Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Spain 5

Avila and Segovia

Avila is only an hour or so east of Salamanca. One oddity of the buses is that they all seemed to play American 80s music. I liked it, but it seemed out of place somehow... Avila's got a complete wall encircling the city. I did part of the wall walk after visiting it's cathedral. The cathedral is actually built into the wall. Unlike Rotenberg in Germany though (which does the same thing), you can't access that part of the church. It kept threatening to rain but didn't do so until I was basically done sightseeing, but it meant I couldn't use the balcony my room had.
Segovia was further east again, and has a Roman aqueduct. It's a tall, impressive structure that they only stopped using in the last century or so.
After seeing that I went to the Alcazar (the castle/palace). Not only is it a beautiful structure, it's got nice ceilings and a fabulous bedroom. We were actually allowed to take flash pictures inside, so my camera clicked away. Unfortunately it was raining pretty hard so I couldn't do much hiking in the valley (I did enough to get a few really nice pictures of the Alcazar but that was it).

The twelve sided church in the distance is Vera Cruz. It's one of the last few remaining authentic Templar churches built. It was patterned after the temple in Jerusalem. There are two churches inside and a triple apse design. For those of you who weren't art students, it means the church was built partially on a regular plan (the triple apse is standard. Three bulges to the east of the church with altars for worship though mass would be performed in the centre one). Where things get interesting is the twelve sided structure behind the apses as you walk in the door. There's a 'crypt' at ground level with 4 entry points and a second 'church' upstairs (the second last photo). Here there's another altar where it's assumed the knights spent their vigils. It has a 'window' down to the main alter in the central apse so people upstairs could also watch mass (the last photo). The church was very interesting. You weren't supposed to take pictures but the attendant didn't seem to care so...
Another strange thing about Spain is the traffic light system. I never quite figured it out. The walk signal would be red while cars drove from the left. It would stay red as they stopped and cars drove from the right. Red still as cars came from in front of you. Then green. I don't know why traffic never had two directions at once. In some cases it was because everyone had to turn or something around a circular obstruction in the road but there were times I'd swear it was just to annoy walkers. I quickly noticed that natives all j-walked. Well, when in Rome right?

1 comment:

D. said...

Awesome pics and awesome stories. So jealous of you! I am in travel mode -- can't wait to go somewhere.
The weather didn't sound great, but you couldn't really tell from the photos! Oh, and the sound of those frogs and insects -- pretty cool.