Archive for October 17th, 2021

October 17, 2021

The Alcazar of Toledo!!!

This is an icon of many things in Toledo. Old and modern, it has gone thru all the joys and troubles of the city. It was my first visit to it back in 1972! with my mother, while visiting nearby family. Then over the years I have brought the rest, family , friends, girlfriend, wife, sons, and again repeat. Toledo is an icon of Spain, if you want to know what is Spain everything under the sun, you need to come here and understand.

The Alcázar of Toledo is a 16C fortress of rectangular form placed in the highest part of the city with a large central esplanade and four towers at four angles, with granite walls, and which apparently was the seat of the Roman protectorate of the city, and later a Visigoth Palace 6C , then an Arab fortress in the 8C.



After the conquest of Toledo from the Moors in 1085, the Arab fortress was restored by the Christians and used as a military bulwark during the reigns of kings Alfonso VI, Alfonso VII, Alfonso VIII and Alfonso X the Wise.  In the 16C, king Charles V converted it into a luxurious royal residence,  The Alcazar suffered a fire in 1710.  A century later, 1810, the Napoleonic troops burned it again and after its reconstruction carried out between 1867 and 1882, it was still burned for the third time in 1887. Rebuilt so many times, it was used successively as the royal house of Charity, Military Academy, Infantry Academy, General Military Academy, Infantry Academy a second time and lately, between 1931 and 1936, Academy of Infantry, Cavalry and stewardship. …


It is famous for the siege of the Alcázar during the Spanish Civil War. It was used by then Colonel Joseph Moscardó as defensive and resistance point of the Guardia Civil and was almost totally destroyed by the troops loyal to the Second Republic and the militiamen, during a siege that lasted seventy days, from July 22 to September 27, 1936.  He was rescue and taken off that day by the troops under the command of General José Enrique Varela and visited the following day by General Francisco Franco.  It was used later as a symbol heroism during the Civil War. Stray bullets from the : Civil War could still be seen embedded in the walls of the Alcázar.  In October 1998 it became the headquarters of the Library of Castilla-La Mancha (Biblioteca ) to our days, and from July 2010 is home to the Army Museum moved from the former Salon de los Reinos of Madrid.


The Spanish Defense Ministry on the Alcazar

The Library of Castilla La Mancha upper floor of Alcazar:

A bit on the interior description.

White Arms Hall (Salon de Armas Blancas) ,It is a room of homage and remembrance to the tradition of swordmanship of Toledo that was continued in the National factory of Arms of Toledo, founded by king Carlos III, where one can observe the evolution that has had the white weapon.

Firearms Hall (Salon de Armas de Fuego), It has all the firearms of the 20C like pistols, machine guns, mortars, rifles, etc. from the Museum of the Army of Madrid and narrates the history of Spain.

Miniature model Room (Salon de Maquetas)n there are two models of the Alcázar, before and after the siege, in the Spanish Civil War with photographs and other significant objects.

Romero Ortiz Hall: It exhibited the collections of the Minister of Grace and Justice, Antonio Romero Ortiz, and bequeathed to the Infantry Academy.

Moscardó ‘s office. (Despacho de Moscardo) This office is the only stay that is preserved as it was on September 28th, 1936.

Hall of Battles (Salon de Batallas). In this place the tactics are represented, the environments and places where were developed the most important acts of weapons of the Spanish armies. On each representation, on the roof, are the shields of Spain at the time of each battle below shown.

Crypt (Cripta) It is the place where the rest of the defenders rest in peace.

Contemporary uniform room(Salon de Uniformes Contemporarios). In this room are exposed the uniforms to the present, as well as rewards and distinctions. It has an informative purpose. The hall is presided over by a bust of King Juan Carlos I.

Military command room.(Salon de Ordenes Militares). The eight military orders from the 8C to the 16C and six current habits are reproduced in this Hall. The oldest order, that of the Holm oak(Encina) ,dates from the year 722. The intention to assemble this room is to pay homage to these orders that contributed very effectively to the Reconquista (reconquest) and were the predecessors of the regular armies.

Documentary Room (Salon Documental) It contains the most varied documents, plans, maps ,instructions, etc. for which the construction and successive reconstructions of the Alcazar have been ruled since the times of the emperor Charles (Carlos V or king Carlos I of Spain).

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

The Toledo tourist office on the Alcazar:

The Castilla La Mancha region tourist board on the Alcazar:

There you go folks, another dandy monument in my beloved Spain, A visit to the Alcazar is a must if you went to Toledo , which is a must, Here you will understand a bit of Spain better than on books, the kingdom of Spain, that is. Hope you enjoy it as I,

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

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October 17, 2021

The Royal Palace of La Granja de San Ildefonso !!!

The Royal Palace of La Granja de San Ildefonso is an 18C palace, summer residence of the kings of Spain since Felipe V of Spain. It is located in the village of San Ildefonso, in the province of Segovia, 80 km from Madrid. In Baroque style, it is surrounded by French gardens and 26 sculptured fountains. It is now open to the public as a museum. I have another entry on it but feels need to tell you more with this update on the castle for reference Palacio de San Ildefonso.


The Royal Palace of La Granja de San Ildefonso, located in the Sierra du Guadarrama, is an example of European palatial architecture, dream over by Felipe grandson of king Louis XIV of France born at Versailles, baptised at Notre Dame Church of Versailles and move over as bourbon king of Spain under Felipe V. Current king of Spain Felipe VI is a descendant.  Of course, been born at the Palace of Versailles and coming over, the need to try to recreate the splendor of the old place was imminent. So he decided to ordered built the palace in the forest around the village of San Ildenfonso. This he succeeded in a smaller scale but just as beautiful.


The story goes that in 1450, king Henry IV built a hunting lodge at the site of the present palace. Later, the Catholic monarchs gave the property to the monks of the Order of St. Jerome of Parral. In 1720, Felipe V, the first Spanish king of the Bourbon dynasty, bought the land and ordered built the royal Palace of San Ildefonso. In 1724, the wings were added to house the courtyard.  A new facade on the garden ends the building in 1735. We owe king Carlos III the beautiful portal that marks the main access of the ensemble. The palace has 40 rooms with Flemish paintings from the 17C and a collection of tapestries. In the Royal Chapel, a tomb contains the bodies of Felipe V and Isabel de Farnesio. The French gardens are inspired by Marly’s and the 26 monumental fountains are part of splendid water games. A real Versailles lost in the forest!


It is a splendid example of the European palatial architecture and has gardens and fountains inspired by Versailles, with constant references to legends and mythology. The palace’s rooms are adorned with Carrara marble, Japanese lacquers and crystal lamps. Its name is due to an old farm of the monks of the Order of Saint Jerome of Parral. king Felipe V wanted a garden that reminds him of  his childhood in Versailles. To develop these 145 ha, the landscapers of the Grama and the gardeners were inspired by Versailles and gave a unique identity to their realization. Forest perspectives and French country aisles connect well-independent garden parts in the Arabic style. The water games of the Neptune Basin, the new waterfall and the Fountain of water jet and the chestnut trees imported directly from France are super.



A wonderful side trip from Segovia or even Madrid. Easy to get to the shortest cheapest way is by the Puerta de Moncloa under the Tunnel from Madrid and continues on the A-6 highway passing the town of Las Rosas (famous for the outlet mall) get on the road M601 exit/salida 39 direction Puerto de Navacerrada and continue on this direction and road passing the town of Navacerrada, Cercedilla, with hilly roads until you reach the town of San Idefonso.The palace will be on your right hand side. The only way I have come here do not know if there is public transports.

Some of the webpages to help you plan your trip here are:

The Natural Heritage of Spain on the palace

The Castilla y Leon region tourist board on the palace

The town of San Ildefonso tourist office on the palace

There you go folks, a wonderful palace indeed. A really nice place to visit and one I would have no problems in a repeat. Hope you have enjoy the post on the Royal Palace of La Granja de San Ildefonso!

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

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October 17, 2021

The Church St Nicolas of Brussels!

In our trips to Brussels, we discovered many things, many are very popular, after all a popular tourist destination. However, some are less popular but the impact is bigger , unique, historical, and I like history. I have mentioned it in  my many previous blog posts on Brussels but never a page for itself, which it merits. Therefore, this is it ,the post of the Church of Saint Nicolas of Brussels! It is by rue de la Beurre surrounded by wooden old houses in a residential area. Hope you enjoy the update as I.


The Church Saint. Nicolas of Brussels, built around 1125, is one of the first four churches of the city of Brussels and best preserved in its successive developments. Being close to the Bourse’s palace (stock exchange), it is commonly called Saint-Nicolas de la Bourse or Saint-Nicolas-au-Marché ,of the Market.  Close to the Senne river, Saint-Nicolas was the oratory of the district of the merchants and those whose activities depended on the small river port. (Saint Nicholas, Bishop of Myre, is the Patron Saint of the merchants). Built in 1125, the church was still dependent on the Chapel of Saint-Michel parish in 1174.

The interior structure is surprising, with the choir extending obliquely to the central nave. This is a testament to the turbulent history of the Church. From the Romanesque church (12C) there are still some vestiges in the entrance porch, discovered during the reconstruction of the façade in 1956. This Romanesque Church was equipped with a tower-shaped front-body, which is mentioned in 1289. This tower housed the bells of the city and was therefore the belfry of Brussels. Destroyed by a storm in 1367, it was immediately rebuilt. The choir is what remains of the oldest as it dates from 1381.   The Chapel of Our Lady of Peace, in extension of the left aisle of the nave, was added in 1486.

bru-ch-st-nicolas-chapel-of-Virgin and child-dec12

The Church Saint Nicolas was damaged during the religious troubles of 1579, which led to the separation of the Catholic Southern Netherlands (and under Spanish domination) from the northern United Provinces (Protestant). A century later, new damage was caused by the bombardment of Brussels of 1695. On this occasion, the tower was destroyed for the second time, the bells half-melted by the fire having fallen and having crushed the lower  floors.  The bell tower, unable to withstand the weight of the carillon of thirteen bells that had just been reinstalled, collapsed in 1714. The Church was closed in 1797 and sold in 1799 (during the French revolution upheavals). It was a question of demolishing it, but it was bought by the former Masters of Factory and then returned to worship in 1804.  The main façade was rebuilt in 1956.  The Church was completely restored between 2002 and 2006.

Many paintings of masters adorn the walls of the church such as a Virgin and the Child of a disciple of Rubens.  The confessional, the pulpit of truth in the Louis XVI style of the late 18C, the grille and the choir stalls (18C) are other works of art. The most recent work is a modern-style canopy-the assumption of the Virgin done on the occasion of the restoration of the Church in 1956. It is installed above the entrance gate.  Also, Vladimir Icon of St Nicolas, painted in 1131 by an artist from Constantinople. It was here that the Brabant painter, Michael Sweerts, was baptized in 1618.


The shrine of the Martyrs of Gorcum:  In June 1572 nineteen people, priests, religious-including 11 Franciscans-and lay Catholics, were put to death in Gorcum (Gorinchem) in the Netherlands for their faith in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist and their attachment to the Pontifical authority. The martyrs of Gorcum were beatified in 1675 and canonized in 1867 by Pope Pius IX.  Since the canonization of the Martyrs of Gorcum in July 1867, it was choosen to celebrate the same year of the feasts in their honor in the Church of St. Nicholas, because this Church was near the place where stood until the French Revolution the convent of Recollets, to which several of the martyrs, including the Brussels natives, had belonged. On this occasion, the Cardinal Archbishop of Mechelen offered to the Church St. Nicholas a skull of a martyr, which was placed in a shrine with other bones of the same martyrs, sent by the convent of the Recollets of Gand. In 1868, a new gilded copper shrine was made , which can still be seen today.


Recently, the  bronze copy of Saint Nicolas, which has just been installed in the Grand Place as the original, completely restored, has found refuge in the Church St. Nicolas.  The statue of St. Nicolas was dismantled for security reasons. It was agreed to make a copy of bronze and restore the original to ensure a conservation in the best conditions. The statue represents a standing St. Nicolas, leaning with one hand on the stock and blessing three small children at his feet. Saint-Nicolas is considered the Patron of the Haberdashers, a corporation owning the house since 1641.


Some webpages to help you plan your trip to see this beauty are:

The Brussels Tourist office on the church

There you go folks, a dandy in nice Brussels. Hope it helps you enjoy the Church Saint Nicolas ,will make your trip a fully enjoyable one surrounded by history and architecture. The area is very nice too.

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

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