Archive for March, 2020

March 31, 2020

The Gates of Belmonte!

And here we are in Belmonte again, the wonderful town of the province of Cuenca and the autonomous region of Castilla La Mancha in my beloved Spain! It has become a town visited several times.

However, when there concentrated on the castle (see posts) and not on the rest, which is plenty. I will need to be back. On this post, let me tell you a bit more on the Puertas or Gates from the ramparts walls to the town of Belmonte. Hope you enjoy it as we did.

The Muralla Urbana of Belmonte or Urban Wall was built in the 15C, and it has preserves in perfect condition the canvases that come down from the castle to the town. The enclosure had five gates that opened along the walled enclosure, three of which are still used as access to the city. These gates are the San Juan to the north, the Chinchilla Gate to the south, the Almudí or Rollo Gate, the Estrella or Toledo or Monreal Gate and the New Gate (Puerta Nueva gone) to the west.




Two sections are preserved in a perfect state of conservation, which go down from the castle to the town. One of the sections that remains intact, and with a beautiful Albarrana tower is the one that goes from the Chinchilla gate to the castle. From the Puerta de San Juan the jamb and tower on the right are preserved. The jamb on the left to the first cube was demolished in 1912 to build the current gate.

The Puerta de Chinchilla is the first one that was made, and the one that has best reached our days. From here to the Castle the wall canvas is still conserved entirely, with a beautiful Albarrana tower. The gate located to the south in the walled compound of Belmonte.


On August 12, 1488, the Catholic Monarchs (Fernando II and Isabel I), in transit from Alicante to Alcalá de Henares, arrived in Belmonte, being welcomed by the Marquis of Villena at the Castle. Before entering the town through this Puerta de Chinchilla, since they came from San Clemente, the town went out to receive them and made them swear to their Highnesses with their real hands placed bodily on the Holy Crucifix, to keep and save all the letters of ridges, privileges, uses and good customs that it has and has been granted to it by the Lords who had been there.

It was wonderful to walk around these gates and even awesome to drive my car thru them. Many times praying not to scratch as was just enough. Surrounded by such beauty and history not to leave architecture behind it is just sublime. I will be back.

The tourist office of Castilla La Mancha on things to see including the gates of Belmonte: Tourist office of Castilla La Mancha on heritage

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



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March 31, 2020

Church San Bartolome, Belmonte!

So let me stay in this picturesque town of my Castilla La Mancha region as in Belmonte all is nice. I have to admit came here for the castle very historical of Spain and France.However, there is a lot more in this small town in the province of Cuenca. Let me tell you a bit more on the Church San Bartolomé.

This is one never been inside as not enough time for the castle on both times there. It will be on my list to hit it next time.

The Collegiate Church of San Bartolomé is located in the upper town of Belmonte, wthin the walled area, guards the wealth of faith and religiosity of a town made history and art, for more than five centuries. The Collegiate Church of San Bartolomé was built on the old Visigothic parish of the 5C. A human burial and a flat stone at its head, with the Crismón incised XP, along with other remains and old walls, which appeared in restoration works of 1976, so attest.


The Marquis of Villena and Master of the Order of Santiago, Don Juan Pacheco makes almost all the church work and built it again from the foundations. At his request, Pope Pius II erected the parish of Belmonte as a Collegiate Church in 1459.


The brief description from the translated blog of it as I did not had time to go inside. Too much time spent on the castle!!(see post). It has a floor plan of three large naves and of severe magnificence, with four sections that separate thick round pillars, supporting pointed arches and ribbed vaults. The supports are circular, solid and robust columns, with double pillars that serve as support to the same vaults. The Puerta de Perdones (forgiveness door), the one to the west, is flanked by two sprouted and lowered arches, sheltered under another slightly pointed one, on whose eardrum and above the mullion the solemn and majestic figure of Saint Bartholomew emerges. The Puerta del Sol or (Sun door), facing towards noon, is surrounded by two Gothic pinnacles. The hollow of the door is a lowered arch inscribed inside another trilobal of the flowery Gothic. At the intersection of all the ribs of the vault, as well as its support in each of the corresponding columns, a heraldic motif appears with the arms of the Marquis de Villena’s surnames.

The stalls of the choir of the Collegiate Church of San Bartolomé are from 1454, is the first historical choir in Spain, made up of an icon and one of the most outstanding parts of the collegiate church. It was carved from walnut wood originally intended for the Cathedral of Cuenca as commissioned by Bishop Don Lope Barrientos and transferred to Belmonte in the 18C, as stated in the minutes of the town’s council of Cuenca. The painting of the Virgin that is in the Sacristy, is placed on the presidential chair; it is a beautiful canvas on panel of the Virgin with Jesus, recently taken down from the Cross, dead in her arms, of great merit and artistic quality, The stalls were completed with the realization in 1718 of a pipe organ.

From a distance it looks very nice, and closeup outside is awesome indeed more like a Cathedral than a Collegiate Church so on the list to be seen in my beloved Castilla La Mancha. Hope you make it here too it is worth it I say.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are

The official blog of the Church San Bartolomé in Spanish: Collegiate Church San Bartolomé

Tourist office of province of Cuenca on the Church in English: Tourist office of province of Cuenca on the church

Tourist office of Castilla La Mancha on the Church in English: Tourist office Castilla La Mancha on the Church

Tourist office of Castilla La Mancha on the Church’s museum in English:  Tourist office of Castilla La Mancha on the Church’s museum

There you go for me noted down on the list to see. Belmonte is nice worth the trip to see these wonderful monuments again and of course inside the Collegiate Church of San Bartolome.

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


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March 31, 2020

The windmills of Belmonte!

Here I am again on the nostalgic route, remembering in our times the wonderful moments spent in my beloved Spain. I have of course, several , many posts on Spain in my blog and many on the region of Castilla La Mancha, and a few on the town of Belmonte. However, was dealing with the immense castle and there is a particular nice monument there off the beaten path, I like to tell you a bit more.

You know, windmills are really popular in Spain, especially along the route of Quijote, but very few are aware there are windmills in Belmonte! Let me tell you a bit more ok.



Many will think that it is a structure created in Spain, since it is one of the icons, but if they have been here since the 16C, it is the fault of the Crusaders. They were discovered in Jerusalem and this is how they came to populate much of the peninsula. In Belmonte you can still enjoy the typical La Mancha windmills, since those of this town are still standing and in good condition. The three mills of Belmonte are somewhat different, they are not entirely white but made of stone and that gives them a touch that is worth stopping and admiring.



About 500 meters from the center of Belmonte; the most famous of all is the windmill “El Puntal”, which preserves all its original machinery and which can be seen at some time doing a traditional milling. Inside you can visit an exhibition of tiles. In addition to views of pure postcard and simply magical Castilian sunsets. Indeed!


Tourist section of the city of Belmonte something on these windmills: City of Belmonte on things to see

Hope you enjoy it and do stop by after seeing the wonderful castle of Belmonte (see my posts), a worthwhile trip in beautiful dreamers’ country! The windmills of Belmonte!!!

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


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March 30, 2020

Always on my mind, Las Majadas!

So , here again, several posts on it but its special for us; read on Las Majadas. See it visited and stay at the house, all recommended and you know I usually do not do this on my travels.

We have come here in 2016, we love it!!! thinking to enjoy our summer family vacation we had our usual family council of ministers meeting::) We quickly decided it must be Spain again !!! great! for me. Then, we talked long and search our records and many online sites for the place to be base for our trip.

We took a while but at the end we came back to the same place as in 2017. The house is wonderful roomy cool and in the center of the town; the owners are wonderful human being very laid back country folks who enjoy talking and sharing stories;great ! Here we are to show some pictures of the house and more on some businesses we patronized.

The town is Las Majadas in the Serrania de Cuenca about 1400 meters up and 36 km from the Unesco World Heritage site of Cuenca. The house is Casa Rural Pitu at calle Anastacio Lasso near the clock tower which houses the pharmacy and library of the town!. This is a town that in Summer may have 1000 folks but in Winter is down to about 50! It was a dream vacation each time, and we love it enough said. I have several posts on it just for the memories.

Las Majadas

The house was great with four bedrooms and two baths, on two levels, and easy in and out, walking distance to all. It was completely stock with all you need for a family vacation hands free. The owners were wonderful and very kind, we will missed them until then. I will always recommend the house to all, check it out.

Las Majadas

Las Majadas

Las Majadas

The town of Las Majadas is very friendly and easy to walk, with great pathways into the mountains for the courageous runner/walker/hiker is a paradise. We   tucked in the city and the great bars and restos in it. Sad to hear the bakery has close down and now bread is deliver after 10h at the local school.

We were at 1400 meters altitude (about 4593 feet) and the driving down and up is winding and zig zag’s roads with gorgeous mountains views with lookout stops along the way to enjoy the scenery more.

Las Majadas

Las Majadas

In all, it was a great place to be at. We are already talked about next year would it be a third? or try something different, time and memories will lingered and we will decide by next February 2018. Unfortunately, never came to be as my dear late wife Martine passed away from pancreatic cancer on April 30 2018.

For now, I and the boys have the wonderful memories and trips around the area and remembrance. Las Majadas, Province of Cuenca, autonomous region of Castilla La Mancha in the  Serrania de Cuenca mountains will always be a home.

I will give you several webpages more than usual from me anyway, but I believe all useful to showcase the area, the house the place Las Majadas.

Casa Rural Pitu again is here in Spanish: Casa Rural Pitu in Las Majadas

Do not see getting into the city hall but the rural site where we first found the house tells you about Las Majadas in Spanish: Escapada rural on Las Majadas

Tourist office of Province of Cuenca on part of Las Majadas in English: Descubre Cuenca on mountain routes

Tourist office of Castilla La Mancha on Las Majadas in English: Tourist office of Castilla La Mancha on Las Majadas

Tourist office of Castilla La Mancha on the Serrania de Cuenca in English: Tourist office of Castilla La Mancha on the Serrania de Cuenca

Guia Repsol of Spain on Las Majadas (Michelin of Spain) in Spanish: Guia Repsol on Las Majadas

There you go a wonderful nature’s world place away from it all in the mountains yet full of wonderful fun nice folks. Hope you too can enjoy this beautiful corner of my Spain, Las Majadas! My souvenirs will remain very strong for it.

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

March 30, 2020

Marqués de Pombal, Lisbon!

And again in my dear Europe, there has been so much travel here over the years, and Portugal dear as many interactions with this community since earlier days and a godfather of my son, but finally made it to Portugal and Lisbon was the start. What a start, my favorite city in Portugal, really (i had plenty of beaches before in my life) .

I have written on the country and city before , but like to stress an area dear to me as first stayed nearby and visit every time there, and not enough mention in my blog me think. Therefore, let me tell you a bit more on the very nice Praça do Marquës de Pombal.

The Plaça do Marquês de Pombal is a square between Avenida da Libertade and Parque Eduardo VII park. A monument to the Marquis de Pombal stands in the center of the square, inaugurated in 1934. Under the square passes the vehicules/pedestrian Marquis Tunnel


The square pays homage to Sebastião José de Carvalho e Melo, marquis of Pombal, statesman, who led the country around the Enlightenment, having ruled between 1750 and 1777. He reformed the economy, agriculture, political system and administration to improve efficiency and increase the competitiveness of Portugal. His statue is at the top of the column, his hand resting on a lion, a symbol of power, his eyes turned towards the Baixa district, in the center of the city, which Pombal had reconstructed after the earthquake of 1755. Just below of the statue are relief busts of his most important collaborators. The base is decorated with groups of sculptures which represent the institutions that the Marquis reformed, such as agriculture, industry, politics and education. Debris and waves at the foot of the monument represent the devastation of the earthquake and tsunami of 1755. The inscriptions on the monument praise the achievements of the Marquis de Pombal.


It was on this Marquis de Pombal square that the decisive events that led to the proclamation of the Portuguese Republic took place on October 5, 1910. The buildings surrounding the square are those of the headquarters of the most important companies, the main Portuguese banks and the hotels of the big chains. The Marquis de Pombal square is also a symbolic place for local Lisboners ,because it is the place where supporters of Benfica Lisbon, Sporting Portugal and Seleção Nacional (National team) come to celebrate the victories and trophies won.


To the north of the square is the Eduardo VII Park where the national flag ; the largest flag in Europe is located, as well as the monument to the Carnation Revolution (Revoluçao dos Cravos ) of April 25, 1974. The one that toppled the dictatorship of Salazar in power since 1933.

There is the Metro stop of Marquês de Pombal with lines Yellow (Amarelo) and Blue(Azul). However, I walked this wonderful district always, and go from there. The most sublime walk is to start at Pombal and walk down to Comércio square! Do it. Some directions: Head south on Praça Marquês de Pombal towards Av. Duque de Loulé Turn left on Av. Da Liberdade .Continue on Praça dos Restauradores (wonderful too); Praça dos Restauradores turns slightly left and becomes Rua 1º de Dezembro and continue taking right on Rua. Áurea ,then left on Praça do Comércio and you are there! It took me longer but never time it, the google on it tells me 27 minutes walking but the sights it should be like 45 wonderful walk anyway recommended.

Some webpages to help plan your trip to wonderful Lisbon are

Tourist office of Lisbon in English: Tourist office of Lisbon

Tourist office of Portugal on Lisbon in English: Tourist office of Portugal on Lisbon

And there you go, a nice area wonderful architecture , history, shopping, and restos and going down on the walk above is sublime. Hope you enjoy the Marquis of Pombal square in Lisbon.

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



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March 30, 2020

The Churches of Vianden!

Ok so have written about the wonderful Vianden, Luxembourg in my blog on several occasions. However, these have been mostly directed at the castle and lifts. I need to tell you about the wonderful monuments in the city , hugely historical and even architecturally nice. This post will be on the Churches of Vianden.

The city of Vianden is located east of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, on the western edge of the German border. The city is crossed by the Our river, a tributary of the Sûre. The name of Vianden would derive from the Gallic word vien which means rocky.   Already in the year 1256, Vianden is cited as a city, but it is only since the franchise letter of 1308 that Vianden legally carries the title of city by franchise letter.

The quant Church of Saint Nicolas.  Can’t missed it once entering town. After the creation of the parish of Vianden on the right bank of the Our river around the middle of the 13C, the Templars of Roth built a chapel for the inhabitants of the left bank attached to their parish. In 1545, a cemetery was built to the left of the church. Following a fire, the sanctuary was rebuilt in 1724. In 1907, the exterior was renovated in a neo-Gothic style. The altarpiece of the choir with the statue of St Nicolas dates from 1768. The holy bishop is venerated as patron of merchants and boatmen. The stone statue of St John Nepomucen, canonized in 1729, comes from the Our bridge where it has been replaced by a copy. This saint is regarded as protective against the dangers of water and as a model of the confession.



Yet no much mention so could be said off the beaten path in Vianden. The city of Vianden has a page on the Churches and Chapels and mention the Church of St Nicolas here: City of Vianden on Churches and Chapels see St Nicolas


On the Church of the Trinitarians there is more yet more seclusive. In 1248, Count Henri 1er of Vianden donated to the “Order of the Most Holy Trinity for the Redemption of Captives” a hospice located at the foot of his castle. Henri I of Vianden did this to thank the order for having bought his father from the Saracens; it contains the supposed skull of Yolande de Vianden, the daughter of Henri I of Vianden and the tombstone of Henri de Nassau, bastard of a count of Nassau. The Trinitarians founded a convent there with a church also frequented by the faithful living in the surroundings. This situation provokes dissatisfaction with the Templars of Roth, owners of the parish church located on the left bank of the Our. The sanctuary of the Trinitarians quickly obtains the same rights for the inhabitants of Vianden established on the right bank.


In 1498, a fire destroyed the Church of the Trinitarians, which was rebuilt, undoubtedly with 13C cut stone, which explains the archaic aspect of the church with two naves of equal height. In 1644, the religious choir that extends the southern nave was replaced by a new, more spacious construction. The grandstand and the organ were added on the same side in 1693. When the Order of the Trinitarians was abolished in 1783, the church continued to serve as a parish.

Two funerary monuments recall the memory of the counts of Vianden. The recumbent figure of Marie de Spanheim c1400, and the epitaph of Henri de Nassau c.1589. The stone altarpiece in the north nave dates from the beginning of the 17C and comes from a workshop in Trier. The side altars were erected in 1729. In 1758, the monumental altarpiece of the apse. The last restoration dates from 1991. The pulpit dates back to 1630 and comes from the Jesuit church in Luxembourg (current cathedral). The stalls of 1769 are decorated with musical instruments and refer to the praise of God practiced in this place for centuries by the Trinitarians. The stained glass windows in the nave were made after WWII.

City of Vianden on the Church of the Trinitarians in French: City of Vianden on the Church of the Trinitarians

Tourist office of Luxembourg on the Church of the Trinitarians in Vianden in English: Tourist office of Luxembourg on the Church of the Trinitarians

There you a nice town to visit beautiful natural country, great castle (see post) and nice looking monuments , and of course Victor Hugo was here (see post. Enjoy Vianden!

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


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March 29, 2020

The streets of Luxembourg city!

Well of course there are too many and some nice looking ones, but in my post they are all honor; the streets of Luxembourg city. One of my favorite country/city to have visited  and lucky it has been several times over the years since even when visiting France stop over there too.

I have some photos of those memorable trips and why not showcase them in my blog and tell you a bit more on the streets of Luxembourg city. Hope you enjoy it

The famous shopping district of Luxembourg is divided into two parts: Understadt (Ville-Basse/Lower town) and Oberstadt (Ville-Haute/Upper town). Understadt is located near the central train station, you will be there if you stay on Avenue de la Gare, for example. The Grand-Rue is probably the most famous shopping street in Oberstadt. Again, many designer and jewelry stores, but it is also the famous Luxembourg chocolates, better known under the name of “Knippercher“! Visit one of the many pastry shops and indulge in one of the best delicacies in the city! The Grand-Rue is also a paradise for shopping, with its perfumeries, its exclusive leather goods and its many shoe stores. The Grand rue is a big shopping open air street with plenty of choices in Luxembourg city. The street extends from the boulevard Royal to the Côte d’Eich where there is a nice singing statue. There are so many stores here it can easily beat any shopping mall in choices and brands. Including our favorite the Galeries Lafayette at 103, Grande Rue



One of our favorite , where we have stayed is the Place d’Armes; the historic trading district of Luxembourg, located near the Grand-Rue, which will allow you to kill two birds with one stone. Visit a prestigious art gallery like the Galerie Schortgen and the Gallery Edition 88: in addition to finding amazing paintings or photographs, you will see works on metal or decorated porcelain plates! A bit of advice near Place d’Armes: go to Zakka, the unique boutique offering accessories available exclusively in Luxembourg. The Place d’Armes flea market to find little treasures! Every Saturday, open during the summer months, this market offers a large selection of objects, something to please everyone! There is , also a wondeful music kiosk with many presentations especially in Summer. Indeed superbe.



The picturesque lovely Rue de la Reine is a pedestrian walkway in the center of the Ville Haute ,

which is the historical  center or old town of Luxembourg City.  It leads from the Place Guillaume II  square

to the Grand Ducal Palace in the background. Very nice walk indeed.


And last but not least, a nice architecturally building that still needs a takeover and a nice walk indeed by here too. It is the Hotel des Postes (post office)  at rue Aldringen corner with ave Monterey and rue de la Poste. As of 1869, the post office of the Upper Town was located in the former barracks of the Prussian garrison “beim Piquet”. Given the rapid development of the post, an extension of the office quickly became essential. From 1908 to 1910, this building in the Renaissance style was constructed. However, since modernizations have regularly taken place until 2018, the year the post office left for bigger quarters. The new one is temporally last I heard at the Mercier building on rue de Reims opposite the train station.


There you go nice walks in lovely Luxembourg city , plenty of good shopping, food and my other favorites architecture and history. Hope you enjoy the streets of Luxembourg.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip as usual by me are

City of Luxembourg on attractions: City of Luxembourg on attractions

Tourist office of Luxembourg on Luxembourg cityTourist office of Luxembourg on the city

Tourist office of Luxembourg city: Tourist office of Luxembourg city

There you go now you are all set for a wonderful time in Luxembourg and its capital city. Hope you enjoy the ride and thanks for reading me!!

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

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March 29, 2020

The streets of Brussels!

And I come back at you for some memorable walks in one of my favorites cities/countries, Brussels/Belgium. I have done a series of these posts as we love to walk once in town, and had overlooked doing it for Brussels. Of course, impossible to pick up all the streets , even the most famous ones but on some quant picturesques parts of Brussels we love to walk on. This is a wonderful area to walk indeed and we love it. Now for the memories.

You know the famous squares of Brussels for that see those posts, pleny on Belgium in my blog. For now, let me tell you about some of the streets of Brussels. And I will start small as in the movies and then finish in grandeur.

Place Poelaert, which towers 63 meters above the lower city of Brussels, serves as a gigantic forecourt for the Brussels Courthouse. The construction of an urban elevator makes it possible to quickly connect the lower town and the upper town. Measuring 155 by 50 meters, it is the largest square in Brussels. It is located on the old ravine park and the gardens of the Hôtel de Mérode, now the Cercle de Lorraine ( a business club). The buildings that line it have no particular style and are examples of the architectural errors of the 1950’s of the 20C. These office blocks then contrast with the impression given by the Themis palace which crowns it and casts its shadow there. On the Place Poelaert square were erected the National Monument to the Belgian Infantry and the Monument to the British soldiers. At number 3, the old hotel “La Régence” was built there in 1928-1929 in a simplified Louis XV style, it has a look that contrasts with the functional buildings of the rest of the square.


The Rue du Marché aux Herbes begins its route behind the Saint-Nicolas Church, at the corner of rue des Fripiers, rue de Tabora, for the odd side, and petite rue au Beurre, for the even side. Passing not far from the Grand-Place in Brussels, it goes up to the Royal Galleries of Saint-Hubert before widening to form a triangular square Marché aux Herbes from where the rue de la Montagne, the rue des Éperonniers, rue de l’Infanta Isabelle and rue de la Madeleine. On this square give the Museum of original figurines and the Horta Gallery which allows access to the Brussels- Central train Station by passing under the Méridien Hotel. The center of the square is decorated with a fountain from the end of the 20C celebrating the memory of the mayor Charles Buls. It is totally pedestrian before joining the Grand Place.

The Rue du Marché aux Herbes is home to a large number of remarkable buildings, including several Baroque houses of great interest. These are the Maison au Cardinal section 37, n ° 14; Maison du Char d’Or, n ° 89, section 37, n ° 13. Maison de la Lunette, n ° 93, section 37, n ° 12 Maison à la Rose, n ° 97; Maison du Léopard, n ° 105, Maison de Saint-Paul , n ° 111, section 37, n ° 2., and Maison du Cheval Volant, at the corner of rue des Éperonniers, section 37 , n ° 1. Maison de L’Agneau Blanc, n ° 42, adorned with charming rare sculptures and unique sculptures from the period in Brussels but which are irretrievably and sadly falling apart under the bad weather. Maison roi d’Espagne section 37, n ° 171, (disappeared). Maison l’Aiguière d’Or, section 37, n ° 172, (disappeared), adjoining the next. It was the home of sculptor Pierre Van Dievoet. Maison du Renard Blanc, last house, at the corner of rue de la Putterie (disappeared), plot section 37, n ° 173. Several dead ends lead to rue du Marché aux Herbes: Impasse des Cadeaux, near number 8; Impasse Saint-Nicolas, near number 12, and Impasse Sainte-Pétronille, between numbers 66 and 68.


For an overall look at this district of Brussels, let me give a general opening remarks. The Le Sablon is a district located in the historic center of Brussels which includes the Petit Sablon and its square, the Notre-Dame Church, the Place du Grand Sablon as well as the surrounding streets. Near the Quartier des Arts, the Sablon was not far from the ramparts of the first enclosure. The Hôpital Saint Jean who owned the land made it a cemetery in 1299 then ceded part of it in 1304 to a crossbowmen guild who undertook to build a chapel, the future Notre-Dame du Sablon Church (see post).

The rue aux Laines was an extension of the Sablon; there are still on the odd side the hotels of Lannoy and Mérode-Westerloo. In the rue des Petits Carmes, on the other side of the Egmont palace, was the Hôtel de Culembourg in the 16C, where the Compromis des Nobles was drawn up in 1566. To remove all traces of this seditious act against the king, the Duke of Alba had the hotel razed in 1568 and built an expiatory column on its site.

This old quarter was remodeled in the 19C by the opening of rue de la Régence between Place Royale and the Palais de Justice. This Haussmannian artery runs alongside the houses adjoining the church which were destroyed from 1872. In the 19C, it was gradually abandoned by the aristocracy in favor of new posh districts, such as the Leopold district. In the 20C, the Place du Grand Sablon was occupied by a more modest population and there were small workshops and warehouses inside the islets. At the end of the 1960s,it was witnessed a new residential and commercial transformation: several antique dealers came to settle in the district following the demolitions in the Mont des Arts district. The Sablon gradually became so popular that it will give rise to the creation of a neologism: sandblasting, the local version of gentrification.

And here I split the two main spots. The Place du Petit Sablon slopes down to the Palais d’Egmont at n ° 8 at the Place du Petit Sablon. In the Middle Ages, the Zavelbeek (Sablon stream in Dutch) had its source at the top of Petit Sablon This stream helped shape the topography of the streets of the district: the south side of Petit Sablon, rue des Sablons, the south side of Grand Sablon, rue de Rollebeek as well as rue des Alexiens and rue des Bogards correspond to its roughly straight course. In the middle of the current square is an exceptional garden, the Petit Sablon square, inaugurated in 1890. It is surrounded by a wrought iron balustrade inspired by the one that once adorned the gates of the old Coudenberg palace, at the like the Place de la Gare de Binche. The painter Xavier Mellery drew the forty-eight statues. Each stone pillar supporting the statues is decorated with an original decoration and these pillars themselves are connected by grids with all different patterns. A delight for admirers of the know-how of yesteryear. Too many to mention here but go see it!

In the center of the square stands the Fountain of the Counts of Egmont and Horne, symbols of resistance to Spanish occupation in the 16C. This fountain was originally located in front of the maison du Roi in the Grand Place. This group is surrounded by ten statues arranged in a semicircle representing politicians, scholars or artists of the 16C, Again several to mention go see it . Around the park stands a group of 19C houses, most of them neo-classical. Only, at n ° 9, the house known as “Au Roy d’Espagne” dates from the 17C.


On the other side of the Notre Dame Church, the Grand Sablon forms a vast irregular quadrilateral, 150 meters long, but only 30 meters wide in the west and 40 meters in the east square. The Grand Sablon once communicated with the Petit Sablon by rue Bodenbroek and rue des Sablons. These two streets were cut off from part of their route by the opening of rue de la Régence, which accentuated the break between the two Sablons. In the 13C, the Grand Sablon was a marshy and sandy meadow, which was outside the first enclosure of Brussels. In the 16C, this square was called Forum Equorum in Latin or Peerdemerct in Dutch, (that is to say Horse Market), because of the horse market which was held there from 1320 to 1754. The name Sablon is however older. In the 14C, it was called Zavelpoel (meaning Sablon basin in Dutch), because of the basin which occupied its center and which only disappeared in 1615. After the filling of this basin, it was erected a fountain at its location in 1661. The water which supplied it was brought by a new pipe from Obbrussel. It was replaced in 1754 by the Minerve fountain, restored in 1999. The Place du Grand Sablon was often the scene of festivals and competitions, but also of tragic events. It was the site of a mass execution on June 1, 1568, when eighteen signatories of the Noble Compromise petition were beheaded there. Belgian sovereigns often came to attend competitions until the 1950s. King Leopold II, he came there, he said, “as a neighborhood neighbor”

The bottom of the Place du Grand Sablon square underwent major modifications at the end of the 19C. It only communicated with the rue des Minimes by the little rue des Minimes and the rue du Coq-d’Inde. In 1884-88, rue des Minimes was widened and extended in a straight line towards the square, leading to the disappearance of rue du Coq-d’Inde and several houses at the bottom of the square. The Sablon used to communicate with the lower part of the city only by the rue de Rollebeek. To improve these communications, the rue Joseph Stevens was pierced in 1894, at the same time creating a perspective towards the Notre-Dame de la Chapelle Church. The drilling of rue Lebeau in 1893 was part of the same intention.

On Saturdays and Sundays the Antiquities and Book Market is held there. All around the Place du Grand Sablon square, a number of antique shops, designer boutiques, restaurants, hotels, an auction house and several well-known Belgian pastry and chocolate makers such as Neuhaus, Pierre Marcolini, and Godiva enliven the district. The square is the starting point of the Ommegang procession every year and on November 20, that of Saint-Verhaegen, celebration of the foundation of the Free University of Brussels.

Remarkable building here are N ° 4: This Louis XIV house is dated “1728” with a frieze. Its nucleus is undoubtedly older. N ° 5: This house was formerly known as the Hôtel du Chastel de la Howarderie. Built in classic style around 1785, it is deployed in an L around an interior courtyard. Two spans were added to the facade in 1857. It has a beautiful interior decoration in Louis XVI style, whose staircase has a stucco decoration and a spiral staircase. In the courtyard there are stables, an orangery and two small gabled houses from the 17C, one of which still has a baroque style ceiling. N ° 15-16: This 17C house has a baroque gable. N ° 38-39: These two pretty stepped gabled houses may seem original. This is not the case: the pinion had disappeared in the 19C. In 1954-57, they were raised by one story and surmounted by a new gable. No. 39 carries a fictional vintage from 1667. No. 43: This house is all that remains of a 16C mansion. Of the original five spans, only two remain, the other three having been destroyed during the extension of rue des Minimes. The ground floor still has two arches with a basket handle, in a finishing Gothic style. And N ° 49: This narrow stepped gabled house carries anchors which would make it go back to the year 1567. It was formerly a well-known cafe called “Les bons enfants”.


Some webpages in English to help you guide to these wonderful streets and pleny more in Brussels are

The tourist office of BrusselsTourist office of Brussels

City of Brussels and its webcams!(yes they are empty now) city of Brussels and its webcams

The metro area of Brussels official webpage on tourism: Region of Brussels on tourism

There you go a bit long but the history is important and the architecture fantastic when you walk around a city. There is a lot behind those bricks! Hope you enjoy it and do walk the streets of Brussels

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



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March 28, 2020

Mariacki is Krakow, Poland!

So let me get back to Krakow, Poland. It was a surprise visit not planned but end up there somehow. It has given me many nice souvenirs and friends since 2017. I had the opportunity to walk all over the center and of course have other posts on the city. However, I think should give more credit to St Mary’s square or Mariacki and the basilica  and nice buildings there. Therefore here is my brief story on Mariacki in Krakow, Poland.

Mariacki Square is in the Old Town adjacent to the Main Square. In the center of the square is the St. Mary’s Church. The square was created after 1802 on the site of the liquidated parish cemetery at St. Mary’s Church. The area of the former cemetery is now lined with white cubes. The southern part of the square is decorated with a “pigeon well” with a bronze figure. The well and the figure is an enlarged replica of one of the sculptures of the prophets from the frame of the central wardrobe of the altar of the Church.. It is a gift of Krakow craftsmen for the city made in 1958. The Mariacki square (St Mary) which adjoins the Notre-Dame (St Mary) Church was from the Middle Ages to the last years of the 18C, the burial place of many generations of Kracovians (local residents).


There are several buildings at the Plac Mariacki: Some of the most relevant for me were

At No. 2 – tenement of St. Mary’s penitentiary priests, was built at the end of the 14C. In 1637, penitents purchased this tenement house from the Ryniewicz family. The final appearance of the building was given in the second half of the 19C.

No. 3 Hipolitów house – a burgher’s tenement house. Many old architectural details have been preserved: stone Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque portals, beam ceilings, rich stuccoes, paintings from the 18C. Once the facade was decorated with graffito decoration. The name of the house comes from its former owners – an Italian merchant family.

No. 4 at corner with Szpitalna str is the Prałatówka residence – built in the 17C for the archbishops of the basilica; the only example of an early Baroque-style residence in Krakow that has not undergone any changes: its portal is adorned with the Latin phrase Pateat amicis and miseris, meaning that this house is open to friends and the poor   Inside the house there are chambers, wooden ceilings, and antique stuccos in the hall.

The square also accommodates a second, smaller house of worship: the gothic Ste Barbara Church, dating back to the 14C and sitting atop the remains of Jakub Wujek, a 16C Jesuit priest who was the first person to translate the Bible to Polish. Behind the Church Ste. Barbara’s facade actually faces Maly Rynek no. 9 is the Ogrojec, a Late Gothic annex once serving the function of a cemetery chapel.

No. 8 – Dom Pod Ogrojcem, formerly it was decorated by the statue of Veit Stoss “Christ in the Garden”. Before WWI, the owner of the house, a well-known Krakow merchant and social activist, offered it to the National Museum, and replaced it with a copy that stands today.

No. 9 – at the corner of Mariacki Square and the Main Square stands the house of Cielcie, where Stanisław Wyspiański lived and wrote before the reconstruction . This fact is commemorated with a plaque . The house standing here is currently treated as an example of Art Nouveau architecture.


However, the main monument here and a must to see stand alone is the St Mary’s Basilica.

The St. Mary’s Basilica , also Our Lady (Notre Dame) Basilica built in the 14C in the former capital of Poland; Krakow. It is dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin. The church, with its mixture of Gothic architecture and Renaissance style, stands on the market square. Built of handmade bricks, the building has three naves. It is particularly renowned for its wooden altarpiece and its cloth market 13C. The basilica has two towers of different heights: the north tower, which measures 81 meters, as well as the south tower, which measures 69 meters and which constitutes the bell tower of the church with its five bells sheltered under a dome dating from the 16C. The largest Gothic wooden altarpiece in Europe, the large altarpiece, adorns the main altar: it is considered one of the masterpieces of sculpture from the early Middle Ages. The official webpage in English is here: Official St Mary’s Basilica

The tourist office of Krakow in English: Tourist office of Krakow on things to see

The city of Krakow in English on heritage: City of Krakow on heritage

The tourist office of Poland on Krakow in English: Tourist office of Poland on Krakow

There you go folks, a nice wonderful walks full of architecture and history of Poland all around you. Hope you enjoy the tour of St Mary’s square in Krakow!

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

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March 28, 2020

Torre Mangana is Cuenca!

And back to my beloved Spain, nowdays more than ever solidarity is stronger. I have many souvenirs of living in Spain and visiting over my life, and Cuenca has a strong case to be one of the most memorable. My family followed me here and my dear late wife Martine really enjoy it so much. We had many memorable moments in Cuenca, Provincia de Cuenca, Autonomous Region of Castilla La Mancha, Kingdom of Spain

One of those memorable moments was climbing to the Torre Mangana tower; it has steep steps and rolling street. I was on point and the rest of the family follow begging to slow down lol! We always had a joke about this walk. Let me share it with you, the Torre Mangana of Cuenca.


We came looking for the Torre Mangana tower and we did! This is a huge tower on the upper part of the city.  The tower is from 1565 and the clock and Cross were added in 1532. This clock mark the official time of Cuenca even today! There is ongoing excavations below it closed to the public, as  the base of the tower on the plaza de Mangana,was where the neighoborhood of Arabs and later the Jewish quarter in medieval times and finally the Christian area of  Santa María(Saint Mary). Today it is a symbol of the city of Cuenca.

During the second half of the 19C, it was decided to change the top of the tower; which, despite the restorations, it is known that in 1862 it was in a terrible state. In 1926, the appearance of the tower will change considerably. The walls were covered with a rich and colorful decoration in plaster, inspired by Islamic motifs, mainly North African; while the staggered battlements that finished off the tower refer us like the mosque of Cordoba.

But this picturesque and exotic neo-Mudejar tower would not be the definitive one, the Torre Mangana was once again remodelled in 1970. With this restoration, it was intended, as stated in the project’s memory, to dignify a tower that, although it could not be considered a artistic monument of the first order, had great importance for Cuenca, as it had become one of city’s symbols. This project encase the tower and give it a fortified and defensive character that, as part of the old wall, it had originally had ; it provided the construction with a very powerful corbel, and finished it without a roof.

Let me go on on the Torre Mangana a symbol of the city of Cuenca.

By starting in Plaza de la Merced, you can already see the Torre Mangana tower looming before going to the Plaza de Mangana. You will do good to stop to contemplate the façade that is carved in stone that is just before reaching the tower, which belongs to an entry from the Cuenca Seminary: Mangana means machine in Arabic. It is known that in the 16C this 28-meter-high tower was remodeled or perhaps was built, in which a cross, a weather vane and a spire crowned this tower, and in which the clock was installed giving the time to the residents of the city. or more surely is that the Mangana Tower was part of the wall of this Arab fortification.


Already in the late 18C and early 19C it had to be repaired due to the damages of the war of independence against the French and in the 20C, specifically in 1926, the tower was remodeled in the Mudejar and African style. The Tower that we see today is from the last reform, in 1970, in which a corbel was put to make it look like a defensive tower.

The great Alcazar of Cuenca, was built here. A great building of which little is known and of which little remains today, which are the archaeological remains that are in the same square and the wall cloths in the streets that surround this area of the old town of the city. There is still the part of the ruins of the old alcazar and the old Church of Santa Maria.   When the city of Cuenca was reconquered by king Alfonso VIII, the Muslims who remained in the city and the Jewish community settled in the neighborhood where the tower is today. In this space a Synagogue was built and in the 15C the Church of Santa María, a one-story church with a tower with two bells, the only thing that remains of that church is the Montemayor tomb, transferred to the Cathedral. The church was demolished at the beginning of the 20C. In the archaeological excavations of the Plaza de Mangana in Cuenca we can see remains of this church.


Ou have wonderful viewpoints from the Mangana square or Plaza de Mangana where the tower is also: The new city area, the Hoz del Júcar river and the old town of Cuenca in different perspectives. You can look out or you can also sit on one of the banks of the Plaza de Mangana to contemplate the beautiful landscape of Cuenca.

You see more and more info on the Torre Mangana in these webpages, hope it helps you come and visit here, it is recommended

See the Cultural Center Cervantes in Spanish on the Torre Mangana; Centro Cultural Cervantes on Cuenca torre Mangana

The tourist office of Province of CuencaTourist office of province of Cuenca

The tourist office of Castilla La Mancha in english on Torre Mangana: Tourist office of Castilla La Mancha on Torre Mangana in Cuenca

There you go a symbol of Cuenca and worth the climb to see it and see the city from there, the torre Mangana is worth the detour indeed. Enjoy the walk and tower.

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

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