How do you analyze a photograph?
By looking at it and drawing a first impression; then, by trying to see what sentiment it causes and then analyzing the reason for this feeling.
Observing this photo of the Almansa Castle in Spain, we must make a distinction between two wonderfully harmonic but clearly distinct visual fields.
One is the castle itself – with the mountain that serves it as its foundation – and the other is the extraordinary set of clouds that provide a frame for the fortress.
Both the castle and clouds make your sight focus on the tower, which instills an impression of extraordinary gallantry, dignity and majesty.
One gets the idea that from this hilltop, this tower is facing an enemy that appears in the distance.
But it faces that enemy with gallantry, as if looking at him threateningly and saying: “Come near and I will crush you: I fear not!”
And this is no bravado. Because other walls in the fortress show just how profound it is and how it has troops and other elements to resist.
This lordly, daring assertiveness of the tower has a reason for being: it shows that the castle is powerful and fears nothing.
Up on high, dense and majestic clouds build up. One would say they symbolize the tremendous battle that may come to pass.
They would be like a voice of history telling the castle’s feudal lord: “Life’s threats now hang upon you; your time to fight has come. Be a hero, or you will be crushed!
In this scene, the artist knew to photograph the castle at a time when the light gave it the appearance of being made of amber or porcelain. It is a castle of dreams, a “fairy tale” castle.
What is the mission of this castle? It is to remind the lazy soul of contemporary man of something he should be ashamed of: He has lost the sense of sacrifice, the taste for the fight, and no longer knows what it is to be a hero.
For today’s cowed populations, the castle is a moral lesson that stands proclaiming the grandeur of soul of the Spaniards of the Reconquest, who for the love of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Virgin Mary and the Holy Catholic Church gradually populated Spain with castles as they took back the country so that Muslims would never even think of returning. If they did, they would find this whole network of castles standing in their way.
This is Christian heroism! A heroism born to the world when Our Lord Jesus Christ expired on the Cross, redeeming mankind and thus enabling the Holy Catholic Church to begin spreading among nations.
The preceding article is taken from an informal lecture Professor Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira gave on May 5, 1984. It has been translated and adapted for publication without his revision. –Ed.
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Located in the town of Almansa in the province of Albacete (Spain), the Almansa Castle is the best preserved one in the Castilla-La Mancha region.
Perched on Cerro del Aguila [Eagle’s Knoll], its origins date back to the thirteenth century, but its current appearance dates from the fifteenth century, when it became the property of Juan Pacheco, Marquis of Villena.
In 1921 the fortress was declared a National Historic-Artistic Monument.