Archive for October 21st, 2021

October 21, 2021

Catedral San Pedro of Jaca!!

These are territories that I love coming here several times and passing by hundreds not counted but so many times it has become my second home. This is Aragon, the old kingdom of it all in the north that most need to learn more about to better undertand the Spain of today. I like to show you a bit on one of its most representative jewels, the St Peter’s Cathedral or the Catedral San Pedro de Jaca! briefs as can be, here is my story with the help of my library.

The Cathedral of San Pedro is of course in Jaca,  in the province of Huesca, autonomous region of  Aragon, is one of the most characteristic and ancient Romanesque constructions in Spain. It began to be built almost at the same time as that of Santiago de Compostela in the last quarter of the 11C as the episcopal seat and head of the Kingdom of Aragon on the initiative of King Sancho Ramírez, who had obtained the Vatican vasselage after his trip to Rome in 1068 , as a result of which he was granted the episcopal seat.


A bit of history I like

The city of Jaca receives jurisdictions as a city, by the king Sancho Ramírez of Aragon, in 1077, displaying the capital of the kingdom between this year and 1096 and becoming a diocesan seat, which makes necessary the construction of a cathedral. A first, the construction could be located between 1077 and 1082 that corresponds to the reign of Sancho Ramírez and the bishopric of his brother, the Infante Garcia, and a second between 1104 and 1130, which corresponds to the reign of Alfonso I the Battler (Batallador) and Esteban de Huesca as Bishop.

In the second decade of the 16C some additions  were made, such as the vaults of the lateral naves, the late Gothic, and the covers of the new Chapels of San Sebastián, San Agustín, Annunciation and Santa Ana. Later, in the Renaissance, the Chapels of St. Michael and the Trinity, both of 1572, were added. In 1598 the vault of the central nave is built and windows are opened in it. In the 17C the construction of the altarpiece was completed and the reconstruction of the cloister was undertaken, which was replaced by the current Baroque, finished at the end of the 17C. In this same period, the Chapel of Santa Orosia, the main baroque element of the temple, is built. Also at the end of the 17C the Romanesque apse is replaced and a new one is erected, decorated with paintings by Manuel de Bayeu, brother-in-law of Francisco de Goya, between 1792 and 1793.

A bit more on the construction style

The Saint Peter’s Cathedral preserves the Romanesque structure and configuration, with a basilica plant, several apses, and two access doors ,that of the Plaza de San Pedro, where in the past there was a homonymous monastery, and the southern gate, which in the 16C is endowed with portico, linked to the Plaza del Mercado, as well as a cupola in this southern apse where are located the architectural elements that summarize the characteristic language of the Romanesque architecture of the Camino de Santiago, which is then disseminated throughout the route of Compostela.



The exterior of the Cathedral of San Pedro has two facades with doorways.  On the west facade of the Cathedral we find the atrium and the main façade, whose arch of greater radius, semicircular, links to the central nave, vault barrel, inside the temple. In the tympanum of this façade, the main one of the Cathedral, is an exceptional piece, the Chrisom, symbol of the Aragon’s monarchy and with a clear Trinitarian and penitent character. The chrisom or monogram of Christ, is wavered by two lions. In the facade we find another portico, made in the 16C with pieces from other parts of the Cathedral, highlighting the capitals made by the masters of Jaca. As for the apses, it is only preserved from the Romanesque that gives to the south, since the central and north, were modified in the 18C. In this apse you can see the tripartite organization of the wall both horizontally and vertically, characteristic of the Romanesque Jaquésan extended by other constructions of the Camino de Santiago. At the top of the building is a belfry with the bells of the Cathedral, a piece that was added in the 16C.


The interior of the Catedral de San Pedro show us a plant of the temple is basilical of three naves ,and five bays, of which the central is wider and higher than the lateral ones, allowing thus to open the stained glass in the wall of the central nave and above the lateral ones to illuminate its interior. The nave extend to the three semicircular apses with the organ and the chorus, which were at the foot of the central nave and which moved to the apse, although the transfer was carried out in 1919. The area of the transept is covered with a unique semispherical vault of octagonal plant on horns. In the Baroque period the Chapel of Santa Orosia, the Patron Saint of the city of Jaca, was done, decorated with striking paintings showing his life, martyrdom and encounter of his body. It is worth mentioning the cloister , which is part of the Diocesan Museum of Jaca, one of the most outstanding in Spain of Romanesque painting; It shows Romanesque paintings of the jaquésan area that were in Churches such as Navaa, Ruesta or Bagües.




The decoration of  the Catedral San Pedro is nice with capitals, corbels and metopics are decorated with scenes of the Bible, On the bases , the two elements originating in the jaquésan Romanesque art can be seen along the Camino de Santiago, which shows the influence exerted along this pilgrimage route.  At the side door of the Cathedral is carved the pattern of a unit of measure called Vara Jaquesa (Jaquesan Rod) , a measure of the medieval period equivalent to 77 cm today or about 30 inches). This unit was used during the Middle Ages in the market located in the Plaza de la Catedral square to measure lengths, and this metric unit was used throughout Aragon.


Some webpages to help you plan your visit here and understand more this jewel of my beloved Spain are:

The city of Jaca on the Cathedral

The Huesca province tourist office on the Cathedral/museum

The Catholic Diocese of Jaca on the Cathedral

The Roman Aragon heritage on the cathedral webpage:

There you go folks, this is another jewel you need to get away from big cities to go see, is a must and a well interpretation of Spain then and now. The Catedral de San Pedro of Jaca,  go see it

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

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October 21, 2021

Convento de San Pablo, Parador at Cuenca!

I like to tell you about an unique place in the off the beaten path trail of Cuenca, one of my sentimental towns of my beloved Spain. I have spent several vacations in the area with the family over the years and we love it. Castilla La Mancha region of Spain of Don Quijote fame! There is so much to see here and Unesco site that have several posts on the town and surrounding in my blog, Today ,let me introduce you to an off the beaten path visit even thus you can stay in it ::) Let me tell you a bit of history on the Convent of San Pablo or parador lodging of Cuenca.


The parador of San Pablo ,in Cuenca, is an old convent of the order of the Dominicans, outside the urban walls, in a place of a great natural beauty, since it rises in a promontory on the sickle of the Huécar, to quite a height on the channel of the river and in front of the Casas Colgadas (see post). The architecture responds to some of the ideas of the first years of the 16C; Gothic structure and Renaissance decoration. It is popularly known as “los Pablos”. Since 1993 the convent functions as a national tourism Parador lodging.

A bit brief on its construction tells us that the Convent of San Pablo is composed of the church, built in the bow, as advancing in the Huécar’s sickle, the cloister on its right and another series of buildings that have been growing attached to the main body according to the needs of the different orders that they have lodged in the convent. The church and the cloister are from the 16C, with the rest of buildings from a later period. The building is perched on a prow or promontory over the Huécar river. This unique building that emerges between the rocks and rocky shapes that festoon the Hoz del Huécar, between orchards and hanging houses that overlook the abyss, which has served as a monastery, convent, school, seminary, nursery, special education center and many projects that were not carried out, in addition to numerous celebrations of all kinds, both in the beautiful church, which was the concert hall of Religious Music, and now Espacio Torner, as in the convent building itself through which the Dominicans passed, the Redemptorists, the Josephites and the Vincentian fathers, and since 1993, the visitors who stay at the Parador.


A bit of history I like, it’s nice from my library, so bear with me please.

He was a canon born in Almodóvar del Pinar (see post), Juan del Pozo, who was the promoter of this colossal building when on April 24, 1523 he requested the census from the Chapter Corporation. The primitive wooden Puente de San Pablo or bridge of St Paul, that he himself paid to unite the convent with the old basin commanded to begin the works of the convent and church that put under the trusteeship of the Apostle San Pablo (St Paul), supporting of his money the construction of both, and endowing the foundation with huge rents to attend the maintenance of the same.

So it was and in 1836 the Dominicans had to leave the convent and it was the Bishopric of Cuenca who later bought the building in public auction to install the Minor Seminary of San Pablo. At the end of the 19C the PP. Redemptorists destined the house for the Apostolic School; but they did not fit easily. In the early 20C the Seminary of San Pablo was ruled by the Sons of Mosén Sol, Diocesan Operatives, who were vulgarly known by the “Josefinos” (josephs). On January 3, 1912, the seminarians of San Pablo, and with them those of the Seminary of San Julián, rebelled against the superiors, who had to flee at night through the Huécar river and through the tunnel of the garden that gave to the San Pablo seminary . Faced with the events produced, the Seminars, expelled the students and intervening the Vatican itself. The “Josefinos” left Cuenca and the Seminary of San Pablo remained closed again.

On July 3, 1922, the concession of the Convent of San Pablo to the Community of Padres Paúles (pablos=pauls) was confirmed. On July 25, 1936, the undersecretary of the Ministry of Justice of the Republic sent a letter to the bishop of Cuenca stating that the Provincial Council requested the seizure of the building and transfer to the Provincial, in order to install a provincial sanatorium, after having been evicted by the community of Father-Parents. But during some months during the Spanish Civil War it was left without activity and the building suffered some looting.   In 1973 the Seminary closed its doors, handing over the keys two years later the Bishopric. The current iron bridge connecting the lower town with the promontory was done on April 19, 1903, the Puente de San Pablo  was blessed and inaugurated.


In the 1980’s after many attempts to do something here ,all failed,and the great building was still empty and the people crossing the Puente de San Pablo (see post) returned after walking before a closed and gloomy place at dusk. In November 1988 the Bishopric agreed to cede to the State the Convent of San Pablo for a tourism lodging Parador, and a few months later, on July 11, 1989, the cession of the property to the Spanish State was signed for a period of fifty years, with an extension clause and an exclusive destination for Parador de Turismo, except for the church with its front part or body of the sacristy, which years later it would become, through another agreement, in the Torner Art Space.  The works of transformation and restoration of the Monastery or Convent of San Pablo began in December of 1990 adapted the building for 63 rooms, two of them suite. The dining room was located in the old refectory that preserves the reading pulpit and the main hall bears the name of Vincentian hall in memory of the Vincentians(Vicenciano), also with a large pulpit for reading or speeches.


The inauguration of the Parador took place on Thursday, April 1, 1993, on the eve of Holy Week and from the first day its occupation was full. The Parador can tell many stories, although the most impressive was the overnight stay of the Princes of Spain, Felipe and Letizia, on their honeymoon trip through Spain, with the first nuptial stop in Cuenca on Sunday, May 23, 2004.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip are :

The official Paradores of Spain on the San Pablo parador of Cuenca

The Cuenca province tourist office on the convent/parador

The Castilla La Mancha region tourist board on the convent San Pablo

The Espacio Torner of Cuenca next to convent/parador San Pablo:

There you go folks, now you are loaded to come and enjoy this marvel of architecture and history in the comforts of a modern lodging building,a Parador of San Pablo in Cuenca. Hope you have enjoy the story!

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

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October 21, 2021

The wines of Ribera del Duero of Spain!

As far as fame, this is the second best known area of Spain for wine aficionados. This counts me in as well. I have written on the other regions of my beloved Spain where wine is coming up in quality over the last few years. This time will tell you a bit overall introduction to the wines of Ribera del Duero. Hope you enjoy it as I.

The Ribera del Duero located in the autonomous community of Castilla y Léon, which has an DO (Denominación de Origen ). Its vineyard, in the area of ​​the Upper Duero Valley, brings together many towns in the provinces of Burgos, Valladolid, Soria and Segovia with a long tradition of wine production. The appellation of origin was approved in 1982. It is located 150 km north of Madrid, and its hillsides extend over 700 meters above sea level over 100 km on either side of the Duero River. With 22,000 hectares, the denominación de origen Ribera del Duero has less than 200 bodegas/wineries.

The DO of Ribera del Duero includes these areas and best producers me think, Burgos: Condado de Haza ,Santa Eulalia, and Ismael Arroyo, Valladolid: Bodegas Vega Sicilia ,Castillo de Peñafiel, Emilio Moro ,Matarromera ,Tinto Pesquera, and Bodegas Alejandro Fernandez. Soria: Valdeviñas, and Segovia: Aldekoa, Some of the best known wine towns are: Pesquera de Duero, Quintanilla de Onésimo, Roa, Valbuena de Duero, Sotillo de la Ribera, Aranda de Duero, Peñafiel, and Haza. 

The wines of Ribera del Duero are mainly red wines, vinified from the Tempranillo grape, locally called Tinto Fino. The appellation also authorizes the cultivation of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Malbec, mainly intended to enhance the Tempranillo in blends.The Garnacha grape is most often used to make the rosés of Ribera del Duero, To be eligible for the appellation, a red wine from Ribera del Duero must contain at least 75% Tempranillo and 95% Tempranillo + Cabernet Sauvignon + Malbec + Merlot. The harvest period in Ribera del Duero is usually between the months of September and October. However, it is the Regulatory Council that determines when it starts and ends.

Ribera del Duero wines are offered under four different formulas: young red, crianza red, reserva red and gran reserva red. The red crianza is aged for no less than 24 months, at least half of that time in oak barrels. Its color is from cherry red to cherry red with certain shades of violet tones , it develop more complex aromas of spices, vanilla and toast. The reserve red is seen with the naked eye with a cherry red hue, and depending on its degree of maturity, it also has a ruby ​​tone. Maturation time, at least 36 months, 24 of them in barrels of the same traditional type of wood. They release tertiary aromas of candied fruit and leather, The Gran Reserva is a wine of great excellence with 60 months of maturation process of which at least two years must be in oak barrels. Its natural color at the end of that process is a distinctive cherry red. They are very elegant and reveal exceptional aromatic complexity. And appreciated and highly sought after.

As a general guide, the rating of the last few years show that in 2016 MB muy buena/very good : 2017 MB muy buena, 2018 MB muy buena, 2019 Excelente/Excellent ; 2020 Excellent.

Consejo Regulador, or regultating council of Ribera del Duero DO

The wine route of Ribera del Duero

Of course, I won’t just leave you with the technical stuff. Let me tell you some of recent favorites from Ribera del Duero!

The biggest surprise was  Bodegas Félix Solis; Altos de Tamaron Reserva 2006 Ribera del Duero. Cherry red color with medium layer ocher trim. Very clean and bright. Complex and elegant aroma, with marked mineral notes and other very suggestive aromas. In the mouth it is powerful, broad and with great harmony. Red meat, bush hunting, cured cheeses and lamb stews. The cost here was 12.50€. webpage:

ribera del duero altos de tamaron 2009

Bodegas Tarsus is a Bordeaux castle-style cellar, located in the heart of the Ribera del Duero where it produces wines with deep aromas, highly concentrated and offering great aging potential. The Bodegas Tarsus are located in Anguix (Burgos) with 70 hectares of its own vineyard where it grows the Tinta del País (ie tempranillo similar) ,and Cabernet Sauvignon varieties. It was founded in 1998. The name of the winery derives from Tarsus, an ancient city of Cilicia, in Asia Minor, cradle of the wine civilization and where vines have been planted for more than 6,000 years. Currently, the Tarsus reserva  is made with grapes 98% Tinta del País, 2% Cabernet Sauvignon. It has been produced from 25 to 30 days at a temperature between 28º-30º and is aged for 16 months in French (80%) and American (20%) oak barrels, mostly new. Complete the aging with a year and a half of rest in the bottle. Delicious ,you just need let it aged as I recommend. Webpage:

Ribera del duero Tarsus 1999

There you go folks, hoping you get a taste of Ribera del Duero wines at least in your next visit to Spain. However, they are available in several countries including France. Hope you enjoy the post as I, I say.

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

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