Sunday, June 6, 2010

Corpus Christi in Madrid

Yesterday, Sunday, was the celebration of the Feast of Corpus Christi.  The traditional date was actually the Thursday preceding, but for some reason the city kept that date (suspending certain parking rules, for example), while the Church moved it to Sunday.

In any case, there were several days of masses and a large vigil the night before, and then there was the day itself. There was an outdoor mass in front of the Palacio Real. In the photo, you see the banners of the various cofradías and organizations that led  the procession.

DSCN3308 The custodia, or monstrance, is mounted on an elaborate platform on a carriage; in the past, it was probably carried or drawn by hand, but now it seemed to have some form of automotion of its own and glided along the route.  We followed, amidst the sound of the bells from the Cathedral, the military band in front, and bursts of unpredictable song. It took nearly three hours to shuffle up the hill to the Puerta del Sol and then back to the plaza in front of La Almudena.



People had laid floral carpets in the street. Unfortunately, I didn´t get a photo of any of them before they had been stepped on, but this will give you an idea.  Spearmint was included among the flowers, so they were fragrant when stepped on.


We got back to the Plaza and there was Benediction. Madrid is like New York, a secretly devout city that  likes to really express it when the right moment arrives.


Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Archeology and the Crown

Another nice museum exhibit! This one is at the Palacio Real in Madrid (I´m back in Madrid) and is definitely worth seeing. It tells the story of the involvement of the various Spanish kings, mostly in the 18th century, with the development and encouragement of archeology, both here in Spain and in the New World.
Carlos III and Carlos IV were very important in the latter.  It is for this reason that there is a statue of Carlos IV in the Zocalo in Mexico City: he was instrumental in founding their Academy of Fine Arts (named San Carlos) and in promoting the arts in Nueva España.
Part of the reign of Carlos III occurred during St Augustine´s 20 year British period,  and we were on our way to becoming a territory during part of the reign of Carlos IV, so we probably were less affected by their activities than other parts of the New World.  It is recorded that we did manage to celebrate the birth of Carlos IV with a pageant and many festivities.  Had the British not intervened, we might have had somewhat of a flowering of our own in St Augustine, although of course we were such a tiny colony that it probably wouldn´t have been on a very spectacular level.
In any case, it is interesting to see how the Spanish crown, at that point the Bourbon dynasty, encouraged the intellectual and cultural life of the colonies.  While things went downhill for them in the 19th century,  the Bourbon kings were 18th century Enlightenment intellectuals who pursued their own research projects and also encouraged other scholars, particularly among artists and the higher clergy.

Museo Alfercam – Truly Unique!

A brief mention in conversation with an avilesino (resident of Avilés) took me to the Museo Alfercam, a curious collection of cars, motorcycles and…musical instruments.
It was founded a couple of years ago by two brothers, Alberto and Fernando Campelo, one of whom collected musical instruments and the other of whom collected automotive vehicles, ranging from Model T Fords and elegant 1930s Rolls Royce sedans to WWII motorbikes.
DSCN3083 There are more than 400 musical instruments, grouped by the regions of the world from which they come, with a sound track that plays when you enter each room. There are also posts where you can get more information and hear the individual instruments, and the same is true of the automotive vehicles.
It´s located in a residential district of Avilés and is truly worth a visit.