On the Plains of Spain: Castilla y León (Photo Essay)

Though the plains are wide and open, they tend to divide. They divide us into those who feel free with a far horizon, and those who feel the unconfined space uncomfortable, preferring instead the texture of the mountains or the energy of the sea. Castilla y León is a land of plains, and from its ochre earth have grown kingdoms of old and cities of architectural awe.

In Castilla y León the traveller remembers that prayer-like poem I love a sun-burnt country, a land of sweeping plains, of ragged mountain ranges, of droughts and flooding plains

This is a great plateau, a land of around 400 millimetres annual rainfall at an altitude of 600 metres, a land surrounded by mountains on all its borders; with Galicia, Asturias and Cantabria to the north, with La Rioja at the east, and with the Comunidad de Madrid to the south. This forms part of what is known as La Meseta, Spain’s expansive central tablelands spanning these lands of Castilla y León, together with the Comunidad de Madrid and Castilla La Mancha.

Castilla y León’s landscape is a patch-work of clay and ochre tones. It is peppered throughout with pigeon nests built in the fields amidst almond trees exploding with pink and white blossoms. Historically Castilla y León has been a land of great agricultural wealth, its fields of wheat being exported to the world by the construction of what was one of the world’s greatest engineering feats of the nineteenth century, the Canal of Castile, which transported wheat and flour from the interior to the northern ports before railways rendered it redundant.

Birds of prey abound, flying above abandoned abode towns from which have migrated Castilla y León’s formerly agricultural population, moving to the urban centres of  Salamanca, Valladolid, León..; cities of intellectual, spiritual and historic wealth containing some of Spain’s most valued treasures. Castilla y León is at the heart of Spain, a wide brown land of wheat and grape, of bread and wine, a land of open skies and luminous cities.

Lives and Times: Writing on the World Around Us

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