-text and photos Andrei Dorian Gheorghe
design Florin Alexandru Stancu-

One hour before the beginning of 24 June 2017
I saw the planet Saturn in central Spain.

For a moment I thought there are sky lovers for which
the ringed planet seems like a crowned head.

Then, on the next morning
I started to the Sierra Guandarrama Mountains
to see a wonder made by the Spanish Crown.

It is hard to speak about
the real (monarchical or republican) vocation of a nation
just because many countries could not choose alone their form of statality.

In the case of Spain it is certain that its monarchy decided,
in the 16th century, through King Philip II,
to realize a magnificent complex (including
palace, monastery, pantheon, museum, library, university, garden, hospital),
the Royal Site of El Escorial, in the small town of San Lorenzo.

A site which is probably admired even by the Sun,
the brightest crowned head in our solar system.

But Spain’s history also knew two short republican episodes.

The First Republic (1873-1874),
which provoked rather a general chaos.

The Second Republic (in the 1930s),
which provoked a bloody civil war
between republicans and nationalists-monarchists.

After the nationalists’ victory,
their leader, General Francisco Franco,
became an authoritarian (and controversial) head of state until 1973,
installing an austere and anticommunist (sometimes repressive) regime,
keeping the neutrality of Spain during World War II
and restoring the monarchical institution in 1947,
although the new king of Spain could become the head of state
only after the General’s death.

After the war,
Franco also ordered and personally involved in the making
of a monument for national reconciliation
close to El Escorial.

Thus, the Valley of the Fallen (Valle de los Caidos, made in 1950-1968)
became a masterpiece of modern Spanish architecture,
including an abbey, a giant basilica inside a mountain,
and the tallest cross in the world (150 m high).

What can I say finally?

The Cross of the Fallen impressed me so much
that, for a moment, I had the illusion
that even the Sun took the form of a cross.


© 2017 SARM
(Romanian Society for Meteors and Astronomy)