Well, this particular Sunday certainly turned out to be a day of worship; first to the alter of commerce, next to the grand cathedral, then to an Egyptian temple, and later to the shrine of the Son.
We started our day at the weekly El Rastro flea market, a maze of streets that wind through and down a hillside neighbourhood. Historically an antiques & second-hand marketplace it now a lot more t-shirts, low-quality leather goods clothing and, rather disappointing to me, few local handicrafts. The San Telmo market in Buenos Aires is far more entertaining.
For lunch we decided on a typical bocadillo (sandwich) of ham & tomato on a crusty baquette in a small deli/cafe along closed-off market street. Eating like a local is fun and cheap, but even a simple sandwich order was a wee bit challenging - there were six kinds of ham to choose from.
We walked back through Plaza Mayor, the city’s main square since the early 1600s. Treading across cobbles that once ran red with the blood of the Spanish Inquisition is a moving experience.
These days, though, Plaza Mayor is the setting for tourist targeted patio restaurants, buskers and trinkets ‘n’ trash shops.
Exiting the Plaza Mayor led us to the Almadena Cathedral, situated across from the Royal Palace.
Constructed in the same cross-shaped manner as other cathedrals and with a classic exterior I was surprised the interior lacked the dark wood, lavish plaster work and heavily gilded alters we’ve come to expect.
After our visit I read that although construction began in 1879 the project was abandoned during the Spanish Civil War. Work began again in 1950 and the cathedrall was consecrated in 1983.
I knew something was off - turns out it was about three-quarters of a century. In fact, a significant number of the stained-glass windows, paintings and sculptures were installed between 1990-2012.
We walked from there to see the second-century Temple of Debod, given to Spain by Egypt in 1968. What a way to show appreciation for the Spanish help in saving other temples from destruction during the building of Egypt’s massive Aswan High Dam and reservoir.
Much to my disappointment, as in 2009 the reflecting pool was dry and access to the temple interior was closed. Still, I have found Egypt to be fascinating since elementary school and this is as close as I can get, for now.
Our final shrine was the closest to my heart. Our youngest son Aidan had his 26th birthday on this Sept. 30.
Since I couldn’t give him a big smooch much less bake him a cake, Duncan and I got as close to him in spirit as we could, visiting his former digs and his favorite coffee shop from when he was a student in Madrid.
We returned the apartment culturally enriched, very tired and very happy.