I went back to photos I took during our vacation last May in Spain for this week’s Monochrome Madness Challenge. This scene is just off the Camino Santiago that runs through Old Town León. That’s the bell tower for St Isidore (San Isidoro) church and basilica in the background. The bronze sculpture in the foreground is called El Monumento de las Infantas de León and is by the celebrated artist and sculptress Maria Salud Parada Morollón.
Click on the photo to see a slightly larger version of the photo.
The figures represent Queen Sancha, daughter of King Alfonso V of León and wife of King Ferdinand of León and Castile, and her two daughters Urraca and Elvira. There were very few women who had any rights at all in eleventh century Europe but King Alfonso appointed Sancha the abbess of San Pelayo Monastery and King Ferdinand granted his wife the authority over all monasteries in his kingdom. On the death of their father Elvira inherited the city of Toro and Urraca received the city of Zamora. Ferdinand divided his kingdom among his three sons, giving Galicia to Garcia, León to Alfonso, and Castile to Sancho. Urraca played a prominent role in the connivings and squabbles among her three brothers and was a central character in the story of El Cid. All three ladies are buried in the San Isidoro royal pantheon.
Ferdinand and Sancha tore down the church built by her father on the site of the monastery of St John Baptist and began the building of San Isidoro. Urraca expanded the church after her mother’s death and donated many of the treasures that are presently in the San Isidoro Museum, including the bejeweled chalice that is believed by some to be the fabled Holy Grail used by Christ at the Last Supper.
The San Isidoro bell tower is often called Torre del Gallo because of the rooster weathervane on its top. It was built in the 11th and 12th centuries and restored in the 13th century after being severely damaged by an earthquake.
Maria Salud Parada Morollón was born in Avila in 1955 and presently resides in Salamanca. Her works can be found in Salamanca, Toledo and Madrid as well as Rome and New York. She sculpts in steel, bronze and terracotta and paints in oils. Las Infantas de León was created in 2002.
Australian photographer Leanne Cole hosts the weekly Monochrome Madness Challenge. Drop by her website on Wednesdays (Tuesdays in North America and Europe) to see what Leanne and other photographers from all over the world are doing in monochrome these days.