Archive for February 2nd, 2019

February 2, 2019

Catedral San Pedro of Jaca!

So I am moving you up north in my beloved Spain, these are territories that I love coming here several times and passing by hundreds not counted but so many times it has become my second home. This is Aragon, the old kingdom of it all in the north that most need to learn more about to better undertand the Spain of today.

I like to show you a bit on one of its most representative jewels, the St Peter’s Cathedral of Jaca or the Catedral San Pedro de Jaca! briefs as can be here is my story with the help of my books and helpful Spanish sites below.

The Cathedral of San Pedro de Jaca in the province of Huesca, autonomous region of  Aragon, is one of the most characteristic and ancient Romanesque constructions in Spain. It began to be built almost at the same time as that of Santiago de Compostela in the last quarter of the 11C as the episcopal seat and head of the Kingdom of Aragon on the initiative of King Sancho Ramírez, who had obtained the Vatican vassalage after his trip to Rome in 1068 , as a result of which he was granted the episcopal seat.



A bit of history I like

The city of Jaca receives jurisdictions as a city, by the king Sancho Ramírez of Aragon, in 1077, displaying the capital of the kingdom between this year and 1096 and becoming a diocesan seat, which makes necessary the construction of a cathedral. A first, the construction could be located between 1077 and 1082 that corresponds to the reign of Sancho Ramírez and the bishopric of his brother, the Infante Garcia, and a second between 1104 and 1130, which corresponds to the reign of Alfonso I the Battler (Batallador) and Esteban de Huesca as Bishop.

In the second decade of the 16C some additions  were made, such as the vaults of the lateral naves, the late Gothic, and the covers of the new Chapels of San Sebastián, San Agustín, Annunciation and Santa Ana. Later, in the Renaissance, the Chapels of St. Michael and the Trinity, both of 1572, were added. In 1598 the vault of the central nave is built and windows are opened in it. In the 17C the construction of the altarpiece was completed and the reconstruction of the cloister was undertaken, which was replaced by the current Baroque, finished at the end of the 17C. In this same period, the Chapel of Santa Orosia, the main baroque element of the temple, is built. Also at the end of the 17C the Romanesque apse is replaced and a new one is erected, decorated with paintings by Manuel de Bayeu, brother-in-law of Francisco de Goya, between 1792 and 1793.




A bit on the construction style

The Saint Peter’s Cathedral preserves the Romanesque structure and configuration, with a basilica plant, several apses, and two access doors ,that of the Plaza de San Pedro, where in the past there was a homonymous monastery, and the southern gate, which in the 16C is endowed with portico, linked to the Plaza del Mercado, as well as a cupola in this southern apse where are located the architectural elements that summarize the characteristic language of the Romanesque architecture of the Camino de Santiago, which is then disseminated throughout the route of Compostela such as the chess like and balls, which are present in the interior supports.



The exterior of the Cathedral of San Pedro has two facades with doorways.  On the west facade of the Cathedral we find the atrium and the main façade, whose arch of greater radius, semicircular, links to the central nave, vault barrel, inside the temple. In the tympanum of this façade, the main one of the Cathedral, is an exceptional piece, the Chrisom, symbol of the Aragon’s monarchy and with a clear Trinitarian and penitent character. The chrisom or Monogram of Christ, is wavered by two lions. In the south facade we find another portico, made in the 16C with pieces from other parts of the Cathedral, highlighting the capitals made by the master of Jaca. As for the apses, it is only preserved from the Romanesque that gives to the south, since the central and north, were modified in the 18C. In this apse you can see the tripartite organization of the wall both horizontally and vertically, characteristic of the Romanesque Jaquésan extended by other constructions of the Camino de Santiago. At the top of the building is a belfry with the bells of the Cathedral, a piece that was added in the 16C.

The interior of the Catedral de San Pedro show us a plant of the temple is basilical of three naves ,and five bays, of which the central is wider and higher than the lateral ones, allowing thus to open the stained glass in the wall of the central nave and above the lateral ones to illuminate its interior. The nave extend to the three semicircular apses with the organ and the chorus, which were at the foot of the central nave and which moved to the apse, although the transfer was carried out in 1919. The area of the transept is covered with a unique semispherical vault of octagonal plant on horns. In the Baroque period the Chapel of Santa Orosia, the Patron Saint of the city of Jaca, was done, decorated with striking paintings showing his life, martyrdom and encounter of his body. It is worth mentioning the cloister attached to the north wall of the Cathedral, which is part of the Diocesan Museum of Jaca, one of the most outstanding in Spain of Romanesque painting; It shows Romanesque paintings of the jaquésan area that were in Churches such as Navaa, Ruesta or Bagües.



The decoration of St Peter’s Cathedral is nice with capitals, corbels and metopics are decorated with scenes of the Bible or even some fantastic or of the daily life of great quality coming from at least two different hands, whereas in the walls or bases it is rather geometric. On the bases or the well-known chested jaquésan that decorates much of the building. These two elements originating in the jaquésan Romanesque art can be seen along the Camino de Santiago, which shows the influence exerted along this pilgrimage route.  At the side door of the Cathedral is carved the pattern of a unit of measure called Vara Jaquesa (Rod Jaquesan) , a measure of the medieval period equivalent to 77 cm today or about 30 inches). This unit was used during the Middle Ages in the market located in the Plaza de la Cathedral square to measure lengths, and this metric unit was used throughout Aragon.

Some webpages to help you plan your visit here and understand more this jewel of my beloved Spain are

City of Jaca on the Cathedral

Catholic Diocese of Jaca on the Cathedral

Tourist office of province of Huesca on the Cathedral and museum

Official Heritage of Aragon on the Cathedral

site Romanico Aragones on Romanesque art in Aragon and the Cathedral

This is another jewel you need to get away from big cities to go see, is a must and a well interpretation of Spain then and now. The Catedral de San Pedro go see it

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


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February 2, 2019

The squares or Plazas of Aranjuez!

So I am back in my beloved Spain and one of my favorite spots in all the country, province and autonomous region combine. This royal princely Aranjuez, and we like it here.

So many nice places to see in addition to the top Palace here (see previous posts) I like to come back to something more urban and walkable with beautiful sights all around you. We love to walk especially once in the city anywhere, and the squares are the main attraction really. So , therefore, I will tell you a bit more on my favorites squares or Plazas of Aranjuez!

The Plaza de San Antonio, also known as the Plaza of the Mariblanca, is located in  Aranjuez, in the community of Madrid. It is also known as  Mariblanca due to the sculptural ensemble known as the source of the Mariblanca (whose real name is Venus) that decorates the north end of the square. In the square you can see the sites of the Casa de los Caballeros y Oficios ( House of Knights and Crafts), the Church of San Antonio, the Casa de Infantes (house of Infantes in line for the throne), and the garden of Isabel II. Towards 1752, the square had another source called the Fuente del Rey (fountain of the king), with an image of the King Fernando VI looking at the bridge, but in 1760 King Carlos III, ordered it removed, and two years later was placed the current fountain of Venus.

A bit of history and construction I like

The Plaza San Antonio square was designed in the year 1750, during the reign of king Fernando VI , to serve as a connection between the Royal Palace of Aranjuez and the urban fabric that had been formed south of it. This nexus function is especially visible in the arcaded gallery on the western side, being the closest to the palatial enclosure. It is a half-point arch, supported on rectangular pillars carved in stone of Colmenar, which unifies and gives continuity to the facades of the Casa de los Caballeros y Oficios, two buildings emerged in different times. The one started in 1584, although its construction lasted until the 17C. The second was conceived in 1613 but was not completed until century and a half later, between 1762 and 1770.


On the southern side the flank is presided by the Church of San Antonio, whose baroque silhouette defines and gives personality to the whole. Conceived as the vanishing point of the square, it replaced the oratory that  king Felipe V had founded as reinforcement of the Chapel of the Royal Palace, too small to fully address the religious needs of the court. It was done in the year 1752. The result is a circular plant structure, which is covered by a spherical vault, topped with a large cylindrical lantern. The main facade is protected by a portico of five semicircular arches and Tuscan pilasters, which gives rise, on the upper part, to a terrace, which is closed by means of a stone balustrade and a triangular pediment, at the coronation of the central arch. All this generates a gimmicky set of curves and counter curves, very scenographic, with which the temple puts the counterpoint to the rectilinear distribution of the other architectural elements of the square. During the reign of Carlos III , the Church was enlarged with a rectangular nave, while the closing of the southern face of the square was undertaken, with the construction of two new arcades on both sides of its façade. This work was carried out in 1767.

On the eastern side of the square is porticoes only in its first stretch, in its contact with the Casa de Infantes, whereas, in the second, it opens to the garden of Isabel II. The Casa de Infantes was done in 1772, for lodging of the infants Gabriel and Antonio, sons of king Carlos III, and of their respective families; It is perfectly integrated in the square, thanks to the aforementioned gallery of arcs, which follows the same bill as the one located on the western flank.

The northern side faces the square lacks arcades, which facilitates a direct connection to the Parterre garden, located next to the west façade of the Royal Palace. The feeling of contact between the two areas is reinforced with the location in this part of the fountain of Venus, whose monumental base constitutes a worthy counterpoint to the Church of San Antonio. This fountain was made in 1762 .


At first, the fountain was known as the Fuente del Rey or  King’s fountain, by the statue of Fernando VI that it had installed on its upper part. With the change of the sculptural auction, it received the official denomination of Fuente de Venus, although everyone began to call it the Mariblanca, due to the color of the figure of the goddess (white). For this reason, the Plaza de San Antonio is also called the Mariblanca.

Plaza de Mariblanca known as well as Plaza de Sant Antonio (see above). The beautiful statue is the image of a Venus sculpted in white stone by the artist of the time Juan Reina, and because of the very similar thing that turned out to be with the statue of the fountain of Puerta del Sol in Madrid, was given the same name as this , since then one of the greatest symbols of this city that has seen it grow from its beginnings until today. The Fuente de  Venus. In 1830 the fountain was ornamented by a ensemble formed by lizards, snails, cupids riding on newts and three Lions, two of them with a ball between their claws and a third holding a castle.


The goddess Venus , one of the twelve Olympic divinities. According to Greek mythology, it was born by joining the Sea with the foam formed by the sperm of Uranus (the sky) after Saturn cut his testicles. It’s usually depicted in a shell. Usually Venus has been associated with beauty, love and especially with sexual attraction. Her loves with Mars and Adonis highlight the attraction for physical beauty. The evolution of its cult presents many aspects, the Venus Génitrix flattering of the marriage, the Venus Pandemic which veiled by the prostitution, the Venus Pelagia protective of the sailors… In Sparta, she was venerated as a warrior goddess and in the primitive Rome she was represented the spring, guarding and protecting the fields and gardens, which reaffirms her as a perfect guardian of our orchards.

Some webpages to help you enjoy your visit here are

Official city of Aranjuez on its heritage and history

Tourist office of Aranjuez on the Plaza San Antonio aka Mariblanca

Tourist office of Aranjuez on things to see around the Plaza

Moving along on these wonderful squares of Aranjuez we come to the Plaza de Parejas Reales. The main characteristic of the Plaza de Parejas de Aranjuez is its enormous dimension and its semi-open form.  Its name is due to the game of couples that took place in this square and was a kind of dance on horseback in which forty-eight knights were divided into four rows headed by one of the sons of the king and parading disciplined they crossed and  re-crossed in a a kind of dance, tournament and military parade. This square is perpendicular to the Royal Palace flanked by the Casa de los Fogones (house of the kitchens) that closes on one side and limits it on the other the Casa de Caballeros y Oficios (House of Knights and Trades). It belongs to the area of warehouses and dependencies close to the Royal Palace. Its special location, near the Royal Palace and where their facades facing the Plaza de Parejas and Plaza de San Antonio stand above the rest.


The Plaza de Toros was inaugurated in 1797 by king Carlos IV and his wife Luisa of Parma. It is an open space for the practice of bullfighting, as well as place of musical events. It currently has a capacity of 9500 persons. It is celebrated on the 30th of May of each year an important bullfighting celebration, being the festivity of San Fernando and the Toros Goyesca.

In 1851 and 1881, improvement works were carried out. It was designed in smaller proportions, similar to the old bullring near the Puerta de Alcalá. The period of splendor of the square was from the 18C and, above all, at the beginning of the 19C due to the bullfighting hobby of King Fernando VII.

The halls of the Bullfighting Museum (Museo Taurino) guard a large number of garments, utensils and billboards of important bullfighting masters. Together with the Maestranza in Sevilla and the Plaza de Ronda is one of the few bullrings of the 18C that still stand and use for bullfighting. The museum is open on  Sundays and Mondays at 11h30. and 13h, after prior reservation in the tourist office.

Some webpages to help you come to the Plaza de Toros as the Plaza de Parejas Reales is just next to the Royal Palace , are

Official Plaza de Toros of Aranjuez

Tourist office of Aranjuez on the Plaza de Toros

City of Aranjuez on the Plaza de Toros


The Prince’s garden built by the Prince of Asturias , the future Carlos IV . It houses a myriad of gardens at the entrance, like the Spanish Garden, the Plaza de Pamplona, garden pavilions, Rollercoaster, spectacular Chinese gardens, Hermit Island, etc.


For the benefit of those in public transports, the best way to reach here is from Madrid Puerta del Sol you can take Cercanias train C3 o C3A to Aranjuez train station, there walk about 15 minutes to the squares above. Of course, I always come here by car and get off street parking for free.

City of Aranjuez on the very nice train station

There you go another nice walkable city full of wonderful monuments and good inexpensive foods than Madrid city lol! I have done other posts on the city monuments that you can search in my blog. For now enjoy Aranjuez and its squares! The Plazas!

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


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February 2, 2019

The Hospices de Beaune!

And here I take you a bit east and central to the wonderful world of Burgundy oh no not just wines ,but spectacular monuments waiting to be seen and enjoy as we have over the years. We have been here often and rented houses in the countryside, we call them Gîtes here. This is one I have written briefly  in other posts but again never alone and I think it merits one special post.

I like to tell you a bit more on the Hospices de Beaune, in the city of Beaune, Dept of Côte d’Or no 21,  in the Burgundy region. This is a place that is worth going more than once.

The Hospices de Beaune or Hôtel-Dieu de Beaune is a flamboyant Gothic-style hotel/hospices with glazed tile roofing from Burgundy, founded in the 15C by the Chancellor of the Dukes of Burgundy Nicolas Rolin and his wife Guigone des Salins, in Beaune, Burgundy. It is one of the most famous in the world, both by its sumptuous and remarkable traditional Burgundian architecture and by its prestigious Burgundian wine estate whose production is historically sold at auction to finance its operation , under the name of Sale of the Hospices de Beaune. It is to this day a museum of History of Medicine and exhibits among other things the polyptych the Last Judgement by Rogier van der Weyden.


A bit of history i like

In 1443, at the end of the Hundred Years ‘ War, after hesitation between Autun and Beaune, Nicolas Rolin, wealthy chancellor of Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy, and his wife, Guigone des Salins, founded this richly endowed hotel-Dieu, close to the collegiate Church of Notre-Dame de Beaune of the 12C, and the Hotel des Dukes de Bourgogne in Beaune from the 14C, seat of the Parliament of Burgundy. Beaune is chosen for its high rate of passage and for its absence of a large religious foundation. The Flemish influence is felt in this important city of a Burgundian state which then extended to the Netherlands.

On January 1, 1452, this palace for the sick and poor welcomes its first patients. The elderly, infirm, orphaned, sick, parturient, indigent, attend the institution free of charge, from the Middle Ages to the 20C!. In 1459, Chancellor Rolin obtained the creation of the order of the Hospitalier Sisters of Beaune, whose rule combines monastic life with the care of the poor and the sick.

A bit on the description of the Hospices de Beaune

The exterior facade, relatively austere, contrasts with the richness of the decoration of the central courtyard, with its famous roofs in glazed tile of Burgundy, and that of the interior of the building. An inner courtyard of rectangular shape, it has a water well in Gothic ironwork. It overlooks the various buildings with roofs in glazd tile of Burgundy, a technique probably originating in central Europe, which has become characteristic of Burgundy monuments,notice thus, the large hall is covered with simple slates of Trélazé. These tiles have four colors , red, brown, yellow and green, forming geometric interlacing patterns. They were rebuilt between 1902 and 1907. The north, east and west parts consist of two floors at galleries, with stone balusters on the ground floor and wood at the first, allowing the safe passage from the nursing Sisters. Many skylights feature carved wood and ironwork decorations.


The Chapel is an integral part of the poor hall and was originally decorated with the polyptych of the Last Judgement of the Flemish painter Rogier van der Weyden, closed during the week and open for Sundays and solemn feasts. Guigone of Salins is resting in peace here. A wooden rood separates, from the restoration of buildings, Chapel and ward of the sick.

Grand hall of the Poor has imposing dimensions with nearly 50 meters long, 14 meters wide and 16 meters high; it is covered with an apparent and painted monumental structure, in the form of a roof in a careened boat shape, covered with slate of Trélazé. The transverse beams come out of the mouth of multi-colored dragons that evoke the monsters of hell. Small-carved heads, depicting caricatures of the local bourgeois folks whose faces are accompanied by heads of animals that symbolize their respective faults, punctuate the spans. The tile includes the Rolin monogram and its motto “Only “. This word accompanied by the star means that his wife, Guigone de Salins is the only lady of his thoughts. The room is occupied by two rows of curtain beds bordering the south and north walls, the central square being reserved for tables and benches for meals. The furniture was restored in 1875. Two patients could lie down on each bed. Behind each bed, a chest made it possible to store the clothes of the sick. There is a hallway with a bench with comfortable chairs running along the wall behind the curtains.


Salle Sainte-Anne room located in the west, in contact with the hall of the poor, and dedicated to Sainte-Anne, with a capacity of four beds.

Salle Saint-Hugues room neighbor of the last, was created in 1645 and includes a few beds for the more affluent patients. It is remarkable for its murals by Isaac Moillon , representing various miracles of Christ as well as Saint Hughes, bishop and monks.


Salle Saint-Louis room is dedicated to King Louis IX (Saint Louis), it closes the courtyard to the east and was built in 1661 at the site of a barn. This room also contains beautiful gothic chests, a fountain and two series of tapestries from the 16C, one of which is woven in Tournai and tells in seven episodes the Parable of the Prodigal Son and the other from Brussels evokes the story of Jacob.

Salle Saint-Nicholas room is located to the north-west of the courtyard, and dedicated to Saint Nicholas, it was destined for the most serious patients, with 12 beds. It currently serves as a showroom on the history of hospices and its vineyard. A glass paving makes it possible to see the Bouzaise that was used to evacuate sewage.

The Polyptych Room of the Last Judgement in the Hospices de Beaune is home to a remarkable work, painted in the 15C, the polyptych of the Last Judgement of the Flemish painter Rogier van der Weyden, polyptych with rectangular movable shutters, originally composed of nine painted vertical wire oak panels, six of them on both sides initially exposed in the Chapel of the sick and poor. Probably realized between 1446 and 1452 is sawn on all the thickness of the panels, the reverse and the top ,corresponding to the open and closed positions are exposed together in the same dedicated air conditioned room.  Here in the center you see the Christ  presiding the last judgment  with a throne of heavens showing paradise  on top of Saint Michael  looking on ; around it the Virgin and John the Baptist imploring the forgiveness of Christ; behind them the apostles  and some important personages  imploring for the poor the damn and the saivours . The lateral figures are of Nicolas Rolin  and his wife with grilles showing Saint Sebastian and Saint Anthony, and the scene of the annunciation.


The apothecary includes two small rooms with its shelves of flasks and vials. The first room features a bronze mortar with an arc attached to the pestle to lighten its weight and thus facilitate the work of the apothecaries during the preparation of the remedies. In the second room, the shelves present a collection of 130 pots of earthenware dated 1782 in which were preserved medicinal plants, ointments, oils, pills and syrups of the pharmacopoeia of simple medicines.


The kitchen has a large fireplace with two fireplaces, it is furnished with various elements including an automated spindle-turn dating from 1698, animated by a small automaton in traditional costume called Sir Bertrand who seems to turn the crank making sure all the activities of the kitchen. The kitchen is today presented as it was in the early 19C with its large furnace with two hot water taps called swan-necks. A Saint Martha in polychrome wood watches over the room, framed by copper basins.


An ancient medieval vaulted wine cellar of more than 300 meters is built under the hospices of Beaune. The hospices particular wine reserves are preserved there. This cellar is open to the public visit only during the sale of the Hospices de Beaune.

The Hospices de Beaune are the owners of a Burgundian wine estate thanks to donations and legacies of wealthy Burgundian lords from the Middle Ages ,since 1471 and to five centuries of heritage management. It currently comprises nearly 60 hectares, particularly in the Côte de Beaune and the Côte de Nuits vineyards, most of which are located in areas of first-vintage (grand cru) and large-vintage (premieres cru) appellations of exceptions. The forty-one prestige Cuvées obtained are sold since 1794 in the form of auctions, the third Sunday in November under the name of Sale of the Hospices de Beaune. The result of these sales has been, for five centuries, devoted entirely to the charitable and religious functioning of the old hospices and the new civil and secular hospital institutions. The Hospices de Beaune, now a museum, have been modernized with the civil hospices of Beaune, which finance such institutions as the Hospital Centre Philippe le Bon of short stays of Beaune, opened in 1971; The Nicolas Rolin Center of long and medium stay; with accommodation structures for dependent elderly people,and the Hôtel-Dieu and the Charity (hospices).

Wonderful place, again a must to see while in France. Some webpages to help you plan your visit here are

Official Hospices de Beaune

Tourist office of Beaune on the Hospices

Tourist office of Burgundy on the Hospices

There you go another jewel masterpiece of my belle France. Another route to follow to enjoy your eyes and minds on history, architecture,and good deeds of all times. Enjoy the Hospices de Beaune!

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

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