Archive for June 16th, 2018

June 16, 2018

Towns of history and Castle in the Province of Cuenca!

And traveling along on my quest for the Quijote in me and visiting not only the province of Cuenca but also the region or autonomous community of Castilla La Mancha away from my beloved Madrid. I have come to realized the beauty of small towns away from the metropolis, and these have a remarkable impact on me and my family. Maybe one reason why we lived in a town of 7K now. Love it.

We were base in the mountains of the Serrania de Cuenca, especifically at Las Majadas, a place of many memories of family visits and good friends. We all love so much that we repeated coming here, and my dear late wife Martine fell in love with the area even thinking of retirement here. Sad could not be, life goes on, memories to take along the roads.

Let me tell you about Almodóvar del Pinar a town passing on the road N320 and only 47 km from Cuenca capital and Valencia 154 km , Madrid 234 km. The name comes from the Moors/Arabs that means Redondo or round going back to the 11C . Went thru many battles between Moors and Christians until king Alfonso VIII conquered in 1177 and again coming back to retake in 1184. By 1452, king Juan II of Castile bequest the town to Don Rodrigo Manrique, Count of  Paredes ,and Nava, Constable of Castile ,  Commander of  Segura de la Sierra, knight of the Order of Santiago and father of the famous poet  Jorge Manrique. In 1467 Manrique sells all his assets of the town to  Don Martín de Alarcón, Commander of Mérida , and Lord of  Solera.

In the 18C, the town had its biggest economic impact been of the most important towns in Spain for carriage transport (carreteros sort of the truckers of today) delivering goods all over Spain . The Royal Association of carriages of Almodovar was founded in the 16C_17C; having the town the biggest number of carriages per inhabitant in Spain. The goods were mostly transported to Madrid  but also to  Valencia, Cuenca, Linares, and Sevilla.

Another interesting historical anecdote here is on the Inquisition. There official members and collaborators calles family of the inquisition, and they were townspeople with the shield of the Inquisition on their front doors that gave them prestige, and they were not subject to laws but only to the Inquisitors. Here over 100 processes on the inquisition took place, a rather large number for a very small town not reaching 500 inhabitants at the time. Very repressive town in those days.

Things to see here are Cerro de los Cubos at a height of 994 meters with the remains of an Arab/moor fortification.  Wonderful Church of Our Lady of the Assomption or Iglesia de Nuestra Senora de la Asunción; the nerf is from the 15C, the tower from the 17C, and the main gate is from the 18C.  Inside there is a major altar and retable in baroque style done in 1957-1959 at  Santiago de Compostela. The nice ornate City Hall , Pósito (goods depot) , and the Chapels of Ermita Nuestra Senora de las Nieves (15C) ,  Ermita de San Antonio Abad (17C-18C),  Ermita de San Miguel Arcángel (17C), and my favorite there (because Valencia monk came to my current area to preached circa 1410-19) the Ermita de San Vicente Ferrer (18C) renovated and now use for civil events ,and the house of the inquisition or Casa de la Inquisición.

Almodovar del Pinar Almodovar del Pinar

A webpage to help you plan your trip here in addition to my blog post:

Castilla la Mancha tourist office on Almodovar del Pinar : http://en.www.turismocastillalamancha.es/patrimonio/almodovar-del-pinar-44131/descripcion/

We come to an even smaller town but very picturesque we saw on the road and decided to come in to. This is Arcas del Villar or simply Arcas now. There are many sites still use Arcas del Villar but the main buildings are in Arcas. It is only 8 km from Cuenca at a height of 959 meters.  You easily reach it from Cuenca on the road N320a and then the local CM 220.  In the municipality including several small towns the highest peak is the  Monte Talayuelo at 1273 meters. It has a mountain pass call La Tórdiga at 1200 meters. The municipality is cross by the San Martin river and has several lakes on the complex Lagunar de Arcas.

The main thing to see here is the Church of Our Lady of the Nativity or Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de la Natividad, Romanesque style dating from the 13C with only one nerf and abside semi circular right in town center.

Arcas del Villar Arcas del Villar

 

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are

Tourist office of Castilla La Mancha on Arcas del Villar: http://en.www.turismocastillalamancha.es/patrimonio/arcas-del-villar-63731/descripcion/

City Hall of Arcas on things to see in Spanish http://www.ayuntamientoarcas.es/turismo/

Now we come to a very historical castle fortress of my beloved Castilla La Mancha and Spain.

The Castle of Garcimuñoz is a very small town of less then 70 folks right along the expressway A-3 Madrid-Valencia at km. 156. It is at 915 meters above sea level and the town is on a descend from it.

The long history which I will try to make much shorter is to follow.

During the Arabs/Moors occupation the place was called Al-Marg Hamal. In  1177,king Alfonso VIII conquered the town of  Cuenca, and two years later takes over the place of now Garciamunoz after also taken Zafra de Záncara.  The castle took the name from a knight García Muñoz, that accompanied the king and this was confirmed in various documents of the period such as in 1167 ,and twice in 1179).​ García Muñoz  was name mayor of the Castle in charge of the population and it is for this reason that it was known with the name of castle Garcimuñoz.  The town was re populated by ordered of the king with folks from  Extremadura  and Burgos.  Later on, king Alfonso VIII took Alarcon in 1184 and made the castle belong to its jurisdiction for 138 years.

During the many wars amongst the kingdoms of Spain ; in 1296 king Jaime II of Aragon starts a war to take over some places belonging to Don Juan Manuel; this later claims they were taken in haze and ask to be returned to him. One of the compensation was Alarcon and several other villages, he obtained from the regent queen Maria de Molina priviledges given at Cuéllar in 1297 , that ,also confirm the treaty of Torrellas of 1304. Thereafter ,for most of his life Don Juan Manuel lived in the castle of Garcimuñoz, in one of the towers he kept his fortune according to his will and where he wrote many of his literary works. Probably, it is here that his daughter Constanza (wife of king Pedro I of Portugal), was born and later died in Santarem in 1345 leaving one son Fernando that later would be king of Portugal as Fernando I.

Here comes a central figure in the history of this area and Spain, Don Juan Pacheco ordered built a new fortress at Garcimuñoz  in 1456 on top of the previous fortress of Don Juan Manuel ( when the cemetery was transfered here in 1974 due to excavation later in 2008,  you can see the lower level of the old fortress built by Don Juan Manuel. The son of Don Juan Pacheco, Diego López Pacheco, was opposed to the ruling of Isabel I or Isabel la Católica, together with the archbishop of  Toledo Don Alfonso Carrillo. The war of succession was on after the death of king Enrique IV  in which towns such as Garcimuñoz, the last remnants of the marquis of Villena falls to the infanta Isabel.  In 1480  it is signed at Belmonte  the concordat with the Catholic kings and with this ends the war  as well as the fighting utility of the castle of Garcimuñoz.

Until the first third of the 19C, the marquis of Villena are the lords of the castle and town and in charge of collecting taxes . The law of 1823 ends the lordships and the charge of taxes passing to tribunal courts or governement treasury; this cause the Marquis of Villena to sell the castle or Castillo de Garcimuñoz.

Some things to see here are: On the side of this castle on a cut of it, was started to built in 1663 a Church or Iglesia de San Juan Bautista (St John the Baptist) and opened in 1708. The stones and towers of the castle were used to built the Church and were the cause of the destruction of most of the castle; however thanks to the Church we have a castle stil today.  The patio was rented to the local priest for a cemetery as it was then prohibited to buried folks in Churches.

The Castle is really it here and a must to visit easy off the A3 road. The walls of it are 3 meters thick and built to resist the attack of artillery of the times. On the lower level, it is reinforced with a slope making it difficult to conquered it. The form is square irregular and its corners are reinforce with circular cubes. On the north side you have the main entrance tower or Torre del Homenaje; these towers has a dome in bricks and crown with casements and ample space to move artillery.In its heydays had two levels, one the lowel level had a patio with anti lighting crosses and on the second level on the northeast side had five gothic windows in the form of a Cross.

The windows of the first and second level shows that part of the castle had a palace aspect. The first floor windows have three centers and the middle inverse. There is a ornamental arc that is closed with a crown below it and in the center the Royal arms of king Enrique IV of Castile . The castle is peculiar because below it ordered built in 1458 there another where Don Juan Manule lived and in turn it is the continuation of the one lived by Garcia Muñoz , of which one day was destroyed by  the Caliph Yusuf  in his conquest of 1172 against the town of Huete.

Garcimunoz Garcimunoz

Other things to see are:  the Cross of Jorge Manrique built in 1941. it is about 3 km from the town on the way to Nava ,the place where supposely felled fatally wounded the poet Jorge Manrique in 1479. it is built from shisel stone from the Cathedral of Cuenca and it is the place to return after the procession of the Virgin. You can read in the monument: Here felled fatally wounded Jorge Manrique, fighting for the unity of Spain. It has two shields on each side and in the center an iron cross. At the foot is a deposit where the coplas song of Jorge Manrique amongst them the “A la muerte de su Padre”  to the death of his Father, today there is only a hole left.

The town also, had an hospital.  After in 1834 evicting the monks and in 1835 the sisters there was a hospital for the poor with land reaching to the castle of  Garcimuñoz  as well as two convents.  The hospital of Our Lady of the Conception or hospital de Nuestra Señora de la Concepción was founded by the parish priest in 1640.  The convent or convento de frailes de San Agustín (of monks of St Augustine) was founded by Don Juan Manuel in 1236 , and still preserve the abside of the Church in gothic style and the walls of the cloister. The convent or  convento de monjas agustinas, also known as Nuestra Señora de Gracia was founded in the 15C and restored in 1500 ; it is still in good condition inhabited by 8 families in the town.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are

Association to safekeep the castle not oficial in Spanish : http://www.castillogarcimunoz.es/

Tourist office of Castilla La Mancha: http://en.www.turismocastillalamancha.es/patrimonio/castillo-de-garcimunoz-20731/descripcion/

There you go another nice local sublime historical ride on my Castilian plains of my beloved Spain. Hope you enjoy the ride, and history for always.

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

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June 16, 2018

My travels in the Morbihan, LXVI

Here I am on a Saturday afternoon, my errands are done and time for World Cup football/soccer on TV. The day has been cloudy, and fine rain for a while then stop it is supposed to be like that tomorrow too. We have run into some flooding over in Seine et Marne our family area ,and for the first time in 40 years ,the village was flooded!!!

We are still searching for places to go, I have a run at Paris on the 19 June and then possible friends visits in Nantes weekend of the 23-24, another one in Guérande, and that is about all . In July, I am for the Philippines but not set yet. Time goes on without my beloved dear late wife Martine. As said, she was the organizer to go places and it is missed.

In my ongoing posts to tell the world of everyday life in my belle France away from the tourists and fancy places of our beloved country, I have set out to tell you how is life here ,really for a normal family. No clichés as life here is as anywhere else. I know lived in 6 countries and many regions and average a home every five years!!!

We got up this morning waiting for the nurse to come in for my father, yes here they come to your house. He is going on 83 and with diabetes so needs to control it. He is ok. He is independent still and love it! Once the nurse came and went ,we set out with him in tow by car.

My son had already gone out in his scooter to get us the baguette breads so essential here can’t have breakfast without it and not even lunch or dinner lol! From our town city hall webpage the boulangerie Tual in city center pl Saint Michel: Boulangerie Tual Pluvigner

First stop , the bank to drop off some papers in Auray, quick turnaround. The bank is out of the old town zone. Then ,we continue to Electro Depot in Vannes to get some external hard drive for my sons games etc. Very nice Verbatim done deal. The boys walking in photo.  The store chain is very good on prices good guaranties, and good service indeed.  Here is the webpage: Electro Depot Vannes

 

We got on to get me some computer ink for the printer at my favorite office supply store here, Bureau Vallée in Vannes. Always available, cheaper than most or all places and good service. Here is the webpage: Bureau Vallee Vannes

 

We got back into the big complex of E Leclerc hypermarché in Vannes. Here we put gas, diesel now at 1,414€  a liter or about 5,34 € a US Gallon (about 6,21 US Dollars), and yes gas has always been more expensive here but can’t  go around on gas/petrol alone::) Comparing that in my previous country of  Miramar, Broward county, Florida USA the diesel is at 3,19 USD or about 2.75 € today exchange rate. My full tank came to 51 euros!

We went with the boys to browse at the Centre Culturel Leclerc inside the shopping center, and then we did our groceries. IN the time, we  purchase the Father’s Day gifts as it is Tomorrow Sunday June 17 in France. It has an unique webpage for the books, dvd, cd, etc section here: Centre culturel Leclerc

Vannes

I got my usual wish , always good bottles of Bordeaux wines with the nostalgia that these properties we had visited with my late wife Martine over the years on several occasion and are our favorites.  I got some underwear t-shirts for my father as he likes them for wearing all day.

Finally, we did our groceries. E Leclerc Hypermarché is an experience like not anywhere. This is huge and it has everything for the house from clothing,to appliances, entertainment, garden, you name it and it is all here in one stop shopping.  The webpage is here: E Leclerc Vannes

Vannes

Now , let me tell you, this is World Cup Russia 2018 on football/Soccer, we are fanatics yes… and me played even at low professional league levels in USA and France (Yvelines dept 78). My team if you read my blog is the Real Madrid FC forever Hala Madrid!!! (Played Benjamin for it in Madrid in the 70’s). Then, as National team well then it gets complicated. Having lived and citizen of four countries when competitions like these come around choosing is hard. At this World Cup , I have two sentimental teams, my beloved blood country Spain and my marriage adopted country of France. Spain started out brilliant 3X3 vs Portugal (current European Champions) ,and they are off to good after some troublesome coaching moves (but very strategic for my club) . France just finished their first game wining barely 2X1 vs Australia!

Spain is in group B with Portugal, Iran, and Morocco. and France is in group C with Australia, Peru,and Denmark. The official FIFA World cup webpage is here: FIFA World Cup Russia 2018

We will continue to follow the Cup until the big finale July 15 2018. May the best win,,,,,nahh which is my team, won’t tell you ho ho ho!!!   Enjoy it

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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June 16, 2018

A nostalgic look back on Alarcon!

A nostalgic look back on Alarcon, indeed.  I have heard of this town, but never visited, always continuing on towards Valencia and the Mediterranean in younger days and with the family just the big towns. On one of our summer runs to Spain, decided to see smaller towns of my beloved Spain, so the turn came for Alarcon. It was memorable indeed.

Alarcon is in the province of Cuenca in the Castilla La Mancha autonomous community about 87 km from Cuenca, the capital of the province.  Alarcon sits on a rocky hill almost completely encircled by a loop of the river Jùcar. In the 8C an Arab fortress was built on the promontory above the river, a useful defensive position. Stone walls and 5 turrets surround the castle of Alarcon. One of these turrets sits right on the river and enabled the inhabitants to draw fresh water even during a siege. After a long occupation by the Moors the castle was taken by the Castilians during the Reconquest in 1184 following a nine-month siege. As well as the castle admire the main square with its old town hall and the 16C San Juan Bautista Church and stroll through the medieval streets. The church houses some excellent murals by Jesus Mateo. The Santa Maria church is a lovely Renaissance church.

My previous blog post on Alarcon here: The castle and old Alarcon

The only drawback we had is as we were pressed for time, the wait at the restaurant was too long and the reception not to Spanish standards of welcoming. The rest was wonderful, history, architecture, old , just what I like.

The history of Alarcón is governed by its role as a stronghold; however, the castle is not the town’s only precious heritage: it also claims a rich architectural variety, both religious (the Churches of Santo Domingo de Silos, San Juan Bautista, the Santa Trinidad, and Santa María del Campo, as well as the Hermitage of Santa María de la Orden), and civil (the town hall, the House of Villena, and the Castañeda Palace).

Castle of Alarcon, is of Muslim origin, this medieval fortress was constructed in the 8C and conquered by King Alfonso VIII in 1184. The castle sits atop a promontory inside a bend of the Júcar River, creating a formidable stronghold whose battlements provide an impressive view to the border with Valencia. The keep, built around 1460 by Castilian nobleman Juan Pacheco, serves as the fortress’s trademark feature. The historical figure Juan Manuel, Prince of Villena, who wrote the Tales of Count Lucanor, once lived within the castle walls. It opened its doors as a parador hotel in 1966.

Alarcon

Parador de Alarcon old castle  http://www.parador.es/en/paradores/parador-de-alarcon

Church of Santo Domingo de Silos, This is a 13C church built in the late Romanesque style. Of the original structure, both the semicircular apse in the nave and the southern portal have been preserved. The portal’s splayed arch consists of three colonnettes per door jamb, capped by pointed proto-Gothic archivolts. In the 16C, the square tower and the walls of the nave were built following Renaissance designs, while the Baroque period saw the modification of the ceiling with a ribbed barrel vault. Today the church has been adapted for use as an exhibition hall and auditorium.

Art Center – The Murals of Alarcón; Old Church of San Juan Bautista. The current structure dates from the 16C as a replacement of the previous Romanesque building. It has a single nave covered with a barrel vault, a portal in the Herrerian style, and a tower that remains from the original church. Buttresses stabilize the lateral walls; however, contrary to custom, they are located in the interior and thus divide the space into smaller areas that serve as tiny chapels. In 1994, the young Spanish painter Jesús Mateo began the project of covering the totality of the old structure in a set of mural paintings. it is considered one of the greatest examples of contemporary art worldwide.

Alarcon

Church of the Santa Trinidad . This Church comprises two naves, dating from the 13C and 16C respectively, although the vault in the older nave was built in the 15C. Of note are its pointed ribbed side arches, its chancel arch, and its Renaissance altar. The original Romanesque apse, circular in form, has been replaced by the current rectangular one. The portal is typically Plateresque; it bears the coats of arms of the Marquis of Villena, and of his contemporary, Bishop. The Church tower stands on a portal known as the arco de la villa (town gate).

Alarcon

Church of Santa María del Campo .This Church presently serves as a parish Church. Erected at the beginning of the 16C, it was constructed in the Plateresque style and features Gothic tracery in the vault. The portal dates from the middle of the same century and was built by Esteban Jamete (born Etienne Jamet) of Orléans, who is also supposed to have made the altarpiece with scenes from the life of the Virgin Mary, as well as the sacristy.

Alarcon

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here in addition to my blog post are

A wordpress site been use as city hall on tourist info by a local in Spanish: http://www.aytoalarcon.es/

Castilla La Mancha tourist office on Alarcon in English: http://en.www.turismocastillalamancha.es/patrimonio/alarcon-44031/descripcion/

Hope it helps to bring you out to the deep Spain, the soul of the Spanish people , travel to know and you will know why more travel is needed.

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

 

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