THANKS to connections I’ve forged with a teacher in the area, I was recently given the opportunity to tour an elementary school in what used to be a castle.
Yet again, my young American mind is boggled by the age, history and architecture of a building like this.
The San Jose de las Madres Escolapias Elementary School in Cabra was founded in 1899.
The building was built during the Muslim occupation of Andalucia and rebuilt to meet Catholic needs in the fourteenth century.
It served as a convent for centuries and is now mostly an elementary school, although a small population of nuns still resides and teaches there.
The distinguishing factor inside is the labyrinth of passages surrounding the two main inner patios. Arched doorways lead to hallways with entrances every few paces and stairs directing you every which way.
Without a staff member as a guide, getting lost would be as easy as stopping to admire a Roman-era pillar or stained glass window and forgetting which direction you were heading.
One of the many large, ancient doors must be opened with an old skeleton key. When opened, a narrow, dark passage can be found.
The modern electric lights are a strange contrast to the crumbling stone steps but as you ascend and realize you are in one of the imposing towers seen from anywhere in town, you think of nothing other than the view from the top.
I assure you, it does not disappoint.