Day 49 (15/Nov/2017): Discovering Zamora

The day started with storks. Twenty or more of them on the roofs of the two wings of the regional government buildings in the Plaza de Viriato, a short flight of steps up from the albergue. During the day, I saw more storks on church towers and rooftops, and came across their feathers in the streets. It strikes me that the bird that I saw in the stork’s nest at the aqueduct in Merida must have been a stork – not a heron as I reported at the time. I was so sure that it couldn’t be a stork at this time of year.
I made a beeline for the covered market, where I was told I could find good, hot, chocolate and churros. The Canadian ladies at the albergue had already fed us a good breakfast -an egg, an orange, toast with butter and jam, and lots of cafe con leche. But, on a chilly November morning, I can find room for chocolate and churros.
Zamora, in addition to having some beautifully kept Romanesque churches, and medieval streets, also has a wonderful collection of early 20th century apartment blocks and public buildings. I admired these on the way to the Mercado de Abastos. I also noticed a striking piece of public art in front of the medieval Palacio de los Momos, where the Guardia Civil has its headquarters today. The sculpture shows a mother playing with her child. I may have noticed it last night too. It immediately shone out as a beautiful, joyous, work of art. I was not surprised to learn that the sculptor was one of Spain’s most celebrated artists – Baltasar Lobo. Later in the day, I visited the museum near the cathedral that is dedicated to his life and work. It was the highlight of my day with so many beautiful drawings and sculptures – with some themes, like maternity, that Lobo kept returning to. During the Spanish civil war, Lobo sided with the republicans. At the end of the war he crosses into France at Portbou, like many thousands of Spaniards, who were not warmly welcomed by France at that time…
I asked the museum’s manager where Spain’s artists ended up – Often in Paris or Argentina. And did Spain, like Nazi Germany, declare their art to be “degenerate?” No, but if an artist made works that criticised the government, he or she would be shot. That’s why Loba lived 29 years in exile. It was a moving museum.
At Zamora cathedral, constructed in the C12th to C13th, I was able to see the austere grandness of a Spanish Romanesque cathedral – like Salamanca’s old cathedral without the high gothic and baroque “extension.” The cathedral also houses a remarkable collection of Flemish tapestries, which tell classical tales such as the siege of Troy or Hannibal’s march on Rome. They were the cinematic medium of the age – all technicolor, all widescreen.
All over the centre of Zamora are small Romanesque churches that can be visited (although not all can be photographed).
Central Zamora also manages to pack in several museums. The museum of Zamora helped me to put Lobo into some context. When he was born in 1910 in a village near Zamora, the city must have been going through some kind of boom. The modern apartment blocks had recently been constructed. I also noted that another of Spain’s celebrated sculptors came from near Zamora – Eduardo Barron. He created the statue of Viritathus that’s in the plaza de Viriato. The museum of Zamora provides a good enough overview of his work and several other artists from the region.
Sadly, the “Holy Week” museum left me quite unimpressed. And the ethnographic museum has a poor collection for a grand building. I was expecting something like Salem’s Peabody – world class Asian art housed in a terrific modern museum for such a small city. But no. I got badly drawn Japanese calligraphy and old farming implements.
Zamora is quite a gourmet destination so for lunch I had “gastrotapas” with local wine. And for dinner too, I treated myself well. No wonder I’m not losing much weight.
I picked up my rucksack from the albergue at 3pm and brought it to my comfortable hostal. When I was at the albergue, the Canadian hospitaleras introduced me to Pedro who also walked all the way from Almeria. He is doing it at a faster pace than me. He started on about 10/Oct.
Tomorrow I continue the Camino. Pedro appears to be keen to take the adventurous route to orense and then Santiago through Portugal. I think I am going to follow the Sanabres route. More on that later.

Categories: 2017 Camino Mozarabe (Almeria to Finisterre)

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