Saturday, July 7, 2012

Aventuras en Madrid—2

The last several days have been quite hectic. Classes started on Wednesday, and they are hard. But, they are manageable. I'm taking a grammar class (plus practice), a class in which we learn some colloquial expressions, and a conversation class. Homework is tough. I had no idea that choosing between ser and estar could be so subjective!

Two days ago, I went to the Prado museum, which is a large art museum in Madrid. There I saw paintings by El Greco, Rafael, Rembrandt, and Velázquez. My favorite painting was Las Meninas by Diego Velázquez.

Yesterday, I went to the Palacio Real and saw some of the most beautiful and obscenely opulent decorations I have ever seen. My favorite rooms in the Royal Palace were the Throne Room and the private chapel Ferdinand and Isabella worshipped at. The ceiling of the chapel is domed, and the entire thing is sculpted with the centerpiece at the cornice of the dome a dove descending from heaven. I'm pretty sure my mouth dropped open when I saw the room for the first time.

Also yesterday, I went to the Temple of Debod, an temple donated by the Egyptians and assembled in Spain. I also saw the Cervantes monument in the Plaza de España.

Today, I went to Toledo, which is in the running for the most beautiful city I have ever seen. The place is reminiscent of Tuscany: winding, narrow streets and colorful buildings that rise above the streets so that there's almost always some shade. We saw the El Cristo de la Luz, which was a mosque in 999 AD, until the Christians drove the Moors out and converted it into a church. We saw the Santa María la Blanca (the oldest synagogue in all of Europe, now owned by the Catholic Church) and the Sinagoga del Transito, home of the Sephardic Museum.

Toledo is known for the quality of its steel for sword-making and has made some of the best swords in the world since 500 BC. Toledo was also the home of El Greco and the Monasterio de San Juan de los Reyes, a Franciscan monastery I saw there.

Tomorrow, I hope to possibly see a bullfight, if I can get my homework done.

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