Sunday, April 28, 2013

Salamanca's Museum of Art Nouveau and Art Deco

We nearly blew this off. What could they possibly have way out here in the sticks? Were we wrong! The collection is impressive, the building rivals anything else of the art nouveau genre. We wanted to stay late to see it all lit up from within, but the bus service was limited because of the holiday.
This is the back door!

It's all in the old Casa de Lis; except for the cafe, there is a no fotos policy; this
is inside the cafe; we were in the building quite a while, viewing the collection,
before we realized that every exterior window, even some interior, and every
skylight, was stained-glass; what a visual treat!


Lamp in cafe

Cafe door

Tile painting in a stairwell

Arcade overlooking the city and countryside

Central two-story glassed-in atrium...

In the doll collection, two items I couldn't resist: a doll with
removable heads

And some Janus-faced (happy/sad) swivel head dolls

The gift shop was pretty good too

Front of Casa de Lis, from the street below; imagine it at night, all lit up from
within... [see later posts from Salamanca,


We skipped Salamanca in 2010--the winter weather was closing in--and our visit this year was attentuated. It was Castillla y Leon Day and, again, the buses were operating on a severely reduced schedule. (We stayed at Camping Don Quijote). But we saw the main bits, the Plaza Mayor, the cathedral, and the university area. Plus, next post, Salamanca's extraordinary Museo Art Nouveau y Art Deco.
In Salamanca, you actually get two cathedrals, the old and
the new; this is the new, which was built originally to keep
the old one from falling down

Choir of the new cathedral; turns out the old cathedral was
 closed since it was C y L Day

Nave ceiling from choir; very different
vaulting; well, ornamentation...

Crossing, rotunda, way up there

Outside, starboard side, where the two cathedrals meet

We gave the cathedral(s) short shrift so as to get here well
before its 2PM closing: the Museum of Art Nouveau and
Art Deco (next post)

Salamanca's Roman bridge; long, but no truck traffic

And now we are in the university district (it's all one piece
really); a dorm

In the U's main quad; in the olden days, successful doctoral
candidates' names were painted on the buildings in the blood
of a bull "sacrificed" on the occasion; as a graduate student
I often thought it would be my own blood...enlarge to read
some of the names

Entrance to Old Main; among the many
reliefs, in addition to Ferdinand and Isabel,
there is one of a frog; if you can find the
frog on your first try, success will be yours
at the University; I couldn't and so am
consigned to a continuing lifetime of
nightmares about graduate school...

Casa de las Conchas, a Salamanca landmark

Salamanca abbey church, whose monks apparently helped
convince F y I to fund Columbus' voyage; or maybe not

Tower on old city wall; just about all of
Salamanca is built of this beautiful light
sandstone, much of it beautifully carved;
apparently there is little rain or erosion;
the bull's blood signatures have become
the town's official font and graphic design
and are quite attractive and distinctive

Salamanca's real pride, justifiably, is its Plaza Mayor; every
city in Spain has one of these; most are boring or seedy;
this one is beautiful and lively, with real people; another
city living room; we spent a couple pleasant hours there,
just watching from a cafe (we'd missed the bus)

Roman Bridge At Alcantara

We got this far off the beaten path--within meters of Portugal--because of my long-standing desire to see the great Roman bridge at Alcantara. It is not the greatest of Roman engineering feats, not even of those still functioning. It is a stone arch bridge, 600 feet long, 230 feet above the gorge of the Tegas river, wide enough for tractor-trailers to pass each other. And they do, since it is still rated with a capacity of 50-some tons. What is significant about the bridge at Alcantara, ordered by Trajan in 98AD, is the inscription by its architect, Caius Julius Lacer: Pontem perpetui mansurum in saecula, "I have built a bridge that will last forever." That speaks volumes to us dilettante classicists, especially those with 4 years of high school Latin. It is also a great statement of Roman engineering and architecture, and attitude.
The terrain around Alcantara, for miles and miles, was some of the most unusual
we have seen: rolling green hills, but strewn with humongous boulders and rock
out-croppings, polished, often suggesting the passage of a glacier or ice-field

The bridge at Alcantara

Wider view

From the other shore; note the dam in the background; it's a pretty big one,
perhaps a mile up-river; I hope it lasts forever too...

Roman temple and road in the background

Me driving across the bridge (Vicki would not set foot on it)

Marcus presents: the Roman bridge at Alcantara, its triumphal arch and inscriptions

Here, many miles in another direction, more of same boulder-strewn terrain


Well into the Extremadura now, we stopped at Caceres for some provisioning at the Carrefours and for some skyping at the McDs. A little research suggested Caceres was well worth a longer stop. The free camper-stop was full, but we parked in an over-flow area and moved to the regular area the next day. The next night the camper-stop had 34 vehicles parked, legally, less legally, and otherwise. But the police are usually very tolerant at this time of the year. Caceres has the usual Spanish pedigree: paleolithic settlement, cave paintings, "founding" by the Romans in 25BC, Visigoths, Moors, Reconquista, etc. It is yet another World Heritage Site, largely in view of its well-preserved walled town, often a movie set, which shows little external evidence of development past the 16th century. We did an evening stroll, sticking our heads into churches, artists' coops, restaurants, palazzos, etc., finally ending up at the plaza, where most of the populace appeared to be on this Saturday evening.
A bit of the camper-stop at Caceres; the legal bit

Many great old buildings in the old town,
Moorish and Renaissance especially

Inside one of the churches

One of many towers about town

In the artists' coop

Another church

Interior services

Another Renaissance building and tower

Nearby, a convent

Interesting ceramics on the roof

Street scene

Wall and tower, valley and mountains

So eventually we found our way to the plaza, where
everyone else was; a dragon has just landed

One of Spain's many less-heralded plazas, the town's living
room, nonetheless

Somewhere in my reading of or about Cervantes, I had come
across migas, a beggar's dish of bread crumbs cooked in oil
and maybe flavored with garlic or whatever else was about
to be thrown away; we had seen it on several restaurant
menus, and when we got to the plaza, I had to try it; alas,
this is not the beggar's version; but the jamon and huevos
were good; and my curiosity regarding migas is now

Strolling back to the camper-stop