Spectacular illumination projects city’s colorful history on San Fernando Cathedral

These photographs from 2014 are not great, but reposting them to refresh a suggestion for an outing appropriate for these times – entertaining, outdoors and admission-free on a plaza large enough to allow ample room for spreading out.

The painterly projection of Xavier de Richemont‘s San Antonio Saga (click there for much better photographs) sweep masterfully across the façade of San Fernando Cathedral, founded by Canary Islanders in 1731. Accompanied by lively music, the massive kaleidoscopic collages mesmerize those on Main Plaza.

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Postcard from Segovia, Spain: The Plaza Mayor San Antonio should emulate

This is a Plaza Mayor every city wants. It certainly is the one I would want San Antonio to attain. And San Antonio could, perhaps, with the new residential components slated for Main Plaza.

Tourists come through the plaza in Segovia in large groups, but the plaza remains Segovian despite our invasions. It refuses to be conquered.

Both the Cathedral and City Hall border the huge public space. Tolling bells still regulate the time for the city. Military bands march through. Weddings from City Hall spill into the plaza. Student concerts take place. Races begin there. Labor Day rallies take place. A farmers market occurs on Thursdays (the oliveman parked below our balcony). Cleaning crews came through immediately after the market closes in the early afternoon, and the surrounding restaurants quickly drag their tables back out into the sunshine.

This is a place for morning coffee and, a little later, to have it corrected with cognac. Locals still gather for lunch or drinks extending into the evening. They arrive on foot.

Old people (even older than us) park on benches waiting for friends to wander by. In the afternoon, baby carriages grow in number. Scampering children run freely, the bandstand serving as their stage. Parents are relaxed enough to sit at the cafes while children romp.

The age of the children in the bandstand increases hourly, until, sometimes in the wee hours of the morning the college-age crowd takes over. The cleaning crew comes through once again, leaving the sprawling plaza spotless before the newsstand opened for business. The Mister witnessed this when suffering from a bit of time-zone adjustment. It could happen nightly, but we would not know.

The apartment we rented overlooks the plaza. And the view was never static. Gazing out our windows or walking out onto our little balcony next to City Hall was much more entertaining than any television show could be.

This is a plaza that seems to never sleep, except maybe between about 7 to 8 in the morning. Then the man opens his news kiosk and spreads out the daily papers and gossip magazines. Delivery trucks have a small window to replenish the cafes as waitstaff return tables and chairs offering prime viewing of all the action.

This is no quiet place. It is the throbbing heart of a thriving urban center.

What made it possible to enjoy were double-paned windows and major louvered shutters that could be lowered over them so we could sleep peacefully at night.

The Plaza Mayor in Segovia. This is a place I would want to be parked when I am too old to move. Perch me on a balcony in a spot like this, and let me enjoy watching life.




Seeing San Fernando Cathedral in a new light….

So easy to be lazy about something when you know you have ten years to see it. Plus, I must confess, I feared Xavier de Richemont’s San Antonio Saga might be a sanitized, preachy-teachy version of San Antonio’s history.

But the painterly projections of the Algerian-born Frenchman are accompanied by music as they sweep masterfully across the façade of San Fernando Cathedral. The massive kaleidoscopic collages quiet the crowd, mesmerized by the colorful images dominating Main Plaza.

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The Main Plaza Conservancy has made a major contribution to the downtown landscape with this installation, and the Archdiocese of San Antonio is wonderful to offer the Cathedral as a canvas for the light show four nights a week. A video is not the same as being there, but hopefully will convince you to drag everyone you know downtown for the admission-free show.