Tuesday, July 5, 2016
Since the castle was built over many years, there are old parts, and even older parts. For example, there is the “Old Keep” and the “New Keep.” The whole castle area is quite large, and there are still areas not rebuilt and/or excavated by archeologists.
In the centuries after the castle stopped being used, a lot of its stones were “recycled” into neighboring churches and homes. The narrative film in the castle explains how the castle began to be preserved and then restored in the 1920s and afterwards, after first appearing as an emblematic photo on advertising, such as on chocolate bars.
The castle grounds also include a gallery devoted to facsimiles of Medieval books, everything from books from around 800 AD to the start of printing. Facsimile Books of Hours belonging to lots of famous people are there, such as one belonging to Isabella of Castile. And there is a tournament book of Rene of Anjou, showing how knights fought and what tournaments looked like.
A separate area is given over to books about and research on the Knights Templar. For me, a book and history lover, this was all fabulous.
We made a long visit to the castle. Workmen were disassembling fireworks stands, removing glasses and food and drink, and taking down flags. Evidently we had just missed the annual city celebration of the Knights Templar, which occurred over the previous weekend. I am sorry we missed it. It would have been a great substitute for our missed 4th of July celebration, given the fireworks, parade, etc.
We stopped in a church we had seen from the castle, and visited a shop with souvenirs and medieval gear like swords and gauntlets. (I though of my brother Douglas, who used to participate in medieval reenactments. He would have loved the shop.) Then, after lunch, we headed for the laundromat.
We finished off the day with dinner at a really nice Italian restaurant. The lasagna was fabulous, and we ordered a bottle of chianti, the most expensive wine on the wine list, I think, at 14€. This was James’s first Chianti, and he wanted to take the bottle with him, but of course we can’t haul that bottle around for the rest of our trip. And so to bed, after a long day.
For more photos, see our page for July 5: July 5: The Castle and Ponferrada.