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Big Sur - Hiking Andrew Molera State Park

One of the great delights of living in the Bay Area is the proximity to the natural beauty of California and it's hard to beat the stunning drive down Highway One to Big Sur. This is certainly one of the iconic American road trips, but for me the joy of being in the area is getting out of your car and hitting a trail, so you can be "in" the landscape rather than just looking at it from the asphalt. 

The Cathedral at Conques

The abbey-church of St Foy at Conques, which has now been named a cathedral, is a beautiful building in a spectacular situation. One of the most important way stations on the pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela in Spain, Conques remains a site of great charm and  peace.The square in front of the cathedral looks much as it must have done for centuries, below. Behind the church is a hostel for pilgrims who can still be seen arriving daily.
The twelfth century Tympanum  carving of the Last Judgement ( a decorative  frieze above the doorway) at the cathedral is a spectacular example of Romanesque art. As you can see below the detail in the carving is extraordinary. Seeing this alone was worth the journey to Conques. Below you can see Christ sitting in the center with heaven above and the chaos and danger of hell below. Clearly such images were designed to explain the scripture at a time when most people could not read.
The images of damnation are very vivid. I love the creatures preparing the eat the sinners below!
Things look less chaotic for the worthy souls who have made it to heaven. they are see
The inside of the Romanesque church is very peaceful and of course quiet.
 There are several small chapels including one to St. James. This is a wonderful place to visit and highly recommended.