Saturday, May 21, 2011

Paseo por Gernika

Continuing our stroll through the famous city...

Our guide and friend, Alberto, must have felt very frustrated (and weary!) trying to show us so many amazing places in such a brief visit. For us too it was a lot to process in a short time. So I continue reviewing the photos of our trip, researching, and learning. However, I really want to wrap up the long narrative of our one-hour visit to Gernika in this post. The following are sights we were privileged to see that are listed among the most important.

~~ la Iglesia Santa Mara de la Antigua, already spotted in a previous photo,  in the center, the high point
of the city.

This parish church took three hundred years to complete. Construction  in the Gothic style began in 1418.

Parish Church of Santa MarĂ­a

~~la Iglesia de Santa Clara. Had we followed the path of the Camino pilgrims, as indicated on the Plano turĂ­stico, we would have seen its cupola first thing on our right. 

The site has been a place of worship from time immemorial, before records were kept. In 1422 it became a convent for Franciscan nuns, and in 1619 a cloistered order of Santa Clara.

Santa Clara eliza
The current building that houses the nuns was built in 1880.
This photo reminds me of when Alberto pointed out, "That is where the clarisas live." In an e-mail before our trip, in reference to the oft rainy conditions, with customary humor, "We'll have to take eggs to the clarisas [the nuns of St. Claire] and ask them to pray for good weather."

Interestingly, yesterday as we were traveling and reading our current book, a historic novel about the Spanish Civil War, we came across this account:
Unlike the nuns who worked among the people and cared for the injured soldiers, the twenty-nine Sisters of Santa Clara lived in cloisters and never stepped beyond their walls...
...each new nun was given the number of a nun who'd passed away. The sisters were even buried within the walls when they died. For five hundred years outsiders had cared for them by taking the shopping lists the nuns passed through a grill on the convent door.
~~el Parque de los Pueblos de Europa, on the other side of the path, is a lovely park which contains samples of all four types of woodland found on the Basque coast: beech woods, oak woods, holm-oak woods and riverside brush.

Also within are massive sculptures by famous artists:

~~Large Figure in a Shelter, a monumental twenty-ton abstract bronze sculpture, one of the English Henry Moore's public works of art.

Large Figure in a Shelter

~~La casa de nuestro padre by Eduardo Chillida, Basque artist who was commissioned to create a monument to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the bombing of Gernika.

Gure aitaren etxea
The structure, which faces the famous oak tree, is meant to be a symbol of peace. The title means Our Father's House.

~~Further along the path, Alberto pointed out the inscription under the bronze bust of Wilhelm Von Humboldt a German philosopher and linguist whose works on the Basque language and his many visits to their land earned him the honor of being called FRIEND OF THE BASQUE PEOPLE.


My contribution will never deserve a monument, but my heart desire is to be a friend of the Basque people--Euskaldunen (I don't know if that is grammatically correct).
And I hope you, my readers, are gaining something from this looooong bloggy travelogue.
Please feel free to comment. I appreciate each response.


Alberto said...

Indeed, that day was a bit complicated. We could not visit the "House of Meetings" because was held a official act and as we do not carry eggs to the nuns ... it rained a lot the rest of the day. So we could not finish the ride along small fishing villages on the coast of Biscay. We will have to improve this in the future ...

Oldfangled said...

I like the "Large Figure in a Shelter," though I'm not sure I can articulate why, especially since it looks like a headless woman. But the shapes and curves are pleasing to my eye.