Part 13: Parador Tortosa


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The Trip

Our two nights at D'Emporda were completed, so it was time to roll on.  Our next destination was the town of Tortosa which was quite a ways away from Emporda.  The trip was easy as the Spanish road system is excellent and when combined with our GPS, we hit all our turns as planned.  We rolled into Tortosa around 1500 and both Steve and I were shocked by the accommodations that Kathleen had booked for us.

The Photos

The photos below are what we saw.

Our last night at D'Emporda, Kathleen and I climbed to the top of the observation tower and got this shot of the facility.

The morning was clear and we could see the snow-capped Pyrenees in the distance.

We drove south of AP-7 on a route that generally paralleled the coast.  We turned toward the Costa Brava in a small town "just because".  After a short walk to the shore we were treated to the scene above.  The wind was blowing strong and cold causing white caps on the ocean.  Swimming was out of the question.

Looking south provided a nice view of the beach and beach-front walk.

There was a pedestrian walk and a narrow road for cars.

South of Barcelona from the AP-7 we spotted these cool sculptures.

From the road, at speed, we were able to get a shot of the cathedral in one of the small towns we passed.

Now here is something you will likely never see in the U.S. on a freeway overpass - sheep and goats being herded.

In Spain, a selected number of old castles have been refurbished as luxury hotels.  These are known as "Paradors".  Kathleen booked us into the Parador Tortosa.  When we arrived at the castle, we had to drive up a very narrow road through the castle gates to the upper parking where we spotted the history of the castle.

This parador is literally a castle.  It has been augmented and enhanced, but the basic structure is still the castle and walls.  And it was a BIG castle.

The upper ramparts had a commanding view of the Ebro river valley and town below.

This is a stitched panorama of the Ebro Valley.  Click on the photo above to see the full-size panorama.  Use the "back" button when done to return to this page.  Note the pronounced volcanic outcropping near the left border of the image on the mountain skyline.

Note the stone arches from an old church or perhaps a mosque.

The fortifications have been enhanced many times since the 1100s and the walls are thick and tall.  Note the windmills on the far ridge.

Some of the old stone work was on display.  Note the enhanced rooms on the left of the structure.

There was a large wedding scheduled the day we arrived.  A portion of the party is on the balcony.

The castle had plenty of old cannons and some were quite large.

I did not count the cannons but there were quite a few.  The gun ports had commanding views of the valley below.

To the north was another fortification.  The original system had 6 redoubts.  Note the turret and wall in the center of the photo above.

On the top of the castle walls, any place that could catch dust had flowers of some form.  Note the spines on this species.

On another lookout point I spotted this flower.

To the south we had a birds-eye view of a large cathedral at the foot of the castle walls.  Note the flying buttresses.

The Ebro river is big enough to allow passage of small cargo boats and the position of the castle was chosen to be able to monitor and control traffic on the river.

Attacking the tower from this side of the castle would be virtually impossible.

The east facing wall of the upper redoubt had been enhanced and modernized.

We walked out of the castle to the redoubt to the east and we could see the view of the castle that an attacker would get: not a pretty sight; a steep cliff, tall walls and plenty of spiny cactus.

From the eastern redoubt, we could look west to "our" castle.  The main tower is on the left.

I spotted another flower growing on the top of the walls.

Further east of our position was yet another fortification.  A lot of material was moved to build these structures.

Our shadows are visible on the slopes under the walls.

Again, my shadow is in the photo.  These walls are huge.

The Parador was an excellent choice.  The facility was first-class and the rooms were nice.  The fact that it was built into an 11th century castle was a bonus.  We are only staying one night, but we will stay in other Paradors later in the trip.

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