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Rainbow Gathering 2011: Salamanca

Before heading home, we stopped for the night in Salamanca. Salamanca contains Spain's oldest university, founded in 1218. The city itself is considerably older. The first record of the city is from 300BC, when Hannibal's troops invaded Helmantica, the Celtic city which became Salamanca. No one knows how long it was here before that. The city was a fortress, guarding the farmlands along the Duero river.

Salamanca skyline

The two buildings you can see here are the old and new cathedrals (right) and the Pontifical University (left). It was built when Theology was no longer offered as a course at the University of Salamanca, in 1854. The oldest structure in the city is the Roman bridge, in the foreground of this picture, dating to the 1st century AD.

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Celtic bull

This sculpture has that *old* look to it. Other sculptures of its type tell is that it was a verraco, a Celtic animal sculpture, usually a bull or boar, placed in high-visibility areas throughout the lands of the Vettones, the Celtic nation that inhabited much of Spain before the arrival of the Romans. A description of this sculpture from the 16th century, when it was in a bit better condition, describes it as a bull. (And yes, that's the moon where its head should be.)

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Love It! P.S. thanks 4 the pic, im doing a poster and i couldn't find a THING

  
music book

The museum inside the new cathedral has some old stuff too. This is a music book from 1567. I don't know enough about reading music to know if the notation is any different from the modern.

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permission to build the Old Cathedral

This document is dated 1183. When I saw the sign I thought it must be an item number rather than a year. I have not lived anywhere where a piece of paper could possibly survive 900 years - if it didn't mold it would rot, if it didn't rot it would get bookworms. But this is exactly that: the document giving permission to build the Old Cathedral, from 1183.

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Eric at the cathedral

The new cathedral from one of the walkways on its lower roof. Note Eric, way down in the bottom right of the photo.

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view from cathedral roof

Looking to the south of Salamanca from the roof of the cathedral.

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pigeonhole

Pigeonhole view.

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new cathedral

Inside the new cathedral.

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over the window

Grape leaves and beastiary bordering a window. A couple of these creatures look like different breeds of canines.

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3 dragons

This three-headed dragon is unusual - most of the creatures actually existed.

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keystone falling

The church is in need of some repair.

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stairs

The usual spiral staircase shot, with a twist: the stairs had become dished in the middle by thousands of footfalls, so they were repaired with these big metal plates.

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grotesques

Weather-worn grotesques.

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organ

Pipe organ. No one does impressive quite like the catholics, and no one in Europe does impressive like the southern Europeans. Combine the two and you get an amazing largess of grandeur.

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front doors

Front doors of the new cathedral. No, that's not a ray of light at the steeple, this is three photos pasted together.

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side door

Eric by one of the side doors.

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Roman wall

A wall which (we think) was part of the Roman wall. The map indicated the Roman wall was somewhere in this area, and this wall seemed like the most likely candidate.

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olives

These are definitely olives, though.

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stork nests

A lot of churches had a couple of nests above the bells. If you look carefully, you can see that there are metal baskets supporting the nests, presumably to encourage storks to nest there. Storks are believed to bring luck throughout most of Europe. The ancient Greeks believed that storks had human souls and would not die, but rather become humans living on far-off islands when they grew old. The nest baskets may be to attract the luck of storks, or for conservation (although storks are no longer considered endangered in much of Europe) or may be simple pragmatism: storks will often disrupt power lines when building their nests, so it's better to give them an out-of-the-way place to do so.

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Salamanca library

One of the neat things about Salamanca was how *much* of the city was very old. This building is from about 1500, with a sea shell motif characteristic of the knight's order of Santiago. Now it serves as the public library.

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Salamanca street

Most of the downtown consists of equally old buildings, most of which are in use for something.

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old cathedral with repeater

By far the coolest stop in Salamanca was the old cathedral. Pay no attention to the repeater. Old churches (notably Notre Dame) are often decorated with gargoyles and grotesques. I have heard various explanations for them: they are to scare away evil spirits, they are to scare the parishioners into behaving, they are to reassure the parishioners that all the evil in the world is kept outside. I expect the purpose varied with the time and place, but tied by the simple fact that they're awfully cool.

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grotesques

Every corner was occupied by grotesques. Some were of higher artistic quality than others, all were lovely in their particular, peculiar ways.

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grotesque

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grotesques

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grotesques

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don't worry, be harpy

For an instant the icy wings hung silent in the air, like clouds, and the harpy's old yellow eyes sank into the unicorn's heart and drew her close. I will kill you if you set me free the eyes said. Set me free.

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grotesques

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new cathedral beasts

Back through the new cathedral. The beasts here look quite tame by comparison.

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