Spain 13 - Teruel - a corpse, some romance and Mudejar architecture

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May 13th 2014
Published: May 13th 2014
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I have to say that Peniscola ended up quite a joy in the end. We spent our last evening doing a passiagiata along the seafront waiting for the sun to set on the castle and the sea and the lights of Peniscola to come on. The Spanish and the French though just don’t cut the mustard when it comes to passiagiatas. The Italians have that one sewn up They seem to manage it with some panache. We sat for a while watching the world go by. Young and old men sat on the beach with their fishing rods talking and whiling away the evening. It felt like the Spanish equivalent of the man shed where they met every evening to discuss the matters of the day.

We spent a peaceful night with little or no noise until 5 am when all hell let loose. Perhaps it was a wedding party winding down or a night club closing. It sounded like the end of the world with so much noise and drunken revelling. Bins being kicked about with gusto and raised drunken voices. Next morning all the cars on the main road were resplendently decked with roses which had been plucked from the campsite gardens.

We said our goodbyes to our lovely French neighbours. They possessed no English and us no French but they offered us their matting to keep the stones out, their brush to wipe of the berries from the awning and we admired their 125 motorbike.

Having paid up our 33 euros for two nights camping we set off for our ride to the city of Teruel. To our left the high rise hotels, the sea and flats. To our right barren hillsides, a single track railway which we snaked over and under and alongside for miles. Dry stone walling reminiscent of Derbyshires Peak District. Mimosa grew wild at the side of the road.. Coloured lemon yellow right through to the richer colours of buttercups. They looked a pretty sight. When they go over the lavender will take over. Hints of mauve just beginning to break though. The rock colour changing all the time from grey to pink, from the colour of mustard to ochre. If I were an artist I probably would be able to describe every colour soil or rock I see. But I am not so I struggle with the changes of the colours and feel that I do them no justice when I try to describe them. Cinnamon perhaps today as I imagine the cooking seasonings in the kitchen cupboard.

Arriving in Teruel we found the car park near the Guardia Civil which we had already located using Google Earth. A new building in the Mudejar style of mellow brickwork and green high gloss tiles. There was another car park closer but as we had parked up already we couldn’t be bothered to move. We did worry a little about Suzy as she was very much on her own on the car park. The Mercado supermarket was well and truly closed . Sunday is still special in Spain, a family and religious day which has partly been lost over the rest of Europe. The walk to the historic centre of Teruel was about a mile or so and was through the new part of the city which was quite unappealing. Police were all about . Should we be re-assured by their presence or worried?

Our first stop was coffee so that we could find a table to lay our street map out and orientate ourselves. We wanted to see the tombs of the Lovers of Teruel a story that sounded in parts like a Shakespeare tragedy. Shades of Romeo and Juliet. Teruel is supposed to be romance heaven. A haven for newly weds looking for a romantic break, a place for engagement parties. For me it couldn’t hold a candle to Venice on the romantic front.

The main street was narrow with tall houses lining the sides. The ground floors given up to shops. A pillar and fountain was topped with the Little Bull the symbol of the area. He was called the Little Torico and is a much loved symbol in the area of Aragon we were currently in.

We headed for the museum which held the tombs of the Lovers of Teruel . The story goes – or at least my version. He Diego de Marcilla fancied Isabel de Segura. As always money and rank came into it and he was not quite the catch perhaps her family wanted for her. Wanting to prove himself he took himself off to fight, pillage and make a fortune. He promised he would be back in five years with loads of money and would marry his love of his life. Well they all say that dont they? She waited ………………..and waited…………..He didn’t come back. She heard he had died in battle and did what all young ladies do . She found another and married him. During the marriage service Diego popped home and found his love in the act of marrying. Heartbroken he asked for a kiss. Now she could hardly kiss him could she? He instantly dropped dead . The sort of thing you do when your sweetheart marries someone else and refuses you that all important kiss. In desperation Isabel then decides it is about time she kisses him. This she does and then she drops dead. They are buried opposite each other to be together in death.

Their tombs are fairly modern and the mummies have been moved many times. Testing is being undertaken to identify if they are in fact from the right period. What they will do if they find they are not from the right time I have little idea. They now lie in a modern soul-less room. Sombre and white – quite an empty space. They would have looked better in the gothic chapel of San Pedro attached which is a wall to wall riot of colours. It looks like a Pre=Raphaelite masterpiece and would have been a much more fitting setting for the lovers. They could have lain in gothic isolation and splendour for eternity. It cost 13 euros to visit the tombs, the chapel and the cloisters which were nothing special. A further charge was made to climb the Mudejar tower of the chapel but this did not start for another hour and we hate guided tours so gave it a miss. On the whole I think Teruel could have been missed. It is Ok for a visit if you are in the area but not to go out of your way to. There just wasn’t enough there to justify the drive in the baking heat. The temperature is hitting well over 30 in Suzy by mid day and there is no wind. There are numerous Mudejar buildings around the town and to be fair they are different and quite pretty.

Around the remainder of the town we wandered, down alleyways and tiny streets until finally we returned to the viaduct across the valley linking the old with the new town. Arriving back at suzy we were glad to escape. Teruel hadn’t quite delivered. It promised much and didn’t quite do it. Sometimes that happens and you put it down to experience. A place you really want to visit turns out less than expected and one that promised nothing turns out a pleasant surprise. Perhaps Valencia tomorrow will be different again. We are not city lovers so expect nothing from it but we are in the area so give it a go we will.

A better story of lovers was the Portuguese tale of the future Peter I who wanted to marry Inez De Castro . He a prince who fell in love with a poor girl albeit from a noble family on the wrong side of the bed. . As always boy met girl fell in love but the state dictated he needed to marry someone with money and position. Inez was poisoned and the prince was devastated knowing it was a deliberate act. When he became king , he dug up Inez and forced all the men responsible for her death to kiss her decaying hands . He even crowned her his queen in an elaborate coronation. The corpse was then reburied . When he died he was buried opposite her holding hands with the queen he never had. He wanted to wake up on the day of Reserrecution and the first face he would see would be Inez.

Now that’s a story of love isn’t it?

We drove to our overnight stop in the small mountain town of Navajos. The plan to use it as a base to visit the city of Valencia tomorrow. The site is up a mountain and slightly cooler. We picked it as it on the main railway line to Valencia and would prove an easier way in that using Suzy. . It is a hilly site and in the heat it is a long hike from the reception at the lower end of the site to the camping plots up on the top near an abandoned Mudejar tower. It is an ACSI site 33 euros for two nights camping. It has a fairly well stocked shop, a restaurant which sadly in the low season which this is only opens in the day. The swimming pool although inviting was closed until the middle of next month. Toilets, showers, chemical facilities were good. Our neighbours a welsh couple from near Cardiff who were on their way home after overwintering near Alicante for 190 days. Wall to wall sunshine with the exception of Christmas day and Easter Sunday . They had taken a car over with the intention of taxing and MOT’ing it in Spain, putting fog lights on to satisfy Spanish law and make it legal to drive over here. However this was going to cost around £800 and together with a tax to the government of 10% of the cars value they had decided to drive it back to Wales. They flew home occaisionally from Alicante airport to Bristol or Cardiff using budget airlines. We had a bit of an insight into life on the Costas over winter . We are still undecided if it is us.

Choice of reading for the night The Evil Seed a gothic horror story of vampires in Cambridge. Quite fitting after our visit to Teruel .


13th May 2014
San Pedro

I love this one.
14th May 2014
San Pedro

thanks for your lovely comments

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