Saturday, June 30, 2012

Astorga - Gaudí, chocolate y más...

Last Saturday was a busy day for our group here in León. Not only was there an optional excursion for students, but it also marked the beginning of the local fiestas and a key match for Spain´s national team in the Euro Cup.   

In spite of having to get up a bit earlier than usual on the weekend, many students decided to join us for the optional excursion to Astorga. Astorga, once a key city under the rule of the Roman Empire, is about an hour away (by bus) from León and is also a stop for many as they follow the Camino de Santiago through northern Spain. On our agenda for the morning visit was a tour of a palace constructed by Gaudí, the chocolate museum and the cathedral, which dates back to the 15th century.

The cathedral, declared a national monument in the 20th century, was under construction for nearly three centuries and thus exhibits design elements from Gothic, Neo-Classicist, Baroque and Renaissance styles.

As you can see, some of our students (and staff!) were eager to show their support for La Roja and proudly wore the team jersey on the excursion. Many of the locals were pleasantly suprised by how "well dressed" our students were. :)

The work of Catalan architect Antoní Gaudí , shown above, was originally intended to be an episcopal palace. As the building was never inhabited, it was later converted  into the Museo de los caminos, serving as a home for both historic and contemporary art pieces reflective of  life´s many caminos.

After touring the Gaudí´s palace, our next stop was one that many students had been looking forward to - the Museo de chocolate. Here, students not only got to learn about the history of chocolate and it´s production in Spain, but they also got to TASTE it. Needless to say, many souvenirs (and snacks) were bought during the visit. Hopefully, some of these treats will make it back to the U.S.!

Having tried all the chocolate they could (ranging from darkest to white, bitter to sweet, plain or with frutos secos), students were then given free time to visit the city and do some additional sight seeing. Shown below is the Plaza Mayor, which our students found to be rather small and low-key when compared with that in León.

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