Travel

The delights of the Duero River Valley

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There is a part of Spain, within a day’s drive of the Algarve, that you may have never heard of, let alone visited. If I’m right, you have been missing something interesting.

I’m talking about the Duero River valley. If you have driven north through Spain, heading for France or Britain, you have almost certainly driven from Salamanca through Valladolid and on to Burgos and Santander or Bilbao or France. You have driven right across the Duero River just south of Valladolid in the small town of Tordesillas.

The Duero River rises near Soria and runs from east to west through the provinces of Valladolid and Zamora before it forms the Spanish-Portuguese border for a while. When it enters Portugal, it changes its name to become the Douro and splashes on west to Porto and the Atlantic.

We all know the wonderful Douro wines – but you may not be aware of the fact that, in Spain, this river nourishes some very excellent Spanish wines, too.

There are a number of DOs (Denominación de Origen) that depend on the special climactic effects created by the Duero. The best known are the Ribera del Duero (home of Vega Sicilia, which is arguably Spain’s greatest wine) to the east of Valladolid and Rueda to the south of Tordesillas, but excellent, though lesser known, wines are also produced in the DOs of Cigales, north of Valladolid, and in Toro, Zamora and Los Arribes, all in the province of Zamora.

The red wines of Valladolid province are primarily made with the Tempranillo varietal and the whites with Verdejo or, increasingly, Sauvignon Blanc. In Zamora province, Tempranillo (here often called Tinta de Toro or Tinta del Pais) is equally as important but Garnacha and Juan Garcia are gaining in usage. Almost all the wines produced in both provinces are single varietals rather than blends and it is only in the Rueda DO that white wines are produced in quantity.

The Toro wines were so prestigious that King Alfonso IX of Léon conceded privileges for their production in the 12th century and Columbus took Toro wine on his 1492 expedition, because it could survive long journeys due to its structure and body.

A group of us recently wanted to experience the various Duero wines in situ, so we used the harvest festival in Toro (Fiesta de la Vendimia) in mid-October as our excuse to spend a week tasting wines, eating some wonderful Castillian tapas and looking at the scenery and architectural wonders of the area.

Our base was the Hotel Juan II in Toro, overlooking the Duero and right next to the magnificent collegiate church of Santa Maria la Mayor, a really beautiful combination of Romanesque and Gothic architecture that was begun in 1160.

Not far away was the impressive Monasterio de Sancti Spiritus, founded in 1307 and home to a lovely collection of religious art and a beautiful Romanesque cloisters. More interesting, from our point of view, was the beautiful alabaster sarcophagus of Beatriz of Portugal, only child of King Ferdinand I and, in 1383, wife and Queen Consort of King Juan I of Castille.

Our tour took us to the Los Arribes DO, a long, narrow strip of rocky slopes along the eastern banks of the Duero on the Portuguese border (the name “Arribes” derives from the Latin ad ripam, which means “on the banks of”). The terroir is so hardscrabble and dry it is amazing that any wine at all can be grown, but, in fact, we tasted some quite drinkable ones. We also had the opportunity to take a cruise in the international waters of the ”Grand Canyon” of the Arribes del Duero. It was quite spectacular.

On our way back to Toro we stopped in Zamora for a walk around the old town, a look at the cathedral built in the mid-12th century, with its graceful cupola covered with scallop tiling, and an excellent dinner in one of the province’s finest restaurants, El Rincón de Antonio, the tasting menu of which was, of course, complemented by very tasty Rueda white and Toro red wines.

The Toro Fiesta runs over four days, and, during it, the town’s population swells from just under 10,000 to about 30,000, with the influx being almost entirely Spanish tourists.

The townsfolk are dressed in medieval costume and the celebrations are capped by the Gran Torneo de Justas Medieval on Saturday afternoon in the very rustic bullring. This is an hour long pièce de theatre, by four knights-errant and their pages, of (simulated) jousting, sword play and various pranks, all played for laughs to the vast amusement of the crowd. Of course, the knight representing Castille “won”, at the expense of the insipid (and probably drunk) knight representing Portugal and the mean and ugly black knight. Cheers all around.

On a political note, our visit was just after the “referendum” vote in Catalonia, and we were struck by the vibrant nationalist spirit in evidence all around us. There were many Spanish flags displayed prominently – a practice that, until now, had been rather frowned upon as being slightly fascist. It was clear that, while the illegal vote may have been divisive vis-à-vis Catalonia, it had certainly brought the rest of Spain closer together as a nation.

Our drive back home on the Sunday (with a boot full of good Spanish wine) was about 750km, all autoroute, and covered in about six hours – leaving time for a good tapas lunch on the way. Viva España!

By Larry Hampton

The mean and ugly black knight having a sword fight with the good knight (in red) representing Castille during the Gran Torneo Medieval in Toro’s bull ring

The Toro Clock Tower (Torre del Reloj), seen looking down on some of the revellers during Toro’s harvest festival

A view of the lovely cloisters in the Monasterio de Sancti Spiritus in Toro

The alabaster sarcophagus of Beatriz of Portugal in the Monasterio de Sancti Spiritus

The mid-12th century Zamora Cathedral

Ancient wine barrels in the vast cellars of the Menade winery deep underground in La Seca in Rueda

A view of the Duero River, with Portugal on the left and Spain on the right

The beautiful 12th Century Collegiate church of Santa Maria la Mayor in Toro

A typical display of the Spanish flag in the Plaza Mayor of Zafra

VN Barquinha celebrates protocol with Templar order that will make CITA the “world’s most important repository on the Order of the Temple”

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The Vila Nova da Barquinha Municipality has entered into a protocol with two branches of the Templar Order – the Ordo Supremus Militaris Templi Hierosolimitani Universalis (OSMTHU) and the Ordre Sovereign et Militaiire du Temple de Jerusalem (OSMTJ) – to declare the municipality and the Interpretation Center Almourol Templar (CITA) as an International Place of Templar Cultural Interest.

The proposal for the protocol came to the Municipal Chamber meeting on October 9 and deserved a positive opinion from the executive.

Councilor Marina Honório explains that the initiative results from the association of OSMTHU and OSMTJ who also wants Vila Nova da Barquinha to host “an annual event of the International Congress type and the recommendation that bibliographic collections and objects could be sent to the Center and enrich the CITA as an unavoidable international reference on the Order of the Temple and its cultural influences across the ages.”

As a starting point for this collaboration, Fernando Freire explained that both branches of the Order have already approved several initiatives aimed at encouraging collectors, archives and library owners to make donations and to make CITA by 2021 the “most important, complete and extensive”. repository and bibliographic collection on the Order of the Temple ”.

On the OSMTHU side, one of the initiatives is the negotiation of the passage of the Temple Archive, consisting of multiple original documentation concerning the International Chancellery and the International Federative Alliance Secretariat since 1988, as well as various objects and archives, on loan to the locality of Soria, Spain since 2007, for CITA in Vila Nova da Barquinha.

Another initiative to be taken by OSMTHU is to designate CITA as the “custodial institution to be handed over the update of the Order’s Archives, composed of the official documentation produced by the International Chancellery annually” as well as the “addition of historical documentary collections. bibliographic and objects of archaeological, academic or museological interest that can be donated ”.

The OSMTHU will also offer a forged replica, according to traditional rules, of the sword of the crusader Godofredo Bulhões, symbol of the historical context that gave rise to the Order of the Temple.

The OSMTJ will contribute with the deposit of a thematic bibliographic collection as well as an extensive documentary archive about the activity of the Order in the last half of the twentieth century.

In addition to the initiatives in terms of Archive and Library, the protocol also provides for cultural exchanges, through the loan and exhibition of specific pieces.

Finally, this collaboration also aims to hold an International Conference. An “annual international event taking place in 2020, 2021 and 2022”, as explained by the mayor of VN Barquinha, Fernando Freire.

The venue for the annual event will be CITA, whose organization, programming and promotion will be the responsibility of the two orders involved in the protocol.

It is recalled that the Templar Interpretation Center of Almourol was opened to the public in November 2018 and is a pioneer center for the Order of the Temple in Portugal, endowed with a relevant set of features including an exhibition space, auditorium and thematic library.

By Ana Rita Cristóvão, antenalivre.pt

VN Barquinha celebra protocolo com ordens templárias que vai tornar CITA no “mais importante repositório mundial sobre a Ordem do Templo”

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O Município de Vila Nova da Barquinha celebrou um protocolo com duas ordens templárias – a Ordo Supremus Militaris Templi Hierosolimitani Universalis (OSMTHU) e a Ordre Sovereign et Militaiire du Temple de Jerusalem (OSMTJ) – a fim de declarar o município e o Centro de Interpretação Templário de Almourol (CITA) como Lugar Internacional de Interesse Cultural Templário.

A proposta de celebração de protocolo veio a reunião de Câmara no dia 9 de outubro e mereceu parecer positivo do executivo.

A vereadora Marina Honório explica que a iniciativa resulta da associação da OSMTHU e da OSMTJ e pretende também que Vila Nova da Barquinha seja sede de “um evento anual do tipo Congresso Internacional e recomendação de destino de acervos bibliográficos e objetos que possam enriquecer o CITA como referência internacional incontornável sobre a Ordem do Templo e suas influências culturais em todas as épocas”.

Como sinal de arranque desta colaboração, Fernando Freire explicou que ambos os ramos da Ordem aprovaram já diversas iniciativas que têm como objetivo encorajar colecionadores, arquivos e donos de bibliotecas a fazer doações e a tornar o CITA até 2021 no “mais importante, completo e extensivo repositório e acervo bibliográfico mundial sobre a Ordem do Templo”.

Da parte da OSMTHU, uma das iniciativas passa pela negociação da passagem do Arquivo do Templo, constituída por múltipla documentação original relativa à Chancelaria Internacional e ao Secretariado da Aliança Federativa Internacional desde 1988, bem como objetos e arquivo diverso, sob empréstimo à localidade de Sória, Espanha desde 2007, para o CITA em Vila Nova da Barquinha.

Outra das iniciativas a ser tomada pela OSMTHU é designar o CITA como a “instituição à guarda do qual será entregue a atualização do Arquivo da Ordem, composto pela documentação oficial produzida pela Chancelaria Internacional anualmente” bem como da “adição de peças documentais históricas, acervos bibliográficos e objetos de interesse arqueológico, académico ou museológicos que a esta possam ser doados”.

A OSMTHU vai também [convidar a Grão Priorado de Toledo da OSMTH a] oferecer uma réplica forjada, segundo as regras tradicionais, da espada do cruzado Godofredo Bulhões, símbolo do contexto histórico que proporcionou o surgimento da Ordem do Templo.

Já a OSMTJ contribuirá com o depósito de uma coleção bibliográfica temática de relevo bem como um extenso arquivo documental sobre a atividade da Ordem na última metade do século XX.

Para além das iniciativas em termos de Arquivo e Biblioteca, o protocolo prevê também trocas culturais, através do empréstimo e exposição de peças específicas.

Por fim, esta colaboração pretende também a realização de uma Conferência Internacional. Um “evento anual de âmbito internacional a decorrer em 2020, 2021 e 2022”, conforme explicou o presidente da Câmara de VN Barquinha, Fernando Freire.

O local escolhido para o evento anual será o CITA, cuja organização, programação e promoção será responsabilidade das duas ordens envolvidas no protocolo.

Recorde-se que o Centro de Interpretação Templário de Almourol foi aberto ao público em novembro de 2018 e é um centro pioneiro no que respeita à Ordem do Templo em Portugal, dotado de um conjunto relevante de recursos que incluem um espaço para exposições, auditório e biblioteca temática.

Por Ana Rita Cristóvão, antenalivre.pt

World experts in “Templarism” in Vila Nova da Barquinha

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“Order of the Temple – Spiritual Chivalry and Templarism” is the theme of the event that will bring together, between October 11 and 13, 2019, in the Almourol Templar Interpretation Center, Vila Nova da Barquinha, Portugal, the world’s leading experts on this subject, with speakers from France, Italy, [Germany, Austria] the United States and Portugal.

Antonio Paris (OSMTHU Master, Italy), Barbara Frale (of the Vatican Archives), Nicolas Haimovici (OSMTJ Regent, France), John von Blauch (United States), Luís de Matos, Manuel J. Gandra, Ernesto Jana and Nuno Villamariz Oliveira (Portugal) are some of the confirmed speakers.

During the event a new temporary exhibition will be inaugurated in the Templar Interpretation Center of Almourol – “Santoral and Templar liturgy”. The catalog of the exhibition will be made available on opening day. The event will also be remarked by the signing of Protocols of Cooperation and Partnership with CITA and the reception of the replica of the sword of Godofredo de Bouillon.

The program includes visits to Almourol Castle (Vila Nova da Barquinha) and the Convent of Christ (Tomar), as well as musical moments.

Registrations cost 15 € (with catalog offer), are mandatory and limited. The contact for more information and registration is +351 249720358.

Especialistas mundiais em “Templarismo” em Vila Nova da Barquinha

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“Ordem do Templo – Cavalaria Espiritual – Templarismo” é o tema da iniciativa que irá reunir, entre 11 e 13 de outubro de 2019, no Centro de Interpretação Templário de Almourol, Vila Nova da Barquinha, os maiores especialistas mundiais nesta temática, com oradores oriundos de França, Itália, Estados Unidos e Portugal.

António Paris (Mestre da OSMTHU, Itália), Barbara Frale (Arquivo do Vaticano), Nicolas Haimovici (Regente da OSMTJ, França), John von Blauch (Estados Unidos), Luís de Matos, Manuel J. Gandra, Ernesto Jana e Nuno Villamariz Oliveira (Portugal) são alguns dos oradores já confirmados.

Durante o evento terá lugar a inauguração da nova exposição temporária do Centro de Interpretação Templário de Almourol – “Santoral e liturgia templárias à roda do ano” – assim como a apresentação do respetivo catálogo. O acontecimento ficará também marcado pela assinatura de Protocolos de Cooperação e Parceria com o CITA e receção da réplica da espada de Godofredo de Bouillon.

Do programa fazem parte visitas ao Castelo de Almourol (Vila Nova da Barquinha) e ao Convento de Cristo (Tomar), bem como momentos musicais.

As inscrições tem um custo de 15€ (com oferta de catálogo), são obrigatórias e limitadas. O contacto para obter mais informações e inscrições é o telefone +351 249720358.

Por 

La fin des travaux de restauration du château de Quéribus

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Le chantier aura duré sept mois. Le château cathare de Quéribus, à la frontière entre l’Aude et les Pyrénées-Orientales, a subi une cure de jouvence. Un chantier indispensable pour ce site qui date du Xe siècle.

Les visiteurs ont pu redécouvrir ce mardi le château de Quéribus après sept mois de travaux. Un chantier périlleux en raison de la localisation du château cathare : en haut d’une falaise, à 728 mètres d’altitude.

Des maçons alpinistes !

Il a fallu utiliser des hélicoptères pour acheminer le matériel nécessaire (eau, chaux, sable, etc..) au pied de l’édifice. Parmi les travaux réalisés : le rejointoiement des murs. Pour Bruno Schenck, premier adjoint au maire de Cucugnan “c’était impératif. On pouvait passer la moitié du bras entre les pierres ! Cela n’avait jamais été fait depuis des siècles.” Il a aussi fallu s’occuper de plusieurs voûtes. Celle entre le corps de logis et le parvis du donjon a été refaite à l’ancienne, avec des moellons, et l’autre a été réalisée avec des pierres de taille travaillées sur place.

Le chantier a été compliqué techniquement. Un seul mot d’ordre: respecter l’architecture médiévale de l’époque. Ce sont des maçons spécialisés qui s’en sont chargés, des maçons alpinistes accrochés à la façade pour certains travaux, comme sur le donjon.

Bruno Schenck, l’adjoint au maire de Cucugnan est fier du résultat: “c’est un vrai bonheur d’avoir réalisé ce chantier, c’est essentiel pour le maintien du patrimoine. Le dossier en vue d’un classement au patrimoine mondial de l’UNESCO continue, mais c’est très long !”

Par Isabelle Rolland, Sébastien Berriot, France Bleu Roussillon, France Bleu Occitanie

Groundbreaking Agreement Brings OSMTJ and OSMTHU Templars to the Table

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Regent Fr+ Nicolas Haimovici-Hastier (third from right) with his Magisterial Council in Zagreb, Croatia 2019

A groundbreaking agreement was signed between the OSMTJ and the OSMTHU, two of the leading branches of the Templar Order whose most modern institution dates back from over 200 years ago.

In a notably fragmented movement, with many small groups of undetermined origin and frequent divisions in the main branches, the firm determination of the OSMTHU to counter current trends and work on a convergence of goals expressed by the Declaration of Arraiolos (Portugal, 2018) was met by the long standing work for Templar Unity of the OSMTJ, under Regent Nicolas Haimovici-Hastier. Upon the Regent’s proposal to select a city or Templar relevant place that could work as a neutral ground of Cultural Exchange, where all groups, researchers, students and general public interested in the Templar Order could meet, discuss, learn and create bonds of friendship, the Grand Priory of Portugal of the OSMTHU committed to make all efforts to elect Vila Nova da Barquinha – of the Castle of Almourol fame and location of the Templar Interpretation Center (CIT) – the official seat of the Cultural Exchange Association between both branches.

To that end the early preparation steps have been taken to have a 3 year run of an International Congress to start in 2019 in Fall, in a date to be announced shortly.

So, leave your calendars opened to travel to Portugal this Fall, to Vila Nova da Barquinha (Almourol) – a short distance from Lisbon’s main airport and a shorter distance from Tomar – to be part of history when both groups celebrate fraternal friendship under the protection of the Templar Order.

Copy of the Agreement: