Some news from Spain XCVIII

So this is the time to pickup on my series some news from Spain. The country is going thru difficult times due to the virus and lack of coordination with the central government and the autonomous communities, typical Spanish. However, life must go on. The temps in my beloved Madrid is cloudy and 53F or 12C. Now let me tell you a bit on my some news from Spain; and thanks for reading!

The website Musement, a platform for booking activities at the destination, has extracted the five most popular galleries in each autonomous community based on the number of reviews received on Google. Thus, it can be seen that Madrid (with more than 150 thousand comments) is the region with the most popular museums, ahead of the Valencian Community (116 thousand), Catalonia (111 thousand), the Basque Country (58 thousand) and Andalusia (37 thousand). However, if we look at the average score of the five art galleries with the most comments from each community, we can see how the highest average score is achieved by Madrid and Castilla y León (4.58). Behind, Aragon, Catalonia and the Valencian Community with a 4.48.

The City of Arts and Sciences in Valencia is the museum in Spain with the most reviews on Google, more than 83 thousand. Behind, the Prado Museum, in Madrid, exceeds 75 thousand. By far, in third position, is the Guggenheim in Bilbao with more than 47 thousand comments. The ‘top 5’ are completed by the Reina Sofía National Art Center Museum Madrid with 34 thousand comments and the Dalí Theater-Museum (Figueras, Gerona) with 26 thousand. If we look at the score obtained by the art galleries, again, the Prado Museum is among the best valued, with 4.7 out of 5. This score is also obtained by the Sorolla Museum (Madrid), the National Museum of Roman Art (Extremadura), the National Museum of Sculpture (Valladolid), the Mining Museum (Escucha, Teruel), the Museum of Fire and Firefighters (Zaragoza) and the Museum of Manchego Cheese (Toledo ). The Musement webpage: https://www.musement.com/es/

A failure in the air conditioning system of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando (RABASF) due to the frosts suffered by Madrid has caused a water leak that has forced the temporary closure of the institution. The affected equipment is on the deck, totally saturated with ice like many rooftops in Madrid. The leak reached two rooms of the Academy museum, one on the third floor and the other on the second. According to official sources, no paintings have been affected, although a small-format work by Sorolla, “Children on the Beach,” and some other canvases, including one by Madrazo and another by Martínez Vazquez, have been removed as a precaution as well as the «Landscape of Gredos», for safety. This leak in the Academy is small and without consequences for the works of art that it treasures. Everything has been a scare. Thankfully!

Next April 13 marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of Hans Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza, and the museum that bears his name since 1992 commemorates him with a series of exhibitions and activities. The celebration began this past October with the opening of the exhibition “German Expressionism in the Baron Thyssen-Bornemisza’s Collection” ,which can be visited until March 14 2021.   Indeed, the baron inherited in 1947 an art collection that grew with masterpieces of classical art and, since 1961, with one of the best private painting ensembles of the 19-20C. He wanted his works to remain united and also wanted to share them, which led him to sign, in 1988, a loan agreement -which would become a definitive sale five years later- of 775 works to the Spanish State, the seed of the National Thyssen Museum –Bornemisza.

The aforementioned exhibition dedicated to German Expressionism will be followed by “Goldsmiths, paintings and sculptures in the collection of Baron Thyssen-Bornemisza” (March 16, 2021 – January 23, 2022), XVIII from the Baron Thyssen-Bornemisza collection at the MNAC “(October 26, 2021 – January 9, 2022) and” American Art in the Thyssen Collection “(November 23, 2021 – June 26, 2022), all them in the rooms of the permanent collection. In addition, the exhibition of the portraits of the baron painted by Lucian Freud will continue.  As for other activities, it is worth highlighting the cycle of conferences on German expressionism ( this past   January 20 as well as on January 27 and February 3, 10 and 17), the “Educational Conversations: Baron Thyssen-Bornemisza as a collector” (January-March of 2021), the restoration process to the public of Vittore Carpaccio’s “Young Knight in a Landscape”, and the subsequent presentation of the results, as well as the open house on April 13, the exact date of the Baron’s birth. More info the 100th anniversary on the webpage: https://www.museothyssen.org/centenario-baron-thyssen-bornemisza-2021

The Prado Museum is trying to regain lost normality little by little, however difficult it may seem. On the one hand, the projects that had to be postponed in 2020 and were left in the pipeline will be resumed. One of the consequences of the pandemic has been that the reorganization of the Prado collections, planned in the long term, has accelerated all the logistics and the exhibitions since during the closure of the museum.  It will begin with the 19C collection, which now looks more to the 18C than the 20C, the Prado will be more inclusive. There will be a more plural vision of the Spanish 19C, greater visibility will be given to women, social painting and that of other geographical origins, such as the Filipino one. In addition, the Prado will make an old dream come true ; that the entire Villanueva building will be exhibited . The Ionic Gallery (adjacent to the central gallery) will be recovered around October or November 2021 for the collection of classical sculpture; 51 works not exhibited until now will be exhibited. A permanent exhibition installation dedicated to the architectural and museum history of the Prado will also open in rooms 100, 101 and 102, where the Treasure of the Dolphin was formerly exhibited. It is expected to open before next Summer. The on the Salon de los Reinos or hall of kingdoms will begin in November 2021. This year 2021 there will be a contest to see which construction company will be in charge of executing the project designed by Norman Foster and Carlos Rubio. The credit line of 43 million euros has finally been included in the General State Budget. The execution period of the project , which will cost about 36 million is four years, so its inauguration is scheduled for 2025. Stay tune!!

As for temporary exhibitions in the Prado museum , the long-awaited “Mythological Passions” will open on March 2, which will bring together for the first time the six Titian Poems commissioned by king Felipe II and painted between 1551 and 1562, considered ,the most influential mythological ensemble of the Western painting. A joint project of four major museums: the Prado, the National Gallery in London, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston and the National Galleries of Scotland in Edinburgh. On March 9 an exhibition dedicated to Marinus van Reymerswale will open. A very appreciated artist in the 16C, of whom little is known, he has a very short production, but very well known works. There will also be an exhibition, “The Prodigal Son of Murillo and the art of narrating in Andalusian Baroque”, curated by Javier Portús, scheduled for September. Also that month there will be an exhibition focused on the copy of the Mona Lisa in the Prado. A painting that, according to director Falomir, “has become one of the Prado’s icons, not because of its aesthetic qualities.”. The exhibition will address what this work means in the production of Leonardo’s workshop. The opening of «Tornaviaje. Ibero-American Art in Spain ”, which will pay off a pending debt in the Prado: to give visibility to viceregal art. Thousands of works that came to Spain from America in the 16C, 17C, and 18C. The purchases of Italian, French and Flemish artists will be seen with the exhibition. “The legacy of Carmen Sánchez.” In addition, there will be an exhibition commemorating the 40th anniversary of the Fundación Amigos del Prado, “the largest club in Spain after Barcelona and Real Madrid”(football/soccer clubs).

And the situation with the arts, museums especially all over is not good ,due to the virus and government drawn fears. Until 2020 arrived, the last month of the year served for museums to blow up millionaire numbers of visitors with which they competed between institutions, making the largest number a reason for anxiety. Up to four million visits counted in 2019 at the Reina Sofía Museum. And the forecast was to grow, of this museum and of everyone. But the pandemic forced them to break that magic vice and focus on surviving with more of an art venue than a convention center. The Reina Sofía reached 1.2 million visitors (between its three headquarters, the central one and the two extensions of the Retiro), which represents a drop of 71.8% compared to 2019. The influx to the venues is divided as follows at 448,211 from the main one (where Guernica is located), 608,603 to Palacio de Cristal and 191,672 to Palacio de Velázquez (latest two in Retiro park). The collapse of the Prado Museum has been significantly greater, with a 73% drop in visitors. Of the 3.2 million influx in 2019, it has come down to 852,161 people in 2020. It must be taken into account that the gallery does not have 100% of its exhibition area open yet. The Thyssen Museum has received 341,008 visitors in 2020 compared to 1,034,873 in 2019   or 67% less than the previous year. In addition to the number of visits to the permanent collection in 2020 ,190,609 people , the museum provides data from other exhibitions such as those by Rembrandt 89,429 visitors Joan Jonas 13,472 people or the recent one on German Expressionism, still open 40,938 visitors. Meanwhile, the la Caixa Foundation has gathered more than 3.8 million people in 2020 in its cultural and scientific itinerant centers and exhibitions throughout Spain. The number of visitors has been around 35% of the total who attended during 2019, in line with the allowed capacity. The Guggenheim Bilbao is another of the centers that each year maintained the upward trend in visits. In 2020, with all the usual trends reversed, it welcomed 315,908 persons in its rooms compared to 1,170,669 in 2019. Unlike previous years with a majority presence of foreigners, in 2020 , 61% of visitors came from Spain and 39% from other countries such as France (18%), Great Britain (3%), Germany (3%), Italy (2%), Portugal (1%) and the United States (1%).

And still another. It had promised to be the great storm in Malaga. Actually, one of the great storms in the country last year, but the health crisis truncated the plans of the Centre Pompidou, which had mounted with conscientious effort and exquisite care the exhibition entitled “From Miró to Barceló. A century of Spanish art “. The exhibition was inaugurated on March 12, just three days before the confinement decreed by the Government in Spain. Picasso is a permanent presence in the Pompidou collection. From Paris came Figure (1927), the monstrous portrait that the Malaga artist made of Marie-Thérèse Walter shortly after meeting her. The great hall of the Centre Pompidou-Malaga is reserved for the most current art, that post-war generation that grew up in the multiform style and in the throes of a century that was aging to the rhythm of its last isms. Who knows if in the middle of that walk we do not sense the shadows that Pablo Picasso, the favorite son of this city overlooking the blue sea, was so eager to capture. (his Malaga).

An interesting museum seen since childhood days in my Madrid,worth the detour, the Museo Naval. Trader, navigator, pilot, diplomat, spy ; Juan de la Cosa, who participated in seven of the first trips to America, was a character with many edges. He also had a blot on his resume: he was on guard duty as master of the Santa María the night the ship sank off the Haitian coast. His captain Christopher Columbus would not forgive him for the shipwreck. The incident, however, did not bring down Juan de la Cosa, who is said to have become more familiar with America than with the rooms in his house, so much so that, as we know, he has gone down in history for drawing the famous Universal Charter from 1500, the oldest cartographic document where the American continent appears. The map of Juan de la Cosa is the most outstanding piece of the Naval Museum and one of the most important in the history of world cartography. An obligatory reference in the study of the development of cartography and the representation of the world. And it is that this map was made only eight years after Columbus arrived in America. The navigator made it when he returned from his third trip to the continent, between February and October 1500, and had the detail of signing it, which is very important because it was not common at the time: Juan de la Cosa set it up in the port of Santa María in the year 1500. The map alone is reason enough to drop by this museum, recently renovated. A new high-quality steel-supported display case in the Discovery Room now better protects and maintains this nautical gem that was missing for 300 years. Because in addition to its unusual dimensions for the time (183 cm by 96 cm high) and its very rich decoration. … oh well , I will not tell you more, go see it! Museo Naval !

The Basilica of the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona has resumed its construction today Monday, paralyzed because of the pandemic since last March, with the intention of finishing this year the Torre de María, which will reach 138 meters in height. This tower, however, will not be the tallest in the temple, since the Torre de Jesús is expected to rise to 172.5 meters in height, making it the tallest building in Barcelona. This final part of the tower is made up of three parts, a six-meter-high stone crown that ends with twelve wrought-iron stars, a hyperboloid-shaped 18-meter-high shaft that ends in three arms that support the star and that It is made with ‘trencadís’ in white and blue tones, and the final star, with a diameter of 7.5 meters and 12 textured glass points illuminated from the inside. With the stoppage of the works, the construction of the Sagrada Familia will not be able to finish in the year 2026 as planned and its completion will be conditional on the return of the tourists who, with the tickets to visit the temple, financed the works.

And let me give a nice tour we have done by car and glad that we did in August because the area has extreme cold spells! As this year! Let me tell you about Sigüenza, Molina de Aragón and Teruel ; the charm of the Spanish ‘cold triangle’ hehehe! There is Bello, a small town in Teruel with just over 200 residents, recorded last Tuesday, January 12, 2021, the lowest temperature ever recorded in Spain in an inhabited place: -25.4ºC. In the surroundings they did not were too far. Towns like Molina de Aragón and Sigüenza, in Guadalajara province; and Calamocha or Santa Eulalia del Campo, all in Teruel province, easily exceeded 20ºC below zero!

Let’s start with Sigüenza, a monumental town that is preparing to begin its IX centenary this year, which will be celebrated in 2024. The covid19 virus has suspended the most recommended way to reach the World Heritage city, the medieval train, a heroic journey that begins in Madrid and is accompanied by music, theater, history and the occasional sweet. The railway authorities assure to restart their transit as soon as the sanitary circumstances allow. Yes, it is open, although with the logical capacity restrictions, the National Parador, located in the magnificent 12C Arab fortress. Molina de Aragón (see post) is the next stop. As a good border town, its castle presides over the hamlet. It also stands out in some hills and fields completely covered by snow and that offer an unknown and beautiful view of the population. The Jewish quarter, the Plaza de España and, above all, the view of the Romanesque bridge over the Gallo river, with the old houses and crenulated towers in the background. In Teruel (see post) exists, no matter how much the social currents and, now, the snow and the cold make it difficult. In the main square, the Torico does not seem to be fazed by the scourge of the elements and despite its small size, it continues to control the rhythm of the Mudejar city par excellence. The Mausoleum of the Lovers of Teruel is a good place to take refuge these days. Love in difficult times. The Paleontological Museum of Dinópolis is another of the essentials of the Villa del Torito and another good place to forget the cold among precise life-size replicas of the giant saurians that lived here a few million years ago.

According to EscapadaRural.com, (sights and rental houses which we have done it) La Hiruela was in 2020 the fourth most sought after town in Spain, and the first in the Community of Madrid, among users of the platform to spend a few days in nature. The environment in which it is located and its architectural identity are two of the attractions so that this village of about 60 inhabitants has become in recent months one of the fashionable destinations, especially for Madrileños (local Madrid folks), to spend a weekend or go on a day trip to visit this unique and picturesque town in the north of the Madrid Community, 100 km from the capital. . The webpage of escapadaruralhttps://www.escapadarural.com/que-hacer/la-hiruela

Within the Sierra del Rincón Biosphere Reserve, almost on the border with the province of Guadalajara, La Hiruela, and Comunidad de Madrid;  has an idyllic and perfect environment to disconnect from the stresses of the big city at any time of the year. very close to must-see places such as the walled Buitrago del Lozoya, the lush forests of Hayedo de Montejo or the spectacular valleys of La Puebla. To access La Hiruela, it is best to leave your car in the public car parking located on the outskirts. In its simple and charming town center, the low stone, slate, adobe and oak houses of the Dehesa have hardly undergone changes in their structure since their construction, making it one of the best-preserved towns in the Community of Madrid. It is also located within the route of the black towns of the Sierra Norte. Walking along Calle El Pilón street, the most famous in the town, you will discover many of the charms of this mountain town, such as the City/Town Hall, the Church of San Miguel Arcángel, the Old School, today transformed into a bar, the Casa del Cura (house of the priest, a restaurant now) and the Casa de la Maestra or house of the teacher. In the historic center is the Ethnological Museum, which shows the ancestral ways of life of its inhabitants with different farm implements, livestock and domestic tools and historical clothing. It recreates an old rural house from the 17C, accompanied by photographs of the time. At about 2 km outside the town is La Carbonera, the old place where oak charcoal was produced, one of the main engines of the local economy until the middle of the 20C. Today you can see a recreation of a coal bunker built in the traditional way. A few meters away is the traditional Colmenar. This place dedicated to beekeeping in the past, with 200 years old, today brings together more than a hundred beehives built in hollow logs, divided into rows and streets that allow visitors to pass. On the banks of the Jarama River, surrounded by cherry trees and elder trees, in a recreational area, is the Molino Harinero or flour mill, whose first historical references date from the second half of the 18C. Thanks to its restoration, you can see what its original mechanisms and parts were. Next to it, and climbing a small promontory, is the Mirador del Molino, with spectacular views of the environment.

The surroundings of La Hiruela are an ideal destination for lovers of hiking. The yellow or the Senda por las Eras and la Pila de Riego is a path of 2.7 km (1 hour and a half in duration) of medium-low difficulty, which follows, between forests, viewpoints and the river, the paths through which the cereal was transported. The Molino path (blue), 5 km long and of medium difficulty, also follows the course of the Jarama and, in addition to the Flour Mill, passes through the ruins of the Juan Brav Mill and through a forest of centenary oaks. The red route Los Oficios de la Vida (2.7 km) passes through fruit orchards and large meadows, as well as the enclaves of Carbonera and the traditional Colmenar. The Fuente Lugar green path (1.5 km) is a short route that passes through a natural tunnel next to the river bed full of lush forests of cherry, birch and hazelnut trees. Orchards with apple, blackberry and ancient pear trees are also crossed. Nature at its best, even if I still preferred the car here ::)

And this is it for now folks. Hope you enjoy the post and keep our fingers cross for my beloved Spain. As the saying goes, Spain is everything under the sun! And remember, happy travels, good health,and many cheers to all!!!

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