2022 | Central Spain© Tobias Glitsch
A review by Svenja Kruijer
After a two-year break due to the pandemic, we finally had the opportunity to organize a Pentecost excursion again this year, which took us to Central Spain.
First, we explored Toledo with its diverse cultural influences. As a former melting pot of religions and cultures, the city was able to preserve architectural traces of the Visigoths, the Moors as well as the Castilian kings, whose residence city it had been at times.
The second part of the excursion was dedicated to the "Real Sitio de San Lorenzo de El Escorial", the stately palace complex of Philip II. Situated on a plateau north of Madrid, the complex was a particular highlight of our trip, since through Infanta Isabella, Philip II's daughter, there is a direct link to the Belgian pilgrimage site of Scherpenheuvel, which is part of our DFG research project "Scherpenheuvel. Church and Town in a Heptagon" was investigated. In addition to this outstanding example of Habsburg palace architecture, the residences of Aranjuez and San Ildefonso were also impressive stops along the way, allowing one to trace the building activities of the Spanish Habsburgs in the Madrid environs.
An excursion into the Spanish history of the last century, which took us to the Valle de los Caídos to the rock basilica and memorial city of those who died in the Spanish Civil War, which was taken over by fascism, also addressed the period of Franco's dictatorship.
The visit to Segovia then allowed us to study the development of the city back to Roman times through numerous buildings. The excursion concluded with a visit of the historic center of Lerma, a small residential town once belonging to the duke of the same name, whose Palacio Ducal was connected to the surrounding monasteries and churches by a system of high corridors, few parts of which are still preserved.