Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Distant echoes and light amongst stone pillars.

To visit and appreciate temples and churches for their architectural and cultural value has always been one of my passions. The way the architecture of a particular building captures and reflects human thinking during a particular moment has always fascinated me, I like to pay attention to the way the artistic style of the temple captures some of the believes and ideologies of a specific era.

Oviedo´s cathedral is an incredible building with many gems both within its exterior such as its impressive Gothic tower and those housed within its interior such as the superb High Alter piece, some of the side chapels and the famous Holy Chamber, an earlier pre-Romanesque structure that houses numerous Pre-Romanesque jewels.

Gregorian chant is a musical style I have always appreciated and what better place than a Gothic cathedral to listen to its beautiful sounds. There is no need to agree with or believe the religious ideology it is associated with in order to appreciate its beauty and enjoy the chants purely on their artistic merits. To listen to the pure sound of the monks´ harmonious voices while walking amongst the pillars of the central nave in a cathedral is something to be experienced. Listening to Gregorian chants in a Gothic cathedral would equate to singing and dancing amongst a vibrant Gospel choir - exhilarating.

If you add the chanting voices of the monks and the way the sun floods into the central nave through the vibrant colours of the stained windows above, what else could you wish for whilst enjoying the quietness of the place... Occasionally, the silence would be broken by a solitary figure or a group of people coming in and going out. The way those people behaved while in the church mirrored the different reasons for them being there. It was obvious some people came in to admire the building and others came to pray while someone else would came in searching for solitude.

I wanted to listen to the sounds coming through my headphones while walking amongst the stone pillars and arches while distant echoes occasionally broke the spell.

The main altar piece in this cathedral is such a joy to appreciate when lit up. It is a magnificent work of art created in XVI century by some of the most famous artists of the "Spanish Golden Era" such as Berruguete who incidentally was born in Palencia, my province. This alter piece is the third most important in the country after the one in Toledo and Sevilla, only one to go to have seen the three.

One could always argue whether or not the expense of creating such pieces can be justified if you take into account the reality that many human beings lived through while such works of art took place. Personally, I will leave such argument for another time and on this occasion I just enjoyed two of my passions and appreciated the sunlight flooding in until Faithless broke the spell of the moment and I walked out onto the sunny streets of Oviedo. Luis x

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