Greeting SpainLifestyle.com students and friends, 

During the pandemic, I started to research and lecture on dogs in Spanish Fine Arts.
This adventure of information led me down some amazing paths and I found some fabulous stories.
I shared some stories in my Zoom Lessons, over the summer
... and that was fun every Thursday at 5pm.

Anyway... I made it my Mission to Write a HISTORY BOOK and retell some of these most extraordinary tales. Spanish history and culture has a long linage with dogs. Throughout time, humans told stories about dogs with words, art and artefacts. 

I also wanted to add the LIST of Spanish Breeds in English.

The RESULT is 

SPANISH DOGS: The Story of Dogs in Spanish History, Culture & the Arts
by Karla Darocas, Hons. B. A. Spanish Arts Historian, Educator, Journalist

1st Review but many promised... hint, hint.. smile! 

BOOK REVIEW BY Judy Dicken, Scotland

Spanish Dogs is a fabulous journey.

The author, Karla Darocas, had me look at dogs in Spain from the Stone Age through to Modern Day. Along the way she showed me cave drawings, artefacts, pictures and portraits from great masters, depicting man's interaction with dogs.

The result is a fascinating adventure with dogs intertwined with Spanish history and humans. The sad part was the shocking realisation that in many parts of Spain, dogs are not protected and are often badly treated.

This book tells of many interesting and diverse facts that I had never considered before like how Egyptians worshipped a dog-like god, Anubis, and how the Roman legions trained dogs to be warriors and wear fighting armour.

It also explained how both the Greeks and the Romans kept small dogs as pets for their children and often buried the pet dog along with the child, enabling them to be together in the afterlife.

I also learned how the Muslim Conquest of Spain introduced the Berber water dogs that would assist them in fishing and bringing in the nets.

I didn’t know that in Spain during the Renaissance, companion dogs were kept as sleeping partners in order to attract the fleas that were common on Catholics who did not wash because they might be mistaken by the Inquisition as a Muslim and tossed in prison.

It was interesting to see what kind of dogs the Spanish Habsburg Kings kept for hunting and how dogs would aid beggars and blind street performers.

Even into the 19th and 20th centuries, dogs took their place in the portraits of famous people.

I found the whole of this book informative and engrossing. I would recommend it to anyone who loves a good read and interesting humanist knowledge.


TOLEDO CATHEDRAL - SpainLifestyle's Last Lesson of the Year 2020 - JOIN the Lecture & Slideshow on Zoom

THE MOST REMARKABLE CATHEDRAL in Spain. This LESSON will make you want to learn more about Toledo and Discover all the reasons why it is a magical place. 


The Cathedral of Santa María began its construction 1226 under the reign of Fernando III of Castile and the last Gothic contributions were made in 1493 by Queen Isabel I de Castilla and King Fernando II de Aragón. The Cathedral is actually built on top of a Visigoth church (587), which was destroyed and replaced by the main mosque of Toledo that stood until 1222. This mosque was destroyed and the cathedral was rebuilt from scratch in a melting pot of styles, including Gothic, Mudéjar and Renaissance.

Its enormous interior is full of the classic characteristics of the gothic style like rose windows, flying buttresses, ribbed vaults and pointed arches.  

The high altar is backed by its altarpiece. This is an extravagant work of art with painted wooden sculptures depicting scenes from the lives of Christ and the Virgin Mary. It is flanked by royal tombs. 

The rose window above the Puerta del Reloj (Clock Entrance) is the oldest of the cathedral's magnificent stainted-glass, which gives a euphoric atmosphere to the space. 

The Transparente, an amazing work of art was created in the 18th c and rewards viewers with a lavish high Baroque style called Churrigueresque. It is illuminated by a specially engineered dome to act as a skylight.

In the centre of the Cathedral is the coro (choir stall) and it is a feast of sculptures and hand carved wooden stalls. The 15th-century lower tier depicts the various stages of the conquest of Granada.

The most remarkable treasure in the Cathedral is the great Processional Monstrance, commissioned by Cardinal Cisneros to Enrique de Arfe in 1515, that holds the Ostensory (inner small monstrance) in its centre. This was acquired by Cardinal Cisneros from the legacy of Queen Isabella the Catholic, and it is said that it was made with the first gold to arrive from America.

We will also explore the Chapter Room and many of the Chapels and so much more!!

There is so much history, beauty, craftmanship, art and artefacts to give you great pleasure.

TOLEDO History & Architecture - PART 2 - Lecture & Slideshow


Toledo continued to be a Royal city with Queen Isabella adding her impressive architecture. This was followed by her grandson Carlos V and his demands to make Toledo an Imperial city.

The humanist element of the Renaissance left its classical mark on the city and its buildings. 

After Phillip II left Toledo to build his own Palace Escorial, Toledo continued as a religious stronghold and ushered in the Baroque era with even more demanding classical statements in architecture.

Toledo one of the most fascinating cities to study Spanish art, architecture, history for students of all ages!

TOLEDO - History & Architecture - Lecture & Slideshow on ZOOM

The History and Architecture of Toledo before the Catholic Monarchs is rich and expressive. 

Toledo was an important city center to the Celtic Carpetanian tribes until the conquest of the Romans in 193 bc. After the Germanic invasions who expelled the Romans, Toledo would become the capital and main ecclesiastical seat of the Visigothic Kingdom. 

In the year 711, Toledo was conquered by the Muslims, whose rule ended with the taking of the city in 1085 by Alfonso VI. The Middle Ages is when the Jewish community of Toledo was the most populous and rich of the Kingdom of Castile. 

They coexisted for centuries, more or less peacefully, with Muslims and Christians, until the Catholic Monarchs reformations of 1492.


Marina Alta & Gandia - About Book



The Marina Alta region is a diverse terrain within the province of Alicante. Its neighbour, Gandia, is a city and a municipality. Both are located within the Valencian Community on Spain’s eastern Mediterranean coast. 

As well as stunning landscape this area is full of historical and artistic landmarks that tell you much about the heritage and culture of Spain itself. This book reveals where these places are to be found and details the wealth of treasures you will discover on this journey. 

If you are looking for the real Spain that is not usually found on the standard tourist trail, then this book is where to begin. 

Included is a detailed guided tour of the Ducal Palace of Gandia, which from the 14th century, was the residence of the Royal Dukes of Gandía, and from 1485, the Borja family. It was the birthplace of Saint Francis Borja. It is an Asset of Cultural Interest since 1964. 


Karla Ingleton Darocas is Canadian married to a Spaniard and based in Benitachell on Spain's Costa Blanca. She is an educator with a passion to inspire and facilitate a lust to learn. Her love of Spanish art, architecture, and history is infectious, and she attracts art lovers to her lectures. 

Other Information & Resource by Author 

  • Teulada’s Fortified Baroque Hermitage Of San Vicente Ferrer 
  • The Beautiful Baroque Parish Churches Of The Marina Alta * Benimaurell * Campell * Beniarbeig * Parcent * Alcalalí 
  • The Royal Marsh Is Gandía’s Watery Paradise 
  • Discover Famous 17th Century Polychrome Busts In Gandía 
  • A Detailed Guide To Gandía’s Pretty & Important Palace


"I bought this book about the Marina Alta Region because I wanted to know more about Gandia. I found out so much info, in detail, about things I know I would have missed if I just visited without having this book by my side. The book also has info about Teulada, Beniarbeig, Parcent and Alcalali, etc, but I was particularly interested in Gandia. - Sarah Farrell

Saint Lucia: Early Christian Martyr or Valencian Fashion Model?

In the Fine Arts Museum of Valencia you will find this magnificent representation of one of the most interesting virgin saints of the biblical world.

This Lucía de Siracusa, however, is a jewel of the Valencian Renaissance, displaying all her devotion in a wonderfully embroidered silk mantle.

Article by Karla Ingleton Darocas (KarlaDarocas.com)


The Valencia Fine Arts Museum contains some of the most important paintings in Spanish history. As soon as you walk into the main gallery, a monumental painting of San Miguel Arcángel takes your breath away.


This work of art has been in the museum's collections for a long time and has been seen by many generations of Valencians and foreigners. Because of its size, it is very compelling and captures your attention immediately. 


"When all the artists painted in the studios, he painted outdoors; when a filtered and conventional light, with the pallor of consumption, he brutally grasped the rays of the sun on the tips of his brushes and fixed them on his canvases."

- Vicente Blasco Ibáñez

Sorolla's intimate friend and inspiration, Vicente Blasco, expressed his opinion on the work of Sorolla in a brief extract from a newspaper that was announcing Sorolla's death. Blasco believed that his friend was one of the brave ones because Sorolla painting outside, as often as the weather would permit. It was the hardest route to take, considering that studio painting was an environment where all elements, especially the light source, could be controlled. 

Even though open air painting was popular in Sorolla's era, he really didn't become fully addicted until after the turn of the century. 

Why was painting outside so exciting and risky for Sorolla?  But also, why was light so important in general terms?

Article by Karla Darocas, Hons. B.A. (KarlaDarocas.com)

Sorolla: INTO THE LIGHT of Impressionism & Luminism

"Fascinating lecture on the progression of Sorolla's style.  Loved his mixture of naturalism and Impressionism to create his own Illumination.  Karla has a great understanding of his works and you leave the class feeling stimulated.  Looking forward to the next one! "

-Mimi Carrera, Valencia


LECTURE - Joaquín Sorolla: THE NAKED TRUTH of Academicism, Social Realism & Costumbrismo


"I thoroughly enjoyed the lecture. The detail and amount of information you covered was enormous. 
As you know I am a Sorolla fan and have painted many of his works, but do enjoy the early paintings. They have a different style and show what a talented painter he was. 
I look forward to your next lecture."
- Best wishes, James, Javea

"Fascinating lecture by Karla. I almost felt like an insider to the paintings presented, most of which I had not seen before.  I became fascinated with the "Costumbrista" era of Sorolla's Spanish paintings.  I absolutely loved them.  I appreciate the way Karla presents the information. Her knowledge gives you a wonderful perspective and you are grasping for more.  I feel fortunate I ran across Karla on the internet, because living in Valencia, I didn't have the opportunity to "attend" her classroom sessions until the Pandemic, when she started on Zoom.  In situations like this I always go back to my favorite Haiku:
Barn's burnt down --
now, I can see the moon.
- Mizuta Masahide
Muchas gracias Karla, can't wait for the next one."
-Mimi Carrera, Valencia city

"Karla's lecture are so full of the historical context of Spain. I enjoyed the  Costumbrista style masterpieces of Sorolla. His academic work was beautiful too and when you keep in mind of his young age when he was painting these works, amazing! The historical philosophies of Spain and Europe at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century comes to life in the absolute master works of the great and unique Sorolla. He formed a unique style with inspirations from master painters from Velazquez to the modern era of Monet."
-Trudi van Dorp, Benitachell

"Another fascinating lecture from Karla on Sorolla's work. It was fascinating to learn about the need to produce popular regional paintings to make money while developing his professional reputation through social realism paintings. As Karla talked us through the paintings, I learned about the links between the sciences and arts in the period. As the world adjusted to the discoveries of Darwin, artists began to focus on naturalism. Sorolla walked a tightrope between this new world and the traditions shown in his costumbrismo works. Another fascinating talk leaving us with much to reflect on."
- Denise Bayes, Barcelona


In this lecture, we will explore Sorolla's early journey throughout his educational phase where he was committed to academicism. This style of true-to-life, narrative, realist painting was the "official" or "approved" style of European art since the 1600's. It was dominated by conventions combined with a fixed set of aesthetics. Above all, paintings needed to contain a suitably moral message.

After perfecting religious and historical narrative paintings, he decided to reflect on the harshness of life and the most vulnerable lower classes, encapsulated in an emerging genre that was named social realism

This was a bold choice for Sorolla, especially at the beginning of his career. While other artists were in the pursuit of classical beauty and legendary stories to enhance their vocations, Sorolla went towards expressing the ugly injustices that were on the rise due to the industrial revolution. These sad and often disturbing visions were based on his real life observations.

He won several awards with his social realism paintings. These prizes elevated his fame and profile in the art world, but at home he found himself creating genre paintings in the Valencian regional style of costumbrismo. He chose themes that were popular to where he lived and hence easy to sell to generate needed revenue to support his wife and three children. 


Social realism: pictorial interpretation focused on the most dramatic circumstances of the lesser classes related to Baroque’s artistic realism and historical arguments, that is, narrative content, considered necessary in the 19th and 20th centuries and prized in the salon system.

Costumbrismo  - pictorial interpretation of local everyday life, mannerisms, and customs, related both to Baroque’s artistic realism and to Romanticism’s charm. 

JÁVEA - About Book

Do You Know The Historical Stories of Prominent People & Places of Jávea?



Jávea (Castilian language) or Xàbia (Valencian language) is a Valencian coastal town in the Marina Alta region of Alicante province. This book is a collection of essays that recount some of the most intriguing stories ever told about Jávea's most prominent people and places. 

These narratives are well-known by the local population, but for visitors and new residents, this information will enhance your appreciation for this popular Mediterranean seaside resort town.


Karla Ingleton Darocas is Canadian married to a Spaniard and based in Benitachell on Spain's Costa Blanca. She is an educator with a passion to inspire and facilitate a lust to learn. Her love of Spanish art, architecture, and history is infectious, and she attracts art lovers to her lectures. 

Other Information & Resource by Author 

  • Roman Arches And Fish Farming In Ancient Xàbia
  • Xàbia , José Antonio Bolufer And His Ship Mystery
  • Sorolla Finds Inspiration In Xàbia For A Special Patron
  • The Tale Of Sorolla's Holiday Horror In  Jávea
  • Jávea - One Hundred Miles South Of Valencia
  • Who Was André Lambert Within The History Of Jávea Arts?
  • Xàbia / Jávea Regional Heritage Rewards Raisins
  • The Jávea Monument That No One Talks About


Karla's book JAVEA - for me, was ALL very interesting. It is difficult to pick out a favourite essay from the collection. All the stories tell a historical journey and every single chapter is a treasure of extraordinary knowledge, explaining the very impressive history we have here in Xàbia!
Karla's writing style is absolutely gripping, hence the reason I was able to read this book all in one go. She writes with such enthusiasm, just like she does in her lectures.
* Diana Santiago, Xàbia