Monday, May 16, 2011

To Almagro and Bolaños

I was cycling yesterday, through the country to Almagro and Bolaños. Almagro is a village that in the middle ages was much more important than it is now. By a series of lucky chances it conserved most of the great buildings that were built then, and the whole of the central part is now subject to protection orders of various kinds, which makes it difficult and expensive to live or run a business there, but is great for those of us who just want to go and see it. The main square is probably the finest surviving example of a mediaeval manchego square, all porticos and colonnades and wooden window cases long bent out of shape.

Most of the great buildings are owned by the government (the usual trick of increasing death duties to the point where the heirs can't hold on to them) but because it's rather out of the way for ministries and things they are mostly used for commercial and cultural purposes. The magnificent mediaeval convent of St Catherine of Siena is now a state-run hotel, and the Corral de Comedias, a 16thC patio theatre rediscovered in the 50's, is used regularly throughout the year, including an international theatre festival in July, whose reputation is also international. There are some excellent restaurants, too. I can recommend particularly the Comendador.

Bolaños has a few pretty streets and a castle, with a bit of history behind it but, although the walls are well preserved, there's nothing much of interest inside.

The countryside is full of poppies at the moment. They don't last long, but while the do the effect is striking. Worth going out there just to see them.

No comments: