Tuesday, October 13, 2015


Fernweh (n.): a feeling of longing or homesickness for a place one has never been to. (German)

I'm all settled in Kyoto and still rather behind on posts, so to continue my retrospective journey:

Lugo is a bit of a forgotten stop on the Camino de Santiago. To be fair, I went in without a plan and winged it, which isn't really my strong point. I'm getting better at capitalizing on following my nose, but my spontaneity turn-on-a-dime factor is a bit low. Lugo has the immediate advantage of being a walled city, however, which makes up for an infinite number of sins. The Roman wall around Lugo is still very intact, and the intrepid tourist or Classics nerd (c'est moi) can make quite a day (or several) of it. I did get quite the sunburn, but (spoiler alert) IT WAS TOTALLY WORTH IT. I had the ability to look within the old city and pick out places to visit from the skyline, a luxury that tiny winding streets and tightly clustered city centers have prevented in most of the Spanish cities I've visited.

Some Lugo highlights: sitting for a few hours in the main plaza with all the vecinos, until an old man came up to me and confronted me--surely I couldn't be from Lugo, girls as pretty as I only live in Valencia. Ahahaha *runs away*

Lugo Cathedral! Gorgeous! It's incredibly well maintained, although I think a lot of this is due to the fact that there are services held in almost every chapel and the nave at least once a day if not more frequently. It's not as big a tourist magnet as some of the other cathedrals on the Camino de Santiago, but this might be because tourist visits are not allowed when mass is underway, so tourists have maybe fifteen minutes a day in which to visit and tour. And, no gift shop.

Like most cathedrals and churches I've visited, there is a coffer next to the biggest entrance for visitors and worshippers to contribute to the cathedral's maintenance. I tried talking to the men who swooped in with brooms and polish in between services to clean the main altar, but they were quite short with me and refused to talk. In any case, Lugo Cathedral seems to be a well-visited (at least by Lugonians? Lugo-ites?) place of worship, although its objects have been removed as the cathedral has been modernized and replaced with modern pieces.

Which led me to my next major stop: the Museo Provincial de Lugo. Since Lugo has a very obvious and well-preserved connection to its Roman past surrounding its center, archaeology and ethnology are visibly and proudly preserved within the city limits. All Lugo's historical objects are condensed into this historical museum (which has an incredible collection of Roman mosaics, and I highly recommend a visit if you're ever in the area) and it makes for a rather mixed collection but endlessly entertaining visit. Interestingly enough, Lugo's museum keeps its religious artifacts (like monstrances, crucifixes, relics and altar pieces) seperate from the rest of the collection. In almost every other museum I have visited, there have been very concerted efforts to treat sacred art as unremarkable and only significant within its art historical boundaries.

The Museo Provincial, however, has a designated "Sala de Arte Sacro" which is the location in the museum where capital-s capital-a Sacred Art has its home. There is other art within the museum's collection that has sacred iconography, but I believe that this Sacred Art label is important (both in its inclusion and exclusion,) since it shows that the Museo has a fundemental understanding of what is and isn't sacred, plus a desire to hold the sacred seperate and make it distinct. Why the "Pieta" upstairs was deemed "Moderno" and not "Sacro" is another question. If I had control of the museum's collection, where would I put it? And what implication do those distinctions have for the objects themselves? Is there a gray-area term that can serve art-historical purposes and still preserve original sacred connotations? Maybe I need to invent one.

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