Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Castillo Peracense y Jota en Teruel

This past Monday was a holiday in celebration of San Jorge (Saint George), so we got the day off. There are a surprising number of holidays in April and May here. In fact, next weekend is a four day weekend. I'm having a lot of difficulty keeping up with why we're even celebrating, but I could get used to having all of these free days.

On Sunday, my roommate and I went to Peracense, which is a small village not too far from Teruel. I guess it would be more accurate to say we drove past Peracense, as we didn't even go through the town. Instead, we made a detour up a steep and winding hill to the real attraction, a castle. I've visited a few castles in Spain and Europe in general, but this one was quite unique by comparison. It's situated atop some giant rocks and, because of the color of the stones, blends into its foundation. From afar, I actually didn't notice it at first.

Note that when I say I didn't notice it, I saw it from another angle and from further away. I'm not that blind.

I'm not sure if I liked the surrounding countryside more or the castle itself. The stones are unique to this region of Spain, and they're in a fairly concentrated little area, it seemed. But the castle was interesting as well. Apparently it was one of the most unknown castles in Spain until recent years, according to my roommate. He said that you couldn't even find it in guide books. It was renovated sometime in the 80s, I think, and has since become more popular.

Alien rocks

Outside of its relatively unique color and position, the rest of the castle had the typical characteristics of Medieval construction: low doorways, narrow hallways, and uneven and often highly dangerous staircases. And, of course, luxury spas and pools:

After exploring the castle, we hiked a little distance away up a hill to get a look around the area and to see the castle in its full glory.

My roommate, El conquistador de Peracense

Sunday night we went to the cinema in the city center and watched a French film called Intocable in Spanish or Untouchable in English. It has become a hit in France and as such, we were interested in watching it. It was much easier for me to follow and I got a lot of the jokes (and not just the situational or slapstick ones). The story wasn't all that compelling but the characters and their relationship was enough to make me like it. And the protagonist is played by a French Dustin Hoffman doppelganger, which is amusing. It has gained some negative press from some American critics, who claim it perpetuates negative stereotypes, but I didn't really get that out of the film. I would suggest watching it if you're interested in international films and all that jazz.

On Monday afternoon, I went to the city center in Teruel to watch Ana's Jota group perform. It turned out to be a march through town to different monuments, in particular the Mudéjar Towers. Different groups gave a small performance at each site, including some cute little kids in traditional Spanish garb. 

Note the orange scarf again. Teruel Volleyball own another championship.

The procession ended in the plaza in front of the library and under one of the towers. As usual, they sang some jotas, which I can now understand a bit better. They're typically just homages to Aragón or Teruel and they don't sound very imaginative. One of them just listed off places and monuments in Teruel. At least the music and the dances are enjoyable (for a while anyway).

I have tentative plans to go to Zaragoza this weekend and Belchite, a destroyed town that basically serves as a monument to the civil war.

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