As I’ve already said, Salamanca seems to be dominated by Cathedrals or churches of varying sizes. It’s hard to look anywhere without seeing a steeple or duomo towering above you. They truly do dominate the skyline even in a town of narrow laneways and from afar.
Night doesn’t reduce their dominance as they are flood lit. I can even see them from my room.
So, given the way the the churches are ever present, I needed to go inside. The Cathedral is really two separate adjoining buildings, the old cathedral started in 1200s and the new one completed in 1500 (new!) Inside they are very different. The new one towers above and around you, diminishing us to the size of mere ants when you look down from above. Is that how God views us?
Like any cathedral there are various chapels for worshipping Virgin Mary, Jesus and who knows who else (they joys of not using an audio guide). Each one is very different.
The old Cathedral was quite different – much smaller, more intimate and not as ‘cold’. Some of the old pigment painted frescoes remain and the main altar was quite breathtakingly beautiful.
There were many old crypts of people who remain unknown to me. Some were nice and some were creepy. You decide which is which.
The architects of old knew how to use light to good effect. I wonder if they thought it would indicate the presence of God. Apologies if I am wrong.
The thing that I found most interesting is I walked out of the Cathedrals feeling quite disturbed. I would have to say that I found parts of the old and the new Cathedrals to be really quite creepy. Yes there is beauty in there, but it just felt to me disturbingly creepy. When you look at all the demonic demons painted in Himalayan Buddisht Temples, it is quite an interesting position. I guess I can say that Christianity not my religion just as a young Bronte pronounced Buddhism wasn’t hers.
Another thing I learnt today is I have a deeply ingrained fear of earthquakes. The old cathedral has a restored museum area which takes you up to the sixth level of the bell tower. As I was climbing very the narrow winding staircase up to the belfry, I was reminded of the last tower like that I had been in – the Dhiriyani tower in Kathmandu that came down in the April earthquake killing 60 people. We were standing in an exhibit room which held the cornerstone that held up the tower. Suddenly the room filled with a deep rumbling that grew louder. My immediate thought was “holy shit, there’s an earthquake!” I found myself checking my senses to see if I could feel what I could hear. No, the ground was not moving. And then I looked up to see it was an audiovisual of the Lisbon earthquake in 1934 which caused massive cracks in the tower. Hmm, too close for comfort. But despite that, I did climb up to the bell room and it was well worth the little tremor in my soul.
So today I stood in the presence of God. I walked away knowing it was not for me, but I will continue to visit his buildings with my camera. I do think my little Fuji XT -1 is doing a great job so I will continue to put her to use.