Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Toledo, Sharpe's rifles and Roman Spain

Hello again
We've just come back from a week away on a little round trip.

First up we had 3 lovely days in the wonderful fortified city of Toledo, with a side trip to the palace of Arranjuez, and this time we went to the beautiful Casa del Labrador. You have to get an appointment to go round this marvellous, very user-friendly hunting lodge or 'country getaway for the Royals'. We were the only ones there on this occasion and we were shown round by a very enthusiastic custodian

On our way from Toledo to Merida we stopped by the city of Talavera to see some of their very distinctive blue and yellow ceramics.
While I was waiting with no place to park while Lari slipped away to see a great pottery store I looked around at the enormously thick city walls.I noticed the signs of an old building which abutted the castle walls.  I could see the lines where some stairs used to go up, and the jagged ends of some wooden rafters jutting out, with a few old disfigured tiles on the wall, and it didn't take much of a stretch of the imagination to see Sharpe and his riflemen, and their real-life equivalent storming this massively important stronghold back in the Pensinsula War around 1812. Unfortunately I didn't have the camera to hand.

On the same theme, as we drove across the undulating plains of the Extramadura we wondered how it was possible to march across the great country with cannons, carts, and all the paraphenalia of war in the searing heat, as well as having the odd battle or two. I don't think they imagined that, one day, it would be a lot quicker on the motorways!

 Arriving in Merida, the Roman capital of Iberia BC and in the first millenium, the modern town itself was not very imposing, but the Roman remains were astonishing, with a large amphitheatre and by its side a theatre with seating for 5 thousand. All over there are still many remains of the Roman city, to be found dotted around the town, together with a wonderful museum, where, amongst many of the fine displays, there were several almost perfectly preserved samples of mosaic flooring, some measuring about 20 feet by 60 feet. Statues, baths, and a large forum, as well as aqueducts and the general layout showed the skills of Roman engineers, using concrete and stone on buildings that were meant to last. Quite different times.
Off to Sevilla, so that's coming next.

Hasta pronto

Lari and Mike



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