Archive for March 23rd, 2018

March 23, 2018

The bridges of Madrid!

Well you might know most of the most known, best tourist attraction cities in the world have a river going thru it and bridges! My beloved Madrid is no exception to this, and I would like to introduce you to some of my favorites over the years of living and visiting there.

Madrid has the Manzanares river. And life more and more evolves around it.

There are about 33 bridges (last I count them they built always ) some are pedestrians , others for trains transport, and even fewer are for automobiles.  All going and coming from the Manzanares river.

Some of my favorites over the years are:

The puente de la Culebra , a work of art from the 18C  built in the park of the Casa de Campo, over the creek of  Meaques, affluent of the Manzanares river and in turn of the  Jarama river. The bridge is over the small lake or Estanque Chico, that is created by the water creek of Meaques. It was built in 1782,upon request of king Carlos III. Initially called the narrow bridge or Puente Estrecho, on a shape looking like a snake.  The architect was the famous Francesco Sabatini,(who also did the Royal Palace) that designed as it is to stop the passing of the wagons to the Casa de Campo , only zone given to the Royal Crown of Spain.

Another popular bridge on a popular park is the  puente de hierro  inside the park of El Capricho located in the Alameda de Osuna.  It was built in 1830,and is the oldest steel bridge  in Spain with a technique not yet seen in the country.

You the French bridge or puente de los Franceses  as a train viaduct located in the district of  Moncloa-Aravaca . It was built in the second half of the 19C to allowed the trains to the north over the Manzanares river. The bridge was done between 1860 and 1862, along the lines of the railroad line to the North of Spain. It is near the old north station or the  Príncipe Pío,  where the long line trains were going. The terminal began built in 1859, but now only service the suburbain trains of  Cercanías. During the Spanish Civil War the bridge was the scene of fierce fighting for the defense of Madrid and was the fire baptism for the international Brigades in the battle of the University city( Ciudad Universitaria). You can read more on the tourist page in English : Puente de los Franceses 

The puente de Praga cross the Manzanares river extending the street Paseo de Santa María de la Cabeza towards the highway to  Toledo, connecting the districts of Arganzuela and Carabanchel.  While it was built got the name of Prague bridge because nearby was the Church of the Child Saint of Prague . It was built in 1952,and it was an important bridge to go out of Madrid towards the south and connecting with the road to Toledo, that came to the center of Madrid by the extention of the Paseo de Santa María de la Cabeza over the new bridge. Originally you needed to go to the Toledo bridge exit which is today the street;calle de Antonio Leyva.

The puente de la Princesa (aka puente de Andalucía or puente de Legazpi) is also over the Manzanares river by the Plaza de Legazpi. It began to be built in 1901  over the railroad tracks been not for trains in the farm of Santa Catalina. The bridge was of steel and opened in 1909 by king Alfonso XIII, connecting the Paseo de las Delicias with the road to Cádiz.  In 1929 ,the bridge was demolished and replaced by a another of cement with three parabolic towers,and 18 meters wide.  In 2006 ,this bridge was demolished again on the project of Madrid Río, and replaced by a platform in cement with two support pylons.

And we continue with the puente de la Reina Victoria, (queen Victoria bridge) known popularly as the Queens Bridge, and built early in the 20C with some modernistic touches. It, also crosses the Manzanares river, connecting the streets of calle de Aniceto Marinas, (parallel on the left bank) and Calle de la Ribera del Manzanares,(parallel on the right bank). It creates an important viaduc traject in the urban area of  San Antonio de la Florida (where you have a beautiful Church of same name and a replica of the Virgin),it connects the neighborhood of  San Antonio de la Florida to that of  Manzanares, forming part of the popular district of the la Bombilla. It was built between 1908-1909, and opened on June 13 1909.  The opening took place at the same time of the festival of  San Antonio de Padua (St Anthony of Padua),which is name the Church, and on which dome and windows were painted by  Francisco de Goya in 1798.  Under the II Republic the name was changed to  Puente de Galicia, and at the end of the Spanish Civil War got its original name back which was given in honor of the Queen Victoria Eugenia,of which was married Alfonso XIII  in May 31 1906.  Up the stream you have the cables of the cable car or  Teleférico de Madrid,that connects Paseo de Rosales with the Casa de Campo,and all its attraction parks.


above cable car ahead Puente de la Reina Victoria

The Puente del Rey (Kings Bridge) is in the district of  Moncloa-Aravaca over the Manzanares river, connecting the square glorieta de San Vicente  with the Casa de Campo and the avenida de Portugal, the road that later gave in to the autovía(expressway)  to Extremadura (A-5).  It was begun to be built early in the 19C  for the used of Nobles given access to the Royal Palace to the Casa de Campo. In 1931 when the Casa de Campo was opened to the public the bridge was known as Puente de la República (Bridge of the Republic),it was widen and became one of the principal points of access to the new park. In 1970 it was given a exchange capacity on the new beltway of the M-30. By 2007 , the M-30 here goes underground and the bridge becomes pedestrian. You now go around the traffic from the expressway A-5 to the M-30 and to the center city of Madrid by the glorieta de San Vicente, and Plaza de España, where I have parked on the underground parking there. In 2010  the Spanish football/soccer team came here to celebrate winning the World Cup. More on the Madrid tourist page: Puente del Rey


around the curve on Manzanares is the Puente del Rey

The puente de San Fernando is ,also over the Manzanares river in an area near the Monte de El Pardo and Hipódromo (racecourse horses)de la Zarzuela,next to the expressway  A-6 km 7, and the exchange traffic circle of the Puerta de Hierro, by which you connect the expressway to the beltway M-30.  There was a isle in the middle of the river and the bridge is done in two segments.  The heavy traffic around here makes it difficult to come but you do the crossing better on foot.  The bridge was built in 1749 during the reign of king Fernando VI . The name was given due to the fact that the king later was a Saint.  Until the last period of the 20C the bridge connected the  M-30 and the A-6 (road to Galicia).  Once a viaduc was built nearby the access to automobiles is prohibited. Today the Puente de San Fernardo is part of a green belt of bikers in Madrid.

The puente de San Isidro  is a bridge linking over the Manzanares river and the park Madrid Río, in the district of Carabanchel with that of Arganzuela from the now old stadium Vicente Calderón (former home of Atlético de Madrid). The bridge was finished and opened to the public in 1974. It has two lanes each way and one bike lane; done part of the construction of the beltway M-30 to pass the avenida del Manzanares. It is 289 meters long by 26 meters wide, and brings together the Paseo de los Pontones,on the left bank to the Paseo de la Ermita del Santo, on the right bank of the Manzanares river.

One of the mosst emblematic bridges of Madrid ,and one of my most favorite is the puente de Segovia, renaissance style located in the crossing of calle de Segovia with the Manzanares river, that historically one of the access to the city.  It was first known as the «puente segoviana»,with first reference of it’s construction dates from the 14C when king Alfonso XI of  Castilla ordered the construction in writing letters dated in 1345  and 1346.  The first drawing found of the bridge (16C) tell us it had nine arches or maybe 13.  The Segovia bridge is the oldest surviving bridge in Madrid.  Again, the ordered to built one was given by king  Felipe II  to his architect  Juan de Herrera,(same of the Monasterio de El Escorial , and Royal Palace of  Aranjuez, among others).  The work extended between 1582 and 1584.  In November 1936, during the  Spanich Civil War the bridge was blown up by the Republicann side to stop the entry to Madrid of Nationalist forces under General Yagüe.  After the war, it was rebuilt introducing new variations to its original design.  In the 1960’s it was again renovated to allow for the construction of the beltway  M-30.  In 2007 ,this road went underground  ,M-30. More on theh Puente de Segovia from the tourist office here: Puente de Segovia


Puente de Segovia

Another of my most favorite bridges together with the above is the puente de Toledo built on a barroque style between 1718 and 1732. It spans both banks of the Manzanares river crossing the Glorieta de Pirámides, on the east side and the Glorieta del Marqués de Vadillo,on the west side.  The origin of the construction dates from the 17C when king Felipe IV had in mind connect Madrid with the road to Toledo by building a bridge over the Manzanares river . The first project was done between 1649  and 1660, when it was known as the Puente Toledana. However, flooding in the river destroyed the bridge a bit later and a new one was schedule from 1671. By 1680, recently finished the new bridge another flooding destroyed it.  This time the design for rebuilding it was done in 1682 with the basic lines of the project done in 1684.  The new bridge was finally ordered built in 1715.  However, the project really did not started than on  1718  and work began in  1719 until completion in  1732.  In  1972, under the project of the beltway M-30, worked began on two lateral bridges that allowed to free the puente de Toledo from the heavy traffic that was supporting.  This new lateral bridges have a central area compose of nine arches on half point with solid columns .  The central frame has 4,95 meter wide and on it you find decorated templates in churrigueres elements having statues in chalk stone of the patron Saints of Madrid ,San Isidro Labrador ,and Santa María de la Cabeza, done in 1723. On each extreme of the frame you have ramps that connect on each side and on the Glorieta de Pirámides ,you have obelisks from the 19C on the north side as well as two fountains on the closest side to the city.  More on the bridge from Madrid tourist office here: Puente de Toledo


Puente de Toledo

We continue our tour with one very near my old home in Madrid; this is the puente de Ventas (right by the bullfight arena Monumental de Ventas) , this bridge brings together the districts of  Salamanca and Ciudad Lineal (my old district , neighborhood of Quintana) crossing the M-30 on foot and automobile.  This bridge was done on a mix structure of cement and steel  forming tables frame rather of two lateral sides with a pedestrian way ,and a central table frame with six cords or columns in parallel. It weights 1160 tons!!! and 60 meters long, and was done in four steps so not to stop traffic of the beltway M-30 and Calle Alcalá (my street!!!). You can walk to the Monumental bullfight arena just next to it.


Puente de Ventas on M30 towards Valencia…

Last but not least is the Puente del Principado de Andorra (previous Puente  ”Y” and name in honor of the Principality of Andorra).  It is very closed to the stadium Vicente Calderón, crossing the  Manzanares river by a passarelle for pedestrian and bikes designed like the old train bridges of the 19C. It is a tree shaded area of the Salón de los Pinos (or pines halls).  The passarelle connects the Calle de San Ambrosio ,and Calle San Conrado,in the district of  Latina,with the Calle del Mármol,in the city center and it is integrated to the project of  Madrid Río  that extends onwards to  Monte de El Pardo on the north and the Caja Mágica on the south.

Not least as I mentioned several times the beltway M-30 who was finished shortly after I left while living in Madrid, let me give something on it.  This is a beltway done like a expressway and today mostly underground going around the city of Madrid; this was the first beltway,now there are several lol!  It is 32,5 km long and a radius of about 5,2 km from the Puerta del Sol (marking the center of Spain) and it is the most traveled road in Spain!! And the only expressway that is own by a city in Spain;Madrid. The authorized speed limit is 90 KPH above ground and 70 KHP underground!  This  is a map you can print and guide you on its many exits; Map M 30 beltway

A picture map of the central Madrid and the M -30 by Softguides  here:

Another popular area now , and mentioned several times above is the new renovated banks of the Manzanares river called Madrid Rio. 8 km long and 1,2 million square meters space! 32 bridges and passarelles, planting of 33K trees of 47 different species, and 460K shrubs of 38 different species. It has  24 fountains with urban beaches and four recreation of old laundries with a water spout looking like the one in Bordeaux with three ovals of 500 meters each. You can play football/soccer, basketball, padel, tennis on their own fields as well as BMX circuits ,one skatepark, and a climbing wall as well as canoë-kayak on the Manzanares river ! It’s a huge entertainment complex au naturel. More here from the tourist office; Madrid Rio

There, I hope you like the post, many of these bridges are special in my youth and came back like a pilgrim to them each time, and on each occasion introduce them to a new member of my family down to my sons.

Enyoy your weekend, TGIF is here. Happy travels , good health and remember life is beautiful. Cheers!

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March 23, 2018

The dept 22 Côtes d’Armor, Breizh!


And we arrive to Friday, TGIF, with the same weather of grey , cool sometimes rainy and temps in the 10C or 50F thereabouts. Hopefully, this Spring will be better than the start.

I will continue my tour of Brittany or Breizh or Bretagne with an introduction to the department 22 Côtes-d’Armor.

The department 22 or Côtes-d’Armor, previously called Côtes-du-Nord until 1990.  It means Côtes du pays de la mer or the slopes of the country by the sea.  It was created as the other depts of France on the French revolution in 1790.  The department 22 of Côtes d’Armor includes part of the old province  bishops of Cornouaille and Trégor, and almost all of the Saint Brieuc ,the extreme south given to the Morbihan, and the northwest of Saint Malo as well as a small part of Dol and smaller parts still of the northeast of Vannes. It extends on the counties of Penthiévre , Trégor, and most of Poudouvre and the northern parts of Poher, and Porhoêt. It ,also, take a large part of the old kingdom of Domnonée with the name disappearing in the 11C. It now has four counties those of Saint Brieuc, Dinan,Lannion, and Guingamp.

The department was very much touch by the uprising against the French revolution known locally as the Chouannerie in the war of the Vendée and Chouannerie of 1815 , but stop by the allied victory in the battle of Waterloo in June 18 1815; the department was to be occupied by the Prussians until November 1818 but the opposition of the Chouans very much organized as already fighting the return of Napoléon Ier stopped the complete occupation and only involved the area around Dinan

The Côtes d’Armor has 17 harbors for the commerce of fishing , and pleasure with four commercial harbors . The particular Saint-Quay-Portrieux river is the only one in deep water between Brest and Cherbourg. The Côte de Granit Rose has rocks of the color and big sizes such as at Ploumanac’h ; facing it you have the seven islands or Sept ïles making the biggest reserve of ornithologic in France. The Côte Grés has as well sites such as Cap Fréhel and Fort La Latte. Also, the most fartherst point you have the archipielago of Bréhat facing Paimpol with a rare tropical plants reserve in open air. The bay of Saint Brieuc is the second biggest in France after that of Mont Saint Michel.

Tourism Côtes d’Armor or North Brittany in English :

Transport Côtes d’Armor intercities :

This is the part that has beautiful sea views and wonderful sites , worth a detour indeed. My Côtes d’Armor dept 22 in Bretagne/ Brittany/ Breizh.

Enjoy the tour and see the previous blog posts on the department above. Happy Friday and great weekend to all. Happy travels, good health to all. Cheers!

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