Archive for August 14th, 2018

August 14, 2018

Puerta del Sol, Madrid!

And here I present you a real beauty of a square, if it were not for Cibeles, and Mayor, this would be my favorite. No more waiting, this is the gate to the sun ooops meant Puerta del Sol in my beloved Madrid.

I spent many childhoods days here first with my dear late mother Gladys and later bringing my family ,and my dear late wife Martine love it with me, especially the churros nearby ! The boys love it too, and it has become a must stop each time in Madrid, that thanks God has been many times in my life time. If you read my blog you know why.

I have made several references to it in many of my previous posts on Madrid, so do search in my blog for more. From Madrid to heaven and a hole in the sky to look down on it every day. De Madrid al Cielo y un hueco en él para mirarla todos los dias.

This is the place I came to get abanicos (fans) for my mother and umbrellas, the early purchases at Calle Preciados for Galerias Preciados (today part of El Corte Inglés same spot), and the Churros at the Pasadizo de San Ginés street for Chocolateria San Ginés good then and now an institution for locals and visitors alike. The wonderful discothéque (before community theater in my days in the city) Joy Eslava off Puerta del  Sol and Calle Arenal. The choco San Ginés webpage here: Chocolateria San Ginés

And disco Joy Eslava : Joy Eslava

Let me tell you a bit more on the magical Puerta del Sol. Some of the emblematis symbols you should look for here are

Statue of the Bear and the Strawberry tree ( Madroño) under the billboard of Tío Pepe, at the beginning of Calle Alcalá, you will find the statue of the symbol of Madrid. It was created in 1967 and is one of the most popular meeting points in Madrid. In front of the building of the old Hotel Paris (no 1, where was the panel of Tio Pepe), later transferred to the beginning of Calle Carmen and relocated in its original place in 2009.  The panel of  Tio Pepe located at no 1 until 2011, when it was retired, and repositioned in no, 11 in 2014



The Clock of the Post Office House, (Relog en la Casa de Correos) . The clock was built and donated in the 19C by José Rodríguez de Losada, and whose 12 bells ringing the night of December 31 mark the traditional taking of the twelve grapes by the vast majority of the Spaniards, saying good bye to the Old Year and welcoming the New Year with a wish. It has been televised  since 1962. The Post Office House (Casa de Correos)  was built by the French architect Jaime Marquet between 1766 and 1768; It was subsequently  home to the Ministry of the Interior in 1847 and Directorate General of State Security during the Franco era and, currently, is the seat of the presidency of the community of Madrid.


Kilometer zero: Starting point of the Spanish radial routes. It is indicated on the ground from which all roads in Spain are measure.

The Mariblanca located at the Puerta del Sol  between 1630 and 1838 crowned the Fountain of the Mariblanca, (aka Fuente de la Fé, Fuente del Buen Suceso , Fuente de Venus or Diana, Fuente de las Arpias or first ornamental fountain (Fuente)  of the Puerta del Sol. In the last third of the 20C a smaller copy was made that since 1986 has had different emplacements at the Puerta del Sol, while the original moved from the Paseo de Recoletos, in which it was from 1969, to the vestibule of the Casa de la  Villa , after its restoration in 1985.


The last element added, in 1994, is the equestrian statue of king Carlos III. It is a bronze reproduction of Juan Pascual de Mena’s work that is preserved in the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando. The spiral inscription surrounding the pedestal briefly describes the history of the reign of Carlos III. The monument is nine meters high. As a curiosity, it should be noted that an electronic device was installed in it to keep the pigeons from resting on it continually.


A bit of history I like

The Puerta del Sol was in its origins one of the accesses of the ramparts that surrounded Madrid in the 15C. This wall gathered in its perimeter the medieval suburbs that had grown outside the walls, around the Christian wall of the 12C. The name of the gate comes from a sun that adorned the entrance, placed there to be facing the gate to the Levant. Among the buildings that gave it prestige in the beginnings was the Church del Buen Suceso  and Church of San Felipe el Real (both now gone). The Puerta del Sol is surrounded by fourteen buildings. From the same time dates the measurement of 635.50 meters above the average sea level of Alicante.

In 1986 a new reform came that gave more importance to the pedestrian zone. The streetlights installed on the occasion of this remodeling, were popularly nicknamed as the suppositories and provoked a great controversy due to its modern design. Finally they were replaced by the current style lanterns fernandians or Fernandino, although in the two central posts of the square the suppositories survived some years more, to be unified a few years later with those of the rest of the square.

The Puerta del Sol area corresponding to the Calle Mayor, that occupies the Casa Cordero (no gone) , on its first floor was known the Great Bazaar of the Union (Gran Bazar de la Union) (now gone) ,where objects were sold at fixed prices. This Grand Bazaar was the first large retail establishment that would lead to department stores. At the end of the 20C, establishments such as the El Corte Inglés  were expanding their area of influence from the Calle Preciados to reach the lower levels of the north of the square. At the beginning of the 21C, the traditional shops that were at the Puerta del Sol have been disappearing to give way to franchises, gambling halls, fast food restaurants and other more impersonal and cold establishments. However, the centenary cafeteria-Patiseria La Mallorquina, located in the area between the Calle Mayor and Calle Arenal, just off the Puerta del Sol, and also the area where the lotteries shops traditionally are. Still preserved  today are the  fans and umbrellas shop Casa Diego (founded in the 18C). More on Diego here: Casa Diego

La Mallorquina: La Mallorquina

El Corte Inglés Preciados Callao: El Corte Inglés

The 10 streets that are out of the Puerta del Sol in clockwise direction from the Calle de Alcalà are Calle de Alcalá, Carrera de San Jerónimo, Calle Espoz y Mina, Calle de las Carretas, Calle del Correo, Calle Mayor, Calle del Arenal, Calle de Preciados, Calle del Carmen, and Calle de la Montera. The transports here is very good with metro Sol lines 1, and 2. Also local trains Cercanias  C-3 and C-4. The station has been converted by its dimensions in the largest in the World with 28 meters deep, 207 meters in length and 20 meters wide. Its lobby is 7500 m². The entrance to the inter connecting station, similar to an igloo, has changed the physiognomy of the Puerta del Sol again. All around heavens in Madrid!!!


Some events and trivia on this very Madrilena square:

The Puerta del Sol has also experienced some important events for the history of Spain, such as the proclamation of the Second Republic in 1931.

Some films of note on my taste showing bits of the Puerta del Sol were El misterio de la Puerta del Sol (mystery of the gate of the sun), by Francisco Elías Riquelme in 1929, considered as the first movie with sound of Spanish cinema. Km. 0, a light comedy of love, intrigues and Spanish erotism from 2000. The main line of the story is the  Madroño symbol of Madrid at the Puerta del Sol. In theater you have the play La Celosa (jealous one) of famous Tirso de Molina. Also a Spanish operetta or very Spanish call Zarzuelas, this one El  último tranvía (the last tramway) by  Ricardo Blasco.

In Literature, we have Luces de Bohemia (lights of Bohemia) from 1924 of Valle Inclán. The novel by Benito Pérez Galdós, Fortunata y Jacinta of 1886-87, the main carácter Juanito Santacruz lived at the Puerta del Sol and it recounts stories of the Gran Bazar de la Union. The dramaturges Jerónimo López Mozo in his work of El arquitecto y el relojero (the architect and the watchmaker) from 2000 has a story on the Casa de Correos house as well as the surrounding áreas of the Puerta del Sol. Also, the La conquista de la Puerta del Sol (conquest of the gate to the sun) by Emilio Carrere. In music, the scene given on the song Un Ano Màs (one more year) by Mecano. And finally, on my favorites is the painting of the Charge of the Mamalukes(mamluks sp?)  La Carga de los Mamelucos (or 2 de Mayo 1808) by  Francisco de Goya.

The tourist office of Madrid has some more on the Puerta del Sol : Madrid on the Puerta del Sol

The Comunidad de Madrid tourism on Puerta del Sol in Spanish: Province of Madrid on Puerta del Sol

And a bit more on Spain ‘s tourist office in English: Spain on the Puerta del Sol

So you get the idea? You need to be here, if you say you were in Madrid ok. And let me know, never mind getting info from my Madrid. I still have cousins in Aluche and niece in on the road to Toledo, but never mind, nothing is enough on Madrid and the Puerta del Sol is where the Sun’s Gate! And as in Spain , everything under the Sun, tourism slogan from the 80’s.

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

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August 14, 2018

Cathedral St Pierre et St Paul , Nantes!

And I continue with my in depth tour, of things that I have posted before in a general sense of a city, I feel that they deserve a single entry on their own. So here I am with Nantes a wonderful city in the Loire Atlantique dept 44 part of the region of Pays de la Loire, but sentimentally attach to Bretagne/Brittany!

I like to tell you about a wonderful Church Cathedral with lots of architecture and history inside. You can always do search in my blog ot find more about Nantes. Here is the latest entry on the Cathedrale de Saint Pierre et Saint Paul.

The Cathedral of St. Peter and St. Paul , has some remarkable features, such as the presence of a well inside the building. In the past, water was to be fetch from this well in the Cathedral. To build the base of the pillars, granite, sturdier and more resistant to moisture than the Tufa stone, was used. The black spots are not due to the fire of  1972 but to the upwelling of the water. .  St. Peter and St. Paul’s Cathedral (also locally known as St. Peter’s Cathedral   It is the Cathedral of the Diocese of Nantes, seat of the  Bishop of Nantes.


The site would have been initially occupied by a Druidic temple dedicated to Janus or “Bouljanus. Subsequently, three Christian religious buildings preceded the present Cathedral on the same premises:  A basilica built in the 4C, A first Cathedral, built in the current of the century and a second Romanesque Cathedral, built in the 11C. The current Cathedral is built on the site of the latter, gradually absorbing it.


The construction of the present Cathedral is under the impetus of the Duke of Brittany Jean V and Bishop Jean de Malestroit, who lay the first stone in 1434. The central gate that adorns the façade is completed in 1481, for the great masses. King Henri IV crossed it in 1598, when she passed through Nantes to sign the Edict of Tolerance or Nantes.   If the façade was completed at the end of the 15C, the towers were only in 1508; The nave and the collateral were also done at the beginning of the 16C, but the Gothic vault of the nave, the southern arm of the transept and the buttresses were completed in the 17C .


During the French revolution, the Cathedral was used as a military observation post at the Siege of Nantes in 1793. A 10-meters-high wooden tower is built on the south tower, and surveillance is ensured by means of a telescope. Military decisions are made based on the information obtained here. During this period, it was transformed into an arsenal and a stable, then a departmental decree of 1794 formally devotes it to the celebration of public feasts The cathedral is threatened with destruction in 1796, and it is envisaged to extend the Rue du Département (now Rue du Roi-Albert) straight line to the Rue Brutus ( now Rue Prémion) facing the castle. The intervention, as an expert, by Mathurin-Julien Grolleau, avoids the destruction of the Cathedral.

The demolition of the walls to the east of the city allowed the completion of the Cathedral in the 19C;: the north arm of the transept and the bedside were undertaken in 1840, the old Romanesque choir was shot down from 1876 and the old tower of the transept crusader in 1886. The Chandeliers of the nave are made around 1870. After 457 years of work, the Cathedral was finally inaugurated on 25 December 1891 by Mgr le Coq.

A bit of a description

The cathedral has the following dimensions:  A height:of 63 meters, interior mength: 103 meters; height of the nave under vaults: 37.5 meters. The facade of the Cathedral of Nantes is framed by two quite massive towers, at the top on the terrace. It presents some remarkable peculiarities, such as the presence of an external pulpit intended to preach to the crowds assembled on the square, or the organization in five gates to the richly decorated covings, three central and two lateral. The portals are dedicated, from north to south, to the affluent children (the Donatien and Rogatien martyrs), to Saint Peter, to the Last Judgement, to Saint Paul and finally to Saint Yves; The sculptures of the covings have a historiography function, depending on the character to which the portal is dedicated.

Nantes nantes

In the Crypt is an 11C Romanesque crypt dating from the time of the second Cathedral. Endowed with pillars, it reveals the origins of Romanesque architecture. Objects of worship are exhibited there: Ciboriums, chalices, censers. A Crypt of Bishops, evokes the Bishops of Nantes by their tomb. Below, four open rooms of the 19C retrace the history of the Cathedral. he great Organ the documents testify to the presence of an organ in the Cathedral as early as the 15C, when the building was erected. The organ at the origin of the present instrument is the work of Jacques Girardt for the central part and dates from 1619. Ordinary ceremonies are usually accompanied by the choir organ, also known as the “small organ”, which is nevertheless the largest accompaniment organ of France. Completed by Louis Debiere in 1897.

Nantes Nantes


PS. I have notice many views on this post and for reason. Just this morning July 18 2020 ,there was a fire at the Cathedral for now malicious intention is the way to go, with three different fires. Luckily , the fireman came in quickly and the fire was put out. Nevertheless the beautiful organs in above picture is gone completely burned as well as a portrait of the 17C. The Fondation du Patrimoine or heritage foundation has started a collection of funds to rebuild the organs. Webpage here:  Heritage foundation on Cathedral of Nantes

A must to see inside the Cathedral of Nantes.

It is possible to admire the tomb and the recumbents of Duke Francis II of Brittany and his wife Marguerite de Foix (parents of Anne of Brittany) executed at the beginning of the 16C. Considered a masterpiece of French sculpture, it establishes a link between the eras (from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance) and the regions (the Italian style meets and harmoniously blends with the French style). This marble tomb, took five years to achieve (1502-1507), is decorated with the Twelve Apostles and four women who represent strength, prudence, temperance, and justice. It is installed in the Cathedral in 1817. The Cathedral also houses the Cenotaph of General de Lamoricière, a monument erected in 1878 in papal homage to the services rendered by this child of the wealthy country.


Nantes Nantes

Events of note with the Cathedral are

It is in front of the Cathedral, place Saint-Pierre, that Nicolas Fouquet was arrested by d’Artagnan on September 5, 1661 by order of king Louis XIV. After having built Vaux-le-Vicomte and after some accusations of mishandling of money and jealousy

This monument is served by line 4 of the Busway de Nantes at the station “Foch-Cathedral” in public transport. More here:

OR Parking Cathedrale at Rue Sully, Parking here:

Some additional webpages to help you plan your trip here and visit is a must to this wonderful Cathedral are

There you go, do visit this city ,you will be glad and do come over the West always better ::)

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

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