Archive for March 9th, 2018

March 9, 2018

The Comunidad de Madrid ,oh yes!

On a nice day still waiting for Spring, cloudy but rain stop and not cold around 10C or 50F in my neck of the woods, and hoping to get our puppy Saturday. I would like to speak about an area dear to me.

I have written on a few times in my blog with concentration in Madrid of course (lived there for glorious 4 yrs and visit every year for upteem times)so, to tell you I will be biased. Well this is the Comunidad de Madrid or the autonomous region of Madrid, it includes Madrid but will leave out as much as possible to tell about the other beautiful towns and history of it.

The Comunidad de Madrid is the province of Madrid; the capital and as well capital of Spain. The province is surrounded by the provinces of Guadalajara, Cuenca, and Toledo in the region of Castille La Mancha, Avila and Segovia in the region of Castilla y Leon. In 1981,Madrid was separated from Castilla La Mancha heir to the old Nueva Castilla of which Madrid belongs since the 19C . By 1983,the Comunidad de Madrid was finally established.

The comunidad or community has a beautiful landscape especially in mountain range of Guadarrama and at Ayllón ,the most westernmost area of the mountain range of Somosierra, as well as Gredos , the easternmost part. You have wonderful mountain tops of Peñalara at 2428 meters, Peña Cebollera at 2129 meters, and at Alto del Mirlo at 1700 meters. In my wonderful Guadarrama you have also the peaks of La Maliciosa at 2227 meters and the Siete Picos at 2138 meters. The Jarama river runs for 190 km,and is the longest river here on the borders of the Tajo river ; it is by here that you can go to Guadarrama , Somosierra and the wonderful peak station of Puerto de Navacerrada.

As you can imagine the transports here are big and excellent. You have the Barajas-Madrid Adolfo Suarez international airport just outside the city of Madrid in the proper town of Barajas; the best way to reach the area. Of course, if you are like me ,you come by car if in Europe I do it every year! The road network is free except the radials highways or Radiales mark with an R like R-2, R-3, R-4 and R-5. There are too not radiales but do charge these are the AP-6 ,and the M-12. From Madrid, you have all the roads or all the roads lead to Madrid!!, from Kilometer zero at the Puerta del Sol in Madrid. The highway/motoways or as here call Autovías, you have the wonderful A-1 going to Burgos Basque country and France! ,A-2 the way to Barcelona, A-3 the way to Valencia , A-4 going south to Andalucia, A-5 go west to Badajoz and Portugal, and the A-6 to Galicia, and the great A-42 to Toledo. The wonderful M-30 (completed as I was leaving Madrid) is managed by the City of Madrid ; the M-40 and M-50 beltways are managed by the State; and the M-45 is by the region. Alongside, you have the M-21 and M-31 that connects them in axis all the beltway autovias. The roads passed by good views mountain passes like the Navacerrada at 1858 meters , Guadarrama/Los Leones,at 1511 meters and the Somosierra at 1434 meters.

It also has a railroad since 1851 opened by Queen Isabel II on the line Madrid-Aranjuez; the oldest in Spain. There is the fast speed train or AVE with service like to Madrid-Córdoba-Sevilla, Madrid-Córdoba-Málaga, Madrid-Zaragoza-Lérida-Tarragona-Barcelona,Madrid-Toledo, Madrid-Segovia-Valladolid,Madrid-Cuenca-Valencia, and the Madrid-Albacete-Alicante. There are suburban trains call Cercanías ;which are the busiest in Spain. It has 10 lines from the Capital to the suburbs and with correspondance in Atocha Cercanías, except the C-9,that runs on the sides of the mountains or Sierra de Guadarrama, passing by mountain passes such as Navacerrada ,and Cotos. This line has a unleveling descend of about 60%, one of the most penpendiculars in Europe ; opened in 1923 by the King Alfonso XIII. There is a metro/subway/tube in Madrid run by Metro de Madrid.

This comunidad de Madrid part of the historic Castilla has three Unesco world heritage site such as Monasterio de El Escorial , the University and city center of Alcalá de Henares, and the cultural center of Aranjuez.

Webpages to help you plan your trip are here:
Tourism comm Madrid :

State Community of Madrid tourism :

Province tourism ofiices major cities:

The Comunidad de Madrid celebrates its main day on May 2 as the independence Day (from Napoleon’s  France in 1808). The enclosures of bulls such as those at San Sebastián de los Reyes (going back to the 16C) are second only to Pamplona. The gastronomy here is diverse and plenty, the one not to missed is the Cocido Madrileño , the little soldiers of Pavia or soldaditos de Pavía, the besugo a la madrilène (red sea bream fish ), the potage or potage de vigilia. Wines are plenty with DO Vinos de Madrid, located at Arganda del Rey, Navalcarnero ,and San Martín de Valdeiglesias. Also the wonderful anisette or Anís de Chinchón;the beef from the Sierra de Guadarrama;olives from Campo Real; and Olive oil of Madrid; also the cheese or queso de Campo Real. The sweets are best from the convent in Alcalà de Henares or the big strawberries of Aranjuez.

I like to tell you a bit of history I like:

During the Roman Empire the region was integrated to the province of Citerior Tarraconense, except the southwestern part, belonging to Lusitania (Portugal).The region was connected by two important Roman ways such as the Via XXIV-XXIX (from Astorga to Laminium), and the Via XXV (from Emerita Augusta to Caesaraugusta). The city of Complutum (Alcalá de Henares) reached high relevance in the empire while Titulcia and Miaccum at the foot of the mountains. The city of Madrid came about between 860 and 880AD, as a walled town where a religious and military community lived. This push the contruction of fortifications for the defense of cities like Toledo,above the Talamanca de Jarama and Qal’-at’-Abd-Al-Salam (Alcalá de Henares),as the most importants. In 1083, king Alfonso VI takes the city of Madrid ,and two years later he entered in Toledo. While Alcalá de Henares felled in 1118, on a new annexation of the kingdom of Castilla.

The Castilian monarchy begins to expand on the center of current Spain for its excellent hunting grounds and forest lands ; El Pardo was a preferred site frequented by the kings on hunting trips since king Enrique III (14C). The Catholic kings pushed for the construction of the Royal Palace of Aranjuez. In the 16C, San Lorenzo de El Escorial was added to the list of Royal sites. Madrid was one of 18 towns with the right to vote in the Cortes or Court of Castilla. As well served as residence to various monarchs such as Emperor Carlos I, that enlarged and renovated the Alcázar. In the 16C ,also, came about the university or Universidad de Alcalá de Henares, opened in 1508,while residing the Cardinal Cisneros. By 1561,king Felipe II established Madrid as the Capital of his empire that can considered the big push to create a province of Madrid. In 1833 ,Spain creates the provinces and one of them was Madrid( feat that was carried out into the Hispanic Americas). In this new division the province was put in the region of Castilla la Nueva (new Castile); eventually the provinces of Ciudad Real, Cuenca, Guadalajara , and Toledo were added. These changes made that the small town of Valdeavero, before part of the province of Guadalajara now passed to Madrid in 1850. The status of Autonomous Community of Madrid was approved in 1983. The province of Madrid became in 1983 the Comunidad de Madrid.

And this is it, Comunidad de Madrid, a bit condense story of a beautiful region and many memories of youth with my mom, and now souvenirs of visiting with my family, so lucky to be able to do it every year. Enjoy it as I do, it is magical. Have a great weekend ! Cheers!!!

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March 9, 2018

The Cradle, Castilla y Léon, Spain

So moving right along in my showcase of Spain, my other love… On a tranquil Friday evening at home with rain and cool temps of course nothing new in lovely Morbihan. I need to tell you more about a region of Spain that has given birth to a country and more, in Europe and the Americas. I will tell you more about Castilla y Léon autonomous region of Spain.

The autonomous region of Castilla y León is in the northwest of Spain and surrounded by other communities such as Galice,Asturias,Cantabria, Basque country, Rioja , Aragon, Castilla y La Mancha, Comunidad de Madrid, Extremadura and Portugal. The region is the result of the union of 9 provinces in 1983, three already there since the alignment in 1833,where provinces were created and joined the region of Léon, and six belonging to Castilla la Vieja (old Castile) except the province of Santander(today Cantabria), and Logroño (today the Rioja). The current nine provinces of Castilla y Léon are Avila, Burgos, Léon, Palencia, Salamanca, Segovia Soria Valladolid and Zamora.

We find in Castilla y Léon over 60% of the architectural, artistic, cultural , etc of Spain! Which we can break it down as 8 Unesco world heritage sites such as the Cathedral of Burgos ,Old town Avial and Churches inside the wall), the old town and aqueduct of Segovia, the old town of Salamanca, the way of Santiago in Spain (Route Franco-Navarra and route Franco-Aragonesa),the Médulas, archeological site of Atapuerca, and the rupestre arts sites prehistorical of the Valley of Côa and Siega Verde. Also, the distinction memories of the World by Unesco to the treaty of Tordesillas ,and the General Archives of Simancas. Almost 1800 cultural sites, 112 historical sites, 400 museums, more than 500 castles including 16 of historical value designation in Spain , 12 Cathedrals, a concathedral Church, and the biggest concentration of Roman arts in the world. With the 8 Unesco heritage sites Castilla y Léon is the world region counting the most cultural sites given by UNESCO.

You, also,have on the nature site the forest or Montes de Valsaín and the ranges of Béjar and Francia,in the Central plateau, the valleys of Laciana, Omaña, and Luna ,as well the peaks or Picos de Europa and peak of Los Ancares,in the Cantabrian chain, the Iberian plateau in the frontier with Portugal, also, all declared part of the Biosphere by Unesco,as well recognizing the geoparque of La Lora. Castilla y León is strongly related on the programs of Memories of the World by Unesco in the the edict of the Cortes of León of 1188, considered the birth of the world parliamentary form of government and the before mentioned treaty of Tordesillas.

I like to tell you a bit of history I like:

The Roman period was non stop building here, and even to our days you see it all around you. Especially the Aqueduct of Segovia, the salted well and the Silver route or Salinas de Poza de la Sal and vía de la Plata, originally from Astorga (Asturica Augusta) crossing the region until the capital Mérida(Augusta Emerita) of Extremadura. With the fall of Rome, these lands were taken over by the Visigoths and later the Moors/Arabs ,and eventually the reconquest by the Catholic kings in 1488-1490. The Middle ages gave rise to the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela (St James).The way of Santiago passes by this region and help spread the European culture.

In 1188, the Basílica de San Isidoro of León was the seat of the first courts or parliaments in the history of Europe. The king Alfonso IX called for these. Then a county of this Christian kingdom of León begins to have autonomy and expansion, this is the beginning of the county of Castilla, that will grow to become a kingdom. The first Couint of Castilla was Fernán González. The base of the union of the kingdoms of Castilla and León,was put in place by 1194; when king Alfonso VIII of Castilla and king Alfonso IX of León signed the treaty for the union of the lands in Tordehumos in 1230 with king Fernando III el Santo(the Saint); at the court of Valladolid in 1295,king Fernando IV is recognized as king of Castilla y Leon. There is a portrait work of María de Molina representing the son of of king Fernando IV in the court of Valladolid in 1295 where today the Congress of Deputies is shown next to a portrait of the courts of Cádiz, emphasizing the importance of the parliamentary form of government that was developed in Castilla y León. This reach the union of these lands to the reconquest of Moors in Andalucia at Granada; the Catholic kings share the maritime ways and the new world with the Portuguese crown in the Treaty of Tordesillas.

As far as transport, the train is good, and the roads are excellent. Love that A-1 and A-6. The Autovía de Castilla or A-62, connecting cities like Salamanca, Valladolid, Palencia ,and Burgos. The A-2 ok but the others are better to the areas I like most. You have an airport at Salamanca about 17 km from the city and the airport of Valladolid in the town of Villanubia but still the one in Madrid can be taken too. The train network of course comes out of Madrid towards the corners of Cantabria and Galicia with stops in Astorga, Burgos, León, Miranda de Ebro, Palencia, Ponferrada, Valladolid , and Venta de Baños. There is a line between Irun and the Portuguese frontier at Fuentes de Oñoro, part of the line París-Lisbon.

The goodies of gastronomy here are the wonderful wines of D.O. Ribera del Duero, D.O. Toro ,and D.O. Rueda. The foodies are the ham or Jamón de Guijuelo, Lechazo de Castilla y León (lamb), Cochinillo de Segovia (pigs), Cecina de León or Chorizo de Cantimpalos (sausages). The roasted lamb or lechazo asado, cochinillo asado or roasted pork, sopa de ajo or garlic soup, judiones de La Granja (big white beans), gallina en pepitoria (chicken in a sauce), morcilla de Burgos (blood sausage),morcilla de Aranda (blood sausage). The sweets are the egg yolks or Yemas de Santa Teresa to kill for them lol!!!

This is a huge wonderful part of Spain, with lots to see and do. However, I will try to condense to give you my favorites.

The cities of Unesco heritage sites are Ávila, Salamanca and Segovia; The way to Santiago that crosses the provinces of Burgos, Palencia and León,the ducal town of Lerma. You have, also, winter sports with the ski stations of La Covatilla in the Sierra de Béjar; San Isidro and Leitariegos in León ,and the La Pinilla in Segovia.The Basílica de San Vicente of Ávila. The Alcazar of Segovia , castle of Peñafiel, castle of Frías, castle of Simancas, Castle of Coca, castle of Cuellar. The moors style still are there such as the Monasterio de San Miguel de Escalada (monastery), the Real Monasterio de Santa Clara of Tordesillas. On the renaissance style we have the palace or Palacio de Santa Cruz,now the rector of the University of Valladolid residence. The¨Palacio de Pimentel(where was born king Felipe II) now house the regional government in the province of Valladolid , also in Valladolid, the Palacio de los Vivero, that was the old chancellors residence and here the nuptial ceremony of the Catholic kings (Fernando and Isabel). The shells house or Casa de las Conchas in Salamanca with renaissance, gothic, and plateresque styles of architecture. The Palacio de Monterrey,own by the Casa de Alba (dukes). In Burgos you have the Casa del Cordón and the Cartuja de Miraflores. Also, the Monasteries of Santa María la Real de Las Huelgas, and inside the Codex musical de Las Huelgas. See the Herrenian style of architecture at the Palacio Ducal de Lerma.

There are equally many museums here so again will tell you only my favorites. The Museum of Human evolution or Museo de la Evolución Humana in Burgos. Here in same building you find the Royal Academy of fine arts or the Real Academia de Bellas Artes. Palacio Real de La Granja at the Real Sitio de San Ildefonso (near Segovia) one of the residences of the Royal family of Spain. The house museum of Cervantes or Museo Casa de Cervantes in Valladolid; it is by the calle del Rastro ,however the gardens are on another entrance grille on the Calle de Miguel Íscar,by which you entered on a passage named Pasaje de Dulcinea ;this is the authentic house where Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra lived in 1605. In Astorga you find the Casa Botines, that is one of the works of Gaudi done outside Catalunia, and was built between 1889 and 1915, and now dedicated to the Way of Santiago. You have the museums of Museo de Segovia, and Museo Zuloaga as also good ones.

The National festival of the Jota or Festival Nacional de la Jota is celebrated each year since 1968 in the town of Cuéllar. The dance of the Jota castellana (Castilian) can be accompany by guitars, bandurrias (plucked chordophone), lauds, dulzaina (double reed instrument), and tamboril (tabor).

And to help you enjoy all of the above, here are some tourist sites to check them out before coming over; always helpful to all.

Historical heritage in Castilla y Leon :

PNatural Heritage in Castilla y Leon :

Locator tourist offices in Castilla y Leon:

Tourism of Castilla y Léon:

Enjoy your weekend; and remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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