Tag Archives: Old City

A Day in Cáceres 

May 2 – The city of Cáceres was officially founded by the Romans in about 25 BCE, although it has been inhabited since prehistoric times.  It was overtaken by the Muslims in the ninth century, and they built a wall around the city.  This did not stop the Christians from taking it back several hundred years later.  Part of the wall remains:

There are stretches of Old City that show no evidence of modernization, making this a popular place to film movies about medieval times, and episodes of Game of Thrones.

Arc de Estrella

We checked out the Concatedral de Santa Maria, where the service in progress continued regardless of the tourists gawking about. It has a very impressive carved wooden altarpiece, but is pretty small as cathedrals go.

Santiago, patron saint of Spain, is here with his walking stick and water gourd:

Outside the Catedral is the statue of a local Saint, San Pedro de Alcantara.  You touch his feet for a blessing.  Look how shiny his toes are:

The Templo San Francisco Javier has been deconsecrated and turned into a museum.  For one euro, you can explore from the tip of the highest tower to the cistern several stories down.

Views from the bell tower:

Exhibit of Nativity statues from all over the world:

Semana Santa exhibit:

Cistern below the church:

The Iglesia Santiago was closed, but signs of Saint James were in evidence outside. His carving above the door:

His shells:

His lucky storks nesting above:

And the Camino passing by the door:

The Iglesia San Juan had some lovely Madonnas:

We looked at old things in the Museo:

The art exhibit had a not-quite-Picasso:

…and a not-really-Van Gogh:

The Museo Arabe displayed collected Muslim artifacts from around the world:

Care for a game of Moors vs. Crusaders?

A lovely day!

Valdesalor to Cáceres

May 1 – Happy May Day, Labour Day, or International Workers Day to you!  Whatever you call it, it means everything in this country is closed today to commemorate this holiday.  No coffee for us in town this morning.  Luckily, Jim saw the lights go on at the Repsol gas station as we walked along the road at 7am.  We jogged across the highway and got some cafe con leches out of a machine to fortify us after our night in the alburgue.

Lived through last night with the snorers, the farters and the moaner.  I’ll say no more about that.  Pretty sunrise pictures today.

Eight miles will get us to the city of Cáceres, where we will take a rest day and see the Old City.  It is really cold this morning, making me wish I had gloves and long johns.  Walking usually heats me up pretty quickly, but not today.  I smell funky from sleeping in my clothes.  Can’t wait to get to our room for a nice hot shower!

Cáceres is full of tourists for the holiday.  The Camino takes us from the industrial edge of the city into the Old City.

When Jim was trying to book us a room in Cáceres, we didn’t know about the holiday, and couldn’t understand why all the hotels were full.  We ended up at the Hotel Iberia Plaza Mayor, which is right on the main plaza in the heart of the old city. What luck! It’s a beautiful old hotel, full of antiques, and kitschy odds and ends.

Wonderful shower, wonderful wifi, wonderful window that opens onto a balcony to facilitate hanging up our freshly laundered clothes.  Wonderful doner platter midday meal.  Wonderful afternoon siesta.  Tomorrow we explore the city.

436 miles to go.

Jerusalem – the Old City

1/28 – In the morning, we walked through the Jaffa Gate into the Christian Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem. image

I read a book about how crowded the Old City was, and was prepared for a crush of humanity. No crush – we strolled right in. image

What was the first thing we saw? A Christmas tree and Christmas streetlights! This is a holiday that just won’t quit.image

We are soon at the Church of the Holy Sepluchre, built over a temple to Aphrodite on the site where Jesus is believed to have been crucified. (Thanks again to the Emperor Constantine and his mom, St. Helena.) The church is a mix of Greek Orthodox, Russian Orthodox, Roman Catholic and Armenian elements. The final stations of the cross of the Via Dolorosa are in this church. (The Via Dolorosa starts in the Islamic Quarter, and is a stone paved narrow street like all the others. Don’t know what I was expecting – a dirt road? A hill? Something outside the center of the city, I guess.) Outside is a chapel that marks where Jesus was stripped of his clothes.image

Just through the door is the Stone of Unction or Anointing, where Jesus’ body was laid when he was taken down from the cross.image

Here was the place of crucifixion.image

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We queued up to enter the tomb, a very dark, small space filled with gold, where you had to bend or kneel to enter. Only five people were allowed in at a time, and there was a priest standing outside keeping the line moving. image

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There is the stone at the place of crucifixion, and another stone in a glass case. Could one of them be the stone that was rolled away from the tomb? I wish there was more signage.imageimage

Here are some other images from the church. The walls are marked with small crosses by the pilgrims who traveled here.

I have to say that this church had lots of gold and glitter, but it did not feel like a holy place to me. Sometimes, all the tourists jostling with their Selfie Sticks just make me sad, although I am no better, trying to capture images for this blog. It was hard to imagine what these objects had to do with the Crucifixion. We actually left the church, bought a book (from a Muslim shopkeeper) to explain what we were seeing, then went back in and walked through again. There was no place to sit and contemplate, which I guess I missed.

We walked from the Christian quarter to the Jewish Quarter, to visit the Western Wall of the Temple Mount. We had to go through a metal detector and security check to enter. The sign said that God’s presence is always here. image

The area has separate entrances for men and women. There were a lot more women praying today.

A sign asked that heads be covered appropriately. I tied on my trusty headscarf, then realized the sign was for the men! A box of paper kippas was provided so the men could cover their heads. The women were bare-headed, reading from little books and rocking in prayer. Here you could sit or stand or touch the wall as the spirit moved you.

From where we stood at the Wall, we could see the Dome of the Rock in the Islamic Quarter. Unfortunately, the police were allowing Muslims only into the Islamic Quarter, as it was a time of prayer. image

In the Armenian Church in the Armenian Quarter, we saw another station of the cross where Jesus met his mother. Look at the imprint of sandals on the mosaic floor that mark the spot.image

We left the Old City through the Damascus Gate, and walked across town to see the Garden Tomb. image

The Garden Tomb is a site run by Evangelical Anglicans, that offers a different theory on where Jesus was crucified and buried. The land is thought to be the garden owned by Joseph of Arimathea. It sits within sight of the Hill of the Skull, thought to be Golgatha. The message was emphasized that it matters not where Jesus died, but WHY. There was a tomb carved from a cave, and a wine press. It felt more like a holy place to me. A peaceful, contemplative experience. I’m very glad we visited here.

On our way home, we saw a sign for an Ethiopian Church, so we removed our shoes and peeked in.image

A long day with many images to ponder.