Today is the 13th and this reminds me of the legend of the mystical arch — el Arquito — that we have here in our local village of Posadas. This Little Arch, dating back to the Gothic 13th century was also known as Puerta del Levante, The Eastern Gate of the castle that once stood on this land. It is located in the Morería neighbourhood of Posadas village, which dates back to 500 AD, and was an area formerly occupied by the Jews and Moors. In 2006 it was declared an Asset of Cultural Interest (BIC), also forming the stage set of many films such as Guerreras Verdes (Green Warriors) starring Carmen Sevilla and Sancho Gracia.
Below this medieval archway lie the remains of an old door of the former medieval castle, the last towers of which fell in 1791. There was also a window with a turntable where, in more recent years, abandoned children destined for the Charity Hospital were placed. They were either adopted or left to suffer a worse fate…
Above The Arch there is a balcony with a railing behind which is a little shrine presided over by the Virgen de los Remedios(The Virgen of Remedies).
The statue dates back to the 16th century, and the shrine adjoins an old former chapel also of the same antiquity, La Capilla de la Caridad (Charity Chapel). This now houses the beautifully-kept, whitewashed, rustic, wooden-beamed tourist office. (I wonder if I’ve got my adjectives in the right order?…)
Certain mystical qualities are attributed to this Arquito and many fervent prayers are offered to The Virgin Mary by devotees asking for cures and protection from bad luck.
The special day to make such supplications is any Tuesday that coincides with the 13th, on which day the devotee will pass under the archway three times, each time reciting the Hail Mary before making their petition. If their prayer is answered, then they hang a green ribbon from the balcony railings in acknowledgement and gratitude. (Sure enough there are numerous little strips of green material fluttering from the balcony!) Flowers are also deposited before her on her saint’s day, and on each second Sunday of October she is paid a visit.
There still exists the saying in Posadas: ‘Ese es más viejo que el Arquito’, which means ‘Him — he is older than the Arch’.
For a more detailed and very interesting account of the Arquito and its intriguing history based on authentic documents from the early 19th century (as well as more on the history of Posadas village) see the blog of Gabriel Martín entitled The Abandoned Infants of the Foundling Home of Posadas in the 19th Century. (Good practise for your Spanish but I think you can use Google translate. The black and white photos do summarise its sad story.)
There are other mystical legends pertaining to the neighbouring villages of which I have already written about in previous blogs: Hornachuelos (the enchanted convent of Santa Maria de los Ángeles) and Almodovar del Río (the haunted medieval castle). However, suffice to say that these villages (as well as Cordova town) have their share of intrigue and certainly a lot to offer, be it in the way of nature, sport, culture, history and tales. The people — a very interesting mix of Latin-Iberian with strong Arabic roots (seen also in their cuisine) are warm, friendly, welcoming, laid-back, though at the same time hard-working.
However, to finish on a similar spiritual note, I just wanted to share with you the effects of gold leaf behind glass painting, such as a religious-themed one I did yonks ago and am thinking of repeating (this technique — that is, if my glass paints haven’t all dried out over the long, hot 45°C summers!).
I stuck the gold leaf with mixtion behind the glass once I had finished the painting (using glass paints applied via a pipette, and lead contour paste). I then sealed the gold leaf with a couple of coats of shellac varnish. The gold leaf has the beautiful effect of illuminating the jewel-coloured paints when the light or sun falls on it and is reminiscent of the golden letters in the Illuminated Manuscripts which were produced in monasteries between 500 AD and 1600 AD, and the highly-decorated Book of Hours — a devotional book ‘crucial to the development of Gothic illumination’, produced in the 13th century. Really worth a peruse and serving as an inspiration for colours, gold and intricacy!
Happy painting! Take care xxx