At long last I’ve walked up to the amazing castle in Almodovar Del Río. High on a hill in a relatively flat area it is very impressive. The hill is steep, and overlooks the white Andalusian town below.
I first saw this castle from a train to Córdoba in 2013 and vowed I’d find it again and visit it. Saw it a second time from the train to Córdoba in 2015 with JP and identified the town. Today, finally, I visited it. Thirty minutes by bus from Córdoba.
Amazing! Brilliant position, built overlooking the village of Almodóvar Del Río and on a site pivotal in communications between the almost always important cities of Sevilla and Córdoba for aeons past. At the foot of the hill is the river, the Rio Guadalquivir, once navigable throughout much of Andalucía and out to the Atlantic Ocean. So, the castle was in a pivotal position for maintaining power, a well fortified hill overlooking the main communications route. Imagine: taxing trade and people and, controlling both directions. Power!
At one time the site of a Roman fort, later a castle built by the Arab conquerors in the 8th century and then taken over by the Spanish in about the 13th. Lots of important people imprisoned in it. And undoubtedly many more that history doesn’t remember as important. The dungeon was suitably impressive, neither as dark nor deep as those on Game of Thrones but you’d die of cold. Probably of lack of food and water too. Or from torture.
The town below looks pretty new with ‘old’ places only about 100 years old. It’s been fired, flattened and generally recycled at irregular intervals for a very long time so not especially interesting now. Nice white Andalucían houses but not much else selling it.
In truth, the castle is best from below, from outside. Once inside you soon discover it was built/rebuilt about 100 years ago. Yes, possibly based on some of the original designs but, despite how it looks from the train line below, it probably has little to do with what existed 1,000 years ago.
For example, I liked the inclusion of the Excalibur sword, a mythical sword concreted into a bit of rock! I kid you not…… Here it is. See. A real sword afterall…..Myth? Who said mythical? 🐷🐷🐷🐷🐷
So, the highlight: the view from below. What will be most fascinating is how the castle will be used in the Game of Thrones with filming apparently starting in a month. I can’t believe the cinemophotgraphers can use it as it is. Spaces inside the castle seem so small. The dungeon, tops of towers, the general square all feel small to me. Hard to see how more than the exteriors can be used. Certainly suggests how relatively few people lived there at any time. The lowlight: discovering how recently it was ‘reconstructed’.
Forget about escaping the castle. Even escaping the town below is a problem. There are few buses and after the 10:00 from Córdoba you need to wait until the 15:15 to return.
Ok. So what about food? Sigh. Forget about eating in most places in Almodóvar Del Río on a Monday. I had arranged to have lunch with a woman I sat next to on the bus. She suggested a restaurant. Turns out it’s also shut on Monday.
Anyhow, were to meet at the town hall. Typical Spanish town! No it wasn’t on the map, either, electronic or a very different one in hard copy. Agghhh. Spain! Anyhow, I was getting a little frustrated but she had my phone number and ‘found’ me.
In the end, I had the best lunch I’ve had in Spain. We went to a small cafeteria/restaurant below the castle in Almodóvar Del Río. Yes. Salmorejo, the thick, pink, tomato and bread soup with a bit of hard boiled egg on top followed by a salmon and eel salad (gulas). Eel? Well, baby eels, elvers, about the size of respectable garden worms. Are they really eels? Yup, farmed eels apparently. Best salad I’ve had in Spain in years. Fresh lettuce, the cook smokes her own salmon and having elvers was certainly a novelty. Lunch was so good I’d go again tomorrow if it was practical.
My lunch companion, Marieta, was interesting. She lives in Córdoba, owns and runs an english language school and is unusual: 50 and has travelled, including working for Mother Teresa’s, in Calcutta, for a short time. So, all in all, a very successful lunch. I’m still not quite clear how we ended up having it. I think she is just very sociable and happy to speak english.
I finally found out where to catch the bus back. I’d already got two opinions and she asked in the restaurant. Three opinions and the third was correct. Other people appeared soon after I arrived at the putative stop. Phew.
Still wondering about the source of the soft snores I heard on the bus, I was asleep so I really can’t say!
Big purchase today: another deodorant as my two Icebreaker singlets seem to have forgotten their no-smell property. Despite frequent washes and careful drying they are not the best, dammit. I don’t want to keep my arms by my side for the next three weeks, or to carry another deodorant, having dumped one in Madrid. I succumbed (before anyone next to me did the same).
I chose a deodorant in El Corte Inglés, the big chain store. Different brand, promised 24 hours coverage (sufficient security for people nearby), and, importantly, it was packaged in a light little tube. It’s not come home with me as I nearly died of shock: €10.95. For something I’ll use for a few days and probably dispose of. Thank heavens for supermarkets and €1.95 ones that I know work!
Camino Mozarabe continuation
So, one more day here and then the bus to Almería, 4 or 5 hours away. I’ll start my next section of the Camino Mozarabe there: Almería to Granada. It’s noticeably a little cooler in the morning here now so maybe the high temperature peaks bertween 2 and 4pm may drop soon. Don’t forget, Spain is in an arbitrary time zone, chosen by Franco to facilitate ‘Europeness’ and business with Berlin and Paris. Changing it is a regular topic but my guess is change is inimical to the local lifestyle.
Tomorrow? Pack, ready for early departure on Wednesday!