July 5, 2016: Ponferrada

The entrance to the castle.  The bridge is permanent now, but you can imagine how a drawbridge, moat, and portcullis  would keep attackers out.
And trying to attack the castle uphill from the river would also have been suicidal.
The castle was expanded over time.  All of the keeps and towers look different.
Seen through the castle arch, a church partially constructed of stones taken from the castle.  We visited that church before lunch, in keeping with my self-imposed rule of never passing by an open church without going in.  (So many of them  are closed when you want to visit them.)
Another church as seen from the castle.
A very small cannon that could be fired from the castle.  Of course, the appearance of cannons in warfare spelled the end for castles.
James on the ramparts.
Ponferrada is a town that has intense Holy Week processions.  Though it is far from the Lenten season, this cross and cloth combination looked to me very much like what I have seen carried through the streets in Seville and in other Holy Week processions in Guatemala and Chile.
And another statuary group that could be beautifully carried through the streets.  One of many Pietas I have liked along the Way.
A statue and plaque in the square explaining how the Virgin of La Encina was discovered by a Knight Templar.
The plaque explains that the image of the Virgin was hidden in a tree cavity at a time when the Moors were attacking the area.  Centuries later, when the castle was being built, a Knight Templar found it.  The Virgin of La Encina is venerated in this area.
James has been startled in Ponferrada to see images which he interprets as images of the KKK.  I explained to him that those hooded, robed images do not represent the KKK  but rather confraternity or parish members during a Holy Week procession, and that the “uniform” used by the KKK matches this much older one used around the world for religious purposes.  I don’t know if the KKK consciously adopted the clothing or not, but given the KKK’s anti-Catholic doctrine I doubt it.  Ponferrada, it seems, has many Holy Week processions through the streets with the statues  and crosses from various churches, as happens in Seville and elsewhere. And some religious Catholics carry a cross in remembrance of Jesus’s suffering during those processions.  In any case, this is not your usual wall paintings or mural.