Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Jewish Guilt


The Valley of the Fallen is a memorial to those killed during the Spanish Civil War.  Many find it to be eerie and distressing, as some feel that it is Franco's shrine of victory, as opposed to a memorial to those lost on both sides of the conflict, in fact more than 11,000 are buried on its grounds.  Franco is also entombed within the basilica...which is a sore spot for many.  It is an architectural feat as well, as it is carved into the rock at the base of the mountain.  Walking in you are flanked by giant angels on both sides, which I found to be artistically spectacular.  As photos are not allowed inside, I am referring you to photos from the web.  Unfortunately there are not many interior shots there, either.


For a more in depth discussion, please visit:


We then visited St. Thomas Church in Toledo, where, remarkably, the only part of the church that we visited was the corridor which housed one of El Greco's masterpieces, "The Burial of the Count of Orgaz", which was breathtaking in its richness and almost sparkling depth of color.

photo courtesy of Wikipedia:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Burial_of_the_Count_of_Orgaz

The next day took us to the Great Mosque/Cathedral of Cordoba, which was a surreal hybrid of a mosque/church.


The mosque was built during the tenth century, when Cordoba was in its glory as the capital of the Moorish kingdom of El-Andalus, one of the wealthiest and most powerful cities in Europe.  In AD 1236 the city was conquered by King Ferdinand, who had the mosque consecrated and constructed a cathedral in the middle of it. 

While the Moors partook of cleanliness and brought running water and soap to Spain, the Spaniards were still dumping chamber pots out of the windows.  They believed that filth kept the evil spirits away...so they rarely bathed.  You would think they'd be kissing the the Moors' sweet-smelling feet...but, no.

We visited Jewish ghettos in practically every city that we visited in both Spain and Portugal,
a bit of an odd feeling as they drove the Jews out in the 15th century.

We also visited an old Jewish Synagogue, now a national monument, but at one time served as (what else!)...a Catholic Church.




In Portugal, we visited, perhaps the most interesting church of all.  As Portugal is a relatively poor country, the church was (refreshingly!) in a sad state of disrepair.


Books of interest:  The Last Jew by Noah Gordon

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