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 beautiful round castle of Arraiolos, Portugal, once held by the Order of Christ, was the centerpiece of the traditional Pentecost celebrations of the Grand Priory of Portugal of the OSMTHU.
Just like the Templar Beauceant, the flag with a white field and black field, the traditional adoubement ceremony takes place in the light and in the dark. It starts during the day but soon it goes into the depthness of night, from an opened enlightened world into a closed tight womb of meditation where the future knight in silent vigil hopes for the deliverance of light. In hope and faith, the knight is delivered.
Study and Instruction time
Time to savor the fruits of fraternal friendship
Preparing for sunset – the light subsides to darkness
In darkness we work in hope of light
Great blessings come to those who wait
“Veni, Créator Spíritus,
Mentes tuórum visita,
Imple suprema grátia,
Que tu creásti, péctora.
Qui díceris Paráclitus,
Donum Dei altíssimi,
Fons vivus, ignis, cáritas
Et spiritális únctio.
Tu septifórmis múnere,
Dextrae Dei tu digitus,
Tu rite promissum Patris
Sermóne ditans gúttura.
Accénde lumen sénsibus
Infúnde amórem córdibus,
Infírma nostri córporis,
Virtúte firmans pérpeti.
Hostem repéllas lóngius
Pacémque dones prótinus;
Ductóre sic te praévio
Vitémus omne nóxium.
Per te sciámus da Patrem
Noscámus atque Filium,
Te utriúsque Spíritum
Credámus omni témpore. Amen.”
O Palácio da Pena ergue-se sobre uma rocha escarpada, que é o segundo ponto mais alto da Serra de Sintra. Localiza-se na zona oriental do Parque da Pena, que é necessário percorrer para se chegar à íngreme rampa que o Barão de Eschwege construiu para se aceder à edificação acastelada. O Palácio propriamente dito é constituído por duas alas: o antigo convento manuelino da Ordem de São Jerónimo e a ala edificada no século XIX por D. Fernando II. Estas alas estão rodeadas por uma terceira estrutura arquitetónica, em que se fantasia um imaginário castelo de caminhos de ronda com merlões e ameias, torres de vigia, um túnel de acesso e até uma ponte levadiça.
Em 1838 o rei D. Fernando II adquiriu o antigo convento de monges Jerónimos de Nossa Senhora da Pena, que tinha sido erguido no topo da Serra de Sintra em 1511 pelo rei D. Manuel I e se encontrava devoluto desde 1834 com a extinção das ordens religiosas. O convento compunha-se do claustro e dependências, da capela, sacristia e torre sineira, que constituem hoje o núcleo norte do Palácio da Pena, ou Palácio Velho.
É um dos mais importantes legados do Portugal simbólico. A propósito do antigo Mosteiro da Pena, do Rei Artista D. Fernando II e da recriação arquitectónica e paisagística da mítica Ilha Secreta dos heróis e da Floresta que cerca o Castelo Inacessível do Santo Graal, iremos conhecer melhor mitos e lendas que enquadram o programa simbólico e o lançam, com força e vigor, em direcção ao futuro. Ao Portugal que falta cumprir, nas palavras de Fernando Pessoa.
A visita terá lugar no dia 24 de Maio, iniciando-se pelas 14h30 e terminando 19.00h, sendo guiada por Luis de Matos (ver: universatil.wordpress.com).
As inscrições são limitadas e devem estar concluídas até dois dias antes da visita por imposições logísticas do próprio Palácio.
A visita tem um custo de 10€ por pessoa + entrada no monumento* (ver preços de admissão ao monumento em: parquesdesintra.pt)
Inscrições prévias: email@example.com
* para alunos do Curso Livre Templários e Templarismo da Universidade Lusófona, bem como membros da OSMTHU a visita é gratuita e apenas devem pagar a entrada no monumento, contudo DEVEM INSCREVER-SE de modo a garantir a participação.
New Knights and Dames were dubbed this past weekend in the Commandery of Sintra of the Priory of Iberia (OSMTHU) in Portugal. We wish to congratulate them all, welcoming them in a brotherhood of service, spirituality and pursuit of knowledge. Let there be known their names: Dame Anabela Melão, DTJ; Dame Ana Tavares de Mello, DTJ; Dame Susana Ferreira, DTJ; Dame Isabel Passos, DTJ; Knight Bruno Judas, KTJ; Knight Michel Rodrigues, KTJ; Knight Paulo Cristóvão, KCTJ; Knight Paulo Valente, KTJ; Knight Rui Herdadinha, Knight Vitor Barata, KTJ and Knight Vitorino Batalim, KTJ.
The Priori of Iberia and the Magisterial Council wish to congratulate the new Knights and Dames, hoping that they will find a meaningful pathway for their spiritual quest in this new stage of their lives, in the certainty that they can now see Chivalry as a living force, instead of dead letters in the pages of a dusty old book.
As the sun was setting in the distant horizon of the Roca Cape, the westernmost extent of mainland in continental Europe, the very place where land abruptly ends and the vast ocean begins, the Squires contemplated how the light of the world cyclically hides and how fragile the last few rays seem to be, distant from the mighty golden shine of noon. Soon darkness covered the land. It was time to return to the safety of the Commandery.
A light meal followed. Right after that all were called to the Chapter Room for the last instructions and examination before the Vigil. The Prior General read from some of the main traditional text sources, exploring a few of the most basic and central themes that should be considered before undertaking the Vigil and join the Order. All Squires were examined.
The Vigil started after the darkest hour of night. The Latin Rule of the Order of the Temple was read. Then the Apocalypse and the Gospel of Marc were read aloud in its entirety by the group of Squires, taking turns. Each was taken individually to a private room, for spiritual consolamentum.
Just before dawn, the Squires were taken to open field, near the ocean again, to testify of the return of the light. Like John, they were able to testify that the light returns in its full glory and that all the land and the creatures of the earth and sky rejoice in its presence. Soon the almighty Sun was shining in full force, casting away morning fog and every dark shadow.
It was turn to go to the Chapel. There, the Chapter work was resumed. The ritual was performed in the strict observance of its rules and all Squires were dubbed, Knight and Dame they were dubbed. The Eucharist was celebrated by the Apostolic Prefect of the Priory and all Brothers and Sisters sat at the holy table of bread and wine, body and soul of the Lord.
In this joyous occasion three new Commanders were sworn, with three Commanderies created. Knight Olivier de Brito, KCTJ became the Commander of Arrabida; Dame Ana Brum, DCTJ became Commander of Lisbon – Sant’Ana Hill and Knight Paulo Cristóvão, KCTJ became Commander of Lisbon- Sain Vicent Hill.
They all departed after noon, rejoining their families and their secular life, carrying in their hearts the living presence of what they had just lived.
Note: It should be noted that Paulo Pereira Cristóvão, reported as Commander of Lisbon, hasn’t been a member of the Order since December 13, 2014. The recent criminal cahrges faced by Paulo Pereira Crisóvão pertain only to his private life and do not commit the Order or its members in any way. The Order regrets to have been misslead for his previous clean criminal record and will duly add his name, according to statutes, to the public record of those revoked from the Order.