Friday, October 29, 2010

Potes, Cantábria {Part V of VI}

The next recommended stop in Frommer’s guide was at Potes - a small town in the region of Liébana, Cantábria. Driving from Cangas de Onís to Potes was quite a challenge! Most part of the 1.5 hr journey was on a narrow and winding mountain road with the danger of falling rocks (though stretches of the mountain wall was installed with fences to catch the debris).

The heart of Potes is a lovely little village nestled in a valley at the foot of the Picos de Europa, where two rivers, Quiviesa and Deva converge. By the time we got to Potes, it was already late and we decided that we should set off early the next morning to explore the town instead.

Well, what do you know! Day 3 Monday was Market Day in Potes!

Above: Rain or shine, it's business as usual. The tents set up on the spacious compound outside the Iglesia de San Vicente.

Below: Vendors selling all sorts of items and foodstuff including cheeses, meats and pastries.

Apart from the Monday Market stalls, many other shops line the streets in the village selling local produce and handicrafts. The drizzle may have dampened the mood a little but the colours would certainly lighten up any day!

With its medieval bridges, traditional rural houses and cobblestone ground, the village of Potes exudes a kind of charming, rustic appeal.

Above: Wooden handicrafts for sale, including the traditional clogs worn by granary farmers.

Above: Assorted chickpeas & beans - ingredients for making the traditional stew dish that is typical of the region.

Above & below: Puente de San Cayetano, an old bridge over the River Deva.

Also called 'the town of bridges', Potes offers a different perspective for those who choose to go under the bridge and take the 'Paseo Fluvial', a stroll along the river.

Above: Puente de la Cárcel, another old bridge.

Above: Torre del Infantado, currently the City Hall, is one of the most iconic towers in Potes that dates back to the 15th Century.

Above: Calle de Capitán Palacios, which appears to be the only main road that cuts through the village.

Just like in Cangas de Onís, businesses offering Rural Tourism activities can be found here for those who'd like to spend their holidays doing something active while communing with nature.

Apart from the old quarter of Potes, there's a recommended religious site just a few minutes drive away known as the Monasterio de Santo Toribio de Liébana. It is said that a fragment of the True Cross - the wooden cross which the Romans used to crucify Jesus - is currently kept here in this Monastery.

Above: The exterior of the Monastery of Santo Toribio of Liébana.

I guess I was lucky to walk into an on-going session when a priest was conducting a tour of the Monastery and even brought out the relic from its elaborate baroque throne!

Above: A priest doing a show & tell with the Lignum Crucis relic - said to be the largest fragment of the True Cross that still exists today. What you see here are pieces of the wood protected in a gold cruciform casing.

True cross or not, this Monastery continues to be an important pilgrimage (& touristic) destination for roman catholics (& non catholics) around the world.

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