spanish art.

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And it’s impossible to beat the location of Hotel Dona Maria — right in the historic centre of Sevilla. Step out onto the fourth floor terrace, and you’ve got picture-perfect views of the Cathedral of Seville and La Giralda belltower!

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Hotel Dona Maria’s rooms have a charming royal feel, while being updated with today’s amenities. I enjoyed the daily breakfast that included dark grain bread rolls, cheeses, eggs, lattes and fresh OJ.

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Rooftop snaps, featuring my Gothic long sleeve top and pleated skirt from Fantasmagoria, and a sunhat from Tenth Street Hats.

Quite fittingly, my Strathberry East/West bag was handcrafted in Spain, from ethically sourced Spanish full grain leather. See more of their fine handbag designs below:

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Details from the Hotel Doña María terrace, which includes an outdoor pool. Unlike cookie-cutter chain hotels, accommodations like these have unique, artistic touches, and convey the character of the city.

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Anyone can come to the hotel patio bar to take Instagram photos, and enjoy a drink while taking in the stunning cathedral. This tall tower was the minaret of the former Almohad mosque, when Seville had Muslim rulers.

(Photos by Joey Wong.)

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Exit the doors of Hotel Doña Maria, and you’re right in the action. This is the Fuente Farola fountain, with devilish red gargoyles and a wrought iron lantern. Seville’s most captivating sights are within strolling distance from here.

Catedral de Sevilla mosque church landmark seville

Also steps from the hotel: the Catedral de Sevilla, which was rebuilt in a Gothic style in the 16th century. The cathedral is gigantic (it has the longest nave in Spain), and preserves some of the Islamic architectural features of its previous incarnation as a mosque.

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Wander around, and take photos in from of the many tall arched doors in the Old Quarter. Seville’s Eastern vibe reminded me of Morocco, which was one of my favorite destinations of all time.

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Seville is lined with orange trees — the color and fragrance add to the “5 senses” experience of being here. The Moors planted naranja amarga trees everywhere because they were considered to bring good fortune. Just don’t try to eat one of these bitter oranges: they’re inedible, and used for perfumes and medicinal oils.

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Almost two years of lockdown has resulted in very long purple hair. It felt unexpectedly freeing to experience a different culture, surrounded by Spanish-speakers and centuries-old architecture, after all this time at home.

 Setas de Sevilla architecture Metropol Parasol wood structure

Seville isn’t only known for its ancient buildings. Behold the avantgarde Setas de Sevilla, also known as the Metropol Parasol. Designed by German architect Jürgen Mayer and unveiled in 2011, Las Setas stands 85 feet tall and is the largest wooden structure in the world.

las setas wood umbrella plaza

The lower level is an open-air public plaza. I saw groups of friends and skateboarders hanging out beneath the giant mushroom-like roof, which is inspired by the shape of ficus trees, and the vaults of the Cathedral of Seville. 

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Ascending to the upper levels is a must. You can get timed entry tickets through the Setas de Sevilla site; I recommend going right before Golden Hour / sunset, to capture glowing portraits like these,

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A ticket gives you access to the outdoor viewing platforms, as well as the Feeling Sevilla immersive short film. The wide-screen footage captures the energy of the city with operatic singing, passionate dancing, and even the scent of orange blossom.

You can see a video clip I shot with permission here. The tall purple hooded cloaks are capirote, a conical hat costume worn by Catholic penitents.

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Metropol Parasol has a 360º viewing platform, with pathways that curve around and give you different scenes of Seville from above.

setas seville metropol parasol entry fee hours

The light changes as you meander on the footbridge walkway. Bring a camera up here, and snap away.

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Love the contrast between Setas’ contemporary organic forms, and the ancient spires of the city.

The wooden “parasols” frame the towers of Hermandad del Valle (Museum of the Annunciation Church).

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The sun sets over my Tenth Street Hat. this Strathberry East West crossbody bag, and Fantasmagoria Shop Goth clothing.

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After dark, Las Setas de Seville glistens with an Aurora light show. The colors change and dance over the architecture; see the effect in my Instagram video.

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Seville is an incredible destination for photographers thanks to the brilliant light quality, art and street life.

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No matter where you wander, you’ll come across public courtyard fountains, clusters of orange trees, colored old buildings…

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Many of Sevilla’s churches are free to enter (the larger ones have ticket fees). Pop in to see the dramatic religious altars and chiaroscuro art.

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Sevilla City Centre helped me make the most of my trip with their 5 Senses Package. The bookings are customizable to your interests, and include top accommodations, tours and activities. For instance, “Sevilla con los 5 Sentidos” provides hop-on hop-off bus tickets, and airport or train transfers in a Mercedes car. Since your concierge handles all the logistics, you can settle back and enjoy the experience.

flamenco dancers, Centro Cultural dancing music spanish Casa de la memoria

Seville 5 Senses let me get a taste of traditional flamenco, at Centro Cultural Casa de la Memoria. The lively one-hour show included dance, singing and guitar in an intimate theater. Everything is located near our hotel, Dona Maria, which is also one of their partners.

5 senses seville concierge tour patatas bravas

The sensory immersion continued with tasting menus at highly-rated tapas restaurants, such as Torres y Garcia. Seville is known for its tapas culture, or leisurely meals of small shared plates. Above: patatas bravas with mint aioli and ground chilli, paired with white Albarino Spanish wine.

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I tried the local spin on gazpacho, called salmorejo, for the first time. The cold and creamy soup is also made from tomatoes, but includes bread and has a thicker texture. Of course, I had my fill of sangria and tinto de verano, and anchovies galore.

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These are a few of my favorite things… Can’t get enough of Spanish sardines and anchovies. (I took home quite a few cans of fish!)

I also had to try Amontillado, a dark sherry wine from this region. The drink was immortalized by Gothic writer Edgar Allan Poe in his 1846 story, “The Cask of Amontillado.”

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Thank you to Sevilla City Centre for the bespoke tour experiences. You can book your own 5 Senses journey through their website, or by emailing info@sevillacitycentre.com.

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I hope you found my Seville photography location suggestions helpful. For the best lighting conditions, go early in the morning (so there aren’t many tourists around), or aim for golden hour before dusk.

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Back to my home base, Hotel Doña Maria Sevilla — can’t get enough of this view from their terrace. Very glad I stayed with them in this central location.

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This is only the first dispatch from Seville… Much more to come, as well as a day trip to Cordoba. (You can see my previous Granada travels here.)

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Wishing you the best for Festivus, Sol Invictus or whatever you celebrate — Do what thou wilt!

(More Spanish Strathberry bags like mine below):

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