October 31, 2002
|Casa de Botines|
|Then I read another display explaining
about the problem with the gargoyles. Although they look like demonic
affectations, the gargoyles are very important. They are actually the
down spouts of an extensive gutter system designed to drain rainwater
off the large roof areas. However, as a result of centuries of deposits
from pigeon excrement, moss, and molds, as well as salts excreting from
the stone material, most of the drainage system had ceased to work properly.
Thus there was considerable backup of water, causing damage to the roofs,
in some spots to a point nearing collapse. After extensive repair and
cleaning of the drainage system, thin metal netting has been put into
place to prevent birds from roosting on the cathedral. Apparently, the
cathedral at Burgos was having a similar problem.
|After the cathedral, I walked
over to the Casa de Botines, a magnificent building designed by Antonio
Gaudi. (Remember Gaudi is the one who designed that very unusual church
in Barcelona — Sagrada Familia.) I don't know for whom this building
was designed, but now it's a bank. A bronze statue of Gaudi is in front
of the building. It depicts him on a park bench working with a sketchpad.
You can look over his shoulder and see his notes. I don't know the significance
of the surrealistic bronze pigeon perched on the other end of the bench.
[Editor's Note: The guidebook says the building is a Neo-Gothic palace. Gaudi is known for his free interpretation of Gothic motifs.]
Another place I wanted to see while in León was the pantheon and museum, which are attached to the church of San Isidro. But like offices, public buildings, and all of Spain in general, they are closed from 2:00 to 4:30. So I did what the Spanish people do during that time period — have a long lunch. Actually, it is more than lunch. It is the main meal of the day. The Spanish take their time when they eat. And afterward, they like to sit and talk or walk. It's not hard to while away a couple of hours in such an enjoyable way.
The pantheon is where the kings and queens of León are ensconced in stone sepulchers. Back in the 12th century, León was a separate kingdom. In fact, there were many kingdoms around Spain. War and marriage resulted in various consolidations until the time when Ferdinand, King of Aragon, married Isabella, Queen of Castile and León. Together, los Reyes Catolicos (the Catholic Monarchs) captured the various kingdoms of Andalucia in Moorish southern Spain. With the fall of Granada in 1492, Spain became the entity we think of today. (Although some extremists want to return to the 12th century!)
That night, I finished all my transmissions, packed my pack, and mentally got ready for what is considered to be the third and final portion of the Way of Saint James. I decided that I wanted to reach Santiago on the 14th of November, which is World Diabetes Day. Now, I had a meta (a goal) to aim for!