Thursday, April 12, 2012

Burgos Cathedral

Interesting article with beautiful photos of Burgos Cathedral from watsonstravels blog:-
Nancy and Chuck - Retirement in Ecuador: Burgos, Spain - The Cathedral:

more blogs by Robert Bovington...
"Photographs of Spain"
"postcards from Spain"
"you couldn't make it up!"
"a grumpy old man in Spain"
"bits and bobs"
"Spanish Expressions"
"Spanish Art"
"Books About Spain"

Monday, April 2, 2012

Valladolid

Valladolid is the capital of Castile-Leon, that vast region to the northwest of Madrid. At first sight, it appears a large, modern, industrial city but there are many reminders of the glorious era when Valladolid was the home and birthplace of the Castilian Kings. It was in this city that, in 1469, Ferdinand wedded Isabella thereby uniting the kingdoms of Aragón and Castile that led to a united Spain.

Avenida Salamanca
photo: public domain (Dariorueda90)
One of the outcomes of this merger was that Castilian became the official language of all Spain, which is perhaps why it is claimed that the purest form of the language is spoken here in the heart of old Castile. The University has played a big part in the lives of the people of Valladolid from when it was founded in the 13th century until the present day. However, it became one of the most important in the country during the rule of the Catholic Monarchs. The 'Faculty of Law' building of the University is one of the finest in the city. It has a magnificent Baroque façade.

Valladolid San Gregorio 20080815
façade of the College of San Gregorio by Luis Fernández García
(Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0
 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)],

via Wikimedia Commons
exhibit in Diocesan Museum
photo: public domain
Many other buildings in the city were created in Isabelline style - named after Queen Isabella, it is a most attractive type of ornamentation though rather elaborate. A superb example of this style is the façade of the College of San Gregorio - a flamboyantly decorative building that houses the National Sculpture Museum. It is one of many museums in the Valladolid and includes the Diocesan Museum, which is housed in the Cathedral.

Valladolid Cathedral is a Renaissance building designed by Juan de Herrera in the 16th century. He was the co-creator of San Lorenzo El Escorial, the massive palace-monastery that served as a royal abode and mausoleum - Juan Bautista was the other architect of that World Heritage monument. The Cathedral may not be as spectacular as El Escorial but it is, nevertheless, a decent piece of religious architecture.

Valladolid Cathedral
photo: public domain

Whilst much of Valladolid is modern, the city has preserved many important buildings especially within its historic quarter. I have mentioned the Cathedral, the University and the museums so let's pay a visit to some of the other sights in the city beginning with the Plaza Mayor. This beautiful square was created in the 16th century and proved to be the model for future plazas in Spain. In the surrounding streets there are many large houses and palaces.

The Palace of the Marqueses de Valverde is most attractive. It was constructed in Florentine style in the 16th-century. The Pimentel Palace is important, historically, because it was the birthplace of King Felipe II. Nowadays, it is the seat of the Provincial Administration. The Palace of Juan de Vivero was built in Gothic-Mudéjar style in the 15th century. It, too, is historically important because Ferdinand and Isabella married there in October 1469. It is currently the headquarters of the Provincial Historic Archives.

Santa María la Antigua
photo: public domain (Floranes)
The Cathedral is not the only important religious building in Valladolid. The old church of Saint Mary is impressive. Its Castilian name is La Iglesia de Santa María la Antigua and it was originally built in the 11th century. Later a beautiful Romanesque tower topped by a slender pyramid shaped spire was added. This was in the 13th century and it is all that remains of the original church - a Gothic building replaced it in the 14th century. Other important temples in the city include the Monastery of las Huelgas Reales, the Church of San Pablo the Gothic Church of Santiago and the Collegiate Church of Santa Cruz.
San Pablo (old painting)
public domain

San Pablo facade
photo: public domain (Mattis) 

Calle de Santiago, Valladolid 1900

the above text is an extract from "Spanish Impressions" ISBN 9781445225432


more blogs by Robert Bovington...
"Photographs of Spain"
"postcards from Spain"
"you couldn't make it up!"
"a grumpy old man in Spain"
"bits and bobs"
"Spanish Expressions"
"Spanish Art"
"Books About Spain"

Zamora

In the Middle Ages, the city of Zamora was continually fought over by Moors and Christians, which is, perhaps, why this Castilian municipality has such impregnable looking ramparts. The city originally had three layers of fortification and the first of these walls has been preserved almost intact.

The Duero & Zamora Cathedral
photo: public domain (Sira)
Zamora stands on the northern bank of the River Duero that winds its way across Castile-Leon towards Portugal. The city's position has made it strategically important throughout history. In Roman times it lay on the road from Augusta Emerita (modern Mérida) to Caesaraugusta (modern Zaragoza). Zamora was especially important during the Christian Reconquest and the city passed between Arab and Christian hands on a number of occasions.

Zamora preserves many buildings from the Middle Ages with its walls, castle, palaces and religious buildings - so much so, that it has been declared a Historic-Artistic Site.

The 12th-century stone bridge, the Puente de Piedra, is a good place to start because it not only provides a tremendous view of the city but it is also the actual entrance to the historical quarter. Most of the historic sights of Zamora are located immediately to the north of the bridge whereas the cathedral and castle lie only half a kilometre in the westward direction.

Zamora Cathedral is most impressive. It was built in the 12th century and it is called the 'Pearl of the Duero'. It has a magnificent Byzantine cupola with fish-scale-like tiles and many other notable features that include an impressively sculptured Romanesque entrance - the Puerta del Obispo. Inside there are a number of richly decorated chapels, opulent altarpieces and intricately carved walnut choir stalls decorated with biblical figures and allegorical scenes. The Neoclassical cloister houses the Cathedral Museum.

Zamora Cathedral - photo: public domain from
Project Gutenberg's 'The Cathedrals of Northern Spain' by Charles Rudy 

Zamora Castle
photo: public domain 

(Eduardo Alberto Sánchez Ferrezuelo)
Much of Zamora Castle is preserved including its keep, doorway and moat. The fortress is of Arab origin and has a trapezoid ground floor and a polygonal tower. There are six turrets, which afford spectacular views of the city and the surrounding countryside. The fortress along with the three layers of walls provided the city with a fair degree of impregnability. 

One of Zamora's nicknames is "ciudad del románico". This is because it has one of the greatest concentrations of Romanesque churches in Europe. In fact, many beautiful buildings are squeezed into its cobbled streets and plazas. Walking from the cathedral in the direction of the Plaza Mayor one encounters quite a few churches including the Romanesque San Pedro y San Ildefonso, La Magdalena and San Cipriano.

San Juan de Puerta Nueva
photo: public domain (Jomajima)
The impressive Church of San Juan de Puerta Nueva stands in the middle of the Plaza Mayor. This attractive square has two town halls - the current one and the Ayuntamiento Viejo, a solid 15th century building that was altered in the 17th century and which is now the police headquarters. 

Just a short distance from Plaza Major is the Palacio de los Momos. It is the current home of the Provincial Court and is one of a number of palaces in the city. Another is the Palacio de Puñoenrostro, which is an excellent example of 16th century civil architecture. It is now the museum of Zamora. It is located near the stone bridge, in the Plaza de Santa Lucía.

I have covered just a few of the historic sights in Zamora. To do them all justice it would need more than one day and an excellent place to stay would be the local Parador de Turismo. It is housed in yet another enchanting building - the Palacio de los Condes de Alba y Aliste. It is a 15th-century Renaissance palace - a medieval jewel in the crown that is Zamora.

the above text is an extract from "Spanish Impressions" ISBN 9781445225432


more blogs by Robert Bovington...
"Photographs of Spain"
"postcards from Spain"
"you couldn't make it up!"
"a grumpy old man in Spain"
"bits and bobs"
"Spanish Expressions"
"Spanish Art"
"Books About Spain"

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Semana Santa

The Spanish take Easter seriously. As the name La Semana Santa implies, it lasts for a week, starting on Palm Sunday and it signals the beginning of the greatest festival in the Christian calendar - the commemoration of Christ's Passion and Resurrection.

Most people participate in the fiesta. Processions take place in towns and villages throughout Spain and in most places la Pasión de Cristo is performed in the streets. The procession starts and finishes at the church during which some of the penitents walk without shoes, some on their knees, others are in chains and some walk flogging themselves.
photo: public domain (Txo)

Throughout Spain it is marked by ceremonies of holy images and passion plays that last all week especially in the Andalucian cities of Sevilla & Málaga. They are splendid affairs - penitents carry the magnificently ornate displays that comprise oodles of gold and silver set off with masses of flowers. The exhibits are extremely heavy comprising as they do of highly decorative floats supporting religious images. Brass bands, soldiers and señoritas, dressed in black, accompany the penitents. In fact, a large proportion of the population involve themselves in both the preparation and the weeklong celebrations.

Domingo de Ramos is the Spanish for Palm Sunday. On that day, the arrival of Jesus in Jerusalem on a donkey is celebrated. Many children take part and the populace wave palm tree branches.

On the Monday, in the big cities, thousands of penitents follow the procession of Christ taken captive.

photo: public domain (Raizraiz)
On Jueves Santo - Maundy Thursday and Viernes Santo - Good Friday, every little town and village also get involved by bringing out their religious effigies, usually an image of Christ and the Virgin Mary. Maundy Thursday commemorates the 'Last Supper of Christ' whereas Good Friday is in remembrance of the crucifixion of Jesus.

The last procession of Santa Semana is on Domingo de Resurrección - Easter Sunday to you, representing Christ risen from the dead.

Of course, the build up to the events start many months before. There is much planning involved. The authorities have to plan for roads to be closed, traffic to be diverted and publicity of the event. Temporary seating has to be arranged and erected along the main thoroughfares. Women get to work with needle and thread, as they and their children must look their best during the forthcoming celebrations. Of course, the richer señoras do not bother with all that but they still have to purchase their outfits and plan what restaurant the family will visit for their celebratory meals.

Semana Santa float in Almería Cathedral
photo: Robert Bovington
However, the biggest enterprise is preparing the floats and even after this is done rehearsing the carrying of them as they weigh many tons. The hermandades - brotherhoods do this. A hermandad comprises members of a particular church that organize the yearly processions and the hermanos are the actual members. Some of the hermanos are Nazarenos, who dress in long, flowing robes and special pointed hoods, which hide their identity when they walk in the procession. The colours of the outfits change every day, black on day one culminating with white and gold on day seven.

photo: public domain (Romerin)
Semana Santa float in Almería Cathedral
photo: Robert Bovington


Semana Santa sketch in chalk by Goya (1824) 

more blogs by Robert Bovington...
"Photographs of Spain"
"postcards from Spain"
"you couldn't make it up!"
"a grumpy old man in Spain"
"bits and bobs"
"Spanish Expressions"
"Spanish Art"
"Books About Spain"