June 06, 2008

More Madrid!

Continuing where I left off... The city of Madrid, Spain. After Plaza del Sol we took a stroll through the streets. There were so many beautiful buildings!






And nearly everywhere we looked people had flower boxes at their windows. There was an air of mystery and old-world charm in every corner. Stones that apartments, churches, restaurants, taverns, and stores were built of seemed to hold memories from years past. No matter where we were there was no trash in the streets and no graffiti anywhere in " Old Madrid."







We saw plenty of performers making music with their instruments of specialty. Some where a curious thing to see, like this man making music with glasses! And he was pretty good too! Everything from Beethoven's 9th Symphony to The Blue Danube!



There was this fantastic oriental musician performing on an Erhu and the sounds he made were just magical.



We also enjoyed window shopping. There was just too much to see! Everything from meats and cheeses to dolls, paintings... you name it!




We entered Plaza de Mayor next but I'm going to save this part of our visit for a later post. Right now I want to show what I saw when we visited the royal cathedral of Madrid. It was quite a sight!



The first thing we noticed upon entering the lavish doors was how big it is inside! We saw the main alter made of pure gold.



And then we looked up. Wow!




To the left there were multiple stain-glass windows, lamps, statues, and another impressive dome! This one had the whole story of Jesus depicted all around its inner circle.




To the left from the center of the cathedral was an impressive hall of arches and columns. There was another alter here, a bit smaller than the main alter. Above were multi-colored designs that led your eyes straight to the organ.




The cathedral was very pretty to look at but I noticed that there was also a mournful feeling inside. Even when there was lots of beauty and splendor none of it brought any comfort. It all seemed very cold and rigid. Everything, even the way the cathedral was built, seemed to make a person feel small. And nowhere I looked was there even one Bible verse on a wall or alter or anything! And I realized that this was part of the sadness I felt.

People who went to this cathedral didn't know that knowing God doesn't come from going to a building, no matter how fancy it is. You can't know God by giving money or burning candles, no matter how good the intentions may be. And no amount of good works is ever enough to take away guilt or shame or grief. That kind of pain and suffering needs to come from outside ourselves. No one can operate on their own heart. You need a surgeon for that. Likewise, in matters of the human spirit we can't fix ourselves. We need the Creator to fix what is broken or wounded deep inside. And the only way to know God in this way is to accept what He says in the Bible as truth. He says that knowing Jesus brings new life into a person's heart.

I noticed that the cathedral had a statue of St. Peter on its outer wall. He is considered the pillar of the Christian church. This is what Peter has said in the Bible:

" Christ also suffered. He died once for the sins of all us guilty sinners, although he himself was innocent of any sin at any time, that he might bring us safely home to God. But though his body died, his spirit lived on."
I Peter 3:18


Its a shame his words are nowhere to be found within that cathedral's walls. Peter knew the truth of how difficult being human can be, how many times we do wrong even when we don't want to and how guilt can haunt us. But he found an answer that solved his problems.

Anyway... visiting this cathedral was an intriguing experience. Next post I will be sharing photos of Madrid's royal palace, the Palacio Real. And I'll show you photos of the royal gardens. Drop by again!

10 comments:

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

Glad you had a good time in Spain. Your photos are great. They really allow us to have a glimpse of the place.

I know what you are saying about the cathedrals. My experience comes from the Golden Church in Munich. The size of a church or cathedral that makes us feel small may be helpful in developing a sense of awe of God. But when I saw this church just opulent with gold on almost everything, I felt it obscene that such wealth was not spent feeding the needy as I believe Christ would have wanted.

thethinker said...

Those pictures are beautiful. I'm so jealous!

algelic said...

I love the new layout and the pictures!

Hmmm yeah, in Spain and Portugal there are a TON of churches just like that one. They're pretty... but cold and unfeeling. I much prefered my local church, pre-remodelation, when it was small, old, cozy and homey. The small choir sang songs with a guitar and the worn-out velvet chairs smelled like mould. It's all fond memories!

Have you ever heard of the Spanish Inquisition? The pretty churches remind me of it. They were built to be less like a place of prayer, but more like a statement. They said: "Fear the great power of the Church", and while people were starving on the streets, they built churches lined with gold.

People in Europe, more importantly in Spain and Portugal, nowadays prefer regular modern churches rather than the old, pretty, gold-filled churches. The pretty ones just remind them of shameful history... inquisition, torture, censorship, witch-hunting, ...

For more info I recommend the wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spanish_Inquisition

PS: I'm not trying to convey a negative opinion, I'm just explaining the general feelings of local people towards these kinds of things.

curious servant said...

I don't see a date on this post, but I am assuming it is recent.

I would love to go to Spain!

It is pretty cool to be able to stumble across a post like this, enlarge the photos, enjoy a bit of another place.

Thank you.

Sincerity said...

lone grey squirrel:

Thanks! I love photos when I go to visit other blogs so I thought it would be good to share some of my own. :)

Yes. It is sad to know that there is so much wealth but so little of it shared with those who need it most. I don't believe Christ would have opted to teach in those fancy cathedrals.

Sincerity said...

thethinker:

Thank you! Funny thing.... I didn't remember half the photos I took so while going back through them to decide on what to put up I was gawking too.

I never thought I would have the opportunity to go overseas but it happened. So there's a chance it will happen for you too.

Sincerity said...

algelic:

Ah yes. The Spanish Inquisition. Not a happy time at all. Many Spaniards are ashamed of their history as a nation. Spain had also sided with the Nazis. Not the greatest legacy to pass along.

But being of Spanish blood myself I can say that, thankfully, not all Spaniards agree with what happened in our history or forget the suffering of bad choices.

It takes time to learn from past mistakes and I hope that my fellow Spaniards choose more wisely how to use the things God has given to them.

Sincerity said...

curious servant:

Thanks for dropping by! I love looking at photos. Perhaps one day you will see Spain with your own eyes?

Feel free to visit again. :)

Sasha said...

oh so many lovely photos!! :) The old churches are lovely, but I don't think I would want to attend one of those regularly.

When I was in Italy, I learned that all of the old Catholic churches had "relics" of the saints they're named after - like St Mark's would have a piece of St. Mark's finger on display as a tourist attraction. It was very weird yet fascinating.

Sincerity said...

sasha:

Yup! Those old cathedrals are quite a sight. Extravagant and cold but pretty.