Archive for ‘Madrid’

February 5, 2020

And we have Key West!

And finally I got the idea to write about a very lointime and favorite city of my life’s travel and residency. As I lived in different points in Florida for 18 years and 13 years in NJ i have come here often. Family still have boats base there, and I last saw in 2002. Therefore , the pictures are before that. However, like to keep it in my blog for the souvenirs, memories, recuerdos of my life. Let me tell you a bit about Key West Florida.

There is plenty to see here other than museum , aquariums, and beach activities. My coming here was to do fish barbecues after boating and coming back to landfill in the mangroves to do the cooking, awesome. I did also scuba diving in those years and jet ski riding. Many folks comes for the beaches and the fact of its closesness to Cuba and the tropical party ambiance. Key West is special and worth the detour. I like to tell you more on the historical aspect of it as I am afraid for the tourist look you need to look up updated information.

Key West is located at the western end of the Florida Keys archipelago in the State of Florida USA. The city occupies the whole of the last of the islands from which it takes its name, as well as a set of islets surrounding it. The portion of Stock Island north of Federal Highway 1 (US 1 commonly call), Fleming Key and Sigsbee Park to the north (two military grounds with restricted access) and Sunset Key (formerly called Tank Island and with limited access to residents) to the west are part of the city of Key West , it is also the county seat of Monroe County. The city is known for being the southernmost point of the contiguous United States and the southern terminal of Highway 1. Located 207 km (about 128 miles) from Miami and 170 km (about 105 miles) from Havana, Cuba, it offers an incomparable strategic position on the Strait of Florida less than 150 km (about 93 miles) from the coast of Cuba.

key west

A bit of history I like

Before the Spanish arrived on the North American continent, the island was populated by the Calusa Indians. Spotted by Ponce de Leon in 1521, it was only sporadically occupied by fishermen and wreck hunters during the Spanish era. Originally called “Cayo Hueso”  (and still call in Spanish today) that is to say island of bones by the Spanish because of the many bones they found there when they arrived, vestiges of battles between natives or Spaniards, the name was changed by the English in Key West, according to some because the pronunciation of the Spanish word hueso was close to the English word west, according to others because of the geographical position of the island.

In 1763, when Florida came under British control (Treaty of Paris in exchange for Cuba), Spanish and Native Americans who occupied the island were expelled to Cuba. When Florida returned to the Spanish again twenty years later, the island was only sporadically inhabited without permanent colonization. Fishermen from Cuba or the Bahamas, then later after the independence of the United States, others from the Atlantic coast, used the island as a seasonal refuge. In 1815, the governor of Havana gave the island to Juan Pablo Salas, an artillery officer of the Spanish navy stationed in Saint Augustine, Florida (oldest city in the USA 1565) . Salas hastened to sell the island when Florida came under US control. In fact, he sold it to an American merchant, John W. Simonton, whom he met in a tavern in Havana, for a sum equivalent to $ 2,000 ,at the time a huge sum (the amount has not been corroborated) .

John Whitehead had spoken to Simonton, about the strategic position it occupied on the Strait of Florida when he had discovered it during a sinking in 1819. It was the deep-water port that had especially impressed and he compared to a West Gibraltar. On March 25, 1822, Matthew C. Perry arrived in Key West on the USS Shark and took possession of the island on behalf of the United States.

John Simonton subdivided the island into plots which he sold to: John Whitehead, a friend who had advised him to buy the island, John Fleeming, an English merchant of Mobile in Alabama, John Mountain and John Warner who resold immediately their plot to Pardon C. Greene. It was the latter alone who made Key West his permanent residence and who became a successful merchant and for a time mayor of the city. The names of these four “Fathers of the Modern City” as we like to call them, are found in Key West today and were given to the arteries of the historic district during the first cadastre established in 1829 by William Adee Whitehead, a younger brother of John Whitehead. This cadastre is still in force today and has undergone few modifications. Fleming Street is however spelled with a single “e”. The main street that crosses the historic district from north to south was named after the first governor of Florida, William Pope Duval, governor from 1822 to 1834 as Duval Street.

key west

During the American Civil War, while Florida joined Confederation in January 1861, Key West and its naval base remained under Union control. Fort Zachary Taylor, built from 1845 to 1866, played an important role during the conflict. Two other fortifications, the Martello East and West Towers, were built from 1861 to serve as a depot for arms and batteries annexed to Fort Taylor. They were later connected to the fort by a railway to facilitate the movement of ammunition. Fort Jefferson in the Dry Tortugas, located 110 km from Key West (halfway almost to Cuba), served as a prison at the end of the Civil War and his most famous prisoner was Dr. Samuel A. Mudd, accused of conspiracy for treating the Abraham Lincoln’s assassin, John Wilkes Booth.

The term Conchs like the eponymous seashell applies to natives of the Bahamas of European descent. These are the “Conchs” who arrived in large numbers after 1830 and populated Key West. The term today applies to the inhabitants of Key West in general but distinguishes the clean natives or “Conchs” and the long-standing inhabitants but born elsewhere or “Freshwater Conchs” that is to say conch of fresh water. Towards the end of the 19C, the cigar industry replaced the salt works and the shipwreck trade. The arrival of many Cubans during this period of rebellion against Spanish domination (Ten Years’ War, then War of Independence) provided an expert workforce for this industry. In 1890 the population of Key West was close to 18,800, half of whom were of Cuban origin. Nearly 200 factories produced a hundred million cigars annually. José Martí, the father of Cuban independence, came to Key West several times to recruit volunteers for the cause and founded the Cuban Revolutionary Party there. It was from Key West that the battleship Maine left, which sank in the port of Havana and started the Spanish-American War. The Maine crew is buried in Key West Cemetery. The annex was renamed Truman Annex and still bears that name today. The Cuban revolution of 1959 breathed new life into the naval air base and Key West rediscovered the strategic role of wartime. In November 1962, John Fitzgerald Kennedy visited Key West a month after the Cuban missile affair was resolved. Key West remained a base for the many Cuban exiles arriving by sea from 1960 to 1980.

key west

There are typical neighborhoods such as the New Town on the eastern part of the island (mistakenly referred to as the north), most of which has been reclaimed from mangroves and lagoons, constitutes the new districts for the most part residential and commercial along Roosevelt Boulevard with the centers shopping, many hotels, sports fields and the airport.   Key West is the southernmost city in the contiguous United States and one of the city’s most photographed attractions is the landmark that marks this geographic point. In addition, the legend on the terminal indicates that the Cuban coast is “90 miles” according to the famous phrase of President Kennedy during the missile crisis, when it is actually 93 miles, or 150 km. And of course  ,do not miss Mallory square!!!and that is me!!!

key west

key west

One nice way to see the city main points and come back for more and something we have followed in many cities and countries is the little train ride and of course Key West has a good one !

key west

key west

There is also a nice small aquarium which I found one photo here

key west

In 1931 the house on Whitehead Street that you could visit today was a wedding present for the couple Hemingway who had previously occupied a room above the Ford garage on Simonton Street. The swimming pool Hemingway built there would have cost $ 20,000, an extravagant sum in the 1930s.

Charles Thompson, a hardware store owner, and Joe Russell, a bar owner – the famous owner of Sloppy Joe’s , introduced him to big game fishing. Joe Russell would have inspired the character of Freddy in To have it or not, a novel also strongly inspired by the Key West of the years of crisis. It was also during this period that Ernest Hemingway acquired the nickname “Papà”. It is estimated that it is in Key West that almost 70% of his works were written, in particular The Farewell to Arms, Death in the Afternoon, The Snow of Kilimanjaro, The Green Hills of Africa or For Whom the Bell Tolls. After his divorce in 1940 and the loss of his house, he rarely returned to Key West, preferring Havana. The polydactyl cats that surround the Hemingway house are believed to be descendants of Snowball, Hemingway’s cat. Like the novelist’s home, they are a typical Key West attraction.

Another famous imprint here was that of Tennessee Williams who came to Key West from 1941 and around 1947 reportedly began sketching A Streetcar Named Desire while he was staying at the La Concha hotel on Duval Street. In 1949, he bought the house on Duncan Street and made it his legal home until his death in 1983. Tennessee Williams’ house is a modest new town bungalow with no particular appeal. Today it is a private residence which is not open to the public. While Hemingway and Williams frequented Key West concurrently, they only met on one occasion in Havana, on Hemingway’s property, Finca Vigia.(west of Havana today controlled by the government).

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here and you must are

City of Key West on heritage

Tourist office of the Florida Keys on Key West

Tourist office of Florida on Key West

Tourist office of the USA on Key West

There you go , there is a world to discover at Key West a small space full of history, tropical architecture, and just plain tropical fun , and this is just one tip of the wonderful Florida keys! Hope you can enjoy it one day.

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

February 5, 2020

Mercado Publico de San Lorenzo de El Escorial!

So staying in my beloved Spain and wonderful worldly San Lorenzo de El Escorial; I like to tell you more. It always amazes me of posts I make and concentrate on one major monument in the city or two leaving behind some wonderful architecturally and historically stunning buildings. This is the cas of San Lorenzo de El Escorial and its Mercado Publico de San Lorenzo. I like to finally tell you a bit more about it: hope you enjoy it as I.

San Lorenzo

The architectural and historical significance of it makes me turn to find it. We did walking the wonderful streets of San Lorenzo de El Escorial. Hope you enjoy market shopping as we do anywhere! Below my translation of the tourist office. At the end of the 18C, the city of San Lorenzo de El Escorial promotes its last great work for the common of the neighbors, which consists of a large house for the storage of wines, genres of Abacería shop; fish, bacon and other bouquets and rooms.

 

In 1797 the urban center of San Lorenzo was already consolidated, which made it impossible to find a central place in which to build the building, so the place occupied by the overseer was chosen for its placement. The project is entrusted to Juan de Villanueva and his works are developed between 1797 and 1806. In the construction highlights the main facade made of granite ashlars, access through a large central arch and the arches that form the inner courtyard.  Due to the increase in the number of students of the School of Children of First Letters of the Casa de los Soportales (Royal supporters committee) since 1794, the governor propose its transfer to this building, commissioning Juan de Villanueva to lift a new plant in 1806 which was accessed by Calle Francisco Muñoz.

Both the educational and commercial functions are maintained until, in 1873, the poor state of the same forces the City Council to auction its reconstruction. After this work, which will cover the inner courtyard, it becomes a building appreciated for its adequate conditioning. During the Spanish Civil War it had to suffer certain damages due to his abandonment, losing his superior glazing.

In 1949 the Mayor of San Lorenzo de El Escorial requested the realization of different works to prevent its collapse. In this way the glazed roof is recovered by means of a skylight, the second floor is closed with the current gallery and a “T” staircase is introduced between the first two levels. Shortly after the new skylight sinks because of a great snowfall.  One of the largest repair works is carried out in 1967, again because of the risk of the roof collapsing. At that time the alley called Repeso is covered, which was located between the Market and the Cuartel de Inválidos (handicapped barracks), covering the needs of commercial space that arise at this time.

The tourist office page on the Mercado is here: Tourist office of San Lorenzo on the Mercado Publico in English

There you another wonderful place very near all the major points in the city and we got some churros there!!! while waiting for lunch !!!

San Lorenzo

Many posts on San Lorenzo de El Escorial and this Mercado needed to show more, I did. Hope you enjoy it

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

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February 4, 2020

Cocheras del Rey, San Lorenzo de El Escorial!

So staying in my beloved Spain and wonderful worldly San Lorenzo de El Escorial; I like to tell you more. It always amazes me of posts I make and concentrate on one major monument in the city or two leaving behind some wonderful architecturally and historically stunning buildings. This is the cas of San Lorenzo de El Escorial and its Cocheras del Rey (kings carriages). I like to finally tell you a bit more about it: hope you enjoy it as I

The  architectural and historical significance of it makes me turn to find it. We did walking the wonderful streets of San Lorenzo de El Escorial. Below my translation of the tourist office.

The Cocheras del Rey (garage of the king) is a set of buildings dating from 1771 and was ordered by King Carlos III for his service and that of the Court, when the foundation of the Royal Site of San Lorenzo de El Escorial.

San Lorenzo

The whole was for a century at the service of the Royal House covering the transportation needs of people and luggage mainly during the autumn days, which was when the kings moved to the Escorial.

The part that is conserved of this set includes the Casa de los Oficios del Viaje( house of trades and trips), and Casa y Cuadra del Regalero (House and Stable of the Regalero) and a central garden, and is today private property, where a wide and valuable collection is shown that has as an argument the history of the life, activities and operation of the cocheras from 1771 to 1870, when it passed to individuals. The Collection is composed of a rich and varied sample of unique pieces: horse carriages, sleds, hand chairs, ties, furniture tools, maps, books, paintings, travel equipment, etc. since the 16C and mainly from the 18C and 19C.

The tourist office take on it here: Tourist office of San Lorenzo on Cocheras del Rey

Official webpage here; Official Cocheras del Rey in English

Another nice building to walk by and see it as part of the history of San Lorenzo de El Escorial , a lot more than a monastery! Hope you enjoy the story of the Cocheras del Rey.

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

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February 4, 2020

Royal Coliseum of San Lorenzo de El Escorial!

So staying in my beloved Spain and wonderful worldly San Lorenzo de El Escorial; I like to tell you more. It always amazes me of posts I make and concentrate on one major monument in the city or two leaving behind some wonderful architecturally and historically stunning buildings. This is the case of San Lorenzo de El Escorial and its Real Coliseo Carlos III. I like to finally tell you a bit more about it: hope you enjoy it as I.

The Teatro Real Coliseo de Carlos III is located in San Lorenzo de El Escorial; Comunidad de Madrid ,and it was built in the 18C. It is the only one that keeps the theater typology of that century intact, hence it is one of the oldest covered theaters preserved in Spain.

San Lorenzo

The Spanish Bourbon court, very fond of this entertainment (learned in France), set out to provide the Royal Sites with places destined for permanent theaters suitable for receiving Italian and French performance companies. Reigning king Carlos III, between 1770 and 1778, hired the French architect Jaime Marquet to performs three of the theaters of the Court, those of the Royal Sites of Aranjuez, El Pardo and San Lorenzo de El Escorial. Construction begins in 1771 and the following year was already finished.

The historic building has a rectangular plan with an axial axis, the room acting as a structuring element of the theatrical ensemble. This has a “U” shape and it opens the wide body of the stage, rectangular, where the original combs of the 18C are preserved. It has two levels of boxes on the existing ones on the ground floor and between the latter and the floor platform, there is also an intermediate level of running seats. The room is accessed from a hall that occupies the entire front of the main facade, with two stairs to the upper bodies.

Externally, the building has a compact appearance, with three-sided roofs, the body intended to house the armor of the stage comb rising above the set. The main façade, with a very simple layout, has two heights on the ground floor and is framed by chained pilasters. On the ground floor, the four interior access openings are located, corresponding to these holes those of upper floors, consisting of balconies on the noble floor and windows on the upper floor, with the upper openings being close together. On the main façade the central gaps on the ground floor are covered with a classic porticoes atrium supported by three pairs of columns on plinths, which is topped with a metal balustrade.

Some webpages to help you plan your visit here are

Tourist office of San Lorenzo on the Real Coliseo Carlos III

Tourist office of Community of Madrid on the Real Coliseo Carlos III

There you go another dandy especially for a performing visit at night in lovely quant San Lorenzo de El Escorial, a lot more than a monastery.

There is a museum link to this theater Real Colegio Carlos III and appropiately call the Museo del Coliseo, not yet in but should be interesting for next visit to keep it in this post for the heads up. Their webpage is here: Tourist office of San Lorenzo on the Coliseo museum

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

 

 

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February 3, 2020

Casa Duque del Alba, San Lorenzo de El Escorial!

So staying in my beloved Spain and wonderful worldly San Lorenzo de El Escorial; I like to tell you more. It always amazes me of posts I make and concentrate on one major monument in the city or two leaving behind some wonderful architecturally and historically stunning buildings. This is the case of San Lorenzo de El Escorial and its Casa Duque del Alba. I like to finally tell you a bit more about it: hope you enjoy it as I.

San Lorenzo

Not much on it as it is now private rental house but the architectural and historical significance of it makes me turn to find it. We did walking the wonderful streets of San Lorenzo de El Escorial. Below my translation of the tourist office.

The promoter of this building was the Duke of Arcos, Mr. Antonio Ponce de León Spínola, one of the gentile men closest to king Calos III. The trace and direction is due to the architect Manuel Machaca Vargas.

He was commissioned by the Duke of Arcos to house his family and servitude during the Royal days. His daughter, the XIII Duchess of Alba, immortalized by Goya in his paintings, will become its owner in 1784.

Its architectural configuration matches the style that Juan de Villanueva will impose on the Real Sitio de San Lorenzo de El Escorial, two floors and attic, being one of the few buildings of the 18C to which a third level has not been added. With the disappearance of the Royal days, the house is transformed into permanent housing, leading to its division into three parts.

Just a curiosity in the town and good for a nice walk around it; hope you enjoy it.

The tourist office take on it is here: Tourist office of San Lorenzo on the house of the Duke of Alba

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

 

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February 3, 2020

Parish of Grace in San Lorenzo de El Escorial

And taking you to some off the beaten paths of my beloved Spain even if in very much visited town of San Lorenzo de El Escorial for reasons mentioned in previous posts, I like to take you to another revered monument often if ever by passed.

Let me tell you more on the Parroquia de Gracia in San Lorenzo de El Escorial. The Santuario de Nuestra Señora de Gracia is at Calle Floridablanca, 7.

San Lorenzo

The devotion to the Virgin of Grace (Gracia)   has its origin long before king Felipe II chose this region to build the Monastery dedicated to San Lorenzo. Tradition tells us that after the reconquest of the region, shepherds found the image in a cave, in the upper part of the highs of the Herreria (blacksmith), where a hermitage was later built to house it. The remains of this hermitage can still be located in the current Finca de los Ermitaños (Bosque de la Herrería). In that hermitage there were three altars, the central one was dedicated to Our Lady of Grace, the image had the Child in its arms. was a bulge image, of a rod of a little more or less, both the Virgin and the Child wore silver crowns. The Lady wore in her right hand a bronze or golden iron scepter, and that of the Child, at least, since 1645, some silver hazelnuts and a precious stone set in silver.

At the beginning of the 19C (between 1808 and 1809) the primitive Image of the Virgin of Grace was transferred to the Parish of San Lorenzo, which at that time was in the current Sanctuary of Calle Floridablanca . The primitive image of the Virgin of Grace was burned in 1936 (by republicans during the Spanish Civil War). To repair this terrible loss in 1941 the sculptor D. Mariano Benlliure was commissioned a new carving, that is the most accurate reproduction of the previous one. This new Image, made in record time, was enthroned in the Parish of San Lorenzo on September 7, 1941.

San Lorenzo

The Virgin of Grace was proclaimed Patroness of the Royal Site of San Lorenzo de El Escorial in the Plenary Session of the City/Town Hall held on August 30, 1946, this proclamation being renewed in 1995, on the occasion of the celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of the Pilgrimage. The Image of the Virgin of Grace is venerated throughout the year in its Sanctuary of Calle Floridablanca in San Lorenzo de El Escorial. On the day of the Pilgrimage (second Sunday of September) the Image moves to its Hermitage in the Bosque de la Herreria (blacksmith’s forest) , returning again at night to its Sanctuary.

Some webpages to help you plan and know more of it are here

Parrish site of San Lorenzo on the Sanctuary of Grace

City of San Lorenzo de El Escorial on traditions see Gracia

There you go easy walk from the monastery into quant nice San Lorenzo de El Escorial; and see something unique of my beloved Spain at the Santuario de la  Virgen de Gracia.

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

 

 

 

 

 

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February 2, 2020

A king at Cuenca!

So here is another important figure in the history of my beloved Spain and pave the foundation for its unification and reconquest period. I happened to visit the city of Cuenca several times and always marvel of his equestrian statue there at Travesía Clavel, 6 street. Let me tell you a bit more on king Alfonso VIII, the Noble.

A 17-year-old Alfonso VIII of Castile tried to conquer the city, but after five months of siege, he had to retreat after the arrival of troops sent by the Almohad caliph Abu Yaqub Yusuf. Alfonso signed a seven-year truce but when, in 1176 the Cuencans occupied some Christian lands in Huete and Uclés, Alfonso intervened at the head of a coalition including also Ferdinand II of León, Alfonso II of Aragon and the Military Orders of Calatrava, Santiago and Montegaudio, besieging Cuenca for months starting from 1177’s Epiphany. The city’s commander, Abu Bakr, again sought the support of Yaqub Yusuf, but the latter was in Africa and did not send any help. After an unsuccessful Cuenca sortie against the Christian camp on 27 July, the besieged city was conquered by Alfonso’s troops on 21 September 1177, while the Muslim garrison took refuge in the citadel.

The latter fell in October, 1177 putting an end to the Moors domination in Cuenca. King Alfonso VIII granted the city a title, and it was considered to be “Muy noble y muy leal” (Very noble and very loyal). It was given a set of laws, the Fuero, written in Latin, that ruled Cuenca’s citizens, and it was considered one of the most perfectly written at that time. The diocese of Cuenca was established in 1183; its second bishop was St. Julian of Cuenca, who became patron Saint of the city.

King Alfonso VIII  (b.1155 –d.1214), called the Noble or el de las Navas, was the King of Castile from 1158 to his death in 1214 ,and King of Toledo. He is most remembered for his part in the Reconquista and the downfall of the Almohad Caliphate. After having suffered a great defeat with his own army at Alarcos against the Almohads, he led the coalition of Christian princes and foreign crusaders who broke the power of the Almohads in the Battle of the Navas de Tolosa in 1212, an event which marked the arrival of a tide of Christian supremacy on the Iberian peninsula. His reign saw the domination of Castile over León and, by his alliance with Aragon, he drew those two spheres of Christian Iberia into close connection.

Cuenca

In 1202, he claimed the county of Gascogne brought as a dowry by his wife Eleanor of England, daughter of Eleanor of Aquitaine. His expedition took him to the gates of Bordeaux, which he unsuccessfully besieged in 1205 or 1206.  King Alfonso  VIII was the founder of the first Spanish university: the studium generale de Palencia, which disappeared after his death. He also founded the order of Alcántara.

He was married in 1170 at his majority of age at 15, to Eleanor of England aged 8, daughter of Henry II of England and Eleanor of Aquitaine, whose possessions made him the largest sovereign of the moment. They have twelve children, including four daughters who become queens. One important one to me aws the Infanta Blanche (1188–1252), married to Louis VIII of France and regent of this kingdom during the minority and the crusades of her son Louis IX (1226 to 1235);later Saint Louis.

You can read a lot more of him here: Roman Catholic Saints on Alfonso VIII

There you go a nice walk up hilly streets but once you past it the views and the statue is nice. Travel and history goes hand in hand for me. Hope you enjoy Cuenca and the statue of king Alfonso VIII  as I do

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

 

 

 

 

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February 1, 2020

Alcalà de Henares and the Queen!

And bringing out some of my favorite and personal stories of history let me bring you back to one of the nicest memory town we had visited as a family; Alcalà de Henares. Many souvenirs here over the years; and plenty written in my blog on it.

However, what I have left out a bit is the historical significance of a visit and meeting between a navigator and a queen. This is my rendition to Reina Isabel I La Càtolica or Queen  Elizabeth I the Catholic of Spain and Cristobal Colon or Christopher Colombus.

The court of Isabel I ,the Catholic is, like that of her predecessors, itinerant. The journeys traveled by Isabel I of Castile. In 1503, the trip took place between Alcalá de Henares and Medina del Campo, where the queen died on November 26, 1504. During these trips, the queen administered her kingdom from the place where she was.

One of the most important events in the history of the modern world had its beginning in Alcalá de Henares with the interview of Isabel I, La Católica (Catholic) and Cristobal Colón (Columbus) . It was on January 20, 1486 and was held in the Archbishop’s Palace of Alcalá de Henares in that interview the trip to the Indies began to be forged that led to the discovery of the New Continent.

It ran on October 24, 1485 when a long entourage, which had left Córdoba and stopped in Jaén, arrived in Alcalá de Henares to spend the winter and rest … The stay lasted for almost four months, being one of the longest and most fruitful visits from the Catholic Monarchs to Alcalá de Henares. Christopher Columbus, who had followed the Court from Cordoba, was the last to receive an audience by the Catholic Monarchs on January 20, 1486 at the Archbishop’s Palace. That meeting between the queen and the navigator was produced in the Archbishop’s Palace, which can be seen at the end of Calle San Juan , where the Casa de la Entrevista (Interview House) is located.   Currently, on the cover of the front of the House you can see the Cardinal’s checkered shield and the door hardware is remarkable, in which, in addition to the Cisneros shield, another one with Colombine motifs can also be contemplated.

Alcala de Henares

Columbus was desperate. He needed money to finance his trip to the “Indies.” He had already received the refusal of King Juan II of Portugal to finance his project. It was then that he went to Castile to offer it to the Catholic Monarchs, although the Royal Council rejected it from the first moment. When everything seemed lost in Castile, his great friend and supporter Fray Antonio de Marchena convinced Fray Hernando de Talavera, confessor of Queen Isabel I (Elizabeth), to get the kings to receive the navigator. It was January 20, 1486. And the rest is history I like!!!

You can see her wonderful statue in Alcalà de Henares by the Plaza Palacio where there are many monuments including the old Archbishop’s palace. A quiet humble corner for such a great world personage that still influences millions around the world in a common language. The Reina Isabel I, la Càtolica statue at Plaza Palacio. (palace square). Hope you enjoy the post.

Alcala de Henares

Not too much on the story in the tourist office but here it is for reference: Tourist office of Alcalà de Henares in English

For events and cultural activities sharpen your Spanish and see it all here: Culture in Alcalà de Henares

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

 

 

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February 1, 2020

Museum of El Greco, Toledo, Spain!!!

So bringing you back to another of my favorite cities of my beloved Spain. And many times visited with family nearby over the years, and of course, never enough written on it or pictures! I do have several posts on the city of Toledo, Castilla La Mancha , Spain. I will try to tell you in my next posts the arts and museums of Toledo, but first a bit about the city’s location, good by train and already a post on that over the years the car is my second home.

Toledo is about 71 km (about 44 miles) from Madrid. From Toledo part the N-400, which connects this city with Cuenca by Ocaña and Tarancón.  There is now an excellent  A-40 Autovia or highway of Castilla-La Mancha, that unites Avila with Maqueda (where it links with the Extremadura highway), Toledo, Ocaña (where it joins the highway of Andalusia), Tarancón (where it connects with the highway of Levante, Valencia), Cuenca and Teruel. A former national road 401 Madrid-Toledo-Ciudad Real was transformed at the end of the decade of 1980 in the current A-42.

The general tourist office information is here:

Tourist office of Toledo: https://turismo.toledo.es/

Tourist office of Castilla La Mancha on Toledo: http://en.www.turismocastillalamancha.es/patrimonio/toledo/

Ok so this one I have not only to give more exposure in my blog but keep it in a single post by itself, all worth it, good enough to come to Toledo alone me think. And the city of Toledo has a bookful of places to see that are worthy. The story, the paintings, the places of El Greco are all marvelous. We love it!!! Therefore, let me tell you a bit more on the museum of El Greco in Toledo, Castilla La Mancha, Spain!

Museum of El Greco, a house-museum conceived as recreation of the home of the artist, as this was lost centuries ago. This House contains several relevant paintings, although the famous painting of the burial of the Count of Orgaz is located in the Church of Santo Tomé, also in Toledo.

Toledo

The El Greco museum is dedicated to the life and work of the painter El Greco, born in Crete, but who painted the majority of his paintings in Toledo. The institution was inaugurated in 1911 and designed as a house-museum dedicated to bringing together the paintings of the artist, who was beginning to be reassessed at that time, and to give an idea of the way he lived. The house is not the real house where El Greco has spent the most time in Toledo , this one is located a little further but it tries to give a good idea of the living conditions of the painter.

Toledo

The idea of the museum is due to Don Benigno de la Vega-Inclán y Flaquer, Marquis de la Vega-Inclán , a patron who contributes to spreading in Spain the fashion for the reconstruction of historical atmospheres where were created works of art at the beginning of the 20C, he bought a group of houses in the historic Jewish quarter of Toledo and were restored ;he eventually donated the group of houses to the State (Spain) , to with the exception of the Vega-Inclán house-residence, which remained private property until 1942, then was bequeathed to the State in accordance with its will.

The El Greco museum was enlarged several times first in 1914 with the creation of four new rooms on the upper floors of the house, 1921 a new room to house fifteen new paintings and 1924-1925 with the construction of an apse chapel where installs a Mudejar coffered ceiling which houses the altarpiece of Saint Bernard; other works were undertaken in 1950 and 1960. The new exhibition space presents, in addition to the life and work of El Greco, information on the history of the house-museum in order to put it into perspective with later developments in museography. The museum houses paintings representative of the successive phases of the artistic journey of El Greco. It notably holds several portraits of notables, the View of Toledo and the portraits of the apostles (some unfinished).

The Church of Santo Tomé appears cited in the 12C, although its current configuration was undertaken in the early 14C by the Count of Orgaz himself, who added the current Christian bell tower to the old Muslim minaret. Santo Tome is a church with a Mudejar tower, a copy of that of San Román (see other post). It contains glazed ceramics and inlays of a Visigothic niche and a kick cross. Its last restoration – magnificent; has returned all its splendor to one of Toledo’s most beautiful towers and has been renovated in 2000.

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Toledo  Inside the temple, an altarpiece from the 16C, plateresque, and two baroque, a baptismal font of marble from the 16C a beautiful image of the virgin in marble from the 13C, three interesting canvases from Tristán, student of El Greco and two beautiful sculptures of the school of Alonso Cano.

El entierro del Señor de Orgaz (burial of mister Orgaz), popularly called El entierro del Conde de Orgaz (burial of Count of Orgaz) is an oil on canvas of 4.80 x 3.60 meters, painted in Mannerist style by El Greco between 1586 and 1588. It was performed for the parish Church of Santo Tomé, and is preserved in this same place. It is considered one of the best and most admired works of the El Greco. Some painters have defined it as not only is El Greco’s top work, but the masterpiece of all painting! Me think too.!!

El Greco painted it in his full artistic maturity. It has architectural rigor and an extraordinary unity despite the two parts into which it is divided. In this work all the elements of the painter’s mannerist language are present: elongated figures, vigorous bodies, implausible foreshortenings, bright and acidic colors, arbitrary use of lights and shadows to mark the distances between the different planes, etc.

The Church of Santo ToméOfficial Church of Santo Tomé and El Greco

Tourist office of ToledoTourist office of Toledo on museum of El Greco

Ministry of Culture and Sports of Spain: Ministry of Culture and Sports of Spain on El Greco museum

And voilà ahi tienen, cierro este ciclo de articulos sobre uno de mis pueblos favoritos, Toledo. There you , I close the series of posts on one of my favorites towns, Toledo.  Toledo is worth a kingdom, and a must to visit while in Spain. The sights to see are huge and all rewarding me think ; and the Museo de El Greco and Church of Santo Tomé are tops. Maybe I am biase sorry. Its a great place to visit in my beloved Spain.

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

 

 

 

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January 31, 2020

Sephardic and Councilor museums of Toledo!

So bringing you back to another of my favorite cities of my beloved Spain. And many times visited with family nearby over the years, and of course, never enough written on it or pictures! I do have several posts on the city of Toledo, Castilla La Mancha , Spain. I will try to tell you in my next posts the arts and museums of Toledo, but first a bit about the city’s location, good by train and already a post on that over the years the car is my second home.

Toledo is about 71 km (about 44 miles) from Madrid. From Toledo part the N-400, which connects this city with Cuenca by Ocaña and Tarancón.  There is now an excellent  A-40 Autovia or highway of Castilla-La Mancha, that unites Avila with Maqueda (where it links with the Extremadura highway), Toledo, Ocaña (where it joins the highway of Andalusia), Tarancón (where it connects with the highway of Levante, Valencia), Cuenca and Teruel. A former national road 401 Madrid-Toledo-Ciudad Real was transformed at the end of the decade of 1980 in the current A-42.

The general tourist office information is here:

Tourist office of Toledo: https://turismo.toledo.es/

Tourist office of Castilla La Mancha on Toledo: http://en.www.turismocastillalamancha.es/patrimonio/toledo/

And continuing in my lovely Toledo and with family not far for yeeears of visits it never get me tired of visiting Toledo, for now its a must when in Spain. In the off the beaten paths and not so beaten let me continue with the wonderful museums of the Sephardic Jews and the Councilors of Toledo.

The Museo Sefardí or Sephardic Museum occupies the old Convent of Knights of Calatrava, annex to the Synagogue of the Transit, and it shows historical, religious aspects and of the customs of the Jewish past in Spain, as well as of the Sephardim, the descendants of the Jews who lived in the Iberian peninsula until 1492. In 19642, it was decided that the Synagogue of the Transit or synagogue of Samuel ha-Leví be the seat of the Sephardic museum, which aims to preserve the legacy of the Hispanic-Jewish and Sephardic culture so that it is integrated as essential part of the Spanish Historical Heritage, a task that it performs until today.

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The first room shows the history, geography and culture of the Jewish people in the Ancient Near East, where, according to biblical writings, traditions that last in their daily lives originated. Archaeological objects dated between 2000 BC are shown. and the first century A.D. as well as a wide variety of cultural objects related to what it is and what it means to be Jewish, your beliefs and customs. It highlights a Torah, the sacred book of Judaism, formed by the Pentateuch and other liturgical objects.

In the northern courtyard, as a necropolis, some of the tombstones of Jewish characters from various parts of Spain are exposed. In the east courtyard the archaeological remains of some possible public baths of the old Jewish quarter of Toledo and the floor of the old hejal (main wall) of the synagogue are preserved.

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The women’s gallery, a special room for liturgical monitoring by the female gender that has the synagogue. As in other cultures, Judaism does not allow women to follow the liturgy from the prayer hall. In this space, which preserves part of its original plasterwork decoration, showcases related to the daily life of the Sephardim are shown: their birth, education, main parties, death, etc.

Tourist office of Toledo: Tourist office of Toledo on the Museo Sefardi

Ministry of Culture and Sports of SpainMinistry of Culture and Sports of Spain on the Museo Sefardi

The Museo de los Concilios or Councilor museum and the Visigoth culture, located in the Church of San Román, has Romanesque paintings from the 13C and an important collection, original and replicas, of goldsmith Visigoth, along with other archaeological finds dated between the 6C to 8C. The Visigothic Council and Culture Museum was created in 1969 as a subsidiary of the Santa Cruz Museum. Having its headquarters in the Church of San Román, it is also known as the San Román Museum. The museum opened in 1971.

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The museum in the Church of San Román of which the church origins,are only partial data, could be traced back to the Visigothic period, since a crypt identified as an apse was discovered under the main chapel in 1968 built at that time, although some hypotheses attributed to Roman times by the vaults that support the staircase of the tower. Later it was perhaps used as a mosque since until 1572 Islamic sepulchral lauds were preserved in it. Documentary it is cited as a Latin parish for the first time in the early   12C, in 1125, although the current parish corresponds to the church consecrated in 1221. The tradition places in this church the proclamation of Alfonso VIII as heir of Castile in 1161 by the mayor of Toledo Esteban Illán, buried in one of the chapels.

toledo

 The structure is simple: it has a basilica plan with three naves, the tallest and widest central, separated by horseshoe-shaped arches with alternate segments framed in alfiz. They are supported on columns of Roman shaft attached to brick pillars, on which twelve capitals of different sizes are located, of which five are Visigoths, six Mozarabic 9-10C, and one of Byzantine tradition.

toledo

The materials that are exhibited in the Museum of the Visigothic Councils and Culture, and that testify to the importance of the Visigothic court of Toledo from the last third of the 6C, come from the funds of the Museum of Santa Cruz, (see this post)  coming from excavations taken to out in the province of Toledo (Vega Baja, Bayuela Castle, Carpio de Tajo, etc.). All the exhibited pieces are the only vestige that are conserve of what were the civil and religious constructions of the city in Visigothic time, since no original construction is still standing. Museography distributes the archaeological pieces in different thematic blocks that help us understand the general characteristics of the Visigothic culture and its material expressions. 

It was essential to dedicate a section in the Councilor museum , understood as assemblies of bishops and nobles presided over by the king, continuing the Roman synodal tradition. Although the celebration of the Councils of Toledo begins already under Roman rule, it will be with the consolidation of the Visigothic state when they receive a real boost. In this sense it is necessary to highlight the celebration of the Third Council, in 589, in which King Recaredo formalized his conversion and that of the Godo people to Catholicism, abandoning Arianism. As of this moment the integration of the Hispanic-Romans in the Visigothic state took place!

Tourist office of Toledo: Tourist office of Toledo on the Museo de los Concilios

And there you go something unique in my lovely Toledo, both must to see. The museums are great but they are in historical architecturally stunning buildings they are awesome, not to mention the goodies inside. Hope you have enjoyed the Sefardi and Concilios museums of Toledo

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

 

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