Saturday, December 28, 2013

San Marcos Convent, Leon

Of all the hotels on our itinerary, I looked forward to spending a night in the San Marcos Convent, otherwise know as the Parador de León. The exterior view of the hotel has a remarkable plateresque design and sets the imagination alight with its past intense history throughout the centuries. It began as a temple hospital in the 12th century  for pilgrims  making their journey to Santiago de Compostela. Unfortunately, it fell into ruin in the following three centuries, but with the generous donations from King Ferdinad in 1514, part of the building was demolished and reconstructed. Years afterward a church was built adjacent to the Convent and afforded the St. James friars to continue with their monastic life. Unfortunately their spiritual life ended in 1837 with government appropriation of church property and holdings. 

Lamentably, San Marcos came to be used as a:
  • Prison
  • Secondary school
  • Missionary home and correctional facility for ecclesiastics
  • Veterinary school
  • Hospital for prisoners
  • Military Headquarters
  • Military prison
  • Concentration camp
  • Calvary stables
  • Dioceses
  • Ministry of War and Ministry of Education

Castles and Monasteries are now state-run hotels meant to preserve the architectural wonders of Spain. Normally these hotels provide 3 to 5 star service, so choosing the number of stars depends on personal financial resources. This Parador has great accommodations and guests may revel in the intriguing history of the hotel. I highly recommend spending a couple of nights here to take advantage of the quaint city of León, and the grandiose experience of the San Marcos Convent. Plus you can NOT leave León without tasting their morcilla, which I believe is better than morcilla from Burgos.


I love these old type of keys.


Renaissance rocking chairs.

Inside the cloister.

Second floor of the Cloister.

Virtue of Faith with bandaged eyes and holding the cross.

Former confession booth.

Vaulted ceiling with medallions of St. James.

Choir section of the church adjacent to the hotel.

The church: like all present church marvels, there is a fee incurred if you want to visit the interior.

River Bernesga right next to the San Marcos Hotel.

Presently, there is construction to restructure the dam.

I hope you enjoyed the pictures of San Marcos Convent. I give it 4 stars!
Fins Ara!

Friday, December 20, 2013

People of Galicia

I enjoy street photography when I am out with my camera. One of my goals for 2014 is to take more shots of people with the assertiveness of a photographer on the prowl for good shots. I took some photographs of people during my summer trip to Galicia, and admit I still lack the assertiveness to point my camera without cringing when they notice me taking their picture.

I have to be careful how obvious I am  when I point my camera lens at people. Obviously many people do not like to have their picture taken without permission, especially if they are elderly people--at least the forty plus generations. This really does not apply to younger people born into the Facebook era of non-privacy.

My scout signal is always on for people with a unique appearance, a tense facial expression, or a combination of both. I have to be quick before the person realizes they are the focal point of my shot. Sometimes I miss the 'perfect' shot because a show shutter speed or more often than not because of my  indecisiveness in taking a person's photo without permission. But that is part this artistic endeavor I need to get over.


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela

It is no easy task to begin explaining the history of a cathedral with almost 1,000 years of history. Santiago de Compostel's history begins with Christianity introduced to the Celts by St. James and its later destruction  by Al-Mansur Ibn Abi Aamir  in 997 and a rebuilding of the cathedral in the 11th century. One should also know that the remains of St. James  were  returned to Galicia after he was beheaded in Jeruselem by King Herod Agrippa. But friends, you can search the web for more history on the cathedral and St. James the Great.

Visiting Galicia was a dream come true for me, since I had always read about pilgrims beginning the walk in the French Pyrenees by foot. What an incredible journey of  faith to walk roughly 1,000 miles with blistered feet, a test of faith, and courage to bear hot and cold weather. I did it the easy way and drove to Santiago de Compostela by a defunct Renault Clio and a five hour bus journey from Oporto, Portugal. But that is another story. For this noia, walking hurndreds of miles is not on her bucket list. 

So enjoy the exterior and interior photos of The St. James Cathedral in Galicia.


Obradoiro façade

Top of Obraidoiro façade.

Plaza de la Quinta façade.

Love that staff.

The front façade is in decay and needs restoration.

We had perfect weather, such blue skies!

The apostle St. James.

The famous urns.

I really like pulpits. It must be a power rush to preach to people.

Strange symbols on several columns.

The green button that lets you enter into St. James' crypt.

The ubiquitous scalloped shell all pilgrims wear.