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Published: January 11th 2011
The Fortress of Sant Ferran is the largest fort in Europe. Built in the shape of a pentagon the total length of the wall is 5.6 kilometers. The fort was begun in 1743 to protect southern Spain from the French. It seems they did not get along with each other very well in those days. At the end of the Spanish Civil War it was the last bastion of the Republican forces. As the end of the war neared,several portions of the fort were blown up. Munitions stored in the fort were exploded to prevent them from falling into the hands of Franco's forces, the Nationalists.
When we arrived in Figueres, neither of us knew that the fort existed. I noticed it on a map at the train station and asked about it at the hotel where we stayed. Yesterday we walked to the fort after visiting the Dali Museum, but it was closed for the day.
This morning I asked the hotel desk clerk if the fort would be open today. She said, "Yes. It opens at 10:00 and closes at 2:00." We made sure that we were at the castle just a few minutes after 10:00.
The Czech pensioner's card that gives us free rides on the Prague public transportation system saved us 50%!o(MISSING)f the entrance fee. We find it quite amazing that the Czech card is honored in other countries. Several places asked to see our passports or these cards and gave us discounts after viewing them. For some places only a valid senior citizen card worked and for others only the passport worked. Advice: If you are traveling in Europe and are 65 or older ask about pensioner's prices. Your passport shows your age, because your birthday is printed on it, and will often save you money. In addition if you have an official senior citizens card for public transportation or some other benefit in your home town/state, carry it along too. One or the other of these things may even get you in free to some museums! The entrance fee includes a guided tour listening device. Naturally they gave us one English recordings. They were very helpful and very informative giving detailed explanations at each listening post. For instance up to 5000 horses were housed in the stables. Frankly it looked to me as if the horses
were given better housing than the men. I guess this isn't surprising, men will put up with more than horses can tolerate. However, some of the officers had fantastic housing that we were able to tour. One such officer's quarters had been enlarged to include two former living spaces and was about twice as large as our house in Maryland.
Let's go on a photo tour of the fort ..................
This was a bonus for us. We had planned to stay in Figueres only one day but the trains had no room to take us in the direction we wanted to go today so we were 'stuck' in Figueres for an extra day. We learned from our experiences on Christmas Eve that small towns are the best places to be in Spain. You will read in our next blog or two about Christmas Eve downtown in Figueres and the fantastic toy museum in Figueres. This town may not be well known outside of art circles but it is a wonderful place to visit.
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