Saving souls is serious business, and the intricately carved entryways of Spain’s Gothic cathedrals start the process even before worshippers get inside the building – sort of a preview of coming attractions.
Saints and Disciples look down on the faithful; biblical scenes remind everyone to stay on the straight and narrow.
Other carved embellishments feature ferocious lions, placid pigs, exotic birds, and a space-walking astronaut. Wait a sec – did I say astronaut? On a 15th Century cathedral?
Welcome to the Cathedral of Salamanca and its architectural easter eggs.
In this case, an easter egg might not be what you normally expect. According to the folks at PC magazine, an easter egg is:
“An undocumented function hidden in software that may or may not be sanctioned by management. Easter Eggs are secret “goodies” found by word of mouth or accident.”
As the story goes, in 1979 a video game programmer wanted to be credited for writing a piece of software, and his management refused to put his name in the credits. So he hid a secret message in the game giving him credit for its creation.
In other words, his “easter egg” was a signature on his work, which is precisely what the stonemasons at Salamanca did when the cathedral was restored in 1992.
In addition to the church-approved astronaut, there’s an ice-cream eating dragon (or some say singing karaoke):
A wary lynx lurking in the leaves;
A perturbed bull with horns at the ready – well there used to be horns;
A stony crayfish, or crawdad as we say hereabouts;
A shaggy dog … uhhh … gulping tennis balls (you make the call on this one);
And a chubby cherub whose gender is definitely not in question.
The day we visited it was miserably cold and windy, so we were happy to have a few hints on finding the easter eggs. To see the carvings, go to the side door facing the Plaza de Anaya, which is also the main entrance for tourists, and the astronaut is about 10 feet up on the left side. And for the other easter eggs, as always, you’ll have to search. But don’t worry, they’re close by.
After a lengthy, slightly too preachy self-guided audio tour, it was good to see that the Monsignor has a sense of humor.
James & Terri
P.S. This isn’t quite on par with cathedral easter eggs, but just for fun, open a google search window and type the phrase “do a barrel roll.”