As I nervously began my trek from Rota to Cadiz, in a land I have never been before and learning to wean myself off of technology and more importantly - GPS, I found my to the city center where I also discover 'la Iglesia Mayor Prioral' or Priory Church in the heart of El Puerto de Santa Maria. After numerous traffic circles with limited signage and getting slightly lost in the single direction streets that were only wide enough for the standard European compact car and a pedestrian, which I was much wider than the average individual walking with my bike trailer in tow! Needless to say, there were a few close calls on my way down to Plaza de España. Once I say the opening of the plaza, I caught glimpse of a large tour group and a fair number of them had their cameras pointed up into the air and that had me wondering what they were so entranced by and then out of the simple stucco houses came a massive sandstone facade to my left. Then I knew what had their attention for it had mine as well! What I was looking at was what would be considered the main entrance known as the 'Door of Forgiveness', dating back to the original building of the current structure in 1486 - before Columbus set sail to "find India". The doors were undergoing restoration but from what I could see, they were truly a piece of art! As I continued on, I wanted to explore the interior of the church in the worst way but my stomach was telling me something was much more important and that was food. I chose the cafe nearest the open door to the church for it was the closest and the aroma coming from the little cafe was quite appealing. While I sat and enjoyed a cup of coffee and my meal, I scanned the entire face of the church looking at me in amazement of all the detail surrounding the door yet the barren walls of the outermost exterior but the more elaborate inner. Reason being... various styles of architecture over numerous centuries. This church is a museum of architectural styles from 1486 to the late 1600's which spanned the great eras of Gothic, Baroque and the height of the Spanish Plateresque styles. Once I finished up my recovery meal, I was ready to see what await inside! Stepping over the large threshold of the centuries old door, I was in awe of what I had just ventured into on the beginning of my World Tour. Knowing that people had been bending knee to worship in this church as long as the Discovery of the Americas was amazing enough, but the beauty of the nave was beyond powerful! As I was new to exploring Spain, I was taken by surprise by the organ and how variant it was from what I am accustomed to seeing and playing! I was aware of how the Spanish love their trumpets, but the ornate decorations and amount of painting was a whole new concept to me! All in all, this was most definitely a pleasant surprise for me to stumble upon on my first break along my bicycle tour of Europe!
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