Archive for March 4th, 2021

March 4, 2021

Church of Santa María la Mayor in Alcalà de Henares!!!

And going back to my beloved Spain and a nice town we like with lots of memories of our passing by there until time to go back again. This is an update on the Church of Saint Mary the Major in  Alcalà de Henares; hope you enjoy as I ,and thanks for reading me over the years!

Let me tell you about a nice church with a nice anecdote for us while visiting Alcalà de Henares in the Comunidad de Madrid. I will be talking about the Church of Saint Mary or Saint Mary the Major.  This is a smallish city but it is pack with monuments of a rich history and great architecture compact in the city center. We have always arrived by car into an underground parking San Lucas (Plaza San Lucas)  outside the old town and just walk in very easily to see all on foot. The best combination possible anywhere.

 The Church of Saint Mary or Iglesia de Santa María or of Santa María la Mayor is the denomination that has had two buildings throughout history in the city of Alcalá de Henares. Of the old Church of Santa Maria, located south of the Plaza de Cervantes , in front of the city/town hall, there is only the design of its plant marked on the ground and two parts that have been restored: the tower and a chapel. This, called the Capilla del Oidor or Chapel of the Listener, of Mudejar decoration, contains a baptismal font specially celebrated for being in which Miguel de Cervantes (Don Quijote writer author) was baptized.

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It is currently destined for temporary exhibitions and the Universes of Cervantes Interpretation Center , sort of a museum to understand the work of Cervantes (see post) . This Chapel was built at the beginning of the 15C by King Juan II of Castilla, in what was then a hermitage under the patronage of San Juan de los Caballeros (Saint John of the Knights) or of Letran. And that in 1454 Bishop Carrillo made the Church under the patronage of St. Mary. For centuries, the towers of St. Mary and the Holy Children (Santos Niños) represented the duality institutional of City Hall and University. The first as a parish Church and the second as Magisterial. The Stork’s Nest of the tower is protected, which obliges to restrict the scaling visits in breeding season. This Church was destroyed at the beginning of the Spanish Civil War by 1936.

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After the war, the denomination of Church of Santa Maria La Mayor was applied to the Church of the former Jesuit college: the Colegio Maximo of the Company of Jesus, current Faculty of Law of the University of Alcalá, in the Calle Libreros (booksellers). This building, started in 1567, interrupted its construction until 1602-1620, when thanks to donations from the Mendoza family was terminated, in the absence of the façade. Its style is the conventional of the Jesuit churches of Italian influence. Four statues of Saint Peter, Saint Paul, Saint Ignatius and Saint Francis Xavier stand out on the façade. The connection to the Mendoza is attested by the presence of its heraldic shield. The main altarpiece, baroque, is the work of the Jesuit Francisco Bautista; His paintings were destroyed in the Spanish Civil War and were replaced by new ones, of the Parishioner Manuel Palero.

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First, it testifies to the early splendor of the company of Jesus founded by Ignatius of Loyola in the transit of the Renaissance to the Baroque, in that city that attracted the founder on his return from the Holy Land and, in whose Hospital of Antezana at Calle Mayor, still remains the Kitchen where he prepared his meals. As usual, the architectural model of the Gesu in Rome is omnipresent; a Latin cross plant with a large presbytery, a cupola on the transept and a side chapel connected to each other. For the façade, the Roman Church of San Giacomo deli Incurable   was taken as a reference. The temple is a symbol of the reformation and served as an example for successive  Jesuit Churches. Like other conventual spaces in Alcalá de Henares, the collegiate building became a cavalry barracks until the 80’s of the 20C when it was rehabilitated to host the Faculty of Law, inaugurated in 1991.

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Well , this is an unique Church of Santa Maria with a lot more history that is actually available online ,but I hope gave you enough to get a more complete picture of it, the Tower of St Mary ,remaining of old Church, and the Chapel as well as the Hospital Antezana (where Cervantes father was a surgeon doctor) and the Cervantes interpretation center.

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

The costasur webpage on Alcala de Henares and the church: https://alcala-de-henares.costasur.com/sites/parroquia-de-santa-maria-la-mayor/es/index.html

The Calle Mayor webpage as Alcalà de Henares leisure and cultural site on the church: https://www.lacallemayor.net/turismo/lugares-de-interes-alcala-de-henares/religiosos/parroquia-santa-maria-la-mayor/

The Alcalà de Henares tourist office on the main Chapel Santas Formas of the Church of Santa Mariahttps://www.turismoalcala.es/turismo/santa-maria-la-mayor-capilla-santas-formas/

The Alcalà de Henare tourist office on the tower of St Mary of the Church of Santa Mariahttps://www.turismoalcala.es/turismo/monumento-torre-de-santa-maria/

The Alcalà de Henares tourist office on the main Chapel de los Oidor of the Church of Santa Maria: https://www.turismoalcala.es/turismo/monumento-capilla-del-oidor/

The Center of Interpetration of Cervantes on the Church of Santa Maria: https://cvc.cervantes.es/artes/ciudades_patrimonio/alcala_henares/paseo/iglesia_compania.htm

Enjoy the visit to the wonderul Church of Santa Maria la Mayor in glorious Alcalà de Henares. And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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March 4, 2021

Wine news of France X !!

And here I am reaching another weekend, well the first one in March 2021! And need to tell you again about the wines of France, the story never ends !! indeed, simply the best. If you read my blog you know this is one of my hobbies and been all over in wine countries over the years. Here is my latest news on wines of my France!

And what the government or governments don’t tell you about the virus. The rules and the incompetence are hurting all. In France, 220,000 restaurants have closed their doors since the start of the pandemic. Beyond this tragedy which affects hundreds of thousands of employees, an entire industry is at half mast. The winegrowers, often very affected by the crisis, launched, at the initiative of the Force 4 Agency, the Solidarité Restaurateurs operation to raise funds and support restaurateurs in a logic of sustainable development from the reopening. Among them, Michel Chapoutier from Maison Chapoutier, Xavier Gomart, general manager of Cave de Tain or Alice Euvrard, Domaine de la Navicelle, Maison Louis Jadot, Patricia Ortelli from Château La Calisse, etc etc. Consumers identify the participants in the operation by the green dot on the bottle. From € 0.20 to € 1 per bottle sold are donated to the Hésiode endowment fund of the French Association of Master Restorers. Webpage: https://www.solidariterestaurateurs.com/

The Renaissance of Château Kirwan, the discreet of the Margaux appellation, one of my favorites!  Its neighbors are called Boyd-Cantenac, Brane-Cantenac, Prieuré-Lichine, Issan and, a few km further, Palmer and Margaux. By their side, Kirwan is a confidential address, a good deal given by word of mouth. The confidential address has nevertheless been a classified grand cru since 1855. At the time, the château was selected for the Universal Exhibition organized by Napoleon III. It was the first of Margaux’s third Grands Crus Classés and the 16th Grand Bordeaux in the official order of awarded wines.  In Cantenac, once you have passed the entrance gate to the domain, the charm immediately sparkle. In front of the beautiful 18C bourgeois mansion stretches out a garden, also listed with its hundred-year-old trees and its flowered arbour of roses, imagined by Camille Godard – former mayor of Bordeaux and, in his spare time, landscape architect, who was the owner during the second half of the 19C and vineyards as far as the eye can see, on 37 hectares! This enchanting setting has undoubtedly inspired the appellation of the château’s second wine, called Charmes de Kirwan.

At the origin of its notoriety, a Scottish immigrant, Mark Kirwan, arrived in Bordeaux in the middle of the 18C. He inherited the estate in 1760 by marrying the owner’s daughter, Sir John Collinwood. It is said that in 1787 Thomas Jefferson, then United States Ambassador to France, already called the Château a “second rank grand cru”. A comment announcing the fate of this exceptional wine. It was in 1926 that Alfred Schÿler, at the head of one of the oldest wine trading houses, the Schröder et Schÿler house, founded in 1739, bought this château north of Bordeaux, on the prestigious Margaux appellation.  Today, it is his great-granddaughter, Sophie Schÿler, who oversees the property, supported by Philippe Delfaut, a former Château Palmer, while his brother, Yann, chairs the trading house. She is an expert herself. Administrator and member of the Bordeaux Wine Academy, she regularly participates in master classes in the grandes écoles to initiate future leaders who are expected to be received at large tables, she specifies ; and writes for the Forbes Magazine as well as for several trade magazines. After having worked in the United States at Moët Hennessy and in the Besnier group, she returned to her native lands in 1996 to take charge of commercial development in particular of exports to the United States and Asia , and the communication from Kirwan.

Evidenced by the sculptural door through which it is accessed. A contemporary work in stainless steel lace called Les Ceps this magnificent porch, we are welcomed under a large glass roof revealing a row of wooden barrels. Mark Kirwan’s historic cellars, dating from the 18C, have been enlarged by the creation of a new space fitted out with wooden barrels from Allier. The whole being connected to 37 concrete tanks made to measure in Italy. Finally, she likes to receive groups of wine lovers in the Orangerie room of 220 m2, offering from all sides a panorama of the vines and extraordinary acoustics, thanks to its wooden beams on the ceiling, ideal for organizing events. concerts-tastings. The official webpage: https://www.chateau-kirwan.com/

Chanel is expanding its pink paradise in Porquerolles. By purchasing Domaine Perzinsky, a little over two years after acquiring the Island vineyard, the fashion house becomes the largest wine owner in this Mediterranean Eden. There were three owners who shared the 80 hectares of vines on the island of Porquerolles, with 70% production of rosé wines. Now there are two of them. Because the 14 hectares of the Perzinsky estate have just been bought by the house of Chanel to expand the Domaine de l’Île, which it has owned since autumn 2019, in this corner of Mediterranean land, facing the Pointe de Giens. Already owner in the Bordeaux region (Château Rauzan-Ségla, second classified grand cru of Margaux, Château Berliquet and Château Canon, grand cru and premier grand cru classé of Saint-Émilion), also at domaine of St Supery Estate Vineyards and Winery Napa California. Chanel made its entry into the promising rosé wine market with the Domaine de l’Île, a historic property of the 12.4 km2 island pebble, including 30 km of coastline that once belonged entirely to an adventurer of Belgian origin, Joseph- Alain Fournier. Strong personality, this former owner of mines in Mexico had devoted his fortune to his Mediterranean Eden before it was divided between his six daughters, then, little by little, ceded to the State which, in turn, had retroceded some arpents in the early 1980s to wine growers in the form of emphyteutic leases. In five years, when everything has been replanted and restructured, 40 hectares and 200,000 bottles per vintage will be sailing around the world. But always entirely and exclusively handmade, from the vineyard to the bottling, in this earthly paradise “made in Provence”. The Domaine de LÏle webpage: https://www.domainedelile.com/

In Saint-Émilion, wine tourism is no longer a fantasy. Some properties have made significant efforts to attract visitors, whether they are experts, novices or simply curious. In turn, Château Montlabert has decided to join the wine tourism dance. The reception pavilion is on the edge of the departmental road that connects Saint-Émilion to Libourne. Those who stop in can set off on a comprehensive 1.5-hour tour in a small group. The time to watch a video which presents the geographical location of the property, its terroir, its history since the 18C, and everyone gets into a very contemporary electric car. The castle and the new installations, invisible from the road, are revealed only after a few hundred meters. At the end of the small path, you will discover the 3 hectares of the English park as well as the French garden and its rose garden. A large fountain has been built, it is also likely to serve as a water reserve in the event of firefighters intervening.

This Castel group, which has nineteen properties in France, including fifteen in Bordeaux, three in Loire, one in Provence, one in Languedoc, or 1,100 hectares, needed a standard bearer. Château Montlabert was acquired by the family in 2008. Each year, Château Montlabert produces 50,000 bottles of its first wine and 70,000 bottles of the second. At the entrance to the vat room, four screens placed flat recall by their arrangement the sorting tables of the grape. We discover, in a film shot vertically, the main stages of wine making. It’s both spectacular and educational. A few meters further on, everyone can enter the heart of the cellar, made up of four islands each divided into as many large vats – two in stainless steel, two in concrete – in a space designed to limit energy consumption as much as possible (- 60 % compared to a conventional installation). The walls are covered with cork, a good insulator, while an ingenious system allows a natural flow of air to circulate in the vat room as well as in the cellars located on the lower level. In this space dedicated to drums, another video animation, very general public, of a few tens of seconds, is projected on the walls and columns. Then, towards the boutique store. webpage: https://www.chateau-montlabert.com/fr/

And here is the scary question and yes we do! What to drink with … a cheeseburger?   America’s culinary heritage owes a great deal to 19C immigrants. Thus, the hamburger (minced meat between two slices of bread) is a very old specialty of the city of Hamburg , Germany. The cheeseburger is an evolution: around 1925, a young chef from Pasadena (California), named Lionel Sternberger, had the idea of enriching his sandwich with a slice of cheese; but it was one of his colleagues from Denver (Colorado), Louis Ballast, who made it a registered trademark in 1935. With the success that we know. Cheese or not, it is obviously the ground beef which takes the best here. We should therefore avoid white wines: not structured enough, and especially devoid of tannins, they would lead to a somewhat wobbly marriage. Especially since you have to marry at the same time the sweetness of the ketchup, the acidity of the pickle and, of course, the fat of the cheese. We will choose it red, young for a preserved fruitiness, strong in taste and aromas, with notes of vanilla and black fruits, and above all a nice density in the mouth, with very present tannins. A south west France red, of course. Bon appétit.

And a bit of technical know how by yours truly.   Alcohol is an essential component of wine, the result of alcoholic fermentation, which transforms the sour in grape juice into alcohol; the latter generally represents between 12 and 14% of the total volume of a wine, and its content (also called alcoholic strength) is indicated on the label, this is the law. Not all wines are equal when it comes to alcohol content, but they owe it as much to their climate, to their grape variety, as to the cultivation practices put in place by the winemaker. Schematically, wines from the South are generally more generous (in alcohol) than wines from the North, an obvious consequence of the light intensity and the duration of sunshine, at the origin of photosynthesis which brings the sweet juice in. the vat. Today, in the south of the Rhône valley or in Languedoc, it is often difficult to harvest certain grape varieties (especially Syrah) even at potential 12 ° C, because if the sugar is there, the skins do not have the maturity required to make a great wine. Because that is where the heart of the matter lies: the only way to make a great wine is to pick the grapes at their optimum maturity, skin and juice. Even if the final degree sometimes reaches 13 or even 14 ° C, this is always better than having a wine with a rough touch and vegetable scents because the season was picked too early. You want to learn more about the different climates of French wine terroirs, oenology courses in Paris, Lyon, Marseille and in 24 other cities in France are organized by Prodégustation and are accessible for all levels, from amateurs to the most advanced. Webpage:https://www.prodegustation.com/cours-oenologie/vog-academique.html

The Jura has a rich diversity of terroirs and wines. Because, for those who do not yet know it, this vineyard does not boil down to yellow wine alone.   Trousseau and Poulsard produce unique reds that are rarely fleshy or full-bodied, but often intense and beautifully fluid. As for Chardonnay, it gives birth to whites capable of challenging the finest wines of the Côte de Beaune. Finally, Savagnin brings all its personality to yellow wine, king of oxidative wines. André & Mireille Tissot in Arbois are my best example of this little known wines, try them. Whether from the trousseau or the poulsard, Stéphane Tissot produces reds with character. While elegance is always present with silky textures, the wines never lack substance. As for its yellow wines, here too, the plot work in the vineyard has enabled it to make a huge qualitative leap in the cellar. The wines have gained in race.

A world apart: First observation: even in the absence of some of the most prestigious names, the magic of yellow operates. Second observation: breeding under sail is indeed a world apart. Last point, probably the most important: if a hierarchy emerges, the rating is only indicative, because everyone’s preference will be based on their affinities with a particular style.   The jaune or yellow wine represents around 5% of sales in Jura production, with an average volume of 3,000 hectoliters bottled each year, ie a little less than 500,000 clavelins.(bottles size of the region). Webpage of the Tissot propertyhttps://www.stephane-tissot.com/en/index.htm

To know more about the wines of the Jurahttps://www.jura-vins.com/vins-guide-vins.htm

And there you go for now folks, another dandy post on the wines of France, simply the best! Hope you have enjoy the post and the news of wines of France as I

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

March 4, 2021

The Puertas of Toledo!!!

And need to update and revise this one, a memorable city known to the world and plenty written in my blog on it. One aspect of it are the imposing gates around the fortified center, which I like to tell you a bit more. The Puertas of Toledo, hope you enjoy it as I.

I come back to a memorable town of my beloved Spain, Toledo. Never enough of it, as have been coming here since youthful days and had family/friends nearby on the road to Madrid.  Toledo should need no introduction to anyone, one of the jewels of the Western world and an example for todays’ societies. I rather concentrate on one particular aspect of their architecture, that is the Gates or Puertas of Toledo. This is my story on them.

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Puerta de Bisagra (Hinge gate) . Of Muslim origin it is formed by two bodies between which sandwiched a square of arms of Charles V . Its function was more monumental than defensive since the tower is beautifully decorated with embossed ashlars and the billiard are flush with the ground. It is known as “new” because there is another gate in the vicinity ,smaller size, called the old Gate of Bisagra or gate of Alfonso VI. Its Muslim name was Bab Al Shaqa   The external side is formed by a half point arch with cushioned ashlars, on which stands a great shield of the Imperial City, with its unmistakable doubleheaded Eagle. In addition to a pediment with a sculpture of a guardian angel,  flanking this entrance two large circular towers. The body that gives towards the city has another half-point arch gate, flanked by two square towers topped by pyramidal roofs. Currently is one of the emblems of the city, both for its beauty and for its access from the north of the city to The Old town.

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Puerta de Alfonso VI  or Puerta Antigua de Bisagra ( old hinge gate) one of the curiosities of this gate is that in the exterior facade has a curious horseshoe arch surrounded by alfiz and crossed by a lintel. It was built in the 9C and was the main access to the city. Its original name was Bib-Sacra , according to texts from the 12C, who’s meaning is Puerta de la Sagra. In addition to serving as access to the city, it was also a defensive resource and was an extension of the walled enclosure.  Architecturally speaking is a rectangular plant. On the exterior facade we see a large central arch of horseshoe framed in an alfiz and traversed by a lintel that makes it a very unique arch. For the construction of this gate  were used Visigoths remains. If you look at the top we can see Mudejar elements that were added after their original construction. We can see a defence gallery with windows to the outside and an adarve with battlements.

Puerta de Alarcones (falcons gate) One of the gates that defended access to the city in the Moorish era. This gate, unlike the previous one, is not decorated because its function was only defensive. This gate of Visigoth origin in the Islamic era was of great importance for the city. One of the best-defended accesses in Toledo was considered by the Puerta del Sol. It was considered as the gate through which the most illustrious personages visited the city. The first references we have of it are dated in 1216, calling it the Mohaguía gate. This mention is made in a Mozarabic document. Later it is known as the high gate of the blacksmith, to situate in that area the workshops of the blacksmiths.  From the 14C it loses its importance and becomes a secondary gate of access to Toledo. In this century it suffers a series of modifications. Losing its importance by rebuilding the Puerta del Sol gate. The original horseshoe arch became a half-point arch so that the carriages could be accessed. In the 17C  the upper body was reformed due to the enlargement of the Convent of Our Lady of the Assumption, owned by the nuns Bernardas Recoletas.

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Puerta de Alcántara.  Located in the area of the eastern wall is one of the most important of the military precinct. Formerly between the space between this gate and the bridge was a closed arms square that had two other side gates. It is in front of the Alcantara Bridge, which crosses the Tajo River, which in turn is protected by two fortified gates at its ends. Of Moorish origin, dating back approximately to the 10C, although important modifications were made during the Christian era. The gate constitutes an entrance in bend, typical of the Moorish military engineering, and its main span consists of a horseshoe arch located between two square towers and battlements with arches on its sides.

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Puerta de Valmardón o Bab-al-Mardum.  For quite some time this gate was walled because the Puerta del Sol was used that was much more accessible and less slope. This defensive tower was losing value over the years losing part of its structure as its two towers or the upper room. One of the gates of access to the Medina Toledo, this gate is that of Bab-Al-Mardum that it comes to mean  walled gate or condemned . It is also known as Valmardón, but we can also hear it with other names.  Christ Gate of the Light or Puerta Cristo de la Luz),  Balmardón,  of Aquilina, Agilana, Mayordomo (Butler), of the Cross, these are some names as this door is known. This gate was built between the 9C and 10C, it is one of the oldest gates in the city. This Valmardón gate has had several uses over time. In its beginnings was the gateway to the medina of the city. The medina is, in the Muslim cities, the area of the city where the main buildings of the city were. Within this medina were the major mosque, the souk, the Alcazaba, etc… After the reconquest of the city it was to be court prison and also was execution of moors. Likewise was the residence of the Corregidor of the city, it is at that time when it was known like Gate of the Butler (Puerta del Mayordomo). Over time the height of the gate was lowered, losing the upper body, because it was no longer a defensive element of the city. The Catholic monarchs ceded the gate to Pedro Lasso de Castilla of the Mendoza family. It belonged to this family until the 18C. One of his last civil uses was as a Hospital of San Lázaro.

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Puerta de los Doce Cantos. It is the most modest; its function was to give way to the district of  Alficén to the Alcántara bridge. Have pointed to that is derived from  twelve pipes in reference to the possibility that there was a source in this place with that number of mouths.  It is located in the eastern part of the walled enclosure, in a defensive complex that would correspond to the crouches of the Alficén that protected the primitive citadel Alcazar around the Moorish period. To its small dimensions, it caused that the adjacent wall was demolished in the 18C to open the current ascent to the Calle Cervantes, leaving the gate of twelve chants (Doce Cantos)  relegated to ostracism, walled loads of rubble. It ran from this point of the Gate of Doce Cantos the new way round, that surrounded the city from there to the convent of Gilitos (then prison), which constituted a landmark for the communications of the city and that was the antecedent of the current round corneas, executed towards 1983. An Islamic gate built in the 10C that, has come to our days very deteriorated.

Puerta de Cambrón. Its curious name comes from the Cambroneras, thorny shrubs that grew in that place. It is a gate of Moorish origin that has undergone many changes over the years. A Gate of the Cambron, also known as Gate of the Jews and the gate of Santa Leocadia. The gate is of square floor with a central courtyard, its current aspect is due to the reconstruction carried out between the years 1572 and 1577. In a Renaissance style, it has two facades. The exterior façade faces the Vega del Tajo. On this façade we can see in the central body the balconies of the House of the warden of the gate. It is topped by two towers covered with spires of slate. We can also see the municipal shield of Toledo from the time of king Felipe II  and two seated Goths kings. In the interior facade we can see the Royal Shield of King Felipe II and below an image of Santa Leocadia, patron of the city.  We can also see two towers as well as on the exterior façade. A rectangular-shaped central patio is where people, carriages and others who wanted to access the city from this gate passed. This is where the Portazgo of access was charged, tax exempt to the residents of Toledo and its mountains and its jurisdiction, as a plaque in this courtyard reads. It is the only historic gate of Toledo by which you can pass by vehicle inside it.

Puerta del Sol. Its name is due to a relief with the emblem of the Cathedral under a moon and the sun. It is of Moorish origin but has undergone several modifications over the years. It is a gate of Islamic origin in which we can find Roman remains, although the general aspect of Mudejar style is due to a reform ordered in the 14C by Cardinal Pedro Tenorio. This reform was the result of a civil conflict that occurred in Toledo because of the struggle that was caused by the succession of John I of Castile. The name of Puerta del Sol was not his original name. Calling it Gate of the blacksmith or the low gate of the blacksmith, in 1575. The city Corregidor, tried to change the name to Puerta de San Ildefonso. This attempt to change the name is due to the replacement of an old crucifix by the medallion, which we can now contemplate, which depicts the miracle of the imposition of the chasuble of St. Ildelfonso by the Virgin Mary. But this attempt at change did not went well with the residents for what it followed with its name.

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It was not until 1752 where it appears in the cadastre of Ensenada as Torre del Sol (sun tower). This name is given by a representation of some stars that appears in the medallion that we mentioned before. From that moment the name is popularised and it stays as the Puerta del Sol or Sun’s gate. The gate went from being an indispensable access to the city, but after the time and with the extension of the street parallel to this entrance, building a wall in 1785 and demarcating the ascent to the square of Zocodover. At this moment it becomes an ornamental door rather than passing through or access. It’s Mudejar style. It’s built on a stone base of ashlars and masonry. The entrance arch is a horseshoe that is embraced by a pointed horseshoe top arch. Both the battlements and the frieze are built in brick. In the frieze we can see interwoven blind arches, like lobed arches, typical of the Mudejar style of Toledo. These bows are decorative. We will also see in the battlements these types of decorative arcs. In the middle of the first row of blind arches we find the remains of a Roman sarcophagus. We also found in the center of the horseshoe arch pointed a medallion. We also see the representation of the Moon and the sun, giving this the name to the gate. The sarcophagus would tell us about the legend of beautiful children, is a representation of the Roman period . The other legend or miracle is the representation that we have already commented that there is in the medallion. That miracle or legend will tell you when we talk about the Chapel of the Ascension of the Cathedral of Santa Maria de Toledo.

There you go hope it helps you understand a bit more the wonders of Toledo, the city of the world.  In the province of Toledo, autonomus community of Castilla La Mancha of the kingdom of Spain.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are:

The Toledo tourist officehttps://turismo.toledo.es/monumentos/

The city of Toledo on tourism:  https://www.toledo.es/servicios-municipales/turismo/

The Castilla La Mancha tourist board on Toledohttp://en.www.turismocastillalamancha.es/patrimonio/toledo/

There you go, you are all set to go, just lets your fingers do the walking and pack. Toledo awaits you, the world is welcome.

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

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March 4, 2021

The Grand Trianon of Versailles!!!

And here I am updating this wonderful monument of my beloved Versailles in my belle France. I have come here many times even if pictures are scarse; as said, living and visiting are two different things. Let me update for you and I , the Grand Trianon of Versailles! Hope you enjoy it as I, and see my other post on it.

Now going back to my previous neck of the woods so saying, this is Versailles hello world!! The Royal city of Versailles has many wonders and some seldom visited . Surveys done by the city of Versailles tell us that 98% of visitors to the city only come to see the palace/museum!! Oh my God, there is so much more in Versailles, my town ,another beloved spot on earth for me.  9 glorious happy years of family living with memories to last a lifetime. Let me tell you about a gem, call the Grand Trianon.

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Before the current Trianon there was a building built by the architect Le Vau on the order of king Louis XIV, which was called the Trianon de porcelain. Its walls were covered with Delft tiles. Destroyed in 1687, it was replaced from the following year by the Trianon de marble. The architect was Jules Hardouin-Mansart. This is the palace we see today. The king reserved it for the feasts, the concerts, the snacks in the middle of the rest. His garden was covered with flowers, specially chosen for their colors and smells.

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The pieces of the Grand Trianon are all marked by history. The Kings and the emperor who lived there left their mark. The most visible are those of Napoleon I and Louis-Philippe. The Trianon-sous-Bois wing was a time reserved for the President of the French Republic. After the visit of the castle, the visit of the Grand Trianon is indispensable. Apart from the architecture, the furniture and some pieces of porcelain, you can admire dozens of beautiful paintings of the great century, including the works of Charles de la Fosse ,and Jean Jouvenet .

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The water plays an important part in all the property and no exception at the Grand Trianon, when you see the Buffet d’Eau done in 1703.  A huge fountain topped by figures of Poseidon, and Amphitrite, a wonderful fountain by the gardens.

The gallery of the Cotelle or galerie de la Cotelle done in  1687, to decorate the gallery, it was ordered 24 paintings illustrating the groves and fountains of the gardens of Versailles. 21 of these paintings are of the painter Jean Cosuch (1645-1708). The room is 52 meters long and 7 meters wide. Done by the Jean Cotelle, the young. They show forest or gardens that today are no longer, but were, such as the Bosquet de Labyrinthe, bosquet de l’Arc de Triomphe, Bosquet du Théatre d’Eau, and the bosquet du Marais de Mme de Montespan. They were re installed later by Louis-Philippe and do not shown inside the castle until 1913, in memory of François Francine, a great gardener influential in Versailles the same as André Le Notre. It  communicates with the so-called Trianon-sous-Bois wing. It was built to serve as a reception room. Under the Empire, it housed a collection of model boats; Under Louis-Philippe, a collection of bronze and art objects.   As in the past, this gallery is now and then used for official receptions. So it is quite often closed to the public.

The Music Room or salon de la musique, after being the first antichamber of king Louis XIV, this room became a music parlor. The shutters that are seen at the top of the wall facing the windows opened in a grandstand where the musicians were installed. The room became an officer’s lounge under the Empire, then a billiard room under Louis-Philippe.

The Grand Trianon or Trianon de marble is  within the park of the castle or more appropiate the Domaine of Versailles. The exterior of the building is constructed of pink marble which gives it the name Trianon de marble, as opposed to the Trianon of porcelain which preceded it in the same location.  The Grand Trianon is made up of a courtyard, of a palace, and of a set of gardens and basins;  it includes at its entrance a large courtyard called the Cour d’honneur, framed by a building divided into two wings connected by a gallery with columns. The right wing is extended by a perpendicular wing called Trianon-sous-Bois. The building overlooks a set of French gardens and basins, including the flat bottom basin, the so-called ear basin and the Horseshoe Basin.

It was the place of residence or passing of several French or foreign royal figures, including king Louis XIV, tsar Peter I of Russia or queen Marie Leszczyńska, wife of king Louis XV. More recently there were General de Gaulle, or foreign heads of State on official visits to France, such as the American President Richard Nixon in 1969, or the Queen of the United Kingdom Elisabeth II in 1972. The bit of history I like tells us that in 1663 and 1665, king Louis XIV bought from the monks of the Abbaye Sainte-Geneviève de Paris the lands and the village of Trianon (named Triarnum in a papal bull of 1163).

Completed in 1672, the first castle of Trianon, known as the Trianon de porcelain, will remain so for 15 years. In Faïence porcelain very fragile, it quickly suffered the wear and tear of time and stopped pleasing the king who ordered its demolition in 1686, shortly after the visit of the ambassadors of the king of Siam, to build in his place a wider abode and a style resolutely different. The Trianon de marble is rebuilt on the rubble of the former Trianon de Porcelaine, Jules Hardouin-Mansart, the first architect of the King, is responsible for its construction. The project is established in 1687. The Grand Trianon, or Trianon de marble, was inaugurated in the summer of 1688 by king Louis XIV and Madame de Maintenon, who make it their private residence. The king regularly organized dinners with the aim of controlling the Court. Few guests were sleeping there because of the limited number of rooms. At the end of his reign, king Louis XIV opened more widely the Grand Trianon.  The panelling of the lounges welcomed many princes of the Royal house like the Grand Dauphin, the Duchess of Burgundy, the Duke of Berry and Duchess of Berry, the Duke of Chartres, the Duchess of Bourbon and the Duchess of Orléans, Madame Palatine.

King Louis XV is totally uninterested in the place, but he comes to hunt. the Queen Marie Leszczyńska, who resides there since August 1741 with more retreat, and pushed by her favourite, the Marquise de Pompadour, king Louis XV decided to retake the palace of Grand Trianon in 1749. He built the French pavilion, endowed with a farmyard, and the French garden. Finally, the construction of the Petit Trianon,(next post) between 1761 and 1768, gives its new name to the Trianon de marble, the Grand Trianon. Marie-Antoinette far prefers the Petit Trianon to the grand, spite of this, she gives some performances in the gallery of the Cotelle.

We have to wait for the first Empire for the domain to regain its importance. In 1805, emperor Napoleon I ordered the restoration of the two palaces. The emperor made many stays at the Grand Trianon between 1809 and 1813. In order to guarantee its security and to facilitate direct access to Grand Trianon without going through the Palace, it erected the entrance gate of the front yard and the two pavilions reserved for its personal guard. Under king Louis XVIII, no change is made to the Trianons, only the imperial symbols are removed.  In 1830, king Charles X stopped for a few hours on his way to exile. From 1830 to 1848, Marie-Amélie of Bourbon-Sicily renovated the castle to the liking of the day to live there, and married his daughter, Marie d’Orléans, with Alexandre de Württemberg, in 1837. Like his predecessor, king Louis-Philippe I made a halt at Trianon on the road to exile in 1848.

The Treaty of Trianon, which split the Balkans, was signed at the Grand Trianon by the warring powers of WWI in 1920. From 1959, General de Gaulle thought of making the Grand Trianon a presidential  residence. Only, the costs to be incurred for this were very important ; however it serves as a framework for the official receptions of the French c Republic, including the G7 Summit of 1982, the presidential guests residing in the wing of the Trianon-sous-Bois. Among the welcomed heads of state were the American presidential couple John and Jackie Kennedy, Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom and the Duke of Edinburgh, the latter being the Russian President Boris Yeltsin in 1992. The room occupied by General de Gaulle remained as is, with two separate beds, very long ,due to his size.

A bit of overall description on the rooms are:

Apartment of the Impératrice, Chambre of the Empress ,Salon of the Chapel ,Salon of the Lords. The péristyle  of the Grand Trianon is the colonnaded gallery connecting the right wing and the left wing of the Grand Trianon, but also the courtyard to the gardens. It consists of open arcades on the courtyard and a colonnade on the garden. The nickname Trianon de marble of the Grand Trianon is due in particular to this peristyle whose pilasters are made of this rock=marbre.  There is a large living room ,salon de Musique,  Salon Louis-Philippe’s ,Salon of Malachite .The gallery of Cotelle, located in the north wing, features 11 windows and 5 windows are connected to the Garden lounge. It takes its name from the painter Jean Cotelle the young, portraitist and miniaturist of king Louis XIV who realizes 21 out of 24 paintings that are attached to it Salon of Jardins.

We come out again, in my game, to the fountain of L’Enfant au Carquois at the garden,  by the old garden of the king on the north wing, a fountain with shells,and the only of its kind in France at the théatre d’eau one of the most famous gardens of Louis XIV done by Andre Le Notre between 1671-1673.  You can see the other two element of this triology at the National Gallery of Washington DC USA. We go back in to the chambre de l’empereur or emperor’s bedroom, at the petit appartement of the Emperor at the north wing. This was the personal bedroom of Napoleon Ier,  he has five rooms such as the antiroom, personal office, bathroom, bedroom, and breakfast room. They were decorated and setup between 1805-1807 by the best artists of the time. Even after the divorce with Josephine the colors and decorations stay.  Napoleon could see the castle from the Grand Trianon and only the abdication in 1814 stops receiving the entire imperial family at the Grand Trianon. The emperor’s office finish in 1812 is the only room completely decorated to his tastes.  Inside by the middle wing, you will find the Boudoir de l’Emperatrice Marie-Louise. In 1805 the emperor has done it for his mother but never use it, and in turn was given to his new wife in 1810. Marie Louise is the daughter of the niece of Marie Antoinette!  We stay inside to go to the Vasque aux malachites, done on 1807-1809 at the salon des malachites in the north wing. This is a huge table cover given as a present by the tzar Alexander 1er to Napoleon Ier for the alliance of Tilsit in 1802.  A huge gift as the malachite is a precious stone only found in Siberia.

We continue our walk inside to see the bed or lit de la chambre de l’imperatrice, done in 1809, at the south wing. The bed was ordered b Napoleon Ier before been use by Louis XVIII in 1824;  It was Louis Philippe who brought back to the castle to show the legimate claim by the Orleans side of the royals to the claim of the kingdom of France. Worth mentioning that he voted for the execution of Louix XVI being a Bourbon in 1793, and his wife Marie-Amelie de Bourbon-Sicily was the niece of Louis XVI!!! cousin of Louis XVII and of the Emperatrice Marie Louise. He Louis Philippe took the throne after replacing Louis XIX that ruled for only 20 minutes ! It was here in the Grand Trianon in 1830 that he took over after firing all the ministers. In his favor, in 1837 he declare the Domaine de Versailles for the Glory of France, a museum!!! so saving it from demolition and allow us to see the beauty we see today.

Moving on to the  Small apartment of the emperor’s , Bedroom of the emperor’s,  antichamber of the emperor’s , topographical office of the Emperor’s,  cabinet particular of the Emperor’s; Breakfast living room, bath of the Emperor , and Trianon-sous-Bois in the north wing of the Grand Trianon built in to overcome a lack of space, this wing is built shortly before 1708 and is occupied by Madame Palatine, sister-in-law of King Louis XIV, and his family.  The billiard room is transformed into a chapel under king Louis-Philippe Ier. The marriage of Marie d’Orléans, daughter of Louis-Philippe, with Alexandre de Württemberg is held here in 1837. Columns in the Chapel come from the grove of the Dômes, and a stained glass window representing the assumption of the Virgin an order of the National manufactory of Sèvres.  And we finish the tour with the Bailiffs ‘ room ,waiting room for first aid and office of the President , the small living room , dining hall , Chapel of Louis-Philippe during the construction of the Trianon de marble, André le Nôtre traces in the gardens geometrical figures in compartment sections of greenery. The gardens are completed after his death, in 1700, by Jules Hardouin-Mansart, who, in 1702, decorates them, among others, with a water buffet and creates groves and halls of greenery. Only the pride of Le Nôtre, the garden of Springs, located in the hollow of the gallery of the Costelle and Trianon-sous-Bois are preserved.

We move a more recent historical room, Bureau du Général de Gaulle, or his office. apartements of the Presidency in the wing of the Trianon under woods, or sous bois. In the extreme north of the Grand Trianon, you find this room ,redone since 1962 ,and not well known to the public. It was redone after Napoleon III left it; and given to the chief of State. He was used for receptions and welcome of dignataries visiting France. This events were terminated by Jacques Chirac that from March 29 1999 returned it to the castle to show as museum piece to the public.

There you go a full story tour. A wonderful place indeed in my beloved Versailles. You can avoid the lines rush from place d’Armes by going thru the porte Saint Antoine direct to the Grand Trianon ;this is done if you have a car or take bus line 19 by ave Saint Cloud to stop Parly II le Chesnay, walking down couple hundred meters on your right hand side.

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

The Château de Versailles on the Grand Trianon:  http://en.chateauversailles.fr/discover/estate/estate-trianon/grand-trianon

The tourist office of Versailles on the Grand Trianonhttps://en.versailles-tourisme.com/the-grand-trianon.html

Hope it helps you enjoy the Grand Trianon as much as it does me. And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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