UREMIA LA MIASMA

This charming city, 15 miles north of the site of the disastrous Spanish defeat at the Battle of San Illdefenso (1332), cannot be missed, largely because all roads in Spain lead through it (twice on Sundays and holidays). The city is enclosed by walls three miles in circumference, which are entirely covered inside and out by 15th century Flemish tapestries* portraying mythological and religious subjects, some of which can be identified.

Entering by the Roman gate (Puerto de los Puertos), the visitor is assigned his personal fly, which will accompany him on his tour.

The Palace -- Stark and austere in its rococo decorations, the palace was built in the 17 century for King Fernando XXV1 and Queen Isabela 1/2, low Reyes Mas O Menos Catolics. The dining hall is noted for its ceiling* in mantequilla style created by many generations of royal children snapping their pats of butter (mantequilla) with their napkins to the beams above. The Boorish influence in evident, even though the Boors had been expelled from that part of Spain a century before at the Battle of Poyola. Note also the stables*, original location of the Spanish Riding School but abandoned (1673) when the reigning monarchs insisted that their favorite herd of oxen be trained in dressage.

The cathedral* * - - One of the largest in Spain, the cathedral is of Art Nouveau Gothic style. As with all such structures in Spain, the nave has been rendered invisible by locating in it chior stalls, organ lofts, chancels and various chapels for which there was no room anyplace else. Its collection of Zurbarans would cover 2.7 acres if they were placed side by side, which of course they are.

The retablo* * * in the Capilla Mayor, carved by Juan El Lechero (1478-82), depicts the tempations of St. Anthony, all of which were apparently of the same nature but executed with variations that bespect an artist of a truly remarkable imagination (Adults only). In the 83rd chapel, counting from the right of the entrance, is a sculputure of St. George and the Dragon, by Pedro El Revuelto (The Scrambled One), in which the dragon is portrayed as thrusting the spear down St. George's throat. Most viewers find it a welcome change.

The glass in the 12-century clerestory is stained, but dry-cleaning is contemplated.

In the Monastery-Covent attached to the cathedral (the only such coeducational institution in Spain and jollier than most), the harmonious blending in the Cloisters* of Roman, romanesque, flamboyant Gothic, plateresque, Isabeline, mudejar and baroque styles is unfortunately marred by later Grando Rapidos decor. On the north wall is a painting by Baltazar El Perezoso (The Lady), a canvas three yards square untouched by paint or brush, somewhat smaller than his three similar works in the Prado, but nevertheless considered finer because of its deeper spirituality and intimation of unfulfilled promise.

The House of the Cherubs* -- This remarkable building of the late 15 century is constructed entirely of stucco cherubs, facing inwards, left over from the Cathedral retablos, because more were commissioned than there turned out to be room to affix them.

Restaurants -- The most famous eating place in Uremia La Miasma is the Casa de Ajo, which boasts that it serves no dish not flavored with garlic and whose chef keeps himself marinated in it most of the day. British and American diners will probably choose to skip the ice cream. Ernest Hemingway lunched there on July 2, 1955, an experience that inspired his book Breath in the Afternoon. Later that day he fought Orson Welles in the Plaza de Toros and was awarded both ears and the tail.