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Synopsis

Christopher Howse has spent more than two decades exploring Spain. For him, its centuries-old cathedrals, monasteries and shrines demand pilgrimage more than tourism.

In a journey across the Castilian interior he follows in the footsteps of El Cid and St Dominic, examines St Teresa's arm, samples the legacy of the Cardinal who invaded Africa, finds the spot where St John of the Cross escaped from prison, and discovers in a mountain shrine the world's largest remnant of the True Cross.

He comes across a slaughterhouse dedicated to the Virgin Mary, and a cock and hen living in a cathedral. He hears of uncivil war in Europe's most civilised square and enjoys the smells, heat, food, noise, prayers, tears, flies, smoke, violence and laughter of an ancient culture in its last years.

With an eye for the humorous and strange, he spends time in Soria and Silos, Yuste and Segovia, before turning from the pilgrim destination of Santiago de Compostela to the valleys of Extremadura, where the Virgin of Guadalupe took the Spanish to an unknown world.

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