Wednesday, June 1, 2011

We Like Cathedrals, Castles, Forts, and Palaces

The past two days have been filled with explorations of two cities near Spain. On Monday we visited Toledo, which used to be the capital of Spain until it was moved to Madrid in 1561. It was about an hour away by bus. The city is surrounded by a decent sized wall and is surrounded by rural plains. Inside the city walls are several beautiful cathedrals and a giant defensive fort.
There are many scenic vistas around town that give views of the modern city or the fields and hillsides.
We visited the Catedral Primada Santa María de Toledo. From the majority of the outside, it doesn't look like much, but inside is beautiful. I haven't been to many cathedrals, but this one was by far my favorite. Inside(where pictures are not allowed) there were several chapels with beautiful altars and ceilings. There was also an incredible amount of stained glass, even on the high windows several stories up. Not bad for a cathedral finished in the 15th century.
We spent the afternoon walking around and looking in shops that sell pottery and swords (yes, real ones). We found many gorgeous overlooks including this one of the bridge:
Our last stop for the day was a smaller cathedral that claimed to have the best views and panoramas of the city. Inside the church was nice also, even though it didn't have as gaudy as an altar as the previous cathedral(which I think is better, how are you supposed to pay attention to the sermon with gold cherubs everywhere?).
The view from the top of the bell towers was definitely worth the 2 euros and title of best panoramas. From there you could get excellent views of both the cathedral and the defensive fort(which to our disappointment is closed on Mondays).

Tuesday was marked by a trip to Segovia, a town an hour south of Madrid by train. Instead of going around or over the mountains that seperate the two cities, the train cuts a tunnel right through the mountain. It also reached a speed of 232 km/hr! The main attraction(well, one of them) is the 1st century Roman Aqueduct. The construction of this piece is so amazing. After all this time it is still standing without any cement or mortar holding it together.

Segovia, like Toledo, had a beautiful cathedral. The Santa Iglesia Catedral de Nuestra Señora de la Asunción y de San Frutos was slightly smaller than the Catedral Primada Santa María, but I personally thought it was better because pictures were allowed inside. It was built from the period of 1525 to 1768 after the previous was destroyed in 1521.

This organ was made in the 18th century by Chavarria organmakers.
The next highlight was the Alcazar de Segovia. It is a 12th century castle and apparently Sleeping Beauty's castle was based off of it's design. We paid to go on a walk through on the first floor and it had beautiful carpets, tapestries, ceilings, and furniture.
This is Queen Isabella when she was proclaimed Queen of Castile in the Main Square of Segovia.

The ceiling of this room shows all of the monarchs of Asturias, Castile, and Leon.

We also took the extra tower tour and got to climb to a lookout and see the top of the castle and the surrounding city.

It was a little cloudy and cold, but it didn't stop us from going on a nature hike down a pathway by the river and around the city.
It was a long hike to the top of a cliff, but the view of the fairytale castle was worth it...

1 comment:

  1. Been there... done that... would do it again! I love Spain. Looks like you are having a blast!