Greetings from Spain!
This week’s newsletter will be a bit different because I’m writing it from my favorite place in the world - Spain. I’m a huge fan of many of the more well known places throughout Spain - Madrid, Barcelona, Granada, Cádiz, Sevilla - but recently I’ve been exploring lesser known places that deserve a visit.
Because here’s the thing -
I’ve learned there’s magic to be found when you venture off the beaten path.
For example, I found magic last summer when my husband and I traveled with our Spaniard friends to their favorite Spanish island, Formentera and later when we ventured on our own to the beautiful Parador of Lerma, and visited various villages. I also found magic along one of the lesser known routes (Camino Invierno) of the Camino de Santiago on a trip with my family last fall.
But this week, I want to tell you about the MAGIC that I found in Zamora, Spain during Semana Santa (Holy Week). Not only did I get to experience Holy Week at all hours of the day and night, I also got to know the people of Zamora, learn about their traditions, and get insider access to processions and many of the local treasures.
If you want to visit a city where you’ll be welcomed with open arms and feel a positive energy that’s undeniable… come to Zamora.
A bit about Zamora.
Zamora is the capital city of the province of Zamora. It’s located on the banks of the Duero River and along the Silver Route (Vía de la Plata) of the Camino de Santiago.
Zamora’s Semana Santa was the first Holy Week in Spain to be declared a Site of Cultural Interest and is one of the oldest in Spain.
Zamora is known for its Romanesque architecture and has the largest number of Romanesque churches in all of Europe, including a beautiful cathedral, castle, and a 15th Century Palace of the Counts of Alba de Aliste that is now a Parador hotel.
In addition, Zamora features Romanesque arches, narrow cobblestone streets, a well-preserved wall surrounding the city, and the historic Puente de Piedra - which offers amazing views of the city and Duero River.
These are some of the facts you’d get with a quick Google of Zamora, Spain.
But this newsletter isn’t going to be about facts.
It’s going to be about the Magic of Zamora.
Rooftop view of people gathering to watch a procession on Holy Thursday.
You may have seen some of these pictures (or others) if you follow me on social media (@abbeyalgiers on Instagram & FB). My friend Moira told me that every time she read my posts on Zamora, she’d immediately sing an oldie with a new twist… “When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that’s Zamora.”
I like her version.
Because the magic of Zamora is due to the magic of its people.
And that, my friends, is Amore. (Or for my Spanish amigos… amor :).)
And Amore is inspiring this newsletter. More pieces with facts will come later.
But this week I’m going to share some of the magic that can’t be Googled, and can only be discovered when beautiful people (Isabel & family, Oficina de Turismo de Castilla y León y de España en Chicago, Fundación Siglo, Ayuntamiento de Zamora Concejalía de Turismo y Cultura , y al Sr. Alcalde de Zamora Francisco Guarido, Television Zamora - Sara Andrés y Maria Gil -cyltv.es, Hotel NH Zamora, Xavier Xalabardé Communication, and many more) take the time to share a moment and their city, and show exactly what makes it special.
Below, a glimpse of some of the images from my time in Zamora, Spain:
I arrived on Wednesday of Holy Week, late in the afternoon & just in time for a short tour of the city and see the magnificent cathedral, churches, castle, and bridges. (Thank you to Estrella for an amazing tour!)
After my tour, I attended the “Procession of Silence” and later the “Capas Pardas - Brown Hoods.” Note the “caperuzo” or conical hats and the penitential robes worn by the “penitentes” or penitents. The caperuzos have been worn for years to conceal the face of the wearer so as to indicate their inner reflection and anonymity - going inward to solemnly reflect, get closer to God, and shield their face in order to hide their identities.
Scenes from Procession of Silence.
After this initiation into Holy Week, my friend Isabel took me to meet her family and friends for a dinner at La Mafia (a great restaurant with an even better name in the center of Zamora). And then… it was off to watch the procession of the Capas Pardas, beginning at midnight.
More on that & the rest of my magical trip in the weeks to come.
Scenes before and during the Capas Pardas Procession.
Again, these are just a few of the many beautiful, thought provoking images I captured during my week. I can’t wait to share the story of one local village’s annual December festival and how they let me try on one of their typical costumes, El Tafarrón.
Please stay tuned… I’ll be posting links to Zamora articles in the coming weeks. In the meantime, consider a trip to Zamora!
And even if you can’t travel to Zamora to experience this magic… remember that there’s magic around every corner in the things you do, places you visit, and most importantly, the people you meet each and every day.
Just look for it, there’s magic off the beaten path and there’s magic in life.
It exists. I promise.