I was taking photos of shadows, cats, bricks and steps in the city of Cuenca in Spain. Everything that I could see right in front of me. It was sunny and mild and even the grafitti seemed to have had a spring clean.
I thought I had the old town all to myself, but someone else was up early, too. The man smiled when he saw that I had seen him, and he broke off from what he was doing. He pointed to the other side of the Júcar gorge: “Los Ojos.” he said: “Los Ojos de la Mora.”
I’d been curious about the The Eyes of the Moorish Woman that watched over the city from afar, and from here – I now saw – her gaze was clear.
I lacked the Spanish to say that I had learned of the legend, so I could only repeat the man’s words with an exaggerated nod: “Sí, sí, Los Ojos de la Mora.” and explain – as if it would help – that I was English.
“Se nota.” he said, touching his ear. It’s obvious.
The man looked at me with amusement and then returned to his work. Before I turned the corner I took one last photo. I took it so that I wouldn’t forget him, but I’m not sure why I thought I would.
No one seems to know who first painted Los Ojos de la Mora, but rumour has it that local art students ‘maintain’ them (or is it vandalism?). Whatever their provenance, Los Ojos immortalise a tragedy of forbidden love between a Moorish girl and a Christian soldier. One version of the tale can be read here.
For another love story, click here.