Archive for August 17th, 2018

August 17, 2018

Basilica of Our Lady of Miracles, Mayenne!

 

And in my continuing saga to showcase the very best, traditional and off the beaten track of my belle France, I bring you another beauty.

The city of Mayenne is one that I had to passed many times on my way to Paris from my beautiful Morbihan Breton. Eventually, I stop by for a drink or snack in town by the Mayenne river, and finally, came for a visit with the family . It was a nice moment indeed and was impressed by the Basilica , the reason of this post.

I like for reference but my previous blog post on the general family visit to Mayenne here: Mayenne old Pays de la Loire

The Basilique Notre Dames des Miracles or Basilica of Our Lady of Miracles is right by the Mayenne river and a must see in town. We like it even more than the old castle by the same river.

Mayenne

The Basilica of Our Lady of Miracles (Basilique Notre Dame des Miracles) in Mayenne is a composite building of the 12C, 16C and 19C in the city center of Mayenne, on the right bank of the Mayenne river. Mayenne is in department Mayenne no 53 of the region of Pays de la Loire. Easy to come here with a train station connects to Paris and by road the A81 from Rennes or the N12 from Paris are very good and many times taken by yours truly. Some estimated distances from nearby cities are 30 km from Laval, 45 km from Fougères, 65 km from Alençon, 100 km from Rennes and Le Mans, 110 km from Angers, 120 km from Caen, 180 km from Nantes, and 250 km from Paris.

Mayenne

Mayenne

The original Church was built in 1110 to replace a small oratory dedicated to Sainte Anne. It is mentioned for the first time in 1124 in a charter of Juhel I of Mayenne under the name of the Church of St. Mary. At about 1119, the Church was owned by priest of the Diocese of Le Mans, which at the time depended on the Mayenne. It is described as “in the form of a cross, composed only of a nave, chancel and vaults.” The priest partially handed it to Bishop Hildebert of Lavardin who invested in a religious order of the abbey of Marmoutier and before that of the parish of Saint Martin of Mayenne. The other part is ceded to a priest named John. The’ Church is plundered four times by the protestants during the Wars of religion , and during the French Revolution, the priest Louis-René Lefebvre de Cheverus refuses to take an oath (to the Constitution and not to God), just as his nephew, Vicar of the parish, the future Cardinal Jean Lefebvre de Cheverus . The Church became a temple of reason and then is used as a temple and the revolutionary Commission sat there. The cult is restored in 1803. The Church is erected in minor Basilica by an Apostolic Brief of May 15, 1900.

Mayenne

A bit on the architecture and things to see

The forecourt of the Basilica is endowed with a monumental staircase overlooked by a statue of Joan of Arc, which was inaugurated in 1896. The interior of the primitive Church has still preserved the central part of its façade, the pillars and the arcades of the nave and the gravestones of the Merovingian’s. The vaults of the nave and the transept, which are 14 meters high, are from the 15C, while the aisles are additions of the middle of the 17C. The choir, which is 22 meters high, was built between 1864 and 1890. Inspired by the Cathedral of Le Mans, under the nave, the crypt contains four Chapels.

Mayenne

During the bombardment of 8 June 1944, all the stained glass windows of the basilica were shattered as such, three 16C canopies, the prophet Jeremiah, the Prophet Solomon and the Coronation of the Virgin, due to Simon and David de Heemsee, glass painters of Flemish origin, established in Moulay from 1543 to 1567. The stained glass windows due to the master glassmaker Charles Champigneulle fils (1853-1905) from Paris.   The present stained glass windows were designed by Maurice Rocher, a glass master from the town of Evron, and made by the Barillet workshops of Paris. They were laid between 1952 and 1962. In the lower part of the stained glass of Saint Bernard, two famous Cistercian abbeys of the department are represented: Clermont and Fontaine Daniel. You should not leave the interior of the Basilica without detailing the composite architecture (mainly 15C 19C) and some curious elements: the representation of the miraculous statue of Notre Dame and the altar-front turned into a lintel to the arms of the Bazoges family .

Mayenne

The Basilica Church contains a statuette representing Our Lady of Miracles. Dating from the 16C, it was given to sisters of the city around 1630 by an anonymous rider with the message “weep, but hope”. First preserved in the Chapel of the Calvairiennes where donations helped the Religious order, it was preserved by the family Lemesnager during the French revolution and then given to the Church in 1897. It has been the subject of great devotion until the 21C.

Mayenne

Hope you have enjoy the ride. Some webpages to help you plan your trip to this part of inland beautiful France are

A bit of info on the city of Mayenne in French : https://www.mairie-mayenne.fr/53_mayenne_decouvrir-la-ville_un-peu-d-histoire_la-basilique-notre-dame.phtml

Tourist office of the Mayenne in English: http://www.mayenne-tourisme.com/en/Discover/Towns-and-villages-of-character/Mayenne

Region pays de la loire on the Mayenne in French: https://www.enpaysdelaloire.com/sites-de-visite-incontournables/5-curiosites-de-musees-a-decouvrir

It is a nice Basilica amongst the many in my belle France. And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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August 17, 2018

The Atomium and Mini Europe of Brussels!

Well the historical architecturally curious in me and my boys daring choices took me a bit out of Brussels to reach Heysel. The area is full of attractions that can keep you for a day or more alone. We came for the Atomium and other goodies such as the Mini Europe park a while back.

Brussels

Of course, I have written before but need to give you more anyway me think. Here is my previous blog post on the atomium. The Atomium of Brussels

And my previous blog post on the Mini Europe park: Mini Europe Park Brussels

Let me tell you a bit more on each shall we, love it.

The Atomium in Brussels was built on the occasion of the Universal Exhibition of 1958 and to represent the conventional mesh of iron crystal enlarged 165 billion times. It is located in Laeken on the plateau of Heysel where this exhibition took place back then.

Brussels

It is a building halfway between sculpture and architecture that culminates at 102 meters. Its steel construction weighs 2 400 tons.It consists of a steel frame with nine interconnected spheres and originally coated with aluminum. The spheres have a diameter of 18 meters and each weigh about 250 tons. Symbolically, the Atomium embodies the audacity of an era that wanted to confront mankind’s destiny with scientific discoveries. Of the nine spheres, six are made accessible to the public, each with two main floors and a lower floor reserved for the service. The central Tube contains the fastest elevator/lift of the time It allows 22 people to reach the top in 23 seconds. The escalators installed in the oblique tubes are among the longest in Europe. The largest measure is 35 m long.

Brussels

The Atomium, designed to last six months, was not destined to survive the 1958 Universal exhibition, but its popularity and success made it a major part of the Brussels landscape. The Atomium, on the threshold of the 21C, had a tarnished aspect, it was strongly degraded by the work of time, its external sealing became inefficient and the interior elements of decoration and furniture to the tune of the 1950’s very outdated. Only the structure could be kept. In 2001, the renovation project was finally launched thanks to a partnership between the Belgian federal state, the Brussels-Capital region and Brussels-City. The renovation was initiated in March 2004 and ended in February 2006.

Brussels

The original aluminum cover has been replaced by a new, more durable stainless steel, which, on the other hand, is suitable for a symbolic iron monument. Each sphere was originally covered by approximately 720 aluminum triangles. All have been replaced, for each sphere, by 48 large stainless steel triangles. In addition, these new plates are more resistant than the old ones.   Of the six spheres accessible to the public, the basic sphere is reserved for the permanent exhibition devoted to the 1950’s, the Universal Exhibition and the construction of the Atomium. Another one hosts temporary exhibitions, a third with a versatile vocation allows the organisation of various animations, films, concerts, festivals or conferences. In the central sphere, a bar and in the upper sphere, in addition to the Panorama, a restaurant and very nice views indeed. The sixth sphere is the children’s ball, intended for the organization of urban pedagogy workshops, allowing children from six to twelve years to spend the night.

Brussels

The restaurant is super , more here on it: The Atomium Restaurant

There is a celebration for the Atomium 60 years; a temporary extension to the permanent exhibition will be of interest to the people who visited Expo 58, which was held from April 17 to October 19 1958 . Many vintage photographs and videos, mostly unpublished, will be offered at this expo “People of 58”. The ADAM Museum, located a few steps from the Atomium, will house two exhibitions that will also return to the Universal exhibition. More on this event here: 60 years celebrations of the Atomium

To get here you the metro line 6 on the last stop is Heysel or the tramway line 7,either ones put you within a short walk of the Atomium.

Some further webpages to help you plan your trip to the Atomium are

Official Atomium webpage

City of Brussels on the Atomium

Tourist office of Brussels on the Atomium

Brussels

from Atomium, kinepolis, heysel stadium and mini Europe!

The Heysel area has many other nice places that could be a whole day or more and an alternative staying base. Other attractions that require a lot of space including the Mini-Europe theme park, the Kinepolis cinema complex (28 screens and IMAX) and a water park with slides and pools are all in the area. Just down the road is also the Chinese Pavilion and Japanese Tower. We went to the Mini Europe park with the boys

Mini-Europe is a miniature park located in Bruparck at the foot of the Atomium in Brussels. The park presents reproductions of the most famous monuments of the European Union at a scale of 1/25. About 80 cities and 350 monuments are exhibited. The park contains many animations (train, windmills, eruption of Vesuvius, Airbus, self guided trucks, etc). At the end of the course an interactive exhibition “Spirit of Europe” presents the European Union in the form of interactivities and games. The park is built on 24 000 m2. Prince Philippe of Belgium inaugurates the park on June 1, 1989. The most popular monuments are  the Monastery of El Escorial, the Westminster palace , the Nyhavn of Nyhavn, the Grand-Place of Brussels, the Arc de Triomphe of Paris, the Tower of Pisa, the Parthenon and the Brandenburg Gate.

BRussels

BRussels

Brussels

Brussels

Most of the monuments are built by casting. The parts are constructed from various materials and then copied by silicone molding. The final copy is made of epoxy resin (at first) and polyester (currently). The models then are enriched with details such as statues. Three monuments were made of stone (the tower of Pisa and the castle of Chenonceau are made of marble). A new computer-milling technique was used for three models. Then comes the painting on the site of Mini-Europe. Finally, the monument is set up on site with decorations and light. Santiago de Compostela requested more than 24 000 hours of work. Many monuments have been financed by countries or regions of Europe. The gardens have hedges , dwarf trees, bonsai and grafted trees are used near miniature monuments, while classic bushes and flowers decorate the promenade.

Brussels

Brussels

Brussels

Some webpages to help you plan your trip to this mini Europe park are

Mini Europe Park

Tourist office of Brussels on the Mini Europe park

And a site that covers the Atomium, Mini Europe ,and Kinepolis cinema is Bruparck: Bruparck official site

There you go a nice one day or two visit to Heysel, Brussels has never been more filling. Enjoy it

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

 

 

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August 17, 2018

The old castle of Cuenca!

And let me tell you about a nice old ruins overlooking a wonderful view of the city of Cuenca, in Castilla La Mancha, my beloved Spain. This is the remnants of an old castle that is worth a detour.

In the heat ,they tell you to go high for breezes and cooler air, well not here, high is direct sunshine and hot so you are better off getting here early in the mornint or late in the evening. However, do get here, you will love it.

I am talking about the old ruined castle of Cuenca. We came to love this town after staying nearby for a couple times in our trips down to sunny Spain.

A bit of history I like and tell

The castle is located at the top of the city, between the two gorges, and what remains of it is just two cubic constructions, remnants of the walls   and the Bezudo Arch which retains a shield with fleece. It was an Arab/Moors fortress and conquered by king Alfonso VIII in the 12C, the last reform occurred at the time of king Felipe II.

The ruins of the Castillo de Cuenca are located at the top of Cuenca, between the famous Castillo District and the Calle del Trabuco. It was called Calle del Trabuco because it was installed in the Church of San Pedro a lombard or Trunk to defend the city from the attacks of D. Diego Hurtado de Mendoza.

Cuenca

Its origin goes back to the Arabs/Moors to be conquered by king Alfonso VIII in 1177, changing its structure to that of a medieval Christian fortress. In 1325 king Alfonso XI gave it to Don Juan, son of Don Juan Manuel.

Finally, the Catholic Monarchs ordered the demolition, perhaps to end the defensive places of the feudal lords to end up with their intrigues and disloyalties. But above all, his demolition was a symbol of the fall of the power of the Hurtado de Mendoza. And this does not end here The last demolitions the structure suffered was during the Neapolitan invasion.

Today, the ruins of the castle of Cuenca are equipped with stoney square steps stairs by which you can ascend to the highest part of the wall to access the viewpoint with some of the best views of the city to the gorges of the Jùcar river and the Huécar river at the same time. The part of the Huécar River gives us views of the hanging houses (casas colgadas), the bridge of San Pablo (St. Paul) and the Church of St. Paul (San Pablo). While at the other end of the viewpoint we can contemplate the wonderful and refreshing sickle of the Jùcar river along with its well-known Ojos de la Mora (eyes of the moor).

Cuenca

Cuenca

The Arch entry that makes the gate of the castle was baptized as Arch of the brothers Rodríguez   Bezudo, in memory to the death of these in the taking of the city by king Alfonso VI. According to historical accounts, one of them died in the assault on this fortress while the other was named governor. At present you will see a cobbled plaque with the name Arco de Bezudo.

Cuenca

Very close to the Bezudo Arch , in a privileged position on the sickle of the Huécar, one finds what was the prison of the Inquisition becoming later the Provincial prison. Currently, this building is the Provincial Historical archive of Cuenca. In its entrance there is a statue of Fray Luis de León commemorating the four centenary of his death.

 

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are

Tourist Office Castilla La Mancha on castle

Tourist office of Spain on the castle of Cuenca

We had nice souvenirs climbing the steep hilly road the first time to reach this castle to find out there was a parking on top next to it lol! Well we came back ,and parked on top ! Either way is a great walk , again do it on the shade of the day. Enjoy Cuenca as we did and still many nice souvenirs of it.

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

 

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