Archive for May 26th, 2018

May 26, 2018

The magnificent Alcazar 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 Alcazar 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 Alcazar needs a stand alone post. To me , the Alcazar is tops for the history of it, then the Cathedral and then the Aqueduct.

The history of the Alcazar is very interesting and I like it.

The oldest remains were stones of granite like those in the Roman aqueduct so it is assume that in the Roman period there was a castrum or castle here already. On top of these ruins this Alcazar was built  as a hispano Arabic fortress. The first notice of it was in 1122 a bit after king Alfonso VI of Léon conquered the city ,however, it wasn’t until 1155 that it is shown in text as the Alcazar on a letter kept at the archives of the Cathedral​  ; the Alcazar was the residency of king Alfonso VIII

In the middle ages, for its security and proximity to the hunting areas the Alcazar became one of the favorite residencies of the kings of Castilla , especially Alfonso X.  The fortress was inhabited many times and was one of the most luxurious palace-castle of the 15C; it was witness to several major events such as the proclamation of queen Isabel la Catolica in 1474 and the awake Mass of king Felipe II and Anne of Austria in 1570 in the Chapel. The fortress served as a prison until 1762,and king Carlos III founded the Royal College of Artillery here (more later).  In  1862, fire destroyed the ceilings and roof, nobles rooms and they were rebuilt thanks to engravings done in 1839.

The layout of the fortress is around two areas, exterior with a patio,and well, bridge and tower keeps, and the interior rooms such as Chapel, several noble rooms. The tower keeps or Torre de Homenaje is square with four towerettes with a canon and terrace windows, been done by king John II and once a war room, you can see a nice view of the city and especially the neighborhood of Canonjias, Jewish quarters and Cathedral.  There are two stairs you need to pass to arrive to the top or about 156 steps most in a carrousel stair very narrow and inclined. Once crossing the gate you have access to the first stair where you can see the thickness of the wall, and at the end is the guards room and there is the spot where the night watchman slept. On top there are four levels and mostly used as a prison, the last prisioner here was General Berenguer in the 1930’s.

Segovia

entrance to the alcazar

Segovia

orangerie on the right of Alcazar

Segovia

courtyard interior

Segovia

patio of arms back towers

Segovia

right side moats alcazar

Segovia

towers outside

The interior has nice decorated rooms of great luxury and it houses the army museum or Museo de Armas as well as the military archives of Segovia, and historical archives oldest of the Spanish armed forces. Let me tell you about the utmost beauty of the interior rooms of the Alcazar, awesome.

The Sala del Palacio Viejo (difficult to translate all of this but it is close to the old palace room) it was built during the reign of king Alfonso VIII and the decoration shows arms of a Germanic style from the 15C.  The Sala de la Chimenea (chimney room) dates from the times of king Felipe II and the furniture is from the 16C, on the walls you see a portrait of Felipe II and another one of Felipe III,a Flemish tapestry of the 16C with the Our Lady and an Alcazar before the reform of the roof where we can see the former Cathedral of St Mary  that was in the square in front of the current Alcazar. The  Sala del Trono (throne room) the façade the communicates with the chimney room and still intact its mudejar Arabic original construction with a covered of armor done by 1456. The throne under the mold of the tapetries has a blason or flag of the Catholic Kings and a saying tanto monta or sort of so much rides from early the 15C.  On the walls you see portraits of the same Catholic Kings that were ordered by queen Isabel II. The window stained glass represent king Enrique IV of Castilla.

We continue in the interior with the  Sala de la Galera ( galleon room) it takes this name because the place shows the casque of a boat inverted ; the room was built by queen Catalina de Lancaster in 1412 when her son was still a minor future Juan II of Castilla.  On the windows you see stained glass representing king Enrique III of Castilla and his family and another of Enrique II with scenes from the death of Pedro I and Juan II.  On one of the walls is decorated with a painting representing the coronation of queen Isabel la Catolica as queen of Castilla and Leon in the Church of San Miguel  of Segovia. The  Sala de las Piñas  (pineapple room) on the ceiling you can see angels carrying the shield of arms of Castilla and Leon, the stained glass shows king Alfonso VII with his daughter Berenguela. The  Cámara Regia  (or great room) on the wall you can see scenes from the life of the Catholic Kings. The bed is covered with knitting and embroidery in gold. The Sala de los Reyes (kings room) king Felipe II  ordered it built statues corresponding to the kings of Asturias, Leon and Castilla.  One of the paintings in the room is a portrait of king Felipe II  and the other two portraits are of his two wives Isabel of Valois  and  Anne of  Austria.  The Sala del Cordón (cord room) has this name because the surrounding of the walls there is a cord long and golden. You arrive at the Chapel, there is a small Chapel in the sala de cordón  from where the king or queen listen to the Mass.  The arms room or Sala de Armas is here because the Alcazar house the arms of the old House of Trastàmara (the branch of Segovia of Queen Isabel the Catholic of Castille and Leon) and was the precedent from which the arms now were united in the Royal Armory of Madrid .

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Museo del Real Colegio de Artillería or the wonderful Royal College of Artillery museum houses many wonderful military objects as here was the Artillery Academy of Segovia founded in 1764 in the Alcazar in the times of king Carlos III. It is said to be the oldest military academy in the world in active duty ,this the  Real Colegio de Artillería de Segovia, in the Alcazar. Here was echo the call for independence from the invading armies of Napoléon I in May 2 1808 (Spain national independence day) that was led by the Artillery captains Luis Daoiz and Pedro Velarde (statues of them in front of the Alcazar now) that were former students of the academy. The current home of the artillery academy is on the former convent of San Francisco in Segovia (Calle San Francisco, 25) and many rooms and residences are in the business park ,poligono de Baterias in Segovia (Carretera de San Rafael S/N). More info here in Spanish: http://www.realcolegiodeartilleria.es/

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Some further webpages to help plan your visit here

The official Alcazar webpage: http://www.alcazardesegovia.com/

The region of Castilla y Leon on the Alcazar: http://servicios.jcyl.es/pweb/datos.do?numero=11675&tipo=inmueble&ruta=

Tourism of Segovia webpage: http://visitsegovia.turismodesegovia.com/es/monuments/alcazar

Hope you come here and share your pictures, this is a wonderful town, small enough to walk all over. and huge in Spanish history with marvelous architecture, love it. This is the Alcazar of Segovia!

Ah sorry for my memories, a photo of me in the Alcazar taken in 1990 from my late dear wife we were on our courtship trip in Sept 1990 married in Dec 1990 !!!!

Segovia

main arms room in Alcazar photo of 1990 taken by my late dear wife

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

 

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May 26, 2018

Some news from Spain LXII

And I am back to my beloved Spain. The weather has been nice even if today is a bit cloudy in my neck of the woods; at my gorgeous Madrid is the same cloudy at 13C or about 55F now before noon. There is lots on Spain to catch up from my last post.

This is always a great event we love, the book fair in Madrid or the La Feria del Libro de Madrid starts today and runs until Sunday June 10; this is the 77th edition and will have 363 stands and almost 5000 houses of printing as well as Romania as the country of honor.  It is at the magnificent Retiro park or Parque del Retiro,exactly by the road of Paseo del Duque de Fernán Núñez, locally known as the carriages promenade. You need to check the hours as many writers will be there to sign autographs and explain their books to you. Normally the stands are open Mondays to Fridays from 11h to 14h and then 18h to 21h30; Saturdays and Sundays and holidays will be open from 11h to 15h and then 17h to 21h30. more info here in Spanish of course: La Feria del Libro de Madrid

Something as an example. The Victoria & Albert museum of London will lent to the Generalitat region of Valencia the retable of St George  also known here as the lead centenial or Centenar de la Ploma, 15C. This is been thought over by the London museum as there is many proofs of works of art taken from museums such as the offer of Ethiopia to lent several pieces of jewerly taken by the British in the battle of Madgada of 1868. The list is long unfortunately of claims against  British museums such as the marble of the Pantheon of Athens taken by Lord Elgin and sold to the British museum, and treasures taken from Benin kept at the same museum. The real property owners of these works of arts sometimes are shown in museum coming from dubious sources , the practice needs to stop, just keep what is rightfully yours. There are 17 portraits conforming this retable shown in room 48B where you can see St George fighting the dragon and king James I against a muslim in the battle of Puig of 1237 ,that was decisive in the taken of Valencia the following year. The order that kept this retable was abolished in 1711, and ruin lost the work without trace until it shows up in Paris in 1864, some of the portraits have been destroyed by wars, from here it went to London again without explanation ,and still is there.

Let me tell you about a wonderful city of Spain, this is Salamanca. It is the province with the most bravo bulls of Lidia in Spain, and the most famous farms such as Garcigrande to  Puerto de San Lorenzo, Montalvo, Valdefresno , and  El Pilar. About 14 farms belongs to the Route of the Brave Bull or Ruta del Toro Bravo; many are open to the public and shown a tour from birth to fighting in an arena. They are tested in a corral to see their strenght and resistance even if on the field we still do not know how the bull is going to react in front of the bullfighter/torero. In the plaza is where they are tested to see the real virtuals of the bull, the best showing will be May 31 2018 in the Corrida de las 6 Naciones or 6 nations bullfights at the memorable Las Ventas monumental of Madrid.

The area above is wonderful to ride in a car and you can see beautiful places like the San Martín del Castañar, one of the best towns in the area as it belongs to the wine route or Ruta del Vino Sierra de Francia. Another is  Villanueva del Conde, where you have the Bodega Cámbrico offering tastings and visit to centenary grape growing areas at 600-1000 meters of altitude; all in the D.O.P. Sierra de Salamanca, the denominacion de origines protegido smallest in Spain! that already had score 91 points in the famous Spanish wine guide Guia Penin. You continue onto  Sequeros, and see the nice lookout or mirador de La Cruz to see the wonderful ranges of the Sierra de Béjar. Do not miss the small Church of El Robledo,with relics from  Simón Vela, discover of the image of the Virgen de la Peña de Francia,and the Saintly Lady that guide him to the find.  Then, you are in Mogarraz a sierra mountain jewel to taste some of the local dishes like the Serrano lemon; even if best known for the portraits of local people hanging from their houses painted by Florencio Maíllo,a local artist.  Now you got the picture the mountain valley range of  the  Sierra de Francia  is a world to discover. Some of the bull places that we like are the  Puerto de San Lorenzo   Puerto San Lorenzo bulls, and  El Pilar   El Pilar bulls.   The wines  Ruta del Vino Sierra de Francia

Sierra de Francia tourist page in Spanish: Sierra de France tourism  and the Salamanca tourist office in Spanish: Tourism of Salamanca

If you happened to past by the province of Teruel in the region of Aragon, you will see many wonders of the off the beaten path of my Spain, and by all means stop in Teruel and nearby cities such as the beautiful Albarracin (where I past each of the last two years to my vacations in Spain). This is by many ,the most beautiful town in the province and one of the most spectacular of Spain; as well as a starting point for the mountains.  You have more information  in Spanish: Sierra de Albarracin

Another wonderful town is Calanda famous for its drums festival during Holy Week and where the famous film director Luis Bunuel was born. Now there is a museum in a nice mansion Casa Fortón-Cascajares, a very nice home indeed. More on him and the museum here in Spanish: Luis Bunuel at Calanda

Mirambel is a fortified town that is worth a detour to visit the architectural heritage interpretation of the area or Centro de Interpretación del Patrimonio Arquitectónico del Maestrazgo with many things to do it with it. More info in Spanish here Maestrazgo

Do visit the mines of the Cuencas Mineras de Teruel nothing comes close comparable to this old lignite mine that you can descend to 200 meters deep. More information  in Spanish: Cuencas Mineras

The pretty town of Rubielos de Mora, at about 50 km from Teruel to have it enjoyed by the lovers of the abstract art from the second half of the 20C is an obligatory stop; there is a museum in the former Hospital of Gracia dedicated to the work of Salvador Victoria. More information  in Spanish: Rubielos de Mora museum

And if you are lof ike me into castles then in the Province of Teruel you have plenty but one in particular is very nice and off the beaten path in the municipality of Jiloca in the town of Peracense, right on a rock is the castle of Peracense. More in Spanish here: Castle of Peracense

You have two ways or roads in the province of Teruel that are part of the way of St James coming from the lower Aragon and starting at Sagunto. You, also, should know this is part of the road or way of El Cid or  Camino del Cid, that includes 21 towns all with the safeconduct of the way to the pilgrims that try this experience. More information on the Way of El Cid and especifically my route in English here  Camino del Cid Teruel

There is an interesting town of Matarrana to see vultures or the buitres of Valderrobres where you can even stay nearby to see the experience up close. These are rapasse birds indeed beautiful to see,at a distance… More here in English: Buitres de Valderrobres

And to end but not least visit San Antonio in Calaceite, the most iberian town best preserved in Spain where you can see the museum or Museo Juan Cabré  that takes you into the pre roman period in this part of Aragon. More here in Spanish: Museo Juan Cabré at Calaceite

Talking about the Malaga Painter. He visited the Prado museum for the first time when he was 13 yrs old and copy some of the works there such as the boy from Vallecas etc works by Velàzquez ,Goya,and El Greco. As shown by his 58 versions of the Las Meninas portrait. The fine arts circle or Circulo de Bellas Artes of Madrid is proposing a trip for these marvelous examples of the master where he found the inspiration for his work. He found the excuse of been in the Louvre to get lost for hours in its rooms like a hunting dog according to accounts of the times. Paris was the city that gave him the opportunity to encounter the Olympia of Manet with the great Odalisque of Ingrés together with others that cherished it like Courbet or Delacroix, of which portrait women of the angels also made into more than 10 versions. All this is shown in the Círculo de Bellas Artes with about 200 works including portraits done by his muse and second wife Jacqueline Roque, of which the painter drew on a pigeon in his home with chalk and giving her a rose every day  until finally she went out with him 6 months later.  Oh yes forgot, I am talking about Pablo Picasso;and here is more in Spanish: expo Picasso and the museum

Another great exposition in Madrid. You know about the Dadistes and later Surrealists inventing a new world, as they broke with the past. They created one of the most creative revolutions in history and today proof of that arrives to Madrid from Jerusalem and the Museum of Israel. See the exposition Duchamp, Magritte, Dalí. Revolucionarios del siglo XX.  Open in the Palacio de Gaviria  until mid July 2018 with works from the masters such as Duchamp, Magritte, Dalí, Ernst, Tanguy, Man Ray, Picabia, Calder, Schwitters, Höch, Blumenfeld, Janco, and others. Innovating genious that will have a retrospective of more than 200 works such as the precision and color of  Picabia in Music is Like Painting (1916), The Dream of Venus (1939), of Salvador Dalí and Horst P. Horst;  the philosophical experience of Goethe and the Metamorphosis of Plants (1940), by  André Masson, and the liences of Joan Miró from the serie of  Women and Birds (1940) are just some of the work on display. The gigantic rock crown by a castle in the middle of an ocean of which Magritte tried to ask for the mysterious and apparently impossible. The castle of the Pyrenees  (1959), is one of them.  Next is the Surrealist essay  (1934), by Dalí; Main Ray (1935),by Man Ray.  All brilliant discoveries of the these revolutionary arts from the 20C. It will be on display until July 15 2018. More here in English: Revolutionaries at the palacio de Gaviria

And the biggest event is tomorrow night the Champions league of Europe at Kiev. Shown live in my neck of the woods from 20h45. It is estimated about 17000 fans will be there from Madrid fans of all over (wish could be there!!!)to see the final between our beloved Real Madrid vs Liverpool. It will be held at the Olympic stadium in the city center of Kiev. The city has a good public transport network of metro and very inexpensive about 16 cents Euro. the closest stations to the stadium are Olimpiiska and Palats Sports, which lines connects with all the main sights in town to see from a tourist point of view. There will be a Fan Zone of Real Madrid located in the square or Palats Ukraine, next to the palace of national arts of Ukraine  just about 20 minutes on foot from the stadium.  There will be entertainment until the start of the match.  There is also, the Festival UEFA Champions, located on the main street of the city ,the  Khreshchatyk, next to the shopping center Tsum Kyiv, with entertainement , music bands, DJ’s , autographs by ex players and to take a photo with the Champions Cup for free. More official info in English here: Champions Real Madrid

Champions league final details

And as we are on the festive mood of football/soccer why not a good Spanish wine. The Bodegas Franco-Españolas, DOC Rioja  is an old winery of 127 years of history guarded by the third generation of the family Eguizábal. It has had a revival thanks to its line of reds Bordón starting in 2017  with sales of 5M bottles in the year and 65%  domestic and 35% exports with USA, Canada, UK, Germany, and Denmark the most buyers. Lately ,going into the white wine line with Diamante, white Rioja that had origins in the 19C and now a new name 100% Verdejo grape of the  DO Rueda. More in English here: Bodegas Franco Espanolas

Another dandy just had recently, is from Bodegas Roda, la Rioja bottle of RODA I Red tempranillo grape 90% and , Graciano (10%) with an alcohol level of 14.5% very well score of 17 sur 20  and general  price of 40€. It is of black fruit, fine leather, canelle on the nose, vigorous but silky, very tasty, still young in its tannins but not strong, it can be kept long to 2028. More info on the house and wine in Spanish here:  bodega Roda

There you go on my Spain, hope you enjoy the news of my Spain. Like, I said, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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