Archive for ‘Madrid’

October 15, 2018

Some news from Spain LXVIII

And on a cloudy rainy day in my neck of the woods and heavy rains flooding from Portugal over to Spain and into southern France , I like to give you an update on things of my beloved Spain.

Just recently back from another wonderful trip into Spain, specifically Barcelona. This is the time to tell you a bit about the latest from the land of the Sun.

It was in 1957 when the Winter Theater of Broadway saw the birth of a New York version of the classic of William Shakespeare with stroke of dance, blood, passion and colorful dresses of the fifties. There was a total of 732 functions and was the starting point for an ambitious tour of the United States until 1960. During its sixty years of life, the eternal musical has been able to be seen uninterruptedly in scenarios from all over the world. In 1961 ‘ West Side Story ‘ became a film directed by Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins, a hurricane that swept the popular culture and broke Oscars ‘ records for a musical film. Now ‘ West Side story ‘ rises proudly back on the charts, because the story of Tony and Mary has passed generations and hearts. At the Teatro Calderón in Madrid, the protagonists of the musical are beaten to death and are madly wanted. The Sharks and Jets have landed in our country, for the first time in a Spanish version, and the urban Romeo and Juliet continue to die of love 61 years later. Teatro Caldéron Madrid

One sad news:

The painter Eduardo Arroyo has died this past Sunday in Madrid at 81 years. Besides being a painter, he was a draughtsman, engraver, sculptor and scenographer, as well as one of the most outstanding members of the ‘ Nouvelle figuration ‘ (narrative figuration). Arroyo represents the continuity of an artist identity that generated the avant-garde in the 1930s, and whose configuration is contributed by Spanish artists like Picasso and Miró. Born in Madrid in 1937, he was educated in the Spanish capital during the postwar period and lived in exile in France during the Franco dictatorship until he decided to return to Spain in 1976, with the advent of democracy, which meant that his work could only be seen with normality in Spain from 1980. It has received a good number of distinctions, among which one can highlight the National Prize of Plastic Arts of the Ministry of Culture, in 1982, or the Gold Medal of Merit in the fine arts, in 2000. He was also appointed in 1983 ;Knight of the Arts and letters by the Government of France. More on him hereBiography and works of Eduardo Arroyo

One of the great one opera classical singers of all time. Montserrat Caballé, with its full name María de Montserrat Viviana Concepción Caballé i Folch, is a Spanish soprano born on 12 April 1933 in Barcelona and died on 6 October 2018 in the same city. Dubbed La Superba (the superb) because of her technique, her length of breath, the amplitude and nuances of her voice (especially her pianissimi), she is famous for her interpretations of the bel canto repertoire, including the roles of Rossini, Bellini and Donizetti. Montserrat Caballé, claimed increasingly excited his cosmopolitanism and loaded hard against the Catalan independence:  “I need to say this, I am from the United Nations since 1988 and we have been taught the coexistence. The peoples of the world have to be united. We can’t make chains, chains are for slavery. Human chains are for separating. Chains can be iron, gold, silver, but they have to be good chains. They don’t have to be chains that separate and humiliate. It has been said that there have been a million and a half people in the streets, where were the 7 million remaining?. When you are lucky enough to travel around the world, as it has happened to me, and you know so many people and so many different peoples you realize that hostilities do not work. I have been an ambassador of Spain as all singers. And as I was taught in the United Nations, by the Union of people and Peoples. Whoever puts chains hurts me, removes all the rest, sends them out. I am very happy to be born in Barcelona, to have married a Aragonese, that my mother was from Valencia and that my children have studied in Spain. ” Amen RIP Grande de Espana!!! A bit more on Caballé: Billboard magazine on Caballé

The farewell of torero Juan José Padilla Bernal contained a barbaric emotion. He was born at Jerez de la Frontera (Cádiz) May 23 1973. The farewell in the ring where he lost his eye and was born again, where the legend was hatched, had become an event. The popular hero of the Buccaneer flags, the bullfighter of the seven lives and forty of them, the man of steel reconstructed with titanium replacements, put the end to 25 years of wars with blood and fire. The storm unleashed on the Plaza de la Misericordia (square of mercy) at the time of the bullfight was added to the climate of overflowing expectation. The thunderous storm seemed to be muted before the deafening ovation that caused its appearance. The closed deck amplified the rumble. Unbraided the Paseíllo, the cyclone ascended as an exhalation to the box  his fans to give them a cloak of stroll. Thank you, thank you, and a thousand times. God then wanted to reward Juan José Padilla with a bull for eternity. Tortolito was called the Cuvillo of farewell. The joy, the fixity, the son, the rhythm, the category and the quality of the supreme bravery. What a way to ram. Padilla flag pole rushing his faculties to the train that was coming to him. Excitement above the marksmanship. And he gave his children, his wife, his family, the beam and the engine of the resurrection. Tortolito responded to all the proposals. The ecstasies seized the tenders. Waving the flags of the skull and the tibias; The pirate passed his badge savoring the moment. And he kissed kneeling the sand that saw him die and resurface.It was his farewell,  Sunday, October 14, 2018 at the Plaza de la Misericordia during the Virgin of Pilar Fair in  Zaragoza. Farewell warrior! More in Spanish here: ABC newspaper on Padilla

A new show specially designed for the Florida Retiro , in which actor and comedian Alex O’Dogherty will be the master of ceremonies. In Dinner Show format, other artists will succeed the main star during the following months so that the evening in which one day was the most popular party room in Madrid do not stop surprising. Beyond the stage, the gastronomic proposal created by Michelin star chef Iván Sardinia will consist of this new stage in a composition of dishes full of souvenirs and nuances with the dessert , and the show The earring lost by Lola Flores”  as a golden touch. Located inside Retiro park at calle Republic of Panama S/N. Timetables: from 20h30 to 0h2. Pandora Party on Thursday from 01h30 to 06h . Prices: Dinner and Show: 85€.My old stumping ground in another era came here for youthful dances lol!!!More info here: Florida Retiro

And now let me give you some insight into the Madrid I love and some off the beaten path ideas. Remember I used to lived in the city and visit every year for upteens times. From Madrid to heaven in a hole in the sky to look down on it every day!

With the calle Rompelanzas, this one is one of the shortest street  in the historic quarter. It is, rather, of a passage, which Roman innkeeper described as a “petty alley “ that with the pompous name of Calle de Madrid runs behind the backs of the city hall house. Now we see it much more picturesque, by the renovations of the area and the elevated passageway with which connected the houses of Cisneros and the Villa by the Plaza de la Villa. Once here, do not miss the opportunity to walk the quiet alleys, squares and gardens hidden around. From the square the street comes out , plaza de la Villa: Tourist office of Madrid on Plaza de la Villa

Calle de la Escalerilla de Piedra (Street of the stone ladder). You can see in the Plaza Mayor, in the upper part of the stairs of the Arco de Cuchilleros, has been protagonist of stories, legends and novels. Here the pulpit came to the tavern, where bandits and conspirators were allegedly gathering. By this place began one of the great fires of the square in August of 1790. The stories said that from this outgoing Friar Antonio, from the Convent of San Gil, encouraged the locals to the uprising in May 1808, against the French invading forces, originating the war of independence. And, in case all this was not enough, around here you enter the house where Benito Pérez Galdós located the home of Fortunata! The square from where it comes from Plaza Mayor: Tourist office of Madrid on Plaza Mayor

As a curiosity, you can go to see the famous ahuehuete tree of the Parterre (Taxodium mucronatum), protected as a singular tree and considered the longest in the city, with an approximate age of more than 360 years.  Located in a French-style garden in the western part of Retiro Park, very close to the Puerta of Felipe IV that leads to Calle Alfonso XII, this specimen-25 meters high and 5.50 meters of perimeter in its trunk-may have been the first to be planted when built the palace of Buen Retiro (that gave the name to the park/gardens), although some say it was later. A description of Retiro Park: Tourist office of Madrid on Retiro park

The various shields (escudos) that Madrid has had over the course of different eras can be seen by numerous buildings, streets or fountains of the city. The oldest that is preserved in stone is the one that is at the height of the number 21 of the Calle Segovia. It is a reconstruction of one of the 16C made in the 17C. The bear perhaps, the tree-which some say is not a strawberry, and the Royal Crown appear here in a part of the façade that was preserved from the old house of the Pastor demolished in 1988, which became the headquarters of the Transhumane Council of Madrid and Toledo , and that today is integrated into the side of a modern building. As an anecdote, you may recognize the place in the scenes of some films, such as “Los Amantes Pasajeros “(Lovers Passengers) 2012, by Pedro Almodóvar. Once here, go up the stairs and reach the Castiza statue of the Violet, in the gardens of Las Vistillas, a pleasant place to contemplate, as its name suggests, the excellent views towards the Manzanares River, the country house and the Cathedral. Now, see when you go, because its usual tranquility gives way to multitudinous concerts and dances during the Fiestas de La Paloma, in August, or San Isidro, May 15..My favorite Verbena of Madrid , Fiestas de La Paloma virgin. More on the fairs here: Fairs verbenas zarzuelas of August in Madrid

Madrid is one of the few cities in the world that has two twin monuments. To see them you have to go to the district of Moncloa-Aravaca, at the height of the Puente de la Reina (Queen’s bridge). The hermitage of San Antonio de la Florida was built between 1792 and 1798 following the order of king Carlos V. The temple, one of those dedicated to San Antonio de Padua, is very simple, neoclassical, with a Greek cross plant and a dome with lanterns. Inside, surprise the frescoes painted by Francisco de Goya, where characters are dressed as Majos (nice looking boys) and Chisperos (low class boys). To preserve the paintings, between 1925 and 1928 rose an identical Church next to serve for the cult, leaving the first as a memorial museum and Pantheon, because there rest the remains of the Aragonese painter since its transfered in 1919. A tradition: In its surroundings, by La Bombilla, it is celebrated, every 13th of June, the verbena of San Antonio, with the collection of muffins of the saint so that ‘ do not miss bread during the year ‘ and the ritual of the pins with which the  potentially marriage age girls  continue the custom of the Modistillas (dressmaker) of the 19C. More on the hermitage here: Tourist office of Madrid on San Antonio de la Florida

At present, the water of Madrid is the responsibility of the Canal of Isabel II, but years ago, this was facilitated through public sources, like that of Fuente del Berro although it belonged to the Crown-, born with the Vera of the Abroñigal Brook. Protagonist of Zarzuelas, this pipe is one of the aquifers with greater tradition and fame in the city. If you come to the district of Salamanca, go through the historic garden of the Quinta de la Fuente del Berro and, among great specimens of trees, you can still find a sewer cover that leads to the galleries of your watersource, closed in 1977. Head to the Park and you will see the source of the Fuente del Berro outside, next to one of the entrances, on Calle Peñascales , an old mansion, a Becquer’s monument, a statue of Pushkin, a couple of small ponds and a waterfall.! More on the Berro fountain here: Tourist office of Madrid on Fuente del Berro

Traditionally it is considered ‘ patron of the people of Madrid ‘ (and the firefighters) to the Virgen de la Paloma. Its festivities, around August 15th, are the most traditional and were reflected in the zarzuela la verbena de la Paloma. (Again see above my favorite of all times) .Its parish, with a curious baptismal font of immersion, is of mudejar style with Gothic elements, and is located in the small and collected square of the same name, next to the Puerta de Toledo, in the district of La Latina. Very close, by Calle Toledo , we arrived at the Collegiate Church of San  Isidro, in number 37, a temple representative of the religious architecture of the 17C in Madrid built according to the design of the architect Pedro Sánchez. In which it was a provisional Cathedral, from 1885 to 1993(when Almudena was completed), the mortal remains of the patron Saint of Madrid, San Isidro, and his wife, Santa Maria de la Cabeza, are guarded. From there, you can also explore the squares and gardens of the center and visit some of the city’s oldest churches: St. Nicholas with a 12C Mudejar tower, San Pedro el Viejo and San Andrés. As more in the fiestas of August link above you find here on the Collegiate Church of San Isidro: Tourist office of Madrid on the Collegiate Church of San Isidro

And to finish the tour, with an ecological gem. A place outside the walls that opened its doors to the public in November 2016. The chosen point is the Holm oak with more than 300 years in the Quinta de Torres Arias,(an old farm of aride towers) where it is possible to forget the world under the huge shade of its great cup. With access from Calle Alcalá, no. 551, almost next to the impressive Quinta de los Molinos and relatively close to Capricho Park, this 17 hectare estate belonged to the Madrid aristocracy since 1600. Inside, you can find numerous and exceptional species of trees, a palace for now, not visitable, accompanied by blocks, a cow ranch and a slaughterhouse, as well as two greenhouses that stand out for its antiquity and a small orchard. All this constitutes an excellent centennial wall agricultural area of extraordinary ecological richness. More on Torres Arias: Tourist office of Madrid on Quinta Torres Arias

See  also , los Molinos here: Tourist office of Madrid on Quinta de los Molilnos

And Capricho park:  Tourist office of Madrid on Capricho park

Hope you enjoy the post as much as I did in my beloved Madrid. Always Madrid, and now fondly memories of my mother and I there, and lucky to be able to come back often and walk all theses spots of yesterday , today, and tomorrow.

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


Tags: , ,
September 20, 2018

Teatro Real or Royal Theater of Madrid!

I am finishing up the week ,and why not give you a jewel of my Madrid. This is a must to visit and yet many sidestepped it because of the other buildings nearby of perhaps more notoriaty or press. However, you should come to the Teatro Real or Royal Theater of Madrid if only to see it.

I admit unless with good company I find it hard to visit the theaters but do delve into them once in a while and this one is a souvenir of younger curious days that glad has been maintained finally in good shape. Let me give some ramblings on it, sorry for the monotomy.

The Teatro Real is the Teatro de la Opera in Madrid. It is located in the Plaza de Oriente, opposite the Royal Palace. Its construction began in 1818, and was inaugurated in 1850. It remained uninterrupted as an opera house until 1925, when it had to close because of structural problems in the building. It did not open its doors again until 1966, as symphonic concert hall. Between 1988 and 1997, it underwent a major remodeling that turned it into an operatic coliseum again.


A bit of history I like

King Fernando VII promoted the construction in Madrid of an opera house included in the project of remodeling of the Plaza of Oriente, for this he ordered the demolition of the old theater of the Caños del Peral. With irregular hexagonal shape, whose main façade would look to the Plaza de Oriente and the other, of smaller packaging, would fall on the current Plaza of Isabel II the construction of the new Teatro de Oriente began in April 1818, but the scarcity of funds of the royal house stop the work until 1830.

After the ascent to the throne of Queen Isabel II, numerous political and bureaucratic events paralyzed the execution of the project, until on May 7, 1850, by means of a royal order, the works of the theater were promoted, demanding its completion in a period of six months, as it was done. The theater was inaugurated on November 19, 1850, coinciding with the onomastics of the sovereign. The work chosen for the premiere was the opera La Favorita by Gaetano Donizetti and performed by renowned artists. In these first seasons, the operas of Donizetti and Bellini dominated, with the presence of Rossini and Verdi, who soon became the favourite composer of the Madrid public. In the early years attended the theater some of the greatest lyrical figures of the moment.

In the years of splendor of the Teatro Real were started in the last quarter of the 19C. The most prestigious voices of the European panorama were presented in the theatre. In 1876 it was represented for the first time in the Teatro Real one opera of Wagner, Rienzi, still far from the great success that their compositions would have in this theater fifteen years later. At this stage, great Spanish composers were able to see their works shown here.


In the first quarter of the 20C highlighted the presence in the Teatro Real of great Spanish singers. The international prestige of the theatre took off. The repertoire was dominated by Puccini’s operas (Tosca, La Bohème) and Wagner (Lohengrin or the Valkyrie). The Berlin Philharmonic gave concerts at the theater, directed by Arthur Nikisch, in 1901 and Richard Strauss, in 1908. Thereafter, the theater suffered little by little a huge decline, because despite the representation of great operas and the direction of skillful directors, the economic-political crises and various factors (fire of the theater in 1867) caused its ruined.

Despite the closing of the theater in 1925, the government always floated the possibility of remodeling and reopening, creating numerous projects. An ambitious project of remodeling and modernization that included the increase in height and depth of the scenic box and the rebuilding of its entire structure, using reinforced concrete. In addition, it was decided to lift one more floor around the entire perimeter of the building, which gave the theater its present-day solid-block appearance. However, economic and planning difficulties were delaying the completion of the project. The consolidation and reconstruction part was implemented, but the interior remodeling was not started. The works were stopped in 1936, with the beginning of the Spanish Civil War, during which the building was damaged, mainly after the explosion of a magazine that had been installed inside. In 1940, they try to finish the project, which fails to advance significantly, before, at the end of the 1950’s, the works were definitively stopped.


At the beginning of the 1960’s a project finally ended as a great concert hall, to serve as headquarters to the National Orchestra, and of lodging to all the symphonic activity of the capital the reopening occurred in 1966. From that date until 1988 (with the opening of the National Auditorium) was the only concert hall in Madrid, where they developed their seasons both the National Orchestra and the newly created RTVE Symphony Orchestra. In addition, during this period, the main symphonic orchestras of the world performed on their stage. In 1969 it hosted the 14th Eurovision Festival, the only time this event was held in Spain. After ceasing its symphonic activity in the summer of 1988, in January of 1991 began the works of remodeling for the conversion of the theater in an opera house; the building was finished at the end of the year 1995;   then began the process of technical organization , administrative, artistic and functional, which resulted in the inauguration in 1997 with a theateer at full capacity. The Teatro Real or Royal Theater was back.


Design and architecture now

The Royal Theater or Teatro Real maintained the original, Italian-style structure, and regained original décor from the time of the 1880’s . Despite the small size of the patio of seats, the total capacity reaches the 1746 seats maximum, thanks to the 15 rows that houses the area called Paradise. Above the fourth floor, which takes advantage of the increase in the height of the roof achieved in the works of the 1920’s, outside the room, the foyer of entry was decorated with an elliptical colonnade lined with tropical wood. The second floor, accessible to all the audience, allows to circulate around the perimeter of the building, communicating the lobby with the restaurant, located in the Old Royal Ballroom, on the back facade. A superior lobby, which opens with large windows to the top of the facade above the Plaza de Oriente, completes the public areas of the theater.

In 2007, the Sala Gayarre was inaugurated, with 190 seats, which is used for various complementary activities, such as concerts and chamber opera representations, recitals, pedagogical activities, conferences, colloquiums, courses and projections.   The scenic space available for the scenery exceeds 600 square meters at zero level, and reaches 1,430 if you add the mounting areas to 16 meters below the stage and the patio seats. The floor of the stage is composed of 9 platforms that allow to move the scenery between both levels. The wide scenic mouth has 18 meters wide and 14 high, and the scenic Tower places the grill that hangs all the platform (motorized, and electronically controlled) to 37 meters high on the floor of the stage. The entrance of material located in the hallway of the Plaza de Isabel II communicates directly with the stage box and allows to deposit the load directly from the trailers of the trucks on the same floor of the stage. Practically all the spaces involved in the work of making an operatic spectacle are housed in the theater’s own building, from the administrative offices to the material warehouses or the machinery workshops.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here and a trip you should are

Official Teatro Real webpage

tourist office of Madrid on the Teatro Real

And a wonderful page in 360° that you need to just click on “saltar” or skip and then “entrar” or enter to see the magic of the theater before you!  From RTVE or Radio ,Television of Spain. RTVE on the Teatro Real

Hope you enjoyed the post on the artsy part of Madrid. And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!


Tags: , ,
September 19, 2018

The CBA, Neptuno, and Recoletos of my Madrid!

So this is the arrival of Fall or what cooler weather approaching , I started this post at 7C and finished it at 19C lol! oh well it goes saying in my Morbihan ok. I like to continue the saga of my MADRID! It is said, that once biten by its virus you never want to leave, well i did but always come back to it. Madrid has a lot to offer and often overlooked! I like to change you a bit ….

Today, I will talk about three simple places that will make you fall in love with Madrid. These are the Paseo de Recoletos street, the Fuente de Neptune (fountain), and the Circulo de Bellas Artes (circle of fine arts) of Madrid.

Where can I start, you will notice , I am not a writer or poet or even into long verses for most of my posts even if sometimes an exception is made. I try to be short and to the point, these are all places that I have enjoyed since youthful days of early teen years and really find it hard to describe all my love for them. But , lets start shall we…

The Paseo de Recoletos is an avenue of 700 meters rising very slightly, from south to north, and from Plaza de Cibeles to Plaza de Colón. It is part of the boulevards of the central axis of the city, which extends north as Paseo de la Castellana , and south as a Paseo del Prado. its the place where the National Library  of Spain and the Archaeological museum of Spain were built ,and currently there.


It had its origin in the ravine formed by the Arroyo de la Fuente Castellana, which furrowed it, and as a continuation of the primitive walk of the old Prado of San Jerónimo and its extension to the Puerta de Atocha (what is now the Paseo del Prado). The Paseo de Recoletos took its name from the convent of the Order of the Augustinian Recollects, whose ensemble was built in the area between 1592 and 1595, and in what was formerly the town of Valnegral, in lands of Eufrasia de Guzmán , Princess of Ascoli. The Alameda ended at the Puerta de Recoletos, a Baroque-style door built under the reign of king Fernando VI in 1756 and dismantled in 1863. It was alternately known as El Prado Nuevo and Recoletos or Prado de Recoletos.

Aristocrats who had a house in this promenade(Paseo), among them them the Duchy of Sesto; some neighbors who were born, lived or died in Recoletos, were the painter José Villegas Cordero, Ramón del Valle Inclán, Juan Valera or the Andromaca that José Vilches sculpted in 1853,in Rome, and previously held at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Madrid. The gatherings of the café Teide, the literary home of César González Ruano and the Café Gijón, still open( and very nice place to chat) at the beginning of the 21C, remain in memory.  It should also be remembered the presence in the second half of the 21C of the Libreria-Galeria Buchholz , cradle of the almost fictitious school of Madrid, or of installations like the Museum of Wax of Madrid, inaugurated in 1972 at the No 41.(see post on it ).


Some of the best known buildings here to marvel at their architecture and chic styles are:

Palace of Linares or Palace of the Marquis of Linares, next to Cibeles, built in 1873 today the headquarters of the Casa de America.   The Palace of Library and National Museums, finished in 1892, in which they are, in the facade that gives to Paseo de Recoletos, the National Library of Spain. In the opposite façade, in Calle Serrano, is the National Archaeological Museum of Spain. The Palace of the Marquis of Salamanca, built between 1846 and 1855 ; the Convent of San Pascual , originally from the 17C, but demolished and rebuilt in the 19C. The Palace of the Duke of Elduayen, built between 1890 and 1895. The Palace of the Duchess of Medina de las Torres, between 1881 and 1884. The Palacio de López Dóriga and Salaverria, built towards 1872. The Palace of the Marquis of Alcañices, also known as of the Duke of Sesto, of 1862 . the building Restaura , formerly of the Insurance L’Union, in the numbers 18-20. And the building of the insurance company La Aurora, at number 4.


More here from the Madrid tourist office: Tourist office of Madrid on Paseo de Recoletos

The Fountain of Neptune is a neoclassical fountain that occupies the center of the roundabout to which it is popularly named, within the Plaza de Cánovas del Castillo. This monumental fountain was proposed in 1777 and its construction, started in 1782, ending in 1786. In its origin, it was located in the descent of the Carrera de San Jerónimo, looking at the Fuente de Cibeles(fountain), but was moved to the center of the before mentioned square in 1898. It is the usual place of our arch rivals Atlético de Madrid football/soccer team celebrations when they win something which is not often ::)



In the second half of the 18C king Carlos III undertook a series of reforms, among which was the modernization of the capital to bring it to the height of the famous big cities of the time such as Paris. In this modernization plan; the Neptune Fountain was included. It was made with white marble from Montesclaros (Toledo).

The fountain stands on a large circular pylon in whose center is the figure of Neptune, God of the sea, one of the twelve divinities of Olympus, is the son of Saturn and Rea, and brother of Jupiter. It is presented with a snake curled in the right hand and the trident in the left, erect on a cart formed by a shell pulled by two sea horses with fish tail. Around the car swim seals and dolphins that throw jets of water at a high altitude. The god of the waters could be a symbol of the Navy that king Carlos III reformed to make it more competitive and strengthen the nexus with the colonies.

Madrid tourist office on the Fountain of Neptuno: Tourist office of Madrid on the Fuente de Neptuno

The Círculo de Bellas Artes is located at the Calle de Alcalà 42 , at the corner with Calle del Marques de Casa Riera, in an Art deco building completed in 1926.  The CBA (circulo de bellas artes)   was founded in April 1880 by some artists who originally wanted to create a club where they could exhibit and sell their works. At that time, young students who would become important artists went there, like Pablo Picasso, while others, such as Ramón María del Valle-Inclán, attended its salons. In 1921,the CBA becomes a center for the protection of fine arts and public utility. The main social seat was finally installed here in 1926 in a building inaugurated by King Alfonso XIII.


roofstop of CBA goddes Minerva credit CBA

The Spanish civil war led to the suspension of its activities, and the CBA became a place of detention of the CPIP (Provincial Public Investigation committee) what was called a checa after the conflict, it was also there that for a time the seat of the Service of the falange (Franco’s party). It was only in 1983, that CBA was refounded thanks to the Association of Plastic Artists. Since then, it has been open to the general public and with and follows international cultural trends.

The building, is located at the intersection of   Calle de Alcalá and Gran Vía, the rooftop terrace is open to the public, offering a panoramic view of Madrid. It is overlooked by the statue of Minerva, the Roman goddess of wisdom and art, the symbol of the institution.. Moreover, the CBA retains a considerable artistic heritage with more than 1 200 paintings, sculptures, engravings, drawings and ceramics, as well as furniture. The bibliographic and documentary funds, including the bequest of the gallerist Juana Mordó’, with more than 3 000 books and a collection of 150 autograph books. Finally, the institution retains a large fund of thematic art journals and historical documents.


roofstop of CBA towards Gran Via credit CBA

Some webpages to help you enjoy a visit to the CBA Circulo de Bellas Artes or fine arts circle are

Official Circulo de Bellas Artes site

Tourist office of Madrid on the CBA

Minerva magazine of the Circulo de Bellas Artes

There you go a nice trip up and down one of the best arteries of my beloved Madrid. Hope you enjoy the walk.

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


Tags: , ,
September 19, 2018

Salamanca, the district of Madrid!

So let’s get geographical shall we? Well , is rare that I write about a district or neighborhoods , but I do sometimes if I think they represent the feeling of a city/town. The district of Salamanca in Madrid is one of them, sublime. The good of it is that it is still going strong after so many years.

You get all the feeling of it when you know that the Retiro park faces it and it goes all along the grand promenade of Paseo de la Castellana; chic modern , architecturally stunning Madrid. I like to talk a bit about it here; it could be another off the beaten path trips for many.

Let me give you some random information in brief and on many subjects.  The district of Salamanca, owes its name to its builder, the Malaga born José de Salamanca y Mayol, Marquis of Salamanca, who promoted and erected it in part in the 19C. It has become one of the most important shopping areas in the city and one of the highest living quarters in Europe with the largest shopping area in Madrid, around the streets of Serrano, Claudio Coello and Ortega y Gasset.

 Salamanca is one of the 21 districts of the city of Madrid. It is administratively divided into several neighborhoods or Barrios, these are:

Recoletos , located between the streets of Menéndez Pelayo, Príncipe de Vergara, Ramón de la Cruz, Paseo de la Castellana, Paseo de Recoletos, Alcalá and O’Donnell . Goya  , located between the streets of  O’Donnell, Doctor Esquerdo, Ramón de la Cruz, Príncipe de Vergara and Menéndez Pelayo. Fuente del Berro (Watercress), located between the streets of Doctor Esquerdo, O’Donnell, Avda de la Paz and Alcalá. La Guindalera  located between the streets of Francisco Silvela, Alcalá, Avda de la Paz and Avda. de América. In the Guindalera is included the sub-district popularly known as Parque de las Avenidas , which constitutes the last enlargement of the Guindalera. Lista  located between the streets of Maria de Molina, Francisco Silvela, Ramón de la Cruz and Príncipe de Vergara. Castellana  located between the streets of Paseo de la Castellana, Ramón de la Cruz, Príncipe de Vergara and María de Molina. More here from the city of Madrid on Salamanca:   City of Madrid on Salamanca district



Salamanca district from the tourist office of Madrid in English: Tourist office of Madrid on Salamanca

Within Madrid, its geographical location is defined by the neighboring streets such as from the West, Paseo de la Castellana and Paseo de Recoletos. By the south, Calle de Alcalá, and Calle de O’Donnell.  By the east, Beltway road M-30.  By the north, Calle María de Molina and Avenida de América. The main avenues that structure the district are from west to east: Serrano, Velázquez, Principe de Vergara, Conde de Peñalver and Francisco Silvela. From north to South: María de Molina, Diego de León, Ortega y Gasset , Goya, and O’Donnell. The Plaza del Marqués de Salamanca is a backbone element of the district map and  Calle de Alcalá also represents the ensemble (my old domicile street in Madrid! ).



Some noted sites in the area are the Retiro park(Parque del Buen Retiro) borders the area. There is also the National Archaeological Museum of Madrid, the National Library of Spain, several churches ,and the minaret of the Casa Árabe in Madrid, of neo-Mudejar architecture, brings a touch of exoticism.




A bit of history I like on Salamanca district.

In the Plaza de la Independencia, (independence square or Puerta de Alcala) in front of the Retiro was the bullring of Madrid for 125 years, between 1749 and 1874, year when it was demolished, giving the alternative of bullfighting Madrid to the new bullring of the Fuente del Berro, on the road to Aragon , which in turn was demolished in 1934, and in whose lot rose the primitive sports palace(Palacio de Deportes) building that in 2001 was destroyed by a fire and then rebuilt. The last bullring, the current  Ventas, was also built in this district, next to the Puente de Ventas (bridge). In the South zone of the district of Salamanca there was a railway station Nino Jesus (baby Jesus) where it had its terminus the line of the old railway of Arganda, part of whose plot has been used for the extension of the line 9 of the Metro of Madrid.



Some information on the various public transports around and plenty are

Well, of course, I parked by here now when visiting Madrid at parking Recoletos at Paseo de Recoletos, just off the Cibeles fountain Plaza de Cibeles and straight up is Paseo del Prado. If you want to know more, here is the parking very good:Parking Recoletos

Recoletos Station, located under Paseo de Recoletos, on the western boundary of the district. It is possible to take trains from the Cercanias (suburban) lines C-1, C-2, C-7, C-8 and C-10. The district has the following Metro services: line 2 The stations that provide service are Retiro, Principe de Vergara, Goya, Manuel Becerra and sales.  Line 4 stops at Colón, Serrano, Velázquez, Goya, Lista, Diego de León and Avenida de América.  Line 5 with the stations of Rubén Darío, Núñez de Balboa, Diego de León and Ventas. My line when I lived in Madrid.  Line 6 with the stations Avenida de América, Diego de León, Manuel Becerra and O’Donnell.  Line 7 providing service to Avenida de América and Gregorio Marañón stations. It also provides service to the district of La Guindalera with the Cartagena and Parque de las Avenidas stations.  Line 9 stopping at Avenida de América, Núñez de Balboa and Príncipe de Vergara.  Line 10 does not circulate properly in the district, but it stops at the Gregorio Marañón station, in the northwest corner of it.  The EMT bus network of Madrid, has a total of 64 bus Lines. From a tourist point of view the best are lines 5 15, 20, 27, 28, 52, 61, 115 ,200, N27 night line to Airport and Express airport line 203 from Airport to Atocha passing by Cibeles.

If press, the tourist bus is an alternative and madrid City Tour has a good ride in the Salamanca district, more here: Madrid City bus Tour on Salamanca

The best here is the shopping or the window shopping lol! Nahh we buy in the shopping center on sales days ,good deals. The Milla de Oro (Golden Mile) is located at the intersection of Serrano and Ortega y Gasset streets, owes its nickname to the fact that it brings together on a square mile or km…, the shops of the biggest names of fashion and jeweler, such as Carrera y Carrera , Wempe, Suárez, Brooking, Cartier or the exclusive Bvlgari. More on the shopping from the tourist office of Madrid here: Tourist office of Madrid on shopping in Salamanca

Some nice shopping centers we have enjoyed over the years and they are still there! El Jardin de Serrano (garden of Serrano); more here: El Jardin de Serrano

Another one has been the ABC of Serrano, more here: ABC de Serrano shopping in Salamanca

And my favorite department store, two locations; El Corte Inglés dept store on Goya Street: El Corte Inglés at Goya street

El Corte Inglés at Serrano street

And a surprise nice covered market in chic Salamanca is the Mercado de la Paz at  Calle de Ayala, 28, closest metro Serrano. Very nice indeed in Spanish of course but under puestos por actividad or stands per activity you see all the merchants categories.  More here: Mercado de la Paz

The tourist office of Madrid on Mercado de la Paz here: Tourist office of Madrid on Mercado de la Paz

There you have it a wonderful district area of modern chic Madrid away from the main tourist lines and indeed an off the beaten path area to explore. Hope you enjoy it as we do.

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



Tags: , ,
September 18, 2018

A train station, Atocha of Madrid!

I go to Madrid a lot, and lived there ,but public transport is not my forte. I rather take my car and then walk, last resort take the bus. Metro/subway is last before trains of course unless business trips required it. Me personally is not into train stations; yet for one reason or another over the years  I have tried my share.

However, Atocha in Madrid the idea behind this post ,never taken trains there, just visited even eaten inside by the garden but not taken trains; go figure it. I like to tell you a bit more about Atocha station in Madrid.

Atocha train station is one of the two terminus stations of the RENFE network in Madrid and the largest railway station in Spain. It is situated in the Atocha-Mediodía district, in the district of Arganzuela. It is at the same time a railway station of main lines ensuring the service of the south and west (Andalucia and Extremadura), East (Levant) and northeast (Aragon and Catalonia), especially the cities of Algeciras, Sevilla, Cordoba, Malaga, Zaragoza, Lleida, Barcelona and Valencia. It also serves as an international station (towards France), and as a suburban railway station (Cercanías trains), making the service of the southeast of the metropolitan area of Madrid.


The building of the Atocha train station, built for the MZA Railway Company (Madrid – Zaragoza and Alicante), was inaugurated in 1851 under the name of Estacion del Mediodia (afternoon station). It was the first station in Madrid. A fire destroyed in large part of the structure, which was rebuilt in iron from 1888 to 1892. It is considered a masterpiece of 19C railway architecture. In 1992, it was added with a garden of 4 000 m² with 7 000 trees and plants, including large palm trees, in the old train hall. The station’s metal and glass structure covering the platforms made its easy to use it as a greenhouse with ponds. And the trees are about 260 different species from America, Asia, and Australia.




It is connected to the station of Chamartin by the tunnel of the Risa (laugh) which was recently doubled by a new tunnel of the Risa II to ungorge the first which arrived at saturation. It crosses the center of Madrid and it is gap for the circulation of the commuter train of the capital. At Atocha is the arrival point of the high-speed trains (AVE) coming from Sevilla-Santa Justa, Malaga, Lleida, Barcelona ,Valencia and Alicante as well as from Toledo. The railway services are operated by the National company, RENFE but the management of the station as the   ticket sales is ensured by ADIF.


The Renfe (national rail company of Spain) site in English is here: RENFE trains of Spain

The regulating authority of ADIF is here in English on Atocha: ADIF on Atocha Madrid

There are at the Puerta de Atocha platforms 1 to 15, numbered from left to right as you look towards the trains.Immediately on the east side of the 15 high-speed terminus platforms which constitute Puerta de Atocha, there are 10 through platforms one level below ground referred to as Atocha-Cercanías. Atocha-Cercanías platforms are numbered 1 to 10 from left to right as you look south. If you arrive in the Puerta de Atocha terminus platforms as all AVE trains ( high speed trains) and most other mainline trains do, you need to go up the escalators onto the arrivals footbridge then through the long arrivals passageway to the arrivals exit.There are luggage lockers (Consigna) in the northeast corner of the old trains , past the Burger king restaurant. Thedags are X-rayed just inside the entrance before being deposited. The main Sala Club at Madrid Atocha is open 05h15-21h30; Mondays-Saturdays, 06h-21h30 Saturdays & Sundays, with complimentary tea, coffee, snacks & beer as well as free WiFi. It is located inside the main high-speed train departures area on the first floor.Trains to and from Lisbon and northern Spain usually use Madrid Chamartin station in the north of the city.  The trains south to Sevilla, Granada, Malaga leave from Madrid Atocha station.  Metro line 1 links Atocha to Chamartin stations, but it’s easier and faster to transfer between stations by frequent suburban(Cercanias) train as this is just a handful of stops, just look for the orange and white ‘C’ logo.


The station is serve by metro line 8 as well as buses 351,352, and 353, taxis available in bunches outside the station . The airport bus 200 as well as the Express airport bus 203 stops here.



Facing the main entrance of the station, a memorial commemorates the terrorist attacks of 11 March 2004. In a cylindrical and translucent form, it includes the names of the victims and the reproductions of texts deposited on the spot by passersby.

The tourist office of Madrid has more in English on Atocha station here: Tourist office of Madrid on Atocha

Hope you visited it, its unique in Madrid. And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!


Tags: , ,
September 18, 2018

Off the beaten paths of Madrid, AZCA!

And back at you with Madrid, well this is September , my birthday month and I am feeling nostalgic ::) The weather helps as sunny warm humid , and leaves fallen off the trees with shades of colors , Autumn is coming up.

I like to tell you about a place very known to me ,but seldom visit because it is off the Centro tourist center of Madrid; but a great place to get to know the other Madrid in off the beaten path zone. Let me tell you a bit about AZCA!

In my later life I came here many times because it is where the 1) hotel closest to Santiago Bernabeu stadium I stayed, 2) a huge dept store El Corte Inglés is near, 3) The Santiago Bernabeu Stadium of Real Madrid, my team ok, 4) the nearest point from Nuevo Ministerios metro stop coming for a long or quick stop from the airport, and 5) because it is home of MODA shopping center.

Now a bit about AZCA.

AZCA ,Mixed Association of compensation of the zone A of the commercial zone of the Avenue of the Generalissimo (current Paseo de la Castellana), or in Spanish Asociación Mixta de Compensación de la Manzana A de la Zona Comercial de la Avenida del Generalísimo is a financial and business district of Madrid . It is a rectangular superblock of 19 hectares of area composed of office buildings between the streets of Raimundo Fernandez Villaverde, Orense, General Perón and Paseo de la Castellana. Also, within the scope are the squares of Pablo Ruiz Picasso, Carlos Trías Beltrán and Manuel Gómez Moreno.  It has several tall buildings or towers such as Torre Picasso, Building of BBVA ,and the Torre Europa.  In it, there is a huge department store of the chain El Corte Inglés (see my post on them).

Its original conception ,and its name was approved in 1946; was finally won by architects in 1954 that were inspired by the Rockefeller Center New York. Their total and final approval did not occur until 1964. At the end of 1968 the urbanization of the area began, as well as the beginning of the construction of the first building on land belonging to the El Corte Inglés dept store. The last plot of land to be built was also of the El Corte Inglés in 2000.

The shape square or manzana like apple in Spanish of AZCA has a practically rectangular shape, with dimensions of approximately 618 x 305 meters and an area of almost 19 hectares; inside this area under the ground is a ring of circulation that communicates and facilitates the traffic of the streets around it.

Some of the buildings of note are;

Torre Picasso, 5th highest building in Madrid and 10th highest building in Spain. Torre Europa is the 7th tallest building in Madrid and houses offices of different companies.  The Castellana 81, under the building runs the tunnel of the railway, therefore, the entire structure supports two large pilasters of concrete on horseback on both sides. Torre Titania , the first six plants house the El Corte Inglés dept store and the rest is the headquarters of Ernst & Young Spain. It occupies the site of the Windsor building, destroyed after a fire in 2005.  The Mahou Tower, 17th highest in Madrid is the headquarters of Mutua Madrileña insurance company.


In the early 2010-16 there were some concerned about security here especially at night but lately security has been reinforce and new renovations of buildings have taken place.  The issue of insecurity, during the first quarter of 2016, 55 security cameras managed by the Municipal police were installed. The store Zara opened in April 2017 its largest store in Spain occupying 5000 m² in Castellana 79. Since  October 2014 has been celebrating a street food festival, Madreat, in the gardens of AZCA until 2016;now looking to see how the trucks can come here after the renovations, but nice to know about Food Trucks in Madrid here:

Parking Hotel Holiday InnBernabéu  at 5 minutes on foot from the Stadium Santiago Bernabéu (Real Madrid) and  7 minutes on foot from  AZCA . It has direct access to the hotel (my usual hotel for games when not staying with family) access pedestrian and vehicule by  Avenida del General Perón, 34. The hotel webpage:


The nearest metro station is Nuevos Ministerios line 8 that also connects to the airport, and Santiago Bernabéu  Line 10 (by the stadium of Real Madrid), and bus numbers 14, 27, 40, 43, 120, 147 and 150 will also take you here too.


Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are

AZCA association for the enhancement of the place in Spanish

Tourist office of Madrid on AZCA complex

As it goes for shopping ,and we love it. We have come here ever since it was open in 1988.  The shopping mall Moda (en. fashion) is located in the area of modern Madrid, in the heart of AZCA, just between the emblematic buildings of Torre Picasso and Torre Europa very close to the Congress Palace and the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium.


This is very chic shopping with some big names in a grand modern building with many glass windows and a nice inner patio to unwind the walks in the city. The shopping is super; you can come into the mall by several street entrances such as Paseo de la Castellana,95, Calle Orense 22-24 in the Plaza Carlos Trias Bertràn, and Calle del General Péron, 38-40. The Plaza Carlos Trias Bertràn is the easier entrance to the Holiday Inn hotel above.

You have classic eateries here, we love the Biaci,Mallorca Cafe , and Casa Carmen. As stores well the Chocolate Factory, Juancho Lujans, and Via Venetto. Vale chicos/as.

The official webpage is here: Moda Shopping Mall at AZCA

Hope you enjoy this unusual post ::)

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

Tags: , ,
September 18, 2018

How about the Stock Exchange of Madrid!

On a humid cool day up north, let me tell you another story of my beloved Madrid. This is not something you go just for tourism but it can be visited and well worth the educational trip.

I like to tell you about the Stock Exchange or Bolsa of Madrid. It is a building that when young I do not think about it, but as I grew older and invested, became very much interested in visiting. I remember in my late teens my school in NJ took me to visit the Wall Street stock exchange and it hit me. Therefore, later on my visits to Madrid, decided to pay a brief visit without any guides just walk around it. It has a nice history to it.

The Madrid Stock Exchange (Bolsa de Madrid) is the main stock market in Spain. It is based in the Palacio de la Bolsa. Its reference index is the General index of the Madrid Stock Exchange (IGBM). or Index General de la Bolsa de Madrid.


A bit of history I like

13C: The Juros (promise debt to pay) were paper emissions of the State by which a debt was guaranteed, being these the first form of public debt. It was in Castilla where the first titles of values that were created were the so-called Royal Juros, a loan contracted by the Kings that granted to different personalities.

14C: The recruitment markets, the first created by king Jaime I of Aragon in Palma de Mallorca, in 1246, although it was not built until 1409. We still have some of these buildings such as the Lonja de Palma de Mallorca, Zaragoza, Valencia and Barcelona, not forgetting Casa Lonja in Sevilla, dependent on the Casa de Contratacion de las Indias (hiring house of the Indies) since 1503, the headquarters of the General Archive of the Indies (new world), which collects company documents related to the commercial monopoly that it maintained with the Hispanic possessions in America for more than two centuries. Since the 16C there were exchange brokers, Lonja, Royal vouchers (Vales Reales) or customs.

In the midst of the War of Independence Joseph Bonaparte was appointed King of Spain in 1808 by his brother Napoleon Ier. Joseph I Bonaparte in 1809  made the decision to establish the first stock exchange in Madrid, however, he did not get to started it.

In 1831, reigning king Fernando VII, passed the law that gave origin definitively to the Bolsa de Madrid: The Law of Creation and Organization of the Bolsa de Madrid. The stock exchange had been defined in article 64 of the 1829 trade code as:  “A place of meeting of merchants and mediators where the operations of the hiring of movable assets are conformed or fulfilled “.  It was promoted with the law the creation of a market similar to those existing in other countries, such as that of Paris created in (1734), London in (1804) or New York in (1817). In 1854 begins the publication of the Bulletin of contributions and during the Liberal period  the peseta (Spanish currency) will be born.


On October 20, 1831, the institution of the Madrid Stock Exchange inaugurates its first session at the consulate of the Plaza del Ángel. The Bilbao Stock Exchange was inaugurated in 1890, the Barcelona Stock Exchange in 1915 and in 1930 the Valencia Stock Exchange was created. The hiring system is made in a lively voice,or a system of roll calling. In 1856 the Bank of Spain was born and in 1868, in addition to the Bank of Spain, nine banks or credit companies were listed in it, 17 railway companies and 34 mining and utility companies.


In 1898 there is a great crisis and the trading decline as a result of the loss of Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Philippines, suffering the prices of stocks a fall of 20%. In 1900, there is a reborn strongly due to the repatriated capitals of Cuba and the Philippines. While in 1900,  61 companies were quoted in the first 20 years the number of companies quoted was multiplied up to 121 with special growth in electrical companies, some bank and industrial companies.

During ,WWI, the Madrid Stock Exchange remains open and the increase in trading and expansion continues. The beginning of the Spanish Civil War obliges to suspend all its activity until March 5, 1940, in which it opens its doors again. It was in December of that same year that the General index of the Madrid Stock Exchange (IGBM) was born. With base 100, it was set to zero every year. Of the 28 companies that formed part of the long index created with base 100 on December 31, 1940, only three survivors remain, excluding the companies integrated or merged in new groups: Banco Espanol de Credito (up to 2014 Banesto), Inmobilaria Metropolitana (real estate, its current name is Metrovacesa) and Telefónica.

In 1989 begins to operate the continuous market for stocks (CATS: Computer assisted trading System). In 1991 the figure of the investor Protector of the Madrid Stock Exchange will be created and the electronic system of fixed income trading will be launched. In 1992 the SCLV is launched, which is a new clearing and compensation service, which initiates the new liquidity system by annotation in account and in 1993 and all fixed income emissions become contracted by an electronic system. In 1995 CATS is replaced by the system of interconnection Spanish Stock Exchange (SIBE). Since January 1, 1999 the stock trading is carried out exclusively in euros and that same year the Latin American securities market will be launched in euros under the name of Latibex.

In 2002 the Madrid Stock Exchange will be integrated into the Spanish stock exchanges and markets group. The BME owns 100% of all Spanish stock exchanges, of the private and stock market of fixed income, of the platform of procurement of public debt (SENAF), of the derivative market (MEFF), as well as of the central depositary and the Chamber of Creation and Compensation of Values called Iberclear. On July 14, 2006, BME himself went on the market with a capitalization close to 25 billion euros.

A bit of a trajectory indeed for the Bolsa de Madrid.

Between 1831 and 1850 the Bolsa had six different venues. In the Plaza del Ángel, corner with Calle Carretas was for a year. In 1832 it moved very close, to a narrow courtyard of the Philippine Company House on Calle Carretas. In 1841 it passed to the cloister of the Convent of San Martín and in 1846 to the Church of the Convent of the nuns Bernardas  in Calle de  Alcalá, corner with Calle Peligros. In 1847 he moved to the Monastery de Los Basilios, in Calle Desengaño. In 1850 it passed, to the old customs building, in the Plazuela de la Leña. There, during the First republic a new building was built. Meanwhile, the Stock Exchange sessions were held at the theater and circus Paul, in the centric Calle del Barquillo. In July 1878 the construction of the present Palace of the Stock Exchange was approved in the Plaza de la Lealtad. The works began in January 1886; It was inaugurated on May 7, 1893 by the Regent Maria Cristina.

Some webpages to help your plan your trip here are

Tourist office of Madrid on the Bolsa

Private trade center firm with lots of history on the Stock Exchange or Bolsa in Spanish:

Official Bolsa or Stock Exchange of Madrid visiting rules

Hope you enjoy it, it is a nice place to do something different in Madrid or one old VT used to say off the beaten path!!

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


Tags: , ,
September 17, 2018

KIO is Puerta de Europa or Gate of Europe! Madrid of course!!

So on a cloudy day at 19C or 67F ,I am trying to remember my memories and have plenty so hard to choose as they all look sentimental. Getting to write about Madrid is easy for me, one of if not my favorite city. From Madrid to heaven and a hole in the sky to look down on it every day!

So you all go to the Centro, old city center by now overrun with visitors; visitors are good don’t get me wrong, they are needed and all around like it. It is just that after a while, it becomes so so visited that the locals starts cooking, painting and showcasing just for the visitors and not the local modes. So I always said get out from the center and see the city,it will amazed you.

I am taking you up north along Paseo de la Castellana to lovely Plaza de Castilla (Castile square) in the Chamartin district. And here you have a wonderful architecturally done buildings and art centers and a huge local transport hub. It is one of my hangouts in Madrid and we love to shop by it, especially the gourmet grocery store of Sanchez Romero (many branches in Madrid) at Castellana 196 not far on right hand side to Plaza de Castilla. More on the store here: Sanchez Romero at Castellana

The two towers that are located in Plaza de Castilla, and that make up the so-called Puerta de Europa (gates of Europe) , are commonly known as Torres Kio because they were promoted by the Kuwaiti company Kio (Kuwait Investments Office).  The two buildings are located on either side of the Paseo de la Castellana, the main artery of the center north of Madrid, on the northern edge of the Plaza de Castilla, in the Chamartín district., and across from the Centro de Arte Fundación Isabel Canal II ( a foundation for arts center name after queen Isabell II water chanel). More on the foundation here: Canal Isabel II arts foundation Center

The buildings are two inversely symmetrical towers inclined towards each other, 15 degrees with respect to the vertical one, and were the first inclined skyscrapers of the world. The skyscrapers have a height of 114 meters and twenty-six floors, and are visible several km away from Madrid, given their situation in one of the highest heights of the city. They are the first towers voluntarily inclined in the world. The construction of the towers began in 1989, but due to a series of financial difficulties, it interrupted for several years and ended only in 1996.


On a total surface of 2 340 m2 of floor, the towers consist of a steel structure covered with glass curtain walls totalling a surface of 32 864 m2 for a height of 114 meters.(about 376 ft)   Each building has four elevators, the first two of which serve floors 1 to 13 and the next two floors 13 to 27. These are the second highest twin towers in Spain, after those located in Santa Cruz de Tenerife.


The tower that has the top of the logo of Bankia is called Puerta de Europa I, whereas the other one, with the logo of Realia, is known as Puerta de Europa II. To avoid confusion the first has a heliport painted in blue and the second in red. KIO towers, at that time in construction, are one of the scenarios where the film is developed The Day of the Beast (El Dia de la Bestia) by Alex de la Iglesia.

Around the plaza you will see the obelisk of Calatrava itself 92 meters high (304 ft) ,and 6 meters in diameter (19.8 ft).  the monument of Calvo Sotelo, a huge sculpture of the Spanish jurist and politician, built in 1959 in memory of the assassination that was one of the sparks of  the Spanish civil war. The area is one of the main bus terminals in Madrid, above ground many local buses have a stop here, and underground you have buses to nearby cities and inter province service. You reach it on metro Plaza de Castilla ,lines 1,9,10. More on the transports here in English:CRTM Madrid Plaza de Castilla exchanges

A tourist office of Madrid information on the KIO towers at Puerta de Europa in the Plaza de Castilla here: Tourist office on Kio towers at Plaza de Castilla

Hope you enjoy this trip out from the tourist center and be encourage to see more of Madrid. And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!


Tags: , ,
September 17, 2018

El Corte Inglés!

Today , I will take a nostalgic ride to one icon of my beloved Madrid. Needless to repeat what I have written in these last few years in my blog and my love and predilection of Madrid since early teens years living there to now. I like to pick on particular memory that goes back to my family traditions and still carry on by me after 80 years , all together.

I like to tell you about the El Corte Inglés department stores of Spain, base in Madrid. When i was living there the competition with Galerias Preciados was fierce and both employees group still see this period with nostalgia even having memorial groups in FB. Calle Carretas starts it all near Puerta del Sol.

Now , today in Spain this is it becoming the conglomerate El Corte Inglés.  I have visited all their stores in Madrid, Barcelona, Porto, Lisbon, and Valencia. However, again, all comes back to Calle Preciados. The department store in Madrid is very nice at Calle Goya 76 , (nearer exit metro Goya) ,Calle Serrano 47 (corner with calle Marqués de Villamagna) , and Calle Princesa 41, (near metro Argûelles across Calle Buen Suceso )and my quick getaway even coming from the airport at Paseo de la Castellana as line 8 arriving at Nuevos Ministerios metro station turn left out in street and the store is right in next corner on your left!! Calle de Raimundo Fernandez Villaverde!  However, I have to come back to Calle Preciados………






The complex of El Corte Inglés here is huge. The stores covered the entire block square starting at Calle Preciados, 1,2,3 and Calle Abadia 5,and Plaza de Callao 2. The Calle Preciados goes back to Plaza de Callao the store on your left coming towards Puerta del Sol. There is a store by the Plaza de Descalzas Reales (near the monastery) and another nearer Puerta del Sol, just out from metro Sol.


Here at the Preciados fortress! you have all available services you can imagine ,even a nice cafeteria in Calle Preciados, 3 building in the 7th floor and great views.There is also a cafeteria at Plaza de Callao,2 in the 9th floor.

The Calle Preciados 3 is for fashion and sports with underground parking, basement is a supermarket, and street level you have fashion accessories and up; we love the 3rd men’s fashion, 4th women’s Fashion, here. At Plaza de Callao, you have underground parking, ,basement supermarket, street level you have cosmetics jewerly and then up, house decoration and hi tech, we like the 4th and 5th kitchen and house decorations as well the 8th is toys. At the Calle Preciados 1, building you have electronics, music, dvd films etc with cd’s in basement, and street level we like as well in First floor video games and films. At Calle Preciados 2, here is the library with books of course, the street level is the best with new and best sellers, at Calle Preciados 9 you have a complete sports store and the first floor is for football/soccer; at Calle Abadia 5, you have the sales, discounted items for children, men , women, house deco shoes, work uniforms, etc. Enjoy it!!! we love it!


Now let me give you a bit of history and company description that is very near to me! I have their card and shop there always even from France ::)

El Corte Inglés is the most important Spanish and European chain of department stores. It is present in Spain and Portugal. El Corte Inglés has stores in the majority of large and medium-sized Spanish cities, such as Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, Sevilla, Bilbao, Zaragoza, Murcia, Elche, Granada, Cartagena, Malaga, Marbella, Pamplona, Valladolid, A Coruña, Badajoz, Burgos, Alicante, Salamanca, Cordoba, Leon, Santander, Albacete, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, etc. In Portugal, El Corte Inglés is present in Lisbon and Porto. The stores are located in the city center and occupy large buildings that include underground car parks. Its commercial offer is supplemented by other services such as hairdressing salons, travel agencies, insurance or real estate services.

The El Corte Inglés was a small shop on the Calle Preciados (near Puerta del Sol), with corner to the Calle Carmen and Calle Rompelanzas, dedicated to the tailoring and confection of children clothing that had been founded in 1890. The expansion of the business that had opened in 1934, with the union of employees of Nuevas Pañerias (draperies) and the contribution of capital that was baptized as Sederias Carretas,by Calle Carretas, 6. The idea was to buy all the properties of the square around it to create a new plant building that housed its establishment, which later became reality with the definitive name of Galerias Preciados. (My first store in Madrid with my mother).

At the time by 1935, the current owners had asked to hire a nephew of the owner name Ramón Areces, who had just returned to Spain and, in view of his refusal to hire him, to take him to developed the store of El Corte Inglés, located in the lower pf the plot he planned to acquire, as he finished the purchase of the rest of the square and proceeded to the demolition and construction of the new center he had in mind. The at the time the President Pepín Fernandez, who like Ramon Areces had formed with César Rodríguez in the El Encanto dept store in Havana, ( itself copied after the Galeries Lafayette of Paris and the store of my family ;clients for life, now gone of course) accepted this last request of his cousin and thus, on December 23, 1935 , proceeded to transfer the store in the name of César Rodríguez and, later, on January 25, 1936, to buy the complete property for the headquarters of Sederias Carretas. Transposed by César Rodríguez the tailoring is put in charge of Ramón Areces who will be in charge of his management from that moment until his death, maintaining the business throughout 1936 and the three years of Spanish Civil War later.

The El Corte Inglés is transferred in June of 1940 to Calle Preciados, 3 corner with the calle Tetuan, where the stores of El Aguila (eagle) were located. Between 1945 and 1946, after acquiring a greater part of the building and carrying out the corresponding reform, the sales surface reaches 2,000 m² in five plants and starts up a sales structure by departments emulating the existing one in Galerias Preciados founded in 1943. It is the competition between the El Corte Inglés and   Galerias Preciados, from the 50’s and 60’s, which will produce a revolution in the Spanish distribution market, introducing the seasonal sales , advertising campaigns , the air conditioning in the store, the massive use of advertising, the introduction of large-scale window dressing, the shopping cards, the computerization of the point of sale, etc.

The expansion of El Corte Inglés begins in 1962 with the opening of its second sales center, located in Barcelona, and continues until today with the opening of new centers, although already diversified in different formats of which the second type was Hipercor, whose Introduction is carried out in Sevilla in 1980.  In the model of large distribution surfaces the third and last expansion is made with the creation in 2006 of Bricor for sale of decoration material and DIY. The El Corte Inglés creates convenience stores ,first in the service stations, naming them at first Repsol-Supercor and later, in 2008, Repsol-Opencor to identify them with the chain of convenience stores that are not in a service station created in 2000 with the name of Opencor. In 2000, it also creates the proximity supermarket format, Supercor. Finally in 2001 appears Sfera dedicated to the distribution of retail fashion of great consumption.

By 1969, it starts the expansion towards other sectors beyond the distribution with the creation of Viajes El Corte Inglés (travel agency)   and continues this type of expansion in 1980 with the creation of Investrónica ,and in 1988 with the creation of computer science El Corte Inglés IECISA.  From the middle of the 90’s the national expansion is intensified by the acquisition in 1995 of its eternal rival Galerias Preciados which was in financial difficulties. In 2001, the El Corte Inglés also acquired five hypermarkets of which Carrefour had to sell due to competition regulations. This same year the El Corte Inglés bought all the centers that the British chain of department stores Marks & Spencer had in the peninsula (nine centers in total) on the occasion of its abandonment of the Spanish market.

The companies that make up the group today are:

El Corte Ingles S.A., parent company. Hipercor.,large area dedicated to the distribution of food and bazaar. Bricor., large area dedicated to the distribution of decoration and DIY items. Supercor ,medium-sized area in the proximity supermarket format. SuperCor Express, supermarkets of closeness and of small space. Sfera, young fashion stores and accessories in medium and small size towns, located in Spain and the 3 located in Portugal and franchisees located in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Belgium, Egypt, Greece, Kuwait and Mexico. Óptica2000, which are small surfaces of distribution of optical and auditory components. Computer Science The El Corte Ingles (IECISA), dedicated to consulting, software development and value-added computing services. Investrónica, computer and telephony wholesaler. Telecor, commercialization of telecommunications services for the consumer and the company.

Viajes El Corte Inglés , group matrix of a group of companies dedicated to tourism both from a wholesale and retail standpoint. El Corte Ingles Insurance Group (CESS), dedicated on the one hand to the brokerage of insurance and financial and real estate through the center of Insurance and services with offices open to the public in the centers of the El Corte Inglés, and, on the other, with Seguros El Corte Ingles S.A. , life and accidents insurance and managing entity of plans and pension funds with activity in Spain and Portugal. Financera El Corte Ingles S.A. as a company of financing of purchases to the clients and distributor of the bank card of purchases of El Corte Ingles.

As instrumental or ancillary companies of the main business involved 100% unless otherwise stated are Industrias y confecciones S.A. (INDUYCO) integrated in the group in 2010, Ason Inmobiliaria de Arrendos (rents) S. L., Construcciones, Promociones y Instalaciones S.A. Editorial Centro de Estudios Ramón Areces S.A.; Tourmundial Operadores S.A., and Parinver S.A. (75.83%). As minority stakes in other businesses: they are 50% in Gestion de Puntos de Ventas S.A. (GESPEVESA) that manages the Opencor stores in the Repsol service stations;   50% in Sephora cosmeticos España S. L.;   6.15% in Euroforum Escorial S.A.;   4.36% in Parque Temàtico de Madrid S.A.; and 1.7% in IAG.

Some webpages to help you come and understand this department store par excellence are

Official El Corte Inglés for Spain

Official El Corte Inglés English

And I give you one blog post of mine that speaks briefly of this store here: Madrid sights and smells

You will do good if shopping in Madrid or Spain for that matter to come here, check them out. Just saying….

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

September 14, 2018

Some news from Spain LXVII

On a sunny bright day in the Morbihan breton, its time for me to bring you up to date on my beloved Spain. Some of the latest and a bit of history I like.  We have 82F and sunny at Madrid right now.

One of my favorite , I read since birth, has a happening, here is the story.

A statue in the district of the Letras(  letters), in the beautiful  Plaza Santa Ana in front of the Teatro Espanol ,(Spanish theater) which in its time was the place that would occupy the old Corral of the prince. In the spring of May 1681, with the definitive absence of the lustrous presence of Pedro Calderón de la Barca, one of the greatest writer/poets of Spain leaves in inheritance a monumental literary work matter of study in thousands of universities all over the globe

He witnessed three reigns, neither one more nor one less (that of Felipe III, that of Felipe IV and that of Carlos II). He suffered from the Europe of the Thirty Years War, the slow decline of a tiring monarchy of resources invested in poor investments, and probably one of the most complicated moments in the history of our country. It synthesizes in short, that contradictory 17C, in which we still remained installed in the belief that we were the masters ,that it was so, but already with gray and with many fronts that we approached to the shipwreck announced of the unforgettable nation. Calderón of the Barca, soldier, priest, poet, playwright, etc. was the critical consciousness of a time that evoked the knell of bells with worn clapper.

Encyclopedic illustrated, he reincarnated several times in his beloved Cervantes. A friend and contemporary of Velázquez clung to the Baroque as a lover or ballast marked by blood and fire for the creed he practiced, a religion closed to new and unventilated that would condition his enormous creativity out of respect for suffocating principles. In this orbit of literary, artistic and scientific creation, he coexisted in space time with the conspicuous Góngora, with the ubiquitous and scathing Quevedo, the enormous philosophers Hobbes, Descartes, Baruch ,Espinoza, Locke and other enlightened ones touched by the genius and a talent beyond doubt.

Calderon born in the labyrinthine city of the cats, Madrid, in a winter apotheosis by the recurrent snows and the heavy cold , dawns one day January 17 of the year 1600. It coexists with the distance of rigor, with Felipe III and its hustler Duke of Lerma. His mother left him in this  strange place in 1610 and a deeply authoritarian father sends him to the Imperial College of the Jesuits, regardless of a direct education and a responsibility that he did not want to assume in the raising of his three children. The universities of Alcalá de Hénares and Salamanca, gave him an order and a sense that protects him in his doubts and reorients him to the first celebrity that sprouts in it in a natural way. The theater lives in it and his rhetorical persuasion is of an undeniable and overwhelming power, innate and unquestionable. Soldier in his youth (he was part of the campaign against the rebellion of Catalonia in 1640), and cleric in old age, in his younger years appears wrapped in several brawls, he was an excellent swordsman, and probably following a challenge to hardly punish an accusation of homicide and the breaking of a convent of nuns, one does not know with which intentions. His enormous fondness for the profane history perhaps the true one, and the canonical one probably that of the half-truths, its rapprochement with the natural and political right were the tools with which he would face his vast literary creation coupled with the fascination generated by the comedy of Lope de Vega, his great artistic reference, which at that time swept the corrals of the capital. Calderon is basically a comedy writer.

For 1623 he already has a good shot at his back and Felipe IV appoints him as the official playwright of the court. But the splendor reaches him when he leaves the militia and becomes part of the group of protected under the patronage of the Duke of Alba. It is the moment where his tremendous creativity with volcanic power emerges to devote himself to literary creation. The top work of his dramaturgy is undoubtedly La vida es sueño ( life is a dream), an incredible clash of trains between the freedom of the individual and the borders of the reason of State. In 1636 it receives the accolade of Felipe IV with the concession of the habit of Knight of the Order of Santiago it is not known whether to placate the ire of the cold winter in Madrid or to protect itself from the thick prevailing theological substance. This rise in internal reformism and the empowerment of Spanish projection with more emphasis on international policy.  It becomes Calderón de la Barca in the decade of 1630-1640 in a classic of his time installed in the international  Top Ten of literature. It is the decade of the great Biblical dramas and of honor with Los cabellos de Absalón, and El médico de su honra, etc. It is, also the time of the debate between the individual and the absolute power of the State and perhaps, in my view, when personal virtue reaches perfection in the  celebrated El alcalde de Zalamea (the mayor of Zalamea). The famous philosophical comedy depicted in the life Is dream  is probably the most universal work of this eclectic man of the world. It has been staged in more than a hundred countries, and in England it is a work of worship. And that, not to mention the historical comedy of the  mayor of Zalamea  that only in Spain between private schools and institutes, theaters of first row and micro theaters, in the year 2016 was interpreted more than a thousand times.

A bit on Calderon de la Barca in English here: Pedro Calderon de la Barca

More in Spanish: Calderon de la Barca literature

The Teatro Real  (Royal Theater) inaugurates its 22nd season in September with Faust, by Charles Gounod, in a new co-production with the National Opera & Ballet in Amsterdam. A new reading of the inexhaustible myth of Faust, original work of the romantic German Johann Wolfgang von Goethe , which began its historical journey with a cold reception of the French public in the Parisian Théâtre Lyrique in 1859 and which has been imposed little by little in the universal operatic repertoire. This new season, marked the bicentennial of the Teatro Real. Already in 1865, in this same theater, Faust (Fausto)  seduced the Madrid public, being one of the most represented operas until its closing in 1925, which would continue until the reopening in February of 2003. Therefore, one of the main subjects outstanding in the celebration of the two hundred years of the institution is to recover the artistic repertoire lost in this long parenthesis during the 20C. Gounod’s Faust moves away from the French Grand Opéra, with the beauty of the melodies, the formidable choral parts or the sarcasm in the dialogues, but with a very German style. It is very clear that the primary source of inspiration is in the original work of Goethe which precisely reached its true popularity in Germany. More info here: Faust at the Royal Theater

El Centro Cultural Conde Duque  ( Conde Duque Cultural Center)  bets on the new course to rediscover its physical space and rescue the memory of Madrid. These are the two lines that define the more than 100 artistic proposals that will take place this Fall in the municipal center, in the middle of this green space, located in the theater of the cultural center, during this week will take place concerts, sessions of Micro Open, Yoga and performance classes, among other activities. Conde Duque presents of all the People in all the World, a sample located in the vaults. The project, which starts this Wednesday and can be visited until September 29th, is an installation that uses grains of rice to present different statistics, many of them in the city of Madrid, in which a grain is equivalent to a person. 17C barracks that today houses the cultural center, is the objective of the La Ronda, a night walk with lanterns in which, together with two security guards, participants will travel the bowels  of the Conde Duque (count duke). Libraries, archives, theaters, offices… will be some of the corners that will be shown in the activity, which will be on Wednesday nights Thursday and Friday, between September 19 and 28. The entrance is 5 euros. More here: Centro Cultural Conde Duque Madrid

Malasaña, where in the years 80’s emerged, of the hand of rock bands, the first generation of what is known as R’n’B underground. The Malasaña sound cycle will rescue some of these formations, as well as emerging artists, which will offer up to ten concerts between September 22 and October 18 for a price of between 8 and 15 euros.   Different venues, see about the district here: Malasana Madrid

Traveling on the Al Andalus train is traveling in the times,  passenger moves instantly to the years of the Belle Époque. Yes, with all the comforts of the 21C. The car suites and saloon cars that today compose this palace on wheels belong to the same series as those that were built in France for the displacements that the members of the British monarchy carried out between Calais and the French Riviera. RENFE’s tourist train has different routes around the Spanish geography. The classic rides seven days in Andalusia discovering all its diversity and essence. Another option is to cover the route between Sevilla and Madrid by Extremadura, following the historical route of La Plata. More info here: RENFE AL Andalus

The culminating moment of that infatuation with it was undoubtedly the transfer in 1990 to Madrid of the Goizeko Kabi that Jesus Santos born in land of Campos, but raised in Bilbao as many other Castilian immigrants of the mid-20C had become the most prestigious restaurant of the capital of Biscay since its opening in 1982. He was the first Michelin-starred chef to move with tools and baggage from the Basque country to Madrid, and the expectation was remarkable. In the district of Tetuán, where it soon opened also another more informal food house, Gaztelupe, before focusing its efforts on the most ambitious Goizeko in the Wellington Hotel in 2000. And in 2012 the rupture was consummated: Luis Martín, chef of Gaztelupe, stayed with this restaurant and Goizeko Kabi, and Santos continued  and continues today, with the recognition of always in the Goizeko Wellington. In the current Goizeko Kabi-local correct, just decoration and rather outdated, with a profusion of electric plugs quite surprising; The tasty baby squid with three onion textures. The Canutillos of Bilbao stuffed with cream and custard return to the tradition and culminate well a meal completed by some interesting wine as the elegant pink blue oranges that Chuchi Soto elaborates in the Sierra de Gredos. Located at Comandante Zorita, 37. More info here: Kabi Goizeko Restaurant Madrid

There you yo for now another edition of your Some News from Spain episode in my blog. Enjoy Spain, everything under the sun!

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

Tags: , ,
%d bloggers like this: