Archive for March 1st, 2021

March 1, 2021

The Gates of my Madrid!!!

So going over these older posts and having a thrill to do so and of course, thank you for following me along these memorable roads again! I am taking you back to my Madrid, many posts on this sentimental city. I like to revise the text and links, pictures etc on my post the gates of my Madrid!!! or Puertas de mi Madrid! Hope you enjoy it as I. I have to say, many of these sights already have a separate post and more pictures in my blog.

On a tranquil Sunday and my puppy Rex already out and done, slight rain cloudy cool humid day I sat to continue the sage of historical Madrid, my beloved Madrid. I will not stop telling you the wonderful experiences as a young men of me living in Madrid for four years and visited zillions more; Madrid in my heart. Let’s talk today about the gates and walls of Madrid, those still visible and those already gone, that made part of this vibrant , on the go city of modern Europe.

Puerta de Hierro or Steel Gate lies outside the city, at the end of the beltway to the Pardo forest. It was erected in 1751 during the reign of king Fernando VI. On a baroque style architecture following French and Italian ideas of the time, which got the gate done in an circular arch and an original wrought-iron lattice. The Puerta de Hierro is located in Monte del Pardo, close to the Ciudad Universitaria. Today, the location lies between two highways (beltway M-30 and the A6 to Coruña)   and difficult to reach,just passing by car. The Madrid tourist office has more: https://www.esmadrid.com/en/tourist-information/puerta-de-hierro

Madrid puerta-de-hierro-passing aug17

Puerta de Moncloa or Arco de la Victoria built between 1950-1956 , and is located in one of the main entrances to Madrid on the A6 expressway to Coruña/Galicia right on the Avenida del Arco de la Victoria in the district of Moncloa-Aravaca, with 49 meters high on a rectangular base of 130 by 42 meters. The location of the  Arco de la Victoria or Puerta de Moncloa is surrounded by history and relative meaning as it was here that the battle of universtiy city (which is next door) or Battle of Madrid took place during the Spanish Civil War . This battle lasted 858 days from November 17 1936 to March 28 1939 with the most bloody moments happening a few meters from the gate . The gate is of a Roman style usually done to commemorate the victory at war and thanks the victorious armies entering the city. This is the reason why the Arco de la Victoria is the only one built right on the field of battle. Some historical debates to change its name has settled on the more peaceful Puerta de Moncloa. You reach it on Metro Moncloa lines 3 and 6 crossing Plaza Moncloa into the Avenida de la Memoria. You can see in the picture below a tower behind the gate well this is the Faro de Moncloa where you can climb the top and see the city with paid admission. More on Madrid tourist office here: https://www.esmadrid.com/en/tourist-information/arco-victoria

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Puerta de San Vicente or Saint Vincent gate was ordered by king Carlos III about the same time as the Puerta de Alcalà and done by architect Francesco Sabatini (also of the gardens and Royal Palace) been finished in 1775.  In order to create more space for traffic the original structure was dismantled in 1892. At that time some suggested to recycle the stones the gate was built from and use them for the gigantic street lanterns at the Glorieta de Cibeles. In the second half of the 20C Madrid’s city hall decided to rebuild the historical gate. The authorities started the reconstruction in 1994, using the old photographs. Thus, the Puerta de San Vicente once again appeared in one of Madrid’s most central squares, close to the Royal Palace. More on the Madrid tourist office here: https://www.esmadrid.com/en/tourist-information/puerta-de-san-vicente

Madrid puerta-de-san-vicente aug19

Puerta de Toledo commemorates the arrival of  king Fernando VII to Madrid.  It was built close to the current La Latina neighborhood.  And the flea market or rastro of Madrid . The construction used granite and stone from Colmenar to build the gate that was inaugurated in 1827. On the side facing the  Manzanares river,  the Puerta de Toledo features a sculptural group that was supposed to represent the power of the Spanish monarchy on both hemispheres. On the opposite side of the gate ,looking north ,you can see Madrid’s official coat-of-arms with on each side, angels. It is 19 meters high and is comprised of three archways. The central arch is the tallest. It has a rounded semicircular arch and was the main gateway on the road towards the city of Toledo in past centuries.. Each of the two arches on either side of the central arch is also adorned with sculptures; these are representations of various military victories of the era. To get to Puerta de Toledo you can take the Metro on line 5, getting off at Puerta de Toledo station. Alternatively, you can take a bus; numbers 3, N3, 60, 17, 18, 23, 35 and 148 will all take you there. More from Madrid tourist office here: https://www.esmadrid.com/en/tourist-information/puerta-de-toledo

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Of course, the last standing and the best for me as it was the closest to my neighborhood and right on my street Calle de Alcalà yeah!! yes it is the Puerta de  Alcalà!

Puerta de Alcalá is in my biased opinion the best known and the most beautiful of them all. It was built in 1769 by the Italian architect Francesco Sabatini (same as the garden and Royal Palace etc) as a part of the city embellishment promoted by king Carlos III. The king commissioned the construction as a reminder of accession to the throne in 1759. The gate was built at the city entrance, next to the road leading to the city of Alcalá de Henares, hence the name. The designed structure consisting of five arches. In addition to the openings, there are ten Ionic columns crowned by an attic. The Puerta de Alcalá is located right in front of the Retiro park, from which it has a wonderful entrance, my favorite. However, the original Puerta de Alcalá, which stood nearby, was built in 1599 as a welcome gesture to doña Margarita de Austria, who was the wife of King Felipe III. When Carlos III came to the throne of Spain one and a half centuries later, he entered Madrid in great style on December 9th, 1759. He was not at all pleased with this city gate, thinking it quite unsuitable for an important royal appearance. In 1764 the original Puerta de Alcalá was demolished and work started on the grand new gate. The new Puerta de Alcalá was completed in 1769 and its official inauguration took place in 1778. It is in the middle of Calle de Alcalá, one of the oldest streets in Madrid, and which runs from the Puerta del Sol in the city center outwards to the town of Alcalá de Henares, lying to the northeast of the city.  The closest Metro station to Puerta de Alcalá is Retiro; the gate is within a few meters of the main entrance to the Retiro Park.  Metro station,Banco de España, lies slightly further away to the west, just past the Cibeles Fountain on Calle de Alcalá. More on the Madrid tourist office here: https://www.esmadrid.com/en/tourist-information/puerta-de-alcala

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There are several gates to parks or gardens that are worth mentioning me think.

One is the Puerta de Felipe IV that gives entrance to the Retiro Park by the street or Calle Alfonso XII , the gate located in front of the Cason del Buen Retiro (annex to the Prado museum) between Calle de Felipe V and Calle de Felipe IV. It is built in baroque style , and was done in 1680 as an triumphal arch for Mary Louise of Orleans first wife of king Carlos II and again in 1690 for the same reasons to Marianne of Neoburg the second wife of the king. For which there is an inscription on the gate that is also known as.  On the site of Madrid tourist office on Retiro park here: https://www.esmadrid.com/en/tourist-information/parque-del-retiro

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The other gate is that of Puerta Real which gives entrance to the Royal Botanical garden (Real  Jardin Botànico) on the sidewalk of the Paseo del Prado; another designed by Sabatini in the 18C in a classical style, that was officially opened in 1781.  It is also known as the Puerta Carlos III, that is part of the enclosure of the Royal Botanical garden.  It was done as the principal entrance to the garden but years later lost out to the Puerta de Murillo, in the square of same name and next to the facades of the Prado museum  done by architect Juan de Villanueva that gave the final touch to the Royal Botanical Garden.  This is now an annex to the Prado. The Puerta Real is closed now.  More on the Madrid tourist office on the Botanical garden here: https://www.esmadrid.com/en/tourist-information/real-jardin-botanico

mad retiro park puerta de murillo ent apr17

 

There is one major and beautiful and popular gate that today is not really a gate or Puerta but still call this way. You guess it, Puerta del Sol, the center of wonderful Madrid. It was named for a gate that stood at the site until about 1510 and had a representation of the Sun. Now you have an equestrian statue of king Carlos III here since 1997 looking out into the 18C brick building that houses the post office house or Casa de Correos, built itself between 1766 and 1768. In front of the Casa de Correos, on the pavement, is the “kilometer 0″ plaque, from which all road distances in Spain are measure. There you a symbol of Madrid the Bear and the strawberry tree or the  Oso and the Madroño. Thi is a 20 tons statue of a bear eating the fruits from the tree. According to legend the original name of the city was “Ursaria” (“land of bears” in Latin), due to the high number of these animals that were found in the adjacent forests, which, together with the arbutus (“madroño” in Spanish), have been the emblem or symbol of the city from the Middle Ages. You get to this gate on metro lines 1,2, and 3;  Sol station. More on Madrid tourist office here: https://www.esmadrid.com/en/tourist-information/puerta-del-sol

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Now let me take you back in time to another eras of Madrid and its many previous gates, walls and ramparts, a bit of history I like. Let me introduce to you this site in Spanish that I take my inspiration for Madrid and writing about it, and this post. The old historical information was translated from the Spanish by yours truly from the webpage una ventana desde Madrid or a window from Madrid of Lourdes Maria Morales: https://www.unaventanadesdemadrid.com/murallas-cercas-y-puertas-de-madrid.html

The first wall and maybe the foundation of Mayrit (Madrid) we can place it in the 9C when the Emir Mohamed I ordered the construction of a high overlook tower where today sits the Royal Palace. The second wall was built by king Alfonso VII in the 12C and about triple the size of the first one, with about 35 hectares (about 86 acres) and four gates that do not exist today such as the Puerta de Valnadú, Puerta de Guadalajara, Puerta Cerrada ,and Puerta de Moros. Today ,there are still traces of this wall in the following sites.

Calle de los Mancebos. No 3-5 as an old wall a bit damaged.  Calle del Almendro no 15-17 with a bout 16 meters long by 11 meters high also damaged in a patio. By the area of Cava Baja you can see the following traces at No 30 19 meters long by 11,5 meters high in an interior patio; No 22 remains of foundation and a circular small tower not visible to the public. No 10 under an stair of a building there is a piece of about 7 meters long and 1-4 meters high with a small semicircular tower and can be seen. At the Plaza de Puerta Cerrada no 4-6 inside private homes there is a piece of the wall to the crowning above.

You have the Arrabal fence or Cerca del Arrabal, probably built in 1438 after a plague epidemy ,which due to it a hospital was built with a fence to unite the suburbs of the city. This hospital was next to the Puerta de Guadalajara and it will be later the Hospital del Buen Suceso that stayed by the Puerta del Sol until 1854 when it was demolished. The Puerta de Santo Domingo, was at the square (Plaza) of same name coming both from the convent of Santo Domingo the Royal founded by Santo Domingo de Guzman in 1212. The side gate or Postigo de San Martin , name after the nearby convent was in the crossing of the streets Calle San Martin and Calle Navas de Tolosa; later moved to the now Plaza de Callao. The Puerta de Atocha was actually in the now Plaza de Jacinto Benavente. The side gate or Postigo de San Millàn named after the Chapel that was in what is today the Plaza de Cascorro. The Puerta de La Latina in the Calle de Toledo in front of the Plaza de la Cebada, initially called the Puerta de San Francisco to take you to the convent of the same name in what is today the Basilica of San Francisco el Grande, and later the neighborhood of La Latina with a hospital nearby with the same name. The Puerta de Moros with a Christian wall, and the Puerta de la Vega which survived the Arab wall.

The fence of Philip II or Cerca de Felipe II in the Calle Bailén. In 1566, king Felipe II ordered built a new fence for fiscal and sanitary reasons, not defensive. It took about 125 hectares ( about 309 acres) and that was unknown until found in 1991,while doing expansion work on the Spanish Senate building in the Calle Bailén which by some experts should belong to the previously mentioned Cerca del Arrabal , and for others that of Cerca de Felipe II. The Puerta de Santo Domingo on the Cerca del Arrabal , postigo de San Martin as the previously mentioned too. The Puerta de la Red de San Luis next to the roads to Hortaleza and Fuencarral , takes the name from a network of a bread market so it won’t be stolen and the Church of  San Luis Obispo, located in the Calle Montera; no longer in existance.  The Puerta de Anton Martin located in the square of the same name, took the name from the Hospital of San Juan de Dios, better known by the name of the founder  Antón Martín.  The Puerta de la Vega, on the old Arab wall was replaced in 1708, and finally demolished in 1814.

The fence of  Philip IV or Cerca de Felipe IV  was ordered by the king to be built in 1625  with bricks and dirt.  The construction was motivated by fiscal and vigilance motives as it was not a defensive wall; what was looking is to tax all products entering the city as well as look after the persons entering the city. The Ronda de Segovia with about 500 hectares ( 1236 acres) that is about the current districts of Centro, Retiro park, and Jeronimos neighborhood. It stood there limiting the growth of the city until 1868. The only remains that have reach our days is in the current Ronda de Segovia. The narrow pass or Portillo de San Bernardino, called initially as  San Joaquín  for the nearby convent of the same name on the Calle Princesa, facing the Calle del Rey Fernando. Later was change to San Bernardino  for another nearby convent of the same name that was moved to the Calle de Quintana. demolished in 1868. The  narrow pass or Portillo del Conde Duque at the intersection of Calle Amaniel and Calle Conde Duque . The name comes from the nearby Palace of or  Palacio del Conde-Duque (where today you see the Palacio de Liria, and HQ of the Conde-Duque cultural center). It was also called the Portillo de los Guardias, for being of the body guards, and was demolished in 1868.

The Portillo de Fuencarral, name as is even if the true name was that of Portillo de Santo Domingo. Located in the calle de San Bernardo, by the level of calle de Santa Cruz de Marcenado. Built in 1642 , and demolished in 1867. The Portillo de las Maravillas, given the name from the nearby convent of Maravillas, that was situated at the intersection of Calle de Ruiz, and Calle del  Divino Pastor. The Puerta de Bilbao, known initially as the Puerta de los Pozos de la Nieve (gate of the snow wells)  for been nearby ; built in 1625  by the level of Calle  Fuencarral and Calle del Divino Pastor  to be moved in 1690  to the north in the current Glorieta de Bilbao.  Later, it was named Puerta de San Fernando until 1837  it was adopted with the name of Puerta de Bilbao in memory of that city and its defenders. It had a panel that can be read  “A los heroicos defensores y libertados de la invicta villa de Bilbao, los habitantes de Madrid”, or to the heroic defenders and liberators of the undefeated city of Bilbao, by the people of Madrid. The Portillo de Santa Bárbara, located in the square of same name at the end of Calle Hortaleza. Both adopted the name of the nearby convent of Santa Bárbara.

The Portillo de Recoletos, located first in front of the National Library or Biblioteca Nacional on the  Paseo de Recoletos , and later change in 1756, when king Fernando VI  built the fence or cerca de las Salesas Reales, by a new gate that was considered the best of the existing ones until that of Puerta de Alcalá was built. IT was dismantled in 1863  to be moved to another location but later abandoned, damage and in bad shape so never rebuilt and the parts used for other constructions. The Portillo de Valencia, aka as Puerta de Lavapiés located at the beginning of Calle Lavapies that today is call Calle Valencia facing the Calle Doctor Fourquet. In 1778, a new side gate was built that takes the name of Portillo de Valencia for being in the beginning of the road to Levante; later demolished in 1868.

 The Portillo de Embajadores from the 17C ,and in 1782 when the Ronda de Toledo was built ,its position was advance until the current Glorieta de Embajadores and as in the previous one , was demolished in 1868. The Portillo del Campanillo del Mundo Nuevo built in 1856 to avoid that the way of the cattle as it entered the city to the slaughterhouse of the Plaza del General Vara de Rey. The Portillo de Gilimon, located at the end of the Calle San Bernabé, the Portillo de las Vistillas name for the views you can have from it; the Puerta de Segovia built by the middle of the 17C near the Puente de Segovia (bridge) from which it took the name of Puerta del Puente; demolished in 1849 and re built the following year until finally demolished for good in 1868.

The Puerta de la Vega, originally demolished and rebuilt a new one in 1708 that was as well demolished in 1830 and replaced by a side gate or Portillo in wood until determine what to do. Finally, demolished in 1850 and change the lands into a series of ramps that we still have today. Here ,it is worth mentioning the story of the Virgin of Almudena or Virgen de la Almudena ,that according to tradition was hidden since the Arab occupation in 712 until the conquest of the city by king Alfonso VI in  1085.  The image of the Virgin was found in a bucket at the Puerta de la Vega and once fallen a second time the Virgin was place in a niche on the ramp or Cuesta de la Vega.  The one you see there today was done in 1941.

There, I hope you like as I do the fascinating stories of gates or puertas and especially the ones in my beloved Madrid. Or as the old saying says, From Madrid to heaven and a hole in the sky to look down on it everyday! yes!!!

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

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March 1, 2021

The bridges of Madrid!!!

Oh yes Madrid has bridges as any city with a river going thru such as the Manzanares. I like to update this memorable post on the bridges of Madrid! Hope you enjoy it as I.

My beloved Madrid is no exception to this, and I would like to introduce you to some of my favorites over the years of living and visiting there.  Madrid has the Manzanares river. And life more and more evolves around it.  There are about 33 bridges (last I count them  ) some are pedestrians , others for trains transport, and even fewer are for automobiles.  All going and coming from the Manzanares river. 

Let me give you a brief introduction to some of my favorites over the years :

The puente de la Culebra , a work of art from the 18C  built in the park of the Casa de Campo, over the creek of  Meaques, affluent of the Manzanares river and in turn of the  Jarama river. The bridge is over the small lake or Estanque Chico, that is created by the water creek of Meaques. It was built in 1782,upon request of king Carlos III. Initially called the narrow bridge or Puente Estrecho, on a shape looking like a snake.  The architect was the famous Francesco Sabatini, (who also did the Royal Palace) that designed as it is to stop the passing of the wagons to the Casa de Campo , only zone given to the Royal Crown of Spain. Another popular bridge on a popular park is the  puente de hierro  inside the park of El Capricho located in the Alameda de Osuna.  It was built in 1830,and is the oldest steel bridge  in Spain with a technique not yet seen in the country.

You  have the French bridge or puente de los Franceses  as a train viaduct located in the district of  Moncloa-Aravaca . It was built in the second half of the 19C to allowed the trains to the north over the Manzanares river. The bridge was done between 1860 and 1862, along the lines of the railroad line to the North of Spain. It is near the old north station or the  Príncipe Pío,  where the long line trains were going. The terminal began built in 1859, but now only service the suburbain trains of  Cercanías. During the Spanish Civil War the bridge was the scene of fierce fighting for the defense of Madrid and was the fire baptism for the international Brigades in the battle of the University city ( Ciudad Universitaria). We walked long to see from centro or city center even taken a bus!46. The Madrid tourist office even have a page on it here: https://www.esmadrid.com/en/tourist-information/puente-franceses

The puente de Praga cross the Manzanares river extending the street Paseo de Santa María de la Cabeza towards the highway to  Toledo, connecting the districts of Arganzuela and Carabanchel.  While it was built got the name of Prague bridge because nearby was the Church of the Child Saint of Prague . It was built in 1952,and it was an important bridge to go out of Madrid towards the south and connecting with the road to Toledo, that came to the center of Madrid by the extention of the Paseo de Santa María de la Cabeza over the new bridge. Originally you needed to go to the Toledo bridge exit which is today the street;calle de Antonio Leyva.

The puente de la Princesa (aka puente de Andalucía or puente de Legazpi) is also over the Manzanares river by the Plaza de Legazpi. It began to be built in 1901  over the railroad tracks been not for trains in the farm of Santa Catalina. The bridge was of steel and opened in 1909 by king Alfonso XIII, connecting the Paseo de las Delicias with the road to Cádiz.  In 1929 ,the bridge was demolished and replaced by a another of cement with three parabolic towers,and 18 meters wide.  In 2006 ,this bridge was demolished again on the project of Madrid Río, and replaced by a platform in cement with two support pylons.

And we continue with the puente de la Reina Victoria, (queen Victoria bridge) known popularly as the Queens Bridge, and built early in the 20C with some modernistic touches. It, also crosses the Manzanares river, connecting the streets of calle de Aniceto Marinas, (parallel on the left bank) and Calle de la Ribera del Manzanares,(parallel on the right bank). It creates an important viaduc traject in the urban area of  San Antonio de la Florida (where you have a beautiful Church of same name and a replica of the Virgin),it connects the neighborhood of  San Antonio de la Florida to that of  Manzanares, forming part of the popular district of the la Bombilla. It was built between 1908-1909, and opened on June 13 1909.  The opening took place at the same time of the festival of  San Antonio de Padua (St Anthony of Padua),which is name the Church, and on which dome and windows were painted by  Francisco de Goya in 1798.  Under the II Republic the name was changed to  Puente de Galicia, and at the end of the Spanish Civil War got its original name back which was given in honor of the Queen Victoria Eugenia,of which was married Alfonso XIII  in May 31 1906.  Up the stream you have the cable car or  Teleférico de Madrid,that connects Paseo de Rosales with the Casa de Campo,and all its attraction parks.

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The Puente del Rey (Kings Bridge) is in the district of  Moncloa-Aravaca over the Manzanares river, connecting the square glorieta de San Vicente  with the Casa de Campo and the avenida de Portugal, the road that later gave in to the autovía(expressway)  to Extremadura (A-5).  It was begun to be built early in the 19C  for the used of Nobles given access to the Royal Palace to the Casa de Campo. In 1931 when the Casa de Campo was opened to the public the bridge was known as Puente de la República (Bridge of the Republic),it was widen and became one of the principal points of access to the new park. In 1970 it was given a exchange capacity on the new beltway of the M-30. By 2007 , the M-30 here goes underground and the bridge becomes pedestrian. You now go around the traffic from the expressway A-5 to the M-30 and to the center city of Madrid by the glorieta de San Vicente, and Plaza de España, where I have parked on the underground parking there. In 2010  the Spanish football/soccer team came here to celebrate winning the World Cup. The Madrid tourist office on the bridge: https://www.esmadrid.com/en/tourist-information/escenario-puente-rey

The puente de San Fernando is ,also over the Manzanares river in an area near the Monte de El Pardo and Hipódromo de la Zarzuela, (racecourse) next to the expressway  A-6 km 7, and the exchange traffic circle of the Puerta de Hierro, by which you connect the expressway to the beltway M-30.  There was a isle in the middle of the river and the bridge is done in two segments.  The heavy traffic around here makes it difficult to come but you do the crossing better on foot.  The bridge was built in 1749 during the reign of king Fernando VI . The name was given due to the fact that the king later was a Saint.  Until the last period of the 20C the bridge connected the  M-30 and the A-6 (road to Galicia).  Once a viaduc was built nearby the access to automobiles is prohibited. Today the Puente de San Fernando is part of a green belt of bikers in Madrid.

The puente de San Isidro  is a bridge linking over the Manzanares river and the park Madrid Río, in the district of Carabanchel with that of Arganzuela from the now old stadium Vicente Calderón (former home of Atlético de Madrid). The bridge was finished and opened to the public in 1974. It has two lanes each way and one bike lane; done part of the construction of the beltway M-30 to pass the avenida del Manzanares. It is 289 meters long by 26 meters wide, and brings together the Paseo de los Pontones,on the left bank to the Paseo de la Ermita del Santo, on the right bank of the Manzanares river.

One of the mosst emblematic bridges of Madrid ,and one of my most favorite is the puente de Segovia, renaissance style located in the crossing of calle de Segovia with the Manzanares river, that historically one of the access to the city.  It was first known as the «puente segoviana»,with first reference of it’s construction dates from the 14C when king Alfonso XI of  Castilla ordered the construction in writing letters dated in 1345  and 1346.  The first drawing found of the bridge (16C) tell us it had nine arches or maybe 13.  The Segovia bridge is the oldest surviving bridge in Madrid.  Again, the ordered to built one was given by king  Felipe II  to his architect  Juan de Herrera,(same of the Monasterio de El Escorial , and Royal Palace of  Aranjuez, among others).  The work extended between 1582 and 1584.  In November 1936, during the  Spanich Civil War the bridge was blown up by the Republicann side to stop the entry to Madrid of Nationalist forces under General Yagüe.  After the war, it was rebuilt introducing new variations to its original design.  In the 1960’s it was again renovated to allow for the construction of the beltway  M-30.  In 2007 ,this road went underground  ,M-30. The Madrid tourist office on the bridge:https://www.esmadrid.com/en/tourist-information/puente-segovia

Madrid puente-de-segovia

Another of my most favorite bridges together with the above is the puente de Toledo built on a barroque style between 1718 and 1732. It spans both banks of the Manzanares river crossing the Glorieta de Pirámides, on the east side and the Glorieta del Marqués de Vadillo,on the west side.  The origin of the construction dates from the 17C when king Felipe IV had in mind connect Madrid with the road to Toledo by building a bridge over the Manzanares river . The first project was done between 1649  and 1660, when it was known as the Puente Toledana. However, flooding in the river destroyed the bridge a bit later and a new one was schedule from 1671. By 1680, recently finished the new bridge another flooding destroyed it.  This time the design for rebuilding it was done in 1682 with the basic lines of the project done in 1684.  The new bridge was finally ordered built in 1715.  However, the project really did not started than on  1718  and work began in  1719 until completion in  1732.  In  1972, under the project of the beltway M-30, worked began on two lateral bridges that allowed to free the puente de Toledo from the heavy traffic that was supporting.  This new lateral bridges have a central area compose of nine arches on half point with solid columns .  The central frame has 4,95 meter wide and on it you find decorated templates in churrigueres elements having statues in chalk stone of the patron Saints of Madrid ,San Isidro Labrador ,and Santa María de la Cabeza, done in 1723. On each extreme of the frame you have ramps that connect on each side and on the Glorieta de Pirámides ,you have obelisks from the 19C on the north side as well as two fountains on the closest side to the city. The Madrid tourist office on the bridge: https://www.esmadrid.com/en/tourist-information/puente-de-toledo

Madrid puente-de-toledo side

We continue our tour with one very near my old home in Madrid; this is the puente de Ventas (right by the bullfight arena Monumental de Ventas) , this bridge brings together the districts of  Salamanca and Ciudad Lineal (my old district , neighborhood of Quintana) crossing the M-30 on foot and automobile.  This bridge was done on a mix structure of cement and steel  forming tables frame rather of two lateral sides with a pedestrian way ,and a central table frame with six cords or columns in parallel. It weights 1160 tons!!! and 60 meters long, and was done in four steps so not to stop traffic of the beltway M-30 and Calle Alcalá (my street!!!). You can walk to the Monumental bullfight arena just next to it.

Last but not least is the Puente del Principado de Andorra (previous Puente  ”Y” and name in honor of the Principality of Andorra).  It is very closed to the former stadium Vicente Calderón, crossing the  Manzanares river by a passarelle for pedestrian and bikes designed like the old train bridges of the 19C. It is a tree shaded area of the Salón de los Pinos (or pines halls).  The passarelle connects the Calle de San Ambrosio ,and Calle San Conrado,in the district of  Latina,with the Calle del Mármol,in the city center and it is integrated to the project of  Madrid Río  that extends onwards to  Monte de El Pardo on the north and the Caja Mágica on the south.

Not least as I mentioned several times the beltway M-30 who was finished shortly after I left while living in Madrid, let me give something on it.  This is a beltway done like a expressway and today mostly underground going around the city of Madrid; this was the first beltway,now there are several lol!  It is 32,5 km long and a radius of about 5,2 km from the Puerta del Sol (marking the center of Spain) and it is the most traveled road in Spain!! And the only expressway that is own by a city in Spain ; Madrid. The authorized speed limit is 90 KPH above ground and 70 KHP underground! This  is a map you can print and guide you on its many exits of the M 30http://micro.fa.uam.es/plano_M30_M40.html

mad-passarelle-m30-to-out-city-valencia-on-a31

Another popular area now , and mentioned several times above is the new renovated banks of the Manzanares river called Madrid Rio (see post)  8 km long and 1,2 million square meters space! 32 bridges and passarelles, planting of 33K trees of 47 different species, and 460K shrubs of 38 different species. It has  24 fountains with urban beaches and four recreation of old laundries with a water spout looking like the one in Bordeaux with three ovals of 500 meters each. You can play football/soccer, basketball, padel, tennis on their own fields as well as BMX circuits ,one skatepark, and a climbing wall as well as canoë-kayak on the Manzanares river ! It’s a huge entertainment complex au naturel. More here from the Madrid tourist office on Madrid Rio: https://www.esmadrid.com/en/tourist-information/madrid-rio-park

There, I hope you like the post, many of these bridges are special in my youth and came back like a pilgrim to them each time, and on each occasion introduce them to a new member of my family down to my sons. And hoping the tradition continues, I think I am in good hands! Madrid is awesome and its bridges beautiful and historical.

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

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March 1, 2021

Let us go to Jakarta!

Indeed updating on one of my last trips to Jakarta with new links and text on this old post from 2018. Jakarta is a go!  As written plenty with pictures this will be minimal on them. 

I had another find ,this one in Asia, far from home. Originally, never thought would reach here as too far from me. However, business had its way that I found myself going to Jakarta, Indonesia. It has been  a wonderful experience and many new friends! I have visited the country and in and out of Jakarta eight times in the last nine years to date, and each experience have been gratifying indeed. The friendly people and the ambiance of a big city of the East are tops. Already looking forward to one day return again when possible.

Let me tell you this time about the history I like.

Jakarta is the capital of Indonesia. It constitutes a 1st level subdivision of the same rank as the provinces under the special territory of the capital Jakarta, in Indonesian Daerah Khusus Ibukota Jakarta. Anglophones colloquially dubbed her “the Big Durian”.

A bit of history as it goes , Jakarta is located at the northwestern end of the island of Java, it is crossed by the Ciliwung River which flows into the Bay of Jakarta. An important Center of the Hindu-Buddhist kingdoms of Sunda and then of Pajajaran under the name of Kalapa, it became Jayakarta in 1527 after its conquest by the Sultanate of Banten. The Dutch renamed it Batavia in 1619 and made it the de facto capital of the Dutch East Indies. On August 17, 1945, Soekarno and Mohammad Hatta proclaim the independence of Indonesia, the city then resumes the name Jakarta-which in colonial times had remained as indicated by the name of a road, Jacatraweg, and became the Capital at the end of the War of Independence in 1949. The oldest written vestige found in Jakarta is the so-called “de Tugu” inscription found in the neighborhood of the same name in North Jakarta. This inscription, written in Sanskrit and in writing of Pallava, mentions a kingdom named Tarumanagara and his King Purnawarman who, in this place, had a canal of 10 km to the sea built. It’s the 5C ,this was once the location of an active port named Kalapa (“Coconut” in Malay and Sundanese). Kalapa was the main maritime outlet for the Hindu kingdom of Pajajaran, whose capital, Kuan, was upstream of the Ciliwung river on the site of the current city of Bogor (visited!!) , 60 km south of Jakarta. In 1513, a Portuguese embassy came to Kalapa. A treaty was signed in 1522 with Pajajaran, which allowed the Portuguese to build a warehouse and a fort at the mouth of the Ciliwung river. In 1596, a Dutch flotilla commissioned made a stopover at Jayakarta. Prince Jayawikarta, a vassal of Banten, allowed them to build a fort and two warehouses. He does the same with the English, which leads to clashes between the two communities. Banten, who disapproves of the action of his vassal, was dismissed.  In 1619, Jan Pieterszoon Coen, Governor General of the VOC (Vereenigde Oostindische Company or Dutch East India Company), installed since 1605 in Ambon in the Moluccas, in turn conquered Jayakarta. On his ruins he founded Batavia. In 1799, the VOC was declared bankrupt. The Dutch government confiscated its assets and Batavia became the capital of the Dutch Indies. Independent Indonesia gives the city its original name from Jakarta.

Jakarta has a bus network and especially minibuses, such as the Kopaja, MetroMini or Angkot (group taxis). There is a high-level service bus network, the TransJakarta.  There are many taxis, the prices are low and the vehicles in general in good condition. Jakarta also has a Regional express network, the KRL Jabotabek with major railway stations  Gambir and Kota. Jakarta has two peripheral toll belt roads: An interior, the Lingkar Dalam Kota (“Inner Circular”), an exterior, the Jalan Lingkar Luar Jakarta (“Jakarta Outer Circular Road”) or in English Jakarta outer Ring Road . The city is the heart of a network of highways in the three directions: westward and the Port of Merak, south and Bogor, towards the east and Bandung.  I have taken the car here only and with a driver but oh my God , it is really a challenge and I have done some major city driving myself; the city is inundated with scooters and bikes that surround you as you are standing on a red light; and one time we walk faster to our hotel than waiting in a car line of traffic lol!! The nice and easy airport always taken is the Soekarno-Hatta International Airport.

indonesia-driving-traffic-to-jakarta-airport-feb13

Some of the interesting cultural, historical and customs things to see here are:

Monas (National Monument) enthroned in the center of Merdeka Square, the largest public square of the world with 1 square kilometer. The museum Taman Mini Indonesia Indah (very nice indeed on the customs of the islands); National Museum of Indonesia , and the  Ragunan Zoo. see posts.

Also, with time see  Setu Bakan (South Jakarta): The government encouraged the local people to renovate their home or decorate it with traditional elements like the roof sculptures Gigi Lang ( “Teeth Or the Langkan, i.e. the front porch. Traditional cultural shows take place on weekends. Tugu (Jakarta North): In the 17C, a population from Malacca settled in the countryside east of what was then called Batavia. Malacca had been conquered by the Portuguese in 1511 and this population spoke Portuguese. The Dutch East India Company had brought them as slaves to Batavia and then had them freed. Their descendants inhabit the village of Tugu. Tugu strives to preserve his tradition of keroncong, a musical genre with melancholic accents. Every June 22nd, date decreed as the anniversary of Jakarta, which besides the Keroncong, offers culinary specialties Betawi.

Kampung Batik (South Jakarta): Kampung Batik (“The Batik Village”) is home to batik artisans. The Sanggar Batik Cantingku is a workshop where children are taken on weekends. Jakarta has the largest mosque in Southeast Asia, the Istiqlal mosque. The city is the seat of the Archdiocese of Jakarta whose cathedral is the Cathedral of St. Mary of Jakarta.

Now you got it, a bit of history and some tourist sights to see as well those in my posts ;hope it helps. Some additional webpages to help you plan your trip here are:

The Jakarta tourist office: http://jakarta-tourism.go.id/visit/

The Indonesia tourist board on Jakarta: https://www.indonesia.travel/gb/en/destinations/java/dki-jakarta

A good un official tourist information on Jakarta: https://www.indonesia-tourism.com/jakarta/

A very nice city, just get help in transports moving about and the rest is easy. Let’s go to Jakarta indeed!!

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

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