March 25 Les Cases d'Alcanar --> Tortosa --> Mora d'Ebre --> Les Cases

d'Alcanar

We left camp, heading north through dark, glossy-green orange groves, before cutting over to the coastal road. As is often the case with coastal roads, beach or water views were hard to find. Most beach front property is private, as is access to the water. Despite the lack of water views, the drive along coast between low mountains and the sea provided inter- esting views of graffiti covered abandoned buildings, small businesses, orchards, palm trees, and housing developments. We were anxious to resume our interupted explora- tion of northern Catalonia and planning a long drive, all of the way back to Pals near the French border; so as we drove through Sant Carles de la Ràpita we resisted the temptation to explore its fishing port, we resisted the rice fields of the Ebre delta, and we followed the Ebre river towards Tortosa. The cities and towns of Catalonia tempt, distract, and beckon. Astride the Ebro, the ancient city of Tortosa waylaid us. An ancient city, thought to be the site of Hibera fought over by the Carthigineans and Romans in the third century BCE, it is well ensconced in the 21st century but has retained much of its historic feel. Three Euros apiece (no photos allowed) purchased entry to the mysteries of the 14th century cathedral with its 18th century facade. The sound of our rubber soles (not souls) on polished stone echoed softly from the high vaulted ceiling. A few (not more than 10 or 12) people attended mass in a small side chapel, but aside from them, the cathedral was dark, sombre, and nearly deserted. And yet, this relatively small cathedral, in a small city, displayed unimaginable wealth and treasure. Golden sacramental objects, silken robes embroidered in gold and silver thread, guilt statues and altars, 10th century manuscripts beautifully illuminated in gold, large10th century tapestries hung from the walls, wood carvings, guilt altars, and paintings from some of the masters overwhelmed the senses. We could not help but wonder at the devotion and faith of those who had created and paid for this glorification, and at the power of a church that could command such generosity. If this small cathedral, in this small city could, in addition to its land and magnificent buildings, display such wealth, what must be the accumulated wealth of the Catholic church? Later we explored the streets, sharing them with people going about their everyday lives, only the latest residents in an over two millenia long line, in a place fought over by Carthaginians, Romans, Moors and Christians. We climbed to the old Moorish castle atop the hill, taken by the crusaders and once home to the infamous Knights Templar. We climbed through areas of reconstruction, the demolition exposing layers of ancient foundations and walls constructed of a mix of ancient stone blocks and more modern bricks, excavated holes in the  bedrock that may once have served as cellars or hiding places. I wondered, do they know the who, what, or when of these ancient stones, how do they decide what to preserve or what to destroy, are they blasé about the history they expose? Reflecting on the different sense of history between here and home, we  returned to our van for lunch in the parking lot. Over lunch and a lengthy discussion, we decided against a long drive and late arrival in Pals and decided to do a bit of a circle route through the mountain and valley landscapes. We continued north, along the Ebre River though the forested foothills and valleys of the Serra del Boix and back to the orchards of the Ebre valley and Mora d'Ebra, west across the plateau to Corbera d'Ebra, and then southwest to Gandesa and the forested valleys of the Serra de Pandols, before rejoining the Ebre and retracing our to route to camp at Les Cases d'Alcanar.

March 26 Les Cases d'Alcanar - Pals

An uneventful day traveling north to resume the explorations interrupted by my accident.
A Sense of Place:  Travel, Photography, and Photo-art
by David E. Moon
© David E. Moon, 2014  All rights reserved
Slideshow Slideshow Route Map Route Map
Abandoned factory and freeway overpass. The Sacristry, Saint Mary's Cathedral, Tortosa Tourists leaving the cathedral. Fertile farmland on the lower Ebre.
A Sense of Place:  Travel, Photography, and Photo-art
© David E. Moon, 2014  All rights reserved

March 25 Les Cases d'Alcanar --> Tortosa

--> Mora d'Ebre --> Les Cases d'Alcanar

We left camp, heading north through dark, glossy-green orange groves, before cutting over to the coastal road. As is often the case with coastal roads, beach or water views were hard to find. Most beach front property is private, as is access to the water. Despite the lack of water views, the drive along coast between low mountains and the sea provided interesting views of graffiti covered aban- doned build- ings, small businesses, orchards, palm trees, and housing develop- ments. We were anxious to resume our interupted exploration of northern Catalonia and planning a long drive, all of the way back to Pals near the French border; so as we drove through Sant Carles de la Ràpita we resisted the temptation to explore its fishing port, we resisted the rice fields of the Ebre delta, and we followed the Ebre river towards Tortosa. The cities and towns of Catalonia tempt, distract, and beckon. Astride the Ebro, the ancient city of Tortosa waylaid us. An ancient city, thought to be the site of Hibera fought over by the Carthigineans and Romans in the third century BCE, it is well ensconced in the 21st century but has retained much of its historic feel. Three Euros apiece (no photos allowed) purchased entry to the mysteries of the 14th century cathedral with its 18th century facade. The sound of our rubber soles (not souls) on polished stone echoed softly from the high vaulted ceiling. A few (not more than 10 or 12) people attended mass in a small side chapel, but aside from them, the cathedral was dark, sombre, and nearly deserted. And yet, this relatively small cathedral, in a small city, displayed unimaginable wealth and treasure. Golden sacramental objects, silken robes embroidered in gold and silver thread, guilt statues and altars, 10th century manuscripts beautifully illuminated in gold, large10th century tapestries hung from the walls, wood carvings, guilt altars, and paintings from some of the masters overwhelmed the senses. We could not help but wonder at the devotion and faith of those who had created and paid for this glorification, and at the power of a church that could command such generosity. If this small cathedral, in this small city could, in addition to its land and magnificent buildings, display such wealth, what must be the accumulated wealth of the Catholic church? Later we explored the streets, sharing them with people going about their everyday lives, only the latest residents in an over two millenia long line, in a place fought over by Carthaginians, Romans, Moors and Christians. We climbed to the old Moorish castle atop the hill, taken by the crusaders and once home to the infamous Knights Templar. We climbed through areas of reconstruction, the demolition exposing layers of ancient foundations and walls constructed of a mix of ancient stone blocks and more modern bricks, excavated holes in the  bedrock that may once have served as cellars or hiding places. I wondered, do they know the who, what, or when of these ancient stones, how do they decide what to preserve or what to destroy, are they blasé about the history they expose? Reflecting on the different sense of history between here and home, we  returned to our van for lunch in the parking lot. Over lunch and a lengthy discussion, we decided against a long drive and late arrival in Pals and decided to do a bit of a circle route through the mountain and valley landscapes. We continued north, along the Ebre River though the forested foothills and valleys of the Serra del Boix and back to the orchards of the Ebre valley and Mora d'Ebra, west across the plateau to Corbera d'Ebra, and then southwest to Gandesa and the forested valleys of the Serra de Pandols, before rejoining the Ebre and retracing our to route to camp at Les Cases d'Alcanar.

March 26 Les Cases d'Alcanar - Pals

An uneventful day traveling north to resume the explorations interrupted by my accident.
Slideshow Slideshow Route Map Route Map
Abandoned factory and freeway overpass. The Sacristry, Saint Mary's Cathedral, Tortosa Tourists leaving the cathedral. Fertile farmland on the lower Ebre.