Marty’s photo of the day #3530: For today’s post, we go all the way back to my first book, Cool Creatures, Hot Planet: Exploring the Seven Continents, for this short excerpt:

Our goal for the day was to reach the town of Cangas de Onis near the Atlantic Ocean’s Bay of Biscay. Although we had to cover nearly three hundred miles, we took time for some stops along the way.

One of our stops included the twelfth-century walled city of La Villa de Castrotorafe. I had spotted the city from the highway and turned onto a dirt road that led us right to it. Deb and I had the city (which consisted of mostly rubble and deteriorating rock walls) to ourselves. As we walked among the ruins, everything was ghostly quiet. For a moment, I felt as if we were the last people alive on earth.

Because of its strategic location between Castile, Galicia, León, and Portugal, La Villa de Castrotorafe was once an important military post. The city, however, had been poorly constructed and began deteriorating by the fourteenth century—that’s what happens when you fail to build using union slaves. Several rebuilding projects were attempted, but when the bridge spanning the Esla River collapsed during the sixteenth century, the commanders finally said, “Screw it,” and abandoned the site.

***You can order Cool Creatures, Hot Planet here: