Saturday, October 25, 2014

A Trip to a Restored 8th Century Castle

Castle Almodovar in Southern Spain.
Friday, we drove 14 miles west of Cordoba to Castle Almodovar, an 8th-Century Moorish structure that has been completely and privately restored to its initial grandeur. And grand it is. This is a huge castle, standing high above the town of Almodovar, a picturesque Spanish village that spreads up the side of the mountain toward the castle like spilled milk with its white concrete houses.
The village of Almodovar below.

I'm still not at playing strength, but my mind is sharp enough to recognize something special and this castle is all of that. We've spent time with some of the castle ruins of Europe in recent days and they are fascinating, but seeing a working castle gave me something of an answer to my constant question, "How the hell did people live in these things?" Well, they did, and in a relative sense, quite comfortably, it appears.

In fact, there is a significant section of the castle, built a bit more than 100 years ago inside the main court walls, that houses a family now, amid the tourism.

The day in Almodovar was crystalline with an azure sky and the olive and almond tree countryside a lovely middle green. The road to the castle was like so many of the small-town Europe roads, too narrow for anything to navigate, besides a slim government worker on foot. My daughter-in-law, Kara, talked of acclimating to the small streets when they moved to Spain about a year ago. Hers were tales of horror. I don't want to try it. Even on the right side of the road.

The castle, which was built in 760, was actually used as a royal residence once it came under Christian rule. The castle was run by the Order of Caltavara, then the Order of Santiago before finally going to the Earl of Torravla in 1903. He began restoration.

View from inside the castle.
The castle trip, I hope, was a solid step back toward my normal life of enthusiasm and energy because I've really missed it. (Sonya is suffering, too. We're both doped up pretty well.)

We're all going downtown to Cordoba today to get a feel for the city, which has about 300,000 residents and is far more bustling than you'd know. Evan's family's house is considerably more splendid than I imagined. He tends to undersell everything, so I thought maybe this was Spain's version of Vinton. It's not.

This is one of the new suburbs so rare before recent years in Spain (and most of Europe). Ev says the walls and iron gates and window bars are a recent development, coming from the Franco era when fear was the dominant attitude in Spain. "It's now cultural," he says.

The fences don't make bad neighbors, however. Yesterday was one of those frequent festival days this country so enjoys and when Maddie and I took a walk and bike ride on the spectacular greenway across the street, joyful noises emanated from all over the neighborhood. "People use the hell out of that park," Evan noted. I could see why and how.

Oz and I look down on Almodovar.
Kara chases Oz. Not an uncommon sight.
Oz pulls the sword from the stone at the ancient sword display.
Proof: A kid'll eat the middle of an Oreo first.
Kids, start your engines!
The smith neighborhood from the front yard.
Casa de la Smith, Cordoba, Spain.
Maddie rides laps around the house.

1 comment:

  1. Initial structure of the castle is morish, but it was renovated and extended in the XIII century and after, converting it in a Castillian castle, building most of the towers and walls we can see at present. Moorish rests are a minoriry in the building.
    The restoration of XX century was made to recover the condition of the Castilian castle, adding some moderns buildings to convert the castle in the private palace of its owner, the Count of Torralva.