Archive for May, 2018

May 31, 2018

My early days in Torrejon de Ardoz,Madrid!

On a rainy day all day, I am thinking of expanding my writings on a not really touristic town of my beloved Madrid. Yes the province or Comunidad de Madrid. I spent many summers here, when a young teen. Much later, came back with the family just for the memories and the shopping center of Toys R Us! and the boys love it.  I am talking about Torrejon de Ardoz.

Here is my latest blog post on Torrejon de Ardoz , a bit writing on other towns :  A bit on Torrejon de Ardoz

Torrejón de Ardoz  is in the Comunidad de Madrid of which the capital city of Madrid is the main city.  Torrejón is in the corridor area of  Henares  (Alcalà) and also has presence in the metro area of Madrid. ​ It really took off in the 20C as a city growing along the expressway A-2 Madrid-Barcelona.  In addition it is connected to the rail line Madrid-Barcelona, and the beltway roads of M-50 and M-45 as well as the  M-206  towards Loeches and Ajalvir.  It is only 19 km from Puerta del Sol in Madrid and 9 km from Adolfo Suarez Barajas airport. There is a toll road, the radial or R2 Madrid – Guadalajara, the M-108 connects with Ajalvir;and the M-206 connects San Fernando de Henares with Loeches ; and finally the  M-300 connects to  Alcalá de Henares.

The suburbian train lines or Cercanías C-2 and C-7 have a city center station and another in the residential area of Soto del Henares (near the Hospital de Torrejón ,and the industrial park Casablanca). The city center station is at the Plaza de España. The line C-2 Guadalajara – Madrid Atocha – Madrid Chamartín (- Cercedilla/Segovia-El Escorial/Ávila), and the line   C-7 Alcalá de Henares – Madrid Atocha- Madrid Chamartín (- Las Rozas – Príncipe Pío).

There is bus connection I took when a child and also tested my family on it on our trip back then in 1993. Of course, the buses still do the run. You take the 224 in avenida de América, Madrid bus terminal to direction Hospital de Torrejon at Torrejon de Ardoz, you stop at Constitucion and there take the local bus no 4 to Parque Corredor a huge shopping center my kids love it.

Need to do a pit stop here.  The Centro Comercial “Parque Corredor” has an hypermarket Alcampo (from the French chain Auchan), and more than 180 stores including the famous Toys R Us and a children playground.  By car as we do mostly is on the road M-108 Carretera or highway of Ajalvir-Torrejon between Km 2 and km 5 well posted on the road. The webpage in Spanish is here: Parque Corredor

Torrejon de Ardoz

A bit of history I like,short.

In the 11C, after the castle of Aldovea, the town of  Torrejón de Ardoz is created. In 1118, the kingdom of Castile under king Alfonso VII, reconquered Alcalá (Henares) and these lands of which included the castle.  On an anecdote history will said that in 1906, Mateo Morral  tries to assassinate the king Alfonso XIII, and his wife and was able to escape to Madrid  ,however he is notice by several persons in a lot not far from  Torrejón de Ardoz, where he had stopped to eat. These persons called the security guard of the lot,  Fructuoso Vega, that after some verifications followed Mateo. Eventually, he gave up peacefully , but when he was conducted by the guard to the police station of Torrejón de Ardoz, he was killed by the guard and later this one took his life as well. Maybe a complot never to be known the roots of it. In 1955 the USA air base comes here as part of the agreement with Gen Franco and the USA . I came to play baseball here in the 1970’s and a team from the base form part of the baseball league of Madrid with 8 teams including Real Madrid (my team) Atletico de Madrid, Rayo Vallecano, Condepols, Piratas, and the Abraham Lincoln school from memory.  We played the games at the Elipa municipal fields which today it is still the Baseball federation base of Madrid and a baseball field still in use. In 1992 , the Americans leave and where the air base was now you see many installations, like a hospital, hotel, golf course, etc. all under the Defense ministry of Spain.

Here are my two loves for Madrid, Elipa and Bernabeu, always Real Madrid! Madrid, Bernabeu and the Elipa

Things to see in Torrejon de Ardoz, or rather other things to see in addition to above.

The Casa Grande is located in the Calle de Madrid in the old town of Torrejon de Ardoz. It was built in the 14C to beginning of the 15C. It was founded in the 16C by the Company of Jesus  to managed the Imperial College of Madrid. After the expulsion of the Jesuists in 1776 under the reign of Carlos III it had several owners. For a long time was the headquarters of the Civil Guard until 1974 on which Rafael Onieva purchased it and restored it to turned it into a lodging (4 stars) and artistic place that is today. It ,also ,house an important museum of byzantine icons with more than 1200 pieces.

The Saint John the Evangelist or Iglesia de San Juan Evangelista,located in the Plaza Mayor,was built from the 16C. At first ,it was a small Church with two Chapels and two nerfs ,and the dead were buried in the Church.  From about 1784, worked began to expanded as we know it today. A Basilical style with three nerfs and a dome. There is a famous portrait of the painter Claudio Coello entitled the martyrism of St John the Evangelist or El Martirio de San Juan Evangelista that dates from 1675.

Another big area for entertainment for the family but one we have not been is the Parque Europa that opened in 2010 as an improvement and enlargement of the previous park of the Ardoz.  It has many activities for the family and a huge complex in miniature of the famous buildings of Europe. More here: Parque de Europa

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here, and why not, something different from off the beaten path for Spain, and great for kids at the shopping center and Europa park.

Torrejon de Ardoz with map on the Casa Grande location: http://gestiona.madrid.org/nomecalles/Inicio.icm?munic=148&usuario=munic148

City hall official: http://www.ayto-torrejon.es/plantilla.asp?nPagina=1&ccClave=221

Comunidad de Madrid tourism  on Torrejon in Spanish: http://turismomadrid.es/es/descubre/madrid-%C3%A1rea-metropolitana/7018-torrejon-de-ardoz.html?eprivacy=1

There you go another of my gems of youthful days and still memories that will not go away. Hope you enjoy these posts on something different. And remember, happy travels, good health,and many cheers to all!!!

 

 

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May 31, 2018

Vianden , a castle in Luxembourg!

On our road warrior tours of Luxembourg ,after visiting several times Luxembourg city, we started to span out into the countryside. We were staying in Germany south of Trier and as Luxembourg is so close and a dear stop for us, we decided finally in 2015! to visit this wonderful castle town of Vianden with the family, and memories of my dear late wife, Martine.

Vianden is located on the east of the Grand Duché of Luxembourg, bordering on the west with the German frontier. The city is traverse by the Our river an affluent of the Sûre river . The name of Vianden comes from the Gaullist that means Rocky.

There are ways to get here from several adjoining countries, but we set off by car from Trier. Taking the 49 road to Wasserbilig , then 141 /370/368 /129 all same road, to N10 at Echternacht along the river Sûre to Vianden. Reads difficult but is not all is a straight line and posted.

My previous blog post on Vianden : https://paris1972-versailles2003.com/2015/08/30/vianden-the-castle-and-world-heritage-site/

A bit of history I like on the town

Already by 1256 the town is known but is not until the franchise letter of 1308 that Vianden legally carries the name of city. After been thrown out of Belgium, Victor Hugo comes to lived here for more than two months during the summer of  1871. During WWII, by 1940 the Nazis invades Luxembourg by  Vianden, with part of the 2nd panzer division to cross the Meuse river at Sedan . However, the barriers on the river stops them from doing so and not able to bring heavy equipment ; eventually crossed by the engineers nazis.

Things to see:  The rustique museum, museum of  dolls and toys;   The caricature and cartoon museum , the Trinitarian Church, the barriers on the river lower basin and upper to mont Saint Nicolas, and the underground installation of the pump central of Vianden to avoid flooding or provide electricity ; and the cable car.

Vianden

Apart is the Literary museum of Victor Hugo with more info here.  http://www.victor-hugo.lu/cgi-bin/baseportal.pl?htx=/accueil

Of course, the main thing here is the Castle. The construction goes back to the middle of the 5C; including roman periods over to the Caroligian period with most of the buildings from the 11C to 14C . It is set on a rocky promontory at a height of 310 meters that dominates the town of Vianden and overlooking the River Our about  100 meters below. The castle and its dependent buildings have a total length of 90 meters . The last great change took place in the middle of the 13C when the entire castle was adapted to reflect the Gothic style. Finally, in 1621 the Nassau Mansion with its banqueting hall and bedroom was built by Prince Maurice of Orange-Nassau-Vianden in the Renaissance style replacing a damaged side wing of the 11C. After mistreatment sets in by 1827,  the king, himself a Count of Vianden, repurchased the ruin hoping to begin restoration work. Unfortunately, his time was taken up with the Belgian Revolution of 1830 and it was not until 1851 that Prince Henry of the Netherlands reconstructed the chapel at his own expense, giving it a lower roof. When Adolphe of Nassau-Weilbourg became Grand Duke of Luxembourg in 1890, he ordered further restoration.

Vianden Vianden Vianden

The  work was interrupted by the WWI event.  During the WWII, in the Battle of Vianden which took place on November 19, 1944, the castle was ably defended against the Waffen-SS by members of the Luxembourgish anti-Nazi resistance, and proved to have some military value even under conditions of modern warfare. The castle today is property of the Luxembourg government that had restored it respecting historically values. Even discovering new rooms such as a cell under the Lower Empire and a ramparts from Caroligians of the 9C.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here and it is recommended.

Tourist office of Vianden : http://www.vianden-info.lu/english/home

Castle of Vianden : http://www.castle-vianden.lu/english/index.html

City of Vianden in French: http://vianden.lu/fr/

Hope you enjoy the post and do visit this fairytal castle up in Luxembourg. And remember as always, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all.!!!

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May 30, 2018

The unique Koblenz, history and architecture.

Ok so here we go alone reaching the end of May 2018,and I am all nostalgic about my wonderful trips with my dear late wife , Martine. The day has been very rainy here downpour at times ,heard rain in one day what normally is 10 days. But we are survivals!

I do runs to Germany several times in the past, but business trips.  Then, once on a trip to Luxembourg city we went into Trier , great that is Germany. Then , we came back again to do the same trip. And finally, the family decided that we should go just to Germany and see more of it. So off we went renting a house in a little wine town just south of Trier. We use this as a base to visit several towns there. One that took us by surprise and we like it a lot (other than Trier) was Koblenz.

And this town has so much history even combining both France and Germany we were pleasantly surprise and love it. Let me bring you up to date with first posting my previous blog post on it here: Koblenz or Coblence

Koblenz or Coblence ( in French) is a town in the state of Rhineland Palatine , the name come from the confluence of two rivers the Rhine and the Moselle in the German corner or Deutsches Eck, the closest big city are Bonn at 60 km and Mayence at 90 km.  My visit here has been by car from Trier so the 602 ,then A1, B48 and finally the 9 roads or about 3 hrs.were the roads chosen. There is a train station of course,and close airports at Frankfort and Koln; as well as easy navigation by river. However, to us ,car is king and queen!

A bit of history I like (or rather lots of history I like).

Mérovingian period after the end of the Western Roman Empire in the 5C, the city is taken by the Franks (same guys as France) that established a kingdom. Here comes the Carolingian period  When in 806 Charlemagna divides the empire between his sons and Koblenz is taken by Charles but he died soonn after and by 814 is share by the sons of Louis the Fair. A dispute amongst his sons come to be that Charles the Bold inherits the city in 837. By 1018, emperor Henry II offers the kingdom to the archbishop of Trier and so Koblenz is part of the Prince States one of the seven that founded the Holy Roman Empire.

The maternal Uncle of king Louis XVI and his brothers host the Count of Artois and the city becomes the center of counter revolution to the French , they sent troops here and the coalition of Prince Wencelas is force to run and leave the territory ,two weeks later the city is taken by the French revolutionaries. The fortress of Ehrenbreitstein held longer until 1799 before surrendering. This event meant the end of the Prince States of Trier.

Many immigrants from France comes here running from the French revolution such as the Count of Artois and Count of Provence, brothers of king Louis XVI . They planned from here a counter revolution with the help of neighboring kingdoms. A war starts and the French invade over the Rhine river in 1794. By 1795 Frederick William II of Prussia signed the treaty of Basel where he recognized the occupation of the left bank of the Rhine by the French, and name an administrator of the city into the French department of Rhin et Moselle. The treaty of Luneville in 1801 Koblenz is incorporating into the French Republic and becomes capital fo the department

The city received the visit of Napoleon I and his wife Josephine de Beauharnais in September 1804. The French becomes the language of the administration and the name of the town is  Coblentz. The commander of the Russian army that took Koblenz in December 31 1813 was non other than Emmanuel Louis Marie Guignard de Saint Priest ,he had joined the Prince de Condé in 1792 and from 1793 was an officer in the Russian army; it is at this time that the name Schângel that means even today the persons born in Koblenz. According to the terms of the Congress of Vienna of 1815 the lands of the Prince State of Trier are integrated into the Province of the Rhine in the kingdom of Prussia.

At the end of the WWI in November 1918 the workers council and the soldiers come together at Koblenz but a month later the American troops conquered the town and  puts an end to the government of the Soviets . In 1923, the American military turn over the town to the French that on their turn leave the city in 1929 In 1945 the Americans again occupied the city; Upon the accords of the Potsdam conference the occupation is transferred from the Americans to the French and in 1946 the new State of Rhineland Palatine is created. It is at the conference of Rittersturz held at Koblenz in 1948 that it was founded the Federal Republic of Germany or West Germany by decision of the three occupying forces, USA, UK,and France.

Walking the town is magical and we love it; the walks around the German Corner or Deutschez Eck are superb and well recommended at least do this.

Koblenz Koblenz

Things to see in Koblenz are many ,my favorites are:

Museums of Koblenz, history and civilization and navigation, castle of Stolzenfels, and Louis. The castles of Electors Princes, Stolzenfels and old castle. Municipal theatre of Koblenz; Saint Castor Basilica, Notre Dame Church, Saint Joseph Church, Saint Florin Church , and the convent of Capuchins of Koblenz Also, the Fort Constantine, Fortress of Ehrenbreitstein, and the  Deutschez Eck confluence of the Moselle and Rhine river (very nice), the bridge Baudouin and the Fountain of Schângel located in the courtyard of the city hall and place on top a child smashing the water.

Koblenz Koblenz Koblenz Koblenz Koblenz

From the 13C there is a festival on the initiative of monk Caesarius on a carnival scale by the German coin or Deutsches Eck ; the costume was lost during the war of 30 years ; later after the retaking of the city from Napoleon I by the Prussians in 1815 the carnival was reborn in 1823 a new beginning and most important help by the influence of the one in Koln . To our days the principal organizer of the festival is the association  AKK.  The program now includes plays in rooms and promenade parade of Fat Monday, covering the entire city as well as the election of a Prince and his lady Confluentia, the occupation of the city hall and the police barrack of Falkenstein  by mask folks under the direction of the council of eleven and the regents of the crazy days groups  More on it at tourist office here in English: https://www.koblenz-tourism.com/events/events-in-koblenz/carnival-monday-procession.html

Some webpages to help plan your trip here in addition to my blog post above, and it is recommended you do come are

City of Koblenz on tourism in English: https://www.koblenz.de/stadtleben_kultur/stadtrundgang_e.html

A nice webcam on the German corner here: http://www.bafg.de/php/deutsches-eck-gross.jpg

Tourist office of Koblenz in English: https://www.koblenz-tourism.com/

Tourist office of Germany on Koblenz in English: http://www.germany.travel/en/towns-cities-culture/towns-cities/historic-highlights-of-germany/koblenz.html

There you go something to expand our horizons and lucky to be at the crossroad of Europe and all these wonderful places to see easy. Enjoy the post. And remember, happy travels , good health, and many cheers to all!!!

 

 

 

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May 30, 2018

Belmonte, a castle and a story !

I am coming back at you with Castilla La Mancha, just a lovely not often visit region of my beloved Spain.  This as said, was my insistance to come with the family a few years back. I finally convince the Mrs, and we came; well the rest is history. All my family love it and now I get to have some nice memories of my dear late wife Martine.

The castle of Belmonte is link to the history of Spain and France and I was very much wanted to show it to my wife. The first time we tried with all the kids wanting to go to Madrid (for shopping!) we arrive late at lunch time and needed to wait too long we continue our journey and me very upset. I told them next time we come in this is a priority, and so we did come in August 2017. This time we saw the castle and around areas again. Oh yes it is in the Province of Cuenca as well!

Some of my previous blog posts on it are here:

Includes Belmonte here: https://wordpress.com/post/paris1972-versailles2003.com/13697

Just for you Castle of Belmonte: https://wordpress.com/post/paris1972-versailles2003.com/18537

Belmonte ,the city, is located at km 342 of the road N 420 that takes you from Cuenca to Alcazar de San Juan, and the same road can even take you south to Córdoba ,and over east to Tarragona. You need to come by car from Madrid on the A3 direction Valencia , at Tarancon, take the road direction Salices to junction with La Almarcha to take the N420 direction Belmonte .

A bit of history I like

In the papal bull of Innocent III the bishop of Cuenca call it  Bellomonte (beautiful forest), due to the forest that surrounded the town. In 1294 , it appeared in the accounts book of king Sancho IV between the towns on which he collected money to pay his knights that were to accompany  Don Juan Manuel, the future Prince of Villena,to the lands of  Murcia. In 1323  the town gained some notoriety on the Chronicon domini Joannis Enmanuelis,saying that in this year 1323 Don Juan Manuel (also nephew of king  Alfonso X started to built a wall ramparts called Belmont and on the same time built the fortress old  Alcázar. The first member of the family of Pacheco  that was lord of the town was  Juan Fernández Pacheco, that was given by the king  Enrique III the privilidge signed at Tordesillas in 1398, given him the reason for being a person of great importance for the war.  The lordship was inherited by his daughter  María, that married Alfonso Téllez Girón y Vázquez de Acuña. From this marriage came two sons  Juan Pacheco  and Pedro Girón (born at Belmonte). The lordship eventually was inherited by Pedro Girón. The youngest was  Juan Pacheco, first Marquis of  Villena, that ordered built the castle of  Belmonte in 1456  as well as the collegiale Church of San Bartolomé on the same date as the castle.  King Pedro I  of Castile been at Sevilla in 1361  gave the city of Belmonte the royalty and priviledge of a city.  Later, king Enrique II of Castile,  to gained the trust of the courts of Burgos in 1367 gives the privilidge of city and exempt the town of the jurisdiction of  Alarcón  with the same rights as those of nearby castle or Castillo de Garcimuñoz.

Things to see in Belmonte

Of course, a must is the Castle of  Belmonte. Built in the gothic mudéjar style of the 15C where the construction was started in 1456  by ordered of don Juan Pacheco. The exterior was similar to the castles of  Manzanares el Real in Madrid , and Mombeltrán in  Ávila as done by same architect Juan Guas. There is really no certainty of when was finished many dates but the most often said is that of  1474 due to the imminent civil war of 1475-1480.  The castle house the Marquis lord Diego López Pacheco.

Belmonte Belmonte Belmonte Belmonte

By marriage, the castle passes to the family of the House of Montijo and in the 19C is passed on to the Countess of  Teba.  However, was the heiress to the House of Villena,  Eugenia de Guzmán, better known as Imperatrice of the French under Eugénie de Montijo married to Emperor Napoleón III of France. She ordered the castle restored on the exterior and interior such as during her time done with the Patio de Armas, the principal stairs and the chalk chimneys  as well as some of the roof. These works lasted from 1857 to 1870 ,and were ended due to the defeat of the French Second Empire. From 1881 to 1885 the castle is occupied by French dominican brothers that used it as a monastery; after their departure the nephew-grandson of the Imperatrice Eugénie ,the Duke of  Peñaranda, Hernando Fitz-James Stuart y Falcó, continue with the restorations and even came to live in it.  Currently it is the property of the Ducal House of Peñaranda descendants of the Duchess of Alba, María Francisca de Sales Portocarrero, sister of Eugenia de Guzmán, aka Eugenia de Montijo.

Belmonte Belmonte

After a visit to the Castle there is a presentation showing life in it from medieval times to the war of succession of Castile in the second half of the 15C between Princess Juana “La Beltraneja” protected by the Marquis of Villena and her aunt Isabel known later as the Catholic Queen or Isabel I and the role the owner of the castle in this war.  The result was the unification of Castile and Aragon  as Spain in 1492  after the fall of the kingdom of Granada where the owner of the castle Diego López Pacheco  participated and was name by the Catholic kings ,captain general of the frontier in the war.

Then, you can go and see these.  Colegiata gótica de San Bartolomé or collegiale Church gothic from the 15C  built on a previous visigoth Church. You see the wonderful choir leather furniture from the 15C engraved with biblical stories that were taken from the Cathedral of Cuenca in the 18C; the first choir chairs engraved with images of the whole of the Iberian Peninsula. It has an organ from the 18C that still in use for concerts and events of religious music . Some of the retables or altars are from the 16C and 17C very nice.

Antiguo alcázar or Palacio del Infante D. Juan Manuel, (old fortress or palace of the heir to throne) for many years in ruins , the last fall out was in Christmas 2005. Now totally restored and part of the lodgings of the Ruta de Don Quijote (route of Don Quixote), opened in 2014.

Hospital de San Andrés (St Andrews hospital) founded in 1415 in ruins since 1970. It was a lodging for passerbys and pilgrimages, now the altars retables of it are kept in the Collegiale Church of San Bartolomé. Plaza del Pilar or square Pilar there is only some supporting pillars save from those that surrounded the biggest square in Belmonte. There si a fountain restored in the 1990’s and two pillars sweet and sour and from the center you see the College of Trinitarians now a health center. Plaza de correos y telégrafos or postal and telegraph square, there is the former college of the Company of Jesus and later was municipal prison.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here, all worth it I said.

Tourist office of Castilla La Mancha on Belmonte in English: http://en.www.turismocastillalamancha.es/patrimonio/castillo-de-belmonte-20864/descripcion/

City hall of Belmonte on tourism in Spanish: http://www.belmonte.es/turismo/

Castle of Belmonte official in English: http://castillodebelmonte.com/en/

There you go, another jewel in down soulful Castilla La Mancha, hey you read Don Quijote by Miguel Cervantes y Saavedra, then you need to come by these lands. Have wheels and go into another world.

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

May 29, 2018

Huete, a little corner of Castilla La Mancha

Again on my off the beaten path trips , the lone road warrior in my beloved Spain. I was recently asked if have a favorite region, well all of Spain is wonderful, or as they said in the 80’s tourist slogans; Spain is everything under the sun. However, if hard press, the lonely souls of Quijote will make me choose Castilla La Mancha.

And off we go again in this land of minds and souls going to a little town less than 2K folks ,where my family enjoyed several trips and joy, this is Huete.

My previous blog posts here : https://wordpress.com/post/paris1972-versailles2003.com/13697

https://wordpress.com/post/paris1972-versailles2003.com/18918

Huete is in the province of Cuenca, Castilla La Mancha region. It is in the northwest corner of the province at  54 km from Cuenca and 120 km from Madrid. It has a train station on the line Madrid-Cuenca-Valencia. However, the car is king on the A3 Madrid -Valencia corridor and up to Huete on the CM 310 road.

A bit of history I like

In the 6C there were signs of a town here on the plains of Álvar Fáñez, later it was taken to mines on chalk that still abound in the region even empty.  It was later known as Wabda forming part of the corus of Santabariyya or Shant Bariya on the plains of a castle with much of it walled. In the 9C and 10C was a very important center of the tribes of Hawwara and Madyuna under the family of Banu Di-L-Nun that later took control of the area in the taifa of Toledo (1031-1085).  It was here at Huete that  al-Qádir, the last king of Toledo left the territory after giving in to the forces of king Alfonso VI even before becoming king at Valencia.  It is the legend that under the patronage of the Saints Justa and Rufina on the encirclement of the Almohades Arabs and after failing on the last offensive there was a huge storm that filled the moats of the castle with water so avoiding a collapse and giving them time for the forces of king Alfonso VI to arrived to finally defeat them.

In 1164 took place here the Battle of Huete where the troops of the House of Castro under Fernando Rodríguez de Castro “the Castilian”, defeated the troops of the House of Lara ordered by the Count Manrique Pérez de Lara, that died in combat as well as his brothers  Álvaro and Nuño. The battle was a result of the turbulent minority age of Alfonso VIII of Castilla, winner of the battle of  Navas de Tolosa, that needed to fight amongst others his uncle king Fernando II of León, that had taken the city of Toledo in 1162.

During the period of the Trastámara (house of  Segovia and Isabel I the Catholic) in 1388, king Juan I gave Huete to dame or  Doña Constanza, oldest daughter of  Pedro I and Duchesse of Lancaster, in order to solved the dynastic problem at the moment to reach the Castilian throne.  In the Peace of Troncoso and treaty of  Bayonne it was agreed that together with Guadalajara, Olmedo ,and Medina del Campo, Huete, and all its lands and rights were given to  Doña Constanza,and that her  daughter, Catalina, was to married the infante Enrique, adopting both as Princes the heir to the throne of Castile and for the first time the title of Prince of Asturias (title to the heir to the throne of Spain even today). By the 15C Juan II gave the title of city and the Catholic kings in 1477 gave the city the title of Noble and Loyal city that has it since then. As an anecdote in the 19C king Fernando VII spent the summer for a few days here in 1816.

Things to see in Huete

Urban wall ramparts of Huete. Andalucian origins with several reforms and on the transfer to the kingdom of Castille in the 12C .Done with several different techniques and materials such as cemente, stones, and ceramics. You have the moon castle or Castillo de Luna  the fortress of  Wabda,  also of Andalucian origins done on top of a Roman that still can be seen on the walls.

Huete

Palacio Episcopal de Huete, or episcopal palace built in thrre phases, on which you see from the first one the shield of the bishop Solano end of the 18C ; second done by bishop Palafox early 19C with the central part unfinished.  In 1570 the first jesuist arrived to found the college and later the college of letters and grammar; they were sent off in 1767, and the building was inactive just with clerical function. The building goes thru many changes such as second half of the 16C you see it on the facade on the left of the main gate . In the first third of the 17C the  convent house with a patio and nice quarters were done.  The Church started building it in 1700 and you can see the nice entrance gate where the Royal arms and the inscription by king Carlos III that ordered in 1770 the transfer of the parish of San Nicolás de Medina,known then as San Nicolás el Real. The place now a parish Church the brotherhood of the Virgen de Guadalupe ordered built the Chapel in roccoco style.  In 1795,the brotherhood of Saint John the Evangelist coming from the parish of Santa María de Atienza, built the Chapel for them here. Today, the Church is manage by the brotherhoods of  San Antonio Abad, Our Lady of  Loreto, and St John the Evangelist that does a very important festival in the second weekend of May.

Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de Atienza or Our Lady of Atienza Church. This is one of the 10 parishes that during the middle ages and even modern times had Huete and this was the oldest; probably on top of an old mosque. The style is artistic with a gothic ,a rare example in the Province of Cuenca. In 1790 , the Church falls off leaving only the absinthe that is kept as a hermitage. Iglesia de Santo Domingo or the Saint Domingo Church was built in the 14C with sisters coming from the area of Amasatrigo thanks to donations by Catalina de Lancáster, Queen of Castille and Lady of Huete.  The current Church is from 1620 .There were renovations from 1621 to 1642. One of its members was the bishop of Astorga ,don Diego de Veancos y Salcedo, buried in one of the Chapels decorated with his bishop’s arms.  The convent was clear of its duties in 1835, and sold losing even the cloister done in the last third of the 16C.

Huete

Torre del Reloj  or Clock tower; from the very early times the tower was still at its current location even if the designs were done in 1795,  after many stop for lack of funds, were finally finished in  1805 . The La puerta de Almazán gate call like this because it connects with the parish Church of  San Nicolás de Almazán, was the most important of the walled ramparts.

Huete

Convento de Jesús y María. or Jesus and Mary convent. It is built on an elevation where the hermitage of Santa Lucía,from which the Bells were used to put in the convent bell tower. Worked began in 1554 ,and finished in 1576 when Sisters of the order of San Lorenzo Justiniano coming from  Cuenca to house here.  This is one of the best examples of the Cuenca architecture of the 16C, a rectangular level around a cloister with arcs of half point on square and boxed pillars, a very innovative construction at the time.

Huete

Iglesia de San Pedro or St Peter’s Church in ruins of a Church from the 17C with a nice Chapel with gothic designs of the 16C.  Ermita de San Sebastián  or hermitage.  In this spot it was known as the quarry of Chopos , where a vegetable garden was done dating from 1689,and renovated in 1737.

Monasterio de la Merced , or Mercy monastery is a Church from 1670 and a cloister from 1645-1647. Here is preserved the image of the Virgin or Virgen de la Merced of which festival is done in the month of September also known as the festival of Huete or of Merced that was before an important cattle fair. Founded by the end of the 13C,and currently the oldest part kept are the the central facade from 1639. the facade was renovated in the neo classic style in 1867 and the south corner next to the city hall entrance  renovated end of the 19C.  The cloister is one of the best baroque patios in the province of Cuenca done as said between  1645 and 1647, done with different materials. The Church was done in 1670 and in 1754 the sacristy was built that currently has a retable altar coming from the abbey of Caracena del Valle done in the second half of the 16C. In the last part of the 18C the Monastery was enlarged. Today, there are inside the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo Florencio de la Fuente ( a contemporary arts museum). Also, the city hall, and several administrative services such as the Tourist office, library, the parish of San Esteban ,and three museums.

Huete Huete Huete

Some nice museums indeed that have not seen all are:

Museo Florencio de la Fuente , in the monastery of Mercy above and very nice indeed with a collection of international contemporary arts by such as Villatoro, Salvador Dalí, Pablo Picasso, Bores, Camille Corot, Pedro de Matheu, Vicet Ochoa, José Bautista etc, under donations by others such as the museum founder to the city of  Huete.

Museo de Arte Sacro or museum of sacre art; you have here an excellent collection of religious art such as the Cross of San Nicolás de Almazán, Cross of Santa María de Atienza, done in 1618 in silver, told one of the best Castilian crosses of the 17C that is shown in processions during the festival of St John the Evangelist around May 6 each year.  You will see a wonderful ivory Christ from the 17C and a collection of ornaments and dresses such as the cape of the Captives or manto de los Cautivos, knitted in the  Philippine style of the 18C for the Virgen de las Mercedes.

Museo Etnográfico , bringing the collection of tools used for the trades in the area such as a collection of tools for use in agriculture and cattle ranching. Museo de la Fragua or wrough iron museum with a collection of tools for this kind of work.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are:

City of Huete in Spanish with on left column info on Arte y Patrimonio ( arts and heritage) and Museos (museums). http://huete.org/wp/

Tourist office of Castilla La Mancha on Huete in English: Tourism Castilla La Mancha on Huete

And again, hope you enjoy this natural trip to natural and soul searching of my beloved Spain. WE really had enjoyed this trips even my dear late wife Martine.

Remember, happy travels, good health and many cheers to all!!!

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May 29, 2018

This is unique San Clemente, Cuenca!

When we made our runs of Castilla La Mancha in the last couple of years, after I convince my dear late wife Martine to come here. It was not easy to convince as she wanted to go elsewhere in Spain. However, my adolecent and youthful days were spent around here, and it is like a pilgrimage each time around my beloved Spain. So on a sunny day of 23C in my neck of the woods let me tell you about this town in the Province of Cuenca, Castilla La Mancha region.

San Clemente

bar resto El Carmen memories of good food and Martine

I did a blog post before on the touristic parts, here it is. San Clemente, Cuenca Province

We were base in the serrania de Cuenca high on the mountains at 1400 meters, and used it as a base to go by car all over the Castilian countryside.  I have remote recolletions of been by here before, but we decided to pass by and check it out with the family. It was a memorable stop and we love it. This is San Clemente, another memorable spot of nice family souvenirs that today are stronger than ever. She would still reminded me about it ,and I am sure , it would have been easy to convince her again to vacation by these lands.

San Clemente is in the southeast part of the  province of Cuenca  historically it is known as the town of  Mancha Alta, inside the  Mancha de Montearagón area, this name came from the fact that the Castilians traveling to Valencia  (once conquered by king Jaime I of Aragon in 1238) climb up or went up towards Aragon, and therefore the high or alta on the name that was at a higher altitude.

IT is about 110 km from Cuenca, 80 km from Albacete 197 km from Madrid ,and 200 km from Valencia on the banks of the Rus river and the roadcross of the  A-43 and AP-36, and only 30 km from the A-3 that connects fast and free Madrid to Valencia. The signalisation of the roads are AP-36 ( Autopista Ocaña-La Roda: Ocaña – La Roda), A-43 (Autovía Extremadura-Comunidad Valenciana), A-3 ( Autovía del Este: Madrid – Valencia) connecting itself to the  A-43 at Atalaya del Cañavate. The A-31 ( Autovía de Alicante: Atalaya del Cañavate – La Roda – Albacete – Almansa – Alicante) connects also with the A-43 at Atalaya del Cañavate. Other roads and directions are the N-310 ( Manzanares – San Clemente – Villanueva de la Jara)  N-301 ( Ocaña – Cartagena) ; CM-3009 ( Saelices – San Clemente),  CM-3112 (San Clemente – Honrubia) ; CM-3117 ( San Clemente – Minaya). N is National and CM is communal roads.

It could be tempting by many but I would not do this trips with bus or train, not comfortable in my opinion. However, there are buses and a station in San Clemente connecting to Madrid, Albacete, Cuenca, Valencia, and severall other towns. The train station closest are in Villarrobledo at about 29 km and  Albacete at 80 km.  Albacete has AVE connection to correspond with any city in Spain using RENFE.

A bit of history I like.

Here, there was a Goda town venerating the Virgin and once the Moors invasion the Virgin was hidden in a rock inside a cave.  On this spot, later came to live a Moorish people but a pastor found the Virgin in a cave known locally as the Mora or moor at the foot of a castle. The Virgen de Rus is today the Patron Saint of  San Clemente, an a Church was built at the foot of the old Castle.  The name of the town comes from a knight that was installed here name  Clemente Pérez de Rus, the name of the castle before the founding of the town.  The conquest of Cuenca and Alarcón by king  Alfonso VIII and later defeat of the moors at Navas de Tolosa in 1212, is the cause for the annexation of San Clemente and its territory in Castile.  Depe nding of the town castle of Alarcón it passes to be part of the Marquis of Villena under the lordship of the Manuel, first and later of the Infantes of Aragon finally passing to Don Juan Pacheco, Master of the order of Santiago (St James), and first marquis of  Villena.  In 1445,  Don Juan Pacheco raised it to a City recognized by king Juan II of Aragón and Navarra ,and  Enrique IV of Castilla.  The town of San Clemente took side with queen Isabel la Católica on the fight with Juana for the right to rule in Castile and rises up against the power of the Marquis of Villena that sided with Juana. Once the war of succession over, the Catholic Kings incorporated the town into the crown and freeing it from the association of  Alarcón; receiving the visit of the Catholic Kings (Isabel and Fernando)  in 1488 as gratitude for the services rendered to them. During the follow up war of Succession was the headquarters of the Duke of Berwich showing support for king Felipe V that gave the town the title of most noble , most loyal and trusted city.

In the 19C during the War of Independance of 1808-1814 (against Napoleon’s France) it offered resistance to them as Napoleon sent a division Frére to reinforce the army of Moncey  that were operating in Valencia and Dupont that was in Andalucia. However, the Frére division could not do what it was intended due in part to the resistance of the local people of San Clemente, amongst them was the local heroe Bibiano Hellín. During the Spanish Civil War it was built here an aerodrome and was the home of the 3ª squadron of the group 12 of Russian bombers  Tupolev SB-2 (katiuska) and some Russian fighters planes such as the biplanes Polikarpov I-15.

San Clemente San Clemente

Main things to see in San Clemente, in my opinion.

At the Roman times both Republican and Imperial there was a Roman bridge to cross the Rus river with three arcs and still the best preserve of the Roman bridges in the province.

Casa Consistorial, or city hall (ayuntamiento) it is a renaissance style building on the Classic line on the corner in a rectangular form and two levels and a tower on top with the coat of arms of the Habsburgs of Austria. The facade falls into the silhouette of the Plaza Mayor that in the older days was completely encircled . The construction of the house is from the 16C during the reign of king Felipe II. It was built and renovated thereafter between 1566 and 1622.

San Clemente San Clemente

Parroquia de Santiago Apóstol ,or parish Church of St James the Apostle is on the renaissance style from the 16C with elements Gothic from early in the 15C and some Baroque from the 17C.  It is a basilical Church with three nerfs and huge pillars and chapters and starets coupolas.

San Clemente

Torre Vieja,or old tower, was built in the 15C before 1445 during the reign of king Juan II .It is a tower with a square built and it is the oldest construction in San Clemente.  Currently it is the Tourist office and from 1998 the Etnographic museum of Labranza,

San Clemente

Castillo de Santiago de la Torre  or castle of James of the tower is on the west of San Clemente,on the banks of the Záncara river.  It is a medieval castle that belonged to the Order of ST James or Santiago as well as the Marquis of Villena and the Catholic Kings. However, last in 2017 was in bad shape and hopefully it will be safeguarded for future generations.

The main event here is to come during the Festival of Rus or Fiestas de Rus on the Sunday of resurrection when groups of young and young at heart come together in the main square or Plaza Mayor  below the columns of the old city hall with money in cash to begin one of the most beautiful spectacles in all of Castilla-La Mancha. The auction of the walks of the Virgen de Rus. The square is full of people on foot with notary, and brotherhoods houses that within half an hour of uses and costums starts the groups putting a quantity of money on the table for all to see, each group would do the same until the last one and on the last minute push for the highest amount ;even bats have been given to the groups to reach the last table with the highest amount. The auction of the Cross follows the same ritual but with younger groups . Until the spectacle is done and all go to Mass.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip to this nice town of Castilla here

tourist office of San Clemente: http://www.turismosanclemente.com/

city of San Clemente with things to see in Spanish: http://www.sanclemente.es/que-ver-en-san-clemente/

There, a new town for you maybe… this is another of the jewels you will find in nice Castilla La Mancha, the region of Don Quixote of Cervantes Saavedra.

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

 

 

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May 28, 2018

Cathedral at Alcalà de Henares!

Remembering the places where we have been gosh they are so many all over, searching is not easy and memories abound doing so with my dear late wife Martine. We really like this town coming back repeated times, and me way before since childhood.  I introduce her to these wonderful places and she came  to love them too.  Let me tell you, about Alcalà de Henares and especially the Cathedral.

Some of my previous blog posts on Alcalà de Henares are here:

Cervantes was born here

Madrid with a touch of Cervantes

The place is famous for the Cervantes house and museum and especially the University, but to us the Cathedral was more impacting and the bars/restos around it were sublime ,never to forget.

Alcala de Henares has the Cathedral or Catedral Magistral de los Santos Justo y Pastor, children martyrs of the faith. This was a great Church and wonderful bell tower that you climb 140 steps right from the spot where the children Justo and Pastor were massacred and became Saint Justos and Saint Pastor. It offers a spectacular view of the city after climbing the helicoidally staircase.  You will see wonderful chapels and the tomb of Cardinal Cisneros that together with Queen Isabel I the Catholic were instrumental in Columbus discovery of new lands  in America.  The cloister also has a nice collection of statues and stones found in the area.More info here:  http://www.catedraldealcala.org/

The Gothic Church Magistral is raised to Cathedral Magistral of Santo Justo y Santo Pastor (the boys).  It is dedicated to Maria Magdalena and it is Magistral since all its priests are doctors in Theology only one of two which is Magistral (the other is St Peter in Louven Belgium). It was built in 1514 in a isabeline gothic style.  The story goes that in Roman Hispania there was a period of great persecution of Christians under the government of emperor Diocletian (284-305AD) ; during this period happened the martyrdom of the Saints Justo and Pastor, boys of 7 and 9 years old executed in 304AD outside of Alcalà de Henares for their refusal to refuse Christianism.

The Cathedral outside is simple and austere, while inside it is divided into three naves call Centro, Evangelic, and Epistolary. In the Centro nerf you will find the urn of silver and gold in a crypt where the remains of the boys Saints are kept and a stone where they were martyred. These relics were transferred to Huesca and then to France to avoid destruction by the Arab/moors.

Alcala de Henares Alcala de Henares Alcala de Henares Alcala de Henares Alcalca de Henares

The walls onn the exterior are covered with Segovian lettering and you look at the front gate of a gothic style with a central medallion representing Saint Ildefonso, and the high tower in the renaissance style at 62 meters high, on top there is nice chapter in the Herediano style.  It has a Cloister of the 17C with arcs and pillars, the floors are covered with renaissance carpets coming from different convents in the city. From the cloister you go to the  Sala Capitular (capitulary room) and the old library.

The interior the Church is divided in three nerfs covered with vaults on top of pillars. The Church looks like a traditional Latin cross with a transept. It lost quite a bit during the Spanish Civil War with many works of arts and historical objects. On top of its religious duties the Church Cathedral houses a center for the interpretations and a museum. The Central nerf rises over the lateral nerfs without a main altar on a gothic style and portraits showing the passion of Christ. In the presbytery you see a table given by Pope Sixtus V to king Felipe II The space is preceded by the image of the Virgen of Cisneros and enclosed by a wrough iron gate that survived the fire of 1936. On the girola or dome like you see the Crypt of the Saints Justo and Pastor where an urn is preserve with silver and gold lining (1702), where the remains of the Saints and the stone on which they were martyrize are kept.

The nerf of Epistolary is located where the most important Chapels and the parish of St Peter. This later one built in 1622; showing a gate in granite Stone in the Herediano style and a Baroque interior with a half orange dome. The Chapel of the Virgin of the Valley is the Patron Saint of Alcalà de Henares. It has a half point arc entrance venerating inside the incorrupt corp of San Diego de Alcalà that is shown to the faithful every November 13 day of the Saint. From the eleven Chapels that originally counted the Cathedral only five remain as well as the sides of other six painted on the wall meaning a missing space. After the Church was elevated to Cathedral important excavation work was done and burials of the 16C, 17C and 18C were found.

Alcala de Henares Alcala de Henares Alcala de Henares Alcala de Henares Alcala de Henares Alcala de Henares Alcala de Henares Alcala de Henares Alcala de Henares

There is a nice Museo Diocesano or Diocese Museum opened in 1997 showing a monographic portrayal of the boy Saints Justo and Pastor as well as the sepulcher of Archbishop Carrillo in addition to showing the Treasury that includes objects of jewelry, paintings, arts, and liturgical costumes.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here to this wonderful town of Madrid!

Offiicial webpage of the Cathedral in Spanish: http://www.visitascatedraldealcala.org/

Alcala de Henares desde sus Torres (from its towers ) youtube video in Spanish : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=55eibVJg9rg&feature=share

Tourist office of Alcalà de Henares in English: http://www.turismoalcala.es/turismo/monumento-catedral-magistral/

City of Alcala de Henares tourist info in Spanish: http://www.ayto-alcaladehenares.es/portalAlcala/contenedor5.jsp?seccion=s_floc_d4_v2.jsp&codbusqueda=352&language=es&codResi=1&codMenuPN=3&codMenu=215&layout=contenedor5.jsp&codigoArea=29&ca=12&layout=contenedor5.jsp

There you go ,I hope you like it as we did, it is the real deal in my beloved Spain indeed. Always remember, happy travels, good health ,and many cheers to all!!

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May 27, 2018

My travels in the Morbihan, LXIIII

Ok so this is the end of Sunday still with light outside, a bit cloudier but was sunny this afternoon ; now at  20C or about 68F. Today, usually is a rest day here staying with the family. However, we are still mourning the lost of my wife and we have been staying locally on weekends.

Today, we decided to try again to take our dog Rex on a long car ride. The first attempt failed as he vomit and was very nervous to get in the car. He was 5 months old.

Today he is already 6 months old and we did not give him food before and we took off for Vannes. The Conleau peninsula is very nice with a sea pool and walking trails, picnic tables, and just fun for the whole family.  This time he made it alright and we are thrill about it.

Vannes Vannes Vannes Vannes Vannes

Our Rex is a Borador, mix Border Collier and Labrador.  We got it from a local farm here and it has been a pleasure so far. Only sad part, my wife only saw him for 19 days once brought home as she went into the hospital for her cancer treatment that was not good enough. I have posted on that before in my blog.

He was still reluctant to get in the car and needed a bit of help by yours truly to get him in. We covered my car with a dog mat on the seats just in case and came prepare with everything. The ride was perfect.

We arrived late by about 14h30 and thought parking will be impossible with the nice weather we had but lucky once a tour in the parking we found a spot ,free parking.

We then, set out to do the walking along the marshes of the bay from sea water that comes first from the Gulf of Morbihan and beyond the Atlantic ocean. This is a natural setting very nice. The water makes for a protected harbor for pleasure boating and a sea water pool with sandy beach for the families, as well as playground for the kiddies. What is the Gulf of Morbihan well is all of us along the coast, plenty of things to do , here is more in English Gulf of Morbihan

We just took off with Rex on a walk and just stair at every dog he saw passing by except a couple of dames he was ready to go chasing lol!!!  He was on a leash by me ok ::)

Conleau is very tranquil nice quiet and pretty. It really started in the 20C with a couple of hamlets farm lands called the Petit Conleau ,and the  Grand Conleau. One of the farms today houses the Maison de la Nature or the nature house ; more on it in French here: Maison de la Nature

There are areas that we love here in addition to the above. In the Parc du Golfe you have entertainment, hotels, congress convention palace call the Chorus and the Vannes Aquarium as well as butterflies garden. More on these that I have written plenty before in my blog but for ease of location here are the webpages

Parc du Golfe Vannes

The Chorus

Aquarium Vannes

Butterflies Garden

There around the bay between the cruises passenger terminal entering the city of Vannes and the Peninsula of Conleau you have a wonderful park with a history of Brittany. This is the Pointe des Emigrées ,and this is what we did walk starting from Conleau (you can do the other way around too). You have info in French here from the dept 56 Morbihan tourist office: Pointe des Emigrées

In the 18C this place was calle the Pointe Kérero and was called the Pointe des Emigrées in memory of the executions by the French revolution of Bretons landing at Quiberon from England to fight it.  In 1795, 748 persons that were taken prisioners due to the failure of the landing in Quiberon were put upon the firing squad of execution: the leaders were executed in Vannes on the site call Garenne on a high overlooking the ramparts of today. 374 others were executed in the surroundings of Vannes and even some on the site of the Ermitage. To remember this barbaric act this site was symbolically name the Pointe des Emigrées or the Immigrants point. 

Vannes Vannes

The site has been protected by the Coastal Conservatory since 1986. It is composed of several landscapes: Marshes , Moor, Pinewood, Salty meadows, mudflat, Prairies. There are many species of birds: Ash Heron, Snipe, etc. The plants characteristic of the site are the perforated St. John’s Wort, the Musky purple, the buttercup, the wild orchids, the reed, the Saule, etc.  The meadows are grazed by donkeys and sheep.

We love it for a nice peaceful walk while enjoying the different panels of history and the view of the bay,and nice food at the créperie de la guinguette or the cafe le Root at the Best Western hotel or Piano Barge, le café de Conleau also.

We did had to get Rex into the car again but the ride back home was nice as well. We will do this again as we are trying to get confortable with the car rides. Just a simple Sunday outing in the real living in France; sound familiar to your neck of the woods?

And for tonite, my oldest son did a wonderful NY cheesecake with real Philadelphia cream cheese that was very good. In memory of his loving Mom who used to do it for us and taught him well indeed. Good for the memories.

Pluvigner

Enjoy your Sunday,now I go back to work and no holidays until the Bastille or National Day of July 14. Stay tune for my travels in …….

Enjoy your Sunday everyone, and remember, happy travels, good health and many cheers to all.

 

 

 

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May 27, 2018

The magnificent Cathedral of Cuenca!

Here we are on a sunny Sunday morning in my neck of the woods finally. It was raining a bit in the morning. I like to tell you about one Cathedral of Cuenca or the complete name in Spanish Catedral de Santa María y San Julián. Over the years upon  my requests for travel in the family, I have always tilted to Spain of course. Even if living as citizen now in another wonderful country of France, the blood calls. My family nicely has followed and onwards to Spain we went for many years for our long summer vacation.

This town of Cuenca up in the mountains of the Serrania of Cuenca we rented houses up 1400 meters, and use it as a base to travel all over the Castillas and Madrid and Valencia regions. It will always stay with me as right now they are sentimental souvenirs of our trip with my dear late wife Martine. She came to love it here, and always eager to go.

The Cathedral of Cuenca is a mayor work, do not think will give justice to it in one post ,even if done some general briefings on my other area posts in my blog. I have decided to give you some description on the Cathedral alone here.

The city was conquered back from the Arabs in September 21 1177 and king Alfonso VIII of Castilla brings the bishop’s seat here in 1183. The Cathedral was one of his priorities and it begun construction in 1196.  In the year 1208 had already made an important part of the works because it was possible to consecrate the main altar. In the year 1257, a large part of the structures were completed and the Episcopal palace was built. The work continued throughout the 13tC. In the year 1448 was modified its headboard, rising a giro similar to that of Toledo. It is known that the wife of King Alfonso VIII, Leonor Plantagenet was the inspiration of this majestic construction, advised by her Anglo-Norman advisors.  That is why the cathedral of Cuenca presents elements that differentiate it from the large number of Gothic cathedrals that exist in Spain-of French influence. The time when major modifications were introduced was in the fifteenth century.

The modifications both inside and outside have substantially changed their original architecture.  In the 16tC and 17C several works were carried out on the façade and several chapels and the cloister were built. In the 18C, renovations were made in the apse, pillars and in the interior decoration. In the year 1902, there was the collapse of the Giraldo or giro tower that caused huge damage to the facade so there was to rebuild it, in neo-Gothic style.

Cuenca Cuenca Cuenca

The cathedral is a Latin cross plant and has three naves with a large headboard that ends in a polygonal apse with seven sides and flanked by two naves on each side that serve as entrance to the Giro, made in 1448. Right on the cruise, a central vault is erected. The central nave is separated from the sides by means of large pointed arches that support on solid pillars of different thickness. Its triforium is unique in Spain, product of Anglo-Norman influence and more than its ornamental function highlights its original solution to counteract the thrust of the vaults. On the transept of the cathedral stands the Angel Tower, conceived as a lantern to give light to the cathedral. It receives the influences of the lanterns of square plant of Laón, Braine and many Burgundian churches. . The triforium of the Cathedral of Cuenca is a false triforium, as its nave has been reduced to a narrow corridor and its gallery has been fused with high windows to create a unique structure in Spain that serves as a transmission of forces from the vaults to the buttresses. Our journey begins on the right side we can enter the Chapel of Pilar. This chapel was founded in the year 1769 ,it has a polychrome wood altar that imitates marble and Jasper. The gate is from the 17C. On the walls there are six reliefs of was representing Saint Julian and the Virgin, Apparition of the Virgin to Santiago, Virgin with the Child, miracle of calender and imposition of the chasuble to San Ildefonso. The Crown of the Virgin is painted in the vault of the lantern. Inside it is preserved the burial of Bishop Wenceslas of Sigüensa.

I will take you to a very brief description of the  Chapels in this magnificent and seldom seen Cathedral but a must to visit.

Cuenca Cuenca Cuenca Cuenca Cuenca

The Chapel of the Apostles It was founded in the 16C. The work of the chapel began in 1528 the cover is organized in the purest Renaissance style. Its entrance portico is majestic and is made of carved stone with plateresque style grille. The main altar has a central altarpiece with sculptures of polychrome carving and paintings, from the 16C .

The Chapel of San Antolin ,it was made at the beginning of the 16C and is located at the angle of the nave with the cruise. It has a wooden gate and a decorative frieze of full mudejar style. It has a baptismal font located in the centre, also made in the 16C. On an altar appear paintings on another altar appears a sculpture of St. Ignatius of Loyola and the altar of St. John the Evangelist and St. John the Baptist comes from the chapel called the Annunciation with two paintings from the 16C.

The Bishop’s Chapel , This stay owes its name to the function it represents. It serves as a private residence of the prelate and was founded by Cardinal and Bishop of Cuenca Jacobo de Veneris at the end of the 15C. It has a beautiful grille of the middle of the 16C, in which the Baptism of Christ is represented, the altar is of wood and alabaster polychrome The paintings of the altarpiece of the main altar are dedicated to San Julián, patron of the city. The altar of Santa Ana has an altarpiece made in the 17C and comes from the hermitage of Santa Ana.

Saint Martin Chapel was done in the middle of the 16C. It has a forged grille and made in 1548. The altarpiece of this chapel is dedicated to San Martín in Plateresque style with medallions made in alabaster, which combines polychrome wood, painting on board and Alabaster. Under the Arcosolio are the graves of the Montemayor that present statues of naturalistic style and a more evolved Gothic. The altar of the Angel of the guard is circumscribed to the Baroque style and has a Calvary made at the end of the 15C and early 16C, on a beam carved with plateresque motifs. Right on the chamfer of the wall lies the altar of the Immaculate. In front of these two altars is the altarpiece of San Fabián and San Sebastián, in Polychrome wood and with a varied iconography.

A Chapel of Our Lady of the Tabernacle , It was founded by the Cabildo in the year 1629  The works continued in the 17th century. It has three altarpieces-reliquary. The central dedicated on the right to San Julian and the left to the birth of the Virgin.

The main sacristy ,It is of Gothic style and is located behind a very large canvas of the wall in which the burials of two bishops are found. The works were completed in the year 1509. On its cover there are blasons and religious images. The drawer for ritual robes, made in walnut . La Dolorosa and a Virgin of Bethlehem are inserted. There are also several 17C  paintings made by Bocanegra and Sebastián Conca, representing the doctors of the Western Church.

The Chapter Room, It was built at the beginning of the 16C. It has magnificent doors made of carved walnut wood of plateresque style that contain several circular medallions and panels decorated with renaissance motifs. The coffered ceiling of the room is in Renaissance style with tints of the first Plateresque. It is separated from the cathedral by a small enclosure that was open until the 18C. In the second half of the 18C was added the painting that today covers it, of clear French influence. The Twelve apostles of the sides  done in 1649 for the Sala de los Reyes (kings room), transferred to the chapter house in the year 1779. On the current chorus are preserved, in the warheads, paintings of prophets who were part of that ensemble. Especially the pictorial ensemble with the figures of Christ and St. Matthias.

The Chapel of St. Helena ,It was founded as seen in the stone façade from the 16C and its grating dates from the year 1572. The altarpiece of its interior is made in the 16C  It is wood without polychrome. It emphasizes its predela by the deep animalistic study of the same one.

The Chapel of the Heart of Jesus or Capilla Honda , according to the chronicles this chapel was consecrated to the Virgin who carried Alfonso VIII when entering the city of Cuenca, where he was named Chapel of the Virgin of the Battles. It is also called the Honda Chapel because it is located well below the level of the cathedral floor. The current construction dates from the beginning of the 16C, although it still has magnificent mudejar doors made between the 12C and 13C . At the altar are two tables of the 16C and a copy of the table of the Savior, Gossaert. He has undergone several constructive modifications over time. The altarpiece of María Auxiliadora highlights the painting of the Virgin of Milk that dates from 1600 and is preserved in the auction. The main altarpiece is the work of the 18C and is dedicated to the heart of Jesus.

The Relief or help (Socorro) Chapel; was founded in 1486 and reformed in the 19C. It currently has three altarpieces, Our Lady of Socorro, San Antonio de Padua and Santa Maria. The Gothic altar is from the 15C and is clearly influenced by the Anglo-Norman style. In nine niches with Gothic background we see seventeen carvings in Polychrome wood.

The Chapel of the Assumption , it was founded in the year 1511. It has a magnificent grille, especially in the upright, made in the year 1571. At its main altar is the altarpiece of the Assumption of the Virgin,  from the end of the 16C.

The Chapel of St James or Santiago, this chapel was founded by Bishop Alvaro Martínez, Maestro and counselor of Henri III. It has several bars, the Communion rail and the choir are from the 16C and the entrance is from the 17C. On the side of the gospel contains two sepulchers of the late 14C, with sculptures of Toledo style, in honor of its founding bishop. Next to it is the Gothic style tombstone of the conquest of Cuenca by Alfonso VIII. The main altarpiece dates back to 1547. There is a minor altarpiece that combines the carving of Christ with images of the Virgin and oil-painted saints from the late 16C.

The Knights ‘ Chapel ,It was founded in the 13C and was restored between the years 1520 and 1531, in its current location. The chapel has two real masterpieces, from the previous chapel, the tombstone of Mrs. Teresa de Luna and several sepulchres with statues of alabaster, the father and brother of Cardinal García Alvarez de Albornoz and Alvar García de Albornoz, carried out in the 16C during the renovations of the chapel, were preserved. This one has three altarpieces called of the Crucifixion, the piety and the Adoration of the Kings, in which it emphasizes the Italianate influence of Leonardo Da Vinci; There are also several paintings of Orrente. The Calvary that crowns the altarpiece of the altar of the assumption from the 16C.

The Muñoz Chapel was founded in the 16C. It has one of the most beautiful stone façades of the cathedral The columns are formed by the overlap of two different shafts in which one can guess in the stone, the face and the arms of a man terrified and supported in a corbel in whose interior there is a deformed telamon distressed by the pressure of the cartouches Side. The sculptures represent San Juan Bautista and San Jerónimo with very marked traits; Two serene caryatids; San Roque and the Virgin with the Child and a San Rafael added to the work at the end of the 15C.

The Arch of Jamete is of Renaissance style with the influences of the first Plateresque and was probably done between 1545 and 1550. It is a monumental door that accesses the cloister and is considered one of the jewels of the cathedral and perhaps the most monumental of all the Spanish Renaissance in an interior.

The Mayor Chapel , has three bars. The largest of these was made at the beginning of the 16C and is located on the main Altar. It is the most monumental of the bars that this cathedral contains. The other two side bars were made in Vizcaya in the year 1740. Its main altar is bronze and marble, according to Ventura Rodríguez project in the second half of the 18C.

The Covarrubias Chapel  was founded in 1611  The construction was started in 1613 in the Escorial style. It has a Renaissance altarpiece with a table of Jesus attached to the column.

The weight Chapel or de los Peso, was founded in 1524 . The gate is considered one of the most beautiful in the cathedral. The altarpiece depicting in its central scene “The Adoration of the Shepherds” In the upright stands the representation of the Visitation of the Virgin.

 The new Chapel of San Julian , the Altar of St Julian’s, also called Transparent, was design in the 18C. The altar is made of marble, Jasper and bronze, with medallions in high relief and allegorical statues,, from the second half of the 18C, Baroque. In the year 1760 the remains of St. Julian were moved to the new altar. In 1936 was burned the body in one of the courtyards of the episcopal palace and was also stolen the silver urn where the saint rested.

The Chapel of Pozo or San Roque was founded in 1503, in the contiguous place of the transparent and moved to its current location in the 18C. It has a grille and a Gothic-style altar done  in 1511. The altarpiece is  from the beginning of the 16C. The central size of the altarpiece representing the Assumption of the Virgin was transferred to the Diocesan museum and was replaced by the San Roque. The altarpiece contains numerous oil paintings.

The Beard Chapel, was founded in the year 1967 .The gate and altarpiece was made in 1569 and restored in 1795. It contains several paintings

The old chapel of San Julian is located next to the epistle and has a fence. In the second half of the 17C the door was closed inside, becoming a chapel. It highlights the fine work of rockery of the frontal of the altar. The door gate has an exceptional finish in embossed gold plate with the same scene of the altarpiece, anonymous work of the first half of the 16C.

The Chapel of Santa Catalina is located next to the so-called Arco de Jamete. It was built in the mid-15C and modified at the beginning of the 16C. There is an altarpiece in the interior with the martyrdom of the saint and an ordeal, from the second half of the 16C. Highlights the Plateresque framework of the altarpiece, refurbished and expanded in 1598.

The Chapel of St. Bartholomew, was founded at the end of the 15C. It has a magnificent altarpiece called the Christ of the Sacristans of the mid- 16C. It has a plateresque altar and a Gothic alabaster piety in a niche that is currently preserved in the museum.

The Chapel of Santa Barbara, was founded in the early 18C. It contains a baroque-style altarpiece that is surrounded by mural paintings with false architectures. In the center of the altarpiece there is a polychrome wood carving of the Saint and on the upper part a canvas allusive to the doubt of Saint Thomas. The whole of the eternal Father  finished it.

Ok a bit long but I think worth it. This is a jewel that needs to be seen and has direct train and bus from Madrid as well as only 2h30 by car along the A40/A3 expressways toll free. Enjoy the post and have a great Sunday.

Oh yes some webpages to help plan your trip here in addition to my blog posts.

Official Cathedral St Mary of Cuenca: http://www.catedralcuenca.es/inicio

Castilla La Mancha tourism in English: http://en.www.turismocastillalamancha.es/patrimonio/catedral-de-santa-maria-la-mayor-o-de-nuestra-senora-de-gracia-28964/descripcion/

Oh wait, remember, happy travels, good health ,and many cheers to all.

 

 

 

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May 27, 2018

The amazing Aqueduct of Segovia

This is another of my favorite cities of my beloved Spain, or is one of many I think. From an early age , I think first time was when I was 10 years old with my mother; I keep coming back over the years, then with my wife, and then with the family and boys and parents and and ….lost count but each time is like the first time. The  Aqueduct of Segovia is awesome, a must to see.

Well I admit only once did took the bus as always came here taken or on my own by car from Madrid. The roads are good if hilly and curvy even if now they have expressways such as the AP 6 and AP 61 but my all time favorite is the N603; from Madrid you can come on the A1.  I drive around to find a parking either at 14 Paseo Ezequiel Gonzalez next to the tribunal , you walk past the statue to famous restaurantor Candido and onwards to the Cathedral and Aqueduct nice walk and car is very safe or  the Alcazar or by the Aqueduct and then walk all over the city. By intercity bus you come from the bus depot at Moncloa and the Sepulvena line ,there are suburbian trains such as cercanias by changing trains in Cercedilla. The fast trains or AVE can be taken at the station Segovia-Guiomar and for cheaper slower trains you can do the Avant trains.

I have written quite a bit on Segovia and all its attractions before, but this one is the Aqueduct, needs a stand alone post. To me , the Aqueduct is in essence my third choice here after the Alcazar and the Cathedral of the tops things to see in Segovia.

According to experts, the Aqueduct of Segovia was built in the second half of the 1C AD or early 2C AD  during the reign of Adrian to Trajan. It is  813 meters long, with about 728 meters visible in the city. It has a maximum height of 28.5 meters and a minimum of 0.5 meters out of the city. The water transported, is on a slope of 1%, to make runs freely into town from the source in the Frio River , 17 km from Segovia ,bringing it to the area of Acebeda 15 km further. The exact location according to experts is from the Aceveda river , a small stream of the Frio river in a pine and oak forest in the northern slopes of the sierra de Guadarrama at 1255 meters altitude.

It has in all 20400  granite stone taken from the Guadarrama area , 120 pillars or columns and 167 arcs of which 75 are simple arcs , 44 double arcs all in the main area to see and some beyond the city.  The granite stone bound only by their own weight, without any mortar ,thanks to a perfect balance of forces. The stones have small cavities necessary for the use of the self tightening pliers for lifting the blocks The most beautiful part is when crossing the Plaza de Azoguejo square

To see the best is to position yourself on either side of it , either on the Azoguejo square on the left or the Plaza de Artilleria or Artillery square on the right, as you notice that the aqueduct seems to divide the city in two.

Segovia Segovia Segovia Segovia Segovia Segovia Segovia

At the time of the Catholic monarchs the first great work of reconstruction of the aqueduct was carried out. Later, in the 16C, it was when the statues of the Virgin of Carmen and San Sebastián were placed in the central niches. The Aqueduct of Segovia is special in that it has been used almost without interruption since Roman times to the present day.

If you are daring and would like to follow the path from outside the city you can. I have gone by car as much as possible and some walk but not done it completely. You have to be in good shape as it is hilly.

Not far from the source (locally call the Azud) , the aqueduct channel had to cross the small brook of Valdeconejos (valley of rabbits). Here is an interesting structure in the form of a small bridge of 5 granite plates that still serve their original purpose of leading the water of the small creek of Valdeconejos over the top of the aqueduct channel.  Both the Azud (the source) and the Valdeconejos bridge can be reached on foot in about 1 hour (3km) from the village of Revenga.  We parked here in Revenga or  you can too at the entrance of the road that runs along the north side of the Embalse the Puenta Alta Lake. However, we stop here, you can continue on the road  from the parking beyond the end of the lake and then follow the yellow aqueduct signs up the hill. There is a track that goes up steeply and passes through the fence, follow this to above the creek on the north side until the track reaches some meadows; cross the creek here, and follow the yellow signs steeply up the hill until reaching the aqueduct channel this can be recognised by the box-shaped maintenance shafts that have been installed on the water pipe in the early 20C. Follow the track now along the contour lines towards the captions upstream (to the right, sign to “azud”).  On the way back, the aqueduct can be followed past Valdeconejos until reaching the track that descends again to Revenga. It is even possible to follow the aqueduct all the way to the city. The tourist information in Segovia can organise trips to the aqueduct source, and has a brochure (in Spanish) describing three walks along the course of the conduit, from the mountains to the city.

Once in Segovia, at the junction of the Calle del Coronel Rexach and the Avenida del Padre Claret (this later takes you right into the aqueduct in your car !) is a small monument that marks the start of the most spectacular section of the Segovia aqueduct. The cylindrical stone ( Roman lettering are on it)  is a monument from the 17C, found close to Segovia. It has been placed on the wall that originally supported the Roman aqueduct channel, and  which now carries its narrower successor, the channel from the 15C. This wall, 141 meters  long and 1,4 meters wide, runs up to a building that covers the second and final cleaning basin before the aqueduct bridge. This building, is known locally as the Casa de Aqua. Inside is a basin with an entry and exit of the aqueduct channel. Contrary to the Casa de Piedra, there is no channel at the base of the basin, so that any sediment that accumulated had to be removed by hand, and could not be flushed out. Any dirt would be extremely difficult to remove. The building is at least partly Roman. Once entering the city the aqueduct bridge of Segovia starts at the Casa del Aqua.

There you have a brief to the point story on one of the most emblematic buildings of Spain, the Aqueduct of Segovia. Some webpages to help you plan your trip in addition to searching my blog for my previous posts on it are to follow.

Tourist office of Segovia on the Aqueduct in English : http://visitsegovia.turismodesegovia.com/es/monuments/aqueduct

Region of Castilla y Leon on the Aqueduct in English: http://www.patrimoniocastillayleon.com/en/segovia

Oh yes for the memories, a 1990 picture at the Aqueduct taken by now my late dear wife.

 

Segovia

me in the aqueduct 1990 take by my late wife

 Hope it helps. Remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!! Enjoy your Sunday, here is sunny now with 64F or about 18C. Cheers

 

 

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