June 17, 2018

Royal Museum of the Armed Forces and Military History ,Brussels

Another trip to my favorite city in Northern Europe. This is Brussels at its best and we love the museums especially those dealing with history. Brussels has a beauty that should be seen by all history buffs.  I was there with the family and they love it, especially my boys!

This is my previous blog post on it: My previous blog post on the war museum

The Royal Museum of the Armed Forces and Military History or the Musée Royal de l’Armée et d’Histoire Militaire,is a military museum that occupies the two northernmost halls of the historic complex in Cinquantenaire park. And it is wonderful, highly recommended for the history and military buffs.

The idea came in the Brussels exhibition of 1910 when a section on military history was presented to the public and met with great success. The museum was originally installed on the site of the Abbaye de la Cambre and moved to the Cinquantenaire Park in 1923. The park is set on the continuation of the Rue de la Loi which starts at the end of the  Brussels Park before the Royal Palace.

The north wing, has been occupied by the aviation hall since 1972 when the Air and Space gallery was inaugurated.  The collection includes various types of aircraft, both military and civilian, some dating back to the early 20C.

Brussels Brussels Brussels Brussels Brussels Brussels Brussels Brussels

We actually got there on the tram 25 stop at montgomery and came into it from outside into the park on a glorious walk in town which we love to do once in a city. We got to Brussels by car from France on the N2 and in Belgium on the N6 coming in the RO or rocade(beltway) road to our hotel and then on foot all over, great I am telling you.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are

Brussels museums

Tourist office of Brussels

Official War Museum webpage

Hope you enjoy it, it is history of all phases of our events over the years. Very well set up , and good welcome.

And remember , happy travels, good health ,and many cheers to all!!!

 

 

Tags: , ,
June 17, 2018

The gorgeous Royal Galleries of St Hubert, Brussels!

In our trips to Belgium, Brussels play a big part of it. As said, we like big cities even if lately the smaller town are beginning to appeal and maybe the reason we live in a 7K folks town now. However, the big cities are still attractive and shopping is our past time!

I am used to the passages or thru ways found in Paris; so coming to other cities always love these. Brussels has an exceptional one that all should visit. This is the Royal Galleries of Saint Hubert.

The Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert in Brussels is a complex of three covered passages all along glass in arcades decoration. These galleries are the Galerie de la Reine (queen’s  gallery) on the rue du Marché aux Herbes to the rue des Bouchers; the Galerie du Roi (king’s gallery) on the rue des Bouchers to the rue d’Arenberg; and the Galerie des Princes (princes gallery) from the Galerie du Roi to the rue des Dominicains.

These galleries opened in 1847 and are amongst the oldest in Europe; they maintain an ambiance of greatness that still exist today, whether it be through the special shops or notable chocolatiers, been the first one Neuhaus chocolate store that was opened here where they are still today.

In the Galerie du Roi houses the Royal Theater of the Galleries or Théatre Royal des Galeries  while the Galerie de la Reine house the theater of Vaudeville opening in 1884 with the name of Casino Saint-Hubert.  The Galerie des Princes was previously called the Passage du Prince. It has the name on the stone above the entrance. This Galerie des Princes houses the library Tropismes, at no 5 there is lodging chambre d’hôte ,and the restaurant L’Ogenblik. There are apartments in the first floor (2nd US) above the stores and extend throughout the whole building.

The Vaudeville theater used to be a flower market but eventually transitioned into a theater in 1872 and hosted several prominent entertainment figures. While both theaters are open to the public, it is mainly the Théâtre des Galeries that continues to showcase performances, concerts and plays.

Brussels was also the first city that the Lumières brothers (the founders of cinematography) visited after debuting their first films in the Grand Café in Paris. These ten short movies — called moving pictures at the time — were screened in the Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert in March 1st, 1896.

The Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert contains several letters and manuscripts by renowned scientists, artists and cultural figures. The Museum of Letters and Manuscripts houses an extensive collection showcasing the correspondence and personal thoughts of some of the world’s most historic figures in the arts and sciences including Einstein, Van Gogh and Brussels’ own Jacques Brel.

However, the most important here is the shopping to kill for, the best  of Brussels in my opinion and we love to visit each time in town, which was often.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are

Official site of Galeries Royale de St Hubert ; http://www.grsh.be/en/

Tourist office of Brussels on the galeries ; https://visit.brussels/en/place/Galeries-Royales-Saint-Hubert

And they are on the tentative list for Unesco World Heritage Sites (French) https://whc.unesco.org/en/tentativelists/5355/

Hope it helps you decide to come here it is really beautiful. And remember, happy travels, good health,and many cheers to all!!!

 

 

Tags: ,
June 17, 2018

The beer is catching on to wine in France!

Well a major past time here is the wine of course, the simply the best in the world, often imitated and many times wishing to be, the French wines are tops for years. However, what is a fact and you need to spent some time in the local bars and brasseries of France is that the beer is catching up. I know for a fact in my beautiful Brittany, the beer is king.

I like to give you some numbers on this phenomenon.

The market for beers continue to grow in France; in 2017 the sales went up again 3,3% representing 3,4 billion euros and by 2018, it is already 3,8% higher as of February. There is a huge numbers of breweries artisanal done and micro breweries popping up all over.  As of 2017, there were 1280 breweries in France , and if you look back, in 2014 there was only 550 including 30 institutional ones. In 2015, it went up to 700 and now by May 2018 it is close to 1300!.

As I dwell into the beers and wine since adult younger ages ,and work on establishments as well as holding diplomas on wine from France and Spain, I had written some blog posts on beers here, these are: Beers of France and Brittany

Beers of Brittany

However, the sales are becoming more niche specialized brands for specific groups. In 2017, 400 liquor stores sold 80% of their sales on the offering of beers and some even 100% !. As in Paris liquor stores  such as  Brewberry, Moustache blanche, La Cave à Bulles, and the chain Bières cultes, as well as in the province (outside the Paris region) you have La Capsule at Nancy, La Minute blonde at Niort,  and franchises such as La Cervoiserie ( we have one in Vannes) and Orge & Houblon.

The biggest tendance is the IPA beer(  India Pale Ale ) a style of beer that is as usual as asking for a mojito. It was the style most represented at the beer event Planète Bière (next event March 2019 see webpage) .  Almost all the breweries present had an IPA. Leffe, was the first one three years ago with the Leffe Royale Cascade IPA. Tried it but not my glass of beer fyi. Planéte Biere

This innovation is the fundamental line of the big French brewery Kronenbourg SAS, with a history of 354 years!  They have three new products out, on the market of non alcoholic beers growing at 10,6% from last year, the Aromatic market at 11,2% and the tasting beers at 11,9% growth.  A fact, the French are more and more liking the beers with 80% of us drinking it in 2017. In the stock exchange , Anheuser-Bush InBev  has a porffolio of 500 brands of beers of which the famous Leffe (Belgian abbey beer). Last year, they presented us with the  Caractère by Leffe. They had included brewing in oak of Scotch whisky into it having them dried before dipping into the beer in a tank for maturation! In 2018, Leffe Ambrée ( amber scented) a combination taste of a lager blonde type and the complexity of a dark beer for this summer on a limited edition, and announcing as one of the most refreshing of the Leffe beers with a taste of sweet and sour.

Some of the trends:

In aperitif beer: Vitus, from the German brewery Weihenstephaner which would be the oldest active brewery in the world.  In tasting beer: The Original, from the Scottish brewery Innis & Gunn. A beer brewed at low temperatures, infused with pieces of bourbon casks thanks to the amplifier Kit, a special technology inspired by the percolator. Since then, Innis and Gunn has launched his beer mangoes on the Run, an India Pale Ale (IPA) infused with mangoes.  The beer card. Maps are established around a theme such as local beers (Parisian, Ile, Breton…), artisan beers with different styles, etc. On the map of the beers of the restaurant Spoon by Alain Ducasse in Paris, we quote the one made by Philippe Starck in collaboration with the Olt Brewery in Aveyron. The acidity. Acid Beers (Sauer) are obtained with the help of certain yeasts and this was the great trend at the BXL BeerFest, Brussels International Festival. There were some on all the stands. Acid or aged beers in casks. To appreciate the Sauer, you need an educated palace. They are complex but the acidity can produce very pickled beers that give ideas of original chords with dishes and cheeses in particular. The beers are no longer distinguished by their color – blonde, redhead, Brunette… – but by their style (IPA, Pils, Stout, Sauer…). Wild yeast. A type of fermentation appears, from wild yeasts found in a natural environment, tamed by the master brewers of Heineken or the Belgian brewery Alvine. The latter took two years to control a yeast found in the forest in the central Massif.  Organic and gluten-free beers. These are not background trends. Small thought for the brewery of Vézelay, which produces organic beers without any input, in accordance with the law of Purity enacted in Bavaria in the 16C. The BLX Beer Festival site in Brussels: BXL Beer Festival

Raw materials and brewing techniques. Experiments and innovations take part in the dynamics of a brand while bringing new flavors. Beer aged in new oak casks or in casks having wine content (Sauternes, Pinot Noir, Meursault), rum, cognac, whisky or calvados. Beers brewed from stale bread, grapes, smoked malt with beech wood, wheat malt (or cheese), rye, buckwheat, oats. Beers flavoured with the addition of plants, fruit, fruit juices, non-alcoholic beers…You name it they are all innovating ideas and surprisingly there are markets for them!

Styles and large families:
Lager: A generic term for low, blond, amber, brown, cold and refreshing beers, the most popular being pils, or pilsner. A blond, light, well-hopped beer.
Ale (ale means beer): traditional beer from the United Kingdom, high fermentation, light in alcohol. It is available in Pale Ale (Claire), mild (mild), Brown (a bit sweet), bitter (very hoppy, so bitter), Porter (brunette), stout (black, malt-based very roasted barley), barley wine (meaning barley wine, with a lot of malted barley, strongly Alcoholic).
Within this family of beers is the India Pale Ale (IPA), rich in very specific hops, with citrus, floral, earthy, fruity aromas…
Abbey beer: Beer is named after an abbey but brewing is carried out by an outside brewery.
Trappist: Beer brewed in the enclosure of an abbey or under the control and responsibility of the monastic community.
Double or triple: Used in Belgium for Abbey Beers in particular, these denominations refer to the strongest beers in alcohol. The double is a dark beer measuring at least 6% alcohol. The triple is a blonde or golden beer that titles between 7.5% and 9%. I am just trying one from France and another from Brittany; Duchesse Anne Triple 9% and Belzebuth at 8,5% blonde pilsners.
Specialty Beers: Those that are unclassifiable in other families, generally regional beers and high fermentation.

There are three types of beer fermentation, these are:

The high fermentation beers : In the brewing, the yeast work at high temperatures between 15C and 25C ( 59F and 77F) transforming the sugars into alcohol and carbonic gas.

The low fermentation beers : the yeast work at temperatures between 5C and 12C(41F to 54F).

The beers with spontaneous fermentation: the yeasts work in the changing air climates making a natural fermentation putting the malt of the beers in open barrels.  This is the case of the lambics and  gueuzes beers of Belgium.

There are big events coming such as from June 29 to July 1 2018, the 2e  Parisian edition of World Beers of the Mutualité houses.  Where 20 Nations and 120 breweries will be present to show off their malts.  Also, from August 25-26 2018, at Brussels the next  BXL BeerFest will be held with many beer lovers of the world as well as independent breweries (see above the site for BXL BeerFest). Here is the webpage for the Parisian event in English: Beer Worlds in Paris

We have lately been set on the German beers which we can get here easily with La Cervoiserie  or V&B beer :wine stores. We do continue to drink the Belgians and Bretons as well as wines. In fact, a meal is not perfect without neither of them! Yes yes, we drink in  moderation but this is a cultural thing and we are very traditionalists ::)

Pluvigner

Anyway hope you have enjoy the update, and remember, drink in moderation and don’t drink and drive. After all, we need you to continue with happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

 

 

 

 

 

Tags: , ,
June 16, 2018

Towns of history and Castle in the Province of Cuenca!

And traveling along on my quest for the Quijote in me and visiting not only the province of Cuenca but also the region or autonomous community of Castilla La Mancha away from my beloved Madrid. I have come to realized the beauty of small towns away from the metropolis, and these have a remarkable impact on me and my family. Maybe one reason why we lived in a town of 7K now. Love it.

We were base in the mountains of the Serrania de Cuenca, especifically at Las Majadas, a place of many memories of family visits and good friends. We all love so much that we repeated coming here, and my dear late wife Martine fell in love with the area even thinking of retirement here. Sad could not be, life goes on, memories to take along the roads.

Let me tell you about Almodóvar del Pinar a town passing on the road N320 and only 47 km from Cuenca capital and Valencia 154 km , Madrid 234 km. The name comes from the Moors/Arabs that means Redondo or round going back to the 11C . Went thru many battles between Moors and Christians until king Alfonso VIII conquered in 1177 and again coming back to retake in 1184. By 1452, king Juan II of Castile bequest the town to Don Rodrigo Manrique, Count of  Paredes ,and Nava, Constable of Castile ,  Commander of  Segura de la Sierra, knight of the Order of Santiago and father of the famous poet  Jorge Manrique. In 1467 Manrique sells all his assets of the town to  Don Martín de Alarcón, Commander of Mérida , and Lord of  Solera.

In the 18C, the town had its biggest economic impact been of the most important towns in Spain for carriage transport (carreteros sort of the truckers of today) delivering goods all over Spain . The Royal Association of carriages of Almodovar was founded in the 16C_17C; having the town the biggest number of carriages per inhabitant in Spain. The goods were mostly transported to Madrid  but also to  Valencia, Cuenca, Linares, and Sevilla.

Another interesting historical anecdote here is on the Inquisition. There official members and collaborators calles family of the inquisition, and they were townspeople with the shield of the Inquisition on their front doors that gave them prestige, and they were not subject to laws but only to the Inquisitors. Here over 100 processes on the inquisition took place, a rather large number for a very small town not reaching 500 inhabitants at the time. Very repressive town in those days.

Things to see here are Cerro de los Cubos at a height of 994 meters with the remains of an Arab/moor fortification.  Wonderful Church of Our Lady of the Assomption or Iglesia de Nuestra Senora de la Asunción; the nerf is from the 15C, the tower from the 17C, and the main gate is from the 18C.  Inside there is a major altar and retable in baroque style done in 1957-1959 at  Santiago de Compostela. The nice ornate City Hall , Pósito (goods depot) , and the Chapels of Ermita Nuestra Senora de las Nieves (15C) ,  Ermita de San Antonio Abad (17C-18C),  Ermita de San Miguel Arcángel (17C), and my favorite there (because Valencia monk came to my current area to preached circa 1410-19) the Ermita de San Vicente Ferrer (18C) renovated and now use for civil events ,and the house of the inquisition or Casa de la Inquisición.

Almodovar del Pinar Almodovar del Pinar

A webpage to help you plan your trip here in addition to my blog post:

Castilla la Mancha tourist office on Almodovar del Pinar : http://en.www.turismocastillalamancha.es/patrimonio/almodovar-del-pinar-44131/descripcion/

We come to an even smaller town but very picturesque we saw on the road and decided to come in to. This is Arcas del Villar or simply Arcas now. There are many sites still use Arcas del Villar but the main buildings are in Arcas. It is only 8 km from Cuenca at a height of 959 meters.  You easily reach it from Cuenca on the road N320a and then the local CM 220.  In the municipality including several small towns the highest peak is the  Monte Talayuelo at 1273 meters. It has a mountain pass call La Tórdiga at 1200 meters. The municipality is cross by the San Martin river and has several lakes on the complex Lagunar de Arcas.

The main thing to see here is the Church of Our Lady of the Nativity or Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de la Natividad, Romanesque style dating from the 13C with only one nerf and abside semi circular right in town center.

Arcas del Villar Arcas del Villar

 

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are

Tourist office of Castilla La Mancha on Arcas del Villar: http://en.www.turismocastillalamancha.es/patrimonio/arcas-del-villar-63731/descripcion/

City Hall of Arcas on things to see in Spanish http://www.ayuntamientoarcas.es/turismo/

Now we come to a very historical castle fortress of my beloved Castilla La Mancha and Spain.

The Castle of Garcimuñoz is a very small town of less then 70 folks right along the expressway A-3 Madrid-Valencia at km. 156. It is at 915 meters above sea level and the town is on a descend from it.

The long history which I will try to make much shorter is to follow.

During the Arabs/Moors occupation the place was called Al-Marg Hamal. In  1177,king Alfonso VIII conquered the town of  Cuenca, and two years later takes over the place of now Garciamunoz after also taken Zafra de Záncara.  The castle took the name from a knight García Muñoz, that accompanied the king and this was confirmed in various documents of the period such as in 1167 ,and twice in 1179).​ García Muñoz  was name mayor of the Castle in charge of the population and it is for this reason that it was known with the name of castle Garcimuñoz.  The town was re populated by ordered of the king with folks from  Extremadura  and Burgos.  Later on, king Alfonso VIII took Alarcon in 1184 and made the castle belong to its jurisdiction for 138 years.

During the many wars amongst the kingdoms of Spain ; in 1296 king Jaime II of Aragon starts a war to take over some places belonging to Don Juan Manuel; this later claims they were taken in haze and ask to be returned to him. One of the compensation was Alarcon and several other villages, he obtained from the regent queen Maria de Molina priviledges given at Cuéllar in 1297 , that ,also confirm the treaty of Torrellas of 1304. Thereafter ,for most of his life Don Juan Manuel lived in the castle of Garcimuñoz, in one of the towers he kept his fortune according to his will and where he wrote many of his literary works. Probably, it is here that his daughter Constanza (wife of king Pedro I of Portugal), was born and later died in Santarem in 1345 leaving one son Fernando that later would be king of Portugal as Fernando I.

Here comes a central figure in the history of this area and Spain, Don Juan Pacheco ordered built a new fortress at Garcimuñoz  in 1456 on top of the previous fortress of Don Juan Manuel ( when the cemetery was transfered here in 1974 due to excavation later in 2008,  you can see the lower level of the old fortress built by Don Juan Manuel. The son of Don Juan Pacheco, Diego López Pacheco, was opposed to the ruling of Isabel I or Isabel la Católica, together with the archbishop of  Toledo Don Alfonso Carrillo. The war of succession was on after the death of king Enrique IV  in which towns such as Garcimuñoz, the last remnants of the marquis of Villena falls to the infanta Isabel.  In 1480  it is signed at Belmonte  the concordat with the Catholic kings and with this ends the war  as well as the fighting utility of the castle of Garcimuñoz.

Until the first third of the 19C, the marquis of Villena are the lords of the castle and town and in charge of collecting taxes . The law of 1823 ends the lordships and the charge of taxes passing to tribunal courts or governement treasury; this cause the Marquis of Villena to sell the castle or Castillo de Garcimuñoz.

Some things to see here are: On the side of this castle on a cut of it, was started to built in 1663 a Church or Iglesia de San Juan Bautista (St John the Baptist) and opened in 1708. The stones and towers of the castle were used to built the Church and were the cause of the destruction of most of the castle; however thanks to the Church we have a castle stil today.  The patio was rented to the local priest for a cemetery as it was then prohibited to buried folks in Churches.

The Castle is really it here and a must to visit easy off the A3 road. The walls of it are 3 meters thick and built to resist the attack of artillery of the times. On the lower level, it is reinforced with a slope making it difficult to conquered it. The form is square irregular and its corners are reinforce with circular cubes. On the north side you have the main entrance tower or Torre del Homenaje; these towers has a dome in bricks and crown with casements and ample space to move artillery.In its heydays had two levels, one the lowel level had a patio with anti lighting crosses and on the second level on the northeast side had five gothic windows in the form of a Cross.

The windows of the first and second level shows that part of the castle had a palace aspect. The first floor windows have three centers and the middle inverse. There is a ornamental arc that is closed with a crown below it and in the center the Royal arms of king Enrique IV of Castile . The castle is peculiar because below it ordered built in 1458 there another where Don Juan Manule lived and in turn it is the continuation of the one lived by Garcia Muñoz , of which one day was destroyed by  the Caliph Yusuf  in his conquest of 1172 against the town of Huete.

Garcimunoz Garcimunoz

Other things to see are:  the Cross of Jorge Manrique built in 1941. it is about 3 km from the town on the way to Nava ,the place where supposely felled fatally wounded the poet Jorge Manrique in 1479. it is built from shisel stone from the Cathedral of Cuenca and it is the place to return after the procession of the Virgin. You can read in the monument: Here felled fatally wounded Jorge Manrique, fighting for the unity of Spain. It has two shields on each side and in the center an iron cross. At the foot is a deposit where the coplas song of Jorge Manrique amongst them the “A la muerte de su Padre”  to the death of his Father, today there is only a hole left.

The town also, had an hospital.  After in 1834 evicting the monks and in 1835 the sisters there was a hospital for the poor with land reaching to the castle of  Garcimuñoz  as well as two convents.  The hospital of Our Lady of the Conception or hospital de Nuestra Señora de la Concepción was founded by the parish priest in 1640.  The convent or convento de frailes de San Agustín (of monks of St Augustine) was founded by Don Juan Manuel in 1236 , and still preserve the abside of the Church in gothic style and the walls of the cloister. The convent or  convento de monjas agustinas, also known as Nuestra Señora de Gracia was founded in the 15C and restored in 1500 ; it is still in good condition inhabited by 8 families in the town.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are

Association to safekeep the castle not oficial in Spanish : http://www.castillogarcimunoz.es/

Tourist office of Castilla La Mancha: http://en.www.turismocastillalamancha.es/patrimonio/castillo-de-garcimunoz-20731/descripcion/

There you go another nice local sublime historical ride on my Castilian plains of my beloved Spain. Hope you enjoy the ride, and history for always.

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

Tags: , ,
June 16, 2018

My travels in the Morbihan, LXVI

Here I am on a Saturday afternoon, my errands are done and time for World Cup football/soccer on TV. The day has been cloudy, and fine rain for a while then stop it is supposed to be like that tomorrow too. We have run into some flooding over in Seine et Marne our family area ,and for the first time in 40 years ,the village was flooded!!!

We are still searching for places to go, I have a run at Paris on the 19 June and then possible friends visits in Nantes weekend of the 23-24, another one in Guérande, and that is about all . In July, I am for the Philippines but not set yet. Time goes on without my beloved dear late wife Martine. As said, she was the organizer to go places and it is missed.

In my ongoing posts to tell the world of everyday life in my belle France away from the tourists and fancy places of our beloved country, I have set out to tell you how is life here ,really for a normal family. No clichés as life here is as anywhere else. I know lived in 6 countries and many regions and average a home every five years!!!

We got up this morning waiting for the nurse to come in for my father, yes here they come to your house. He is going on 83 and with diabetes so needs to control it. He is ok. He is independent still and love it! Once the nurse came and went ,we set out with him in tow by car.

My son had already gone out in his scooter to get us the baguette breads so essential here can’t have breakfast without it and not even lunch or dinner lol! From our town city hall webpage the boulangerie Tual in city center pl Saint Michel: Boulangerie Tual Pluvigner

First stop , the bank to drop off some papers in Auray, quick turnaround. The bank is out of the old town zone. Then ,we continue to Electro Depot in Vannes to get some external hard drive for my sons games etc. Very nice Verbatim done deal. The boys walking in photo.  The store chain is very good on prices good guaranties, and good service indeed.  Here is the webpage: Electro Depot Vannes

Vannes

We got on to get me some computer ink for the printer at my favorite office supply store here, Bureau Vallée in Vannes. Always available, cheaper than most or all places and good service. Here is the webpage: Bureau Vallee Vannes

Vannes Vannes

We got back into the big complex of E Leclerc hypermarché in Vannes. Here we put gas, diesel now at 1,414€  a liter or about 5,34 € a US Gallon (about 6,21 US Dollars), and yes gas has always been more expensive here but can’t  go around on gas/petrol alone::) Comparing that in my previous country of  Miramar, Broward county, Florida USA the diesel is at 3,19 USD or about 2.75 € today exchange rate. My full tank came to 51 euros!

We went with the boys to browse at the Centre Culturel Leclerc inside the shopping center, and then we did our groceries. IN the time, we  purchase the Father’s Day gifts as it is Tomorrow Sunday June 17 in France. It has an unique webpage for the books, dvd, cd, etc section here: Centre culturel Leclerc

Vannes

I got my usual wish , always good bottles of Bordeaux wines with the nostalgia that these properties we had visited with my late wife Martine over the years on several occasion and are our favorites.  I got some underwear t-shirts for my father as he likes them for wearing all day.

Finally, we did our groceries. E Leclerc Hypermarché is an experience like not anywhere. This is huge and it has everything for the house from clothing,to appliances, entertainment, garden, you name it and it is all here in one stop shopping.  The webpage is here: E Leclerc Vannes

Vannes Vannes Vannes

Now , let me tell you, this is World Cup Russia 2018 on football/Soccer, we are fanatics yes… and me played even at low professional league levels in USA and France (Yvelines dept 78). My team if you read my blog is the Real Madrid FC forever Hala Madrid!!! (Played Benjamin for it in Madrid in the 70’s). Then, as National team well then it gets complicated. Having lived and citizen of four countries when competitions like these come around choosing is hard. At this World Cup , I have two sentimental teams, my beloved blood country Spain and my marriage adopted country of France. Spain started out brilliant 3X3 vs Portugal (current European Champions) ,and they are off to good after some troublesome coaching moves (but very strategic for my club) . France just finished their first game wining barely 2X1 vs Australia!

Spain is in group B with Portugal, Iran, and Morocco. and France is in group C with Australia, Peru,and Denmark. The official FIFA World cup webpage is here: FIFA World Cup Russia 2018

We will continue to follow the Cup until the big finale July 15 2018. May the best win,,,,,nahh which is my team, won’t tell you ho ho ho!!!   Enjoy it

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tags: ,
June 16, 2018

A nostalgic look back on Alarcon!

A nostalgic look back on Alarcon, indeed.  I have heard of this town, but never visited, always continuing on towards Valencia and the Mediterranean in younger days and with the family just the big towns. On one of our summer runs to Spain, decided to see smaller towns of my beloved Spain, so the turn came for Alarcon. It was memorable indeed.

Alarcon is in the province of Cuenca in the Castilla La Mancha autonomous community about 87 km from Cuenca, the capital of the province.  Alarcon sits on a rocky hill almost completely encircled by a loop of the river Jùcar. In the 8C an Arab fortress was built on the promontory above the river, a useful defensive position. Stone walls and 5 turrets surround the castle of Alarcon. One of these turrets sits right on the river and enabled the inhabitants to draw fresh water even during a siege. After a long occupation by the Moors the castle was taken by the Castilians during the Reconquest in 1184 following a nine-month siege. As well as the castle admire the main square with its old town hall and the 16C San Juan Bautista Church and stroll through the medieval streets. The church houses some excellent murals by Jesus Mateo. The Santa Maria church is a lovely Renaissance church.

My previous blog post on Alarcon here: The castle and old Alarcon

The only drawback we had is as we were pressed for time, the wait at the restaurant was too long and the reception not to Spanish standards of welcoming. The rest was wonderful, history, architecture, old , just what I like.

The history of Alarcón is governed by its role as a stronghold; however, the castle is not the town’s only precious heritage: it also claims a rich architectural variety, both religious (the Churches of Santo Domingo de Silos, San Juan Bautista, the Santa Trinidad, and Santa María del Campo, as well as the Hermitage of Santa María de la Orden), and civil (the town hall, the House of Villena, and the Castañeda Palace).

Castle of Alarcon, is of Muslim origin, this medieval fortress was constructed in the 8C and conquered by King Alfonso VIII in 1184. The castle sits atop a promontory inside a bend of the Júcar River, creating a formidable stronghold whose battlements provide an impressive view to the border with Valencia. The keep, built around 1460 by Castilian nobleman Juan Pacheco, serves as the fortress’s trademark feature. The historical figure Juan Manuel, Prince of Villena, who wrote the Tales of Count Lucanor, once lived within the castle walls. It opened its doors as a parador hotel in 1966.

Alarcon

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Parador de Alarcon old castle  http://www.parador.es/en/paradores/parador-de-alarcon

Church of Santo Domingo de Silos, This is a 13C church built in the late Romanesque style. Of the original structure, both the semicircular apse in the nave and the southern portal have been preserved. The portal’s splayed arch consists of three colonnettes per door jamb, capped by pointed proto-Gothic archivolts. In the 16C, the square tower and the walls of the nave were built following Renaissance designs, while the Baroque period saw the modification of the ceiling with a ribbed barrel vault. Today the church has been adapted for use as an exhibition hall and auditorium.

Art Center – The Murals of Alarcón; Old Church of San Juan Bautista. The current structure dates from the 16C as a replacement of the previous Romanesque building. It has a single nave covered with a barrel vault, a portal in the Herrerian style, and a tower that remains from the original church. Buttresses stabilize the lateral walls; however, contrary to custom, they are located in the interior and thus divide the space into smaller areas that serve as tiny chapels. In 1994, the young Spanish painter Jesús Mateo began the project of covering the totality of the old structure in a set of mural paintings. it is considered one of the greatest examples of contemporary art worldwide.

Alarcon

Church of the Santa Trinidad . This Church comprises two naves, dating from the 13C and 16C respectively, although the vault in the older nave was built in the 15C. Of note are its pointed ribbed side arches, its chancel arch, and its Renaissance altar. The original Romanesque apse, circular in form, has been replaced by the current rectangular one. The portal is typically Plateresque; it bears the coats of arms of the Marquis of Villena, and of his contemporary, Bishop. The Church tower stands on a portal known as the arco de la villa (town gate).

Alarcon

Church of Santa María del Campo .This Church presently serves as a parish Church. Erected at the beginning of the 16C, it was constructed in the Plateresque style and features Gothic tracery in the vault. The portal dates from the middle of the same century and was built by Esteban Jamete (born Etienne Jamet) of Orléans, who is also supposed to have made the altarpiece with scenes from the life of the Virgin Mary, as well as the sacristy.

Alarcon

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here in addition to my blog post are

A wordpress site been use as city hall on tourist info by a local in Spanish: http://www.aytoalarcon.es/

Castilla La Mancha tourist office on Alarcon in English: http://en.www.turismocastillalamancha.es/patrimonio/alarcon-44031/descripcion/

Hope it helps to bring you out to the deep Spain, the soul of the Spanish people , travel to know and you will know why more travel is needed.

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!! Thanks::)

 

Tags: ,
June 15, 2018

The land of discoveries, come back to Trujillo!

A few years back, I had gone to many not all places of my beloved Spain, and someone was to meet me for business. I was open to suggestions and as the person was from the area ,I was taken to Trujillo; a find. I have already know the city from my Spanish history,but never been to the town. This was the opportunity.

Trujillo  is in the Province of Caceres in the autonomous community of Extremadura on the west of Spain. The town contains many medieval and renaissance buildings and on many of them were built or enriched by conquerors of the new world. These include, Francisco Pizarro, the conqueror of Peru as well as his brothers Francisco de Orellana, and Hernando de Alarcon.

My previous blog post on Trujillo is here: https://paris1972-versailles2003.com/2012/09/22/trujillo-extremadura-birthplace-of-conquerors-and-more/

A bit of history I like

Since Roman times the town was known as  Turgalium  and became a prefecture stipendiary of the Lusitanian capital,Emerita Augusta (today is Mérida).  With the Muslim invasion and conquest in 711, it became one of the main towns in the region  renamed Turjalah, governed by the Taifa based in Madrid. This taifa was subject to the Umayyad Emirate and the subsequent Caliphate ruled until the middle of the 11C. Five centuries of Muslim occupation and control finally ended when an army formed by forces of the Military orders and the Bishop of Plasencia laid siege to the city of Trujillo with the support and blessing of Saint Fernando III (king).

The town was finally captured in 1232. During the final assault, according to the local legend, the Christian forces were faltering just short of victory when many reported seeing the Virgin Mary (known as Virgen de la Victoria or the Virgin Mary of Victory) between the two towers, or Arco del Triunfo, in the castle. Sufficiently inspired, Christian troops pressed on and achieved victory defeating the Muslims who were inside.  King Juan II of Castile gave the town the title of city in 1430.

During the War of Independence (from Napoleon’s France), one of the first authorities that responded to the call of the  Junta of Mostoles in May 1808 was the mayor of Trujillo, Antonio Martin Rivas who prepared enlistments of volunteers, with food and arms, plus the mobilization of troops, to go to the aid of the Junta. Trujillo was captured by the French in 1811 and held until 1812.

Some things to see here are

The Castle (Alcazaba), the Church of Santiago, the Church of Santa María la Mayor, the Church of San Francisco, the Church of San Martín, the Plaza Mayor, and renaissance palaces such as the palace of the Marquis of the Conquest, the palace of the Orellana-Pizarro family, the palace of the Duques de San Carlos, Marquesado de Piedras Albas, the house of the  Palace Chaves , and of course the walled old town.

Trujillo

The Palacio de Piedras Albas was built circa 1530 ,formely owned by the Marquis de Orellana and later by the Marquis de San Juan de Piedras Albas. It has several museums: Museum of Coria (Javier Salas Foundation), Pizzaro’s House, Enrique Elías Museum (local designer), Museum of Cheese and Wine.

Overall, all is around the Plaza Mayor, and very nice indeed, as main squares in Spain goes it can rank up there, and the historical building around it are just worth at least a day here.

Trujillo

Some webpages to help you trip planning are

Extremadura tourist office on Trujillo : http://www.turismoextremadura.com/viajar/turismo/en/explora/Trujillo-00001/

Tourist office of Trujillo; http://www.trujillo.es/monumentos/iglesia-de-santa-maria-la-mayor/

Parador de Trujillo: http://www.parador.es/en/paradores/parador-de-Trujillo

There you go not bad after all, and the needs as usual to come back to these beautiful places of my beloved Spain. Trujillo is on the list. Hope you enjoy the post and give you something to come for a visit.It is worth it.

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers!!!

Tags: ,
June 15, 2018

Quaint towns of the Province of Cuenca!

Well ,rain is back, flooding in some parts where I am and even in Spain, rivers flowing thru towns unfortunately, this is the end of Spring and Summer coming up June 21th. Anyway, here are my newest take you go places.

I have enjoyed coming with the family to visit these places on first time, something we relish having discovered them together. We took our base in the mountains of Cuenca and from there went by car all over. These are the quaint little towns of Tragacete, Canete, Tarancon, Una, and Villalba de la Sierra all in the province of Cuenca, autonomous community of Castilla La Mancha.

My previous blog post on some of these towns here: Quaint Province of Cuenca

Ok , let’s start. Tragacete  is as all are (not to repeat myself) in the Province of Cuenca, autonomous community of Castilla La Mancha located in the Serranía Alta or high sierra area, and part of the natural park of the Sierras of Cuenca or Parque Natural Serranía de Cuenca. Here the Júcar river is born in the Cerro de San Felipe  and reach the town on about 12 km from its birth; nearby ,you ,also find the birth of the Cuervo river also at about 12 km and the birth of the Tajo river and a bit further the wonderful Ciudad Encantada (enchanted city natural park), Parque de El Hosquillo (more rock formation park) , and the  Ventano del Diablo (the window of the devil with great views). The town is shaded by the highest peaks in the area all over 1850 meters high.  Going out further at about 2 km,  you have the Molino de la Virgen (windmill of the Virgin), there is a nice cascade down juraisic stones down river; you see the water come and go as it filtered on the calcaric rocks that reach a plain at about 1560 meters high  from where the Jucar river is created  (Cerro de San Felipe plains) at a place call the Ojos de Valdeminguete (the eyes of Valdeminguete).

Tragacete

Here is born one of the Royal trails of the animal and men crossing in Spain, that are regulated by a Royal decree signed by king Alfonso X the Sabio in 1273. The one here is known as the  Cañada Real Conquense o de los Chorros . It goes thru the provinces of Cuenca, Ciudad Real, and part of the province of Jaén in Andalucia.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are

Tourist office of Spain: Spain on Tragacete

Tourist office of Castilla La Mancha on Tragacete:  http://www.turismocastillalamancha.es/patrimonio/tragacete-70831/

City Hall of Tragacete:  http://www.tragacete.es/turismo/oficina-de-turismo

We move on to  Cañete at about 70 km from Cuenca. Main road to take you there is the N 420 halfway between Cuenca and Teruel. There is a nice natural setting park at El Chorreadero. The castle you can do on foot as well as the quaint Postigo or Hoz del Postigo that has a pretty cascade fall, river, and hanging houses as well as the Chapel of the patron Saint of  Virgen de la Zarza, parts of the ruins and plenty of fishes , birds etc for the nature lover.

The Chorreadero ,you go out of town by the gate or Puerta de la Virgen and crossing the  Salinillas (sandy area) you can reach the place or continue towards  Cabeza de Don Pedro. The nice ruins castle or  Castillo de Cañete is of  Moors origins with various additions after the Castilian conquest. The last were done in the 19C during the Carlist wars. It is on top of a narrow hilly area where you can look at the town below and the  Mayor del Molinillo river. You can see the Wall ramparts or Muralla de Cañete, the town in parts is surrounded by it with Moorish origins and Christians modifications inside you can see the gate or Puerta de las Eras,with a horseshoe arc and Moorish lettering. You can see the Churches of Santiago, Chapel of San Juliàn, and Chapel of the Virgen de la Zarza. Lots of destruction here during the Spanish Civil War by the Republicans forces.  In addition, in 2015, it was discoverd a mount call locally El Cabezuelo or the big head with three megaliths steps that could be possible pyramids in steps the first in Spain. Even if the majority of experts believe is a Celtic Oppidum from the 3C AD.

Canete Canete

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are

City of Canete: http://www.villadecanete.com/

Tourist office of Castilla la Mancha on Canete http://en.www.turismocastillalamancha.es/patrimonio/canete-64231/descripcion/

This is a town we passed all the time and the sad story is that here my dear late wife Martine was treated for pains (there is a clinic (Centro de Salud) in city center) while on vacation, the first signs of her cancer. Villalba de la Sierra will be only sadly remember I am afraid. It is only 21 km from Cuenca on the foot really of the Serrania de Cuenca mountains where we rented houses the last several years at 1400 meters. It is an area good for natural river fishing on the Jùcar river on two spots call the  coto de Villalba, and  El Tablazo. You see from here high above the before mentioned Ventano del Diablo,, the valley of  Cambrón,​ where you will see the ruins of a former convent of Carmelites , the Barranco del Jùcar or canyon is good to see.

Villalba de la Sierra

The city hall with tourist info on Villalba is here:   http://www.villalbadelasierra.org/portal/lang__es-ES/tabid__5354/default.aspx

Going up and around in this mountaneous area we reach the nice Uña (nails), there is a big lagoon/lake here part of the Parque Natural de la Serranía de Cuenca. You need to go by car up the mountain on the local road  CM-2105. It is a lake of 200 meters in diameter with clear emerald waters of no more than 15 meters deep. Wild life is big here with ducks, seagalls, etc as well as deers, wild pigs etc. Around the lake you come into the Balcony of Uña, from here we can see the rocky coastal shelf, known as the castle of Uña, which shields the town from the wind. This is the landscape known as Gorge Los Cortados. The sierras of Las Majadas (where we had been renting rural houses) and Valdecabras, among which the Jucar river runs, are the backdrop of the town’s entrance. The highlight of the historic quarter is the Church of San Miguel Arcángel, built in the 13C, and remodelled in the 16C. It is a building made of masonry, which has a steeple and a wooden gabled roof.

Una Una

Just around the corner from the town you have the Embalse de la Toba , a dam that starts from the  Júcar river ,between mountains. It is a big swamp of 150 hectares where you can see the muela de La Madera a place of many voltures and other rapace birds. The dam or embalse is created from the Júcar river together with others such as the Valdemeca, and other small streams . The Embalse de la Toba was built in 1925 as a project to conditioned the hydroelectric plant using the river for a traject of 20 km inside the Serranía de Cuenca that would help control the Júcar river as well as channeled the waters to the hydroelectric plant at Villalba de la Sierra. In Summer, it is one of the best areas for swimming and the most popular beach area in the province of Cuenca.

Una

The tourist office of Castilla La Mancha has some on Una here:   http://www.turismocastillalamancha.es/patrimonio/descubra-el-casco-urbano-de-una-70931/descripcion/

Last but not least, is the town where we came in on the A40 to take the A3 to Madrid each time or vice versa. And of course, we went  to see Tarancon.

It is at the crossroads of the A-3 or Autovía del Este  Madrid-Valencia. The A-40 or Autovía de Castilla-La Mancha, starts in Ávila, past by  Toledo, Tarancón, Cuenca , and finish at Teruel.  The  N-400 connects Tarancón with Ocaña and Toledo. The local road  CM-200  connects the towns of Fuente de Pedro Naharro, Villamayor de Santiago, Tarancón , and Barajas de Melo in the province of Cuenca, and  Albalate de Zorita, Almonacid de Zorita, Pastrana and Fuentelencina in the province of Guadalajara. Tarancón  has a train station on the line Madrid-Cuenca-Valencia.  Tarancón as Madrid and Cuenca are in the zone E2 of the Madrid regional transport network and you can use the Abono Transporte pass to come here on the bus lines 352 from company Ruiz, S.A. and line 309 from bus company Auto Res, S.A. taking you to Ave Conde de Casal in Madrid or Cuenca bus/train terminals.

Tarancón , it is half way between Cuenca and Madrid at about 80 km. It has some nice quaint architecture as well. The Palacio de los Duques de Riánsares (palace of the dukes of riànsares was restored in the 19C on a rectangular shape and a central park with Toscans columns around which are the rooms of the palace of which very few originals are kept. It is currently the City Hall of  Tarancón. You can see outside the remains of the old gates wrough iron grills, the nice gardens in the 20C were change into the current square Plaza del Mercado.

Other nice things to see here are  the Church of our lady of the Assomption or Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de la Asunción,from the 16C with a nice retable altar in plateresque style on the high altar. The convent or Convento de San Francisco, the sanctuary or Santuario de la Vírgen de Riánsares, and the palace mansion or Casa Palacio de los Parada, the parish Church of San Victor y Santa Corona, and other chapels such as San Juan, San Isidro Labrador, San Roque ,and Santa Quiteria.  There is a quaint nice old town around the parish Church.

Tarancon Tarancon

For the art lover or curious there is the painting collection of Emiliano Lozano. It includes about 300 works bequested to the city of Tarancón,by the family Lozano de la Pola, and it shows small and big portraits in all types of support and all kinds of techniques in which many of the greater works from the comics, portraits, posters, views of cities , wine houses etc etc are on display.

Tourist office of Castilla la Mancha on Tarancon: http://en.www.turismocastillalamancha.es/patrimonio/tarancon-85531/descripcion/

Hope you enjoy the ride as much as we did; it is the real Spain, nothing about crowds or up prices, this is the real thing and of course, much better with a car.

And remember, happy travels, good health,and many cheers to all!!! Again thanks for stopping by. Cheers!!!

Tags: , ,
June 14, 2018

And if going to Calatayud, the world!

And here I am roaming again on my beloved Spain. This time we are moving up north to a wonderful old area of my Spain. The town has even been mention in songs Si Vas a Calatayud, or if you go to Calatayud. It is still around in youtube here:

 

It was sang  by my mother when a young boy! Always memories of my Spain. As the years went by was lucky enough to lived in Madrid and finally visited Calatayud. Many years later took my girlfriend and eventually wife to it too. My dear late wife Martine love it. We arrive once when there was a wedding going on in the hotel, the hotel is no longer there as we passed last year. We did put gas/petrol in the station next to it on the NII road.  Things change, but the memories lingered forever. We ,ourselves ,need to come back again.

Calatayud Calatayud

Calatayud is in the province of Zaragoza in the autonomous community of Aragon on the banks of the Jalon river. There are many roads crossing here such as the A2 and the N234 and old N II (which we still preferred to take more in town) ;  The regional roads or autonomous A 1504 to Cariñena , the A202  to Nuévalos and the local road CV 601 to Embid de la Ribera; there is the now wonderful A23 and still away the A24.

A bit of history I like, really started with Augusto, the Roman emperor that raise it to city as Municipium Augusta Bilbilis  and once Tiberio arrived the construction to the temple or forum began , the city even printed money and at this time was born Marcial. Next came the Arabs/Moors and the fortified castle complex is built that eventually gave the name to the town. The town was called Qal’at Ayyub which means Qal’a fortified town or citadel and Ayubb a common Arab name. IN the 12C the Moors here were defeated by the king of Aragon, Alfonso I the Battler in 1120 the feast of St John the Baptist. And in the 15C the infante Fernando II is proclaimed heir to the throne of Aragon in the town in 1461. Here too, it is signed in 1481 the charter of Calatayud between the Catholic Kings (Fernando and Isabel) and Fernando de Guanarteme, the king of Grand Canary that will be incorporated into the kingdom of Castile.

Wonderful things to see here are:

The fortified castle complex from the Arabs period (castles, ramparts wall and gates). It is from the 9C and the oldest in Spain of Arab/moors time. It has five points or castles, all connected by walls and ramparts that comes up and down canyons. At the highest elevation is the Mayor castle or Castillo Mayor and the Castle of the  Torre Mocha (shortened tower).  In the inferior plateau you have the castles or Castillo de Doña Martina, Castillo del Reloj, and  Castillo de la Peña (the most damaged).

The Castillo de Doña Martina is the oldest. The Castillo Mayor or of Ayyub  is the highest. It has two buildings one lower to the north side and other high on the south side. It also has two towers in a octagonal shape where there is still the tank well. There is a complex of  Recinto de la Longía  there are trees that makes it difficult the view and from the Castillo Mayor rampart walls go on towards the south and east, some remaining towers can be seen.  The Castillo Real or del Reloj (Royal or clock castle), you have a wall in the interior of the rampart towards the south that reaches this castle, there is just a section visible today.  There was a wall that connected it to the Castle of  Doña Martina by the canyon of the Barranco de la Rúa,and here it was open to the gate or Puerta de Valencia. The Torre Albarrana came from the Castillo Mayor to the orient with a rampart section with four towers in square shape. At about 150 meters there was the torre albarrana tower separated by a 7 meters but link to the complex, and it is the oldest section of the tower Albarrana. Another complex call the Recinto de la Torre Mocha or shortened tower, is closed, there was a cord chain reaching the castle of Doña Martina. At the center there is an octagonal tower that was used for water tank and the complex as storage.  The Castillo de la Peña, is today in ruins. The gate or Puerta with a horseshoe arc is the only part that has been restored following the model of the Mezquita of Cordoba.

Other wonderful monuments to see are  the collegiale Church of Santa Maria la Mayor, Royal collegiale Church of  Santo Sepulcro, Church of San Pedro de los Francos; Sanctuary or Santuario de la Virgen de la Peña; Church of San Andrés,  and Church of San Juan el Real. Also, the Museum of Calatayud (archeological museum on findings in the area) in the former convent of Carmelites, and the Museum of La Dolores, located in the tavern Meson de la Dolores ( the history of movies, songs of this famous personage of Calatayud) .

A wonderful town, full of nice memories needed to post in my blog stand alone, for the souvenirs of always. Some webpages to help you plan your trip here including a wine tasting route

City of Calatayud tourist info in Spanish ; http://www.calatayud.es/turismo/visitar

The wines of Calatayud : http://www.docalatayud.com/en/wineries/

Tourist office province of Zaragoza on Calatayud; https://www.turismodezaragoza.es/provincia/pueblos/calatayud.html

Tourist office of Aragon in Spanish; https://www.turismodearagon.com/es/ubicacion/zona-turistica/monasterio-de-piedra-y-calatayud.html#.WyF0W-6FPIU

Community region of Calatayud in Spanish: http://comarcacalatayud.com/index.php/zonas-de-la-comarca/calatayud/

There you go another jewel in Zaragoza province, region of Aragon; the famous Calatayud, yes indeed. We shall meet again if you are going by Calatayud ,si vas por Calatayud.

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all !!!

Tags: ,
June 14, 2018

The triangle, Colmenar de Oreja, Chinchon, and Villarejo de Salvanés!

I like to put these three again together.  It’s in my wonderful Comunidad de Madrid , the region of Madrid ,and flashes already begin as I write. I had great memories here especially of Chinchon, and later with the family on all three ,sometimes coming back to back to them. My dear late wife Martine really enjoyed it and we love it together. Memories forever and I like to share it with my readers . Of course, I repeat the triangle; Colmenar de Oreja, Chinchon, and Villarejo de Salvanés.

Oh yes this is south of Madrid and a wonderful area my dear late wife Martine enjoyed very much; we were thinking of even retiring here ; life is too short.  Memories now of what could have been, sad yes. No words yes.

I wrote a bit on them previously in my blog, here is the entry. https://paris1972-versailles2003.com/2016/08/25/chinchon-colmenar-la-oreja-and-villarejo-de-salvanes-comunidad-de-madrid/

Colmenar de Oreja   as all the others are in the Comunidad de Madrid region and Colmenar is only about 50 km from Madrid and you can only come here by car ,no train station. You come by the expressway A3 Madrid-Valencia and take the entry into the road M404 by km 50 at Villarejo de Salvanés (see below) until Belmonte de Tajo and here take the M303 to Colmenar de Oreja.  There is another way from the A3 take the M307 at Km 21 before reaching Arganda del Rey, and by it follow continuously the M311 and before reaching Morata de Tajuña the M313 to Colmenar de Oreja (also take you to Chinchon, see below).

A bit of history I like is that between the years 1500 to 1700 the successive kings of the Habsburg (Austria) ordered the most important works in this town such as the enlargement of the Church of  Santa María la Mayor (1517), repairs to the wall ramparts  (1517) the irrigation of the fields of Vega  (1572), and the foundation of the Franciscan Monastery of San Bernardino de Siena (1570) , and the founding of   the Monastery of the Incarcanation of the recollects Augustinians (1685).

One of the nice things to do and see here are the building of the Plaza Mayor in 1676, a wonderful example of Castilian squares finished in 1794 and on it you find the Casa Consistorial ( served as city hall)  and Posito (old food depot). The Teatro Municipal Diéguez, built on top of the former charity hospital. In the 19C, it was called the comedy theater and later Charity theater,currently bears the name in memory of Antonio Diéguez Cruz, a famous cinema and theater actor born here at Calle Pérez,2. The Museo Ulpiano Checa museum, the most ample collection on the work of this painter of historic paintings from the end of the 19C, oriental paintings etc. You get to the building by a nice garden where you can see a bust of the painter and a monument to items typical of the town such as the stone and the earthenware.

Church of Santa Maria la Mayor, built by the order of St James in the third part of the 13C, enlarged in second half of the 16C. A beautiful organ with great concerts here. The Chapel of the Christ or Ermita del Santisimo Cristo del Humilladero, patron Saint of the town , different architectural styles and periods with a beautiful chapel of the 16C, all in a Latin Cross and a small dome. The Convent or Convento de la Encarnacion del Divino Verbo, belongs to the sisters Recollect Augustinians and known locally as the convent of the sisters. It has an area of almost 7K sq meters and done with three bodies and a garden, built around the 17C even if founded the order in 1536.

Colmenar de Oreja Colmenar de Oreja

Some webpages to help you plan your trip to this nice quaint town

Regional tourist office on Colmenar de Oreja: http://turismomadrid.es/en/discover/colmenar-de-oreja.html

City of Colmenar de Oreja tourist office http://colmenarte.colmenardeoreja.com/

Villarejo de Salvanés on the same region of course; is located at the km 48 of the expressway A3 Madrid-Valencia.  Some anecdote on the town I like on my history was that here in 1866, General Prim rose up against the government of O’Donnell and the Isabeline regime, failed coup.

Some of the things to see and do here are

The sanctuary of our Lady of the Victory or the Santuario de Nuestra Señora de la Victoria started built in 1573 in memory of the victory against the Turks in the Battle of Lepanto in 1571 where the admiral  Requesens, asked for the intervention of the Virgin del Rosario to win promising to built a Church in her honor if victorious; and so he was and so was built the Church. The Third house or Casa de la Tercia, built in the 16C name as such because he guarded a third of the tribute for personal use of the Commander; it has two floors and a patio with columns as well as caves with earthenwares of great size used to house the wine of the commanders, with subterranean galleries that communicates with the Church and Castle.

The tower or Torre del Homenaje of the  Castle of Villarejo de Salvanés was part of a defensive network that protected the old way to Toledo as well as before the Galiana way in Roman times that link Gaul with Hispania (France and Spain) during the middle ages was still in use.  The castle had many uses and the point of uprising of Gen Prim. This is where we parked and walked around and my dear late wife Martine found a lady who told her where to buy groceries just around the corner….She could talk Spanish too. The parish Church of San Andrés Aposto or St Andrew the apostle. Built in the 14C has high towers and on the front the shield of the order of St James (Santiago) as well as on the lateral door. The Church is on the Plaza del Castillo square.

Villarejo de Salvanes Villarejo de Salvanes

a webpage of tourism in the region on Villarejo de Salvanés to help you plan your trip here is : http://turismomadrid.es/es/descubre/las-vegas/7168-villarejo-de-salvanes.html

And last but not least in this wonderful ride by car in my favorite of my beloved Spain.

Chinchón  only 44 km from Madrid.  The unique find here is that in 1638, the properties of the skin of the Quina was discovered by the Countess of Chinchon wife of the vice king of Peru ,observing the healers working on treating fever.  In 1738, the county passed after purchase to the House of Bourbon and Farnese and later it was given the title of Very noble and loyal city for its fidelity during the War of Succession.

Easiest way to get here A-3 to Arganda’s bridge with right signposted in the M-311-313 road, which passes near Morata de Tajuña to Chinchón, winding route on its last sections. From Madrid there is a good bus service every hour, by the carrier “La Veloz”, which starts in Plaza Conde Casal, head of the highway N-III Madrid-Valencia. This is the 337 bus line Madrid-Chinchón-Valdelaguna.

Some things to see and do here at Chinchon are

The wonderful Plaza Mayor of Chinchón.  The first houses had supports and balconies built in the 15C and became enclosed in the 17C.  The buildings are of three floors and indented galleries as well as 235 balconies in clear wood supported by pillars. The square has hosted several events like Royal feasts, proclamations, comedy theater, beer games, bullfight corridas , executions, sacrificial acts, religious acts, political and military as well as a cinema filming like the corrida shown in the movie The tour of the world in 80 Days and circus acts in the movie The fabulous world of the circus.

Chinchon

The Church of our lady of Assomption or Nuestra Señora de la Asuncion, began built in 1534 as a Chapel annex to the County Palace in a gothic style and finished in 1626. The current Church is a reconstruction of gothic, Plateresque, renaissance, and baroque styles.  The main retable altar has a painting of the Assomption of the Virgin painted in 1812 by famous Spanish painter Francisco de Goya on orders by his brother Camilo, priest of the Church.

Torre del reloj  or clock tower from the 15C restored in 1808 but not the Church that remained enclosed in time. We love to come up here the Castle of the Counts or Castillo de los Condes,  built in the second half of the 16C with a renaissance style but very robust and horizontal in order to avoid the artillery fire. The castle was abandoned in the 18C after the counts residing here for over 200 years. The Imperial troop of the Marquis of Mina attacked it and destroyed it, it’s last used was a factory of liquors. Yet the views from it are impressive over the city in addition of stepping into history.

Chinchon Chinchon

The convent or Convento de San Agustin, currently house the tourist hotel Parador Nacional de Chinchon after been rebuilt and restored in 1982 once given by the city to the regional government. The first convent here was founded in the end of the 15C and built in 1626 during the war of Succession where it was lived by the Archduke Carlos of Austria. During the 18C and 19C was a training center of humanistic approach to theology, grammar, and latin. In 1842 it was the courthouse and later prison. In the 20C, it housed tribunal of justice. Today, it is a parador  and on the Church it is the Chapel of the Our Lady of Rosary or Ermita de Nuestra Señora del Rosario.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here and you must are

City hall of Chinchon on culture, theater etc http://www.ciudad-chinchon.com/ayuntamiento/concejalias/cultura/presentacion.php

Tourist office of Chinchon http://www.ciudad-chinchon.com/turismo/en/conoce-chinchon/lugares-interes/edificios-historico-artisticos.php

And the ride is over folks. Very nice area to drive around, and see wonderful towns ,some off the beaten path ways. Enjoy it as we did/do.

And remember as always my dear readers, happy travels, good health and many cheers!!! And even if not always posted you know I always thank you from the bottom of my heart you reading and accompanying me in my journey, better together. Cheers!

 

 

Tags: , ,
%d bloggers like this: