Thursday, December 27, 2012

Ripoll. St. Mary's. Burial, Ramon Berengeur IV and maybe Berengeur III III

Ripoll is a place of medieval history: monastery, cathedral, cloisters. It dates from early middle ages. Prominent among the burials is Ramon Berengeur, possibly III and certainly IV.

This noble name, Berengeur, is important to us, because the name Berengeur, Berenger, Beringer, other forms, extends from Catalonia and Aragon in Spain, across the Pyrenees into the old Languedoc in France, Carcassonne, the Pyrenees.

Berenger at Rennes le Chateau. In France, just over the Pyrnees, is fodder for mystery buffs: a priest of the same name centuries later, and with local connections to Berenger nobility dating 'way back (the local castle), who suddenly came across or into a fortune, perhaps of Templar or Cathar roots in times of stress and flight from France, Inquisitions, Cathar "heresy".  See Rennes le Chateau, 

The lords of that Castle were of Cathar stock, Cathar sympathies. 

Was this 19th Century Berenger the recipient of the knowledge of the treasure because he was Berenger, or happenstance, or is all this just fun for researchers.

Another Berenger was a bishop at Carcassonne at the time of the Pope's infamous Crusade against fellow Christians, who would not swallow the required papal dogma, and so, were killed.

Most plaques at St. Mary's are in Catalan.  The plaque here, the Berenger memorial, is to be translated.  Looks like sepulchre of Ramon Berenguer IV, is he Sainted?  El Sant?  Count of Barcelona, marquis of Provence, prince of Aragon?  What is the reference to Ramon Berenguer III?

Google Translate says, "tomb of the saint ramon berengeur IV, Count of Barcelona, ​​marks Provence, prince of Aragon and, supposedly contains the remains of the great Ramon Berengeur III."

  • Ramon Berengeur III. Raymond the Great. He ruled variously from 1082 until his death in Barcelona in 1131, as Count of Barcelona, Girona, Besalu, Cerdanya (have to look all these up), and as Count of Provence (watch the territories shift over centuries:  Provence is southern France, across the Pyrenees) .  He enjoyed the Provence connections through right of his wife. Summary bio at Women in those days inherited, ruled. Husbands inherited lands through them, as Ramon here.  Ramon III died in 1131, and also ruled in early years in some areas with Ramon II, see site. A line of Ramon Berengeurs.

Berenger.  Berenguer.  Beringer.  An old name, nobility back to the middle ages in a time when boundaries were fluid, countries were unformed, dukedoms, counts, kings, empires jostled and warred and conspiracies danced through the years. Go to a place and then look up its history.

Ripoll:  Ripoll is a town in the foothills/midst of the Pyrenees.  Drive about an hour from Figueres, hairpin turns up the mountainsides. At Ripoll Place of the Santa Maria Monastery with its scriptorium where monks copied manuscripts, created books.  The earliest church on the site dates from 879. The monastery complex, begun in 977, is Romanesque, see  Cloisters were begun in 1180, work continued for centuries.  There are fine and surprising Corinthian columns there.

Buried inside is Raymond Beregeur IV, name spelled variously as Raimond, Ramon, Berengeur.  Other counts of Catalonia are there as well.  Raymond was the "founder" of Catalonia, see, that region including Barcelona and at one time extending across the Pyrenees to Carcassonne in the Languedoc, southwest France to us.

Berengeur, Beregeur.  Any nation has its treasured dynasties, some facts airbrushed out, some embroidery, but offering roots into a country's history. National family dynasties. We have our Kennedys -  the Bushes can never compare.  See the Kennedys at their compound, now in process of re-use, at Hyannis MA.

Family Dynasties. Example: Kennedy Compound, Hyannis MA. 1960's

Ripoll also memorializes the deaths of later "martyrs" from the Spanish Civil War 

Berengeur:  also a martyr of the Spanish Civil War, Aragon's Jean Baixeras Berenguer, see footnote, Wikipedia. *  Those of this Diocese of Urqell include names on the plaque -- but where is the nun, the sister also beatified. Sister Maria de los Angeles Ginard Marti. Was she not of this Diocese?  See

*There were some 20 martyrs from Aragon: Louis Vila Masferrer, priest, and nineteen companions, Joseph-Marie Blasco Juan Alfonso Sorribes Teixeido, Joseph-Marie Badia Mateu, Figuero Joseph Beltran, Edward Diego Ripoll, François-Marie Roura Farro, Jesus Augustin Viela Ezcurdia, Joseph-Marie Hernandez Amoros, Jean Baixeras Berenguer, Rafael Morales Briega Louis Escalé Binefa, Raymond Illa Salvia, Llado Teixido Louis Michel Gonzalez Masip, Faustin Perez Garcia, Sebastien Riera Coromina, Joseph-Marie Ros Florensa, François and Castan Messeguer Emmanuel Martinez Jarauta  Site:

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Roses - Fine Dining. See Culinary Accolades

The Financial Times has a fine Food and Drink section. It features a restaurant near Roses this time, issue December 1-December 2, 2012, this long after our return:  The place is the family-owned Almadraba Park Hotel: Jordi Subiros and his father, Jaume. Jaume Subiros or a different? Not clear on Spanish naming.

We missed it -- staying instead last-minute and grateful, at the venerable, courteous and helpful Hostal Rom. This was a crowded, hot weekend (and that was fine, too, although our two rooms, one bed each, did not have an ensuite bathroom:  each did, however, have a sole-user lockable bathroom down the hall; the price was right).  Had we known of the Almadraba, we might have ventured out of town to eat, where all was booked, to find it. You can find it at Then again, we had an excellent parking space and would have lost it if we went wandering.

Does the Rom, where we stayed, have any connection to Roma?

  • Menu for meal, Almadraba Park Hotel for the reporter's fine dinner at the Almadraba: GENERAL QUOTES -- cool cherry gazpachy, creamy asparagus mousse, two fish courses (delicate brochettes of squid with tarragon vinaigrette; and two large sea bass oven-cooked "fisherman style (?), then slow-roasted duck with pear chutney, and then a birthday cake. CLOSE GENERAL QUOTES.

Monday, December 03, 2012

Figueres, Sant Ferran Castle, Fortress Castillo de San Fernando

Castillo de San Fernando
Sant Fernan Castle
Figueres, Spain
Citadel at Figueres

For military history buffs, and even those just interested in migrations and empire-expansion over centuries, and the resulting conflict and conquests, this Citadel / Castle named for Saint Fernando, Sant Ferran, San Fernando, is a major find.  It is a site where small forces began, and the same site enlarged and recycled for later needs, and is larger than the Citadel of Roses at the coast on the Costa Brava, nearby. It served more than Roses as a bulwark against invasion from the Pyrenees, and a launching pad for attacks over them. Roses concerned itself with invasions from the sea, just by location.

At San Fernando, the concentric (not quite circular, of course) walls show the progression of weaponry:  each wall could focus on a specific kind of threat coming its way.

This fortress began as a defense against the French in the early 1600's.  See  It was in use through the 19th Century. 

In the far distance, the Pyrenees.  As firepower range increased, the placement of the walls enabled short and long range weapons to defend.

The area covered is some 35 hectares (what is that? -- about 2.5 acres make a hectare)

Parade Ground.

The parade ground had to be large because this place housed some 6,000 troops and some 500 horses, here down below.  Note the dividers between horses, the tilt of the cobbles to a central drain.

Every citadel needs a jail.  This one offers at least one nice view.

Back to horses.  Cavalry in warfare.  Cavalry logistics.  How to manage 500 war horses. Five hundred down here.  Imagine the feeding, grooming, cleaning.  Horses in warfare:  see the Field Museum, Chicago,

Citadel at Figueres.  Spend time.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Figueres, Inside the Salvador Dali Theater Museum

 Teatre Museu Dali.
Figueres, Spain

This institution is confusing for the non-Spanish speaker who expects an all-Dali emporium.  There are interspersed among the Dali works, however, works of others.  All focus on the same theme of surrealism, however, and are intended to ease the experience of Dali's world by seeing how broad that viewpoint indeed was.  And his influence on it -- which came first?  That is for more research.  All the included displays are excellent on their own. Nonetheless -- figuring out which of our favorites here, that we photographed, are really Dali is taking time. We finally got off the internet and referred back to the saved programs/maps handouts from the Theater-Museum itself.

The museum is in two parts:  The first is the area built on the ruins of a 19th Century theater destroyed in the Spanish Civil War. Dali himself designed this part.  He is buried in the crypt under the stage.  The line was so long we skipped it. And we were there just as the museum opened, in another long line.

  • Other Dali sites:  The casa Museu Castell Gala Dali in La Pera, and Casa-Museu Salvador Dali in Cadaques, north of Roses, and we did not get to those, either. Then there is another museum in Barcelona.

The second area is a complex of 22 additional rooms around as the museum expanded.  These contain works of others, including
 In other rooms are more works of Bouguereau, John de Andrea, Meifren, Ernst Fuchs, Silvere Godere, and Olivier Brice and others.  This list is to help me identify what I especially liked.  Am trying to look each one up.

Photos of favorites:

1. Salvador Dali. The Mae West installation, composed. Each component is free-standing, only showing the discernible whole when lined up from one angle.

Separately seen, for example, the lips look like a couch. See the virtual site at

2.  Dragon and Egg, series, jewelry-like sculpture.  

This sculpture does not appear to be on the list of works at  Need to check at the Figueres site and any museum materials we brought back.  Tracking specific works is difficult, see

Other internet sites also do not identify it, see

3. Salvador Dali, Maquette for the Scenery for Labyrinth, see it identified at   Painting, torso, heart.  1941.  Ours here is clearer, shows better facial-cranial detail.

4.  Sculpture composition, cross, hanging figures, barbed wire?

5.  Painter Evariste Valles -- see the theme of falling upholsterer-type tacks

6. Salvador Dali, Rainy Cadillac. 1941 car. This one rains inside when a coin is inserted, see  That was not happening when we were there. The earth-mother-warrior figure -- which is adulated the more.  Or does the one lead to the other?

7.  Salvador Dali.  Boat suspended in the air, 50' up there, with Dali's partner, Gala, inside. Tears suspend from the suspended boat, made of condoms.

8.  Salvador Dali, pen and ink series

Note the woman below.

Saturday, October 06, 2012

Figueres. Salvador Dali Museum, Outside. Real? The sixth toe.

 Getting a Grip on Dali
It takes a close look.

Tribute to Newton.

First, what is  a real Dali, and what is a mock-up.  See the apparent original of this Homage to Newton at  There are no severed or excess toes that I can see.

And the dangling ball, in the gallery site, is located differently here.

  • Dali fascinates with the unexpected, the funneling of attention to matters oddly in and out of place.  This site promotes art appreciation for all of us, see  Our approach in travel is to go somewhere first, and research later, finding out all we can on our own.  We are always pleased to be contacted by groups adding to global humanity and our collective art.  Thank you, Artsy. 

The overall surreal point is well made, however:  Dali-ism-like sculpture defies comprehension by one look alone. And this copy is missing the dangling ball that would tie the theme to Newton's apple.  Vandalism?  The Dali Theater and Museum at Figueres also is clear that it displays works of other surrealists, so vet everything.  The Newton tribute here gives a Dali impression, but may not be.  Who will go over there next and check?

Photographers also pay homage to Salvador Dali, and his brand of surrealism --  what is real, what lies beneath what appears real, and is it, really?  Note the fellow at the base of the steps.  He also gets closer, in time.

  • Dali -- the artist with the unforgettable mustache and imagination. He was born in Figueres in 1904, where many of his works are displayed in the Dali Theater-Museum there.  Another Dali site, Cadaques, is an hour or so from Roses.

Dali -- expressing the unconscious mind, see

View from the front. Impossible being! Allgendersbirdbeakshoulderswha?  See a reproduction of the original elsewhere for comparison at

Photographer up close.  Still, compared to what seems to be the original, see site, the dangling ball is all wrong here. And the hair.

Is this photographer focusing on the left foot or the right?  We preferred the right, the one with the wrong toes. Or are they just right?

On up the steps:  Dali-isms again defy the quick look. The impossible diver with hands hanging out.

The roof figures, heroic and classical, carry baguettes.  Or are they surfboards?

Dali also memorializes the Catalan poet, writer, and philosopher Francesc Pujols y Morgades, 1882-1962.  Dali met Pujols after the Spanish Civil War, in France, and was inspired by conversations with him.  Pujols' insights were sought by many intellectuals of the time. 

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Roses. Bay, Beach, Sequence of Settlements, Invasions

Bays and their peninsulas on the side make perfect settlement spots.  The trouble is, once one group sets up shop, another casts a covetous eye on it, and the warfare begins.  At Roses, with its Bay of Roses, evidence of settlements BCE (Greek) through Roman, through more Greek (from the Marseilles area), and Visigoths, and the monastery at Santa Maria de Roses arises in about 944 CE.

The beach holds many attractions.

The monastery is at the end of this side of the bay's peninsula.

She went in.  Is she still out there?

In this heat wave, we did not shop around for restaurants, and the hotels were all crowded.  Find an elevated deck area, breeze if any, outside in the shade, and just sit and eat bits after bits, until darkness comes and all cools off.  Serious meals start at 8PM at the earliest.  Tapas any time, and is enough to satisfy.

For those of us without reservations, arriving at a fine resort late in the day means taking what you can get.  Go to the tourist office and they will call around.  We found two rooms, separate, at the local hostel, Rom Hostel.  Hot, but that is not their fault. Aim the fan and stay still. Dan got over-hot and was too polite to bang on my door -- now he knows to knock a little louder and announce reasonably that it is indeed he, and I would awaken mejitly.

Note on bad economic times and hostels:  entire families, and many, many older people, were at the Rom.  This was not just full of backpacking kids. A hostel may be the only way to afford some time at the beach.  Safe, clean, friendly.

Sleeping at hostel. The possibility of hostels means sleeping gear that doubles for street-wear, for going to the loo/shower down the hall.  I use a black T-shirt dress for sleeping, Dan sleeps in shorts.  That also saves on packing. If two of you accept a room for four, expect two more to join you. If you take a room for 1, you will get more privacy but it may be hotter.  Trade.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Roses, Citadel at Roses. Costa Brava, Spain

 Ciutadella de Roses
Citadel of Roses, Spain

The walled citadel at Roses, known as the Citadel of Roses, takes more than a mere walk-around to absorb. By surviving appearances looks Renaissance, 16th Century; and most of it is. Inside, however, are ruins of ancient Greek and Roman walls, structures; and commemorations for battles conducted here through ages. The site of Roses was important for its bay, trade, openings into the interior. Everybody added to the fortification, and finally it all got walled in and even parade grounds and barracks built. Within Roses or a few miles, are reminders and places to explore, ancient to modern times.

The fortification grew:  see successive walled areas.  And this site covers it all well:  For history-military buffs, sites like this are a fine starting point for the panoramic view of human conflict.

The strategic location of the Citadel at Roses:  The foothills of the Pyrenees Mountains are within easy reach.  Defend against invaders from what is now France; or try to take refuge from invaders from south and west, the Moors.  The fort here also was a backstop for invasions from the sea, at Roses, if the smaller fort-castle there fell.

The citadel also was a defense for King Pere II el Gran's forces in the thirteenth century.   A Peter the Great of Catalonia and Aragon was born in Valencia in 1240 and died in Vilafranca Barcelona in 1285.  He was mummified and now rests Sant Cugat, north of Barcelona. The body may be viewed there.  Click on the translate button at  He apparently dyed his hair blond with a broom substance, see  Pere II el Gran was also credited with the victories of his forces at Roses (but against whom?).

Plaque commemorating victory of  the Catalan-Aragonian king, Rei Pere II El Gran, King Peter II, the Great, at the Ciutadella de Roses, Citadel at Roses.

There are gateways opening to land, and to sea.

Parking in Spain:  find a spot, then note specifically the color of the curb or outer limit line parallel on the street side.

White?  Free parking.  Stop looking for the Pay-go.  Yellow or red?  Pay-go.  Find the machine, estimate your time, pay in, put the stub on the dash.  Towns and areas are inconsistent, so ask or do what others in that line are doing, see

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Empuries. Ruins of Empuries. Greece, Rome on the Costa Brava

Empuries, Costa Brava, Spain

This area has been a center of trade since the 7th Century BCE.  Etruscans, Phoenicians, Greeks. The name Empuries comes from the Greek Emporion, that means, of course, Greek.  Then came the Romans.  By the end of 300ACE, however, the city had been eclipsed by Barcelona, Tarragona and Girona.

Greek and Roman ruins here are still "legible" as a full town, complete with water and water purification systems.

Patterns of mosaics and tiling are complex.  Roman mosaics were made in panels, with drawings found underneath to direct the placement.  They were not made on the house floor itself, but in a workshop, section by section.  See Archeology Magazine, Nov-Dec 2012 at p.40, article: Mosaic Masters.

Then Dan turned around.

Touch the exhibits in the museum.  You are supposed to.  Pass your hand over, and the mosaic picture appears, then fades back into the past.

Then, stuck.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Sant Feliu de Guixols, Spain. Sant Pere Pescador. Costa Brava

Saint Felix of Gerona and his World

Saint Felix apparently came from Carthage in the 4th Century, with a Saint Cucuphas, and was martyred here.  Why?  Still looking.

As we look, pay attention to the snaky road up the coast at Costa Brava; leave time to admire, and expect many, many side car-parks, paths down to distant beaches.  Between Blanes and Tossa de Mar are some of the loveliest views of craggy cliffs and shoreline anywhere.

Sant Feliu de Guixols is the town where the road finally veers back inland.  The "Guixols" part may mean "ropemaker" from the word "lecsalis."  That Wikipedia information makes sense with the coming town, L'Escala. Is there a connection.

History of Benedictine Rule.  At Sant Feliu is a Benedictine Monastery (Benedict 480-547) including older ruins from Roman times. It dates from 900-950 CE.  By that time, the Benedictine Rule, stemming from 529 CE based on an earlier Rule of St. Basil for the Benedictine Order, dominated Europe, including England. See Benedictine Monks at

From a Founder in Christianity, who forced no-one to do anything, and accepted all to come near, and never put a Rule ahead of need, now Enter regimentation, strict Rule, punishment, abolition of independent thinking, obedience, exclusionism, no questioning, dominion.  The Institution overcame the healer, the preacher, the example. As the twig is bent, so grows the tree.

Poverty and celibacy were not included in the vows of the time, but now are considered incorporated.  The Benedictine Rule predated the other major Orders by some 500 years -- Dominicans, Jesuits, Franciscans, all of which included the poverty and chastity.  The Benedictine monasteries were set up to be self-sufficient, no reason and no allowing exit from the Order's land without permission of the Abbott. Commitment after taking vows was for life, enforced by punishments for veering from the strict Rule. Worship, reading, work. First service of the day:  2AM.  Everybody up.

A monastery in the area was helpful to the locals:  the feudal dominion and control over agricultural production exercised by the monastery, also offered good examples for farming methods, protection (this was a fortified monastery), charitable works, receiving Pilgrims, copying sacred books, keepers of their view of history.  See site. On the other hand, control of local practices also led to adding their farms to monastic lands (make Last Rites a "sacrament", be at the death bed, just leave it to the church?), and that in Sweden and Denmark led to resentment at the accumulating wealth. What happened here?

Up the road is an alternative, north of Sant Feliu:  Sant Pere Pescador.  It is a small town with that enchanting name, and a nondogmatic one.  This representation of Sant Pere Pescador in stone (need to check our logs) is the facade of Sant Pere Pescador, Saint Peter the Fisherman, at Figueres.  Ask as you vet:  Which is closer to the Founder:  Saint Peter the Fisherman, or Saint Peter ensconsed in rigidity, riches, and ritual, and then rejected so that Paul's ideas could root.

But Peter lost, and Benedict and his Rules ultimately won.  Who really won? Who lost.