Archive for March 25th, 2021

March 25, 2021

The beautiful Cathedral of Segovia!!!

So again an update but a huge delight to tell you and me all about it again. This is my beloved Segovia, coming here since my early teen years which is a lot first with my mom, then alone, then wife and finally wife and boys , its a family trek. This is one of the monuments all should come to see, the history of the place, city , country is told in its walls. Then we can travel after knowing the local customs it will be better. I like to tell you all about the beautiful Cathedral of Segovia!!

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The  Cathedral of Segovia for short is awesome, a must to see.  Well I admit only once did took the bus as always came here taken or on my own by car from Madrid. The roads are good if hilly and curvy even if now they have expressways such as the AP 6 and AP 61 but my all time favorite is the N603; from Madrid you can come on the A1.  I drive around to find a parking either at 14 Paseo Ezequiel Gonzalez next to the tribunal , you walk past the statue to famous restaurantor Candido and onwards to the Cathedral and Aqueduct nice walk and car is very safe or  the Alcazar or by the Aqueduct and then walk all over the city. By intercity bus you come from the bus depot at Moncloa and the Sepulvena line ,there are suburbian trains such as cercanias by changing trains in Cercedilla. The fast trains or AVE can be taken at the station Segovia-Guiomar and for cheaper slower trains you can do the Avant trains.

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The history of the Cathedral of Segovia is huge and I like it.

The Cathedral of Segovia, known as the Lady of the Cathedrals, by its dimensions and its elegance or officially as the Santa Iglesia Catedral de Nuestra Señora de la Asunción y de San Frutos.  The works of construction of the Cathedral, built in the 16C, were begun during the reign of  King Carlos V and the bishophy of Diego Ribera of Toledo.  It had become indispensable to replace the ancient Romanesque Cathedral, which was badly damaged during the Community war, which shook the kingdom of Castile between 1520 and 1521. While Spain, through its Italian possessions, was gradually opening up to Renaissance architecture from Italy, the late Gothic style continued to flourish, gradually integrating the elements of Renaissance art. The work of the Cathedral was entrusted in 1525 to Juan Gil de Hontañón, who had already intervened on the new Cathedral of Salamanca, as well as his son Rodrigo Gil de Hontañón. The architect was able to incorporate some innovations of Roman architecture into the Gothic isabelline, characterized by its ornate and slender style, very inspired by the achievements of northern Europe. He developed a three-aisled plan with a semi-circular bedside with radiant chapels. Juan Gil de Hontañón was expelled in 1529; After its departure, the elevation of the naves was continued to finish in 1542. It was then that the original architect made his return to complete the Cathedral, including the bedside, until his death in 1577. His departure from Segovia had enabled him to carry out several projects, thanks to which he was able to refine his knowledge of Renaissance art. On his return, he was able to demonstrate these new skills, particularly at the Sacristy portal. The Cathedral of Segovia is therefore a transitional building between two periods of Spanish architecture. One of the last great Gothic achievement in Spain.

The Cathedral of Segovia is built in the form of a Latin cross. It has a nave of five bays consisting of three ships, the central ship and two collateral, a chorus and a transept. The two collateral or aisles are each equipped with five lateral chapels. The choir, with its semicircular apse, is surrounded by an ambulatory, on which are opened seven absidiales or radiant chapels. The choir was built in its time on part of the old Jewish quarter of the city. The cathedral also features a tower or steeple with a small dome, as well as a cloister. The ensemble, Gothic, is covered with arches of warheads. Above the cross of the transept rises a dome. The high walls of the nave, like those of the choir, are supported by buttresses. The latter are surmounted by high pinnacles very well worked. At the level of the choir and the bedside, these give a great elegance to the sanctuary.

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The Cathedral of Segovia is open to the outside by three gates or gates (Puertas). The Puerta del Perdón (Door of Pardon) opens on the Great Western façade, the Puerta de San Frutos (Porte de Saint Frutos) is located at the north end of the transept and the Puerta de San Geroteo at its southern end. The dimensions are 105 meters long, 50 meters wide, highest point interior is 33 meters and the bell tower is 88 meters high.  Its entrance is in the Chapel of San Blas . At the time of its construction, it was entirely Gothic in style, and ended with a pyramid-shaped arrow of Caoba  wood brought from the American colonies (Cuba). It was then the highest tower in Spain, higher than the Giralda of Seville, but the lightning destroyed the spire in 1614. The architect Juan de Mugaguren, in charge of the restoration, instead built a dome, which caused him to lose 12 meters.  The current altar was ordered done by king Carlos III with a designed by Francisco Sabatini (of the gardens in the Royal Palace). it was begun in 1768 ,and finished in 1775. In front of the main altar it is closed wity a wrough iron grille done in 1729.  The ashlars were brought from the old cathedral, and placed in 1558 by Juan Gil and Jerónimo of Antwerp, and finished in the year 1790 by Fermín Huici. It is in Flemish Gothic style, from the end of the 15C and was sent by the Bishop Don Juan Arias Dávila.

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Basically you have chapels on both side of the main nave, north and south. These are in brief comments.

The North Side Chapels are the Chapel of Piety or La Piedad, also known as the Chapel of the Holy Burial, was founded in 1571 . St. Andrew’s Chapel or San Andrés was founded in 1618 , similar to the chapel of Santiago, with the coat of arms of the founder at the top.  The Chapel of San Cosme and San Damián, carvings of the Immaculate conception (17C) as well as the Saints. San Gregorio Chapel , Altarpiece of the late 17C; the gate is baroque; Capilla de la Concepción at the foot of the Cathedral and next to the so-called door of forgiveness, it was built in 1531.

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The South side Chapels are San Blas Chapel, Chapel of Christ RecumbentSanta Barbara Chapel,( my native town patron Saint), Chapel of the Christ of Consolation, Chapel of Santiago, was the first chapel of the cathedral given to a civilian, granted by the Cabildo of Segovia in 1577 , Senior accountant of king Felipe II and Commander of the Order of Santiago. The altarpiece that presides the chapel is of Baroque style, is dedicated to the Apostle James and is the work of Pierre de Hertogenbosch in 1595, Chapel of San Antón, was granted to Antonio Idiáquez Manrique, Bishop of Segovia, with destination to a family pantheon. It preserves a baroque altarpiece done  between 1696 and 1697, and dedicated to San Antón, whose image presides the whole.

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The Shrine of the Tabernacle or Capilla del Santuario is symmetrical to the Chapel of San Antón, and is divided into two different spaces: on one hand the so-called Chapel of the Christ of Agony, and on the other the Chapel of the Ayala.  Christ Chapel of the Agony or Cristo de la Agonia, is the first stay of the chapel of the Tabernacle, and gives access to the sacristy of the Cathedral. The space, two vaults of crosses, contains a chest of drawers, and different canvases are dealt of several bishops of Segovia by their walls.  Others are the Capilla de los Ayala, Chapels in Girola, St. Peter’s Chapel, Capilla de San Ildefonso here There is a wooden statue with the Virgin and the Child in a way to bless. Chapel of San Geroteo, San Frutos Chapel, Chapel of San Antonio de Padua, Chapel of Our Lady of the Rosary, San José Chapel,  and San Antón Chapel.

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The stained glass windows of the cathedral are one of the most important ensembles of the Spanish glassmaker heritage. The set consists of 65 pieces that are distributed over time in three different phases.  The first phase corresponds to the 16C, forms one of the most important series of stained glass made by the workshop of the Pierres (Pierres de Holanda and Pierres de Chivarri, together with Nicolás de Vergara, Nicolás de Holanda and Gualter de Ronch), and are one of The most important Renaissance groups in Europe.  The second phase was executed in the 17C by Francisco Herranz, who made a theoretical programming of the stained glass in a manuscript titled Order of the Ystorias to be put in the windows of the Church Mayor of Segovia, preserved in the archive of the Cathedral of Segovia. This set consists of 33 pieces and is the broadest phase. Finally, a third phase took place in 1916, when seven stained glass windows were included for the main chapel made by Casa Maumejean in Madrid.

From the year 2010 was commissioned to begin the integral restoration of the Cathedral.  stained glass windows ,and the work was to continue until 2020. The nice Cloister is in flamboyant Gothic style and was moved stone by stone from the former old Cathedral of Santa Maria, destroyed during the war of the communities, and constitutes the only part of the old temple that has come to our days. It is accessed by a beautiful cover decorated with the theme of piety, from the same origin and time.

There you have in a nutshell , the wonderful unique Cathedral of Segovia; where queen Isabel La Catolica or Isabel I came to pray many times in the Chapel of  Santa Barbara (my native town patron saint!) so says the legend.   First stay of the Infanta in Segovia (future queen Isabel I) is recorded in 1467, coinciding with the revolt provoked by her brother Prince Don Alfonso and the Marquis of Villena, staying with his ladies in the royal Palace of San Martín, while the queen Doña Juana of Portugal did it in the Alcazar, in the absence of the king who was in Coca. In 1471, being the warden of the Alcázar Andrés de Cabrera, married to Beatriz de Bobadilla, Lady of Doña Isabel, on December 29 was  celebrated in the Alcazar the famous interview between the Monarch and the princess, The next day the Prince Don Fernando of Aragon (future king)  entered the city . In the night of 11 to December 12, 1474, the King Henri IV died in the fortress castle of Madrid, immediately brought the news to his sister the princess who was in the Alcazar of Segovia, waiting for events. From there comes the 13th to be proclaimed Queen of Castile at the gates of the Church of San Miguel !! The next documented stay of the Queen in our city  was on August 4, 1476, on the occasion of the serious disturbances that occurred in the Alcazar in which was innocent victim Princess Isabel, first born of the Kings. The Queen remained in the palaces of San Martín until the 23rd of September of that year, not returning to our city until ten years later, in March 1486, staying then in the Alcazar, which became the preferred  stays in the city. Between August 10 and November 26, 1503, resides the Queen in the city, seeking rest for her delicate state of health.  She stayed in the  Alcazar and then in the  royal apartment of the Monastery of El Parral, to then spend the majority of her stayed in the apartment of the Convent of Santa CruzIsabel de Trastamara , Isabel I , Isabel the Catholic died at only 53 yrs old from an uterus cancer in 1504 at Medina del Campo after 30 yrs as Queen.

Some webpages to help plan your trip here in addition to my many posts on Segovia!

The webpage WordPress for the Cathedral of Segoviahttps://catedralsegovia.wordpress.com/

The Segovia tourist office on the Cathedralhttp://visitsegovia.turismodesegovia.com/es/monuments/cathedral

The Castilla y Léon region tourist office on the Cathedralhttps://www.turismocastillayleon.com/turismocyl/en/art-culture-heritage/cathedrals/cathedral-segovia

And the story goes on in beautiful historical quant Castilian Segovia.  Hope you enjoy this post on the beautiful Cathedral of Segovia.

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

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March 25, 2021

Cathedral of Alcalà de Henares!

Oh these are always a big task, gorgeous monument, wonderful architecture, and beautiful history. Cathedrals are like a book once you go in, you will understand the history of the city , country etc much better. I have been lucky to have seen some of the best ones and now will show you one in a wonderful university town of Don Quijote’s fame! This is simply the Cathedral of Alcalà de Henares. Hope you enjoy the updated post as I.

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We really like this town coming back repeated times, and me way before since childhood.  I introduce my dear late wife Martine to these wonderful places and she came  to love them too.  Let me tell you, about Alcalà de Henares and especially the Cathedral.  The place is famous for the Cervantes house and museum and especially the University, but to us the Cathedral was more impacting and the bars/restos around it were sublime ,never to forget.

Alcala de Henares has the Cathedral or Catedral Magistral de los Santos Justo y Pastor, children martyrs of the faith. This was a great Church and wonderful bell tower that you climb 140 steps right from the spot where the children Justo and Pastor were massacred and became Saint Justos and Saint Pastor. It offers a spectacular view of the city after climbing the helicoidally staircase.  You will see wonderful chapels and the tomb of Cardinal Cisneros that together with Queen Isabel I the Catholic were instrumental in Columbus discovery of new lands  in America.  The cloister also has a nice collection of statues and stones found in the area.

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The Gothic Church Magistral is raised to Cathedral Magistral of Santo Justo y Santo Pastor (the boys).  It is dedicated to Mary Magdalene and it is Magistral since all its priests are doctors in Theology only one of two which is Magistral (the other is St Peter in Louven Belgium). It was built in 1514 in a isabeline gothic style.  The story goes that in Roman Hispania there was a period of great persecution of Christians under the government of emperor Diocletian ; during his period happened the martyrdom of the Saints Justo and Pastor, boys of 7 and 9 years old executed in 304 outside of Alcalà de Henares for their refusal to refuse Christianism.

The Cathedral outside is simple and austere, while inside it is divided into three naves call Centro, Evangelic, and Epistolary. In the Centro nerf you will find the urn of silver and gold in a crypt where the remains of the boys Saints are kept and a stone where they were martyred. These relics were transferred to Huesca and then to France to avoid destruction by the Arab/moors.  The walls onn the exterior are covered with Segovian lettering and you look at the front gate of a gothic style with a central medallion representing Saint Ildefonso, and the high tower in the renaissance style at 62 meters high, on top there is nice chapter in the Herediano style.  It has a Cloister of the 17C with arcs and pillars, the floors are covered with renaissance carpets coming from different convents in the city. From the cloister you go to the  Sala Capitular (capitulary room) and the old library.

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The interior the Church is divided in three nerfs covered with vaults on top of pillars. The Church looks like a traditional Latin cross with a transept. It lost quite a bit during the Spanish Civil War with many works of arts and historical objects. On top of its religious duties the Church Cathedral houses a center for the interpretations and a museum. The Central nerf rises over the lateral nerfs without a main altar on a gothic style and portraits showing the passion of Christ. In the presbytery you see a table given by Pope Sixtus V to king Felipe II The space is preceded by the image of the Virgen of Cisneros and enclosed by a wrough iron gate that survived the fire of 1936. On the girola or dome like you see the Crypt of the Saints Justo and Pastor where an urn is preserve with silver and gold lining (1702), where the remains of the Saints and the stone on which they were martyrize are kept.

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The nerf of Epistolary is located where the most important Chapels and the parish of St Peter. This later one built in 1622; showing a gate in granite Stone in the Herediano style and a Baroque interior with a half orange dome. The Chapel of the Virgin of the Valley is the Patron Saint of Alcalà de Henares. It has a half point arc entrance venerating inside the incorrupt corp of San Diego de Alcalà that is shown to the faithful every November 13 day of the Saint. From the eleven Chapels that originally counted the Cathedral only five remain as well as the sides of other six painted on the wall meaning a missing space. After the Church was elevated to Cathedral important excavation work was done and burials of the 16C, 17C and 18C were found.

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There is a nice Museo Diocesano or Diocese Museum opened in 1997 showing a monographic portrayal of the boy Saints Justo and Pastor as well as the sepulcher of Archbishop Carrillo in addition to showing the Treasury that includes objects of jewelry, paintings, arts, and liturgical costumes.

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Some webpages to help you plan your trip here to this wonderful town of Alcalà de Henares!

The official webpage of the Cathedral of Alcalà de Henareshttp://www.visitascatedraldealcala.org/

The Alcalà de Henares tourist office on the Cathedral: https://www.turismoalcala.es/turismo/monumento-catedral-magistral/

The city of Alcalà de Henares on public transports: https://movilidad.ayto-alcaladehenares.es/

There you go ,I hope you like it as we did, it is the real deal in my beloved Spain indeed.  The Catedral Magistral of Saint Justo and Saint Pastor of Alcalà de Henares is awesome. And remember, happy travels, good health ,and many cheers to all!!!

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March 25, 2021

Huete, a little corner of Castilla La Mancha

And great pleasure in updating this older post in my blog. As said , plenty of memories doing this, it has been a labor of love. One of these lovely nice memorable little towns of my beloved Spain is Huete in the province of Cuenca, Autonomous region of Castilla La Mancha. I am very happy to do this update for me and you and all. Hope you enjoy my Huete!

Again on my off the beaten path trips , the lone road warrior in my beloved Spain. As they said in the 80’s tourist slogans; Spain is everything under the sun. However, if hard press, the lonely souls of Quijote will make me choose Castilla La Mancha.

And off we go again in this land of minds and souls going to a little town less than 2K folks ,where my family enjoyed several trips and joy, this is Huete.  The town is in the northwest corner of the province at  54 km from Cuenca and 120 km from Madrid. It has a train station on the line Madrid-Cuenca-Valencia. However, the car is king on the A3 Madrid -Valencia corridor and up to Huete on the CM 310 road.

A bit of history I like , and a must to travel wisely!

In the 6C there were signs of a town here on the plains of Álvar Fáñez, later it was taken to mines on chalk that still abound in the region even empty.  It was later known as Wabda forming part of the corus of Santabariyya or Shant Bariya on the plains of a castle with much of it walled. In the 9C and 10C was a very important center of the tribes of Hawwara and Madyuna under the family of Banu Di-L-Nun that later took control of the area in the taifa of Toledo.  It was here at Huete that  al-Qádir, the last king of Toledo left the territory after giving in to the forces of king Alfonso VI even before becoming king at Valencia.  It is the legend that under the patronage of the Saints Justa and Rufina on the encirclement of the Almohades Arabs and after failing on the last offensive there was a huge storm that filled the moats of the castle with water so avoiding a collapse and giving them time for the forces of king Alfonso VI to arrived to finally defeat them.  In 1164 took place here the Battle of Huete where the troops of the House of Castro under Fernando Rodríguez de Castro “the Castilian”, defeated the troops of the House of Lara ordered by the Count Manrique Pérez de Lara, that died in combat as well as his brothers  Álvaro and Nuño. The battle was a result of the turbulent minority age of Alfonso VIII of Castilla, winner of the battle of  Navas de Tolosa, that needed to fight amongst others his uncle king Fernando II of León, that had taken the city of Toledo in 1162.

During the period of the Trastámara (house of  Segovia and Isabel I the Catholic) in 1388, king Juan I gave Huete to dame or  Doña Constanza, oldest daughter of  Pedro I and Duchesse of Lancaster, in order to solved the dynastic problem at the moment to reach the Castilian throne.  In the Peace of Troncoso and treaty of  Bayonne it was agreed that together with Guadalajara, Olmedo ,and Medina del Campo, Huete, and all its lands and rights were given to Doña Constanza,and that her daughter, Catalina, was to married the infante Enrique, adopting both as Princes the heir to the throne of Castile and for the first time the title of Prince of Asturias (title to the heir to the throne of Spain even today). By the 15C Juan II gave the title of city and the Catholic kings in 1477 gave the city the title of Noble and Loyal city that has it since then. As an anecdote in the 19C king Fernando VII spent the summer for a few days here in 1816.

Things to see in Huete, most with separate posts.

Urban wall ramparts of Huete. Andalucian origins with several reforms and on the transfer to the kingdom of Castille in the 12C .Done with several different techniques and materials such as cemente, stones, and ceramics. You have the moon castle or Castillo de Luna  the fortress of  Wabda,  also of Andalucian origins done on top of a Roman that still can be seen on the walls.

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Palacio Episcopal de Huete, or episcopal palace built in thrre phases, on which you see from the first one the shield of the bishop Solano end of the 18C ; second done by bishop Palafox early 19C with the central part unfinished.  In 1570 the first jesuist arrived to found the college and later the college of letters and grammar; they were sent off in 1767, and the building was inactive just with clerical function. The building goes thru many changes such as second half of the 16C you see it on the facade on the left of the main gate . In the first third of the 17C the  convent house with a patio and nice quarters were done.  The Church started building it in 1700 and you can see the nice entrance gate where the Royal arms and the inscription by king Carlos III that ordered in 1770 the transfer of the parish of San Nicolás de Medina,known then as San Nicolás el Real. The place now a parish Church the brotherhood of the Virgen de Guadalupe ordered built the Chapel in roccoco style.  In 1795,the brotherhood of Saint John the Evangelist coming from the parish of Santa María de Atienza, built the Chapel for them here. Today, the Church is manage by the brotherhoods of  San Antonio Abad, Our Lady of  Loreto, and St John the Evangelist that does a very important festival in the second weekend of May.

Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de Atienza or Our Lady of Atienza Church. This is one of the 10 parishes that during the middle ages and even modern times had Huete and this was the oldest; probably on top of an old mosque. The style is artistic with a gothic ,a rare example in the Province of Cuenca. In 1790 , the Church falls off leaving only the absinthe that is kept as a hermitage. Iglesia de Santo Domingo or the Saint Domingo Church was built in the 14C with sisters coming from the area of Amasatrigo thanks to donations by Catalina de Lancáster, Queen of Castille and Lady of Huete.  The current Church is from 1620 .There were renovations from 1621 to 1642. One of its members was the bishop of Astorga ,don Diego de Veancos y Salcedo, buried in one of the Chapels decorated with his bishop’s arms.  The convent was clear of its duties in 1835, and sold losing even the cloister done in the last third of the 16C.

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Torre del Reloj  or Clock tower; from the very early times the tower was still at its current location even if the designs were done in 1795,  after many stop for lack of funds, were finally finished in  1805 . The La puerta de Almazán gate call like this because it connects with the parish Church of  San Nicolás de Almazán, was the most important of the walled ramparts.

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Convento de Jesús y María. or Jesus and Mary convent. It is built on an elevation where the hermitage of Santa Lucía,from which the Bells were used to put in the convent bell tower. Worked began in 1554 ,and finished in 1576 when Sisters of the order of San Lorenzo Justiniano coming from  Cuenca to house here.  This is one of the best examples of the Cuenca architecture of the 16C, a rectangular level around a cloister with arcs of half point on square and boxed pillars, a very innovative construction at the time.

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Iglesia de San Pedro or St Peter’s Church in ruins of a Church from the 17C with a nice Chapel with gothic designs of the 16C.  Ermita de San Sebastián  or hermitage.  In this spot it was known as the quarry of Chopos , where a vegetable garden was done dating from 1689,and renovated in 1737.

Some nice museums in Huete, indeed that have not seen all are:

Museo Florencio de la Fuente , in the monastery of Mercy above and very nice indeed with a collection of international contemporary arts by such as Villatoro, Salvador Dalí, Pablo Picasso, Bores, Camille Corot, Pedro de Matheu, Vicet Ochoa, José Bautista etc, under donations by others such as the museum founder to the city of  Huete.

Museo de Arte Sacro or museum of sacre art; you have here an excellent collection of religious art such as the Cross of San Nicolás de Almazán, Cross of Santa María de Atienza, done in 1618 in silver, told one of the best Castilian crosses of the 17C that is shown in processions during the festival of St John the Evangelist around May 6 each year.  You will see a wonderful ivory Christ from the 17C and a collection of ornaments and dresses such as the cape of the Captives or manto de los Cautivos, knitted in the  Philippine style of the 18C for the Virgen de las Mercedes.

Museo Etnográfico , bringing the collection of tools used for the trades in the area such as a collection of tools for use in agriculture and cattle ranching. Museo de la Fragua or wrough iron museum with a collection of tools for this kind of work.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are:

The town of Huete on things to see and heritage: http://huete.org/wp/

The Castilla La Mancha region tourist board on Huetehttp://en.www.turismocastillalamancha.es/patrimonio/huete-39731/descripcion/

And again, hope you enjoy this natural trip to natural and soul searching of my beloved Spain. WE really had enjoyed this trip to Huete, even my dear late wife Martine..

Remember, happy travels, good health and many cheers to all!!!

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