We are touring Spain, taking in the cities of Burgos, Valladolid, Salamanca, Caceres. The staff in the tourist offices furnish you with maps and guides and explain the virtues of their towns and cities with great enthusiasm and pride.
The old centres draw us in every time. The Plaza Major is a good place to head for, just as it would have been down the ages for shopping, a drink with friends, commerce of every kind. The main square is usually dominated by a grand cathedral that towers above everything, reminding the populace of their obligations to a higher order.
When David Richards visited the world-famous cathedral in Burgos. This was his reaction.
The hand-held guide, fortunately in English, provided a detailed commentary, but before long, David found himself skipping bits and standing still in the coolness, trying to understand the opulence and grandeur of the place. It was hard to equate the magnificence with the cost of creating such an edifice, and this in an age when labour was cheap and the poor would, almost certainly, be close to starving. In one of many fabulously decorated chapels, he paused by the tomb of a couple, their deathly faces immortalised in marble, exquisite workmanship creating the folds and creases of their robes. A sword rested in the man’s hand, but David was taken with a small dog curled up at the woman’s feet. Who were they? The inscription was in Latin and the spoken commentary didn’t say. How wealthy must they have been to merit a final resting place in this cathedral?
The decadence was unnerving, and as he left, he realised he much preferred some of the simpler village churches he had visited.
Publication date: Spring 2020
‘Walk to reflect, find answers, know peace. Some days – just walk.’