On today's visit to Vitarvis, we're heading up the harbour to Piedro at the mouth of the Colteck River.
Piedro is another one of the Vitarvis area's older settlements, but its origins are quite different. While Point Inglis and Augstein were primarily settled because of their access to the harbour, Piedro began as a Christian monastery. Set in a deep valley, its limited entry and exit points provided the monastery with solitude while the fertile land and river allowed its monks to be relatively self-sufficient. The monastery didn't occupy the entire valley though and its presence spurred the growth of a smaller supporting community on the river front. The picture below show's the entire Piedro valley, which is nicknamed the bowl because of its steeply sloping walls and generally round shape.
Piedro's two defining features are its waterfront and the monastery's central bell tower. We'll start by taking a closer look at the waterfront. The waterfront is defined by Anthern Avenue, with its commercial buildings on one side and a pedestrian promenade on the other. This is the secular community that formed to serve the monastery. Once upon a time, Piedro's waterfront was a much more industrial place. There was a network of small piers which made up a thriving working waterfront. The rise of modern containerized traffic though rendered the old piers obsolete and most of them were abandoned and have long since rotted away. One of the old piers, Slayter's wharf, however, was bought by the city to provide a landing place for pleasure boats. Slayter's Wharf is now an integral part of Piedro's waterfront, attracting walkers, fishers and recreational boaters.
Close up of some of the commercial buildings along the waterfront. The Piedro Valley Link Bus can be seen moving along Anthern Avenue. The bus route comes down one side of the valley and goes up the other. It provides a public transit link from Piedro into the rest of the urban area above the valley.
From the waterfront, it's only a short distance up Saint Road to the Piedro Monastery and its distinctive bell tower. The Monastery has a long history in Vitarvis. It once covered the entire northern end of the valley and was home to several hundred monks. As Atlantica society became more and more secular though, their numbers shrunk and the monastery came under increasing financial pressure. Some religious orders would have sold everything off and moved to the country, but the Piedro monks had come to believe that they needed to be with the people. The Monastery sold off their agricultural lands for development. and the proceeds of the sale created a fund. Through some lucky investing, the fund has ballooned in value and has made the monastery self-sufficient, despite the hefty upkeep costs of the bell tower and adjacent building. The garden park to the right of the bell tower is a city park designed with a colour palette and lines to compliment the monastery.
Looking up Saint Road to the bell tower. There is always a crowd of tourists out front waiting for their chance to scale the stairs to the top. Gotta love the symnetry.
There are two roads that bring people in and out of Piedro. Old Augstein Road below was carved into the cliff to get to an erroded channel and the plateau above. It was the first means of accessing the valley from the land. I really liked the way the curves turned out on this one. Felt very natural to follow the contours.
Once you're at the top of the valley, you can follow the edge all the way around. The views from up top down into Piedro, the inner harbour and Colteck river can be quite pretty.
The other side of the valley is capped with a gentle mesa. Known as Piedro Heights, it was not developed until after the Valley had filled up. Piedro Heights was quite controversial in Piedro itself because it wiped out what had been a spectacularly green hillside and popular hiking destination. The development was eventually approved, but only after the developer had committed to an aggressive tree planting program. Today, it can sometimes be tough to pick out the houses from the mature trees and the mesa is green again... at least from a distance.
That's all for now!