Saturday, June 28, 2008

Salamanca Part 1

After getting settled in, we began planning our trips around Spain. On Friday, we decided to go to the city of Salamanca. Salamanca lies in Western Spain, in the region of Castille & Leon and has a varied history. It was founded by the Celts, conquered by Hannibal, ruled by the Moors, and re-conquered by the Catholic forces during the Reconquista. The city is perhaps most famous for its University, founded in 1218, which produced some of the brightest minds of Europe.

We started out the morning quite early, although it was broad daylight. Here's a shot of Manuel, Alex, and Andrew walking across the bridge to the train station at about 7:00 am.

Looking at our bus tickets to decide where to go. We opted for the bus instead of the train because it was early enough that we wouldn't be blocked by traffic, and cost significantly less.

This is our bus. Not bad...not bad!

LOOK. See those three black dots out there? Those three critters are bulls, bred for bullfights. We passed this ranch on the way out of Madrid.

A glimpse of Salamanca from the highway. The city is dominated by the massive cathedral.

Although you can't see it quite as well in this picture, Salamanca is nicknamed the "city of gold", because of the golden tint that it emits; a result of the majority of its buildings being constructed out of yellow sandstone. The buildings made out of this crumbly rock reminded me of Malta. Here's a picture of one of the streets in the historic center of the city.

This is the Plaza Mayor. It was built in the 18th century and actually used to be used to hold public bullfights.

A shot of the four of us in the Plaza.

There were medallions of all of Spain's kings carved into the arches around the Plaza. Here's the portrait of Philip II.

Wow. We got a glimpse of the Cathedral as we approached.

The entire building was carved with reliefs depicting various scenes. Here's one showing the flight into Egypt.

This is a rather humorous one. The Cathedral is actually two cathedrals, built side by side. The first one was built in the 16th century, the second one in the 18th. When they were restoring the first one some years ago however, someone decided to carve various anachronistic figures into the decorations. Here we astronaut! It's a game among visitors to the Cathedral to find them. We found the astronaut, a frog, and a bull, but couldn't find the ice cream cone. (Gee I wonder's not like it's a big building to visually scan or anything....)

I thought this made a nice picture. The domes of the old and new cathedrals side by side.

Another relief on the west facade. There's the crucifixion, and below it two scenes which I can't make out.

Ahh, here we go. I zoomed in on this one. This is the left relief, simple enough to determine - the Nativity.

After admiring the exterior we finally stepped inside. The Gothic interior pulled away from us in its size - we felt like we were ants.

A Spanish Baroque side altar with carved wooden figures of the Crucifixion.

This would be the pulpit.

And here we have the choir, complete with choir stalls. Dad would like this...wouldn't you dad?

Looking up at the ceiling and trying to take in the arches, pillars, domes and cupola I felt like a turkey staring up at the rain. (For those of you that haven't seen a turkey stare up at the rain - turkeys [not being the brightest of birds] will often stare up stupefied at the rain trying to figure out just what it is that's getting them wet.)

Yet another picture of the beautiful view you got as a reward for getting a sore neck.

Another lovely side altar to St. Joseph.

And another side altar. This one is important because of its crucifix, which belonged to the Chaplain of El Cid, and which El Cid used to pray in front of before going into battle.

Lighting a candle at the chapel of El Cid's crucifix.

I think this ranks right up there with the statue of the Blessed Mother in St. Mary Major's as one of my famous Marian statues.

One more shot of the light coming into the Cathedral.

This is the tomb of the Bishop of Salamanca that laid the first cornerstone of the Cathedral.

Another light show. This cathedral, despite being mostly Gothic in design was not very dark at all. It reminded me of the Duomo in Siena in its elaborateness.

Aha. Although I wasn't able to get a very good picture because this statue was behind a grill, I did manage to get this shot of St. Anthony.

Last picture, the pipe organ.

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