The Emotion of Death

Death can be a real thing as I learned in the Museo Nacional de Escultura in Valladolid. The wooden bones and empty face, not to mention a painted-on green leech, gave that sculpture a ghastly air. It was a similar dread that Goya sought to provoke in viewers of his Dolores, a series of 80 sketches that showed the horrors of war, in particular those of the Spanish War of Independence. Casa Lis, in Salamanca, displayed all 80 sketches along with helpful commentary that provided necessary context (missing from a more modest display in the Prado). I can’t make any profound connections to León here but I did have fun there at a pirate-themed tapas bar.

While Salamanca, Valladolid, and León all look and feel like distinct places, they are linked by proud heritage (the ancient Kingdom of León) and an adherence to the principle that buying a drink means you should receive a tapa as well. It would be easy to go on and on about them but I’ll cheat and use a list format (after the photos – feel free to skip them).

Salamanca Recommendations

  • Casa Lis for seeing Art Nouveau items and an amazing skylight
  • Museo de Historia de la Automoción de Salamanca for car lovers
  • Salamanca Cathedral to see both the 16th century  “New” cathedral and the 12th century  “Old” one (the nicer one in my opinion)
  • The Civil War Archives to learn more about the Spanish Civil War and its brutality
  • House of Shells as an example of the ubiquitous sandstone architecture

Valladolid Recommendations

  • Valladolid Cathedral to see what happens when grand plans hit practical obstacles (less than 40% ever completed)
  • Museo Nacional de la Escultura to see amazing wooden sculptures

León Recommendations

  • León Cathedral has the most beautiful stained glass that I’ve ever seen
  • Church of San Isidro to see the ‘Sistene Chapel’ of painted domed ceilings in addition to the Holy Grail
  • Museo de Arte Contemporáneo if you don’t feel like going straight to the tapas bars in the afternoon
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