Happy Valentine’s Day everyone! Easter has its bunny, Santa Claus is Mr. Christmas, but today is all about hearts. And you’ll be hard-pressed to walk five steps without seeing one. The heart shape is recognized the world over as a symbol of romantic love and affection, and to celebrate the holiday, we’re continuing the Gallivance tradition of posting hearts we’ve discovered in our travels.
Last year our explorations took us to Spain, Ireland, Belgium, Canada, and the UK; and as we confirmed in the previous five years, it doesn’t have to be Valentine’s Day to see hearts all over the place.
This ceramic beauty is on the exterior of the Palacio de Velázquez in the heart of Madrid’s lovely and popular Retiro Park. The Palace is the only surviving building from the 1881 National Exhibition, and its impressive facade is a study in marvelous ceramic tiles.
Wrought iron hearts are common on buildings of all ages. The romantics out there might think its frequent use is symbolic of lasting love, or on the other hand, maybe it’s just an easy, attractive shape for craftsmen to pound out in the shop.
As we wandered around Toledo, it was hard to resist giving this whimsical door knocker a tap-tap try, but the small horns atop the grim face made us reconsider.
The Claddagh ring is a traditional Irish symbol that represents love, loyalty, and friendship. Historians disagree on its origins, but these bickering academics don’t seem to bother the shopkeepers in Galway who have adopted it as their own.
The town of Lewes, near Brighton on the UK’s south coast, doesn’t appear on many must-see lists. But it’s the quintessential English country village, and its high street is lined with shops, restaurants, pubs and a lovely historic church to complete the picture.
Corny Pun Alert! This Segovia grafitti won’t win any awards for quality, but at least the artist’s heart was in the right place.
This colorful carving is one of hundreds that line the walls and ceilings of the incredibly ornate Burgos Cathedral in Northern Spain. This cathedral was one of the stops for pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago. The Sacred Heart symbolizes Christ’s divine love for humanity.
No trip to Belgium is complete without a stop in the Medieval, post-card city of Bruges. Even with the tourist hordes, its spectacular state of preservation makes it worth a visit.
Not all the buildings in Toledo are historic, and shop owners don’t mind mixing a bit of modern technology with an old concept to sell fashionable jeans.
Many of the hearts we see are obvious, but some are a bit more of a challenge:
Can you see the three hearts?
Our camera’s telephoto captured the pig, the water vase, and four hearts in this Segovia wind vane; none of which helped explain its mysterious message.
Gothic architects liked their hearts. Look closely, there’s a trio here.
Wishing you a Happy Valentine’s Day!
James & Terri