Tuesday, May 17, 2005

D. Bernardino Fernandez de Velasco, 1st Duke of Frías

Leaving Las Vegas...

(A beautiful photography of Pedraza, a glamorous medieval castillian village, was supposed to be shown here, but I'm having another bout of the recurrent problems with posting pictures)

Thanks to the Honorary Caliph of Moraleja I was introduced last Sunday to two of the most shining jewels of the Castilla crown: Pedraza and the "cordero lechal". We collected a couple of Romanic Churches on the way to the "suckling lamb" (if one translates freely). It included StMary's Church at the Castillo de Buitrago, the Iglesia del Salvador in Sepulveda, Pedraza itself and (my favourite) the small Ermita de Nuestra Señora de las Vegas in the fertile valley (a "vega") on the road to Segovia. H.E. is keeping an analogical photo record of all those churches and the end-product, in just a few years, will surely be quite impressive. The Ghajar Princess, like a modern day Taj al~Saltana, was at her very best guiding and smiling mode.

Pedraza has some traits of the "S.Tropez curse". An exceedingly beautiful place that is spotted by the happy few and then succumbs to its own popularity. With the current obscene fascination with the rich and famous ( translated in the six-digit circulation figures for the voyeuristic press) a town favored and inhabited by celebrities quickly becomes a pilgrimage spot. The discoverers then become bored with sharing their pet-village with the tourist mobs and move on to start it somewhere else, all over again. But it's still a very charming place and outside weekends it must be bliss. (If the honourable reader asks himself what's the role of D. Bernardino in this text, suffice to say that the status of the fortified town of Pedraza had much to do with the fortunes of the Fernandez de Velasco, Condestables of Castilla).
The "cordero", on a small inn by the road, as we were departing from Las Vegas, was outstanding. And I will refrain from elaborating on the qualities of a good "morcilla" as a countryside first course...

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