Café Crem

Art, Music and Words around The Coffee Table

In Camera, In Absentis – Part 3

So there we were, Tuesday afternoon (not that you could tell with the cloud cover swirling around us like a dowagers skirts) Perched on the Puerto de Piquera, knocking back a coffee, whilst I manfully avoided the yummy white chocolate in the fridge that seemed to be insidiously calling to me; “Eat me, eat me…”

They are building a vast road tunnel beneath this mountain, and a good job too. As we switchback-swung left, right, left, down , deeper and down, freeing ourselves of the murk, we emerged into sunlight and began to travel across wide open plains. By mid afternoon, staying faithful to the N-111, skirting the small township of Almazan, we were approaching the outskirts of Molina de Aragon, and the strange, castellated silhouette of the hillside overlooking the town determined our decision to stop.

Situated in the Province of Guadalajara, Molina de Aragon in the 21st century boasts a modest population of 3,000+, but the Castillo that looks down on the town like a benevolent, if stern, grandfather has seen centuries of change. It began life as an Arabic-operations centre of sorts for the Kalif of Cordoba, and its walls resonate with memories of the re-conquest by the Spanish in 1129, and internecine wars between 1356-69.

In the War of Independence, the resistance of the locals to the Napoleonic troops was so fierce that their houses were burned to the ground in reprisals. Their heroism and defiance led to Cortes conferring the title on Molina de Aragon of “Most Noble and Most Faithful City”.

We found the most beautifully situated rest area at the foot of the steep hills upon which the Castillo sat. With the towering walls to one side, and the picturesque patchwork red roofs of the town on the other, we’d made our mind up. This was were we would spend Tuesday night. We set off up the well-worn path, wondering what ran through the soldiers minds in those far off days as they attempted to lay siege to this place. I fancied all they would have got for their trouble was a barrel of boiling oil on their head, and arrow in their ass as a goodbye. The sun hit the walls, washing them in gold as a flock of birds exploded from the high towers.

Molina de Aragon

The beauty of this place is its lack of tourist facilities. It is simply there to be enjoyed. Their are no coca-cola salesmen, no gift shops, no turnstiles. It is simply there, and as you walk amongst its crumbling yet proud ruins, you travel in time, and taste the history on your tongue.

At the very summit there stands a gated chapel or monastery of some kind, chained shut, but seemingly in use. A retreat perhaps? Or the last haven of the conquistadors whose bones have turned to dust, but whose exploits echo through the ages…

We wandered the hillside for a while, cresting a ridge that gave insight into the town’s schizophrenia, the old village on the right, and the newer town tentatively embracing industrialisation on the left. The Castillo bestriding, observing all, impassive.

Miki de Aragon

We wandered back to the Motorhome, and Miki resolved to climb amongst the ruins again to photograph and sketch. As the sun bade farewell and shadows crept stealthily along the battlements we once again considered ourselves fortunate to be able to take the time to stumble upon these wonderful villages that seem to belong to another time.

You can see some watercolour travel sketches from Miki in her blog (but she started to sketch a little bit later on in the trip, as the outside stopped to be that awful big grey mass…)

Next: A serious case of the bends…..

Kev Moore


April 8, 2008 - Posted by | Art, culture, drawing, life, nature, painting, photography, religion, travel, writing | , , , , , ,


  1. Great post Kev. I could see the story in my mind and you leave enough space between the words for me to have my moment of thoughtful grace. This is what great writing allows for. The photos today are sunny and bright and I could not help but imagine that the birds taking off had something to do with the magic of this place. Perhaps the birds know how to pass down a story like humans. Off to see the paintings now.

    Comment by Michael | April 8, 2008

  2. Oh again, I wanted to say Miki going off on her own is an interesting character trait of hers. She seems to sense when to do this and voila she discovers what she senses I presume. It seems apparent in the prodigious output of paintings and sketches.

    Comment by Michael | April 8, 2008

  3. Thanks Michael, yeah, Miki and I interlock so well in this regard, she will wander off to capture the landscapes, and I will read or write or work on music according to my mood. It’s a very sympathetic, and mutually stimulating arrangement. The birds were exactly that, Michael, and it reminded me of a similar moment last year when we’d climbed high to the mountain fortress of Peyrepeteuse in Cathar country, Southern France, and the birds shot like feathered bullets out across the ravine below as we gazed over the ancient ramparts.

    Comment by kevmoore | April 8, 2008

  4. […] In Camera in Absentis, Part 3 […]

    Pingback by NO to perspective and NO to straightness! « Infinity + some + 2 | April 9, 2008

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