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Posts tagged ‘Castile and León’

Burgos and the tale of El Cid

Burgos Cathedral, a World Heritage Site

Perhaps no other legendary figure rouses the Spanish consciousness quite like the man known as El Cid. Widely considered a national hero, Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar was born in 1043 as a member of the minor nobility, in a small town six miles north of Burgos. Raised and educated in the court of Ferdinand I, “Emperor of all Spain”, he rose to prominence as commander and royal standard-bearer for the king’s oldest son and heir, Sancho II. Read more

Postcards from León

Afternoon shadows in the Plaza Mayor

 “Adiós! Adiós!”  The little boy’s mother waved and laughed as he remained powerless, legs dangling, in the arms of a waiter. Just moments before, the bearded giant had swiftly picked him up, starting down the slope with a mischievous grin. “I’ll take him away!” he chuckled, “I’ll take him away!” Read more

León Cathedral: the house of light

West front, Cathedral of León

From the plaza it appeared like a fortress, towering high above our heads in solid stone, an imposing presence bristling with spires and sturdy buttresses. The late afternoon sun illuminated the church’s west front as I pushed open the heavy wooden door to a cool, refreshing silence – a far cry from the sounds of the Spanish summer. Read more

Patterns of Segovia

Segovia Cathedral

When night falls and the day-trippers return to Madrid, Segovia takes on a quiet magic befitting its dramatic location. My mother and I are here for several nights, and from our room on the top floor of a small hotel, we can see the sky turning darker shades of violet. Read more

Memories of Salamanca, Spain

Cloister, Convento de San Esteban

In Spanish the expression for “handwritten” is “de mi puño y letra” – of my fist and handwriting. Today I was flipping through my Spanish notebook when I came across a page scribbled with several verses, an early attempt to write a poem on Salamanca. Read more

My Salamanca: Three Bite-sized Pieces

It’s easy to eat well in Salamanca. Whether it’s bar-hopping on Calle Van Dyck, the best tapas street in town, or sinking your teeth into the local jamón, this student city is an affordable stopping point on a gastronomic tour of central Spain. The local dishes can be heavy, but don’t let that stop you from buying a slice of chorizo-filled hornazo or digging into a tender chunk of grilled veal.

After nine months as a resident salmantino, I’ve drawn up a quick list of some of my favourite places to eat and drink – gratuitous photos included. Read more

Salamanca Spring: a photojournal

When spring sweeps over the Castilian highlands, Salamanca’s honey-coloured stone buildings set the scene for a dramatic comeback. Within no time the umbrellas and café tables reappear on the streets, now coloured by a multitude of sunglasses, smiles and scoops of ice cream. Read more

Veni, Vidi, Amavi – 3 days in Segovia.

When night falls and the busloads of day-trippers leave Segovia, the city reverts to its timeless medieval charm. It’s nearing 8 o’clock on a Friday evening and I have just completed the 3-hour journey from Salamanca.  The walk to the hotel takes me through a warren of narrow, atmospheric streets and animated squares, interspersed by the odd floodlit monument. Although it has only been a good 40 minutes since my arrival, I am already falling in love with Segovia. Read more

At the Walls of Ávila, Spain.

The Spanish call it the “City of Song and Saints”. Situated in the wilds of Castilla y León, and within easy reach of Madrid, the historic town of Ávila is a prime destination for a weekend day trip. Recently a friend of mine described it as a miniature version of Carcassonne – that legendary walled city in the south of France – and within 30 seconds I was sold. Read more

Tales from the Golden City – Salamanca, Spain.

It’s 10am on a chilly Saturday morning and I am standing in the middle of Plaza Mayor, at the heart of Salamanca’s historic centre. Under a cloudless sky the morning light falls gently onto the carved stone facades and wrought iron balconies. Composed, elegant and lavishly decorated, it is the ultimate Plaza Mayor, easily besting the more famous one in Madrid. Read more