2012 Spain Trip Abroad
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We started off the day at El Escorial Monastery, and learned about its importance to the religion in Spain. It was constructed by Philip II after he defeated Richard II of France, and the architect was Juan de Batista and Juan de Herrera. The layout was built in the shape of a grill to commemorate the day's martyr, San Lorenzo, and you can see the "grill" theme throughout the monastery. We also learned that El Escorial functioned as a royal palace, a school, a basilica, a cemetery, and also a monastery. We also saw many tombs of the kings and queens of Spain, including Philip II and Charles II. There are also many works of art created by some of the artistic juggernauts of their respected time periods including El Greco, Velasquez, and Bosch.
-- John Berdon Mitchell
Next we went to the town of Toledo. First we went to a shop to see how they worked the metal for silver and gold jewelry and weaponry. We saw the quality of their handcrafted metal compared to metal made by machinery. There were handmade jewelry and swords made by a family that has been in the business for years. Next we went to the Cathedral of Toledo where we saw the high alter decorated with sculptures over 500 years old. Also, we saw marble sculptures and chapels with graves of the bishops of Toledo. Then we went to see El Greco's most famous painting The Burial of The Count of Orgaz in a small church. After this we saw a synagogue made by the Muslims for the Sefaradi Jews to worship. This was unique because it was a synagogue built like a mosque because the Muslims designed it. Lastly, we saw the alcazar, which was one of the royal palaces of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella.
-- Gardner Bass
We had such a fun time in Madrid today! We started off by visiting the Miguel de Cervantes Memorial, which was a beautiful monument with a surrounding pond and various olive trees. This memorial commemorates the great contributions Cervantes made to Spanish literature.
Next we went to the Royal Palace, which was such an interesting experience! This magnificent building was home to several generations of kings and is still used today by the royal family for formal events. Afterwards, we took a leisurely break with hot chocolate and churros.
Next, we took a short walking tour of the old city, which included the Plaza Mayor. This quintessential European structure demonstrates the rich culture of the city. After a little free time to get lunch and go shopping, we arrived at the famous Prado Museum. We enjoyed the works of Velazquez, el Greco, Goya, and many others.
Finally, to finish off the day we visited a cooking school where we learned how to make paella and brazo de gitano, a delicious dessert traditional to Spanish cooking. Today was packed with fun and we can’t wait for another exciting day in Toledo, Spain!
Today we woke up to a chilly Caceres and enjoyed a walking tour of the old quarter of the city. Our guide Carlos provided some of the history of the area, such as how nobles of the area had feuds and on top of their house was a tower specifically for protection against other rival families. Almost all of these towers are only half of their originally height however because Queen Isabella ordered them to be cut to end the feuds.
At the end of the tour we said good-bye to Carlos and packed up to make our way to Salamanca, but first stopping at the Vostell Museum. It is a collection of works by Wolf Vostell, a German artist who married a Spanish woman and in addition fell in love with the countryside, which is where the museum was built. The pieces of art we got to see were more modern made up of cars, motorcycles, and televisions. Afterwards we continued to Salamanca, where the city’s cathedral and a temperature of 5 degrees Celsius welcomed us.
Today we visited the town of Salamanca. Most of Salamanca's income comes from either the university of Salamanca or tourism. We had a chance to visit the old campus of the university of Salamanca today. This university is the fourth oldest university in the world. People come to this public university to learn medicine and philology while people wanting to learn about theology and journalism attend the private university in Salamanca, which is run by the Jesuits. We also visited one of the most visited sites in all of Salamanca, the Plaza Mayor. This plaza is surrounded by four walls of medallions. One wall has medallions with the faces of the kings/queens of Spain, another is dedicated to remembering the people who went out and conquered land for Spain, and a third wall is dedicated to influential people who came from Salamanca. This square is also the site where the movie "Vantage Point" with Dennis Quaid was shot.
After we visited Salamanca, we travelled to a town outside of Salamanca. In this small suburb we went to Guijello. Guijello is the local slaughterhouse that only produced meats from pigs such as sausage and ham. We learned the process of making sausage and ham. In order to make sausage you need to marinate the meat in paprika, salt, and oregano. Ham however takes much longer to make. It takes two years to dry the ham completely. Ham also requires salt marination, but for every kilo of ham, you have to marinate it for one whole day. Unlike in the United States, the pigs have the freedom of roaming around at will and eat acorns. This makes the pigs much leaner to eat.
-- Scott Hurwitz and Lovett Shaper
Friday, Jan. 13 - Today we woke up on the early side, making sure to have our luggage in the hallway by 8:30. We ate breakfast all together in the buffet, grabbed a coat, and headed out to the bus; we were all eager to see Pablo's 'surprise' for us! Turns out he wanted us to see the seemingly plain Plaza de España; however, once we got past the gates we were engulfed by plaza just beaming with beautiful colors and architecture! The square had a mix of all Spanish architecture. We took a bunch of pictures and boarded the bus once more. Before we left Sevilla we saw the sites of where various movies have been shot such as Star Wars. We also had seen where the 1992 World Fair had taken place and spoke of the mistakes made by the city about what to do with the existing buildings. To elaborate further, the city did not use the buildings as housing like in Barcelona but rather spent 20 years renovating them. Then we were off on our way once more...
After we visited Sevilla we traveled to the town of Mérdia. Mérdia was once a thriving Roman colony, so it had a lot of remains scattered throughout the town. It was interesting to see all the structures that were built two thousand years ago and still the remains are very large and noticeable. Excavators found under the town Roman neighborhoods, aqueducts, an amphitheater, an arena, and a circus. It is amazing that after such a long time these structures still exist!
-Collins Orr, Sam Chapman, Selim Baysal, Taylor Daniel
Sevilla and Mérida
- Testing the acoustics of the amphitheater.