TCD Tidbit #18 ~ Castile-La Mancha

by Arturo Perez-Reverte

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TCD Tidbit #18 ~ Castile-La Mancha

Unread postby Liz » Thu Jul 24, 2008 1:06 pm

Pg. 46: Varo Borja was sitting in a black leather reclining chair, between half a ton of mahogany and a window with a magnificent panoramic view of Toledo: ancient ochre rooftops, the Gothic spire of the cathedral silhouetted against a clean blue sky, and in the background the large gray mass of the Alcazar palace.

Pg. 336: Leaning his head back against the driver’s seat, Lucas Corso looked at the view. He had pulled off onto the shoulder at the final bend of the road before it dipped into the town. Surrounded by ancient walls, the old quarter floated in mist from the river, suspended in the air like a ghostly blue island. It was a hazy world without light or shadow. A cold, hesitant dawn over Castille, with the first glimmer of light showing roofs, chimneys, and bell towers to the east.

Castile-La Mancha (Spanish "Castilla-La Mancha") is an autonomous community of Spain.

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Castile-La Mancha is bordered by Castile and León, Madrid, Aragon, Valencia, Murcia, Andalusia, and Extremadura. It is one of the most sparsely populated of Spain's autonomous communities.
LIZ NOTE: I assume here that Pérez-Reverte is referring to Castile-La Mancha as opposed to Castile and León (another autonomous community in Spain) because Toledo falls under Castile-La Mancha. In fact, Toledo is the capital of Castile-La Mancha.

Castile-La Mancha was formerly grouped with the province of Madrid into New Castile ("Castilla la Nueva"); but with the advent of the modern Spanish system of semi-autonomous regions ("las autonomías"), it was separated due to great demographic disparity between the capital and the remaining New-Castilian provinces.

It is in this region where the famous Spanish novel "Don Quixote" by Miguel de Cervantes was written. Although La Mancha is a windswept, battered plateau ("manxa" means parched earth in Arabic; hence La Mancha is not definitively related to the Spanish word "mancha", or stain, which is derived from Latin "macula") it remains a symbol of the Spanish culture with its sunflowers, olive yards, windmills, Manchego cheese and "Don Quijote".

History

The history of Castile-La Mancha has been significant. Its origin was founded during the Muslim period between the 8th and 14th century. Castile-La Mancha was the region of many historical battles between Christian crusaders and Muslim forces during the period of 1000 to the 14th centuries (until the Battle of Las Navas de Tolosa, which aftermath assured the Castilian domination of the region with the decline of the Almohad Dynasty). It was also the region were the unification of Castile and Aragon in 1492 under Queen Isabel and King Ferdinand was created.

Region

Castile-La Mancha is divided into 5 provinces named after their capital cities. The following category includes:

Albacete
Ciudad Real
Cuenca
Guadalajara
Toledo

Other important towns in Castile-La Mancha (with more than 25 000 inhabitants) are:

Talavera de la Reina, Toledo
Puertollano, Ciudad Real
Tomelloso, Ciudad Real
Hellín, Albacete
Alcázar de San Juan, Ciudad Real
Valdepeñas, Ciudad Real
Almansa, Albacete
Azuqueca de Henares, Guadalajara

Other towns in Castile-La Mancha (with less than 25 000 inhabitants) are:

Caudete, Albacete
Puebla de Don Rodrigo, Ciudad Real
Villanueva de la Jara, Cuenca
Alustante, Guadalajara
Mazarambroz, Toledo


Toledo

Toledo is a city and municipality located in central Spain, 70 km south of Madrid. It is the capital of the province of Toledo and of the autonomous community of Castile-La Mancha. It was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO (this honor is beginning to lose its value with so many places in this part of the world earning this honor) in 1986 for its extensive cultural and monumental heritage as one of the former capitals of the Spanish Empire and place of coexistence of Christian, Jewish and Moorish cultures. Many famous people and artists were born or lived in Toledo, including Garcilaso de la Vega, Alfonso X and El Greco. It was also a place of important historic events such as the Visigothic Councils of Toledo. As of 2005, the city had a population of 75,578 and an area of 232.1 km² (89.59 square miles).

Toledo later served as the capital city of Visigothic Spain, beginning with Liuvigild (Leovigild), and was the capital until the Moors conquered Iberia in the 8th century. Under the Caliphate of Cordoba, Toledo enjoyed a golden age. This extensive period is known as La Convivencia, i.e. the co-existence of Jews, Christians, and Muslims. Under Arab rule, Toledo was called Tulaytulah (Arabic طليطلة, academically transliterated Ṭulayṭulah).

On May 25, 1085 Alfonso VI of Castile took Toledo and established direct personal control over the Moorish city from which he had been exacting tribute, and ending the mediaeval Taifa's Kingdom of Toledo . This was the first concrete step taken by the combined kingdom of Leon-Castile in the Reconquista by Christian forces.

Toledo was famed for its production of iron and especially of swords and the city is still a center for the manufacture of knives and other steel implements. When Philip II moved the royal court from Toledo to Madrid in 1561, the old city went into a slow decline from which it never recovered.

Toledo's Alcázar became renowned in the 19th and 20th centuries as a military academy. At the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in 1936 its garrison was famously besieged by Republican forces.

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Alcázar

As nearly one hundred early canons of Toledo found a place in the Decretum Gratiani, they exerted an important influence on the development of ecclesiastical law. The synod of 1565–1566 concerned itself with the execution of the decrees of the Council of Trent; and the last council held at Toledo, 1582–1583, was guided in detail by Philip II.

Toledo was famed for religious tolerance and had large communities of Muslims and Jews until they were expelled from Spain in 1492 (Jews) and 1502 (Muslims). Today's city contains the religious monuments the Synagogue of Santa María la Blanca, the Synagogue of El Transito, and the Mosque of Cristo de la Luz dating from before the expulsion, still maintained in good condition.

In the 13th century, Toledo was a major cultural center under the guidance of Alfonso X, called "El Sabio" ("the Wise") for his love of learning. The program of translations, begun under Archbishop Raymond of Toledo, continued to bring vast stores of knowledge to Europe by rendering great academic and philosophical works in Arabic into Latin.

The Cathedral of Toledo (Catedral de Toledo) was built between 1226-1493 and modeled after the Bourges Cathedral, though it also combines some characteristics of the Mudéjar style. It is remarkable for its incorporation of light and features the Baroque altar called El Transparente, several stories high, with fantastic figures of stucco, paintings, bronze castings, and multiple colors of marble, a masterpiece of medieval mixed media by Narciso Tomé topped by the daily effect for just a few minutes of a shaft of light from which this feature of the cathedral derives its name. Two notable bridges secured access to Toledo across the Tajo, the Puente de Alcántara and the later built Puente de San Martín.

Toledo was home to El Greco for the latter part of his life, and is the subject of some of his most famous paintings, including The Burial of the Count of Orgaz, exhibited in the Church of Santo Tomé.

Additionally, the city was renowned throughout the Middle Ages and into the present day as an important center for the production of swords and other bladed instruments.


This photo epitomizes the description of Toledo on Pg. 46:

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When I googled images for Castile I got this pic. Apparently the Ninth Gate press conference took place in Toledo.

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Source: Wikipedia
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Unread postby Gilbert's Girl » Thu Jul 24, 2008 1:08 pm

Yes, it did they were at the Film Festival

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Unread postby fansmom » Thu Jul 24, 2008 1:15 pm

And did you make the little moan I always do when I encounter an unexpected reference to Mr. Depp? :blush:

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Unread postby Liz » Thu Jul 24, 2008 1:18 pm

No. I talk to myself. Mine is more like "here we go again" or "why am I surprised?"
You can't judge a book by its cover.

The only thing that matters is the ending. It's the most important part of the story.

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Unread postby Parlez » Thu Jul 24, 2008 1:47 pm

Very cool tidbit, Liz! :cool:
I'm a big fan of El Greco's work, which is so unique and evocative of that time and place. Also, Perez-Reverte is apparently a big fan of the playwright/poet, Lupe de Vega, who was famous in that same period. His Alatriste books make many references to Lupe and all have a collection of his verse at the end.

I got a kick out of reading that, in a nod to their previous religious tolerance, the city fathers (or whomever) kept intact a Moslem mosque, with the name Cristo de la Luz (Christ of the Light). Hello?! :eyebrow:
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Unread postby gemini » Thu Jul 24, 2008 2:02 pm

When reading of Varo Borja's home I kept seeing the city in Ohio and had to block it from my mind and imagine Spain. Being from Ohio, I know that the city Toledo located in northern Ohio was named for the Toledo in Spain. But that photo of Toledo Spain is certainly much more beautiful than the city in Ohio that I remember.
The Castile-La Mancha also had me thinking of the film " the man of La Mancha" Don Quixote. And needless to say it all makes me think of Johnny.
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Unread postby jdpes » Thu Jul 24, 2008 2:21 pm

Parlez wrote:

I got a kick out of reading that, in a nod to their previous religious tolerance, the city fathers (or whomever) kept intact a Moslem mosque, with the name Cristo de la Luz (Christ of the Light). Hello?! :eyebrow:


According to wikipedia it was built as a mosque in 999, but in the 12th century the king Alfonso VI gave it to the knights of the Orden de San Juan who converted (?) it to a chapel, they put a crucified Christ statue in the place where there was another statue of the Virgin de la Luz that had disappeared, and they named it that way then :cool:

Thanks for it Liz, Toledo is a very beautiful city

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Unread postby Liz » Fri Jul 25, 2008 2:26 am

jdpes wrote:
Parlez wrote:

I got a kick out of reading that, in a nod to their previous religious tolerance, the city fathers (or whomever) kept intact a Moslem mosque, with the name Cristo de la Luz (Christ of the Light). Hello?! :eyebrow:


According to wikipedia it was built as a mosque in 999, but in the 12th century the king Alfonso VI gave it to the knights of the Orden de San Juan who converted (?) it to a chapel, they put a crucified Christ statue in the place where there was another statue of the Virgin de la Luz that had disappeared, and they named it that way then :cool:

More from Wiki:

An inscription written with brick in Kufic script on the south-west facade reveals the details of the mosque's foundation:

Bismala (in the name of Allah). Ahmad ibn Hadidi had this mosque erected using his own money requesting a reward in paradise for it from Allah. It was completed with the aid of Allah under the direction of Musa ibn Alí, architect and Sa'ada, and concluded in Muharraq in the year 390. (13th December 999 – 11 January 1000 AD)

According to legend, when King Alfonso VI entered Toledo in conquest in 1085, his horse knelt before the door of the mosque. A shaft of light guided the king to a figurine of the crucified Christ which had been hidden for centuries. He left his shield there with the inscription, "This is the shield which the King Alfonso VI left in this chapel when he conquered Toledo, and the first mass was held here".

In 1186, Alfonso VIII gave the building to the Knights of the Order of St John, who established it as the Chapel of the Holy Cross (Ermita de la Santa Cruz). They extended it by adding the apse.
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Unread postby suec » Sun Jul 27, 2008 1:28 pm

Toledo is yet another place I have wanted to go to for a while and this tidbit just confirms it. The closest I've got so far is Murcia and have visited P-R's home town, which was simply stunning. Borja goes on about the history and knowledge and wisdom contained in his books. Well obviously, as a :reader: I'd agree with him - but old buildings can have that affect on me too.
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