Archive for June 18th, 2019

June 18, 2019

Tour Charlemagne, at Tours!

So lets take you to pure and wonderful Loire valley, ok there are two loire regions in France not to be confused, the one generally see as the valley of the kings is in the region of Centre-Val de Loire. The department of which the city of Tours is located is call Indre et Loire dept 37. I have written several posts on Tours in my blog but again feel that this monument needs more attention by all.

Let me tell you a bit more on the Charlemagne tower in Tours! or Tour Charlemagne.  The  tour Charlemagne  or Charlemagne tower is a remnant of an old basilica dedicated to Saint Martin of Tours (see post apart) and located in Tours at  rue des Halles, in the historic center of the city. Its name comes from the tomb of Luitgarde d’Alémanie, fourth wife of Charlemagne, who died in 800 during the emperor’s stay in Tours. Tradition reports that the emperor had it buried under or near the tower, but opinions are very divided as to the exact location of the tomb, never formally identified.


A bit of history I like

No source can be affirmative on the chronology and the exact dating of the construction of the tower. However, it took place shortly after the construction of the transept of the Basilica of Saint Martin de Tours, because paintings on the walls of the latter were hidden by the masonry of the Charlemagne tower, but a certain unity of style prohibits too long delay between the two events. In the second half of the 11C and shortly after the completion of the basilica in its original state, a tower-porch was built, capping the end of the north arm of the transept with reinforcement of the vaults of the latter, having to bear the weight of the tower. The tower was set astride the gable wall of the transept, which became an intermediate vault; it rested, in the south, on the tribunes of the first span of the transept, reinforced for the occasion, and, in the north, on a new vault outside the original transept. The tower then consisted of two semicircular vaulted floors, typical of Romanesque art, the second floor acting as a belfry. The external absidiole of the north arm of the transept was integrated into the tower in the form of a sacristy and surmounted on the first floor of a chapel of the same plan. The nature and shape of the original roof are unknown, even if we assume the presence of an arrow. At the beginning of the 14C, a new floor was added to the tower, but this time it was the Gothic style that was used with broken arch windows. The southern Romanesque windows of the lower floors were walled, to reinforce the solidity. An arrow, present in the 17C, crowned the tower which, in this configuration, reached a height of 56 meters. In the 15C, the hall of the belfry on the third floor (4th US) was shared in its height by a Gothic vault; it was sheltering two bells.


In 1790, the Basilica of Saint Martin des Tours was declared a national property during the French revolution.  In 1794, all the arrows of the churches (including that of the Charlemagne tower) had to be demolished. The Charlemagne tower was not demolished because a restoration project of the tower was set up in 1805 to recall that a new Charlemagne (Napoleon) had just been crowned emperor on December 2, 1804 ,the  project will not be realized, but the Charlemagne tower was preserved due to this initiative.  After the French Revolution, it hosted a factory of lead (1813); a carpentry settled in its ground floor and was the victim of a fire (1826); an artesian well of 107 meters deep was dug at its foot (1831); a water tower was installed on its first floor (1860 to 1885), an overload of 218 tons; finally, she survived an earthquake (1927) ; while the tramways of Tours shook it at each of their passages. Fragilized, the Charlemagne tower partially collapsed in 1928. In its southern half, from top to bottom, fell down in the neighboring streets without causing casualties . The part that remained standing was abutted with scaffolding to avoid further damage.

A company, created in 1931, ” les Amis de le tour Charlemagne “, or the Friends of the Charlemagne tower, bought the monument at a symbolic price ,and as a precautionary measure, consolidated the remaining part with a concrete inner frame. During , WWII, the tower was fortunately spared by the bombings and fires that ravaged the northern part of Tours in 1940. In 1972, the Charlemagne tower  was offered to the town of Tours. More recent developments have been made to allow the public access to the “Luitgarde Arch” located on the ground floor of the tower on the occasion of the European Heritage Days 2012 and the first floor of the tower since September 2013 ; a project provides for full access to the monument, which was done on the occasion of the European Heritage Days 2016. And we were there!


A bit on the Architecture

The floor dimensions of the Charlemagne tower are approximately 25 × 15 meters. In its current configuration, after restoration, its summit platform culminates at 48 meters. The tower is Romanesque style for its lower floors, Gothic for its top floor. The lower two floors of the tower are accessible from a spiral staircase in a turret outside the transept, on a corner of the tower. The top floor is accessed via an internal spiral staircase. The walls are provided externally, up to the floor level of the second floor, with powerful plated buttresses. Its southern facade, completely rebuilt from 1962 , is blind from the second floor. The building had Romanesque frescoes dated 12C. Discovered during the restoration work on some pillars but especially in the apsidiole transformed into sacristy, they were deposited and restored; they are now kept at the Saint-Martin museum in Tours. Because of the successive embankments around the basilica, the original floor of the Charlemagne tower is now down about 2 meters from the surrounding streets.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are

City of Tours on the Charlemagne tower in French

Tourist office of Tours on things to see in English

There you go another gem in my belle France; wonderful city indeed that of Tours plenty to see, and we love it. Hope you enjoy it too

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



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June 18, 2019

The Barefoot Carmelites of the Convent of Santa Ana of Villanueva de la Jara!

So back into my beloved Spain everything under the Sun and my dream land of Castilla La Mancha. This time not only off the beaten path site but deep down in the La Mancha territory. A wonderful town full of history and architecture is Villanueva de la Jara and in it ,it houses the wonderful historical Barefoot Carmelites of the Convent of Santa Ana. Let me tell you a bit more about it.

Well , excuse me, some info on the town’s history I like!

Villanueva de la Jara, is a town in the province of Cuenca, in the autonomous community of Castilla-La Mancha. It belongs to the region of La Manchuela.  The town rises between rivers; on the side of the orient, the Júcar, natural border between the Mancha Castellana, and the Castilian borders that extend towards the Levant, where the other flow, the one of the Valdemembra river, tributary of the previous river. It is known for the cultivation of the mushroom which is the main economic activity of the town, as well as different edible fungi. Villanueva de la Jara is well connected as it passes through the town the N-320 that runs from Cuenca to Albacete and the N-310 that runs from Villanueva de la Jara to Manzanares, and is 13 km from the A-3 autovia de Madrid-Valencia. The Madrid-Cuenca-Albacete-Levante AVE train also passes through its municipal area. We arrived by the A-3 highway/motorway towards Valencia taking exit 186 to join the CUV-8307, a few kilometers later we took the N-310 road, which links Villanueva de la Jara with Manzanares (Ciudad Real). Another route that passes through the municipality is the CM-220, which runs between the cities of Cuenca and Albacete.

After the Arab rule the King of Castile, Alfonso VIII, reconquered the town of Cuenca in 1177, also reconquered the town of Alarcón in 1184 and Iniesta in 1186 establishing the town of Cuenca to favor of the repopulation of this territory. During this time, some neighbors of Alarcón traveled 4 leagues (about 19 km) towards the south founding the town, at first like a dependent village of Alarcón and governed under the jurisdiction of the lordship of Villena and the Crown of Castile. The municipality has the title of Villa since 1476, earning the independence of Alarcón due to the support given to Queen Isabel I, the Catholic during the War of Castilian Succession, in which Diego López Pacheco, Marquis of Villena and Lord of Alarcón, fought in favor of the other candidate for the throne of Castile, Juana la Beltraneja.

In the Spanish Civil War was one of the bases of the leftist Republican  Army and 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 the town there are bunkers of what was an airfield during wartime.

A bit on the Convent of the Carmelites.

The Convent of the Carmelites was founded by Santa Teresa de Jesús in 1580. It is composed of Church,Convent and Cloister. It is an isolated building that forms a whole block and surrounded by walls. Inside, the 17C paintings of the altarpiece stand out, as well as a magnificent Mudejar-style wooden roof that covers the presbytery forming a 32-pointed star. It also highlights the tomb of Venerable Ana de San Agustín, who was in  charge  of the convent once Santa Teresa left Villanueva de la Jara. It is located at Calle Santa Ana.

Villanueva de la jara

Teresa, the Carmelite Saint, wanderer, arrived a cold February 21, 1580 to institute her Rule to some pious women, and project her convent around the Hermitage of Santa Ana. Everything happened to her in La Jara. During the days that she remained in the town, until breaking an arm, next to the well, the same that today presides over the garden. After her step she left her companion, today Venerable Ana de San Agustín, whose body rests at the foot of the Church, next to the Choir. And the Saint, restless and enterprising, not only left her footprints in the work of her daughters; the friars of Socorro were brought up, to raise them around the devotion of the local Patron ,a carving of the 14C brought from Rome, the Convent of Carmen, of which today the immense Church remains.  The highlight of the temple, without a doubt, is the beautiful coffered ceiling that is preserved to perfection. The Church has three beautiful altarpieces, as well as two low Choirs and one high Choir. Inside is the venerated sepulcher of Ana de San Agustín.

villanueva de la jara

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are

City of Villanueva de la Jara on its history

Tourist office of Province of Cuenca on the town sites

Tourist office of Castilla La Mancha on the Convent

The Barefoot Carmelites of the Convent of Santa Ana of Villanueva de la Jara ,13C.   founded by Santa Teresa de Jesus, it was now done for her 500 years built  a Teresian center, on last February 21, the date on which the Saint arrived at the town in 1580. The Center, which represents an interpretation of the book of the Moradas de Santa Teresa de Jesús (lodgings of Saint Teresa of Jesus), can be visited from the week following its inauguration by all those who are interested in following the traces of Teresa. Visits to say Center will be arranged through the Municipal Tourism Office of Villanueva de la Jara.

More here in Spanish:Tourist office of region of La Manchuela on the Teresian center

villanueva de la jara

And there you go ,now another off the beaten path gem of my beautiful Castilla La Mancha in my beloved Spain. Enjoy Villanueva de la Jara and its Convent.

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


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