27 July 2009

Sketches of Spain II

Spain is much more obviously catholic than France. Cathedrals have much more elaborate side chapels, more images, more saints, more ornate generally. Peter went rather protestant, muttering about graven images and asking "How many virgins are there?" as we looked at our lady of this, that and the other. In Toledo we encountered a full religious procession, crowd all frocked up towing a cart holding Our Lady of the Stars, a statue with much gold, white frock and fancy ornamentation. We came upon them doing a 3-point turn to get the cart down the narrow alleyway leading back to its home in a large church. Accompanying them was a brass band which looked more like the local police band or even the salvos than a church band. Their choice of tunes was also more like something from a musical than a mass. They weren't bad, but they got a bit out of time as they went round a corner which coincidentally bore a sign saying "Ancient Instruments of Torture". We wondered, unkindly, if they were modern instruments of torture.

Peter's second anti-religious attack occured in Cordoba. This time he threatened to convert to Islam, because he found the mosque stunning, but was distinctly unimpressed by the work of the 15th century catholics who plonked a gothic cathedral in the middle. What really annoyed him was the implication in the free guide that the catholics were merely reclaiming what had originally been a Christian site. Visigoths did indeed build a church there, but according to our guide book, the muslims bought the site from the christians during the Moorish occupation of Spain.