Archive for February 12th, 2017

February 12, 2017

Santa Maria la Real Catedral de la Almudena in Madrid

Ok so with time on a Sunday evening time to write about something that was in Madrid after I left from my living time there, and saw afterward while visiting the city.  I have written bits and pieces on it in other posts ,but this one is entirely on it.

I am talking about the Santa Maria la Real Catedral de la Almudena, next to the Royal Palace in Madrid. As everything there it is monumental and richly decorated. As you lead along Calle Mayor from the Plaza Mayor and you reach the Royal Palace or Palacio Real you can just look to your left and can’t missed it.

This is Church of 104 meters long and 76 meters wide with a mix of architecture styles from neo classic in the exterior to neo roman in the interior and neo gothic in the crypt. It was consecrated by Pope John Paul II in his fourth trip to Spain in June 15 1993. It is the first Spanish Catedral consecrated by a Pope.

It has ever since closely link to the Spanish Royal Family. In November 8 2000, was buried under the altar of the Virgin Mary, the Queen Maria de las Mercedes de Orleans, first wife of king Alfonso XII, whose remains were at El Escorial until the completion of the Cathedral. On May 22 2004, it was the scene of the marriage of Prince of Asturias Felipe of Borbon with Letizia Ortiz . On August 20, 2011, the Pope Benedict XVI became the second Pope to visit the Cathedral where he presided over Mass within the events of the XXVI World Youth Day. It was, also, the site of State ceremonies such as the funeral of former Presidents Leopoldo Calvo Sotelo in 2008 and Adolfo Suarez in 2014 (the forerunner of the Democracy movement we see today in Spain.

There have been a desired to built a Cathedral here going back to the 16C during the reign of king Felipe II. He chose Madrid as his capital. However, the Diocese of Toledo held that right and refuse to change it for many years. It was not until April 4, 1883 that king Alfonso XII finally laid the first stone of a Church of what would be later the Cathedral of Madrid. The idea was just to rebuilt a Church to replace the Church of Santa Maria de la Almudena, the oldest in Madrid,  destroyed by fire in 1868. It was built on land ceded in 1879 by Royal heritage of the Queen Maria Mercedes (1860-1878) a devotee of the Virgin of the Almudena, that had died prematurely.

In 1885, Pope Leon XIII decide by a pontifical decree to built a diocese in Madrid so putting an end to the opposition of the archbishops of Toledo. The draft of the new diocese took place in the Church of Saint Isidore until the Cathedral was completed.

The exterior of the Cathedral has as a main nave dome a height of 32 meters a lot more than the 12 meters between the axe of its columns. The dome is gothic in style seen from the interior but baroque from the exterior. It is covered in stone and tiles with an octagonal drum and its four large windows with a small lantern below it. The dome is decorated with 12 statues representing the 12 apostles.

The two towers on the façade , the one on the right is known by the name of Mariana or of Gallegos (Galicians) as the bells were offered by the Galician’s. Both have Marianne names on each tower such as Santa Maria la Real de la Almudena, Santa Maria de la Paloma, Santa Maria de Atocha, and Santa Maria de la Flor de Lis. On the left tower that gives to the Calle Bailén you find the ringing carillon or bell.

The interior of the Cathedral can be said it is of Latin Cross design consisting of a nave and two wide side halls with three naves. A curve ambulatory with five radical chapels. The altar table is green marble and located in the center of the transept. To the right of it is the Episcopal chair, gothic lines carved in walnut in 1885. Behind the main altar ,you see the chairs of the presbytery with a crucified sculpture of Christ in baroque style done in 1620.

The Virgin of La Almudena the patron saint of the city has its altar in the transept of the right aisle, opposite the entrance by calle de Bailén. It is a high altar, which can be accessed by two side staircases with bronze handrail. The original sculpture, representing the Virgin with the child in her arms is an image of Gothic style carved in wood. It is positioned in the central niche of the altarpiece, done by the end of the 15C.

You will see about 18 portraits representing scenes from the life of Jesus and Mary with gentle pleasant colors, most of neo gothic style. The image of the Virgin is elevated on a pedestal of silver from the 17C, with candles and glares of the same material. The central chapel on the ambulatory is dedicated to San Isidro Labrador and his wife Santa Maria de la Cabeza ,whose image is of baroque polychrome carving from the 17-18C ; the funeral coffins are from the 13C. The Chapels on the aisle are dedicated to contemporary Saints such as Jose Maria Escriva de Balaguer, decorated with sculpture reliefs. Others are Santo Venancio Blanco, Santo Mari Micael of the Blessed Sacrament ; Marian de Jesus de la Providencia, San Maravilla de Jesus, San Angel de la Cruz, San Vicente de Paula, San Luis de Marilla, San Pedro Poveda, Santa Maria Soledad Torre, Santa Maria Josefa del Corazon de Jesus. All are organise and decorated with images in contemporary style furniture for the most part. At the food of the altar you have a chapel of petinance and the baptismal chapel in white marble from the 18C.

The Cathedral organ is located in the high choir at the foot of the nave back and was done with four keyboards ,pedal keyboard with mechanical and electrical links featuring 16 line pipes with the largest at 11 pipes high. 21 on line pipes for a playing keyboard , and a pedal with 3 more.

It is a must to see in Madrid and a great souvenir of your visit. Do not forget to see the museum(next to Cathedral) , and the Chapel of the Bishop (plaza de la paja s/n) , and the Crypt at Calle Mayor 90( need ask to see it at 12h or midday) , open Mondays to Saturdays from 10h to 14h30 only. Normal adult admission is 6€. ticket office is in the main façade of the Cathedral facing the Palacio Real, metro Opera lines 2 and 5 or bus 3 and 148 stop at Calle  Mayor corner with Calle Bailén. More on the museum /Chapel, and Crypt in Spanish here:

The official webpage of the Cathedral is here in Spanish :

The tourist office of Madrid has more in English here :

Enjoy the Almudena and Madrid. You all have a great week ahead ! Cheers

Madrid Madrid Madrid Madrid Madrid Madrid Madrid Madrid Madrid Madrid





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February 12, 2017

Some news from France CXLXI

And at last Sunday, again wintery cool at 2C or about 35F, cloudy and just before mid day. At Paris we have about 36F feeling like 30F light rain maximum of 49F chance of rain 70%. Tomorrow a bit better at 54F low of 38F and no rain announce.

Continuing with our VI Nations rugby championship after yesterday thriller between England and Wales won by England, this afternoon our time, is France vs Scotland. Allez les Bleus!!!

The Catacombes that depository of bones in Paris closed again and finally reopen this weekend with its long line of waiting at the Place Denfert-Rochereau (14eme), one of the museums of the city of Paris most visited with 500K last year to discovered its 2km of underground deathly galleries. Bear in mind the number of visitors underground is limited to 200 at any time,and the entrance can be interrupted at any time if heavy affluence. You better come prepare for cold with some warm clothing as the temperature is never higher than 14C or 57F. The entry is done by 1 avenue du Colonel Henri-Rol-Tanguy (place Denfert-Rochereau) from 10h to 20h30 except Mondays.More info here:

And according to the Le Parisien newspaper the Apple store was given the ok to be at 114 avenue des Champs-Elysées, on top of a store IKKS already in the building ,and near the Lido cabaret.

The first ice skating ring 210 meters high in the Tour Montparnasse! open since this past Friday. A synthetic floor without water or electricity! It is at the Observatoire Panoramique de la tour Montparnasse, 33 avenue du Maine (15eme), open until March 5th from Mondays to Fridays midday to 20h and the weekends 10h to 20h, cost is 9,50 to 15€ free for the younger than 7 yrs old. More here :

Somethings nice to do in Paris , go to the Parc Floral near the Chateau de Vincennes open from 9h30 to 17H.  Floral collections, tuboggans and slides for kids or a walking tour of the park with admission.  More here:

While above see the wolfs at the parc zoologique de Vincennes. At 15H there is the feeding of the four wolfs and take advantage of say hello to the monkeys and giraffes etc ; it’s a zoo. open from 10h to 17h admission online are cheaper from 13€ more here:

And do go to the Aquarium de la Porte Dorée, it has a beautiful building dating from the colonial exposition of 1931, with 5000 residents from 300 different species from all continents. There are shows for cocodriles and piranhas. Open from 10h to 19h admission from 3,50 to 5€ :metro Porte Dorée line 8; more here:

And on the cour d’Honneur of the Chateau de Fontainebleau the famous iron horse stairs or escalier en fer à cheval dating from Louis XIII is due for renovation taken one year and about 2M €; donations expected. More here:

Caumont Centre d’Art ,3 Rue Joseph Cabassol  in  Aix-en-Provence show the exposition  “Marilyn” telling the history of the relationship of Marilyn Monroe and the photographs and photographers in her history. The show will be on until May 1st . Admission 13€ . More here:

Until April 27th the exposition Ingrés et ses éléves-Dessins de la collection des Beaux-Arts. A multiplicity of graphic practices of the masters and their students;  more here

Down south nice town, often by pass, the Chalons-sur-Saône in Burgundy, has a wonderful museum ,musée Nicéphore Niepce, all about photography. 28 quai des Messageries, near the river Saône, open every day except Tuesdays and Holidays. Sept to June 9h30-11h45 / 14h-17h45, and July/August 10h to 18h continuous.  See from June 17 to September 17,2017 the exposition : Par-dessus tout :l’objet photographique. More here:

And as Saint Valentin approaches what better way to express it in PARIS!

At the Musée Rodin, you are in for a romantic evening with a background of Jazz and poems lectures, getting deeper into the artist love affair with Camille Claudel. An evening call Soirée Love au Musée Rodin, Tuesday February 14, 19h to 21h admission 20€ and 15€ for the 18-25 yrs old. More here:

Get on the game Hunt, starting from looking for a mysterious cabaret dancer or chasing a pickpocket in the metro, each couple has its enigma. For those going further, there is even and asking for marriage game quick you have only 60 minutes to do it! Escape Hunt, 5 rue d’Hanovre (2eme) February 14-15, 76€ for two persons. More here :

In Double Fond with its specialists on the closeup, magic, the evening starts with a dinner (champagne, cocktail hors-d’ouvres, win) by magician servers that will come to each table. Later ,the master Alexandra Duvivier takes the orders with an spectacle especially made for the evening with there is a mix of plays, magic and comedy. Each couple learn a trick of magic! I have done this one before and it is wonderful, recommended. Saint Valentin, au Double Fond, 1 place du Marché Sainte-Catherine, (4eme) Tuesday February 14 from 19h; 100€ per person. More here:

In a industrial deco the Point Ephémère ( 200 quai de Valmy) or FMR for the locals is very alive . Here the Parisiens find themselves in a terrace with its restaurant bar, then see an exposition or listen to a concert,and on the big plaza talk, argue and listen with a plastic goblet in front of the Canal Saint Martin, before going to dance all night at the electro beat. A wonderful place to be for the young and the young at heart.

Want a real Parisien night a la Prohibition times ,then come to the 12, rue Frochot and visit the Bonnie and Clyde. You go down into the cave underground at the rare bar allow to stay open until 6h in Paris. Open Wednesdays to Saturdays from 22h to 5h30, close Sundays , Mondays and Tuesdays.  off Place Pigalle and metro Pigalle. no webpage call ahead,cell/mob. +33 (0) 6 17 94 16 91

And when nearby my beloved Versailles do not forget to try O’Paris pub (15 Rue Colbert) very near the palace, and one of my favorite hangouts when lived in the city. Here you have in drafts such goodies as Guinness, Kilkenny, Stella Artois, Loburg, Hoegaarden, Leffe, Leffe Ruby, Magners, Becks, Beer of the month and other whiskies, like Jameson, William Lawson’s, Clan Campbell, Bushmills, Black Bush, Jack Daniel’s, Dewar’s, Aberlour, Four Roses, Southern Confort etc The Happy Hour is from 16h to 20h every day except weekends and holidays. In some evenings you have animated nights and on Mondays there are quizzes, blind test , games etc. Thursdays they have the after work. On large screen TV’s you have the major sporting events as well.  Regular hours are 16h to 02h and weekends from 14h. More here:

And why not suggest the best place to eat in my town of old; Le Boeuf à la Mode, right behind the marché de Notre Dame market (4 rue au pain).  It has a 1930’s deco in all floors, try the first floor or 2nd floor for those from abroad; fresh produce, from the region, and well made. Continuous service from 12h to 23h . Coming to eat there regularly since 2003!

Above same owners in Paris at La Bombe, 20 rue du 4 septembre, La Planque, 17 rue de Choiseul, Le Carré, pl St Augustin (ate here too very good); 12 Place Saint Augustin (near gare St Lazare) :see the virtual tour at the one in Versailles here, go up the stairs ::)

Again ,see the Galerie des Carosses in the Grand Ecurie across from the palace, great carriages drawn by the Kings of France. Open February 26 , March 19 , and April 16 and 30 2017. admission 10€ more here:

see the Opus at the Académie Equestre in the Grande Ecurie as well. horse show par excellent wonderful a must even if the price is 26,50€ it’s worth it. More here:

At the not far Chateau de MaisonsLaffitte, you can see in cinema splendeur the movies that have been filmed there . Until March 6 admission 8€. See the movies like Chéreau directing Adjani in the Queen Margot; the kitchen scene of Gérard Depardieu in Vatel, the monumental stairs of Uma Thurman playing Cécile de Volanges and given to the viscount of Valmont played by John Malkovich. The scenes of Surviving Picasso by James Ivory or the Love and Death of Woody Allen; the costumes series of D’Artagnan of Claude Barma or the last of the series Versailles etc etc.  From Paris you get here best by train, RER A from Saint Lazare. More here:

And if you do get here for the movies, do not forget to get your gourmet goodies at one of my favorite stores in the area, Epicerie de Longueil; main street and not far from the RER A train station, more here:

Enjoy your Sunday, I stay with my memories of travels and good living, always trying harder. Cheers

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