Thursday, October 13, 2011

SOS - not as an emergency

As a wedding present, Erika (my old boss) got us a night at 4-star hotel in a small Spanish town called Sos de Rey Católico.  No, it is not an emergency response town, nor a deserted island with the letters SOS laid out in palm tree leaves.  Quite the contrary actually - it is a small town that used to sit on the border between the Kingdoms of Aragon and Navarra (the then Basque Country).  The small village sits atop a hill with 360º views of the valley looming below and was considered to be an ideal spot for living and it is known that people have lived here even before King Sancho I of Navarra founded the town in 907. 

About 2 hours drive from our house, the distance really makes a drastic difference from the lush and coastal Basque cities.  Sos sits in a dustbowl type of location and while spotted with low and sparse bushes, the color of the sand blends with the stone buildings that maintain thier charm from the 13th century.  A completely walled-in city, the steep cobblstone streets still stand although entrances to buildings long forgotten show the city's age.  Once just a small unimportant village, Sos became Sos de Rey Católico (Sos of the Catholic King) after King Ferdinand II was born there in 1452.  While home to the King, Sos was also a thriving commercial center on its own.  With an engraved measuring system in the stones as well as a triangular area carved out for a Roman scale, historians note that Sos was a meeting place and had a successful market in thier Plaza Mayor.  With seven gates in the surrounding walls, the medeival days of Kings, Queens and jesters would have had a lively atmosphere in this town.  

With narrow streets and arching doorways, one small alleyway leads to the unique Saint Steven church.  Special in the sense that it's approach was defended by a tunnel that led to the original church.  Later the church was expanded to its current size - practically untouched.  The curious thing about the town was that besides the eerily quiet buildings it seemed almost void of residents during the day - then we went out for an evening walk and the town came alive.  It seemed at every corner there was a group of friends drinking and laughing and we even stumbled upon a group of friends singing thier hearts out at a local bar.

A small town, seemily locked in history, that didn't seem to neither change for hundreds of years nor want to, was a great way to spend a relaxing wekeend and was a most appreciated wedding getaway.  Life went at the pace it probably did back at the town's founding and we were able to enjoy the 4-star hotel to the fullest as well as take in the medievel architecture in a city rich with history.


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