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They will tell you, traveller, that these cities are to be visited on foot. lt is true. They are population centres constructed on a human scale and their mysteries and whims may only be discovered step by step. Stop to look for the lucky frog of Salamanca ; to interpret the meaning of Pedro Dávila's legends of Ávila at the threshold of his doorway; to figure out the "comuneros" pierced coat of arms in Segovia; to obtain the garnets from Toledo's granite walls; to interpret the symbolism of the monkey, the negro and the chains in one of Cáceres palaces; learn from the caliphs in Córdoba; to reinvent the legend of Compostela's Atlas, and at the end of the tour you will be, dear traveller, a little wiser and, if I may say so, certainly a little humbler.
Walking around these cities you will be faced with stone's constructive power. Solidity and uniforimity. However, these stones of this grand world heritage also possess tbeir own distinct voices, their own legends, winks and truths. Ávila's sandstone is unique: its discolouring with iron oxide has given rise to conscientious imitators, but only its Cathedral's apse aisle may be shown to the World as something mottled by nature. Compostela's granite, grey and hard, is gold beneath the afternoon sun and smiles and mocks the traveller as nowhere else in the universe, transmuted into gargoyles, capital, coats of arms, saints, angels, patriarchs... Segovia's granite multiplies itself into peaks, produces obscene corbles or hides itself underneath whimsy and patient paint colourings. Córdoba's filigranes show all the greatness of the sensitiveness. Toledo's granite becomes the brother of Mozarabic and Mudejar bricks in ordet to conserve Roman or Visigothic capitals and pilasters. Cáceres' rubblework. and adobe walls become golden and the poets claim that the conserve the rnemory of time, which may well be true. Something definitely true is that Salamanca 's stonemasons were silversmiths and carved its sandstones as if working on jewels. Nevertheless it is in Cuenca the place where rocks become art to the point the traveller does not know when nature become a monument.



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