Sunday, 13 March 2011

MONSARAZ to MERIDA in Spain (Rome of the North)

We left Castro Verde and drove to Monsaraz, perched high above the plains, and huge lakes, as far as the eye can see. These lakes are formed by the construction of the Alqueva Dam, which although it is called an ecological disaster for the flora and fauna of this area, is very beautiful to see. 
The town is part of a chain of fortified villages stretching both North and South and the views from its ramparts are magnificent.

Little cobbled streets thread between white washed houses and at the heart of the town lies the Igreja Matriz church, illuminated by night.

Brooding at the end of the citadel is the Torre das Feiticeiras, or Witches Tower, standing above what is now the bull ring.

We walked out to a point high above the countryside, from where we had a commanding view, and where in history the inhabitants watched for invading Moors. Wild Olive trees and Holm Oaks grow all over and now Rock Roses are coming into flower, like stars on the hillside, a wild and beautiful Landscape.

That evening a huge storm came in, bringing with it orange desert dust, but giving us a  stunning photograph.

In search of some culture, we went to Merida in Spain, called "The Rome Of the North" because of its magnificent Roman Ruins. The Amphitheatre which was used for staging gladiatorial combats, fights between animals and circus performances, is very well preserved, although inaugurated in 8 B.C.

The Roman Theatre, had a seating capacity of 6,000 and the stage facade is the most spectacular part, with  graceful columns and statues. Although the light was not good for photographs, it added to the atmosphere of the place, haunted by actors and gladiators from ages past as the light fades away.

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