Archive for November 8th, 2018

November 8, 2018

Villanueva de la Jara, Cuenca province!

So let’s take you back into the countryside of my beloved Spain. Yes ,I know most go to the big cities and some ventures into the popular following places, but Spain is everything under the Sun! On a sunny cool day in my neck of the woods of Morbihan at 11C or about 54F cloudy, and 8C or about 45F foggy in Paris, I like to take you a bit back in time to my lovely Cuenca province.

I have driven and visited and whats not, all over this fabolous region of Castilla La Mancha, and had great memories of it while with my dear late wife Martine and the boys. Many strong souvenirs that will not fade away with time, I promise. Let me tell you a bit more on the wonderful nice country town of Villanueva de la Jara.

Villanueva de la Jara, or commonly called La Jara, is a town in the province of Cuenca, in the autonomous community of Castilla-La Mancha. It belongs to the municipality of Manchuela. It borders of the   Valdemembra river . Besides the main nucleus itself it also comprises the nuclei of houses of Santa Cruz and Ribera de San Benito as villages. It is known for the cultivation of mushrooms which is the main economic activity of the area, as well as different edible fungi.

 Villanueva de la Jara is well connected as it passes through the town the N-320 that goes from Cuenca to Albacete and the N-310 that goes from Villanueva de la Jara to Manzanares, and is 13 kilometers from the. A3 expressway that connects to Madrid and Valencia. All these roads taken several times by yours truly.  By its municipal space, also passes the AVE Madrid-Cuenca-Albacete-Levante.Not taken.

This is a historical town, going back to prehistoric times. However, it is call Villanueva or new town because in 1476 sided with the Queen Isabel I of Castille (The Catholic Queen) in her fight in the war of Succession to the throne she contested with Juana la Beltraneja. She ,Isabel I won, and for allegiance gave the title of City, and built a college of latin ,the first one in the province of Cuenca.

In the Spanish Civil War, it was one of the bases of the leftist Republican Army and of the International Brigades. In Villanueva de la Jara were George Orwell, Willy Brandt and Josip Broz Tito among many others, within the International Brigades, the Comitern and the Lincoln Brigade. On the outskirts of town are some bunkers of what was an aerodrome in wartime.

However, the main thing you should take a detour and visit this town is the Church or Basilica of the Assomption.

The Church or Iglesia Parroquial de la Asuncion holds the title of Basilica . In town it is at Calle Jesùs Casanova s/n. This Church was built with the stones of the old arab castle in the 15C.  Built in ashlar stone, it has a polygonal apse and high-rise buttresses. Built in ashlar stone, it has a polygonal apse and high-rise buttresses.  The high Altar has a beautiful retable on three bodies of golden wood.  You can tell the fortified nature of it from its walled ramparts of arab origin and rebuilt as a wall in the 16C. You see next to it, three slabs with circular towers all that is left of the castle of Villanueva. It was very nice inside with the best Chapels such as Capilla  la de la Inmaculada Concepción, altar style from the gothic to the renaissance, Capilla de la Virgen del Rosario, nice dome, and the Capilla de la Virgen del Pilar, with a retable of the 16C.  Among the works of art that preserves, highlights, in the first chapel of the Epistle, the altarpiece of Saint Martin, outstanding sample of Spanish-Flemish painting. The chapter house features a neoclassical baptismal font.

villanueva de la jara

villanueva de la jara

villanueva de la jara

villanueva de la jara

villanueva de la jara

Bit more on it here in Spanish:  Tourist office of Cuenca on Church Our Lady of the Assomption

City of Villanueva de la Jara on heritage

And I found  nice video on it in youtube that is worth mentioning here as it is truly nice the Church.


There you go another dandy on the roads of Don Quijote in my dream beloved Spain, traditions to hold on to for life. Hope you enjoy it

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


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November 8, 2018

Barrio de las Letras or Huertas, Madrid!

So much on France why not my other love Spain! Yes been around and citizen of both, thanks to wife and grandparents on both sides of the fence lol! I used to lived in Madrid too ,and now visit at least once or more per year since 1982.

Let me tell you a bit about one of the most popular places or neighborhoods there for years. In fact so much fashionable to visit , it may not be considered a local spot by many including me. Nevertheless, it is a must if you visit Madrid.

I like to dwell on the history, as there are too many things to see, and party on it too lol! This is the neighborhood or Barrio de las Letras or oldest known as Huertas.

The neighborhood (Barrio) of Huertas is almost the oldest area of Madrid. Its old route forced in 2006 to initiate a process of pedestrianization of the zone. The neighborhood of the letters(barrio de las Letras or Huertas), also called of the literati and of the muses, is an area without administrative entity of Madrid in the Centro district. The area is bounded to the west by Calle de la Cruz and Plaza de Jacinto Benavente; To the east, by Paseo del Prado; To the north, by the Carrera de San Jéronimo; and, to the south, by Calle Atocha. During the low Middle Ages this area was destined to agricultural uses, the orchards being typical because there was plenty of water. In fact, we know that in the times of Enrique IV (15C) most of them belonged to the Marquis of Castañeda. A large part of these fields were engulfed by the urban plot in the 16C, but the historical memory has made the name of the orchards (Huertas) prevail to the present day. Even thus nowdays it is best known as Letras (Letters).

The best known of the neighborhood is the Plaza Santa Ana and Calle de las Huertas. The neighborhood runs from Puerta del Sol to Calle Atocha and descends to Paseo del Prado. It is a neighborhood known for its nightlife; It is one of the leisure areas to have a few drinks. The pubs and discotheques abound in the Calle de las Huertas, Plaza Santa Ana, Calle Santa Cruz and the parallel streets. Calle de las Huertas, after which the area has taken its common name, is a pedestrian street which verses the neighborhood and bears modern-day inscriptions in its cobblestones from the famous authors who once resided on or near it. The Street was named as such Huertas meaning orchards or gardens because of those which it once led to.  It is also called Barrio de las Letras because it has great theatrical activity and because its streets are named after the authors of the Golden Age, Cervantes, Lope de Vega, Quevedo and Góngora, who lived in these streets (there are commemorative plaques on every street). It is said that Góngora lived in the current Calle Leon and the rest in their respective streets.


The neighborhood was also home to some of the first comedy playsgrounds, in particular the Teatro de la Cruz, which was located in Plaza del Ángel, and the Corral del Principe, which still functions today under the same roof as the Teatro Español.  Although the majority of the properties that are preserved were built in the late 19C and early 20C, from the time of the Golden Age have survived the House-Museum of Lope de Vega, where the writer lived between 1610 and 1635 and open to the public as a house-museum; The Convent of San Ildefonso of the Barefoot Trinitarians, where Cervantes was buried; And the Church of San Sebastián.

In the number 87 of Calle Atocha, one of the roads that limit the neighborhood, was the printing of Juan de la Cuesta, where he made the edition Principe (Prince) of the first part of Don Quixote of La Mancha (1604), considered the masterpiece of Spanish literature.

To the 18C correspond the Palace of the Count of Tepa, the Royal Academy of History and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Madrid. Other constructions of architectural interest are the Teatro Español, the Simeon Building and the Ateneo de Madrid. They are in the neighborhood of the Ateneo (Calle de las Huertas), the Circulo de Bellas Artes (Fine Arts), corner with Calle de Alcalá, the Teatro de la Comedia (comedy). Also its on the border with the Congress of the Spanish Deputies, and , also the Palace of the Dukes of Santoña, Convent Saint Iidefonso of the Trinitarians barefoot, where learned the daughters of Lope de Vega and Cervantes, who also was buried here, the old Palace of the Marquises De Hoyos (current headquarters of the Academy of History). The artistic venues such as Caixa Forum and a few minutes on foot are the Thyssen Museum and the Prado Museum.


Due to its location and the large number of hotels which line its streets, Huertas/Letras is popular with both locals and tourists alike; virtually any night of the week is ideal for experiencing what it has to offer. The most important thing to keep in mind when going out for the evening is to be aware is the schedule. Remember that since in Madrid it’s customary to have dinner between 21h-23h (9pm-11pm), the night spots won’t be really going until some time after that, usually staying open until 03h (3am) and in some cases even later until sunrise.

The connection here is done with metro stations Sol, Sevilla, Atocha, Tirso de Molina, Antón Martín , on lines 1, 2, 3. Of course, the best way to get here is to walk from anywhere in central Madrid.

Some webpages to help you plan your visit here are

Tourist office of Madrid on heritage

Tourist office of Madrid on nighlife

There you go a wonderful neighborhood to set up while visiting lovely Madrid, the city of Spain.  And remember, happy travels ,good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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