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.

Belmonte

Belmonte

 

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.

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.

Belmonte

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.

Belmonte

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.

Belmonte

Belmonte

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.

Belmonte

 

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!

Belmonte

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

lisbon

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.

lisbon

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.

lisbon

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.

Luxembourg

 

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

Luxembourg

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.

Luxembourg

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

Luxembourg

Luxembourg

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.

Luxembourg

Luxembourg

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.

Luxembourg

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.

Luxembourg

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.

Brussels

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.

Brussels

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.

Brussels

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”.

Brussels

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 27, 2020

Echternach, oldest in Luxembourg!

And here I am back into one of my favorites countries of Europe. And one of its most smaller, as well as coming to its oldest city of Echternach! It was a lovely ride and would like to expand a bit on the town.

On one of my days from home in Germany near the Luxembourg border we decided to come to Echternach, I have been by here briefly before , but this time the whole family was in. Echternach is the basilica of Saint Willibrock ,really see my other post.  It was easy for us as we just came from our village up the B51 up to Konz and then to Wasserbillig Luxembourg on the road N10 straight to Echternach. nice ride.

Echternach

Here we came across the old justice palace or now city hall done in the 13-14C and still in great condition very nice in the place du Marché or Moartplaatz. And the best place for wine tasting is at one of the many terraces of the Market Square where you’ll enjoy local delicacies surrounded by centuries-old buildings. The Market Square or Place du Marché or Moartplaatz is also the best place to meet the locals from Echternach.  Whereas Nightlife is rather quiet during the week, the bars can get crowded during weekends.

Echternach

Echternach

Echternach

Enjoy Echternach a medieval looking complex right in the center of town, easy parking. The tourist office is here in English: TOurist office of Echternach

A bit more on the town indeed very quant nice, we like it and will be back.

Echternach is a city in Luxembourg along the Sûre valley marking the border with the German Rhineland-Palatinate State. It is best known for its abbey and its Pentecostal dancing procession (see post). It is the oldest town of Luxembourg. The Echternach Abbey which has become today the town of Echternach had a Roman past. To be more precise, Echternach’s past is said to have a Gallo-Roman origin.  The Roman villa of Echternach was discovered through the installation of the artificial lake that we know today. These archaeological works made it possible to date the villa from the 70s AD!

It was later part of the Electorate of Trier in present-day Germany, and was presented to Willibrord by Irmina , daughter of Dagobert II, king of the Franks (France). Other parts of the Merovingians’ Roman inheritance were presented to the Abbey by king of the Franks Pepin the Short.  Echternach continued to have royal patronage from the house of Charlemagne. In the wake of the French revolution, the monks were dispersed and the abbey’s contents and its famous library were auctioned off. Some of the library’s early manuscripts, such as the famous Echternach Gospels, are now in the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris.

During the concluding months of WWII in Europe, on December 16, 1944, Echternach served as the southernmost point on the battlefront for the attempt of the Nazis  Wehrmacht forces attacking the Allies to retake Antwerp, during the Battle of the Bulge. The town was badly damaged in WWII as a conséquence, but was thoroughly restored.

Today, the Portuguese culture has a long tradition in Luxembourg. Portuguese immigration started in the 1960’s and nowadays the Portuguese community represents 16.2% of the Grand-Duchy’s population. As many Luxembourgish towns, Echternach has Portuguese shops, Portuguese bars, and Portuguese traditions are firmly integrated in the local event calendar. Portuguese festival is celebrated in June, and it lasts for 2 days.

More on Echternach on the tourist office of LuxembourgTourist office of Luxembourg on Echternach

And there you folks, I have many posts on Luxembourg and its many towns:cities and of course on the abbey in Echternach. Hope you enjoy the tour.

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

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March 27, 2020

Amazing South Africa, Sandton and East London!

Loong ago back in 1998 I came here and then a long pause until 2012 , after several trips, the last was in 2015. Just touching base on my waterholes around the world and the friends gathered that are still on board! This is my hommage to these folks and my visits there. Of course, I have other posts on specific areas over the years too. South Africa is a vast land but my interaction have been in East London area a working class but also, has some nice neighbourhoods, then the Sandton area as Fourways are just superb it seems very nice architecture and lively.

The country has gone thru a metamorphosis and its looking very bright with growth potential even if as every where else there are economic problems. I was there always on business trips , so not much touristic side trips. Once in the country, the car was the main mode as I was driven around, so it look easy, and as I am a road warrior this was heavens.

I did spent several periods running from a few days to a couple of weeks at a time, and many new friends who treated me as if known for years. I was able to go into the country to meet customers right in their homes out in the country, very good roads, and gorgeous scenery. My early photos were taken with my blackberry phone, so not uptimum but ease of use when on business trips.

I arrive and was pick up by the transport folks of the hotel where I was staying, the Sitatunga Transfers folks were always very dependable, and the lodging was done at their property near Sandton at Sitatunga Guest Lodge. Webpage here: Sitatunga villas and transfer

sandton

The airport at Johannesbourg  OR Tambo is very nice with all conveniences and had easy in and out there all the time.   Official OR Tambo airport

Johannesburg

The nice terrace bar there at OR Tambo was Mandys now it is gone!!!and on a resto Vasllis Mediterranean that seems now closed in Sandton.

When we did go out we had fun at Fornos Bakery in Fourways near Sandton, great burgers, sausages, and drinks while looking out in the terrace over a shopping mall and passerbyers. Official Fournos Fourways

Sandton

I ,also was able to try the Gautrain underground station in Sandton, and direct to OR Tambo international airport, very easy magnetic card depends on your usage you buy from machine using bank cards or cash, very easy indeed,and modern, clean, fast and on time. webpage  https://www.gautrain.co.za/

Sandton

The airport at East London is smaller but then easy to manoeuvre and I was told the most expensive place to visit by plane as not too many connections available. It has an interesting zulu type shape roof. The great bar there was Mile High Bar but do not seems to find it now so probably closed as well. Official East London airport

You will be in an oasis and well treated. When I needed to move to East London,  I stayed at Thrity Six on Bonza ,another nice   boutique lodge ,gorgeously done, and great friendly service. Bonza Collection Thirty Six

east london

We had dinner on request at Thirty Six on Bonza as per above.

east london

I was even close to a beach at East London, very nice beaches in the area, especially Buffalo Beach , that just saw, ,and sure a promise to come back. I am looking forward to the opportunity to be back again, until then thanks for the memories and the friendships.

The tourist office of South AFrica on cities here: Official South Africa tourism

The tourist office of Gauteng, the region of Sandton, and Foursways: Tourist office of Gauteng on Johannesburg

The tourist office for East London is the metro area Buffalo City here: Official Buffalo City tourism

And there you go , a brief tour of a wonderful section of South AFrica. There is a lot more with a lot more time, I have done some see my other posts. Hope it helps you enjoy them as well. And me to be back, I will be back… Enjoy Sandton, Fourways, East London and South Africa.

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

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