Archive for August 31st, 2021

August 31, 2021

Puerta del Sol of Madrid!!

And here I present you a real beauty of a square, if it were not for Cibeles, and Mayor, this would be my favorite. No more waiting, this is the gate to the sun ooops meant Puerta del Sol in my beloved Madrid. As have several posts mentioning and pictures will update this one on my black and white series, hope you enjoy it as I.

I spent many childhoods days here first with my dear late mother Gladys and later bringing my family ,and my dear late wife Martine love it with me, especially the churros nearby ! The boys love it too, and it has become a must stop each time in Madrid, that thanks God has been many times in my life time. If you read my blog you know why. I have made several references to it in many of my previous posts on Madrid, so do search in my blog for more. From Madrid to heaven and a hole in the sky to look down on it every day. De Madrid al Cielo y un hueco en él para mirarla todos los dias.

This is the place I came to get abanicos (fans) for my mother and umbrellas, the early purchases at Calle Preciados for Galerias Preciados (today part of El Corte Inglés same spot), and the Churros at the Pasadizo de San Ginés street for Chocolateria San Ginés good then and now an institution for locals and visitors alike. The wonderful discothéque (before community theater in my days in the city) Joy Eslava off Puerta del  Sol and Calle Arenal.

Let me tell you a bit more on the magical Puerta del Sol. Some of the emblematic symbols you should look for here are:

Statue of the Bear and the Strawberry tree ( Madroño) under the billboard of Tío Pepe,(sherry fame) at the beginning of Calle de Alcalá, you will find the statue of the symbol of Madrid. It was created in 1967 and is one of the most popular meeting points in Madrid. In front of the building of the old Hotel Paris (no 1, where was the panel of Tio Pepe), later transferred to the beginning of Calle Carmen and relocated in its original place in 2009.  The panel of  Tio Pepe located at no 1 until 2011, when it was retired, and repositioned in no, 11 in 2014.

The Clock of the Post Office House, (Reloj en la Casa de Correos) . The clock was built and donated in the 19C by José Rodríguez de Losada, and whose 12 bells ringing the night of December 31 mark the traditional taking of the twelve grapes by the vast majority of the Spaniards, saying good bye to the Old Year and welcoming the New Year with a wish. It has been televised  since 1962. The Post Office House (Casa de Correos)  was built by the French architect Jaime Marquet between 1766 and 1768; It was subsequently  home to the Ministry of the Interior in 1847 and Directorate General of State Security during the Franco era and, currently, is the seat of the presidency of the community of Madrid.

Kilometer zero: Starting point of the Spanish radial routes. It is indicated on the ground from which all roads in Spain are measure. The Mariblanca located at the Puerta del Sol  between 1630 and 1838 crowned the Fountain of the Mariblanca, (aka Fuente de la Fé, Fuente del Buen Suceso , Fuente de Venus or Diana, Fuente de las Arpias or first ornamental fountain (Fuente)  of the Puerta del Sol). In the last third of the 20C a smaller copy was made that since 1986 has had different emplacements at the Puerta del Sol, while the original moved from the Paseo de Recoletos, in which it was from 1969, to the vestibule of the Casa de la  Villa , after its restoration in 1985.

The last element added, in 1994, is the equestrian statue of king Carlos III. It is a bronze reproduction of Juan Pascual de Mena’s work that is preserved in the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando. The spiral inscription surrounding the pedestal briefly describes the history of the reign of Carlos III. The monument is nine meters high. As a curiosity, it should be noted that an electronic device was installed in it to keep the pigeons from resting on it continually.

A bit of history I like

The Puerta del Sol was in its origins one of the accesses of the ramparts that surrounded Madrid in the 15C. This wall gathered in its perimeter the medieval suburbs that had grown outside the walls, around the Christian wall of the 12C. The name of the gate comes from a sun that adorned the entrance, placed there to be facing the gate to the Levant. Among the buildings that gave it prestige in the beginnings was the Church del Buen Suceso  and Church of San Felipe el Real (both now gone). The Puerta del Sol is surrounded by fourteen buildings. From the same time dates the measurement of 635.50 meters above the average sea level of Alicante.

In 1986 a new reform came that gave more importance to the pedestrian zone. The streetlights installed on the occasion of this remodeling, were popularly nicknamed as the suppositories and provoked a great controversy due to its modern design. Finally they were replaced by the current style lanterns fernandians or Fernandino, although in the two central posts of the square the suppositories survived some years more, to be unified a few years later with those of the rest of the square.

The Puerta del Sol area corresponding to the Calle Mayor, that occupies the Casa Cordero (now gone) , on its first floor was known the Great Bazaar of the Union (Gran Bazar de la Union) (now gone) ,where objects were sold at fixed prices. This Grand Bazaar was the first large retail establishment that would lead to department stores. At the end of the 20C, establishments such as the El Corte Inglés  were expanding their area of influence from the Calle Preciados to reach the lower levels of the north of the square. At the beginning of the 21C, the traditional shops that were at the Puerta del Sol have been disappearing to give way to franchises, gambling halls, fast food restaurants and other more impersonal and cold establishments. However, the centenary cafeteria-Patiseria La Mallorquina, located in the area between the Calle Mayor and Calle Arenal, just off the Puerta del Sol, and also the area where the lotteries shops traditionally are. Still preserved  today are the  fans and umbrellas shop Casa Diego (founded in the 18C).

I must tell you my dear mom took me as a boy to buy shoes at the old Los Guerrilleros shoes store in Puerta del Sol ; many fond memories here. The family best friend married the manager of the store and so on until it close (Jan 10 2015). Founded here in 1962. We later last 2019 came to shop at a new shoes store there Zapshop!

The 10 streets that come out of the Puerta del Sol in clockwise direction from the Calle de Alcalà are Calle de Alcalá, Carrera de San Jerónimo, Calle Espoz y Mina, Calle de las Carretas, Calle del Correo, Calle Mayor, Calle del Arenal, Calle de Preciados, Calle del Carmen, and Calle de la Montera. The transports here is very good with metro Sol lines 1, and 2. Also local trains Cercanias  C-3 and C-4. The station has been converted by its dimensions in the largest in the World with 28 meters deep, 207 meters in length and 20 meters wide. Its lobby is 7500 m². The entrance to the inter connecting station, similar to an igloo, has changed the physiognomy of the Puerta del Sol again. All around heavens in Madrid!!!

Some events and trivia on this very Madrileña square:

The Puerta del Sol has also experienced some important events for the history of Spain, such as the proclamation of the Second Republic in 1931. Some films of note on my taste showing bits of the Puerta del Sol were El misterio de la Puerta del Sol (mystery of the gate of the sun), by Francisco Elías Riquelme in 1929, considered as the first movie with sound of Spanish cinema. Km. 0, a light comedy of love, intrigues and Spanish erotism from 2000. The main line of the story is the  Madroño symbol of Madrid at the Puerta del Sol. In theater you have the play La Celosa (jealous one) of famous Tirso de Molina. Also a Spanish operetta or very Spanish call Zarzuelas, this one El  último tranvía (the last tramway) by Ricardo Blasco.

In Literature, we have Luces de Bohemia (lights of Bohemia) from 1924 of Valle Inclán. The novel by Benito Pérez Galdós, Fortunata y Jacinta of 1886-87, the main carácter Juanito Santacruz lived at the Puerta del Sol and it recounts stories of the Gran Bazar de la Union. The dramaturges Jerónimo López Mozo in his work of El arquitecto y el relojero (the architect and the watchmaker) from 2000 has a story on the Casa de Correos house as well as the surrounding áreas of the Puerta del Sol. Also, the La conquista de la Puerta del Sol (conquest of the gate to the sun) by Emilio Carrere. In music, the scene given on the song Un Ano Màs (one more year) by Mecano. And finally, on my favorites is the painting of the Charge of the Mamalukes or La Carga de los Mamelucos (or 2 de Mayo 1808) by Francisco de Goya.

The Madrid tourist office on the Puerta del Sol:

The Comunidad de Madrid region tourist office on the Puerta del Sol:

There you go folks, you need to be here, if you say you were in Madrid ok. Nothing is enough on Madrid and the Puerta del Sol is where the Sun’s Gate! And as in Spain , everything under the Sun, tourism slogan from the 80’s. Hope you enjoy the post as I!

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

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August 31, 2021

Hotel Dieu and Fine Arts Musuem of Mantes-la-Jolie !!

In a not far distant land there is a Royal town of France seldom seen by visitors , a pity indeed . In my beloved old home of Yvelines dept 78 in the Ïle de France region there lies one once a king Henri IV call the most beautiful. I am talking about Mantes-la-Jolie (or Mantes the Beautiful) and its old town center.  Here you will find marvels that I have written/told you before in my posts,and today I like to take you to one special place. This is a museum of Fine Arts but is more than that if you know the history and architecture of it. It is also the former Hôtel-Dieu of Mantes.  Let me update this post to tell you a bit more on it.


The city of Mantes-la-Jolie is located on the left bank of the Seine river , 57 km from Paris , 47 km from Versailles, and 85 km from Rouen. The museum of fine arts or musée Hôtel-Dieu is just a few steps from the Collegiate Church of Notre Dame, (see post) the Hotel-Dieu Museum is at the place de l’etape on the main street in town. Here it will allows you to discover the medieval past of the city as well as the works of the artist Maximilien Luce.


The Hôtel-Dieu was built in the 14C during the reign of king Charles V and heavily redeveloped during the 16-17C; it was an institution managed by the church. After various occupations, the building was acquired by the city of Mantes-la-Jolie in 1962. It has a beautiful 18C façade characterized by its Corinthian pilasters, its large rosette adorned with a winged angel’s head and its ornamentation. The Hôtel-Dieu Chapel became a Museum in 1996 and was name Museum of France or Musée de France in 2002.

The Hotel-Dieu Museum retains the largest collection dedicated to the artist Maximilien Luce in France. This post-Impressionist painter settled in the region, in Rolleboise, in 1917. He particularly illustrated the themes of the landscape in the Seine Valley, the activities on and off the banks of the Seine river, the industrial development as well as the working conditions of the time. Only museum of fine arts of the territory, it is on the road of impressionist painters, a few kilometers from Giverny, Pontoise and Paris and allows you to discover a great Neo-Impressionist painter.

After renovations, the Musée de L’Hôtel-Dieu in Mantes-la-Jolie reopened its doors last February 16, 2019 with a new scenography centered on the work of the Neo-Impressionist painter Maximilien Luce.  The collections presented on a permanent basis currently form two sets. Particularly from the depositories of the Notre Dame Collegiate Church and the Sainte-Anne of Gassicourt Church, a set of pieces dating from the medieval period, including sculpted elements, medieval lapidary works testify to the high quality of regional artistic production. The paintings and works on paper by the impressionist painter Maximilian Luce, composed of more than 150 works, from drawing to painting, through lithography and etching , illustrating the themes of the landscape in the Seine Valley, the nascent fluvial tourism, the industrial development and the condition of the man at work.



The museum’s new reserves, located in the heart of the Val Fourre District, are home to other treasures, from the collections from the three collectors ‘ museums, historical and documentary (Deschamps Collection), Scientific (Mesnil Museum) and Beaux-Arts (Duhamel Museum), having helped to forge, at the beginning of the 20C, the city’s heritage profile. Occasional presentations of these eclectic collections (sculptures, furniture, earthenware, art objects…), as well as a policy of pedagogical animation in the space of the reserves will allow to rediscover them.


And who was Maximilien Luce? Well a bit on him shall we..

Maximilien Luce, was born on March 13, 1858 and died on February 6, 1941 in Paris, a French painter. A libertarian activist, he produced many politically engaged illustrations. He is also an engraver, portraitist and poster artist. His first known painting dates from 1876. From 1885, and for fifteen years, he enrolled in the Neo-Impressionist movement: he uses the technique of divisionism (or pointillism), developed by Georges Seurat.

In September 1883, he was released from his obligatory military duties. As the invention of zincography significantly reduced the opportunities for wood engraving, Luce became a full-time painter. From 1884 to 1886, Luce made several stays in Lagny-sur-Marne, in the company of Émile-Gustave Cavallo-Péduzzi and Léo Gausson, whom he had known at the atelier of Eugène Froment. The two painters kept him informed of Seurat’s research. It was in Lagny-sur-Marne, in 1885, that Luce began to produce in a divisional manner. In the spring of 1887, the works of the neo-impressionists were first assembled at the independants exhibition. Luce exhibited seven divisionist paintings.

Luce was also a libertarian activist, his first political drawing appears in the modern life magazine. On 24 June,1894 the President of the French Republic Sadi Carnot was assassinated by the Italian anarchist Caserio. Suspected of complicity, especially because of his collaboration with father Peinard, Luce was arrested on 6 July. He’s incarcerated at Mazas prison. But it is too late to include it in the trial of the thirty, which takes place from 6 to 12 August. He was released on 17 August, for lack of serious evidence against him. In 1898 and 1899, during the Dreyfus affair, he supported Zola, then Colonel Picquart. He signed a petition, he produces dreyfusards drawings. At the beginning of the 20C, he definitively renounces the coloured dots that have earned the divisionists the nickname of pointillistes: his touches’stretches and softens, it comes to a more traditional billing, but which keeps the harmony and brightness of his first period.

From 1902 to 1912, he paints the big projects that remodel the face of Paris. He dedicates a dozen paintings to the bloody week which marked his childhood: Une rue de Paris en mai 1871 (1903-1905), Le 18 mars, place Pigalle (1906), Vive la Commune (vers 1910), Les Derniers Défenseurs de la Commune, le 28 mai 1871 (1915), L’Exécution de Varlin (1910-1917), La République et la Mort (no date) . In 1915 and 1916, he sought to show the social significance of the conflict (WWI) by painting the activity of the Parisian stations and the rear of the fighting. Far from the heroisation of patriotic propaganda, he testifies of the grey, ponderant and devoid of the shattered reality of war. In 1917, he discovered Rolleboise, on the banks of the Seine river. He bought a house in 1920 and shared it between this house and Paris where he leaves, the same year, the 16th arrondissement to settle 16 rue de Seine.

During the 1930’s , he was part of the Honorary Committee of the International League of Peace fighters, the most radical of pacifist organizations, whose motto was: “no to all wars!” In November 1934, he succeeded Paul Signac as President of the society of independent artists. At the end of the year, Luce resigned from the Presidency of the independent artists to protest against Vichy’s policy of discrimination against Jewish artists. He died in Paris on 7 February 1941. He was buried alongside his wife at the Rolleboise cemetery.

The town can be walk as the main things are just couple minutes away on foot! Easily a full day visiting all Collegiale church and museum as well as the tour Maclou. (see posts).


The city of Mantes la Jolie on the museum:

The Yvelines dept 78 tourist board on the museum:

There you go again folks ,some marvels of my belle France in what can be describe as an off the beaten path monument that must be more than that and be visited. Hope you enjoy the Musée de l’Hôtel Dieu of Mantes la Jolie.

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

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August 31, 2021

Basilica of Notre-Dame du Roncier of Josselin!!

 As the previous post mentioned a lot Olivier V of Clisson, why not tell you something on where he rests in peace and another jewel of my lovely Bretagne and my belle France!  I like to give you more than briefly on my other posts on Josselin, and talk to you about the Basilica of Notre-Dame-du-Roncier.  Hope you enjoy the post as I

The Basilica of Notre-Dame-du-Roncier, also a parish Church, built at the end of the 12C and several times enlarged and modified. It houses the tombs of Olivier V de Clisson, Constable de France, and his second wife Marguerite de Rohan. All succeeded in all the major events in Josselin of the family of chevalier Olivier de Clisson, and Marguerite de Rohan, therefore the story of the Rohan family in the castle. There is a pilgrimage here and one of the most important of the Morbihan, after that of Sainte Anne d’Auray (for Sainte Anne, see post). The town of Josselin is in my beautiful Morbihan dept 56. It is the site of the pardon or forgiveness celebration of the virgen for 1200+ years!  every september 8th. You can climb the tower 138 steps at a height of 61 meters. Inside its richly decorated.


The Basilique Notre Dame du Roncier, in 808 leyend has it, a farmer who worked the land finds a statue of the Virgin and takes it home, however, the Virgin always comes back to the place where he found it ,and several times as well. The bishop ask him to rend a cult in her memory; the daughter of the farmer who was blind recovered her sight and people flock to the place until finally a Church is ordered built.



In April 1891, Pope Leo XIII granted it the title of minor basilica 1949. The bell tower contains five free-throw volley bells, three of which, fixed in the spire, strike the hours.  In 1491 the construction of the chapel to the north of the choir, the current Notre-Dame du Roncier Chapel. The current church was remodeled in the 19C. Alongside a very attractive architectural cachet, enhanced by the contrast between the granite stone and the wooden vaults, the building is rich in 15C and 19C stained glass windows. The Notre-Dame du Roncier chapel shines with a magnificent 19C altar, itself surrounded by two angels with very airy dynamism. The altar is in white Charentes stone. The wooden vault of the Notre-Dame du Roncier Church is similar to those of many Breton churches. Brittany, rich in forests, favored wood rather than stone for the vaulting of its Gothic religious buildings. The choir of the basilica is dominated by the large stained glass window of the Rohans made by Ferdinand Hucher in 1893. The high altar is in granite from Lannion and in Carrara marble. It was created by the V. Henrot de Lannion workshop in 1885. In the separation between the choir and the Notre-Dame du Roncier Chapel, the massive columns and Romanesque capitals date from the end of the 12C. Visitors will not fail to admire the triple arched brace of the west portal. Its trumeau is decorated with a 15C Virgin. A pretty basket-handle door opens onto the south aisle. It is surmounted by an attractive granite cross decorated with the face of a Christ of Sorrows.  As for the tower, its lower part is the most recent part early 16C. It is embedded between two buttresses from the 15C. The nave is said to be “of high party”  therefore without wind In April 1891, Pope Leo XIII granted it the title of minor basilica 1949. The new bell tower of 1949, contains five free-throw volley bells, three of which, fixed in the spire, strike the hours.




The Constable Olivier de Clisson and his second wife Marguerite de Rohan had the southern apsidiole transformed into an oratory and private chapel at the end of the 14C. In 1370, this powerful lord, who was constable of the royal armies, had a private chapel built to the right of the choir (Sainte-Marguerite chapel), a place intended to shelter his remains. Many miracles are attributed to this basilica, including the healing of the blind and the paralytic. The healing of “barkers” during forgiveness is also attributed to Notre-Dame du Roncier.


The stained glass windows. We do not know much about the old  stained glass windows of Notre-Dame du Roncier. The current church houses four partially preserved 15C stained-glass windows . These are stained-glass windows with large figures and high canopies, painted in grisaille and silver yellow. In the 20C, the de Rohan family ordered done a very art-deco stained glass window on the Combat des Trente (circa 1931-1933). In 1939, the Mauméjean workshop, with its characteristic style, produced two stained glass windows on the Birth of the Virgin and the Marriage of the Virgin. Among the 19C stained-glass windows, notice the one dedicated to Saint Anne d’Auray and her pilgrimage, two stained-glass windows including that of Olivier de Clisson and Marguerite de Rohan, visible in the Sainte-Marguerite Chapel which houses the cenotaph of the constable.  The stained glass window illustrating the fight of the Archangel Michael against the demon. The stained glass window of the axis bay commissioned by the de Rohan family in 1893. The six figures of the de Rohan family, aligned in the base. As for the lancets, they illustrate the mysteries of the Rosary. Also see a very beautifully crafted stained glass window  illustrating the famous theme of “barkers”, women affected by hysteria or epilepsy,

The old furniture kept in the Basilica Notre Dame du Roncier is remarkable. The decor of the south porch is taken up in the 16C and expresses Renaissance influences. The organ is from the 17C, pulpit  18C wrought iron.

Some further webpages to help you plan your trip are:

The official sanctuary of the basilica:

The Catholic Diocese of Vannes on the basilica:

The Regional Broceliande tourist board on the basilica:

There you go folks, now you have the whole story , not much to write because I think is monumental and beyond my humble creative writing; but the Basilica Notre Dame du Roncier is worth to visit, a must I would say if by this area, which is in itself a must to visit and say hello….

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

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