Monday, July 9, 2007

Castles - Road Trip Spain!

The first week of July we rented a car and traveled 1711 kilometers (about 1064 miles) through northern Spain. We started in Madrid and ended in Bilbao. It was nice to have the freedom of a car and not be at the mercy of train and bus schedules. We made good use of the car to get off the beaten path and see some beautiful countryside and castles. We visited about a dozen castles. Some of them I had visited before and others were completely new to me. Two of my favorite castles in Spain (Gormaz and Olite) were part of the castle tour. Olite Castle is in Narrava and was the home to the Narravan Kings in the 14th century. It under went a major "restoration" in the 20's and 30's. Although the restoration was far from subtle it is a beautiful fairytale castle with towers, turrets, gates, chambers, cloisters, courtyards and balconies... oh yeah and it has spiral staircases! They offer a guided tour of the castle, but it is far more enjoyable to just explore the castle. My most favorite castle in northern Spain is the Castillo de Gormaz (see pictures below). I first visited the Castillo de Gormaz when I was studying La Rioja, Spain. At the time I was studying Spanish Medieval Literature and had just read Cantar de mio Cid. Many of you know the El Cid was a Spanish nobleman who fought against the Moorish forces about 1,000 years ago. He was "given" the Castillo de Gormaz as a reward for his valor and services to King and country. The castle has seen a lot of improvements over the centuries, but today
only the walls, gates and the shell of the keep remain. However, I really love this place. It covers the top of a large long hill and has simple awesome views. The best thing about the Castle of Gormaz is the solitude... There are no guides or guards. There are no massive tour groups. There are no lines. Just you and the Castle of Gormaz in all its beauty and solitude. There is something enchanting about Gormaz... it definately rates as one of my most favorite places on earth!

Coca Castle


Castillo de Osma

Castillo de Gormaz

Javier Castle

Castle Trip

1 comment:

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