Archive for April 17th, 2020

April 17, 2020

Basilica Our Lady of Atocha, Madrid!

So here again need to expand on this marvel of my beloved Madrid. Again, written so many posts on my Madrid and always something is missing, as now. Briefly touch before, need to tell you more of the wonderful story of this huge monument call the Basilica de Nuestra Señora de Atocha or Basilica of Our Lady of Atocha of Madrid.

And, of course I have passed several times and finally saw the Basilica de Nuestra Señora de Atocha , very nice, on Avenida de la Ciudad de Barcelona, 1. but main entrance of the parish is at Calle Julián Gayarre 1. It is in the neighborhood of Pacifico, and district of Retiro of my Madrid. Very centrally located very near the Atocha Renfe train metro station on the Alfonso XII exit and Menéndez Pelayo station on the Gutenberg exit, of metro line 1, Cercanías. Atocha Station and bus lines 10 and 14 are good too.


The main here is the history of the Basilica Nuestra Señora de Atocha , I like

The image of Our Lady of Atocha, is the oldest in Madrid. The legend traces the devotion to apostolic times, attributing its accomplishment to Nicodemus and its polychromy to Saint Luke, being transferred by Saint Peter’s disciples from Antioch to Spain. It is the chronicles of the 17C that begin to provide more realistic data, citing a document where the first reference to the cult of Our Lady of Atocha appeared. It would be a 7C writing by San Ildefonso in which he claimed to have prayed before an image in Madrid whose characteristics would correspond to the current image.

The first documents that mention the existence of a hermitage in which Our Lady of Atocha is worshiped, date back to 1162, and are some Bulls of the Cathedral of Toledo where the archbishop of that city grants ownership of the hermitage to the Collegiate house of Santa Leocadia de Toledo. And finally, the irrefutable document that shows the existence of an important cult to Our Lady in her dedication to Atocha,was in the 13C, in the Cantigas de Alfonso X el Sabio, where direct reference is made to two miracles of Nuestra Señora (Our Lady= Notre Dame) from “Tocha” from “Madride” in Cantigas 289 and 315. The Dominican friars have been custodians of the image since 1523, the year in which, through fr. Juan Hurtado de Mendoza, confessor of King Carlos V, the hermitage becomes property of the Order of Preachers. Illustrious friars have passed through it such as confessors of kings, theologians, writers, musicians etc. Fr. Bartolomé de las Casas, defender of the Indians (Americas), spent his last years of his life, and here he died and was buried , although the exact place of his grave is not known.

There was always a close relationship between the Royal House and the image of Our Lady of Atocha. According to the chronicles, the kings soon began to visit the Virgin of Atocha: Alfonso VII, Alfonso IX, Sancho IV el Bravo, Enrique II, Enrique III, Enrique IV, Juan I, Juan II and the Catholic Monarchs(Fernando e Isabel). It is said of Felipe II that he never left Madrid without going through the Basilica. Felipe IV visited it 3400 times, as a friar of the house noted patiently. Carlos II wanted his first outing as king of Spain to go to Atocha, and there he went after his wedding with María Luisa de Orleans giving on that occasion a cloak and a diamond crown. Alfonso XII, restored the throne, moved from the Atocha station to the Basilica where he prayed a Te Deum and Salve.


From a very early age it became customary for kings to present princes and infants to their children before the image of the Virgin. So they did, for example, on December 7, 1629, Felipe IV and his wife presenting Prince Baltasar Carlos. Felipe IV brought Prince Carlos before the image a few days after his birth. The relationship between the Royal House and the Basilica has also been maintained during the 20C. The current kings Felipe VI and Doña Leticia approached the temple after their wedding to present the bouquet to the Virgin, and on two more occasions in 2006 and 2007to present to their Patron Saint their current daughters Princess Eleanor and Infanta Sofia

Events happened here too sadly. In 1808 Napoleon’s troops violently entered the Convent and Church, turning it into a barracks and causing terrible damage. It was then that the historical flags were lost, a memory of Spain’s triumphs throughout history, which decorated the walls of the temple in gratitude. They stole all the gold and silver from the Virgin, burned the library books and demolished many parts of the convent. The friars took the image of Our Lady of Atocha and took it to the Descalzas Reales and later they transferred it to the Convent of Santo Tomás where the religious stayed. The confiscation of 1834 was the second hard blow to the temple, when the Dominicans were expelled and the convent converted into a barracks for invalids and the temple guarded by the Royal Chaplain. With the passage of time the temple threatened ruin and the image was transferred to the parish of Buen Suceso.

On November 12, 1863, Pope Pius IX granted the Church of Atocha the title of Basilica, by means of a Brief pontificate signed in Rome. Thus, it became the first temple in Madrid to receive this title and one of the top ten in Spain. It had been Queen Isabel II who had raised the request for such dignity to the Nuncio to Her Holiness in Spain. The Queen was a faithful devotee of Our Lady of Atocha, and in her temple she had celebrated the Mass of vigils after her marriage, and she frequently went to pray and sing Salve before the image of the Virgin. The Pope, aware of the Queen’s devotion to the image, responded promptly granting the title of Basilica.

In 1924 the Dominicans, who could not forget the Virgin of Atocha who had guarded with so much devotion and affection for four centuries, asked King Alfonso XII to grant facilities to restore the Convent and Church Basilica of the Virgin of Atocha. The works were carried out with the greatest speed and on the first Saturday of November 1926 the solemn transfer of the Virgin was made, from the parish of Buen Suceso to its new church, where she was received by His Majesty the King Alfonso XIII ;and his mother Queen María Cristina, resuming a new era in the cult of the Virgin of Atocha.


The worship was interrupted again in the eventful years of our civil war, when the Convent and the Basilica Church of Our Lady of Atocha were assaulted and burned down – on July 20, 1936 by Republicans forces; and the religious who could not escape that tragic day were martyred. Everything of value kept in the compound was lost, but God wanted only the greatest treasure in the house to be saved, the image of the Virgin of Atocha that had been removed days before her throne and had been handed over her custody to a family friend of the Community.

The current Basilica fo Our Lady of Atocha was inaugurated on Christmas 1951. In 1963, the Virgen de Atocha School was built, which the Atocha community managed for more than 40 years until it was transferred to the Santo Domingo Educational Foundation, although the friars of the convent continue to participate in pastoral care. Of the college. In 1965 the parish of Our Lady of Atocha was erected, which was a great pastoral impulse in the neighborhood that continues today with intensity.

A wonderful story indeed and a beautiful basilica on an area that is grand for walks; see my other posts on the street Paseo de la Reina Cristina. The Basilica of Our Lady of Atocha is very much part of the history of Madrid and Spain , hope you have the time to see it, after all walking distance from Atocha train station!

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here which is a must are

Official Basilica de Nuestra Señora de Atocha in Spanish: Official Basilica of Our Lady of Atocha

The tourist office of Madrid on the Basilica in English: Tourist office of Madrid on the Basilica

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

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April 17, 2020

An avenue and towers in Barcelona!

And let me bring you back to the Barcelona and some of its monumental work that have been briefly mentioned in previous posts but feel needs a post of their own. Let me tell you briefly about the Avenida Reina Maria Cristina and the Venetian towers leading to Montjuic in Barcelona, Autonomous region of Catalunya, kingdom of Spain.

The Avenida de la Reina María Cristina or Avinguda de la Reina Maria Cristina is located in the Sants-Montjuïc district, It is located between Plaza de España and Plaza de Carles Buïgas, where the Magic Fountain of Montjuic is located. It was urbanized in view of the celebration of the International Exposition of Barcelona in 1929. It is dedicated to María Cristina de Habsburgo-Lorena, second wife of king Alfonso XII and mother of king Alfonso XIII.

The Reina María Cristina Avenue is at the foot of the Montjuïc mountain. It starts from the Plaza de España (see post) and runs in a straight line until the confluence of the avenues Francesc Ferrer i Guàrdia and Rius i Taulet, where a series of squares such as Carles Buïgas, Josep Puig i Cadafalch and de las Cascadas that lead to the Palacio Nacional, which dominates the avenue from the heights.


It is located between various monuments like the Venetian Towers at the beginning in the Plaza de España, and the Magic Fountain and the Four Columns at the end of the street, before ascending to the Palacio Nacional or National Palace.


On both sides of the avenue were the main buildings of the International Exposition   such as the Palace of the Dress, the Palace of Communications and Transportation, the Palace of Metallurgy, Electricity and Power, and the Palace of Projections. This architectural complex currently constitutes the Barcelona Trade Fair or FIRA, next to the palaces of Alfonso XIII and Victoria Eugenia, located next to the Magic Fountain. Next to the avenue was the Plaza de la Mecánica ,currently the Plaza del Universo, in the center of which was the Torre de la Luz, a light source called the Jardin de Agua-Luz, and the sculpture El trabajo.



A bit on the main buildings here !

The Palace of Communications and Transportation from a project from 1926, it presents a neoclassical style line inspired by French academic architecture.

The Palace of Dresses or work ,initially called the Palace of Pedagogy, Hygiene and Social Institutions. It presents an irregular plan arranged around a central space with a large roundabout topped by an oriental-style dome.

The Palace of Metallurgy, Electricity and Power Forces is a rectangular form, a large polyhedral dome stands out in the central part, on a drum and with a lantern, with a façade featuring a large classical pediment decorated with fresco paintings and with allegorical sculptures.

The Palace of Projections was demolished after the International Exposition, the current Palacio del Congreso or Congress Palace was built in its place as of now.


At the end of the Queen Maria Cristina avenue and at the foot of the mountain, the famous Magic Fountain of Montjuïc was built, which amazed the public with its fantastic play of light and water jets. Even today it is an emblematic work of Barcelona, where pyro-musical shows are usually held at the Merced festivals and every weekend of the year they are launched in a recital of water, light, color and music. As a prelude to the great fountain, a small waterfall was placed on the access staircase from the Queen Maria Cristina avenue  to the Plaza de Carles Buïgas square, located on three levels separated by cup-shaped pots.



The easiest is the Metro station at Plaza España or Plaça Espanya on lines 1 and 3, and several bus lines including the airport express that leaves you off at the square easy walk over to the Venetian towers and the start of the Avenida de la Reina Maria Cristina.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are

The city of Barcelona on the Reina Maria Cristina avenue in English: City of Barcelona on the avenue Reina Maria Cristina

The official FIRA congress webpage on Montjuic in English: FIRA Barcelona on Montjuic

The tourist office of Barcelona on the Magic Fountain in English: Tourist office on Montjuic magic fountain

And there you , these are wonderful architectural buildings and modern history of the city of Barcelona with plenty to see, eat ,shop and especially wonderful walks for the whole family. Hope you enjoy the brief introduction so you too can come here as we did several times.

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

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April 17, 2020

Giverny is Monet or Monet is Giverny!

And now lets go back in time when we lived in a royal town of France ahh you need to read my blog lol! Well we took a lot of trips by car from there and one we went even for a lunch was Giverny. Ahh yes you know this town actually more like a village but a certain Claude Monet lived there and voilà a major tourist destination now. Good for a visit if you like me like Monet, the best painter of all time , me think.

Giverny is tucked in a bend just between the Normandy and the Ile de France regions, small, but very popular ,we all love to see Claude Monet. Giverny is for the artistic senses in you, the art lover. ou can easily come from Paris on the A15 autoroute that becomes the N14, and follow signs for Giverny.  I always came by car but for info here is the public transport choices: take the train from gare St Lazare to Vernon, then take the Giverny Shuttle allows you to reach the village of Giverny from the Vernon-Giverny train station. Access to shuttle is within the limit of available places.  Or local bus 10 from city center or 241 from train station, does the work too. You can take a taxi or walk/bike  about 7 kms. The bikes can be rented from near the train station at Vernon , the bike rental I know is here: Bike rental Vernon Giverny. The bus line is here for SNgo: SNgo bus network Vernon Giverny


I would like to tell you a bit ,first, about Giverny.  The things to see,and eat,and even stay in between your trip from the landing beaches and Paris.  You have the house and gardens of Claude Monet, see the reading room or salon bleu that connects with the epicerie or grocery ,where he kept all the kitchen needs, then you go to his shop or atelier,where he worked until 1899. You go up one floor to his bedroom , with many paintings of his, and then the toilette or bathroom and the small bedroom and bath of his wife  Alice , and the dining room below, all in remarkable state of preservation.  You can see the Clos Normand, a beautiful vegetable garden and apple trees. At the end of the clos Normand he creates a water garden or jardin d’eau with a fountain,and a japanese bridge. It is here that he does the Nympheas painting now showing in the Orangerie at Paris.  Here in the shop of Nympheas you will find a boutique/shop with all the trimmings. You can visit his tomb as well by the cemetery and small Church of Giverny.



The Fondation Claude Monet manages the house museum now , all info in English here: Fondation Monet


You can visit the museum of Impressionists, with painting from the period; it replaces the museum of American Arts from 2009.  It is a wonderful place to see the Impressionists art movement and its effect on others over the years. As well recommended. We have fond memories of the old very informative and friendly service. The webpage for the new Impressionists museum is here in English: Impressionists museum of Giverny


There is a wonderful unofficial site with plenty of information on Giverny and things to see and do , transports eating lodging etc here giverny org. in English, it is loaded: Giverny org

Some of my recommendations for eating out here as lodging always came on one day hops from home.

As far as eating, my favorites are La  Halle aux Grains, in Vernon,webpage  Restaurant La Halle aux Grains Vernon

And the Auberge des Pêcheurs resto in Port Mort between Giverny and Vernon, All FRench local cuisine at its best. No web but the city hall webpage tells you in French: In Port Mort the Auberge des Pecheurs

In Giverny, for a quick meal in the Impressionist museum there is Terra Cafe, quite good for a museum resto. No need to enter the museum to eat here ok. Info from the giverny org webpage in English: Terra Cafe at the Impressionists museum Giverny

Another and historical but a bit touristic for me  is the resto of the hotel Baudy, 81 rue Claude Monet just by the house of the painter. webpage: Restaurant Baudy Giverny

And there you go another pleasant memorable trip in my belle France, it never cease to amaze me the multitudes of things to see and do and Giverny is one of them just for Claude Monet.

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

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