Archive for December 14th, 2020

December 14, 2020

Villanueva de la Jara, in the Province of Cuenca!!!

And moving right along trying to update, revise with new links and or pictures I came across this one. Oh well, I have written posts before on Villanueva de la Jara but left out some interesting buildings I like to point out now.  The tour of these old post needless to say has been a wonderful tour for me and hope for you too. I thank you for reading me over these last 10 years!

It was a long road warrior day thru the province of Cuenca in the region of Castilla de la Mancha. We went south of Cuenca on national and local regional roads into the vast lands of Don Quijote, searching his dreams! We stop at Villanueva de la Jara.  This is a historical town, going back to prehistoric times. However, it is call Villanueva or new town because in 1476 sided with the Queen Isabel I of Castille (The Catholic Queen) in her fight in the war of succession to the throne she contested with Juana la Beltraneja. She ,Isabel I won, and for allegiance gave the title of City, and built a college of Latin ,the first one in the province of Cuenca.

Villanueva de la Jara,  belongs to the area of La Manchuela. It borders of the  Valdemembra river . Besides the main nucleus itself it also comprises the nuclei of Santa Cruz and Ribera de San Benito as villages. It is known for the cultivation of mushrooms which is the main economic activity of the area, as well as different edible fungi. The town is well connected as it passes through the center the N-320  road that goes from Cuenca to Albacete and the N-310 that goes from Villanueva de la Jara to Manzanares, and is 13 km from the. A3 expressway that connects to Madrid and Valencia. All these roads taken several times by yours truly!

In the Spanish Civil War, it was one of the bases of the leftist Republican Army and of the International Brigades. In Villanueva de la Jara were George Orwell, Willy Brandt and Josip Broz Tito among many others, within the International Brigades, the Comitern and the Lincoln Brigade. On the outskirts of town are some bunkers of what was an aerodrome in wartime.

The Church or Iglesia del Carmen was previously a monks’s convent of the Carmelites that keeps the image of the Virgen de las Nieves (Virgin of the snow) the town patron Saint. The comes from the cloister of the Convent of the same name that began to be built when the Carmelite friars arrived from the nearby Desierto del Socorro, in La Roda, thanks to the efforts carried out by Santa Teresa de Jésus.


The church is an a Latin cross, with three naves, the main one and the lateral ones destined to shelter the devotional chapels, connected by a corridor. The central orange color dome with four medallions on the pendentives with saints of the Order, among them the great reformers: San Juan de la Cruz and Santa Teresa de Jesús. Notable in the center of the main altarpiece is the Gothic image of the Patron Saint of the town, the Virgen de las Nieves is seated, in a chair without arms. It is a round sculpture carved in wood, stuccoed, polychrome and gilded. There still inconclusive evidence but claims that the hermit Catalina de Cardona is buried here.


You walked along the wonderful Calle Santa Ana and later take Calle Madrigal to reach the Church of the Convent of Carmen (see post on the convent part). This began to rise in 1587, after the arrival of the friars. Its construction was paid for thanks to the assets of the Socorro convent. Currently, only the church remains standing, as the rest of the complex disappeared after the confiscations of the 19C. The architecture of the building is typically Carmelite, taking as a prototype the monastery of the Incarnation of Madrid . It has a large facade without ornamentation, except for the shields and the title image. Its structure is developed in three bodies: the lower one for access, the middle one for lighting, and the upper one a triangular shaped tympanum with an oculus.

We went a bit inside as service was rendered but did saw the Main Altar and the image of the Virgen de las Nieves, patron saint of Villanueva de la Jara. The presbytery is decorated with a baroque-style golden altarpiece and the central dome is ornamented with paintings that simulate nobler materials and forms with classic Carmelite iconography. The image of the Virgen de las Nieves 14C in Gothic style, this sculpture of round bulk carved in stuccoed, polychrome and gilded wood, represents the patron sitting in a chair, without arms, with the child also sitting on her following the medieval model of the throne of wisdom. The image presents, in her right hand, an apple, in turn, the child supports in his left hand the globe crowned with a Cross.


Of course, you can see my other posts on Villanueva de la Jara, a nice town to visit for the day and it gave us a glimpse of the real Castilian life in the Province of Cuenca, region of Castilla La Mancha. Memories that will lingered forever in our minds.

Some of the other things to see here in my opinion are the architecture facade of the house villa Enriqueta in the Plaza Mayor. Built in 1899, according to the inscription on its façade, it was ordered to be built by Jesús Casanova for use as a private home. During the Spanish Civil War it was used as a military hospital and is currently owned by several families. It is a very striking building in which elements of Mudejar,Renaissance and Modernist art are mixed. It is built in brick of two colors forming floral motifs on its facade.


Around the Plaza Mayor , main square;a wonderful square as is the norm in Spain has several historic buildings of the town. The first one we visit is the Posada Massó 16C, a Renaissance-style building ; its layout is attributed to the Italian architect Andrea Rodi. The property has two floors on the façade of which we can see its semicircular arches separated by Doric columns. Next to the City/Town Hall stands the Torre del Reloj or Clock Tower, with three floors, in turn attached to the late medieval building that was formerly the rooms of the Council, the Royal Prison and the offices of the Pósito.


A webpage on the footpaths of Santa Teresa de Jésus includes Villanueva de la Jara

La Manchuela area on Villanueva de la Jara:

The city of Villanueva de la Jara on its history in Spanish :

The Castilla La Mancha tourist board on Villanueva de la Jara

There you go folks, a wonderful deep town in the wonderful province of Cuenca, this is historical Villanueva de la Jara. Hope you enjoy the tour.

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

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December 14, 2020

Almodóvar del Pinar deep Cuenca!!

Again, finding gems hidden in bigger posts but deservently a post of their own for these wonderful quant towns of my road warrior trips in beautiful Castilla la Mancha! Let me tell you a bit more on Almodovar del Pinar!!

We were base in the mountains of the Serrania de Cuenca, especifically at Las Majadas, (see posts) a place of many memories of family visits and good friends. We all love so much that we repeated coming here, and my dear late wife Martine fell in love with the area even thinking of retirement here. Sad could not be, life goes on, memories to take along the roads.

Let me tell you about Almodóvar del Pinar a town passing on the road N320 and only 47 km from Cuenca capital and Valencia 154 km , Madrid 234 km. The name comes from the Moors/Arabs that means Redondo or round going back to the 11C . Went thru many battles between Moors and Christians until king Alfonso VIII conquered in 1177 and again coming back to retake in 1184. By 1452, king Juan II of Castile bequest the town to Don Rodrigo Manrique, Count of  Paredes ,and Nava, Constable of Castile ,  Commander of  Segura de la Sierra, knight of the Order of Santiago and father of the famous poet  Jorge Manrique. In 1467 Manrique sells all his assets of the town to  Don Martín de Alarcón, Commander of Mérida , and Lord of  Solera.

In the 18C, the town had its biggest economic impact been of the most important towns in Spain for carriage transport (carreteros sort of the truckers of today) delivering goods all over Spain . The Royal Association of carriages of Almodovar was founded in the 16C_17C; having the town the biggest number of carriages per inhabitant in Spain. The goods were mostly transported to Madrid  but also to  Valencia, Cuenca, Linares, and Sevilla.

Another interesting historical anecdote here is on the Inquisition. Here official members and collaborators called family of the inquisition, and they were townspeople with the shield of the Inquisition on their front doors that gave them prestige, and they were not subject to laws but only to the Inquisitors. Here over 100 processes on the inquisition took place, a rather large number for a very small town not reaching 500 inhabitants at the time. Very repressive town in those days.

Things to see here are Cerro de los Cubos at a height of 994 meters with the remains of an Arab/moor fortification.  Wonderful Church of Our Lady of the Assomption or Iglesia de Nuestra Senora de la Asunción; the nerf is from the 15C, the tower from the 17C, and the main gate is from the 18C.  Inside there is a major altar and retable in baroque style done in 1957-1959 at  Santiago de Compostela. The nice ornate City/town Hall , Pósito (goods depot) , and the Chapels of Ermita Nuestra Senora de las Nieves (15C) ,  Ermita de San Antonio Abad (17C-18C),  Ermita de San Miguel Arcángel (17C), and my favorite there (because Valencia monk came to my current area to preached circa 1410-19) the Ermita de San Vicente Ferrer (18C) renovated and now use for civil events ,and the house of the inquisition or Casa de la Inquisición.



We enjoyed Almodovar del Pinar; an old town since the inquisition who has a nice Church or Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de la Asuncion right in the Plaza Mayor. The nave or central hall is from the 15C, tower from the 17C and portal door from the 18C. Right here in the Plaza Mayor you have the nice building of the city/town hall.  Right by the entrance to the town you see the Ermita Vicente Ferrer dating from the 18C now use for civil events. It is with a baroque door and two columns on the sides with an image in stone of the Saint (the same that is in Vannes Brittany where I ,work and his body is in the Catedral of Vannes). The story of this Church is that as the local people were known as carreteros or wagon transport folks to and from Valencia ,one of the shipments arrived of great value and nobody claim it. Once no owner was found, the authorities open the shipment and found amongst the goods a manuscript saying that the money collected from the sale of the goods were to have build a Church dedicated to the Saint and a school to teach 12 poor girls from the town.  Three brother did just that and built the Church and the School. This is where the current school Virgen de las Nieves is located today;with the Church still remaining for social town events.



More on Almodovar del Pinar from the Castilla La Mancha tourist board in English:

The area of La Manchuela in province of Cuenca on Almodovar del Pinar with nice video of thet town in Spanish:

Hope you enjoy this quant Castilian town in wonderful Castilla La Mancha, land of dreamers and positive hopes deep in the province of Cuenca! My road warrior trips allowed me to visit nice memorable towns like Almodovar del Pinar, memories forever. Thanks for reading me!

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

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December 14, 2020

Madrid, and the Casa Arabe!

And yes, as said, the fun of updating old posts made me realised there were many things left out or not fully shown in my blog. Perhaps an oversight ,and now I am  catching up too. This time I present you the Casa Arabe or Arab House of Madrid!

Little mention of my Madrid is that the capital city of Madrid was Muslim for more than two hundred years ,and Moorish in many other ways. Discovered its history into Arabic Madrid . Muhammad I of Cordoba founded the city by then called Mayrit ,and on principal was just a military outpost.

The Casa Árabe de Madrid is a public institution created in 2006 on the model of the Institut du Monde Arabe in Paris (see post). It is a cultural and research center on the Arab and Muslim world as well as on the Spanish history of Al-Andalus.

Casa Arabe or Arab House is at calle de Alcalá, 62 , opposite the Madrid gate of Retiro Park and my old home . It constitutes the block formed by the streets of Alcala, Aguirre and O’Donnell. The Casa Árabe and resident library, Balqis, host a monthly club that read and comment on works of the great names in the Arab world, both classic of contemporary authors and new publications. Scholars and specialists that enrich the debate with their contributions attend each session.

mad casa arabe side o donnell feb13

How to get here, if not walking is by Metro on line 2 Retiro. Line 2 and 9 Principe de Vergara. By bus lines 1, 9,15, 19, 20, 28, 51, 52, 146, and 152. Also, a bike depot or Bicimad station 96 at calle de Alcalá, 111.

A bit of history I like

The Madrid headquarters are housed in the building of the former Aguirre schools, inaugurated in 1886. The Aguirres school was founded thanks to the bequest of Lucas Aguirre y Juárez. The first stone was laid in 1881 and the building opened in 1886. The wall and the ornate gate that isolate it from Aguirre, Alcalá and O’Donnell streets date from 1887. The garden pavilion, today the Shukran restaurant, was built in 1896. In 1929 the school had 16 levels, from kindergarten to high school. The classes were on the ground floor, on the first floor there was the library, the administration, and official accommodation for teachers and teachers. The school closed in 1971. The building was then used by the municipal administration, until  when Casa Arabe opened.

Since its foundation in 2006, the Casa Árabe has been developing its work as a platform and tool for Spanish diplomacy, jointly with the network of Spanish cultural centers, the Casa de America, the Casa de Asia, the Casa de Africa, the Casa del Mediterraneo, and the Casa de Israel and the Spanish Jewish world.

It is a neo-Mudejar style building, with the use of brick as an essential structure. Neo-Mudéjar architecture is a branch of Neo-Moorish architecture, one of the renaissance exotic architectural styles adopted at the end of the 19C by European and American architects in the wave of Western Romantic fascination with oriental arts. The Mudéjar is the name given to the Muslims of Spain who became subjects of the Christian kingdoms after the Reconquista, from the 11C.

The rectangular-shaped building includes a ground floor, which once housed the classrooms, and an upper floor. A red brick tower evoking a minaret and sheltering a staircase rises in the center of the main facade. A singular element of the district, which it dominates from a height of 37 meters, it is also part of the perspective from the Puerta de Alcalá.

The official webpage of Casa Arabe

The Madrid tourist office on the Casa Arabe:

There you go folks a missing link to my Madrid,now shown in my blog for yours and mine pleasure. Madrid is Spain, everything under the Sun!

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

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December 14, 2020

The Abbey of Notre Dame de Langonnet!!

And off I go again into the updating revising and exchanging pictures from old posts to give them a refreshing new life and updated links. Thanks again for following me along the trail in my road warrior ways.

This time I  bring you to one of the off the beaten path monuments of my lovely Bretagne. Let me tell you a bit more on the Abbey of Notre Dame de Langonnet!!


This is really the town and the abbey with a church (see post) all in one, even a unique park! All this in my beautiful Morbihan!

Langonnet is part of the Cornish area of the Morbihan and bordering the Côtes-d’Armor Dept 22. The town  was part of the bishopric of Cornouaille. The language used was Breton Cornish until the linguistic changeover to French which took place in the 1950’s. The Cornish was used in the cantons of Gourin, Faouët, while the rest of the Department spoke the Breton Vannetais (except the eastern end that spoke Gallo). Langonnet is equidistant from Gourin and Faouët at about 9-10 km and is located in the center of a triangle linking the towns of Gourin, Le Faouët and Plouray.(see posts) The main admin town is  La Trinité-Langonnet , bordering the Gourin-Glomel-Rostrenen road; while the Langonnet Abbey is located on the road to Plouray.


A bit of history I like , brief ok….

In 1136, Duke Conan III of Brittany, at the request of his mother the Duchess Ermengarde, granted the founding charter of Langonnet Abbey. Monks from the Abbey in the Diocese of Blois settled on the edge of the Ellé river near the Roman way Vorgium-Blabia (current Port-Louis). Around 1146, Maurice de Carnoët or Saint Maurice  became the Abbot before becoming the first Abbot of the Abbaye Saint-Maurice de Carnoët en Clohars-Carnoët (see post). Langonnet Abbey had to suffer from the League War. The monks were forced to leave the premises and the Church was transformed into a stable. When the monks returned in 1598 after three years of absence the Lords of the vicinity had seized most of their land.


The story goes that at the request of his mother, Ermengarde, in 1136, Conan III, Duke of Brittany, grants to Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, great figure of the Cistercian order, land on the banks of the Elle river to built an Abbey. The wars of Religion, mainly the League from 1590 to 1598, were fatal to the Abbey. The expelled monks will only find ruins back in 1598. The preacher Julien Maunoir preached missions to Langonnet in 1646 and 1666.  The Abbey will be rebuilt from 1688 to 1788.

The property of Langonnet Abbey is sold at auction as national property in 1791, during the French revolution as many of course.  In 1793, the Abbey became a rallying place for the region’s Chouans (fighting back at the French revolution); at the end the Abbey was occupied by Republican troops (revolutionaries) from 1795. Following the French Revolution, which marks the end of the presence of the monks in these places, buildings and close dependencies, reserved by the State, are transformed in 1806 in Haras National in Hennebont. In 1858, the  monks transferred to the former Cistercian Abbey of Women in Hennebont.

Emperor Napoleon I settled there by decree in 1806, the first public stud farm of Brittany with forty stallions and ten broodmares. The Langonnet stud was moved to Hennebont in 1856-1857 (see post) and the Abbey returned to the Missionaries of the Holy Spirit to  rediscovers its religious vocation. Like the other towns of the surrounding townships, Langonnet experienced two waves of emigration to North America the first in the 19C, when one of the first to leave made a wonderful account of his expedition and the second in the 1950’s, when the Consul of Canada made a promotional campaign in this part of Morbihan, and 59 persons from the town departed to Canada and 62 to the United States between 1948 and 1953. So check out your lineage!!


Therefore, we went and nice signs to lead you here on the side road D128 which becomes the D790 to the Abbey entrance about 100 meters from it where the parking area is located. You go in and ride into the abbey property to the parking in the back.  And this is the Abbaye of Notre Dame de Langonnet! Right behind the chapter Chapel passing buildings where the monks live,once out you see to your right the walk path of peace and meditation where you find fountains and trails to prayer; then if turn to the left , you come into the main entrance of the abbey. Push the door right in and walk right into the cloister garden. Around it you will see door one small one with stained glass go ahead and open the door and the light is on the wall by the door as you come in ,turn it on yourself! Once out back in the cloister corridor you come to another door less nice but go ahead and open it too, Inside is the wonderful chapter chapel gorgeous.



After various transactions, the missionaries of the congregation of the Holy Spirit settled in the Abbey. Nowadays, they still occupy it . Currently the Abbey is as follows: three-body logis Horseshoe shape enclosed by the Church, built around the cloister.  Massive and modest, the bell tower is typically Cistercian. The Hall or room of the chapter shows an already fine Gothic art, with this elegant arch lowbed based on thin pillars. Its capitals are decorated with clover leaves, acanthus, Ivy or oak. The architecture of the chapter room is always very neat. Each morning, the monks gathered there to read a chapter of the rule of Saint Benedict, commented on by the Father Abbot, who then read the tasks of the day.


The Notre-Dame of Langonnet Abbey contains an African Museum that it says is quite remarkable with a permanent collection, although raining no time to see this time. It has room or salle I general presentation of museum with the masks; salle II Tools of the kitchen ,home décorations;salle III music instruments;salle IV weapons;salle V African masks We did saw the chapel and the major chapel and grounds of the abbey with a friendly help from the guardian, very nice.


Some webpages to help you plan your trip here and you must are

Official Abbey Notre Dame of Langonnet:

The city of Langonnet on its heritage:

Local tourist board on the country of king Morvan on Langonnet:

There you woulf have a wonderful full day in lovely old Langonnet to enjoy these wonders of our world. Do enjoy the Abbey and Church and more in Langonnet, my Morbihan of course!

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

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