Looking for Sean McLachlan? He mostly hangs out on the Civil War Horror blog these days, but feel free to nose around this blog for some fun older posts!

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Wednesday, 16 July 2008

Hiking a Roman Highway

I'm way late posting this, but a month ago a friend of mine named Shawn (known locally as Shawn Numero Dos) and I went hiking in the mountains north of Madrid. For one long stretch we followed an old Roman highway built by the Emperor Vespasian, who reined from 69 to 79 AD. We started at the town of Cercedilla, checking out the old Roman bridge pictured above. This thing is two thousand years old and still takes traffic it wasn't even designed to support! Judging from the architecture it looks like it was reinforced in the late Medieval or Renaissance period, but still. . .

Then it was on to the Roman highway. Much of it was repaved in the 16th century, but I'm sure some of these worn old stones are original. It was a thrill to be walking the same route the Romans did, seeing the same landscape and possibly stepping on the same stones.

It was a beautiful day but the heat of summer was already starting, so we were glad to get further up into the mountains. We went across a long exposed stretch and then descended into a nice lush forest. We'd left the Roman road by this time, but enjoyed the coolness of the forest.

Then we came across this little waterfall, and right next to it a stone that had naturally weathered into a perfect chair. In England these are called "Druid's Thrones" and some do, indeed, look like they've been altered to make them more comfortable. I don't think this one had been altered, but I could easily see some wandering holy man taking up residence next to this little stream, sitting on his natural throne and making prophecies to the local yokels. So of course, that's just what I did.
I predict I'll go back sometime. . .
If you want to go yourself, there are maps here and here.

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