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Learning to Walk, Day 58, Monday, October 24, Astorga to Santa Catalina de Somoza

October 24, 2022

I did a relatively short walk today, about 12 km, and that included some extra walking around the village this evening. I got to Astorga yesterday afternoon, hoping to see both the cathedral and the Gaudi Bishops’ Palace before nightfall. But since I also needed a short nap and to make accommodation and baggage transfer arrangements for the next few days, I ended up with only enough time for one of those before dark. And they both need to be seen in daylight because of the stained glass windows. So I chose the Gaudi palace, because I have fallen in love with Gaudi, and I figured I could sneak into mass in the morning and see the Cathedral that way. More on that later.

The Gaudi Palace did not disappoint. It was commissioned after the previous bishops’ palace burned to the ground. The bishop imperiously demanded that he had to have a place for his family (staff) to live and work that was worthy of his stature (that’s the gist of it), so they commissioned Gaudi to build such a place. The bishop died before it was finished, and while Gaudi planned it and started it, he seems to have largely abandoned the project after the Bishop died. Plus, apparently the church didn’t pay him for about four years. It took decades for the palace to finally be finished, and it wasn’t long before they made it a museum. It is glorious. Here are some photos:

Oh bother. The wifi is not strong enough to really do this. Let me try one photo at a time.

The chapel in the Bishop’s Palace.
Dining room.
Chapel from the balcony.
Exterior of the Bishop’s Palace.

The wifi is just too slow. I’ll have to stop posting photos, and hope to do some catching up tomorrow. I’ve got 17-18 km to do, including a not insignificant climb. Time to get my climbing legs back! I’m planning on an early start, but not too early. The time should change this Saturday, but right now it’s not getting light until after 8. And there are wolves in this area. I know they will not want to come near me, and I think it’s exciting they are making a comeback. But still. I don’t want to walk in the dark where there are wolves!

Some musings that don’t require photos: Walking the Camino in Spain is very different from the Chemin in France. I think I’ve already talked about that a bit. One of things that I read or was told was that the Camino in Spain would feel more spiritual than the Chemin in France. I’m not sure why. Now I do not believe you have to be able to visit churches for an experience to have a spiritual element to it. Just look at the glorious, ever-changing countryside I’ve been walking through for eight weeks. That’s as awe-inspiring as anything can be. But one big difference between France and Spain is that in France almost every little church or chapel you came to, whether it was in a village or small town or out in the middle of nowhere was open. Anyone could go in. I loved that. I tried to step into every chapel and church I passed, even if I didn’t have time to stay more than a moment. They were such beautiful, old spaces, even the most simple ones, where people had worshipped for centuries. I loved seeing them, perhaps lighting a candle, saying a prayer, or simply having a moment of quiet. In Spain it is the opposite. Apart from the cathedrals and large churches in the towns and cities, that you need to pay to go into (I don’t begrudge this, I’m sure they cost a fortune to keep up) every single church is locked up tight. All of them. It is such a disappointment. It’s probably because there are so many more people walking in Spain than in France, and I guess not all pilgrims (or walkers) show respect for the spaces. But unless you happen to be somewhere at the time of mass, you cannot get into any of the churches. While I do not need to go into a church to feel God’s presence and wonder at creation or to say a prayer, I miss being able to go into these beautiful, ancient spaces where people have worshipped for generations. At least I can admire their towers that provide homes for storks’ nests:

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One Comment
  1. well , I’m glad the bishop got a building “worthy of his stature” …what must it be like to think THAT highly of oneself?!….and not paying Gaudi for 4 years. ?
    it’s a building worthy of Gaudi’s stature !
    God bless you and your feet.

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