This past Saturday, Kelsey and I woke up bright and early to head to the plaza de Colon to meet up with our group and go and tour the university town of Salamanca. For this particular tour, it was perfectly appropriate that we were picked up by bus at Colon, because as I’ll explore in Salamanca Parte II, Salamanca has a stirring history associated with Cristobol Colon (Christopher Columbus, as we Amuricans know him).
Salamanca is home to two cathedrals: an old, and a new. Construction on the ‘New’ started in the 16th century (and it is NEW, folks. My mind does not wrap around centuries and millennia. It just doesn’t.) and was finished in the 18th century. The ‘Old’ cathedral was built between the 12th and 14th centuries. While having two cathedrals joined together in one city is rare on its own, the cathedrals in Salamanca are unique in Spain for their mixture of architectural styles. The old is Gothic and Romanesque, while the new began construction as a Gothic Cathedral but contains plateresco from the renacimiento (renaissance) and Baroque elements as well. Fascinating, right?
To be honest, the changing styles don’t call to my attention, grabbing my thoughts and fixing me to ponder. We all have different ways of processing and understanding history, and simply looking at the evolution of architecture doesn’t do it for me. With that said, one aspect of the evolving cathedrals did call to me, crawling into my mind and taking up residence long enough to merit reflection.
They look simple, don’t they? Just cracks, accidents. Flaws in the design. These gaps in the walls were caused by an earthquake almost three hundred years ago when an earthquake struck Lisbon, Portugal. The cathedral had to be restored–extra supports were added, metal bars drew together cracked sections, the foundation was shored up, supported, remade.
I loved those cracks, because it made the cathedral seem alive. It isn’t simply a perfect building, constructed hundreds of years ago and used now for tourist visits. Instead, it is flawed. It was broken, and had to be pieced back together and I think is better for it. Kind of human in that way, isn’t it?
Sometimes in my life, I am just plodding through the motions. Doing what I have to do, day by day, getting small wear and tear on my spirit. Small wear and tear doesn’t seem to merit the reflection required to fix it, until BAM one day a terremoto (earthquake) comes and requires us to do some serious self-work. And from these big calls to attention, we come out stronger. Better. Unique, and interesting, with flaws and cracks and scars that make us who we are.
I love this quote that was written, probably centuries ago, on the interior walls of the cathedral:
Blessed are those who hear the voice of heaven and guard it with wakefulness in their heart.
The voice of the skies, the voice of heaven! Yes indeed, blessed are those who hear that voice, whether it is a whisper or an earthquake, and seek after it.
- Living the life of luxury in Avila and Salamanca (nicolelynn13.wordpress.com)
- Ávila y Salamanca (aboutabroad.wordpress.com)