A Travellerspoint blog

The Country of Parties and the City of Astrology

Sorry it’s been a while since I’ve last posted something. I wanted to wait till I had a chance to visit another city before writing another entry… I need pictures to show off, right?
So Spain is rather infamous for its partying spirit and active nightlife. It seems like every weekend there is something special going on in one city or another. Summer in particular is the time when most ‘pueblos’ (towns) throw fiestas for a few days a time. Most of the smaller pueblos have events with the bulls where they may have a running of the bulls (sometimes with torches on their horns) or another of the numerous (and sometimes gruesome) bull events that exist. After the Noche en Blanca thrown in Madrid, a nearby city called Guadalajara (yes, there is one also in Mexico) hosted probably the last fiesta of the summer. In this festival they have a bull with torches run through a track that passes through the city. I was surprised to find that instead of having the bull run at night, they have a man with lights attached to his back run the track instead. Unfortunately we missed the actual spectacle of an illuminated man coursing through the streets of the city.

El Escorial is another of the nearby towns that my program has excursions to, like Segovia was. El Escorial was built by the king Felipe II who had it constructed under the pretense of commemorating a certain war, but in actuality was attempting to build a pantheon in which to place the body his dying father. The actual building was constructed in only 20 years, though the planning took many years and 2 architects. The second architect, and primary designer, was a man of math, science, and astrology/astronomy (they were not separate back then) who decided to use these in the construction of El Escorial. The building itself is in the form of a cube (because it is the ‘perfect’ shape) and is symmetrical. Half is a cathedral; the other half is a school and library. The pantheon itself is under the cathedral (it must be joined by a cathedral so the kings can be prayed for) and in the shape of a circle to represent the eternity of the afterlife in Heaven. Unfortunately no pictures are allowed within the building (excluding the courtyards in the entrances), so I have no pictures to show the interior, but let me assure that it is quite impressive.

Sorry the entry is a bit big, hopefully you’ve read it in parts and not all in one go!

All the people of Madrid were out in the streets on the night of Noche en Blanca, you can’t really see it, but the crowd extends all the way to that lit up building and further. (I know I talked a little bit about it in the last entry, but here are photos)
The city did a bunch of quirky things, including placing giant inflatable ducks in the fountains of the city (same fountain as one of my earlier posts).
Fiesta in Guadalajara if the sign didn’t give it away.
There were a bunch of different rides and food stands all over. I decided to ride the Ferris wheel for a mere 3 euros (that’s like 5 dollars).
For you food junkies that liked my pictures of the ponche, here is a picture of the ever so famous ‘chocolate con churros’. This is the famous Sans Gines chocolateria, which is actually very close to my house. This is a typical treat for breakfast in Spain (like doughnuts for breakfast). You pretty much get a cup of chocolate (which is not sweet) and dip pieces of churros in. It’s not absolutely delicious in my opinion, but a definite must at least once.
A statue and some random lady posing in El Escorial.
A quick snap shot inside the actual Escorial building.
El Escorial is located in the Sierras (some short mountains outside Madrid).
The main entrance to the library side of El Escorial.
An intimidating picture of the same entrance, a little daunting from this angle.
Just inside that gate is the ‘Plaza of Kings’.
There are the kings. I don’t remember clearly but I think they are kings from the Bible styled after the actual kings…
A bell tower.
A nice view from the exterior.
Because one picture didn’t do the scene justice.

Posted by KaiDoo 07:10 Archived in Spain

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