Archive for ‘Madrid’

June 22, 2018

The Real Jardines Botanico de Madrid!

My continuing saga to show the beauty of my beloved Madrid continuos. This is something you come as a child and sticks with you. My dear late mom Rosa Gladys brought me here first, and then my dear late wife Martine, and then with my boys and then again. It is very nice, educational and family fun for all.

I am talking about the Real Jardin Botanico of Madrid or the Royal Botanic garden of Madrid. A treasure chest of history and fun knowledge right in the famous triangle of museums of Madrid. I have posts that talks about it , but this is the first time alone and well worth it.

The current site of the botanical garden or the Real Jardin Botanico is not accidental and responds to the interest of the enlightened monarch, Carlos III, to create a complex dedicated to the natural sciences in Madrid. That is why it was located next to what today is the Prado Museum, which at the end of the 18C was the Museum of Natural Sciences. The scientific spirit is currently preserved as the space is managed by the Higher Council for Scientific Research, which organizes a multitude of activities of an informative nature, such as conferences and exhibitions. Its collections include a herbarium with more than a million spreads, the library and archive, with about 10,000 drawings, as well as the sample of 5,000 species of living plants. Located officially at Plaza de Murillo, 2,and best going there on Metro Atocha line 1, Atocha Renfe train station metro stop and line 2 Banco de Espana.

Madrid

Madrid

Founded by Royal Order of 17 October 1755 by King Fernando VI in the spot of Soto de Migas Calientes, near the Manzanares River, king Carlos III ordered the transfer to his current situation in 1781,at Paseo del Prado, next to the Museum of Natural Sciences that was being built (current Prado Museum). King Felipe II created the botanical garden at the behest of the Doctor Andrés Laguna, next to the Royal Palace of Aranjuez. Later, king Fernando VI installed in 1755 by the orchard of Migas Calientes (currently Iron gate=Puerta del Hierro, on the banks of the Manzanares river) creating the Royal Botanical Garden. The continuous extension of the garden led king Carlos III to give instructions in 1774 to move it to its current location in the Paseo del Prado , within the program of management of the Prado and Atocha construction.

That between 1774 and 1781 year of the inauguration with a distribution in three levels, and part of the enclosure, which highlights the Royal gate (Paseo del Prado). On this basis, between 1785 and 1789 a second and definitive project was carried out, more rational and according to the scientific and educational function that the garden should have. It occupied an area of 10 hectares distributed in three terraced levels that adapted to the orography of the terrain, arranged in the form of Square barracks, following an octagonal layout and topped in the corners with circular fountains. The two lower ones (Terreza de los Cuadros and Terreza de las Escuelas Botanicas) remain today as they were built, while the superior one ( Terraza del Plano de la Flor) was remodeled in the 19C with landscaped features. The enclosure was closed by an elegant iron gate, seated on granite stone and had two access doors: the aforementioned Real Puerta de Sabatini, Classic style with doric columns and pediment, and another secondary, In front of the Prado Museum, which currently accesses the enclosure (current Plaza de Murillo).

The garden became the recipient of the recipient of the scientific expeditions that sponsored the Crown in this period. Between the 18C and 19C it participated in the development of at least five scientific expeditions, including the Royal Botanical Expedition of the New Kingdom of Granada (current Colombia), the botanical expedition to the Viceroyalty of Peru, the Royal Botanical Expedition to New Spain (present-day Mexico), the expedition around the world, and the Scientific commission of the Pacific (Philippines). It contains approximately 5,000 different species of trees and plants around the world.

In 1857, important reforms were carried out that still persist, such as the cold stove that bears its name and the renovation of the upper terrace. Also at that time a zoo was installed, which twelve years later moved to the Retiro park (where it would be known as a zoo Casa de Fieras) in 1893, opens the calle de los libreros (street of booksellers and popularly known as Cuesta de Claudio Moyano) and cutting one end of the main body of the garden, so its surface is reduced to the current eight hectares.

The before mentioned terraces are:

Terraza de los Cuadros (or portraits) is the terrace located below and the most spacious of all. It includes the collections of ornamental plants, medicinal, antique rose, aromatic and orchard and fruit trees, within the geometric tables formed with hedges of boxwood that surround small sources (fontanels) in the central axis of the tables. At the end of the central promenade of this first terrace you will find the coral rock spot.

Terraza de las Escuelas Botanicas ( botanical schools) ;this second terrace is a little smaller than the previous one. This terrace shows the taxonomic collection of plants. Ordered phylogenetically by families, around twelve sources are located. You can take a tour of the plant kingdom from the most primitive plants to the most evolved.

Terraza del Plano de la Flor (map of the flower) this is the highest terrace and a little more reduced, with a romantic style. It is divided into twenty-five figures or bedding curvilinear, limited by hedges of Durillo, four roundabouts and a central roundabout with a pond and a bust of Carlos Linnaeus. On the north flank of this terrace are the greenhouse Graells, a structure of the 19C, where we find tropical plants, aquatic and bryophytes. Next to the former is the largest and most modern greenhouse, the Exhibicion or exhibition, which is divided into three environments with different requirements of temperature and humidity (tropical, temperate and desert).

Terraza Alta o de los Laureles (High Terrace or laurels) , this terrace added as an extension of the garden in 2005, is of much smaller dimensions than the previous ones and is behind the Villanueva pavilion. Destined to host special collections, here is the Bonsai collection donated by the Spanish former President Felipe González.

You find as well the most important herbarium in Spain, bringing together nearly a million spreads, some from the 18C. It is composed of: the Fanerogamia Herbarium, the Cryptogamia herbarium and the historical collections. The latter gather the plants collected in the scientific expeditions carried out during the 18C and 19C.

The Library of the Royal Botanical Garden was formed at the same time as the garden grew. In 1781 it had some 151 works of which 83 were of botany, 19 of Natural history and 49 of Chemistry. Currently at last count, the library consists of some 30 000 books of everything related to botany, 2075 titles of periodic publications, some 26 000 leaflets or separate chucks , 3000 titles in microfiche, 2500 maps. It has facilities and equipment suitable for Internet consultation, reading and reproduction, on paper, microfiche and microfilm, photocopying of books and magazines and scanning zenith.

The Germplasm Bank since its foundation, the Botanical Garden maintains a seed exchange with other institutions around the world. The relationship of the seeds that can be exchanged is published annually in a publication called Index Seminum, which is distributed to more than 500 gardens and research centers. From 1987, with the construction of a refrigeration chamber where they can be stored at low temperature, dried and hermetically sealed, the conditions of conservation of the seeds were improved. This improvement allowed to extend the viability period of the seeds, so it was decided to carry out collection campaigns throughout the state.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are

Tourism Madrid on the Real Jardin Botanico

Official webpage Real Jardin Botanico

Consejo Superior of Scientific Investigation site

Digital Library of Real Jardin Botanico

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

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June 22, 2018

Jardines Sabatini and a Moro, wonderful Madrid!

Going back to my beloved Madrid again. Many places of youth still revisited every year. Now let me tell you about a wonderful garden not far from the Royal Palace.

The Jardines Sabatini are a great place to be not only for the location but also, the silhouette of the slopes in it giving you a wonderful view of the Royal Palace and Madrid afar.

A bit on it. The Sabatini Gardens in the classicist style were created in 1933 in the spot that occupied the stables built by Sabatini for the Royal Palace (Palacio Real) , hence the name. Located in front of the Royal Palace’s northern façade, the gardens were completed in 1978. It was king Juan Carlos I who opened the park to the public. Located officially at Calle Bailén, 2 , and the best way other than walking to it is by metro Opera lines 2,5 and Radial and Sol lines 1 ,2 and 3.

Today, a large, round fountain with tritons is at the intersection of the two major axes that are surrounded on all sides by quadrants and conifers, with trees arranged along the perimeter. The quiet secluded atmosphere of the Jardines Sabatini is in part due to the lowered elevation of the gardens, the gardens are approximately 10 meters (about 33 feet) lower than the main Plaza de Oriente. The gardens are connected to Plaza Oriente by a grand stone staircase, an appropriate entrance to the royal gardens .The Jardines Sabatini are named after the Italian architect Francesco Sabatini who during the 18C designed much of the Palacio Real (Royal Palace), this included royal stables which were demolished to create the gardens named after him.

Madrid Madrid Madrid Madrid Madrid

Another gem nearby and less visited is the Campo del Moro, and also can’t find photos!. The least known and least visited, perhaps because its entrance is on the farthest part of the palace, a bit far from the tourist itinerary. The adjacent gardens of the Campo del Moro lies behind the palace. You will find beautiful shady paths, fountains and peacocks strolling. It is both romantic style with some English garden features. As for its name, the Campo del Moro (the Land of the moor), it comes from the fact that it was the place where the Moorish army camped before their unsuccessful attempt, at the beginning of the 12C to take over the Alcazar (castle). King Felipe IV was the first to develop this space but the Campo del Moro began to take its form as it is known today that in the 1890’s under regent queen Doña María Cristina of Habsburg.

Some webpages to help plan your trip are

Jardines Sabatini

Campo del Moro

I have several entries on them in blog but always link with something else or in my Some News from Spain entries. I believe this is the first time write on them apart, and well worth it. You will be please to visit them

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

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June 21, 2018

Parque del Oeste and more of Madrid!

And now back to the parks; my lovely park another memory that cannot resist visit every year, lucky now that I can do that. My beloved Madrid and my wonderful Parque del Oeste.

So many things here to do other than basic stuff you can do in a park. There monuments such as the magnificent Temple of Debod ,and the cable car to Casa de Campo, just fantastic. This is another park you should visit wholly while in Madrid. I have several posts on different parts of the park like the temple of Debod ,all can be found in search front of my blog.

Parque del Oeste or Park of west has 8 hectares, located in the area of Princesa, where the temple of Debod shine in all its splendor. It was installed on the remains of the barracks of the mountain (Cuartel de la Montana) according to the same solar orientation that had in its place of origin. The garden enjoys magnificent views of the country house, the park, and the Sierra. It is officially at Calle Ferraz, 1 and the best to get there by metro Plaza de Espana line 2,3 and 10, Principe Pio lines 6,10,and Radial, as well as Moncloa lines 3 and 6, and Ventura Rodríguez on line 3. It is specifically located between the Carretera de Coruna or expressway , Ciudad Universitaria (university city) and the district of Moncloa, between the avenue of the Arco de la Victoria and the Paseo de Pintor Rosales, to the east; linea del ferrocarril or railroad line, west and Avenida de Seneca, north. They cross it inside, the Paseo de Roberto Chapi, Paseo de Camoens and Calle Francisco and Calle Jacinto Alcántara.

Inside there is an artificial estuary of about 600 meters in length. A cedar tree call “El Abuelo ” or grandfather (Cedrus Atlantica), catalogued as a singular tree, two specimens of Sophora “Pendulum “, a majestic Ginko, the Choperas of Populus nigra and the plantations on the edge of the estuary of Corylus, Cornus, etc. At the end of the Paseo de Platanos (bananas), which runs along this area, you can contemplate various species of birds in the center of AviFauna, such as different birds etc., providing information panels.

Before the 20C, the land currently occupied by the park was the city’s main garbage dump . The work began in 1893 and the first phase was inaugurated in 1905. This phase comprised an approximate area of 87 hectares between the current streets of Moret, and Seneca,and Paseo de Camoens, today Paseo de Camos. In 1906 continued the works of the second phase, reaching the mountain barracks (present location of the Temple of Debod). It was spread parallel to the Paseo del Pintor Rosales, on old dumps. During the Civil War the Parque del Oeste became battlefield of the Battle of the University city, opening trenches and building bunkers that still today can be seen in its far north. Once the war was over, Cecilio Rodríguez, responsible for the municipal parks, took care of his reconstruction, which lasted until the end of the 1940s. During the years 1956 and 1973 it was extended, occupying the grounds of the Cuartel de la Montana, building the Rosaleda and the Parque de la Montana , placing it at the current Temple of Debod.

Madrid

Madrid

You have several monuments ,statues, busts in the park such as .
Monumento al Maestro or the master, Bust of Jaime I, bust of Paul Harris,. Monument to José de San Martín in the north end of the park. Monument to the Infanta Isabel . Statue of General José Gervasio de Artigas (Argentina). A statue of a Nymphe , statue to the poet Miguel Hernández, the statue of the Blessed Virgin, the equestrian sculpture of Simón Bolívar, the monument to the fallen of the Cuartel de la Montana.

The Téléferico or cable car connects from 1967 the Parque del Oeste with that of Casa del Campo. The three gun bunkers of the Republican side that are retained of the twenty that were installed during the Spanish Civil War. Its magnificent Rosaleda with more than 15,000 m2 and 20,000 roses from all corners of the planet. The Fountain of Juan de Villanueva, the Temple of Debod, a gift from the Egyptian people to Madrid for having helped them avoid the floods that would have caused the Aswan dam. It is from the 2C BC and is dedicated to the Egyptian gods Isis and Amon; A lookout or viewpoint next to the Temple of Debod have a splendid views and the light in this place is amazing.

Madrid Madrid

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are
City of Madrid on Parque del Oeste

Tourist office of Madrid on Parque del Oeste

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

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June 21, 2018

The Retiro park, my Retiro, my Madrid!!

Ok so on a semi cloudy  Thursday waiting for the World Cup football/soccer games, I have become nostalgic again. And that means coming back to my beloved Madrid. I lost count of the entries on Madrid or Spain in my blog, but they should be plenty just do search. Madrid is special because not only is my Spain ,but lived there in beautiful moments of my life.

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

What’s in the name, well , it is known as the Parque del Retiro or Parque del Buen Retiro,and popularly call simply El Retiro. In its historique life ,it was also known as the Parque de Madrid, as you can still see written in some gates or Puertas coming to the park. . This was used when it was made part of the municipality of Madrid in the last third of the 19C. It is, also,known as the Jardines del Retiro or Jardines del Buen Retiro, even if this name has a restriction covering only the area created in the end of the 20C where today you have the Palacio de Cibeles on lands that belonged to the Royal Palace.

Anyway I have written several posts on it and would like to remind my readers about them here

https://paris1972-versailles2003.com/2010/12/18/parque-del-buen-retiro-or-retiro-park/

https://paris1972-versailles2003.com/2016/05/30/a-new-look-at-my-best-souvenir-of-madrid-retiro-park/

https://paris1972-versailles2003.com/2017/05/01/one-more-time-retiro-park-madrid/

And, will give you a run down for things to see and do in it. Of course, not exhaustive, heck you can get almost anything there now…  Let me briefly tells you about some of the wonders inside the Parque del Retiro.

The gates or Puertas:

Puerta de Felipe IV (or Mariana de Neoburgo) is the oldest gate today in Madrid done in 1680.

Puerta de la Independencia, done in 1817 as entry gate to the Casino de la Reina located in the Ronda de Toledo. In 1885 it was transferred to the Retiro park by the Cibeles fountain and square.

Puerta de España done in 1893 located at Calle Alfonso XII connecting to the Calle Antonio Maura and the big lake or Estanque Grande by the Paseo de la Argentina (before name paseo de las Estatuas or statues)

Puerta de Madrid at the corner of Calle de Alcalà and Calle O’Donnell, it is open to the Paseo de Fernán Núñez (or Paseo de Coches/ carriages),the longest in the Retiro (the Promenade).

Puerta de Hernani, first built in 1888 in metal, replaced in 1943 for a bigger one, located in the Calle de Alcalà in front is my family Church Iglesia de San Manuel y San Benito.

The monument/buildings:

The Ermita de San Pelayo y San Isidoro, built in the 11C outside the gates of Avila and brought to the Retiro park in 1896; now only the abside and a lateral door remains.

Real Observatorio Astronomico, built in 1790 on the height of the hill or cerro de San Blas in the Retiro that today are next to the Prado museum and the Royal Botanical Gardens part of the idea to give Madrid a district of Natural Sciences!

Palacio de Velàzquez while holding events in the Retiro park one of them was done here built between 1881-1883 for the national exposition of mining, metarulogical, ceramics, glass and mineral waters.

Palacio de Cristal (Crystal palace) an architecture of glass and metal to house different species of vegetables coming from the Philippines due to the exposition of 1887 on the country. As well as the Palacio de Velazquez ,the Palacio de Cristal is used for exposition center of the Reina Sofia Museum.

And it has many fountains , such as:

They  have from the 18C, two fountains in the parterre garden that are twin representations . there is also , the Fuente de la Alcachofa built in 1871. From the 19C , we have the Fuente Egipcia located next to the big lake or Estanque Grande as well as smaller fountains such as the Fuente de la Salud y Fuente de la Gruta decorated with corals simulating caves, and the Fuente de los Galapagos with a pedestal like a palm with children figures mount on dolphins on the base; this one was first set up at the street Red de San Luis in the Gran Via in 1831. In 1879 it was transferred to the Retiro park at the Plaza de Nicaragua, near the big lake. The popular Fuente del Angel Caido built in 1885 and some said the only fountain of a devil in Spain . From the 20C we have the Fuente de Cuba done in 1929 as a monument to the nation of Cuba as well as the Fuente de la Gaviota 1962 located in the gardens or Jardines de Cecilio Rodríguez (inside Retiro park of course) surrounded by a sculpture group.

Madrid

There are walks, trails, promenades inside Retiro park , my favorites are:

The Parterre of course. One of the first gardens on the French style done in Spain; work began in 1716 and finished in 1722.

Paseo de la Argentina (or de las Estatuas (Statues) ) there are parallel to the Parterre. Takes its name because of the statues on its sides belonging to a series of Spanish kings created by the middle of the 18C to decorate the corners and niches of the Royal Palace on orders of king Carlos III ,however,he later figure they were too much and removed them. After several decades in storage, by 1843, they were rescue and put in several spots around Madrid and elsewhere in Spain. In Madrid, you can see them at the Plaza de Oriente and the gardens of Sabatini or Jardines de Sabatini, both near the Royal Palace.

Jardín madrileño. Came from reforms pushed by queen Isabel II from 1841 and this garden is located to the south of the Parterre.

Paseo de Fernán Núñez (or de Coches (carriages)).Done in 1874 and vehicules were still permitted on it until 1981. It is a big promenade all along the park.

La Rosaleda, done in 1915 by famous Spanish gardener Cecilio Rodriguez (1865-1953) similar to the one at the jardin de Bagatelle in the Bois de Boulogne in Paris from which the gardener brought 12000 roses of more than 350 species, and created a greenhouse of steel and glass very near the Paseo de Fernàn Nûnez. Upon the Spanish Civil war it was badly damaged and was rebuilt it in 1941.

Jardines del Arquitecto Herrero Palacios (former Casa de Fieras or zoo) ; this was the old zoo of Casa de Fieras created in 1774 by king Carlos III in the street Cuesta de Moyano (where today you have a book stalls fairs each year) In 1830 it was transferred to the Retiro park upon instructions of king Fernando VII. Eventually, transferred to the Casa de Campo in 1972 (where the zoo still is) the place was name after the architect that was the gardener at the time. The place is very nice and it is preserved many parts of the simple old zoo like the pavilions, cages, and sculptures from the original zoo. Some were decorated and the pavilion called La Leonera o( the lioness from the first third of the 19C now it is a library on site!

Jardines de Cecilio Rodriguez, the pioneer gardener of Retiro park who built one of his original gardens here as an extention of the Casa de Fieras (old zoo) done in 1918. When the Spanish Civil War destroyed it and the same gardener rebuilt it in 1941. On the rebuilding he change the decoration and laidout of the garden with a rectangular floor flank on three sides by pavilions that are now used for official events. IT houses several elements of gardening, fountains, pergolas, basins, ornamental columns, chess floors and sculptures groups from Hispanic Arabesque look.

Bosque del Recuerdo ( rememberance forest) was done in 2004 at the Plaza del Emperador Carlos V in honor of the victims of the terrorist act of March 11, by 2005 was place at the southwest side of Retiro park very near the Atocha train station. It is an artificial mountain surrounded by a basin on which are planted 170 cypress trees, 22 olive trees in honor of the 192 fallen on the terrorist act.

Madrid

The Retiro park also has as we call it Caprichos or whims usually of a king or queen. Two of them ,I have already discussed it above such as the Fuente Egipcia (Egyptian style fountain) and Casa de Fieras (the zoo). Those now still there are

Casita del Pescador. Fisherman’s house is a small house of square shape and two levels with roof in zinc and water spouts.

Montaña Artificial. Also known as the Montaña Rusa de los Gatos (rollercoaster mountain of the cats) because of cat sculptures on it. It is a hill on steps with lots of vegetation and corals on which you see several cascades that falls into a basin . There is a trail on the sides crossing several bridges with towers like a fortress in miniature and inside there is a funerary space from which you can come by three doors .However, check because it was closed for deterioration and do not know if re open

Casa de Vacas. Or house of cows here it used to milked cows and provide milk. Right now it has been rebuilt due to the storm of 1886 and the fire of 1982, Today it is a cultural center of the city of Madrid.

Casa del Contrabandista. The contraband house, as the previous one it has been rebuilt due to its use as a hostal lodging during the 20C and 21C. It was designed as a water wheel that is why circular and covered like a dome. At the roots of it had a collection of automates with Andalucian motifs such as a priest, and a bandid contraband that is why the name of the house.

Castillete medieval. A small medieval castle originally called the Torre del Retiro or the tower of Retiro with a middle ages aspect with four angle towers, three levels and a flat cover. At the end of the 20C was given to the Meteorological service currently it is without use and in bad shape.

Some of the lakes or estanques in the Retiro park you can see today are

Estanque Ochavado (or de las Campanillas (small bells)) The date of construction is not known but it has to be before the big lake or Estanque Grande. It is done with eight sides and a small isle in the center with a coral decoration today

Estanque Grande or big lake, was ordered built in 1634 done to extract water for the Royal Palace and use for fishing and boating as well as theatrical shows . In 1817 it was built a pavillon with oriental designs and later destroyed tobuilt what you see today the Monument to Alfonso XII. In 1917,it was done a new one located on the north side that caught fire and again was rebuilt in 1926 as the one that has reach our days. Just a must ,gorgeous spot many memories crying just to write on it.

Madrid

Ría de Patinar. An skating stream done in 1876 to replace a previous one that is now at the Rosaleda. It was chosen an area shady to keep the water colder frozen even so that the ice skating could be done, it has an oval shape around a garden isle.

Estanque del Palacio de Cristal ; small lake right in front of the palace built in 1887. Done in a rocky cave and a nice water basin.

Rias del Estanque Grande y Ria de La Chopera; on each side of the monument to Alfonso XII the two merge.160 for the Estanque and 200 for Chopera meters long , not known when they were created but probably end of the 19C, shown in maps until 1900. The Ria de La Chopera is from the same time and has 200 meters running.

Estanque Rustico, the gardener Cecilio Rodriguez did this one to provide water to his gardens from 1918 , the lake has a bridge and a masonry factory with brick lines.

There are the statues still left in the Retiro park from the times of king Carlos III, these are kings done in the 18C along the Paseo de la Argentina or de las Estatuas along the paseo from west to east are Fernando IV of Leon and Castilla, Sancho IV of Leon and Castilla, Enrique II of Castilla, Garcia I de Leon, Urraca of Leon and Castilla, Berenguela of Castilla, an empty pedestal follows then, Gundemaro, Visigoth king, Carlos I of Spain, Carlos II of Spain, Ramon Berenguer IV count of Barcelona and prince of Aragon, Chintila, Visigoth king , Alfonso I of Aragon, and Sancho IV el Bravo of Castilla.

There are ornamental monuments such as these:

Monumento General Martinez Campos, done in 1907 at the Plaza de Guatemala behind the monument to Alfonso XII, is an equestrian statue in bronze. He was sent to Cuba to try to pacified the independence rebellion in vain

Monument Benito Pérez Galdos done in a square of the same name next to the Paseo de Fernàn Nùnez. It is made of white stone of Lérida, and with 2,10 meters high ,1,3 meters wide and 2,2 meters deep opened in 1919 with the presence of the actor himself invalid and blind.

Monument Alfonso XII, it was called a national contest to built it upon the request of the regent queen Maria Cristina, the winner finally did it inspired on the monument of William I of Berlin, built this one in 1922 . It is at the west side of the lake or Estanque Grande and has 30 meters high, 86 meters long, and 58 meters wide. Around the king you have statues of representation of peace, progress and liberty . Around the hemicycle you have other statues representing The army and marine, the sciences, agriculture, Arts, industry, and two lions.

Madrid

Monument Santiago Ramon y Cajal, in the Paseo de Venezuela done in granite stone and bronze. In the center of a basin with Etruscan figures and fountains representing the life and death, done in 1926.

Monument Jacinto Benavente, is in the parterre garden forming an axis with the Puerta de Felipe IV and Cason del Buen Retiro (now part of the Prado museum) . It has a female figure of Greek inspiration with arms rise showing a mask referring to the theatre one of the genre of Jacinto Benavente, it was done by popular donations and finished in 1962.

There is extensive flora and fauna here as well as great sports installations.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip in addition to my blog posts above are

tourist office of Madrid on Retiro park: https://www.esmadrid.com/en/tourist-information/parque-del-retiro

City of Madrid on Retiro (sorry long link):  http://www.madrid.es/portales/munimadrid/es/Inicio/El-Ayuntamiento/Parques-y-jardines/Patrimonio-Verde/Parques-en-Madrid/Jardines-de-El-Buen-Retiro/?vgnextfmt=default&vgnextoid=499561945d9ec210VgnVCM2000000c205a0aRCRD&vgnextchannel=38bb1914e7d4e210VgnVCM1000000b205a0aRCRD

The Comunidad de Madrid region tourist office on Retiro: http://turismomadrid.es/es/descubre/madrid/de-inter%C3%A9s/5111-parque-del-retiro.html

Hope you get an idea, this is a must, a lingering must in Madrid. Cannot come to the city without visiting day and night. To me ,it is a pilgrimage each time. To Madrid to heaven and a hole in the sky to look down on it every day:yes, and the Retiro is a big spot looking down!

Remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers!!!

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June 16, 2018

Towns of history and Castle in the Province of Cuenca!

And traveling along on my quest for the Quijote in me and visiting not only the province of Cuenca but also the region or autonomous community of Castilla La Mancha away from my beloved Madrid. I have come to realized the beauty of small towns away from the metropolis, and these have a remarkable impact on me and my family. Maybe one reason why we lived in a town of 7K now. Love it.

We were base in the mountains of the Serrania de Cuenca, especifically at Las Majadas, a place of many memories of family visits and good friends. We all love so much that we repeated coming here, and my dear late wife Martine fell in love with the area even thinking of retirement here. Sad could not be, life goes on, memories to take along the roads.

Let me tell you about Almodóvar del Pinar a town passing on the road N320 and only 47 km from Cuenca capital and Valencia 154 km , Madrid 234 km. The name comes from the Moors/Arabs that means Redondo or round going back to the 11C . Went thru many battles between Moors and Christians until king Alfonso VIII conquered in 1177 and again coming back to retake in 1184. By 1452, king Juan II of Castile bequest the town to Don Rodrigo Manrique, Count of  Paredes ,and Nava, Constable of Castile ,  Commander of  Segura de la Sierra, knight of the Order of Santiago and father of the famous poet  Jorge Manrique. In 1467 Manrique sells all his assets of the town to  Don Martín de Alarcón, Commander of Mérida , and Lord of  Solera.

In the 18C, the town had its biggest economic impact been of the most important towns in Spain for carriage transport (carreteros sort of the truckers of today) delivering goods all over Spain . The Royal Association of carriages of Almodovar was founded in the 16C_17C; having the town the biggest number of carriages per inhabitant in Spain. The goods were mostly transported to Madrid  but also to  Valencia, Cuenca, Linares, and Sevilla.

Another interesting historical anecdote here is on the Inquisition. There official members and collaborators calles family of the inquisition, and they were townspeople with the shield of the Inquisition on their front doors that gave them prestige, and they were not subject to laws but only to the Inquisitors. Here over 100 processes on the inquisition took place, a rather large number for a very small town not reaching 500 inhabitants at the time. Very repressive town in those days.

Things to see here are Cerro de los Cubos at a height of 994 meters with the remains of an Arab/moor fortification.  Wonderful Church of Our Lady of the Assomption or Iglesia de Nuestra Senora de la Asunción; the nerf is from the 15C, the tower from the 17C, and the main gate is from the 18C.  Inside there is a major altar and retable in baroque style done in 1957-1959 at  Santiago de Compostela. The nice ornate City Hall , Pósito (goods depot) , and the Chapels of Ermita Nuestra Senora de las Nieves (15C) ,  Ermita de San Antonio Abad (17C-18C),  Ermita de San Miguel Arcángel (17C), and my favorite there (because Valencia monk came to my current area to preached circa 1410-19) the Ermita de San Vicente Ferrer (18C) renovated and now use for civil events ,and the house of the inquisition or Casa de la Inquisición.

Almodovar del Pinar Almodovar del Pinar

A webpage to help you plan your trip here in addition to my blog post:

Castilla la Mancha tourist office on Almodovar del Pinar : http://en.www.turismocastillalamancha.es/patrimonio/almodovar-del-pinar-44131/descripcion/

We come to an even smaller town but very picturesque we saw on the road and decided to come in to. This is Arcas del Villar or simply Arcas now. There are many sites still use Arcas del Villar but the main buildings are in Arcas. It is only 8 km from Cuenca at a height of 959 meters.  You easily reach it from Cuenca on the road N320a and then the local CM 220.  In the municipality including several small towns the highest peak is the  Monte Talayuelo at 1273 meters. It has a mountain pass call La Tórdiga at 1200 meters. The municipality is cross by the San Martin river and has several lakes on the complex Lagunar de Arcas.

The main thing to see here is the Church of Our Lady of the Nativity or Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de la Natividad, Romanesque style dating from the 13C with only one nerf and abside semi circular right in town center.

Arcas del Villar Arcas del Villar

 

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are

Tourist office of Castilla La Mancha on Arcas del Villar: http://en.www.turismocastillalamancha.es/patrimonio/arcas-del-villar-63731/descripcion/

City Hall of Arcas on things to see in Spanish http://www.ayuntamientoarcas.es/turismo/

Now we come to a very historical castle fortress of my beloved Castilla La Mancha and Spain.

The Castle of Garcimuñoz is a very small town of less then 70 folks right along the expressway A-3 Madrid-Valencia at km. 156. It is at 915 meters above sea level and the town is on a descend from it.

The long history which I will try to make much shorter is to follow.

During the Arabs/Moors occupation the place was called Al-Marg Hamal. In  1177,king Alfonso VIII conquered the town of  Cuenca, and two years later takes over the place of now Garciamunoz after also taken Zafra de Záncara.  The castle took the name from a knight García Muñoz, that accompanied the king and this was confirmed in various documents of the period such as in 1167 ,and twice in 1179).​ García Muñoz  was name mayor of the Castle in charge of the population and it is for this reason that it was known with the name of castle Garcimuñoz.  The town was re populated by ordered of the king with folks from  Extremadura  and Burgos.  Later on, king Alfonso VIII took Alarcon in 1184 and made the castle belong to its jurisdiction for 138 years.

During the many wars amongst the kingdoms of Spain ; in 1296 king Jaime II of Aragon starts a war to take over some places belonging to Don Juan Manuel; this later claims they were taken in haze and ask to be returned to him. One of the compensation was Alarcon and several other villages, he obtained from the regent queen Maria de Molina priviledges given at Cuéllar in 1297 , that ,also confirm the treaty of Torrellas of 1304. Thereafter ,for most of his life Don Juan Manuel lived in the castle of Garcimuñoz, in one of the towers he kept his fortune according to his will and where he wrote many of his literary works. Probably, it is here that his daughter Constanza (wife of king Pedro I of Portugal), was born and later died in Santarem in 1345 leaving one son Fernando that later would be king of Portugal as Fernando I.

Here comes a central figure in the history of this area and Spain, Don Juan Pacheco ordered built a new fortress at Garcimuñoz  in 1456 on top of the previous fortress of Don Juan Manuel ( when the cemetery was transfered here in 1974 due to excavation later in 2008,  you can see the lower level of the old fortress built by Don Juan Manuel. The son of Don Juan Pacheco, Diego López Pacheco, was opposed to the ruling of Isabel I or Isabel la Católica, together with the archbishop of  Toledo Don Alfonso Carrillo. The war of succession was on after the death of king Enrique IV  in which towns such as Garcimuñoz, the last remnants of the marquis of Villena falls to the infanta Isabel.  In 1480  it is signed at Belmonte  the concordat with the Catholic kings and with this ends the war  as well as the fighting utility of the castle of Garcimuñoz.

Until the first third of the 19C, the marquis of Villena are the lords of the castle and town and in charge of collecting taxes . The law of 1823 ends the lordships and the charge of taxes passing to tribunal courts or governement treasury; this cause the Marquis of Villena to sell the castle or Castillo de Garcimuñoz.

Some things to see here are: On the side of this castle on a cut of it, was started to built in 1663 a Church or Iglesia de San Juan Bautista (St John the Baptist) and opened in 1708. The stones and towers of the castle were used to built the Church and were the cause of the destruction of most of the castle; however thanks to the Church we have a castle stil today.  The patio was rented to the local priest for a cemetery as it was then prohibited to buried folks in Churches.

The Castle is really it here and a must to visit easy off the A3 road. The walls of it are 3 meters thick and built to resist the attack of artillery of the times. On the lower level, it is reinforced with a slope making it difficult to conquered it. The form is square irregular and its corners are reinforce with circular cubes. On the north side you have the main entrance tower or Torre del Homenaje; these towers has a dome in bricks and crown with casements and ample space to move artillery.In its heydays had two levels, one the lowel level had a patio with anti lighting crosses and on the second level on the northeast side had five gothic windows in the form of a Cross.

The windows of the first and second level shows that part of the castle had a palace aspect. The first floor windows have three centers and the middle inverse. There is a ornamental arc that is closed with a crown below it and in the center the Royal arms of king Enrique IV of Castile . The castle is peculiar because below it ordered built in 1458 there another where Don Juan Manule lived and in turn it is the continuation of the one lived by Garcia Muñoz , of which one day was destroyed by  the Caliph Yusuf  in his conquest of 1172 against the town of Huete.

Garcimunoz Garcimunoz

Other things to see are:  the Cross of Jorge Manrique built in 1941. it is about 3 km from the town on the way to Nava ,the place where supposely felled fatally wounded the poet Jorge Manrique in 1479. it is built from shisel stone from the Cathedral of Cuenca and it is the place to return after the procession of the Virgin. You can read in the monument: Here felled fatally wounded Jorge Manrique, fighting for the unity of Spain. It has two shields on each side and in the center an iron cross. At the foot is a deposit where the coplas song of Jorge Manrique amongst them the “A la muerte de su Padre”  to the death of his Father, today there is only a hole left.

The town also, had an hospital.  After in 1834 evicting the monks and in 1835 the sisters there was a hospital for the poor with land reaching to the castle of  Garcimuñoz  as well as two convents.  The hospital of Our Lady of the Conception or hospital de Nuestra Señora de la Concepción was founded by the parish priest in 1640.  The convent or convento de frailes de San Agustín (of monks of St Augustine) was founded by Don Juan Manuel in 1236 , and still preserve the abside of the Church in gothic style and the walls of the cloister. The convent or  convento de monjas agustinas, also known as Nuestra Señora de Gracia was founded in the 15C and restored in 1500 ; it is still in good condition inhabited by 8 families in the town.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are

Association to safekeep the castle not oficial in Spanish : http://www.castillogarcimunoz.es/

Tourist office of Castilla La Mancha: http://en.www.turismocastillalamancha.es/patrimonio/castillo-de-garcimunoz-20731/descripcion/

There you go another nice local sublime historical ride on my Castilian plains of my beloved Spain. Hope you enjoy the ride, and history for always.

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

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June 15, 2018

Quaint towns of the Province of Cuenca!

Well ,rain is back, flooding in some parts where I am and even in Spain, rivers flowing thru towns unfortunately, this is the end of Spring and Summer coming up June 21th. Anyway, here are my newest take you go places.

I have enjoyed coming with the family to visit these places on first time, something we relish having discovered them together. We took our base in the mountains of Cuenca and from there went by car all over. These are the quaint little towns of Tragacete, Canete, Tarancon, Una, and Villalba de la Sierra all in the province of Cuenca, autonomous community of Castilla La Mancha.

My previous blog post on some of these towns here: Quaint Province of Cuenca

Ok , let’s start. Tragacete  is as all are (not to repeat myself) in the Province of Cuenca, autonomous community of Castilla La Mancha located in the Serranía Alta or high sierra area, and part of the natural park of the Sierras of Cuenca or Parque Natural Serranía de Cuenca. Here the Júcar river is born in the Cerro de San Felipe  and reach the town on about 12 km from its birth; nearby ,you ,also find the birth of the Cuervo river also at about 12 km and the birth of the Tajo river and a bit further the wonderful Ciudad Encantada (enchanted city natural park), Parque de El Hosquillo (more rock formation park) , and the  Ventano del Diablo (the window of the devil with great views). The town is shaded by the highest peaks in the area all over 1850 meters high.  Going out further at about 2 km,  you have the Molino de la Virgen (windmill of the Virgin), there is a nice cascade down juraisic stones down river; you see the water come and go as it filtered on the calcaric rocks that reach a plain at about 1560 meters high  from where the Jucar river is created  (Cerro de San Felipe plains) at a place call the Ojos de Valdeminguete (the eyes of Valdeminguete).

Tragacete

Here is born one of the Royal trails of the animal and men crossing in Spain, that are regulated by a Royal decree signed by king Alfonso X the Sabio in 1273. The one here is known as the  Cañada Real Conquense o de los Chorros . It goes thru the provinces of Cuenca, Ciudad Real, and part of the province of Jaén in Andalucia.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are

Tourist office of Spain: Spain on Tragacete

Tourist office of Castilla La Mancha on Tragacete:  http://www.turismocastillalamancha.es/patrimonio/tragacete-70831/

City Hall of Tragacete:  http://www.tragacete.es/turismo/oficina-de-turismo

We move on to  Cañete at about 70 km from Cuenca. Main road to take you there is the N 420 halfway between Cuenca and Teruel. There is a nice natural setting park at El Chorreadero. The castle you can do on foot as well as the quaint Postigo or Hoz del Postigo that has a pretty cascade fall, river, and hanging houses as well as the Chapel of the patron Saint of  Virgen de la Zarza, parts of the ruins and plenty of fishes , birds etc for the nature lover.

The Chorreadero ,you go out of town by the gate or Puerta de la Virgen and crossing the  Salinillas (sandy area) you can reach the place or continue towards  Cabeza de Don Pedro. The nice ruins castle or  Castillo de Cañete is of  Moors origins with various additions after the Castilian conquest. The last were done in the 19C during the Carlist wars. It is on top of a narrow hilly area where you can look at the town below and the  Mayor del Molinillo river. You can see the Wall ramparts or Muralla de Cañete, the town in parts is surrounded by it with Moorish origins and Christians modifications inside you can see the gate or Puerta de las Eras,with a horseshoe arc and Moorish lettering. You can see the Churches of Santiago, Chapel of San Juliàn, and Chapel of the Virgen de la Zarza. Lots of destruction here during the Spanish Civil War by the Republicans forces.  In addition, in 2015, it was discoverd a mount call locally El Cabezuelo or the big head with three megaliths steps that could be possible pyramids in steps the first in Spain. Even if the majority of experts believe is a Celtic Oppidum from the 3C AD.

Canete Canete

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are

City of Canete: http://www.villadecanete.com/

Tourist office of Castilla la Mancha on Canete http://en.www.turismocastillalamancha.es/patrimonio/canete-64231/descripcion/

This is a town we passed all the time and the sad story is that here my dear late wife Martine was treated for pains (there is a clinic (Centro de Salud) in city center) while on vacation, the first signs of her cancer. Villalba de la Sierra will be only sadly remember I am afraid. It is only 21 km from Cuenca on the foot really of the Serrania de Cuenca mountains where we rented houses the last several years at 1400 meters. It is an area good for natural river fishing on the Jùcar river on two spots call the  coto de Villalba, and  El Tablazo. You see from here high above the before mentioned Ventano del Diablo,, the valley of  Cambrón,​ where you will see the ruins of a former convent of Carmelites , the Barranco del Jùcar or canyon is good to see.

Villalba de la Sierra

The city hall with tourist info on Villalba is here:   http://www.villalbadelasierra.org/portal/lang__es-ES/tabid__5354/default.aspx

Going up and around in this mountaneous area we reach the nice Uña (nails), there is a big lagoon/lake here part of the Parque Natural de la Serranía de Cuenca. You need to go by car up the mountain on the local road  CM-2105. It is a lake of 200 meters in diameter with clear emerald waters of no more than 15 meters deep. Wild life is big here with ducks, seagalls, etc as well as deers, wild pigs etc. Around the lake you come into the Balcony of Uña, from here we can see the rocky coastal shelf, known as the castle of Uña, which shields the town from the wind. This is the landscape known as Gorge Los Cortados. The sierras of Las Majadas (where we had been renting rural houses) and Valdecabras, among which the Jucar river runs, are the backdrop of the town’s entrance. The highlight of the historic quarter is the Church of San Miguel Arcángel, built in the 13C, and remodelled in the 16C. It is a building made of masonry, which has a steeple and a wooden gabled roof.

Una Una

Just around the corner from the town you have the Embalse de la Toba , a dam that starts from the  Júcar river ,between mountains. It is a big swamp of 150 hectares where you can see the muela de La Madera a place of many voltures and other rapace birds. The dam or embalse is created from the Júcar river together with others such as the Valdemeca, and other small streams . The Embalse de la Toba was built in 1925 as a project to conditioned the hydroelectric plant using the river for a traject of 20 km inside the Serranía de Cuenca that would help control the Júcar river as well as channeled the waters to the hydroelectric plant at Villalba de la Sierra. In Summer, it is one of the best areas for swimming and the most popular beach area in the province of Cuenca.

Una

The tourist office of Castilla La Mancha has some on Una here:   http://www.turismocastillalamancha.es/patrimonio/descubra-el-casco-urbano-de-una-70931/descripcion/

Last but not least, is the town where we came in on the A40 to take the A3 to Madrid each time or vice versa. And of course, we went  to see Tarancon.

It is at the crossroads of the A-3 or Autovía del Este  Madrid-Valencia. The A-40 or Autovía de Castilla-La Mancha, starts in Ávila, past by  Toledo, Tarancón, Cuenca , and finish at Teruel.  The  N-400 connects Tarancón with Ocaña and Toledo. The local road  CM-200  connects the towns of Fuente de Pedro Naharro, Villamayor de Santiago, Tarancón , and Barajas de Melo in the province of Cuenca, and  Albalate de Zorita, Almonacid de Zorita, Pastrana and Fuentelencina in the province of Guadalajara. Tarancón  has a train station on the line Madrid-Cuenca-Valencia.  Tarancón as Madrid and Cuenca are in the zone E2 of the Madrid regional transport network and you can use the Abono Transporte pass to come here on the bus lines 352 from company Ruiz, S.A. and line 309 from bus company Auto Res, S.A. taking you to Ave Conde de Casal in Madrid or Cuenca bus/train terminals.

Tarancón , it is half way between Cuenca and Madrid at about 80 km. It has some nice quaint architecture as well. The Palacio de los Duques de Riánsares (palace of the dukes of riànsares was restored in the 19C on a rectangular shape and a central park with Toscans columns around which are the rooms of the palace of which very few originals are kept. It is currently the City Hall of  Tarancón. You can see outside the remains of the old gates wrough iron grills, the nice gardens in the 20C were change into the current square Plaza del Mercado.

Other nice things to see here are  the Church of our lady of the Assomption or Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de la Asunción,from the 16C with a nice retable altar in plateresque style on the high altar. The convent or Convento de San Francisco, the sanctuary or Santuario de la Vírgen de Riánsares, and the palace mansion or Casa Palacio de los Parada, the parish Church of San Victor y Santa Corona, and other chapels such as San Juan, San Isidro Labrador, San Roque ,and Santa Quiteria.  There is a quaint nice old town around the parish Church.

Tarancon Tarancon

For the art lover or curious there is the painting collection of Emiliano Lozano. It includes about 300 works bequested to the city of Tarancón,by the family Lozano de la Pola, and it shows small and big portraits in all types of support and all kinds of techniques in which many of the greater works from the comics, portraits, posters, views of cities , wine houses etc etc are on display.

Tourist office of Castilla la Mancha on Tarancon: http://en.www.turismocastillalamancha.es/patrimonio/tarancon-85531/descripcion/

Hope you enjoy the ride as much as we did; it is the real Spain, nothing about crowds or up prices, this is the real thing and of course, much better with a car.

And remember, happy travels, good health,and many cheers to all!!! Again thanks for stopping by. Cheers!!!

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June 14, 2018

The triangle, Colmenar de Oreja, Chinchon, and Villarejo de Salvanés!

I like to put these three again together.  It’s in my wonderful Comunidad de Madrid , the region of Madrid ,and flashes already begin as I write. I had great memories here especially of Chinchon, and later with the family on all three ,sometimes coming back to back to them. My dear late wife Martine really enjoyed it and we love it together. Memories forever and I like to share it with my readers . Of course, I repeat the triangle; Colmenar de Oreja, Chinchon, and Villarejo de Salvanés.

Oh yes this is south of Madrid and a wonderful area my dear late wife Martine enjoyed very much; we were thinking of even retiring here ; life is too short.  Memories now of what could have been, sad yes. No words yes.

I wrote a bit on them previously in my blog, here is the entry. https://paris1972-versailles2003.com/2016/08/25/chinchon-colmenar-la-oreja-and-villarejo-de-salvanes-comunidad-de-madrid/

Colmenar de Oreja   as all the others are in the Comunidad de Madrid region and Colmenar is only about 50 km from Madrid and you can only come here by car ,no train station. You come by the expressway A3 Madrid-Valencia and take the entry into the road M404 by km 50 at Villarejo de Salvanés (see below) until Belmonte de Tajo and here take the M303 to Colmenar de Oreja.  There is another way from the A3 take the M307 at Km 21 before reaching Arganda del Rey, and by it follow continuously the M311 and before reaching Morata de Tajuña the M313 to Colmenar de Oreja (also take you to Chinchon, see below).

A bit of history I like is that between the years 1500 to 1700 the successive kings of the Habsburg (Austria) ordered the most important works in this town such as the enlargement of the Church of  Santa María la Mayor (1517), repairs to the wall ramparts  (1517) the irrigation of the fields of Vega  (1572), and the foundation of the Franciscan Monastery of San Bernardino de Siena (1570) , and the founding of   the Monastery of the Incarcanation of the recollects Augustinians (1685).

One of the nice things to do and see here are the building of the Plaza Mayor in 1676, a wonderful example of Castilian squares finished in 1794 and on it you find the Casa Consistorial ( served as city hall)  and Posito (old food depot). The Teatro Municipal Diéguez, built on top of the former charity hospital. In the 19C, it was called the comedy theater and later Charity theater,currently bears the name in memory of Antonio Diéguez Cruz, a famous cinema and theater actor born here at Calle Pérez,2. The Museo Ulpiano Checa museum, the most ample collection on the work of this painter of historic paintings from the end of the 19C, oriental paintings etc. You get to the building by a nice garden where you can see a bust of the painter and a monument to items typical of the town such as the stone and the earthenware.

Church of Santa Maria la Mayor, built by the order of St James in the third part of the 13C, enlarged in second half of the 16C. A beautiful organ with great concerts here. The Chapel of the Christ or Ermita del Santisimo Cristo del Humilladero, patron Saint of the town , different architectural styles and periods with a beautiful chapel of the 16C, all in a Latin Cross and a small dome. The Convent or Convento de la Encarnacion del Divino Verbo, belongs to the sisters Recollect Augustinians and known locally as the convent of the sisters. It has an area of almost 7K sq meters and done with three bodies and a garden, built around the 17C even if founded the order in 1536.

Colmenar de Oreja Colmenar de Oreja

Some webpages to help you plan your trip to this nice quaint town

Regional tourist office on Colmenar de Oreja: http://turismomadrid.es/en/discover/colmenar-de-oreja.html

City of Colmenar de Oreja tourist office http://colmenarte.colmenardeoreja.com/

Villarejo de Salvanés on the same region of course; is located at the km 48 of the expressway A3 Madrid-Valencia.  Some anecdote on the town I like on my history was that here in 1866, General Prim rose up against the government of O’Donnell and the Isabeline regime, failed coup.

Some of the things to see and do here are

The sanctuary of our Lady of the Victory or the Santuario de Nuestra Señora de la Victoria started built in 1573 in memory of the victory against the Turks in the Battle of Lepanto in 1571 where the admiral  Requesens, asked for the intervention of the Virgin del Rosario to win promising to built a Church in her honor if victorious; and so he was and so was built the Church. The Third house or Casa de la Tercia, built in the 16C name as such because he guarded a third of the tribute for personal use of the Commander; it has two floors and a patio with columns as well as caves with earthenwares of great size used to house the wine of the commanders, with subterranean galleries that communicates with the Church and Castle.

The tower or Torre del Homenaje of the  Castle of Villarejo de Salvanés was part of a defensive network that protected the old way to Toledo as well as before the Galiana way in Roman times that link Gaul with Hispania (France and Spain) during the middle ages was still in use.  The castle had many uses and the point of uprising of Gen Prim. This is where we parked and walked around and my dear late wife Martine found a lady who told her where to buy groceries just around the corner….She could talk Spanish too. The parish Church of San Andrés Aposto or St Andrew the apostle. Built in the 14C has high towers and on the front the shield of the order of St James (Santiago) as well as on the lateral door. The Church is on the Plaza del Castillo square.

Villarejo de Salvanes Villarejo de Salvanes

a webpage of tourism in the region on Villarejo de Salvanés to help you plan your trip here is : http://turismomadrid.es/es/descubre/las-vegas/7168-villarejo-de-salvanes.html

And last but not least in this wonderful ride by car in my favorite of my beloved Spain.

Chinchón  only 44 km from Madrid.  The unique find here is that in 1638, the properties of the skin of the Quina was discovered by the Countess of Chinchon wife of the vice king of Peru ,observing the healers working on treating fever.  In 1738, the county passed after purchase to the House of Bourbon and Farnese and later it was given the title of Very noble and loyal city for its fidelity during the War of Succession.

Easiest way to get here A-3 to Arganda’s bridge with right signposted in the M-311-313 road, which passes near Morata de Tajuña to Chinchón, winding route on its last sections. From Madrid there is a good bus service every hour, by the carrier “La Veloz”, which starts in Plaza Conde Casal, head of the highway N-III Madrid-Valencia. This is the 337 bus line Madrid-Chinchón-Valdelaguna.

Some things to see and do here at Chinchon are

The wonderful Plaza Mayor of Chinchón.  The first houses had supports and balconies built in the 15C and became enclosed in the 17C.  The buildings are of three floors and indented galleries as well as 235 balconies in clear wood supported by pillars. The square has hosted several events like Royal feasts, proclamations, comedy theater, beer games, bullfight corridas , executions, sacrificial acts, religious acts, political and military as well as a cinema filming like the corrida shown in the movie The tour of the world in 80 Days and circus acts in the movie The fabulous world of the circus.

Chinchon

The Church of our lady of Assomption or Nuestra Señora de la Asuncion, began built in 1534 as a Chapel annex to the County Palace in a gothic style and finished in 1626. The current Church is a reconstruction of gothic, Plateresque, renaissance, and baroque styles.  The main retable altar has a painting of the Assomption of the Virgin painted in 1812 by famous Spanish painter Francisco de Goya on orders by his brother Camilo, priest of the Church.

Torre del reloj  or clock tower from the 15C restored in 1808 but not the Church that remained enclosed in time. We love to come up here the Castle of the Counts or Castillo de los Condes,  built in the second half of the 16C with a renaissance style but very robust and horizontal in order to avoid the artillery fire. The castle was abandoned in the 18C after the counts residing here for over 200 years. The Imperial troop of the Marquis of Mina attacked it and destroyed it, it’s last used was a factory of liquors. Yet the views from it are impressive over the city in addition of stepping into history.

Chinchon Chinchon

The convent or Convento de San Agustin, currently house the tourist hotel Parador Nacional de Chinchon after been rebuilt and restored in 1982 once given by the city to the regional government. The first convent here was founded in the end of the 15C and built in 1626 during the war of Succession where it was lived by the Archduke Carlos of Austria. During the 18C and 19C was a training center of humanistic approach to theology, grammar, and latin. In 1842 it was the courthouse and later prison. In the 20C, it housed tribunal of justice. Today, it is a parador  and on the Church it is the Chapel of the Our Lady of Rosary or Ermita de Nuestra Señora del Rosario.

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

City hall of Chinchon on culture, theater etc http://www.ciudad-chinchon.com/ayuntamiento/concejalias/cultura/presentacion.php

Tourist office of Chinchon http://www.ciudad-chinchon.com/turismo/en/conoce-chinchon/lugares-interes/edificios-historico-artisticos.php

And the ride is over folks. Very nice area to drive around, and see wonderful towns ,some off the beaten path ways. Enjoy it as we did/do.

And remember as always my dear readers, happy travels, good health and many cheers!!! And even if not always posted you know I always thank you from the bottom of my heart you reading and accompanying me in my journey, better together. Cheers!

 

 

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June 13, 2018

The mountains of Madrid, Navacerrada!!

Ok another nostalgic moment that was able to see again last summer.  Well, this is the beginning of the end;;;;; many years ago circa 1972, I was living in Madrid, and friends convince me to go skiing in the mountains. I am a city boy and always been; so curiosity took me there. It was of course the fabled Navacerrada and I put my skis; well I never had so many summersaults in my life coming down the mountain, lucky was not hurt and therefore, ended my career as a skier….lol!

However, the memories still lingered and had gone up just to see an after ski day or just enjoying the natural beauty of the place, and of course driving around those mountain peaks.  Navacerrada will always remained close to my heart. My dear late wife Martine took a nostalgic trip with me last year and really enjoyed it.

I had written a previous blog post on the sierras or mountain range around Madrid, here it is that post. https://paris1972-versailles2003.com/2011/04/25/the-sierras-around-madrid/

Navacerrada  (the town) is in the Comunidad de Madrid at 1200 meters high on the shoulders of the Sierra de Guadarrama on the Navacerrada dam and the entrance to the Valley of Barranca. The town is located at 52 km from Madrid.

Every Sunday there is a market of antiques in the Avenida de Madrid. On the first Sunday of the month there is a expo of old collectible automobiles as well as a medieval market with a very festive ambiance.

City hall of Navacerrada on tourism https://www.aytonavacerrada.org/index.php/planes/informacion-turistica

Navacerrada Photo credit Comunidad de Madrid government. City Hall of Navacerrada.

You have an excellent time skiing here , the best in Madrid in my opinion. The closest station to Madrid at 1858 meters high.  It is well  divided in two zones; a high zone with average trails to advance and a lower zone with average trails and beginners. They are well protected along pine trees. The north ladder or ¡Segovian is part of the municipality of Real Sitio de San Ildefonso , and the south ladder or Madrilene belongs to the municipality of Cercedilla. . From here you can use as a base to visit La Granja de San Ildefonso , Segovia, San Lorenzo de El Escorial, Rascafria , Fuenfria and others. More on the Puerto de or port of Navacerrada and skiing here: http://www.puertonavacerrada.com/

The project of the port was done in 1778 and opened to the public in 1788 under the reign of king Carlos IV. The port town is crossed by the road M 601 that connects Collado Villalba with Segovia. From the port town there is the road CL 604 that connects with the towns in the Valley of Lozoya passing by the Puerto de Cotos port. The last segment from the south passes at the intersection of roads M 601 and M 607 at 1300 meters altitude and goes up 560 meters at a inclination of 8%

Ways to get to the town from Madrid. You can get on the expressway A6 to Collado Villalba (another nice town) and here take the M-601 direction Segovia until you reach Puerto de Navacerrada. Every day there are buses too from the bus depot at Moncloa in Madrid , take line 691 of Autobuses Larrea (never taken them) . You can ,also,come here from Madrid taking the road M-607 direction Colmenar Viejo follow signs for Puerto de Navacerrada . By train from Chamartin station in Madrid take the Cercanias C 8b to Cercedilla and here change on the C9 cotos train to Puerto de Navacerrada. The Adolfo Suarez Barajas airport is only 80 km.

A map and trails of Navacerrada can be printed here in pdf file. http://www.puertonavacerrada.com/documentos/Plano_Pistas_Navacerrada.pdf

Some good eating places in Puerto de Navacerrada and the town are Asador Espinosa,restaurante Casa Paco, and La Fonda Real, that I can recommend from the many in the area.

Spain webcams on info snow especially on the M 601 road. https://www.infonieve.es/estacion-esqui/puerto-de-navacerrada/webcams/

Official Spain weather service (AEMET) on mountain weather: http://www.aemet.es/en/eltiempo/prediccion/montana?w=&p=mad2

City of Madrid tourism on Puerto de Navacerrada:   https://www.esmadrid.com/en/tourist-information/puerto-navacerrada

Hope you enjoy it as I did/do; and do try our skiing here it is very nice !!) ho ho ho!!!

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

 

 

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June 12, 2018

A different kind of museum, wax in Madrid!

When it comes to museums we like but is not a big priority for us. We go to some different museums and we like the Wax Museum of Madrid. I was there when it opened in 1972 and visit again with the family a couple times and as it is in one of the best areas of Madrid and the one we stayed (Plaza Colon) Fenix hotel when I took my then girlfriend and later dear late wife Martine in 1990 on our first trip together to Madrid.

Just wonderful memories I like to share in my blog with the world. Enjoy the ride. My previous blog post on the Wax Museum of Madrid here: Wax Museum of Madrid

The Museo de Cera de Madrid shows over 450 wax figures in over 2000 square meters of space on two floors and over forty rooms in which the visitor can travel back in time accompanied by the corresponding historical figures. It is located at Paseo de Recoletos, no 41 right across from the Plaza de Colon square and get there on metro Colon line 4 , as well as buses  21, and 37.  It opened on February 14 1972.

Madrid

To build the museum, a research, selection, and reconstruction of scenarios and characters was carried out, in which Oscar award-winning professionals participated. Sculptors, make-up artists, costume designers, decorators and illuminators of the moment, belonging to film production teams, collaborated in this project. Finally, the first figure, that of the navigator Cristobal Colón, saw the light, and after it many more until the 450 that occupy the scenarios that recreate the environment in which each one of them has lived and lives. These figures come from illustrious personages of the history of Spain, and also international, of different fields: history  such as king Felipe VI, and former US President  Barack Obama; the Arts like Pablo Neruda,  and Pablo Picasso; Sciences like Ramón y Cajal, and  Margarita Salas, Spectacles like Plácido Domingo, and  Lola Flores, Terror  like Dracula, and children like Mortadelo and Philemon, among other representations.

Almost all the contemporary characters that are exhibited in the galleries of the museum are dressed in costumes belonging to each one of them, from the General Franco to the master composer Joaquín Rodrigo passing by the actress Lina Morgan, the writer Camilo José Cela, the actress Carmen Sevilla or Cleopatra, Napoleon Bonaparte, the Kings of the Dynasties of Austria (Habsburg) and Bourbon. The museum has made a special interest in reflecting the children’s world with the presence of the Simpson family, Harry Potter, Mortadelo and Philemon and Snow White in addition to Frodo of The Lord of the Rings. You can see that one of the galleries is the crime and horror room with characters such as Count Dracula, the Mummy or Freddy Krueger.

The museum also has three attractions: the simulator consisting of icy tunnels, the center of the Earth and space; The train of terror, which transports the visitor to the Jurassic Park, to the Galactic Tavern, passing through famous murders and other surprises; And finally a multivision that offers a glimpse of the history of Spain. Fascinating indeed.

Further webpages to help you plan your visit here are

Madrid tourist office: Madrid tourist office on the Wax Museum

And the official webpage of the museum: Museo de Cera de Madrid

Hope you enjoy the history in one single spot, right in marvelous Paseo de Recoleto and the Plaza de Colon, Madrid.

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

 

 

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June 12, 2018

Alcalà de Henares and Cervantes or is it Don Quijote!

Coming back to nice Alcalà de Henares, almost a backyard of my beloved Madrid. I have, think I told you this, spent many years here from the age of 10 ,and eventually came with the wife,  my dear late wife Martine, and then with the 3 boys; and always memories. I have written some posts on the city but what about Cervantes?

One cannot come here without at least visiting once the House Museum of Don Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra at Calle Mayor,48.  Always difficult to pinpoint exactly ,and he had several houses in his life, but this one is recognized as been the birthplace.

The Museo Casa Natal de Cervantes  is in Alcala de Henares at the Calle Mayor next to the Hospital de Antezana. The current house is from 1956 done in the traditional way of the Castilian countryside  . Miguel was the son of Rodrigo de Cervantes a surgeon doctor and Leonor de Cortinas,  We do not know exactly his birthplace but Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra is recognize as been born in this city in 1547, even if the only record is of his baptism here in the same year at the Church of St Mary or Santa Maria in front of the city hall even if from this Church only remains the tower, and some column bases and chapels.

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At the time of him living here the house belongs to his Aunt Maria in which he lived until 1551 when he moved to Valladolid, where there is another house he lived in. The house is of two floors and is in the corner of Calle Mayor and Calle de la Imagen. There are ,also houses in Madrid, and Esquivias.

I will unusually put some webpages to help you plan your trip here at this point

The official webpage of the House Museum : http://www.museocasanataldecervantes.org/information/

More in English from the tourist office of Alcala de Henares http://www.turismoalcala.es/turismo/museo-casa-natal-de-cervantes/

In the museum, you see a daily life of a well off Castilian family in the 16C and 17C showing public and private spaces.  It has an important library section with previous editions of his work in all periods and all languages, including the first part of El Quijote edited in Lisbon in 1605.  At the street level floor, you have rooms dedicated to the social and daily life  such as a living room, dining room, a Ladies room, pharmacy as his father was a surgeon in the hospital of Antezana.

From the entrance garden of Cervantes, the central courtyard is reach. This is a traditional element in the Alcalainas houses. It has eight columns of granite and limestone with Corinthian capitals, on the ground floor, while the upper floor shows the balustrade and the wooden pillars. It stands out in the courtyard in a corner, the original well of the house in an octagonal shape.

The courtyard is passed to the podium or room of the ladies, a very characteristic room of the time, where they sat on the floor on cushions and rugs, to read, sew, pray, play music or chat. The furniture is of small size, like footstools, boxes, small desks. There could be some low stool for the Knights, who only entered here if they were invited.

The Noble Room is where visitors were greeted, you can see arm chairs or friars, with leather backing, buffets or tables and large braziers to warm up the stay in winter. The buffets were covered with cloths, as well as the walls with fine decorated sheep skins.

Leaving the courtyard, a hallway takes us to the pharmacy or chamber of Rodrigo, father of Miguel de Cervantes, who was a surgeon doctor. These “old surgeons” did more than Barbers, who were involved in indenting, much less than doctors.  In the room there is a surgeon’s table, an armchair to sit the patient, a mudejar style cupboard for medicines and remedies, many of them herbal, and various jars of pharmacy, in ceramics; All these are original objects from the 16C and 17C.

The dining room , which at the time there were no proper dining rooms, but the table was available in the meeting room, and so was the dressing room to eat. After eating the utensils of the food were removed, mainly plates and spoons, some Becket, the candlesticks to illuminate with candles the dinners, or a brazier to warm up in winter, which in this case is polygonal . Once again, all objects are originals of the golden Ages.

Kitchen and wine cellar , which, if you are a Spanish or Mediterranean visitor will be familiar in many of its objects, as it was in the 16C has remained until today in many rural areas of Spain. It has been arranged giving a very vivid image of how life was then, centered in the kitchen, to the point that when in the house many times slept there.  In the winery, once restored, audiovisuals are projected on the life of Miguel de Cervantes.

And of course ,why this why all the talk about a house a museum in little Alcala de Henares; well because the Don Quijote of La Mancha was a novel written by the Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra. Published its first part with the title of the El Ingenioso Hidalgo Don Quijote de la Mancha at the beginning of 1605, it is the most outstanding work of the Spanish literature and one of the principal of the universal literature. In 1615 appeared its continuation with the title of Segunda parte del ingenioso caballero don Quijote de la Mancha. The Quijote of 1605 was published divided into four parts; But when the Quijote appeared of 1615 in the quality of the second part of the work, it was actually revoked the partition in four sections of the volume published ten years before by Cervantes.

The museum is free. The cercanias train  C-1, C-2 and C7A can take you here from Madrid, there is a bus no 223 from the bus depot at Avenida de América in Madrid; if by car as I did too, there is public parking at Pico del Obispo, Calle Cardenal Sandoval y Rojas with entrance at Puerta de Madrid. I rather park a bit away and walk in, via Complutence in parking San Lucas, just great easy in and out of the city.

Some of my previous blog posts on Alcala de Henares and a touch of Cervantes to round up your planning are here

https://paris1972-versailles2003.com/2017/09/04/alcala-de-henares-madrid-with-a-touch-of-cervantes/

https://paris1972-versailles2003.com/2016/08/26/alcala-de-henares-cervantes-was-born-here/

There you go, a wonderful town to walk it all. You will be back, I know I will. And remember, happy travels, good health ,and many cheers to all!!

 

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