14th June 2014: Falconry & Birds of Prey Exhibition in Guadalajara (Spain)

Falconry is one of those things that I’m torn about – on the one hand I’m not really keen on animal labour and shows, but being close to those animals is an amazing experience. The town of Guadalajara was celebrating the 900th anniversary of the passing of the Medieval Hero Minaya’s passing, and falconry was common technique at the time.

Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar was a Castilian knight and warlord who lived in the 11th-century Spain. He was called El Cid Campeador which roughly means the Master of the Battlefield. He was a glorified mercenary, and has made history books as one of the most important history heroes. He was exiled when he confronted the King about killing his predecessor. One of his generals, Álvar Fáñez Minaya, is credited with liberating the town of Guadalajara from the Moors. Just as El Cid represents courage and strength, Minaya represents loyalty.

Guadalajara really likes the figure of Minaya – he is in the local coat of arms and flag, there’s a school and a Moorish tower named after him. And as he was supposed to have been an excellent falconer, the exhibition was organised. I never caught the name of the owners of the animals, but there were some very impressive birds over there – Steppe eagle, Eurasian eagle-owl, Iberian imperial eagle, Turkish vulture, a hawk / falcon and… and that’s the end of my ornithology knowledge. All in all the animals were beautiful, although people not respecting their space made me a little bit sad.