Castles and Cathedrals

I have so many amazing things to share from the last week, but I’ll focus on the two highlights: visiting the old Roman town of Sagunto, a half hour bus ride from my campus (!!!), and visiting Barcelona.

For my Mediterranean Society class, we took an excursion to see the castle of Saguntum, which is over 2,000 years old. The walk through the sleepy town of Sagunto was absolutely wonderful.

First, we stopped to see the restored amphitheater. It was designed to carry sound all the way to the top.

Strategically, the castle is on a large hill, so the view from the top is impressive:

The castle itself is incredibly beautiful. The grounds are overrun with cacti which were imported from Mexico a few hundred years ago.

It was incredibly fun running around the battlements, imagining what it would be like to be a soldier defending the castle. From the other half of the castle, you can see the beautiful Mediterranean Sea. This castle was so important because of its strategic location on the coast.

A very famous battle occurred here around 200 B.C., when the castle was Roman occupied. Hannibal made a great victory for Carthage using elephants to attack the Romans. You can see here the ground where they made their attack from. Also, check out these stunning mountains. Overall, this day was a highlight of my trip. It’s also incredible that my university is barely 18 miles from here.

This past weekend, we went to Barcelona. The city is as beautiful as its reputation warrants (even if it was raining half the time). Here’s a view from the port.

We visited La Sagrada Familia, of course, and I was surprised by how much I appreciated the experience. I’ve never admired Gaudi’s work, but in person, the cathedral was amazing. There were so many details and strange things to look at. The designs are fascinating. Of course, it’s still under construction, although I found out that they “have to” complete the project by 2026, 100 years after Gaudi’s death.

In addition, we visited the Gothic Quarter. It feels like walking around in a movie (if you can tune out the thousands of tourists). I think this area is what I pictured most when I imagined Spain before I came here.

I feel so lucky to be in a place where I can take a day trip to a castle and a weekend trip to Barcelona!