Walking in Spain along the Camino Ignaciano from Loyola to Manresa, and the Camino de Invierno from Ponferrada to Santiago de Compostela

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Tuesday, 4 October 2016


An old city, a beautiful city, and a very friendly city.  I really enjoyed the time spent here, but am disappointed that I was not up to my usual exploring, thinking I should use some discretion in my meanderings this time due to my ankle.

The pièce de résistance of the city has to be the Basílica de Nuestra Señora del Pilar.  It could be seen on the horizon as we left Utebo, looking almost Middle eastern from that distance.  As we got closer glimpses could be captured through the trees, until, arriving in the plaza, there it was in all its glory.
The Basiílica de Nuestra del Señora del Pilar from the plaza......
....and from Puenta de Piedra.....
....and from Calle de Alfonso 1.

This is just one of a number of monumental buildings, in both senses of the word!  It sits in an even larger Plaza - the Plaza del Pilar, in which there were two large public ceremonies conducted while we were in town.  Both of these ceremonies were to do with the police.  On the first day it appeared to be a memorial ceremony, with police decked out in their dress uniforms, complete with medals.  It was also a great chance to show off equipment and vehicles.  Indeed further down the plaza there was an exhibition of such things as robots, weapons, clothing, and so on.  Today it was the Guardia Civil's turn, also showing off their different departments - scuba diving and mountaineering among them.  they were all very security conscious with guards up on the roof of the Basilica yesterday, today, standing on every intersection in the vicinity.  It is interesting that even showing such a public profile as this they chat away on their phones and don't hesitate to light up!
A police officer watching the crowd from the roof of the Basílica.
Some of the Guardia Civil wear very novel hats.

Another monumental building is the Catedral del Salvador de Zaragoza.  This is an extremely important historical building nationally, and is huge.  The doors alone are at least three stories high, just like the Basilica.  It is quite an unusual shape with many (not so little) side chapels, and unlike most cathedrals it's main chapel is also a side chapel, with the centre being filled with the choir and organ.  Upstairs in what would have been the tower, there is a tapestry museum, filled with extraordinary tapestries, floor to ceiling in size and some over 4 - 5 metres wide.  The detail in the stories they depict is amazing, with even the intricate patterns on clothing being clearly visible.
Catedral del Salvador de Zaragoza.
On one side of the Cathedral the mudéjar influence can be seen......
...... and some of the detail close up
And, for comparison, a small section of the church tower in Utebo.

This is an ancient city and there are numerous pieces of Roman Wall, a Roman tower, and statues honouring the Romans.
A small section of the Roman wall.....
...and the tower dating from Roman times.

The Basílica has two towers which the public can access.  I went part way up one (brave Pam went all the way!).  I was quite happy to be only 70metres above the ground, and had no desire or need to go anther 20 metres!  I went up in the early evening, and a stiff breeze had sprung up and so I decided that the 70 metre (three stories) lift ride was quite satisfactory!  The views were fantastic.
A roof top view from the tower 70 metres up
From the same viewpoint, the Puenta de Piedra....
.......and at night.
Puenta de Santiago at night.......
.......and the Basilica at night

We had a very convenient hotel, very quiet and comfortable - opposite a fancy dress shop and next door to a sex shop!

The Goya museum was interesting, and here I had a special treat, bumping into David, who lives round the corner from me and who was the first treasurer of the Australian Friends of the Camino.  It was really nice to catch up with him and meet his English walking friend.
A statue of Goya......
......and inside the Goya museum, where I met David and his friend John.

There is much more I could tell you about Zaragoza, and there was certainly much more to see - maybe next time!  This will have do.

1 comment:

  1. Zaragoza looks amazing. And fancy bumping into some you knew!!!