Archive for March 30th, 2021

March 30, 2021

Plaza de Espana of Madrid!!!

And love to update for you and me this older post in my blog. This is a memorable square for me as came here first in 1970 looking for Don Quijote statue and even climb it as young teen in my crazy days!!! Love it; sadly too poor to have a camera then. Once back as a young adult was already more stable , had the camera but did not climb the statue … Anyway, came with the family and show them around, and then came back again, and again, always a must stop in Madrid for me. Hope you enjoy the update on the Plaza de España or Spain’s square of Madrid!

I like to bring up one that is very popular and better known for the literary history on it. I will talk about the Plaza de Espana. Many times came here with my dear late mother Gladys to seek history of our Spain, and play and get some refreshing afternoon splash on the fountain , and more… All again repeated bringing my girlfriend and the then dear late wife Martine, as well as the boys. The ladies always in our hearts.  The square is very central to many nice things to do and gorgeous parks , as well on the ending of the Gran Via and continuation into Calle de la Princesa all the way to the Faro de Moncloa and Arco de la Victoria, many times walk the beat , gorgeous just thinking about it.

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The Plaza de Espana was before inhabited by vegetable gardens irrigated by the stream of Leganitos, that started in the nearby fountain of Leganitos between the Gran Vía and Calle de la Princesa. The square  is located in the district of Moncloa-Aravaca and  Argüelles , at the western end of Gran Vía and north of the Royal Palace.  The Calles  de la Princesa, Leganitos, Bailen, Ferraz and La Cuesta de San Vicente can be found in this square, as well as the Gran Vía. And  with 36 900 square meters is among the largest squares in Spain.

It is best known for the statue at the center dedicated to the Spanish  writer Miguel de Cervantes y Saavedra and for the skyscrapers that border it that are the Edificio Espana (built 1953 with 117 meters/ 384 feet)  and the Torre Madrid (built 1957 with 142 meters/ 466 feet).  In front of the statue of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza, a pond of rectangular form is located that forms one of the most typical views of the Spanish capital, since just behind it see the buildings of Torre de Madrid and Edificio España. The constructive part of the monument is elaborated in granite, while the sculptural part was decided to be made in red stone from Sepúlveda ,and with some additions in bronze.This accomplishment was carried out on the occasion of the third centenary of the publication of the second part of Don Quijote, in 1915, and which continued with the centenary of the death of the writer (1616), in 1916.

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The sculptures that make up this emblematic monument have, on the one hand, a seated Cervantes and at the base of the monument, and under the feet of the writer, are the statues of Don Quijote and Sancho Panza. The set was finalized when the figures of Dulcinea and Aldonza Lorenzo were added, also characters of the Cervantes novel. Alluding to the universality of Don Quixote, the monument also contemplates the five continents, all of them reading the work of Cervantes. On the other side and above the fountains, is represented the Spanish Literature, dressed in period and holding a book with his right hand. The tree that predominates in the landscaping of the square is the olive tree, in homage to the Castilla La Mancha fields in the wanderings of Don Quijote and Sancho.

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There, you will also, find the House of Gallardo, built in 1911, considered one of the notable examples of the Art Nouveau style of architecture in the city. In the opposite corner is located, the Royal Asturian Mining Company Building, an architectural complex of great beauty; built between 1891 and 1899. Almost at the beginning of the Calle de la Princesa, is the Palace of Liria, an architectural ensemble that belongs to the House of Alba and has some notable gardens. Nearby, in Calle de Ferraz, you will find the Cerralbo museum (see post). A few meters from the museum, another of the obligatory visits is the temple of Debod,(see post) a funerary monument of Egyptian origin that moved to Madrid in 1970. The popular Gran Via, or the Senate building.

You get here by Metro station Plaza de España,  located on the eastern corner of the square service by line 3 and 10 and connection with the line 2 Noviciado ,as well as many bus lines. Parking by calle de San Bernardino, 4, between the metro stations Plaza de España and Noviciado good location behind the square.

The Madrid tourist office on the Plaza de Españahttps://www.esmadrid.com/en/tourist-information/plaza-de-espana

It is a memorable spot with many families even on weekend, sharing this beautiful spot with the world.  I remembered fondly and do stop by every chance of visiting the city which has been every year since 2003! I could not come to Spain without stopping in Madrid, if won’t feel the same…my family so kindly learned why and I thank them. They too became in love with the city, who wouldn’t! From Madrid to heaven and a hole in the sky to look down on it everyday!

Again, hope you have enjoy the post on the Plaza de España of Madrid, and thanks for reading me over these years, appreciated.

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

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March 30, 2021

Some news from France, CCCXXVIII

And I come back to you with my latest news from my belle France. Still reduce action due to the virus but things are moving on, and on my region of Bretagne we are ok. Just don’t come in yet lol!!!

The trains oh yes the TGV, Inoui, Ouigo etc. SNCF opens reservations for the summer holidays this past Tuesday. Tickets are available until August 29 2021. Hurry up it will be an avalanche once all is open lol!!

We are having the first signs of Spring what! More like Summer is coming with temperatures of 25 ° C (77F) in the North, 28 ° C in the South-West … heat records to come. The record for a month of March in Paris, of 25.7 ° C, could be exceeded on next Wednesday. Stay tune but not yet a canicule lol!! It is now sunny in my neck of the woods with up of 23C!!

The health certificate, adopted by the European Parliament 468 votes to 203, could allow travel throughout Europe without problems this summer. It will be put online in mid-June on the website of the Ministry of Health. The 27 member countries of the European Union had validated the launch of the European health certificate. It will take the form of a paper or digital document, as desired, and will include “your name, date of birth, your certified passport number with the QR code, whether or not you have been vaccinated, the type of vaccine and if you have been a carrier of the disease ”. This document should not be mandatory, especially for those who have never contracted the virus and who will not be vaccinated. But it does not fail to cringe many French people, who fear to say goodbye to their individual freedoms and movement.(yes!!!) To this, we must add that it is still possible to contract the virus despite vaccination since the arrival of the variants. We are waiting….

Of course if can’t go out then why not go down!! In the catacombs of Paris, police officers and “cataphiles” play cat and mouse. After a rather respected first confinement, it is the return of the followers of underground exploration, however prohibited. Responsible for flushing them out, the “Ktaflics” patrol day and night. Equipped with a helmet and a headlamp, the police hunt down offenders who roam the catacombs!! Watch out for a fallen skeleton due to leaking water!!!

And another sad news of the Fatca/Fincen US regulations since Obama 2010. The poor souls of “Accidental Americans”(French born in USA while their parents stay and came back without even speaking English!) Well these French people who could find themselves without a bank account. BNP-Paribas (bank) has sent a letter to its Franco-American clients to inform them of the impending closure of their account. Blame it on the lack of their US tax identification number, which they do not have … since they have never lived in the United States. No W9 Uncle Sam is after you and since BNP Paribas have banks in USA (California) they need to follow the letter of the law.

I have mentioned in several news flash in my blog and they keep saying ready but thanks to the virus the opening to the public is not yet set. The restored Hôtel de la Marine will open to the public for the first time since the French revolution! The famous monument on Place de la Concorde, occupied for more than two centuries by the Naval Staff, is awaiting the lifting of sanitary measures to open its magnificently restored 18C apartments and 19C ceremonial salons. The 19C ceremonial salons and the magnificently restored 18C apartments await only their audience. And the French government ok!

Ah there is a delight , individual Tarte Tatin melts the gourmets deprived of restaurants. At the Petit Versailles du Marais 4éme arrondissement or district of Paris (now Paris Centre), customers praise the Tatin tart by pastry chef Thomas Marchand. It has even become the madeleine of Proust for certain gourmets deprived of restaurants. Yes of course, you can always ordered and click and collect or delivered.

Officially, it will now be necessary to speak of the “public establishment of the Orsay museum and of the Orangerie-Valéry Giscard d´Estaing museum“. But in fact, neither the Musée d’Orsay nor the Musée de l’Orangerie has changed its name unofficially! I guess folks will continue to call them as old but officially they are not anymore.

In Cergy, the leisure island focuses on novelty before plunging into summer. Despite the uncertainties linked to the health crisis, this very popular site in Val-d’Oise is preparing for its 2021 season. And has already announced a new fun and sports area which will open near the swimming area. The Aquaparc, which will be launched this year. Nice memories as took my boys here when lived in Versailles.

The Grand Paris metro:project has this gigantic site born of the future metro line 15. The operation and maintenance center of the trains of the Grand Paris Express is under construction in Champigny-sur-Marne, in the Val-de- Marne (dept 94). The first delivery of trains from line 15 is scheduled for 2023. So stay tune more folks easier to come into Paris from the suburbs!

Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte ,and again the gardens are not reopening. This is a deliberate choice by the owners of the site for health and profitability reasons as the start of the season was scheduled for Saturday, March 27. The Easter egg hunt, scheduled for April 3-5, will not take place. For the second year in a row, the egg hunt will be cancelled. Another sad event of the virus.

In Rambouillet, the wool festival is reinventing itself on social networks. Due to sanitary measures, for the first time this year, the shearing and wool festival is taking place live on the Facebook page of the national  bergerie of Rambouillet this weekend. During the weekend, a hundred sheep will be shorn and the transhumance will be commented around the imperial court. Facebook webpage: https://www.facebook.com/BergerieNationaledeRambouillet/

France has 9000 km of dikes!! for centuries until today. Some are recent, like that of Montesson. Others, on the other hand, may be over 200 years old. In the region of Ïle-de-France, the inhabitants of the district of La Borde, in Montesson (Yvelines 78), observed the rise of the waters of the Seine with an unusual tranquility. And for good reason: a dike was built in 2020 to protect them from the vagaries of the river. It has prevented the flooding of cellars and gardens which have been repeated in recent years. Dikes are exposed to many risks. Erosion, the work of tree roots, galleries dug by wild animals … So many long-term attacks that can, in the long term, affect their proper functioning. The France Digues association webpage: https://www.france-digues.fr/

Easter chocolates: when the bunny passes the bell. Behind the unmistakable egg, the rabbit has supplanted the bell in the windows of chocolate makers. The village bells no longer rang between Maundy Thursday and Easter Saturday, and children replaced them as they passed through the streets with rattles. The bells had gone to Rome, tradition said. On Sunday, they would be back, with chocolate eggs. Go get some Easter bells today. The eggs are there. But the bells have disappeared from the windows. We settled for the rabbit!! Happy Easter!!!

Paris and France, Airbnb strongholds in the face of declining tourism. According to a study, France is the country where the number of ads has increased the most in a year. Paris is one of the cities that resists the best, with a stable number of announcements. A study published on Friday March 26 by the AirDNA site, which analyzes the tourist furnished rental market, shows an increase in supply despite the Covid-19 pandemic. Among Airbnb’s main markets around the world, the number of “active” listings visible on Airbnb and which have already been booked at least once – has increased the most in the past year in France. The increase in February is 9% compared to February 2020 – compared to around 1.5% in the United States, Italy or Spain. The number of ads has even fallen in Great Britain, Australia or Canada. France is thus consolidating its status as the second largest market in the world for Airbnb ; its offer exceeds all hotel capacities there. The number of active ads is up in all regions except Ile-de-France down 1.4%. The increase is strongest in the Loire Valley and on Bretagne’s coast, rural areas where Airbnb’s supply has taken off in recent years. There are now ads in more than 80% of towns in France, according to Airbnb. Webpage for AirDNA: https://www.airdna.co/

That’s good news, 4 Parisian swimming pools reopen their doors this past Monday in Paris! While the sports halls and swimming pools have been closed since the beginning of October, 4 municipal pools will once again welcome a certain public, but under very strict conditions. The Suzanne Berlioux (1éme), Joséphine Baker (13éme), Champerret (17éme) and Yvonne Godard (20éme) swimming pools will therefore welcome, from this past Monday: People with disabilities;   STAPS students; People in continuing or professional training related to swimming; Professional athletes; and People with chronic or long-term illnesses and for whom the practice of swimming, on medical prescription, is beneficial. Everyone else will still have to wait for the dip …!

In the 12éme arrondissement of Paris ,near the Reuilly-Diderot eco-district, a new XXL market hall will open in a former military barracks in the coming weeks. Douze Paris, a large market hall that brings together ten regional artisans in a former barracks of Reuilly-Diderot with nearly 1,000m2. In this new gourmet hall, you will find the fruits of the early Lille fruit Les Fruits de la Terre, pick up the cheese matured by Jean-François Dubois located in Arras and will choose fish at Mareyage Hennequin des Sables-d’Olonne. The Halle Douze Paris will also host the Mas des Confitures de Béziers, the Lyon roasters of Cafés Gonéo and the cellar of Johannes Marcon, from Saint-Bonnet-le-Froid in Haute-Loire. Meats will be delighted by the presence of the charcutier Christophe Fabre, who runs the Charcuterie du Viala, and the breeder Arnaud Billon, behind Ah la vache located in the Perche. And because shopping without snacking is heresy, you go to recharge your batteries at the Thai caterer Oth Sombath before starting with baguette taken at the Leonie bakery, originally from the 17éme arrondissement. Webpage: https://douze.paris/

And we have followed all our boys lives as the mom Martine first taught them French using these books ! A new one is soon out ,« Astérix et le Griffon » ,the 39th volume will be released on October 21 2021. While very little has been revealed about the plot of these new adventures, we can guess from the title that our two friends will be looking for the Griffin, a legendary creature that is half eagle and half lion. This will be the very first volume of Asterix and Obelix published after the death of Albert Uderzo, who died in March 2020. “Albert trusted us to respect the values of the characters he created with René Goscinny, we will continue in his absence the mission he has entrusted to us with this new album, which we hope will delight readers” explained Jean-Yves Ferri and Didier Conrad , the new writers.

After thirty years at the Auberge , the historic chef of Bocuse is about to leave. Chef Christophe Muller will be leaving the kitchens of the Auberge de Collonges-au-Mont-d´Or, temple of the Bocuse family near Lyon. Also executive chef of the Bocuse group, which brings together around twenty establishments and a shareholder in the Auberge de Collonges, near Lyon, Christophe Muller is said to be negotiating his departure with a view to expatriation to Spain, a country where his wife is a native, according to the site of the monthly Lyon people. Last year, the restaurant was stripped of its third Michelin star after 55 years at the top and embarked on a major venture of reinvention following the death of the patriarch. So don’t worry welcome to Spain! Auberge Bocuse webpage: https://bocuse.fr/fr/restaurant-paul-bocuse.html

Chef Sébastien Martinez, 33, has been a chef at the Moulin de Rosmadec, in Pont-Aven (Finistère dept 29), since June 2020. In five months of opening, his cuisine has convinced the Michelin Guide, which awarded it one star. It will have a terrace in the summer by April 2021. We know the place, dine there before his arrival and looking forward to be back when possible. Webpage: https://rosmadec.com/

In his book “Why do we drink wine?“, Published by Dunod Editions, Professor Fabrizio Bucella tackles this great question through science, history, medicine and philosophy. “Philosophy is part of science! One of the chapters of my book deals with the question of philosophy. For example, Plato advocated a lot of things about wine, and especially about drunkenness. He was interested in this disturbance of the senses, which means that at a given moment we no longer control anything! He explained why it was necessary for men over forty to get drunk; it was to regain the (sexual) vigor of their twenty years!” Ahh!!!  need to get me this book, of course, I knew it all my life, true!!!in French here is Dunod Editions and the book webpage: https://www.dunod.com/sciences-techniques/pourquoi-boit-on-du-vin-une-enquete-insolite-et-palpitante-du-prof-fabrizio

A bit more on wines, my fav!! Vines are ahead this spring 2021, but less than in 2020. The year remains precocious for the moment, but today the vines are at less advanced stages than last year. In Languedoc-Roussillon, on March 23, the most advanced plots were already with 2 or 3 leaves spread. In Vaucluse, the majority stage of Grenache in the very early zone is bud in cotton with even plots with a green tip. In Drôme and Ardèche, the vines have also started in the earliest hillsides. And according to the Zoom Viti bulletin of the Côtes du Rhône Nord, the stages oscillate between “buds in cotton” and “bursting of buds”. In the northern vineyards, the vines are much less advanced, the very cool temperatures of recent weeks having limited the ardor of the vegetation. The Champagne Committee thus estimates the average date of bud break around April 8-9 for Chardonnay and April 12-14 for Pinot Noir and Meunier. In Burgundy, the majority of vines are between the “winter buds” and “early swelling” stages. So meaning earlier on a bit behind on 2020 but not bad at all; seems like another nice vintage in 2021.

In an unreadable health context in the short and medium term, it becomes almost impossible to maintain the professional wine events planned for the first half of 2021. Already postponed for five months, Wine Paris & Vinexpo Paris will be postponed purely to February 2022. The professional show Wine Paris & Vinexpo Paris, which was initially to be held from February 15 to 17 and had already been postponed to June 14, 15 and 16 is, according to my information, postponed to February 2022, Meanwhile, the holding of Vinexpo Shanghai , scheduled for the end of October 2021, is maintained. And a Vinexpo New Delhi would be scheduled around December 9-10-11, in collaboration with SIAL (International Food Fair). Yep no way to taste in advance it will be a difficult year to choose but experience should prevail.

The French wine exports fell sharply in 2020 falling by 11% in value to 8.74 billion euros, under the cumulative effect of “Trump taxes”, Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic , noted last Thursday the public body FranceAgriMer. The Biden administration decided in early March to suspend these taxes for four months, much to the relief of the French wine industry. For their part, imports of foreign wines into France also fell by 11% in value, to 710 million euros. It fell by 13% in volume to 6.31 million hectoliters in 2020. In total, the French trade surplus on wine amounted to 8 billion euros in 2020. Nice industry lots of jobs, and traditions, needs more help. FranceAgriMer webpage for info and my memory: https://www.franceagrimer.fr/fam/content/download/66468/document/BIL-VIN-2019-Commerce_exterieur_bilan%202018_A21M03.pdf?version=5

And there you go folks, another dandy news from my belle France. Hang on times will be back and we will be at it better than ever. Planning is a virtue we are all planned waiting for the government green light! Stay safe and be patient, and we are holding on to see how this hoopla of the vaccines is working out.

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

March 30, 2021

Plaza de la Villa of Madrid!!

And here I am back updating revising my older posts on my sentimental city of my world, Madrid. This is an old square with lots of architecture and history in it. I like to give you this update of the Plaza de la Villa of Madrid, for you and me. Hope you enjoy it as I.

In my continuing saga of showing bits and part of my beloved Madrid , I come to a historical old spot of the old town.  Let me tell you about a hidden gem just off another old spot in my beloved Madrid. It was not my early hangout but later as a visitor. Some of the wonderful things you will see here are:

The Plaza de la Villa (formerly Plaza de San Salvador) is located in the historic Centro of Madrid, next to Calle Mayor. It has its origin in three small streets, corresponding to the primitive medieval layout of the city: the Calle del Codo appears on the east, the Calle del Cordon for the south and Calle de Madrid on the west. The House of Cisneros (16C), a Plateresque palace that closes the southern part of the square, and the Casa de la  Villa (17C), of Baroque style, one of the headquarters of the city Council of Madrid, located in the western zone of the square, is followed in antiquity. Although in 2007 the Mayor’s office moved to the Palacio de Cibeles ,part of the functions are still there on rooms in the western part.  The Plaza de la Villa was one of the main nuclei of medieval Madrid. Originally called and known as Plaza de San Salvador, by the Church of the same name that also gave the main street, and on whose porch were held the meetings of the city/town hall. By that name, Fuente de San Salvador, would be known popularly the first great ornamental source that the old Council of the town ordered to build in the square, still reigning Felipe III in the 15C, was given its current denomination, coinciding with the award of the title of Noble and Loyal Villa received by Madrid, from the hands of King Enrique IV of Castilla.

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Casa y Torre de los Lujanes , These two buildings, built in Gothic-Mudejar style, are the oldest, among those of a civil character, which are currently preserved in the city. Its construction dates from the 15C and its name refers to its first owners, the family of the Lujanes, rich merchants of Aragonese origin. From this lineage are retained several shields, which appear on the Gothic façade of the main facade.  According to tradition, the tower was housed King Francis I of France, made prisoner in the Battle of Pavia (1525). It is currently the headquarters of the Royal Academy of Moral and Political Sciences.

Casa de Cisneros ,  It is a house-palace, built in Plateresque style in the year 1537, at the behest of Benito Jiménez de Cisneros, nephew of Cardinal Cisneros, from whom it takes its name. The facade that faces the Plaza de la Villa was raised at the beginning of the 20C, when the City Council of Madrid acquired the property of the palace and proceeded to its reform to integrate it within the dependencies of the Casa de la Villa. The facade that leads to Calle de Sacramento, which was initially the main, is the one that gathers the greatest historical-artistic values, since it was barely modified during the aforementioned works of reform.  According to tradition, this palace served as a prison for Antonio Pérez , secretary of King Felipe II. In it was born the politician Álvaro de Figueroa y Torres, Count of Romanones. General Ramón María Narváez , one of  its inhabitants, died in this house.

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Casa de la Villa  , occupies the old lands  of the houses of the Marquis de Vallecerrato, Don Juan de Acuña, president of the Councils of Treasury, Indies and Castilla successively, until his death in 1615, moment in which it is acquired by the Madrid’s City Council which, since older days, met in the bordering  Church of the Savior (San Salvador), now gone. However, its refurbishment lasted until its inauguration in 1692. In this House lived the Duke of Osuna Don Pedro Girón when on the Holy Thursday of 1621 was made prisoner by order of the king.  Old City/Town Hall of Madrid (1693-2007 , when it was officially moved to the Palace of Cibeles). Its construction began at 1645, and was completed in 1693. The gallery of Tuscan columns of the facade that faces the main street is the work of Juan de Villanueva (1789).

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Monumento a Bazán . On the occasion of the third centenary of the death of the Marine Don Álvaro de Bazán, in 1888 the city council decided to erect a monument in the center of the square, which was not inaugurated until December 19, 1891. The bronze statue installed on a pedestal on whose back side can be read the verses that Lope de Vega dedicated to the honoree:  “El fiero turco en Lepanto; / en la Tercera el francés; / y en todo mar el inglés, / tuvieron de verme espanto. / Rey servido y patria honrada / dirán mejor quién he sido / por la Cruz de mi apellido / y por la cruz de mi espada.” Translated looks something like this:  “The fierce Turk in Lepanto; /In the third the French; /And in all the  sea the English,/had to see me in dismay. /served King and Fatherland honored/will say better who I have been/by the Cross of my surname/and by the Cross of my sword. ”  Bazán appears treading a Turkish flag, dressed in half armor and band of Captain General of the Navy on his chest, resting his left hand on the knob of his sword and carrying on the right a flare of general.

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The Madrid tourist office on the Plaza de la Villa: https://www.esmadrid.com/en/tourist-information/plaza-de-la-villa

There you go another bright spot on the many faces of Madrid. This is in Madrid center or centro district with plenty to keep you awake for several days me think. Hope you enjoy the Plaza de la Villa or City Square as I!

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

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March 30, 2021

Monasterio de las Descalzas Reales of Madrid!!

One of the most emblematic monuments of my beloved Madrid and on a nice old neighborhood ,, this is my Monasterio de las Descalzas Reales, a wonderful architecturally but hugely historical monastery. Right in the middle of the city you find this hugely important building for the history of Spain, and I like to tell you a bit more on it . Hope you enjoy it as I.

I came back as a visitor, maybe more curious of what I had around me, found out, there was a lot and of course with more money to enjoy these things. I came here and was completely amazed of the beauty, the history, and the care peaceful ways of this place. I came back with the family and each time is memorable; a must to visit in Madrid. If you like museums and go the golden triangle of Madrid, well ,do come here,point. I am talking about the Monasterio de las Descalzas Reales in the Plaza de las Descalzas Reales, with parking underground right across The Monastery of the Descalzas Reales; a must to see while your time in Madrid!!

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Let me tell you briefly the long history of this wonderful spot in Madrid.

The Monastery of Our Lady of the Visitation, located in Madrid and better known as the Royal Barefoot, is a monastery of cloistered nuns, Clarisas Coletinas, founded in 1559 by Juana of Austria, daughter of king Charles V and Isabella of Portugal , widow of Prince Juan Manuel of Portugal, sister of the King of Spain Felipe II and mother of the future Portuguese King Don Sebastián. It is located in the heart of Madrid, in the Plaza de las Descalzas Reales, near the Puerta del Sol, Plaza de Celenque and Calle de Preciados. It is a 16C classicist building that houses in its interior important works of art. Part of the monastery is currently dedicated to museum that you can visit.

Here and in front of the building of the monastery was proclaimed on several occasions the Kings and hailed to the princess  of Asturias, raising for the occasion a plank and a canopy. In the 19C was placed in the middle of the square the source of the Mariblanca that was previously in the Puerta del Sol and that today is in the interior of the Casa de la Villa, (at the Puerta del Sol there is a replica at present). Today you can see two statues, one in bronze dedicated to Francisco Piquer in homage to his work of creation of the Monte de Piedad. Another dedicated to the Marquis of Pontejos (Joaquín Vizcaino).. See post on Puerta del Sol.

The chronicles mention that in 1339 the first courts in Madrid were held in this palace. (in the Plateresque courtyard of the cloister of the monastery, the shields of an unknown nobleman are preserved as testimony.) In the 16C, the former palace that had been mentioned belonged to the Imperial Treasurer Alonso Gutiérrez of Madrid, who on more than one occasion gave shelter to the emperor Charles I. In this House several children were born among them the smallest, Juana, who later founded in the same site this monastery of the Descalzas Reales (Royal barefoot).  Juana  of Austria was the founder of the monastery of the Royal barefoot. In 1559, the day of the assumption took place the grand opening party of the monastery, even though the church was still not built. There was a solemn procession in which king Felipe II and the whole Royal family participated. In 1564 the Church was completed and the Holy Sacrament was placed on the main altar on the day of Conception.

In 1580 the monastery accomodated Mary of Austria, widow of the Emperor Maximilian II of Habsburg, who arrived with her thirteen-year-old daughter, Margaret. The Empress adopted the Community regime and her daughter professed as a nun Mary of Austria died on February 21, 1603, asking in her will to be buried at the foot of the altar of the garden prayer, in the low cloister, with a plain stone and smooth as a headstone. Thirteen years later Felipe III moved the corpse to a luxurious sepulcher made of marble and bronze, placed in the choir of the church.

.The Archduchess Marguerite of Austria, who became Sister Marguerite of the Cross, died there in 1633. She is buried in the monastery, as her mother the Empress Mary of Habsburg , daughter of Emperor Charles V and wife of Emperor Maximilian II as well as Princes Alphonse , François  and Gonzalve  of Bourbon, elders of the descendants of the kings of France.  In 1559, the day of the assumption the community of Coletinas entered at last in the monastery, in solemn procession. Throughout history were several nuns of Royal Blood, besides Juana of Austria and Mary of Austria.

These were: Infanta Margarita, daughter of Mary of Austria,  Infanta Ana Dorotea of Austria, daughter of the Emperor Rudolph II, who took the habit at the age of twelve and died in 1694 with eighty two years;  Infanta Maria de la Cruz and Austria, who died in 1715, with seventy four years,  Infanta Catalina Maria de Este, daughter of the princes of Modena, granddaughter of the Infanta Catherine and the Duke of Savoy, who took the habit at eight years of age in 1622 and died in 1628 without age of profess.

Margaret of the Cross, daughter of John Joseph of Austria, granddaughter by paternal line of Felipe IV and by maternal line of the painter José de Ribera. She entered the convent at the age of five and left its habits on September 17, 1681 coinciding with the second anniversary of her father’s death. On September 3, 1715 King Felipe V dictated a royal decree that granted the perpetual title of Grande de España to all the abbess of the Barefoot.:(Descalzas).

During the Spanish Civil War the monastery was deprived of its community. However, he was cared for and protected, putting its works of art safely. They fell on it some bombs which produced malfunctions mostly in the vault of the staircase and in the choir which was destroyed. The restoration was carried out during the same years of the war when, among other things, the deteriorated roof tile was changed by a new slate. After the war, the nuns came back. In the middle years of the 20C was built in the square of the barefoot an underground parking (I park here too) whose works affected the building slightly. On this occasion it was restored and consolidated, conditioning some of its dependencies to be visited on a tour.

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Some of the things to see inside the Monasterio de las Descalzas Reales are

The Cloister of this monastery (or closing yard) is famous for the processions that take place in it during the Holy Week, especially the one of Good Friday, in which the holy burial leaves, with old music of the time of the foundation of the monastery. In this event procession a Christ recumbent of Gaspar Becerra that is carried to rods (without urn). They are used for the occasion (as in the procession of the Corpus Christi) rich liturgical clothes and sometimes hang in the walls of the four pandas of the cloister the tapestries with the theme of the Eucharistic Apotheosis, produced in the Flemish looms of Raes and Geubels. The courtyard has a total of sixty six pieces of marble. The shafts of the columns are cylindrical and slender and show an influence of the Sevillian palaces

The ornamentation of the great staircase, with mural paintings and on canvas, was carried out in different eras. The second section depicts the royal balcony, with the Kings Felipe IV and his wife Mariana of Austria, with the Infanta Maria and the Prince Felipe prosper, indicating that there was to be carried out before 1661, date of the death of the latter.

Capilla del Milagro , this Chapel of the Miracle, and decoration was done on the wishes of  Juan José de Austria, step brother of king Carlos II (you can see the inscription on site) that had a daughter born outside marriage in the Monastery, Margarita de la Cruz , sister profess in 1666(Marguerite of the Cross).

The majestic classic building houses a museum of major works of art . Among the many relics on display are putatively pieces from Christ’s Cross and the bones of Saint Sebastian. Among the priceless art masterpieces are Titian’s Caesar’s Money, tapestries woven to designs by Rubens, and works by Hans de Beken and Brueghel the Elder.  The museum collection also includes such rarities as portraits of Royal children of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth from the late 16C referring to Polish–Spanish relations that inspired Calderón’s La Vida es Sueño (Life is a dream). Portraits of the son and daughter of King Sigismund of Poland were painted by Martin Kober in 1596 and were sent as a gift to King Philip III of Spain. A wonderful historical arts museum that need to be seen!

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Some webpages to help you plan your trip ,and a must to see are:

The Madrid tourist office on the Monastery: https://www.esmadrid.com/en/tourist-information/monasterio-de-las-descalzas-reales

The National Heritage of Spain on the Monastery: https://www.patrimonionacional.es/en/visita/monastery-las-descalzas-reales

Again, see it and come back to tell me otherwise. The Monasterio de las Descalzas Reales is a gem to be seen by all. Hope you enjoy the post.

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

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