Archive for January 11th, 2022

January 11, 2022

Casa de las Alhajas of Madrid!!

This is the thrill of walking any city and Madrid is a must to walk it. You will encounter many marvelous architecturally stunning buildings and with pleny of history. One of these not yet mention in my blog is the one known as the Casa de las Alhajas. I like to tell you a bit about it,hope you enjoy it as I.

The Caja de Ahorros y Monte de Piedad building in Madrid, better known as Casa de las Alhajas, is located in the Plaza de San Martín 1. The main entrance at No 1. It has secondary accesses to the Calle Hileras,18, and calle San Martín,5, as well as a last one recently opened to the private Calle Francisco Piquer. It was built between 1870 and 1875, and now house the headquarters of the Montemadrid Foundation. The façade is a clear example of the architecture of the second half of the 19C. And its interior, organized around a central covered patio, has been conditioned for the new use of the Foundation and as a temporary exhibition hall. Best reach by metro Opéra lines 2, 5, and R coming out at plaza de Isabel II,go around walking to calle de la Priora to your right ,straight ahead becomes Calle de la Flora to the Plaza San Martin.


It is located in the historic center of Madrid, in an area of ​​medieval origin known as the suburb of San Martín. It takes its name from the disappeared convent of San Martín, one of the first religious foundations in Madrid, originally located outside the walls, in the vicinity of the Puerta de Balnadú. It was the first convent founded in Madrid, in 1126. In the 15C it became a parish church, being one of the most important ecclesiastical jurisdictions in the city. At the beginning of the 19C, José Bonaparte (occupation of Napoleon) had the church of the complex, located in its northern part, demolished, thus expanding the Plaza de San Martín. In 1836, thanks to the confiscation of Mendizábal,(sep of State and Church), the convent passed into the hands of the State, becoming successively offices of the Civil Government, Provincial Delegation, court and stock exchange, Health Council, and Civil Guard headquarters. It was finally demolished in 1868, during the revolutionary Sexenio. (revolution of 1868) Part of the site was acquired by the Caja de Ahorros y Monte de Piedad (a savings bank) to build its new headquarters.

In the patio had the operating room the counters for loans and pawns were located, and from there you could access the different dependencies, Around this central volume ran the different bays: in the north wing, facing the Plaza de San Martín, they were located the main entrance and the lobby, which had pictorial decoration similar to the patio, with rooms for accounting at the ends; the sales room was located in the east wing, a space for auctions with a capacity of 400 people and exterior access, from Calle San Martín; the warehouse was developed in the bay, conceived as an independent safe and limited access; finally, the chapel in the bay, which covered the original religious function of Monte de Piedad, also with access from the outside. The building also included the houses of the institution’s workers: the director occupied the main floor, the parish priest was located in the attic and the rest of the employees on the mezzanine floor.

The property is currently used as a private cultural endowment. The Casa de las Alhajas has remained the property of the Caja de Ahorros y Monte de Piedad, which has adapted it to new uses compatible with the conservation of the property. After the disappearance of the savings bank, the property belongs to the Fundación Caja Madrid. the brand under which the Fundación Obra Social y Monte de Piedad de Madrid is presented, a Spanish foundation based in Madrid and whose objective is the development of social work and the management of the cultural heritage, it owns, as well as the operation of several centers of piety in some Spanish cities , The oldest of the Spanish savings banks, founded on December 3, 1702 as Monte de Piedad by the Aragonese priest Francisco Piquer. The savings bank existed until December 14, 2012, which became the special foundation Fundación Especial Caja Madrid. Subsequently, its name was changed to that of the ordinary foundation Fundación Montemadrid as of today.

The Madrid tourist office on the Casa de las Alhajas

There you go folks, another dandy building in sublime Madrid, my Madrid mind you… This is a pretty Casa de las Alhajas building in a wonderful old quant area of the city , worth the detour and a great walk around. And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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January 11, 2022

The Puertas or Gates of Retiro Park of Madrid!!!

I had to come back to the Retiro park, yes it was practically my backyard, not far from my piso or apartment when lived in Madrid and many times running, chasing,and eating , playing you name it in it. The park of my first loves, my youth, my adolescent my early days of free life in my beloved dear Madrid. Even here, my journey with what later became my wife started, my dear late wife Martine (our first trip out of France with her I had to take her to Madrid and the Retiro was grand ) she always loved to come back each year with me and then with the boys. I can say my life can be resume with one word, Retiro. This is Madrid at its best, yes I know ,there are many wonderful monuments and great museums people go to, but for me this is it. If can only have time for one thing would be to come to the Retiro park.

It was home away from home and just love it enormously, can’t visit Madrid without been at the Parque del Buen Retiro! I have several posts in my blog because not only is my Spain ,but beautiful moments of my life; Retiro park, my Retiro, my Madrid!!  As written briefly before in separate posts, let me tell you again briedly the story on each gate taken from my library, It will be a trip in nostalgia lane for me, and hope you enjoy it too.

In 1865, a new street was opened in El Retiro that joins the Puerta de Alcalá with the Ronda de Atocha and the Atocha train station that has existed there since 1851. On the west side of the street, a new neighborhood is created in which today we find the Prado Museum, the Botanical Museum, the Spanish Academy of Language, the Casón del Buen Retiro and the Stock Exchange, as well as other official or private buildings. To the east, an iron fence was built that separated the street from the gardens. This street, with the initial name Calle de Granada, is the current Calle de Alfonso XII. Thus begins the construction of a fence that, together with the different puertas or gates that have been added throughout this century and a half, will delimit and close El Parque del Buen Retiro. This work will not end until 2001 with the last of the gates built: the Puerta del Ángel Caído.

The Puerta del Ángel Caído was not built until 2001, thus being the closest to the Atocha train station. Once crossed and after walking along the Paseo del Duque Fernán Núñez, we arrive at the Fountain that gives it its name.The Fallen angel fountain,

At about 300 meters down Calle de Alfonso XII; there we have the following entrance: the Puerta de Murillo. Like other gates that we will see along, it is an entrance that we could call a service entrance, formed simply by a lattice work and which leads to La Chopera, an area named for the poplars that are around it and which currently houses municipal sports facilities.

mad retiro park puerta de murillo ent apr17

Again, some 300 meters further on, and always following Calle de Alfonso XII, we have one of the most important gates in terms of design and history: the Puerta de Felipe IV or Mariana de Neoburgo. Its construction dates from 1680 and served as the entrance arch to the first wife of Carlos II, María Luisa de Orleáns. Later, in 1690, the sculptures on the sides of the arch were added, which correspond one to Mars and the other to Penelope. Mariana de Neoburgo, second wife of Charles II, entered the gate, and an inscription with her name was included on the gate’s under arch. Originally, the gate was located in what is now the Plaza de Cánovas del Castillo (Neptune Fountain), since at that time El Retiro reached that area. In the middle of the 19C, it was the front of the disappeared Hermitage of San Juan, attached to the old palace and on whose site stands the Palacio de Comunicaciones/Cibeles, today the seat of the Madrid City Council. In 1922, it was installed in its current location, in front of the Casón del Buen Retiro and giving access to the Parterre of the park.


Walking along and just 200 meters away, along Calle de Alfonso XII connecting with Calle Antonio Maura is the Puerta de España, (1893) giving way to the Paseo de Argentina, better known as Paseo de las Estatuas, a place that was previously occupied by the Plaza Grande of the old palace.It is made up of four columns and several entrances with barred doors that give access to the park. On the arch of the main door, we can see the republican coat of arms. If we enter through it, we will only have to go straight along the Paseo de las Estatuas to reach the pond.(Estanque).


About 400 meters from the previous one, we leave the Calle de Alfonso XII and arrive at the Puerta de la Independencia, in the Plaza of the same name, in front of the Puerta de Alcalá. Done in 1817 as entry gate to the Casino de la Reina located in the Ronda de Toledo. In 1885 it was transferred to the Retiro park by the Cibeles fountain and square. and was installed here in 1885, It has two groups of Doric style columns on which two cupids rest, This was one of my most used gates living and visiting Madrid !

mad retiro park ent alcala pl de la independencia feb13

We will turn to take Calle de Alcalá (my street ! ) in the direction of Calle O’Donnell, always, once again, leaving El Retiro on our right. About 200 meters from the last gate, we find the Puerta de Hernani,(another widely used gate by yours truly) which leads to the Paseo Salón del Estanque. It was made of iron in 1888 , replaced in 1943 for a bigger one, located in the Calle de Alcalà in front is my family Church Iglesia de San Manuel y San Benito, the one we see now. As soon as we enter, we see the promenade with two beautiful fountains, while, on one side of the gate, we have an underpass that allows us to cross the Calle de Alcalá underground and exit to Calle Lagasca. The possibility is being considered that the origin of its name is due to its location, next to Calle O’Donnell, and the fact that it is near the statue of General Espartero on horseback, both characters closely linked to the Hernani uprising, (Carlists wars).


About 30 meters further on we arrive at the Puerta de Lagasca, in front of the street of the same name. Normally we have always seen it closed, it may be in disuse or a service gate in the park.

From the Puerta de Lagasca, we will continue for 400 meters, always leaving the park on our right; We will see, then, that the street divides in two; At that point, we will take Calle O’Donnell, leaving Calle de Alcalá on our left. There we have the Puerta de Madrid, one of the entrances, next to the Puerta del Ángel Caído, which gives access to the Paseo del Duque Fernán Núñez, better known this section as Paseo de Carruaje. It was designed in the last third of the 19C. Also, the longest in the Retiro park (the Promenade).

If we follow the 200 meters that separate us to the corner of the intersection of Calle O’Donnell and Avenida de Menéndez Pelayo, we arrive at the Puerta de O’Donnell. As we enter through it, we will see the Artificial Mountain and we will have the Casita del Pescador or Fisherman’s House nearby.


To get to the Puerta de la América Española, located about 200 meters from the previous one at “O’Donnell”, we must take Avenida de Menéndez Pelayo to the south, leaving El Retiro on our right. Once we cross it, we will be on the Paseo de Colombia and, from there, among other routes, we will be able to visit the ruin of the Hermitage of San Pelayo and San Isidoro.

We continue walking another 200 meters to the south and we arrive at the Puerta de la Reina Mercedes. Located in front of the Calle de Ibiza, through it we enter the Paseo de Panamá, which we can walk to the Plaza de Guatemala; There, we continue along the Paseo de Chile and we will arrive at the Monument to Alfonso XII, after which we have the Retiro Pond or Estanque. Queen María de las Mercedes, occupied the throne of Spain as queen consort from her marriage to Alfonso XII, on January 23, 1878, until her death, five months later, on June 27, 1878. During her short reign, enthusiastic about the idea of ​​building a temple of adequate importance for the Virgen de la Almudena, she gave up the land where the Almudena Cathedral of Madrid stands today. Since 2000, it is there where she is buried, as had been the wish of Alfonso XII.

About 100 meters further south, we arrive at the Puerta de Sainz de Baranda, in front of the street of the same name. The previously called Calle del Límite received the name of Mayor Sainz de Baranda in memory of Don Pedro Sáinz de Baranda, the first constitutional mayor of Madrid (previously they had the name of Corregidores) after the proclamation of the Cadiz Constitution of 1812. And aka as La Pepa  was the first Constitution of Spain ,and one of the earliest constitutions in world history. Also, the first Spanish legislature that included delegates from the entire nation, including Spanish America and the Philippines.

The Puerta del Doce de Octubre, (October 12 discovery of the new America) in front of the street of the same name, is one of the entrances to the Cecilio Rodríguez Gardens. Cecilio Rodríguez Cuevas, a native of Valladolid, entered the Madrid City Council as an apprentice gardener when he was 8 years old and ended his professional life as Director of the Department of Parks and Gardens of the same city council. In 1914, he was appointed Senior Gardener of the Retiro park, one of his best works being the Rose Garden of the park.(Rosaleda)!

At 100 meters, in front of the Niño Jesús University Children’s Hospital, we have the Puerta de Herrero Palacios. We enter the area where the Cecilio Rodríguez Gardens are located and is the closest to the Palacio de Cristal or Crystal Palace. The architect Don Manuel Herrero Palacios was Director of Municipal Parks and Gardens in the 60s of the 20C.

Are you with me ? We continue right along for another 300 meters to the south along Avenida de Menéndez Pelayo, we arrive at the Puerta de Granada. Through it, we can access the Paseo de Uruguay within El Retiro and get through it to the Rosaleda and the Fuente del Ángel Caído. This gate was one of the last to be installed in 2001

About 100 meters further south, we have the Puerta del Niño Jesús (another gate frequent by yours truly) in front of the Plaza of the same name, through which we enter the Paseo del Duque Fernán Núñez that takes us to the Rosaleda (rose garden). Before reaching it, there is an old building from 1850 in the shape of a tower called Castillete Metereológico, in which it is planned to install the Museum of Meteorology. In it, the first optical telegraph dependent on the Astronomical Observatory was installed. As of late still in the works.

mad retiro ave menendez pelayo y pl nino jesus jul15

From the Puerta del Niño Jesús, we turn slightly to the right; Following the trellis of the park and after about 300 meters, we arrive at the Puerta de Dante, dedicated, as its name suggests, to Dante Alighieri, writer, among other works, of the well-known Divine Comedy.

We finally reached the Puerta de Mariano de Cavia, located on the corner of Avenida Menéndez Pelayo and Calle Esteban de Villegas. This will be the last of our route and is about 200 meters from the previous one.

And of course, hope you enjoy the walk amongst these wonderful gates of the gorgeous magnificent Parque del Buen Retiro or Retiro park of Madrid. The total walking distance of the above is about 3,5 km! enjoy it!!!

The Madrid tourist office on the Retiro park

The city of Madrid with a detail map of Retiro park in pdf file good for printing and take along

There you go folks, a best detail description of the Puertas or gates of the Parque del Buen Retiro or Retiro park of my beloved Madrid. Hope you enjoy the reading and do take the tour, awesome!

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

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January 11, 2022

Retiro and the Florida of Madrid!!!

And I bring you back in time when as a boy came here first by the hand of my dear late mom Gladys, I am trying to bring back memorable places for me and my family over the years. The Retiro park is first on the list, playing there since childhood, then my boys did it too ! There is one spot there that brings back many memorable moments on its own, I like to tell you and bring back the memory of the Retiro park and the cultural center now restaurant Florida park in it, Hope you all enjoy it as I.

This one is very especial because it started out when just a young boy living in Madrid in the crazy 1970’s. The old Florida Park, inside the Retiro park, spectacles and fine dining with a show, the very best, and very nostalgic. Way back in my youth this was a community center where dances were held, now if you had a girl you could come here . I did. And, also, participated in several birthday celebrations of friends, mine and the girl….It is said you cannot forget your first real love at the tender age of 10 lol!

You can come in the Parque del Buen Retiro park at  Paseo de la República de Panamá, closest metro is Ibiza line 9. By the Calle Ibiza and the Puerta de la Reina Mercedes (gated entrance of the queen mercedes) straight in you will see the Florida Retiro ahead. I have mix older and newer pictures in this post,for the memories of always!


If you have read my blog you know this was my hangout place since teen years and always a memorable spot to come back to it with the family. Of course ,now the place is very chic and needs reservations for a great show. It is an ancient place where artists such as Concha Velasco, Ray Charles, Tina Turner, Plácido Domingo, and Montserrat Caballé made one of the best nocturnal schedules of the moment.  Old Florida Park Madrid was never dull and always great surprises night after night, thanks to its good atmosphere of beautiful people, excellent music and repeatable evenings. Where you can see the Parque del Buen Retiro, the heart and soul of Madrid.


Now let me tell what is there now for the last few years under new management.  Florida Retiro is a multiple area consisting of six different spaces . These are ,

La Terraza, hidden among the trees of the famous park from where you can experience the Madrid sunsets. The Pabellon or pavilion is an elegant place overlooking the park through its large window. The Sala or hall, is the essential of the night of Madrid. With its dinner-show that combines gastronomy, leisure and fun.  The Galeria or Gallery is the ideal bar to meet friends for drinks with tapas and portions, based on Madrid cuisine.


There are ,also kiosks of different outlook such as a fun area converted into a market consisting of six positions that have been given names related to the Retiro Park ; like the La Jacinta, in honor of Jacinto Benavente, is the place of wisdom, El Estanque (pond) and La Bellota (acorn) to acquire drinks, La Casa de Vacas, (cows house) where the meat stand is located. The La Alcachofa (artichoke), referring to the source, to savor pickles, charcuterie and cheese and La Gloriosa,(glorious) evoking the revolution that opened the doors of the Retiro park to Madrid, for tapas and pintxos. Also, from Thursday to Sunday, you can attend the best live flamenco. And finally, La Cúpula is the area to have a cocktail en live with electronic music and disco until the wee hours of the morning.


The Florida Retiro entertainment complex webpage :

The Madrid tourist office on Florida Retiro

There you go folks, a dandy memorable place indeed, Always looking forward to stop by on my many trips to Madrid, Glad my sons were able to enjoy too and now a memorable spot for them too, The Retiro park is sublime and the Retiro Florida a great place to be , keep in mind on your next visit to the city, Hope you enjoy the post and remember the place in my beloved Madrid!

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

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