November 2007

Thanksgiving in Spain!

Madrid

Spain's best know writer is Cervantes and his best known work is Don Quixote. In this busy square you will find the statue of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza.

Across from the Royal Palace is a plaza with these beautiful older buildings. Like you find in many parts of Spain, the buildings come in a variety of bright colors, not something you will see in Northern Europe.

The Royal Palace is the official residence of the King of Spain although he does not actually live there, using it only for official ceremonies. As you would expect of a Palace, it is huge and while not quite Versailles it is very impressive.

This medieval-looking complex houses Madrid's city hall. The oldest building is the one on the right, the Casa de los Lujanes which was built as a private home in the late 15th century.

Plaza Mayor is a large rectangular building in the central part of Madrid that was built in the early 17th century. Over the years it has been used for a variety of different function and until the early 1900's bullfights were even held there. Today it has a large variety of nice restaurants and shops under its porticoes.

While in Madrid, we took a day trip to the city of Toledo which is about 60 miles south of Madrid. One of the highlights of the Toledo trip was our visit to their famous Gothic cathedral whose construction was begun in the 1200's

Inside the cathedral you can see how ornate it is by this view of the crucifix and the ceiling.

Still in the cathedral this is a view of the choir area. While not clearly visible in this picture there are carvings of saints that surround the entire area as well as a larger statue in the back portion of the picture.

In this portion of the ceiling light is streaming through highlighting the carving of Jesus with the paintings just below it. The church changed throughout the years. In this picture you can see the gothic (pointed) arches but also the more flamboyant, renaissance architecture in the carvings above it. Above one of the gothic arches you can see openings with have a traditionally Moorish shape.

Another picture of the cathedral from the outside. Like many large churches in Europe, it sits very close to the surrounding buildings, there are no large parking lots for parishoners. However, this does make it difficult to get an unobstructed picture.

A nice view of the Tagus river which surrounds Toledo on three sides. Toledo sits on top of a hill and with the surrounding river it acted as a natural fortress.

Inside the courtyard of an old monastery you notice some aspects of the moorish styling

Another picture showing how Toledo was built on the top of a hill.

Once again you can see how scenic Toledo is as it sits on top of a rocky outcropping.

Another picture showing how Toledo was built on the top of a hill.

A long distance view of the Alcazar, which holds a large museum with homages to Francoism. During the Spanish Civil war it was besieged by the Republicans but the Nationalists held on so it became a monument to Nationalist bravery.

A long distance view of Toledo's famous cathedral.

Back to the Plaza Mayor showing a close-up view of the statue of King Felipe III

Susan inside the courtyard of the Royal Palace.

Across from the Royal Palace is the Catedral de la Almudena, constructed started in 1883 but it was not consecrated until 1993 by Pope John Paul II.

This archway is called the Puerta de Toledo and was originally planned to celebrate France's victory over Spain in 1808. However by the time it was completed six years later it commemorated the French expulsion from Spain.