06-25 Of cloisters, carvings and birds

Today we were going on the long tour we had planned for yesterday which had been forestalled by Gwen’s broken chain.    We had a pretty good idea of the route, and were able to get to Saint Genis with no trouble.

Plane trees

Plane trees

On the way we cycled along avenues of huge plane trees, some five or six feet in diameter.   I imagined the carriage routes these roads must have derived from. Sant Genis had carvings of a sort we hadn’t seen before.   I also really liked the corbels, and made a sketch of the goofy one with two heads that you see here.

Sculpted detail on the portal at Sant Genis les Fonts

Sculpted detail on the portal at Sant Genis les Fonts

Christ in Glory Sant Genis

Corbel #1: Anyone you know?

Corbel # 2

Corbel #3: Who can this be?

Do you think these guys liked their portraits?

The next church on our list was Sant Andreu de Sureda, so we confidently headed off to Sorède, (the French equivalent of the Catalan ‘Sureda’).  It was a pretty easy cycle on the highway, but when we got to the church, it had the wrong name and looked decidedly un-Romanesque.  No other churches in town, said a townswoman when asked.  I saw a church marked on the map, thought we should check it out, and headed off–in entirely the wrong direction.  (Note to self:  in the morning, if you want to go west, face away from the sun!).  Everyone dutifully followed me, down and up a smallish hill, but when we reached a village and checked the map, I red-facedly led my little troupe back to Sureda where we found the tourist office.

Some quick checking of the pamphlets there told the story:  Sant Andreu de Sureda is in Sant Andreu, not Sureda.  Sant Andreu was the next stop anyway and we even found a more bike-friendly route back.
Portal Sant Andreu

Portal Sant Andreu

The thinker - Sant Andreu

The thinker – Sant Andreu

Portal carving at Sant Andreu, blessing the church

Portal carving at Sant Andreu, blessing the church

Christ in glory - Sant Andreu

Christ in glory – Sant Andreu

The cat that ate--what?

The cat that ate–what?

Cheshire cat - Sant Andreu

Cheshire cat – Sant Andreu

Olifants:   I learned the meaning of this word by seeing this carving of seraphim.   The sideways ones in the circles are blowing into olifants!

Seraphim and oliphants

Seraphim and oliphants

Following Sant Andreu our route took us through Palau-del-Vidre, but the church was decidedly uninteresting.   We had a little trouble finding Brouilla (note to self: look for signs!) but rolled up in the early afternoon.

Brouilla portal

Brouilla portal detail

Bicycling into the wind (we’re always either riding into the wind or uphill) for about half an hour brought us to Elne and the cloister with 12th to 14th century carved capitals.   Each side of the cloister was from a different era.

Adam and Eve 1 Elne

Adam and Eve 2 Elne

Interesting note:  the capitals on one side of the cloister pretty much mirrored those on the opposite side:  so there were two versions of each capital, one 12th century and one 13th century.

Creation of Eve 1

Creation of Eve 2 Elne

Celtic Knot Elne

Decorative Carving Elne

Carved Pillars Elne Cloister

Arched beast Elne

The Cloister at Elne

Digression about birds: Everywhere we go there are many birds.  If the church we are visiting is on a height, there are hundreds of swallows swooping and soaring.  Sometimes there are nests on the churches.  Songbirds wake us up in the morning.  Mourning doves coo relentlessly.  At our last campground in Prades, we had lots of trees at our site, where unfortunately, the doves and other similar birds I couldn’t identify liked to perch and decorate our tent and sometimes our bikes, helmets and packs!  Regardless, we’re very glad to see so many birds.

After Elne and lunch and snacks, we went on to Saleilles, which was undistinguished so we have no pictures.

Tympanum Cabestany

Cabestany, the last stop on our itinerary, was well worth the visit, as you can see.  The Master of Cabestany (I don’t think they know who he was) carved this tympanum.   His figures are very characteristic, with distinctive faces and enormous hands.   One of the unusual things about this tympanum is the animals and faces (mouths) on the bottom.   We were sorry to miss the museum devoted to the work of the Master of Cabestany,  but it was Monday, the traditional closing day for museums.

Tympanum detail–The Assumption

Tympanum detail –note the enormous hands

Cabestany tympanum–the view from the bottom

Jeering mouths on the bottom of the tympanum

Perpignan, and our bus back to Le Boulou, was really close– but a decidedly dirty, smelly, noisy ride along city streets.   Finally we spotted a sign to the Gare Routiere, only to find it had moved.   A very helpful passerby got us on the right route and we thankfully boarded the bus to our friendly campground.


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One Response to 06-25 Of cloisters, carvings and birds

  1. Pingback: Blog Directory | The Baileys in Catalunya–Summer, 2012

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