Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Churches, Castles & Palaces

We spent our days in the Madrid area visiting mostly castles and palaces. There are a few common day trips from that area so we took them. We hit Segovia, Toledo, and El Escorial/Valle de los Caídos. What these areas had in common were churches, castles and palaces, of which I think we have all seen enough. While they are beautiful and the history is interesting, it all starts to run together a bit.

Of the most interesting sites I would say the aqueducts in Segovia, the Jewish area/history and artesania of Toledo, and the views from Valle de los Caídos (VC). Toledo is known for it's swords. While we didn't get one to bring home, however we did get a tour of the oldest true artisan shop for sword making. Most now are made industrially and all look the same. In this small shop tucked away in the corner, the swords are made by hand in a very traditional way. The owner, a descendent from the original owner is short a few fingers from his years of sword making but clearly loves what he does and knows the details in a way that most industrial sword makers probably don't. We were also lucky enough to catch a day when we could view the making of traditional style pendents with there golden designs made into a specially smooth hand cut stone.

We walked a ton in all of the places we visited.

For those of you who are unfamilair, VC is where Franco is buried. I was very tempted to spit on his grave but there was a guard there watching what everyone did and strict silence was to be respected. Also buried there are many who died during the Spanish Civil War. What I didn't realize is what has been characterized as "typically Spain" was also a result of what Franco wanted to show the world so he latched on to the idea of Flamenco dancing from the south and bull fighting and those became the symbols of the country. That's what most people tend to hear about and know. I find this middle area of the country to be extremely different from the northern areas where we tend to spend our time, and frankly, I prefer the north.

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