Above, pollarded plane trees framing Paseo del Espolon
The Scarecrow, who was in the lead, walked forward to the tall tree where there was an opening to pass into, but just as he came under the first branches they bent down and twined around him, and the next minute he was seized by the long branches and raised from the ground and flung headlong among his fellow travelers.”
The Wonderful World of Oz, L. Frank Baum, 1900
Remove the brilliant blue sky from the picture, and these trees appear as frighteningly eerie as those in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. The severe winter haircut, pollard, of these relatives of American sycamores lining Burgos’ beautiful Paseo del Espolon reaps a huge reward for pedestrians. The trimming encourages the trees to produce a dense canopy of green leaves shading all who pass below throughout the summer, and whimsical-shaped topiaries soften the impact during the winter months.
Continue reading “Postcard from Burgos, Spain: A few parting impressions” →
Above: Monastery of Santa Maria la Real de las Huelgas
It’s not easy to reign over a contested kingdom when you ascend to the throne at age two. Think of the royal intrigue that would trigger – all the scheming regents and relatives trying to unseat you before you can toddle down a hallway on your own.
But Alfonso VIII (1155-1214), King of Castile and Toledo, managed to ward off a legion of enemies to hold onto his throne – not without assistance and numerous defeats and victories on the battlefield along the way. And crusades against the Alamohads. To consolidate his power and secure a powerful ally while still a teenager, Alfonso gained the hand of 12-year-old Eleanor (Leonora) of England (1161-1214), a daughter of the contentious couple King Henry II of England and Eleanor of Aquitaine.
At Leonora’s behest, the young royals founded the Monastery of Santa Maria la Real de las Huelgas in 1187. She bore 11 children before dying less than a month after her husband. The couple and numerous of their children were buried in elaborately decorated chapels within the expansive monastery. Royal weddings held there included that of Eleanor of Castile (1241-1290) to King Edward I of England (1239-1307) while Eleanor was 12 and Edward still a duke.
Continue reading “Postcard from Burgos, Spain: A powerful abbess and underfoot devils” →
Above: Broiled zamburinas, Gallaecian scallops, at La Cantina Burgos
Bronze scallop shells embedded in the streets of Burgos lead pilgrims along the Camino de Santiago route to the Cathedral. The trail of shells conveniently passes right by La Cantina de Burgos, where one can find perfectly prepared grilled zamburinas, Gallaecian scallops. Earlier in this same trip, a blog post explains both the shell’s connection to Saint James and the bicolored anatomy of the bivalves.
Continue reading “Postcard from Burgos, Spain: Pilgrims should indulge in Santiago’s symbolic seafood” →