Archive for ‘Madrid’

August 15, 2018

Palacio de Fomento, Madrid

Well hold on , this is not your usual palace! It is located very centrally by the Atocha train station and had passed many times for its magnificent architecture. However, this Palacio de Fomento or Public Works Palace is actually the seat of Spain Ministry of Agriculture, Foods, and Environment! And another beauty of my beloved Madrid.

I am sure many has seen it traveling in and out of Madrid by Atocha and marble of the structure on the top center of the building, wondering what it is and if it can be visited. Well not really, only accessable to the general public since 2014 on guided visits.

I think it is worth a detour and even if have touch on it in previous blog posts, think it deserve a single post of its own. Therefore, here is a primer and a first post.

The Palace of Fomento, current headquarters of the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Environment in Madrid , one of the most beautiful and emblematic buildings in Madrid, began to be built in the 1890’s. The project took place, because the former headquarters of the Ministry of Development (Convent of the Trinity in Calle Atocha) ,the current Teatro Calderón was small and decided to create a nice ministerial headquarters. To raise it was chosen some land that once belonged to the botanical garden (Real Jardin Botànico) and to separate them from it, had to open a new street, the current Cuesta de Moyano (where the book fair has been held for several years now).  The new building was inaugurated in the year 1900 by the Queen Maria Cristina and combined the tasks of Ministry of  Agriculture and Public Works.


The plot of land in 1886 was originally destined for the Faculty of Sciences and the Central School of Arts and Crafts and Commerce, but the project was dismissed. Although it initially housed the headquarters of the Ministry of Public Works and the Ministry of Education and Fine arts, it is currently the main headquarters of the Ministry of Agriculture, Foods and Environment.


A bit on the architecture I like

It has a setback rectangular plant and is organized by two interior courtyards of equal proportions with iron and glass cover. The highlight of the building is the central body of the facade, composed of a central portico of equal height that the ground floor, which serves, at the same time, as a basement  to four pairs of giant columns of Corinthian in order that support a architrave and an attic of notable proportions.

Also noteworthy are the decorations of tiles and enamels of Daniel Zuloaga, the paintings of Ferrant, the caryatids of the entrance portico that represent the industry and commerce, and the colossal sculptures of the front summit that Agustín Querol made in stone, and then they were replaced by identical bronze ones. Once past this staircase of the hall is when the wonderful monumental staircase of the palace comes. Because of the size and beauty of this staircase it is understood that it is truly a palace. Inthe fronts, the stairs, and the balustrades are of Italian polished marble. But then the budget failed short and they were made with stone of Robledo de Chabela. It is surrounded by the Ionic order and is also repeated here the architectural structures of the facade, as will happen in the courtyards, which provides great harmony. The patios of lights are divided into three main bodies: two with galleries of arches and the last sculptures, following the same disposition as in the facade. The interior of the building is greatly changed by its use over time. It maintains however, the staircases with iron shelves and the elliptical plant library, with its green wood shelves and its staircases with cast iron on both sides.



The building counts on its main façade with a bronze copy of a sculptural ensemble by Agustín Querol, known as the Glory and the Pegasus. A bronze copy, encrusted in the headquarters of the Ministry of Agriculture, and the original group, in marble, in the Plaza de Legazpi and the Glorieta de Cádiz.  In 2005, on the occasion of the works of the M-30 (beltway of Madrid, the original one I knew when lived in the city that passes under the Plaza de Legazpi) jeopardized its stability, the two groups of the Pegasus were withdrawn. After the end of the underground work, only one of them was re-placed.  The one located to the left of the Glory symbolizes material progress. A female figure (agriculture) carries a plow in the right hand while taking with the other one the reins of the Pegasus (symbol of the speed), which appears resting on its hind legs and in gesture to undertake the flight. In it,  is mounted a male figure (the industry) extending his left arm exhibiting a duce (own attribute of Mercury, a Roman god associated with trade). Under the winged horse, one can appreciate a sheaf of wheat and two sprockets, in clear allusion to Agriculture and the Industry respectively.


Many years closed to the general public and it finally opened in 2014 , organizing guided tours and dramatized plays inside the building. Inside it houses works of arts  from National patrimony and from the Prado Museum. I have passed by it many times and been on its grounds but never taken a tour.

Guided tours are free and take place on Saturdays and Sundays, not public holidays, at 12h noon. To book the tickets you have to call the telephone +34 91 347 50 68 from Monday to Friday from 10h to 14h or write email to :

The booked tickets must be collected at the entrance of the building from 11h15 to 11h30. Bookings will not be valid after 11h30.  In the case of dramatized visits, these have a cost of 8 euros per person and take place on Fridays and Saturdays, not holidays, at 20h (8pm). To book the tickets you have to call the same telephone above and or email at the same times.

The  Palacio de Fomento is surrounded by emblematic buildings and places as well as important cultural centers.  As said, it is in front of the Atocha train station only a few meters from the Plaza del Emperador Carlos V (emperor Charles V square), in which center there is replica of the Fuente de la Alcachofa (as fountain in the Retiro Park) , and very close to the Paseo del Prado, Real Jardín Botánico (Royal Botanical garden),  Parque del Retiro(Retiro park),  Real Observatorio de Madrid(Royal Observatory of Madrid) , and the museums of Anthropology , Reina Sofia, and Prado.




How to get here is easy , Ministerio de Agricultura, Alimentación y Medio Ambiente( Palacio de Fomento) at  Paseo Infanta Isabel nº1 Metro: Atocha líne 1 Atocha Cercanías trains C-1, C2, C3, C4, C5, C7, C8, and C10.  Bus lines 26, 32, 37, 10, 14, 19, C1, 27, 34, 45, and 102 . More  Información in Spanish at the above telephone number and from Mondays to Fridays from 10h to 14h info only no purchases, see those days above.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are

Tourist office of Madrid on the Ministry of Agriculture

Official site of the Ministry of Agriculture on guided visits

Hope you enjoy my Madrid. An immense city with so much to offer the visitor/tourist and for locals as well. You never stop learning on Madrid.

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



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August 15, 2018

The Prado museum of Madrid!

And lets tackle this huge institution, not an easy task lol! So will be as brief as possible,just for a taste to bring you in to a fascinating world of the arts. This time from the Spanish angle sort of speaking.

I admit while younger my world was without museums, it took  quite later in life ,even after marriage and maturity per se to start enjoying them. Prado museum in Madrid was big then and it is bigger today; however,in my days in the city never in my wildest dream thought of going in.  To me was just a nice facade on Paseo del Prado. My interest was for some reason no part of it, the Cason del Buen Retiro as it was then part of the Retiro park, now part of the Prado museum, and even then was just a way to hang around the area with friends.

The museum came much later , when in 2004, visiting the city with my family, and passing by walking , on a whim , we decided to go in, and lucky tickets were had easily then.  Well, it was an eye opener and have come back later couple times. The Prado encourage me to visit the Louvre later on and also catch up with me.  I am a friend of both museums today.


I had written a small pice on the museum triangle in Madrid in my blog, just a brief introduction and would like to remind all here: Museums triangle in Madrid

Now, let get into the history of it that I like a lot as the portraits description etc will take a book lol!

The Prado Museum ( Museo Nacional del Prado) is one of the largest and most important museums in the world. It presents mainly European paintings (Flemish, Spanish, French, Italian and German) from the 14C to the beginning of the 19C, collected by the Habsburgs and the Bourbons. The museum also holds collections of drawings and prints (some 6 400 drawings and 3 000 prints), a fund of a thousand sculptures (including an important collection of Greco-Roman sculptures) and a large number of decorative objects and historical documents. It permanently exhibits a collection of 1 300 works in its site, plus 3 000 lent to be exhibited in other galleries and official institutions.

The original, neoclassical-style central building, which now serves as a seat at the Prado National Museum, was built on the initiative of José Moñino y Redondo, count de Floridablanca and chief minister of king Carlos III. It is designed by the architect Juan de Villanueva in 1785 as a natural science house. Because of the events of history, however, the construction will only be completed under king Fernando VII, grandson of Carlos III. Driven by his wife, Queen Maria-Isabel of Portugal, the king took the decision to make this building a Royal museum of paintings and sculptures.

The museum initially feeds on Royal collections, hence its first name as a Royal museum. It was soon renamed National Museum of Painting and Sculpture and, subsequently, Museo Nacional del Prado, it opened for the first time to the public in 1819. In 1868, after the fall of Queen Isabel II of Spain, the works of art of the monarchy became the heritage of the Spanish nation. In 1872 , it was closed the Museo de la Trinidad,(Trinity museum) enriched with Works of arts and nationalized due to the laws of Mendizábal 1836, and its treasure was transferred to the Prado.

After this merger, the Prado was renamed the National Museum of Painting and Sculptures, a designation that had hitherto had the Trinity Museum. This denomination remained until 1920, year in which by Royal decree officially received the current name of National Museum of the Prado, which was as it was known habitually already before, for having built the building in grounds of the old meadow(prado) of the Jerónimos. The Museum of Modern Art (M. A. M.)  went to the National museum dedicated to the arts of the 19C and 20C as opened  from 1894 to 1971, the year in which its collections of 19C art  were absorbed by the Prado, while those of the 20C remained in the Spanish Museum of Contemporary Arts (MEAC) , predecessor of the current Reina Sofía Museum.

In addition to the Royal collections, the museum receives many works of art as a result of the interpretation of the before mention law of 1836 which forces the Church to sell a large part of its possessions. In addition, the museum benefits from the very important donations of private collectors, including Francesc  Cambó, Pablo Bosch and Ramón Errazu, as well as the works brought by the Fundación Amigos del Museo del Prado (The Friends of the Museum Foundation). Spanish webpage here: Fundacion Amigos del Museo del Prado

And it has an American counterpart in English here: Americans Friends of the Prado Museum


Its main attraction lies in the wide presence of Velázquez, El Greco, Goya (the most widely represented artist in the museum), Titian, Rubens and Bosco, of which possesses the best and most extensive collections that exist worldwide, to which we must add outstanding ensembles of important authors such as Murillo, Ribera, Zurbarán, Rafael, Veronese, Tintoretto, Van Dyck , and Poussin, to name just a few of the most relevant.


The museum has the largest collection of Spanish paintings in the world. It includes works that extend from Romanesque art from the 12C to the end of the 19C. The collection of Italian paintings is the second collection of the museum, although it is relatively poor in works prior to the 16C. But it is from the 16C that the Italian collection of the Prado takes its full dimension. Italian Baroque painting is certainly one of the main points of interest of the Prado collections by the variety of artists and the quality of the works that can be admired.


The collection of Flemish paintings is also among the very first in Europe, since Flemish primitives, Flemish painting of the 17C is also particularly well represented with a considerable collection of paintings.  The collection of French paintings consists mainly of works of the 17C and 18C. The ténèbrisme is also represented of the portrait makers of the Court of Spain, also of the Masters of the Rococo the museum presents finally some 19C painters.The collection of German paintings is reduced but of high quality, as well as a small collection of English paintings is also presented most were acquired by the museum in the years 1950.

Even more reduced, hardly testimonial, is the presence of paintings of the rest of the schools: Hispanic-American (more than twenty, but deposited in the Museum of America), Filipino, Swedish, Danish , American, Central European etc. With regard to the Portuguese school, despite the geographical proximity and the close relationship between the Spanish and Portuguese  monarchies, especially in the early Habsburg era, the presence of paintings from that country is negligible, reducing to six works, almost all of the 19C or early 20C.

The museum architecture look that I like, briefly describe.

 Edificio Villanueva , a building designed by Juan de Villanueva, in its original conception, is formed by a central body finished in apse, which flank two elongated galleries that end in square pavilions, one at each end. Representing an allegory of King Fernando VII as protector of the sciences, the arts and the technique. In its posterior facade, the central section ends in a semicircular form or in an apse, in such a way that its plane adopts a basilical form.


Edificio Jerónimos (Building). This enlargement did not make substantial changes to the Villanueva building, and it was reflected in an extension to the Jerónimos cloister so that the museum would have enough space for its growing needs. The increase of the available surface was 15 715 square meters, a 50% more . The connection between both buildings is underground (on the side of the Jerónimos building), because it takes advantage and covers the height between the Jerónimos (Calle Ruiz de Alarcón) and the Paseo del Prado. The most visible improvements of this intervention affected the attention to the visitor (vestibule, bar-restaurant, lockers, shop), the extension of the exhibition spaces, with four new rooms for temporary exhibitions on two floors and the habilitation of the Cloister as sculpture display room; a new auditorium and a conference room, as well as other spaces for internal use (restoration, warehouses and the cabinet of drawings and prints.


Cason del Buen Retiro is one of the dependencies of the old palace of the Retiro park that have come to our days(my hangouts around as youth nice area ok). Conceived as a ballroom of that palace, it was very much damaged after the war of Independence (1808-1814), after being occupied and partially destroyed by the French troops. The subsisting part, already as an autonomous building and separated from what was the former palace, was the subject of several renovations throughout the 19C. It was then endowed with monumental neoclassical facades, of which the western side with a scenographic colonnade, opposite the Retiro Park in the 20C, was used as an exhibition hall, hosting several of the most important events (what I remember living in Madrid was used). Already decided its museum use, it was attached to the Prado in 1971 (was there for the opening lol!),until 1997 the section corresponding to the art of the 19C, after the reorganization of the State collections of painting and the creation of the Reina Sofía Museum, was thought in as ideal space for the temporary exhibitions of the Prado. Finally, these functions and the painting of the 19C have been transferred to the expansion of Moneo(architect) and the historical building, respectively. After being subjected to a profound reform at the beginning of the 21C, which included the restoration of the vault painted by Luca Giordano in the central hall (allegory of the Golden Fleece ), it is since 2009 the headquarters of the museum’s Study Center, the so-called Prado school , which, following the model of the Ecole du Louvre, is dedicated to research as well as to the training of specialists in the various fields of art history. In this way, the Cason del Buen Retiro currently houses the library of the Prado Museum, with the reading room installed in the main hall under the frescoes of Giordano.


Salon de Reinos, (Kingdom’s hall) ,correspond to the main wing (north) of the old Palace of Retiro Park, it receives its name for having originally housed the hall of Kingdoms or of ambassadors, where the king received the foreign dignitaries; This space was conceived as a scenographic  scene of the Spanish monarchy, with large paintings commissioned by king Felipe IV to the principal painters of the time, will endow the Museum of 2500 m² of exhibition space, 16% more, with a total of 5400 m²  of useful space and is expected the works to begin in  2018 .


Edificio Aldeasa( building)  located next to the Jerónimos cloister, it is a building of contemporary style in which were the offices of the company Aldeasa, until it was acquired in 1996 by the direction of the patrimony of the State, which was attach to the Prado for to install in it the offices of the museum, until then located in the South attic of the Edificio Villanueva. On the other hand, in the premises of the adjoining building, at no  21 Calle Ruiz de Alarcón, is home to the foundation Friends of the Museum.(Fundacion Amigos del Museo del Prado).  See above.

Sala Prado , the Abulense building known as the House of Miguel del Aguila, by whom it was built in 1546, or, more commonly, as the Palace of the Eagle,(Palacio de las Aguilas)  was bequeathed with all its contents to the state by its last private owner, María Luisa Narváez and Macías,  Duchesse of Valencia, deceased in 1983, for the installation in it of a museum. Initially, in 1992,  was attached to the Museum of Avila, but through a new collaboration agreement between the then Ministry of Education and Culture and the Junta de Castilla y León was changed the assignment, going to the Prado Museum. In this way, this former palace of typical Abulense quarry became the first seat of the Prado outside Madrid, destined to host the center of Deposit Management.

Edificio Calle Pérez Ayuso at no 20  was partially attached to the museum in 2012 by the Ministry of Education, Culture and sport to install in it the new warehouse of frames(portraits).

There is but just a brief description this museum really needs two full days to see at least, you might get hook on it too and stay longer. Some webpages to help you plan your visit here are

Official Prado Museum

Tourist office of Madrid on the Prado Museum

Spanish Culture on the Prado Museum

Hope you enjoy the visit or ride or passing by all there is nice, worth a detour, for a few days lol! Enjoy Madrid and its Prado, and Spain too.

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


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August 15, 2018

The Mercados , Markets of Madrid!

So now we got a reprive some quick showers to cool off the heat wave coming thru Europe these last few days. We are still lucky to be mild, spots in my beloved Spain had gone to 45C! 113F! yikes! Oh well , it is Spain, everything under the Sun! Here we got the breezes of the Atlantic ocean!

Talking about markets (mercados or mercadillos) here, arise out of a conversation with an old friend from travel forums VT and we are still very much in contact, even been visited in my house! Now, the person is traveling in Spain and took some pictures of markets. Well it gave me an idea not written much on them, just bits and pieces in previous blog posts.

I needed to say, my dear late wife Martine got me to come to all of them, well most of them, she loves them. Hopefully, this will stay with me for the memories. I like to tell you about some of my favorites and yours too, and my family there too. And of course, Madrid because once lived, and many times visited, my(ours) main piece of Spain always will be.

Let me tell you about the most famous market of Madrid, especially from the tourist point of view but , also from the locals ! And the one I actually have a few photos!

Over the aisles, we marvel at the Spanish specialties (hams, olives, fruits and vegetables, etc). The stands offer for some a counter to taste on the spot. Perfect to take the time to discover Madrid gastronomy in an elegant and lively place. High place of life and going out  of the Spanish capital, the Mercado de San Miguel (St Michael market)  is an essential monument for the visitors but also for the locals who meet with friends around a glass and tapas. A few blocks from the Plaza Mayor and the Royal Palace, the Mercado de San Miguel  is located with its glass, iron and ceramic structure dating from the last century. It’s some 1200 square meters are home to producers and sellers of fruit and vegetables, meat, fish and local specialties; Bars and other restaurateurs.


In the Middle Ages already the place was known as an open air market. Many small shops dedicated to crafts are also located in the periphery of the square. A few centuries later, it is the Church of San Miguel de los Octoes (where was baptized Lope de Vega!) that stands at this location. But following a fire which ravaged it in 1790 and the inability to renovate it despite the attempts, Joseph Bonaparte, the invading king of the time, ordered its demolition in 1809. It is then decided to keep this space open in a spirit of development and aeration of the public space. Later It was decided to restore its primary function to the market.  Therefore, from 1809 , the locals take advantage of the new market  which then specializes in the products of the sea. The covered market is finally built between 1913 and 1916.


The commercial activity of the market declines little by little since its facilities cannot be competitive in the face of modern supermarkets and shopping malls. After renovations to restore its original appearance, the market reopens its doors in  2009 with traditional products, quality and seasonal products. A company is created to market and support this new idea, the El Gastrónomo de San Miguel, which becomes the majority shareholder of the market with the aim to revive its traditional activity.


This high place of gastronomy offers colorful stalls but also corners with tables and chairs to allow the most gourmets to taste on the spot. Tapas, Iberian ham, paella and other rice dishes, seafood, cheeses and fresh fruit but also local wines and beers find their place on the 33 stalls all more appetizing than the others. Shows are organized regularly to give more life to the Mercado de San Miguel, this place which brings together the cultural, gastronomic and historical aspects of the city. Today the market has made its place among the monuments of Madrid to see is a must.


The market is open every day from 10h to midnight and until 02h  from Thursday to Saturday. The Opera metro station is the closest to the San Miguel market. It is served by lines 2, 5 and R. Bus lines 3, 31, 50 and 65 brings you closer too.

More information can be obtained on the official page in English here: Mercado de San Miguel

And the tourist office of Madrid: Tourist office of Madrid on San Miguel

However, there are others, and some of better value and with history too. The decade of the 1870’s when the city Council began to build covered markets, of which at the end of the century there were already four, all with iron structure. These were the markets of the Mostenses (built in 1875), Cebada (1875), Chamberí (1876) and La Paz (1882). Despite the construction of these new markets, there was still not enough to meet the demand for a growing city, so there continued to be open-air markets in public squares. Madrid has a total of 46 municipal markets and others of private ownership.  Of course, I am not in my wildest dream going to tell you all, too many and long….but will tell you briefly the ones my family and my relatives now living there do go often over the years.

As said, some of my favorites are:

The Mercado de la Cebada. It is one of the largest supply markets in Madrid. It is located in the Plaza de la Cebada (Barley) at no 15, in the neighborhood of La Latina. Works began in the year 1868, and ended in 1875, later it was renewed in 1958 and again in the 2009. The current market has two commercial-use levels with an area of more than 6000 square meters. The two levels are added another level  that makes for a warehouse and  parking underground (392spaces).  More here: Mercado de la Cebada


The Mercado de San Antón. It is a supply market located in the neighborhood of Chueca in Madrid. The first building was built in 1945. In the first decade of the 21C the renovation takes place, for this the old building is demolished in 2007, and one is built with new market and restauration services five years later. The name is given due to the Parroquia de San Antón (parish Church). The building is divided into three main floors and completes its offer with a small supermarket Supercor and two basements of automated  parking.  The first floor is dedicated to the sale of perishable products and is divided into twelve traditional market stalls. The second one allows the tasting in its eleven stands and also, cultural activity, since it enjoys a large multifunctional space. On the third floor is located the restaurant and the big terrace of the market, with a view of  the roofstops of the district of Chueca. More here: Mercado de San Anton

The Mercado de Antón Martín (officially, Mercado Municipal de Antón Martín). It is a supply market located in the center of Madrid,  between  Calle Atocha  (next to the parish of San Salvador and San Nicolás) and the Calle de Santa Isabel (next to the cinema Doré). Close to the Plaza de Antón Martín. The market became a covered supply square, which includes a passage between Calle Atocha and Calle de Santa Isabel (Pasaje Doré, by the cinema Doré today linked to the Spanish film library). The project was executed after the Spanish Civil War and was inaugurated in 1941. The 1950s,it was remodeled  the area to built the building that is currently shown. The building has three floors, in the first two are dealt almost half a hundred different sales posts: fishmongers, bakeries, butchers, etc. Being the third dedicated to private activities, the exits of the building goes into the Calle de  Santa Isabel and the Doré passageway. Some of the market stalls are distributed along Calle de Santa Isabel. More here: Mercado de Anton Martin

The Mercado Municipal de Chamberí is located in the district of Chamberí. The market dates from 1876, but after a deep reform was inaugurated in 1943. It has a rectangular plant in a single dimension, in which fifty food stands are distributed. During the celebrations of the Virgin of Carmen celebrated in the neighborhood, the market carries out days of open doors with tasting of typical products of the region.  Smaller but quaint and part of the history of the neighborhood. More here: Mercado de Chamberi

The Mercado de Maravillas.  It is a market located in Calle Bravo Murillo,122. In 1942 the market is inaugurated. It was intended to be in the 1950s one of the largest in the city. It was built on the site that left the school of Nuestra Senora de las Maravillas (Our Lady of the Wonders) after the fire that suffered in 1931 in the neighborhood of Cuatro Caminos. The market finished  in the post civil-war period has an area of 8700 square meters and more than 250 stands. It is done in the  Rationalist architectural style. At the beginning of the 21C it is one of Tetuan’s district largest markets. It is a building built on two floors; the ground floor dedicated to the collection and service inside the market, while the second is dedicated to the commercial area. The commercial plant is located at 2 meters of elevation on the main entrance in the Calle Bravo Murillo. The main facade in the Calle Bravo Murillo is of brick seen placed with barebone no cement, with an important canopy in cantilever of reinforced concrete, and the ground floor arcaded with pillars veneered with crystal grey granite. It stands out the large built area of the building of approximately 20,000 m2, of which almost half, 8.800 m2, are dedicated to commercial use and on a single floor.  On the first floor the pillars are steel.  The Sierra tooth-shaped roof, with glazed windows facing north, is highlighted, so that the zenith light gives a unique atmosphere to the interior of the big commercial building. More here: Mercado de Maravillas

The Mercado de San Ildefonso . It is a favorite among residents and frequenters of Malasaña and Chueca district, due to its location on Calle de Fuencarral, right between the two neighborhoods. The market is situated just a few meters from the site of the first covered wholesale food market in Madrid, which was demolished in 1970. The stalls mainly offer ready-made dishes, although they also sell raw ingredients which you can take home or ask to be cooked for you there and then. The food can be eaten at the stalls themselves or, if you fancy a stroll in the sun, you can take it with you.  A strategic stop for neighbors, tourists and regulars between Malasaña, Chueca and Tribunal. The Mercado de San Ildefonso distributes its spaces in three differentiated levels where we find different provisions and possibilities. Complementing the gastronomic stands with three bars, one for each floor, the market also has two terraces, both half covered and perfect to enjoy the outdoor facilities. More here: Mercado de San Ildefonso

The Mercado de Las Ventas (we lived not far but it was not built yet!, we came as visitors!) . It was built in 1995 to replace the old Canillas (quill) Market, founded in the 1940s. Located in front of the bullring of Monumental de Las Ventas. The market has a renowned reputation for the excellent value for money offered to the buyer. A special highlight is the wide range of fresh products of high demand, mainly fruits, vegetables, fish and meats. Among the novelties that it presents with respect to other markets is a gastronomic project through which one will be able to taste the most recognized dishes of all the kitchens of the world thanks to several stands specialized in international cuisine, healthy food and a wine bar with numerous wines with denomination of origin.  Currently has 100 commercial stands spread over two floors of more than 2,000 m2, and the market is equipped with underground parking, banks ATMs and total accessibility (impaired mobility folks) to its facilities. All this, completely refurbished and adapted to its two major projects. One of them, a gymnasium  DreamFit of 4,500 m2 facilities, and a supermarket Ahorramas, opened in December 2016. More here: Mercado de Las Ventas

There you go, wonderful places, should see as much as you can. It will give you not only the thrill of Spanish foods and drinks but the real feel of the local people and their colorful ways of mingling with the crowds even if there is a language barrier. We do appreciate a Hola, or Vale or Muy Bueno ::) or Buen Provecho = bon appétit.

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


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August 14, 2018

Puerta del Sol, Madrid!

And here I present you a real beauty of a square, if it were not for Cibeles, and Mayor, this would be my favorite. No more waiting, this is the gate to the sun ooops meant Puerta del Sol in my beloved Madrid.

I spent many childhoods days here first with my dear late mother Gladys and later bringing my family ,and my dear late wife Martine love it with me, especially the churros nearby ! The boys love it too, and it has become a must stop each time in Madrid, that thanks God has been many times in my life time. If you read my blog you know why.

I have written a bit on it in the past , mostly on the touristic front, here are those previous blog posts for reference

Puerta del Sol and Cibeles

Puerta del Sol of Madrid

I have made several references to it in many of my previous posts on Madrid, so do search in my blog for more. From Madrid to heaven and a hole in the sky to look down on it every day. De Madrid al Cielo y un hueco en él para mirarla todos los dias.

This is the place I came to get abanicos (fans) for my mother and umbrellas, the early purchases at Calle Preciados for Galerias Preciados (today part of El Corte Inglés same spot), and the Churros at the Pasadizo de San Ginés street for Chocolateria San Ginés good then and now an institution for locals and visitors alike. The wonderful discothéque (before community theater in my days in the city) Joy Eslava off Puerta del  Sol and Calle Arenal. The choco San Ginés webpage here: Chocolateria San Ginés

And disco Joy Eslava : Joy Eslava

Let me tell you a bit more on the magical Puerta del Sol. Some of the emblematis symbols you should look for here are

Statue of the Bear and the Strawberry tree ( Madroño) under the billboard of Tío Pepe, at the beginning of Calle Alcalá, you will find the statue of the symbol of Madrid. It was created in 1967 and is one of the most popular meeting points in Madrid. In front of the building of the old Hotel Paris (no 1, where was the panel of Tio Pepe), later transferred to the beginning of Calle Carmen and relocated in its original place in 2009.  The panel of  Tio Pepe located at no 1 until 2011, when it was retired, and repositioned in no, 11 in 2014



The Clock of the Post Office House, (Relog en la Casa de Correos) . The clock was built and donated in the 19C by José Rodríguez de Losada, and whose 12 bells ringing the night of December 31 mark the traditional taking of the twelve grapes by the vast majority of the Spaniards, saying good bye to the Old Year and welcoming the New Year with a wish. It has been televised  since 1962. The Post Office House (Casa de Correos)  was built by the French architect Jaime Marquet between 1766 and 1768; It was subsequently  home to the Ministry of the Interior in 1847 and Directorate General of State Security during the Franco era and, currently, is the seat of the presidency of the community of Madrid.



Kilometer zero: Starting point of the Spanish radial routes. It is indicated on the ground from which all roads in Spain are measure.

The Mariblanca located at the Puerta del Sol  between 1630 and 1838 crowned the Fountain of the Mariblanca, (aka Fuente de la Fé, Fuente del Buen Suceso , Fuente de Venus or Diana, Fuente de las Arpias or first ornamental fountain (Fuente)  of the Puerta del Sol. In the last third of the 20C a smaller copy was made that since 1986 has had different emplacements at the Puerta del Sol, while the original moved from the Paseo de Recoletos, in which it was from 1969, to the vestibule of the Casa de la  Villa , after its restoration in 1985.


The last element added, in 1994, is the equestrian statue of king Carlos III. It is a bronze reproduction of Juan Pascual de Mena’s work that is preserved in the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando. The spiral inscription surrounding the pedestal briefly describes the history of the reign of Carlos III. The monument is nine meters high. As a curiosity, it should be noted that an electronic device was installed in it to keep the pigeons from resting on it continually.


A bit of history I like

The Puerta del Sol was in its origins one of the accesses of the ramparts that surrounded Madrid in the 15C. This wall gathered in its perimeter the medieval suburbs that had grown outside the walls, around the Christian wall of the 12C. The name of the gate comes from a sun that adorned the entrance, placed there to be facing the gate to the Levant. Among the buildings that gave it prestige in the beginnings was the Church del Buen Suceso  and Church of San Felipe el Real (both now gone). The Puerta del Sol is surrounded by fourteen buildings. From the same time dates the measurement of 635.50 meters above the average sea level of Alicante.

In 1986 a new reform came that gave more importance to the pedestrian zone. The streetlights installed on the occasion of this remodeling, were popularly nicknamed as the suppositories and provoked a great controversy due to its modern design. Finally they were replaced by the current style lanterns fernandians or Fernandino, although in the two central posts of the square the suppositories survived some years more, to be unified a few years later with those of the rest of the square.

The Puerta del Sol area corresponding to the Calle Mayor, that occupies the Casa Cordero (no gone) , on its first floor was known the Great Bazaar of the Union (Gran Bazar de la Union) (now gone) ,where objects were sold at fixed prices. This Grand Bazaar was the first large retail establishment that would lead to department stores. At the end of the 20C, establishments such as the El Corte Inglés  were expanding their area of influence from the Calle Preciados to reach the lower levels of the north of the square. At the beginning of the 21C, the traditional shops that were at the Puerta del Sol have been disappearing to give way to franchises, gambling halls, fast food restaurants and other more impersonal and cold establishments. However, the centenary cafeteria-Patiseria La Mallorquina, located in the area between the Calle Mayor and Calle Arenal, just off the Puerta del Sol, and also the area where the lotteries shops traditionally are. Still preserved  today are the  fans and umbrellas shop Casa Diego (founded in the 18C). More on Diego here: Casa Diego

La Mallorquina: La Mallorquina

El Corte Inglés Preciados Callao: El Corte Inglés

The 10 streets that are out of the Puerta del Sol in clockwise direction from the Calle de Alcalà are Calle de Alcalá, Carrera de San Jerónimo, Calle Espoz y Mina, Calle de las Carretas, Calle del Correo, Calle Mayor, Calle del Arenal, Calle de Preciados, Calle del Carmen, and Calle de la Montera. The transports here is very good with metro Sol lines 1, and 2. Also local trains Cercanias  C-3 and C-4. The station has been converted by its dimensions in the largest in the World with 28 meters deep, 207 meters in length and 20 meters wide. Its lobby is 7500 m². The entrance to the inter connecting station, similar to an igloo, has changed the physiognomy of the Puerta del Sol again. All around heavens in Madrid!!!


Some events and trivia on this very Madrilena square:

The Puerta del Sol has also experienced some important events for the history of Spain, such as the proclamation of the Second Republic in 1931.

Some films of note on my taste showing bits of the Puerta del Sol were El misterio de la Puerta del Sol (mystery of the gate of the sun), by Francisco Elías Riquelme in 1929, considered as the first movie with sound of Spanish cinema. Km. 0, a light comedy of love, intrigues and Spanish erotism from 2000. The main line of the story is the  Madroño symbol of Madrid at the Puerta del Sol. In theater you have the play La Celosa (jealous one) of famous Tirso de Molina. Also a Spanish operetta or very Spanish call Zarzuelas, this one El  último tranvía (the last tramway) by  Ricardo Blasco.

In Literature, we have Luces de Bohemia (lights of Bohemia) from 1924 of Valle Inclán. The novel by Benito Pérez Galdós, Fortunata y Jacinta of 1886-87, the main carácter Juanito Santacruz lived at the Puerta del Sol and it recounts stories of the Gran Bazar de la Union. The dramaturges Jerónimo López Mozo in his work of El arquitecto y el relojero (the architect and the watchmaker) from 2000 has a story on the Casa de Correos house as well as the surrounding áreas of the Puerta del Sol. Also, the La conquista de la Puerta del Sol (conquest of the gate to the sun) by Emilio Carrere. In music, the scene given on the song Un Ano Màs (one more year) by Mecano. And finally, on my favorites is the painting of the Charge of the Mamalukes(mamluks sp?)  La Carga de los Mamelucos (or 2 de Mayo 1808) by  Francisco de Goya.

The tourist office of Madrid has some more on the Puerta del Sol : Madrid on the Puerta del Sol

The Comunidad de Madrid tourism on Puerta del Sol in Spanish: Province of Madrid on Puerta del Sol

And a bit more on Spain ‘s tourist office in English: Spain on the Puerta del Sol

So you get the idea? You need to be here, if you say you were in Madrid ok. And let me know, never mind getting info from my Madrid. I still have cousins in Aluche and niece in on the road to Toledo, but never mind, nothing is enough on Madrid and the Puerta del Sol is where the Sun’s Gate! And as in Spain , everything under the Sun, tourism slogan from the 80’s.

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






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August 11, 2018

The road warrior ok the M-30 of Madrid!

As you know, love the road and freedom that it provides, and just glancing at my blog realized in a particular way have yet to write about one of my nicest memories on the road and I was there from the beginning of it all!

Well ,you see the title, the M-30 is a beltway road of Madrid, the first one, and it is a 3 because it is actually the third beltway in history see it down below. I was living in Madrid when they started building it and left when they had finished it! It has been a love affairs ever since 1974!

I have included in the narrative below some tidbits of my encounters here, the main arch over it passes near the Monumental bullfight arena of Las Ventas on Calle de Alcalà on the way to my piso (apartment in Quintana). It seems every visit  I need to take somebody by here and tell of all the businesses there,gone and new over the years. Some like where my Mom purchase my first shoes are still there (Victor Calzados) and of course I purchase my boys shoes there too! The restaurant where we spent many evenings and I do concur the best patatas bravas of Madrid, Docamar since 1963 still there!

I remember, going by bus P13 (today 113) to the baseball field of Elipa,now a huge sports complex park and baseball field still there, the Madrid baseball federation is base there etc. Now ,you can even go there from Doctor Esquerdo street and over the passarelle of the M-30! All wonderful memories never to be forgotten. Enough of me, let me tell you about the M-30.

The M-30, also call the Madrid ring road (beltway), is a road done like a highway except in the North of the city on the Avenida de la Ilustracion, this road goes around the city.  It has a length of about  32.5 km with an average radius of 5.17 km with respect to the Puerta del Sol. It is heavily congestion and high traffic volume, and some says the most in Spain. It has a speed limit of 90 KPH on the above sections and 70 KPH below the tunnels. The peculiarity is to be the only Spanish highway of which is own by the City Hall of Madrid.  The construction of the M-30 would  started  in 1970 (while I was living in the city) , in two different sections: the East section, or Avenida de la Paz, between the Carretera de Irún (to France) A-1 and Carretera de Cadiz  A-4, which followed the riverbed of the old Abroñigal, which was to be channeled and buried under the the highway. The West stretch, or the Manzanares highway, between the Puente de los Francéses (bridge of the French) and the Carretera de Cadiz (road), mostly built following the course of the Manzanares River. Both sections were joined in the South junction, and were not completed until 1974. (When I left Madrid after my  1st time there)

The first beltway would be formed by the streets that follow the old plot of the wall of king Felipe IV that formerly circled the city: lower part of the Cuesta de la Vega, Ronda de Segovia, Puerta de Toledo, Ronda de Toledo, Plaza de Embajadores, Ronda de Valencia , Ronda de Atocha, Glorieta de Atocha, exterior wall of Retiro park (currently, Avenida de Menéndez Pelayo, the first section of  Calle O’Donnell and Calle de Alcalá), Paseo de Recoletos up to the current Plaza Colón, and the “boulevards”, (Calle de Genoa, Calle de Sagasta and Calle Carranza ). With the construction of the viaduct, the extension of Calle de Bailen and its union with the Gran Via de San Francisco, at the same time as the construction of the last two boulevards already in the 20C (Calle de Alberto Aguilera and Paseo del Marqués de Urquijo) , the belt was enclosed by the West.

The second beltway  would be formed by the Rondas: Avenida de la Reina Victoria, Calle de Raimundo Fernández Villaverde, Calle de Joaquin Costa, Calle de Francisco Silvela, Calle del Doctor Esquerdo and Calle de Pedro Bosch.  The highway was designated as M-30 because it was the theoretical third beltway of Madrid. And my first encounter with a highway in the city of many nice memories even crossing it on the Passarella later on !  Its construction really was thought out in the 1960s and required the underground canalisation of the Abroñigal river, required to avoid flooding since the road runs through the lowest part of the city. In the 1970s the most important section was open between the junction of Manoteras (cross with the A-1, M-11 and accesses to Sanchinarro) north side of Madrid  and the Nudo Sur (South Junction), that connects to the Avenida de Andalucia (previously N-IV) now A-4.


It usually counts three lanes of traffic in each direction and can align up to 9 lanes, especially east of the city. This is where most of the country’s radial highways go to the various cardinal points of Spain: A-1: North Corridor, A-2: Northeast Corridor, A-3: East Corridor, A-4: South Corridor, A-5: South-West Corridor A-6: Northwest Corridor. A bit technical but will try to give you as much of the history and layout of the M-30

The construction of the tunnel by  the South Pass , that connects it directly with the  A-5  to the southwest of the city and to the A-3, needed the use of the two biggest tunnel grounders of the world. They are the longest urban highway  tunnels in Europe, with sections of more than 6 km in length and 3 to 6 lanes in each direction, between the south entry of the Avenida de Portugal tunnel and the north exit of the M-30 south by-pass there are close to 10 km of continuos tunnels. The M30 tunnels run between a point roughly 700 meters north of the junction with A5 motorway and continue all the way up to the junction between M30 and A3 motorway.  Lately my entry in and out of Madrid.

To tell you a bit of the different sectors of the M30: North sector: Between the A-6 and the A-1 the flow from the northwest via the A-6 connects to the M-30 north-west of the city surrounding the urban center. It runs along the Puerta de Hierro Park before connecting to the M-40 for the first time. It serves all the northern districts of the city (Antonio Machado and Lacoma).   The M-30 loses its highway status to become the Avenida de la Ilustracion while waiting for the tunnel by the North Pass  from which the M-607 is towards  Colmenar Viejo (Segovia etc)  on the extension of the Paseo de la Castellana until the junction with the A-1 and the M-11 to the northeast of the city. Hope I have not lost you , is all well posted!

East sector: Between A-1 (Burgos) and A-3 (Valencia); It is a very busy area because it recovers the flow from the north of Spain from Burgos, Barcelona or Zaragoza. Indeed very busy by me too ! The M-30 serves the eastern part of the city, where the northeast Highway connects to the 2nd largest city in the country: Barcelona.   In this area the road is particularly large and loaded and includes up to 8 traffic lanes, separated according to destination in, each direction. At the Calle de O’Donnell the road crosses the M-23 which allows to reach the radial highway R-3  from the East. Then to the southeast of the city, come the connection to  the A-3 which allows to reach the Spanish Levant. It is at this bifurcation that the tunnel by Pass is detached which directly connects the A-5 to the west of the city.

Sector South: Between the A-3 (Valencia) and the A-42 (Toledo), it is a double stretch of the road, first with the tunnel By Pass on which connects the southeast to the southwest of the city. The A-4 southbound disconnects to the Manzanares River to serve Andalusia (Cordoba, Seville,…). At this bifurcation it is joined by the Embajadores Tunnel which connects the South highway directly to Calle de Embajadores near the Atocha station in Madrid. My way of course, good driving, are you with me?

Sector West: Between A-42 and A-6; The M-30 forks with the A-42 to Toledo  (yeah the old N400) before going along the Manzanares by joining the tunnel by South Pass. It runs under the west stands of the Vicente Calderon Stadium. A kilometer further away is the Avenida de Portugal to serve the south-western suburbs of Madrid (Alcorcon, Mostoles…).

The M-30 crosses the M-500 and loops its turn at the junction with the A-6; there are 31 exits/salidas  in total, last count. The principal exits to big cities are the no 1- A-1 – Alcobendas, Burgos, exit 2, M-11 to A-2 (E-90)/A-3/A-4/Calle de Arturo Soria – Feria de Madrid, Madrid-Barajas Airport, Zaragoza, Exit 4b,  A-2/Calle de Arturo Soria – Zaragoza, Exit 9,  A-3 – Valencia, Exit 18,  A-5/Plaza España – Badajoz, exit 23a , A-6 – Madrid, Moncloa, Exit 23B,  A-6 – a Coruña, exit 23,  Calle de Sinesio Delgado exit 23,  Calle de Arroyofresno, Avenida Ventisquero de la Condesa, M-605/M-40 to M-607/avenue Cardenal Herrera Oria– El Pardo, Colmenar Viejo, M-40 to A-6 –  A Coruña .


map of M30 old beltway and next one around it M40.Credit University of Madrid

We have some nice building running alongside this highway M30, the best for me is the Elipa park where I used to played baseball! In my youth there and not there is a passarelle bridge from calle del Doctor Esquerdo to Calle Pez Volador to the passarelle and over to the park easy walk.  Others are in a clockwise direction from the junction of Manoteras ,north of Madrid up Paseo de la Castellana:   Cámara de Comercio de Madrid(chamber of commerce of Madrid) ,  Centro Cultural Islámico y Mezquita de Madrid, (the mosque of the M30), Plaza de toros de Las Ventas(monumental bullfights arena right off my old neighborhood on Calle de Alcalà), Torrespaña, Centro Comercial Moratalaz (shopping mall) , Matadero Madrid (arts entertainment center today on the old slaughterhouse of Madrid), Estadio Vicente Calderón (old stadium previous of the Atlético de Madrid FC), Ermita de la Virgen del Puerto( a nice Church), Jardines del Palacio Real de Madrid (gardens of the Royal Palace), Estación de Príncipe Pío(train station), Jardines del Palacio de La Moncloa (gardens of the house of government Moncloa),  Real Club Puerta de Hierro ( a private club) , Centro Comercial La Vaguada (shopping mall and one of my favorites in the city), Hospital Ramón y Cajal, Hospital Universitario La Paz(hospitals).

The M-30 appears in numerous films set in Madrid. A very characteristic one is  “Que he hecho yo para merecer esto,?” OR what have I done to deserve this? by Pedro Almodóvar. And in literature, it is the protagonist scene of the work of Esther García Llovet  La M-30, la gran velada or  the M30 the great evening.

There you go, a nice ride in the beehive of roads in Madrid today, from the M-30 you have today all the way around to the M 55 and many R (radials) with tolls to make driving in Madrid a Grand Prix Challenge , good ground for the road warior lol! Actually , folks, it is a lot easier than read, if you have driven in big cities before, of course.

Some webpages to help you understand a bit more this wonderful beltway are

On history here:

On circulation traffic laws here:

State of traffic in Madrid:

City of Madrid maps in pdf files  by main districts:

And remember, easy on the road but enjoy the freedom it provides. As said, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!



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August 10, 2018

Some news from Spain LXV

And back to my beloved Spain, with the latest news and tidbits from glorious Madrid. The weather is nice and cool in my neck of the woods now with Madrid of course hotter ::)

A survery of travel tastes of Spaniards. Pointing out, 55.1% of Spanish travel from two,  although they also bet on escaping with another couple (13.6%) and even in groups of three (12.6%). Solo adventurers are reduced to 10%. Finally, the ranking would close the practice of travelling in groups of five (3.5%) and six people (2.4%). These are some of the data that emerge from the study carried out by Civitatis, the leading online distribution company of guided tours, excursions and activities in Spanish in the main destinations of the world. To this end, they interviewed 200,000 people who had booked their holidays with the Civitatis group during the month of July 2018. I would think in modern Spain the practices have change and now couples try more to get away than in the past.

Rome tops the list of the most desirable sites with 8.8% of bookings. The second position is occupied by the city that never sleeps, ie New York, with 7.1%, while the third occupies a place that can come to surprise: Krakow, with 6.4%. They tie Paris and London in the fourth position. Other European capitals follow: Berlin, Amsterdam and Budapest.

They are guided city tours to excursions in the most emblematic places of the country, passing by culinary routes directed to all the gastrolovers. And what is the Spanish favorite reservation? The New York contrasts tour. A four-hour excursion in the city of the Big Apple that runs through the neighborhoods with the greatest cultural diversity in the world. From Harlem to Brooklyn, through Bronx and Queens. In second place is the guided tour of the Colosseum of Rome, follows by the Vatican tours

Only 6.8% reserve with more than 60 days before departure. According to the report’s data, 20.1% does it between 10 and 19 days earlier. In the same way, there are many who prepare the escape from four to nine days before (19.9%). On the other hand, 19.5% do it one to three days before. On the other side of the scale, only 2% look for options on the same day of departure. I am not endorsing them , never used them but their webpage is here Civitatis:

Patria (fatherland), a great eye opener literatura work that I hope will be brought to the cinema eventually. Patria the “What happened” , words that refers to the history of violence and social exclusion that has been experienced in the Basque Country for the last 50 years. And Patria is obviously the novel by which Fernando Aramburu picked up last Monday the Francisco  Umbral Award for Best book published in Spain in 2017, awarded by the foundation Umbral and promoted by the newspaper El MUNDO. The value of the novel by Aramburu has not consisted in portraying the accomplice society, rather than in reporting the criminal acts themselves, which were already sufficiently documented. The main idea of  Patria is that the use of violence ruins people. Also the people who exercise it . It has won a battle, that of the defeat of ETA, is now the triumph of truth. and Patria contributes to that so nobel goal indeed. Get the book here:

Something from the neighbor to the north that had repercussions in Spain as well. As told from the Spanish point of view. The French Revolution was made in summer: on August 25, 1788, Necker, the minister of the People, replaced Brienne in Finances. It was the first cession of the King before the call of the States General, the last meeting of the Estates society. A week earlier, France had declared bankruptcy. The following year the events precipitated: in just three days Necker was stopped, Lafayette created the national militia and the Parisians took the Bastille on July 14, 1789.  On the 27th, King Louis XVI accepted the tricolor. August 4 was the height of the great fear or the reign of terror, the peasant revolt that was resolved with the abolition of feudalism. Within a few weeks, the National Assembly approved the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen. After a first failed assault on the Palais de Tuileries, in July  some sources say that 5 and others 11-of 1792, the National Assembly declared the Fatherland in danger. Paris was brewing and bulling. The revolutionaries discovered the King’s treachery. He conspired to have foreign powers intervene in the country on his behalf. On August 3, all sections of the city ask for the cessation of Louis XVI. The commune disputed power to the assembly. Robespierre yielded to its pressure: it dissolved the assembly, suspended the king of its functions and summoned a convention by universal suffrage, subsequent pretext to concentrate the power, curtail the liberties recognized by the Constitution of the previous year and to unleash the Panic.

On August 10, the events that took place occurred the assault on the Palais de Tuileries opened the period of Terror in France. On 9 August, 30 sections concentrated in Paris sent commissioners to the commune to declare themselves insurrectional and to be endowed with full powers. Some community members are called to testify for their reactionary positions. They are judged right there. They’re sent to prison, but they don’t come to her. On leaving, the crowd lynched and decapitated them. Some of the militia members ran the same fate. Therefore, at the dawn of day 10 they preferred to retract and not contain the crowd. Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette took refuge in the assembly. The Swiss Guard of the king tried to resist the assault. The king suggests his men by letter to lay down their weapons. They don’t.  The insurrectionists  made it to the castle and looted. The figures of dead vary according to the authors between 1,000 and 6,000, the revolution of 1789 becomes the terror of 1792. In such a way that finally absolute fear ended with absolute terror: In July 1794, Robespierre, who had already liquidated Danton, climbed to the podium of speakers of the Convention. He was already making a new list of delegates, many delegates feared to be included. They were stirred, imprisoned and executed. It was the coup de Thermidor that ended the revolutionary terror. In August of the following year, 1795, France approved a new constitution that distributed power between two chambers and a collegiate executive in a board of directors. And this was not the end, terror continue until the concordat of 1802 and even some like in Brittany and especially the Vendée continue until 1815 to fight the French revolution. Source El Mundo newspaper.Translation by yours truly.

Something from afar that is becoming popular late in Spain. The Cuban Sandwich. Typical snack of the Caribbean island, very popular also in Florida,USA  which is made with roast pork (the marinade of the meat is key), ham, gherkins, cheese and mustard, toasted on a double plate. Enjoy it very good! Some of the best places to try it in Madrid are

Midtown. Paseo de la Habana, 11. With Iberian pork (also bacon), provolone, gherkin, arugula, tomato and mustard with a touch of honey. It is served with potatoes (11.50 euros). More here:

La Negra Tomasa.Calle  Cadiz, 9. Piglet, ham, cheese, mustard and gherkins (8.50 euros). More here:

Havana Blues. Paseo de Santa Maria de la Cabeza, 56. With roasted pork in casserole cut in pieces with a knife, cooked ham, Edam cheese, mustard and gherkin (6.50 euros). No web but reviews here:

No more than nine years for the Casa Alberto in the Barrio de las Letras of Madrid arrive at 200 years old, very impressive age for a tavern or restaurant: Only one, Sobrino de Botin (1725), is oldest in Madrid and even some say the World. As I am  interested in the kitchen, the most relevant are not the 200 years of Casa Alberto, but the last 25. It was in 1993 when Alfonso Delgado acquired the tavern and set out to give it a culinary dignity which, in reality, had never reached.  The kitchen of Casa Alberto has settled as one of the most dignified representatives of the popular tradition of Madrid its greatest culinary claim, and with justice, are a Callos a la Madrilena(tripes) ,for the quality of the ingredients, the sweetness and flavor of it. However, there is more such as the correct ham croquettes, and perhaps better and more original squid in their ink with aioli; Perfect egg broken with squid Andalucian style;juicy cod coated with ratatouille; tender and tasty stews such as lamb shank confit with honey and shiitake mushrooms or veal cheeks with mashed potatoes. And finish with a unavoidable Torrijas (French toast) . Really, satisfaction guaranteed. Casa Alberto, wait until September. It will be closed for vacation the last three weeks of August . It is at Calle de las Huertas, 18; more here:

You can enjoy the work of the Manchego genius Pedro Almodovar  in the Marlborough Gallery. Until September 8th, the exhibition of Life in detention, a series of still lives, between pop and realism, photographed by the author and framed within the last edition of PhotoEspaña. The one thing that motivated him to take his camera was a painting by Isabel Quintanilla in which he saw simply a glass with a flower. Something so simple shot his imagination. In his still lives, the director uses several times this motive, although in his case, the presence of color, as in his feature films, gives him a special force, brings him closer to pop, the style that has marked him. Galeria de Arte Marlborough , Calle Orfila, 5. More here:

There you just the latest in the middle of Summer,and me just five more days to go on 3 weeks vacation here and there but not Spain in this Summer,sorry my beloved Spain, see you soon in Barcelona in October.

Enjoy, Spain everything under the Sun. And ,remember ,happy travels ,good health,and many cheers to all!!!

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August 9, 2018

Church Santiago del Arrabal, Toledo!

I like to bring you back to a Church. This one was found by chance. We were walking, and walking all over this wonderful city of Toledo. I wanted to show my family the ramparts and gates of Toledo and going to one we stumbled upon this Church; it has been a long time by here so practically it was to know it as well as my family.

The Church of Santiago del Arrabal , Santiago el Mayor or St James of the suburbs as the old word Arrabal means. Because it was located on the outside of the old inner city of Toledo.

Let me tell you a bit more on it as I have mentioned it in my other general posts on Toledo before.

The Church of Santiago El Mayor or Santiago del Arrabal is a Catholic Church in Toledo, next to the Puerta Nueva de Bisagra or gate , in the northern part of the historic city center. Built in the second half of the 13C ( 1245–48) under the patronage of Sancho II, King of Portugal is one of the best examples of Mudejar Toledo architecture.


Its location, close to the Puerta Vieja de Bisagra and in an old Muslim quarter, suggests that the Church must have been built in the place of an original temple, perhaps a mosque of its location also comes from the name, finding itself in the past to then outskirts of the old city, in the suburbs .


It has masonry and brick walls with doors framed in polylobular horseshoe arches. It has three semicircular apses whose exteriors are arched floors of different types (half-point, pointed and polylobular). Inside there are Arabic symbols like the ‘ Hand of Fatima ‘ or inscriptions on the wooden roof. The arches of the nerf are Gothic, like the vault of the transept. The altarpiece is Renaissance with Plateresque decoration, with images of the lives of Christ and the Apostle James the Elder (Santiago el Mayor). The bell tower is the oldest in the region dating from the 12C , square floor and double arc windows in horseshoe covered with  a moulding which encloses the outward side of an arch.


Saint Vincent Ferrer preached in this temple, leading his faithful to forcibly Christianize the synagogue in 1405, later turned into a Church with the name of Santa Maria la Blanca. He later came to preach in Vannes and my new area and he is buried in the Cathedral of St Peter in Vannes.


Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are

Parish site in Spanish:

Castilla la mancha tourism :

Province of Toledo;

Hope it helps enjoy this less seem gem of Toledo , worth a detour indeed as Toledo is for all is treasure, the icon of all of Spain.

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


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August 9, 2018

Monasterio de las Descalzas Reales, Madrid!

Another jewel of my beloved Madrid , that escape in my youthful years living in the City. I came back as a visitor, maybe more curious of what I had around me, found out, there was a lot and of course with more money to enjoy these things. I came here and was completely amazed of the beauty, the history, and the care peaceful ways of this place.

I have come back with the family and each time is memorable; a must to visit in Madrid. If you like museums and go the golden triangle of Madrid, well ,do come here,point. I am talking about the Monasterio de las Descalzas Reales in the Plaza de las Descalzas Reales, with parking underground right across and a nice El Corté Inglés dept store my boys love too ….Monastery of the Descalzas Reales; a must to see while your time in Madrid.


Let me tell you briefly the long history of this wonderful spot in Madrid.

The Monastery of Our Lady of the Visitation, located in Madrid and better known as the Royal Barefoot, is a monastery of cloistered nuns, Clarisas Coletinas, founded in 1559 by Juana of Austria, daughter of Charles V and Isabella of Portugal , widow of Prince Juan Manuel of Portugal, sister of the King of Spain Felipe II and mother of the future Portuguese King Don Sebastián. It is located in the heart of Madrid, in the Plaza de las Descalzas Reales, near the Puerta del Sol, Plaza de Celenque and Calle de Preciados. It is a 16C classicist building that houses in its interior important works of art. Part of the monastery is currently dedicated to museum that you can visit.


Here and in front of the building of the monastery was proclaimed on several occasions the Kings and hailed to the princess  of Asturias, raising for the occasion a plank and a canopy. In the 19C was placed in the middle of the square the source of the Mariblanca that was previously in the Puerta del Sol and that today is in the interior of the Casa de la Villa, (at the Puerta del Sol there is a replica at present). Today you can see two statues, one in bronze dedicated to Francisco Piquer in homage to his work of creation of the Monte de Piedad. Another dedicated to the Marquis of Pontejos (Joaquín Vizcaino).. .


The chronicles mention that in 1339 the first courts in Madrid were held in this palace. (in the Plateresque courtyard of the cloister of the monastery, the shields of an unknown nobleman are preserved as testimony.) In the 16C, the former palace that had been mentioned belonged to the Imperial Treasurer Alonso Gutiérrez of Madrid, who on more than one occasion gave shelter to the emperor Charles I. In this House several children were born among them the smallest, Juana, who later founded in the same site this monastery of the Descalzas Reales (Royal barefoot).

Juana  of Austria was the founder of the monastery of the Royal barefoot. In 1559, the day of the assumption took place the grand opening party of the monastery, even though the church was still not built. There was a solemn procession in which king Felipe II and the whole Royal family participated. In 1564 the Church was completed and the Holy Sacrament was placed on the main altar on the day of Conception.


In 1580 the monastery accomodated Mary of Austria, widow of the Emperor Maximilian II of Habsburg, who arrived with her thirteen-year-old daughter, Margaret. The Empress adopted the Community regime and her daughter professed as a nun Mary of Austria died on February 21, 1603, asking in her will to be buried at the foot of the altar of the garden prayer, in the low cloister, with a plain stone and smooth as a headstone. Thirteen years later Felipe III moved the corpse to a luxurious sepulcher made of marble and bronze, placed in the choir of the church.

The Archduchess Marguerite of Austria, who became sister Marguerite of the Cross, died there in 1633. She is buried in the monastery, as her mother the Empress Mary of Habsburg (1528-1603) — daughter of Emperor Charles V and wife of Emperor Maximilian II — as well as Princes Alphonse (1936-1989), François (1972-1984) and Gonzalve (1937-2000) of Bourbon, elders of the descendants of the kings of France.

In 1559, the day of the assumption the community of Coletinas entered at last in the monastery, in solemn procession. Throughout history were several nuns of Royal Blood, besides Juana of Austria and Mary of Austria.

Infanta Margarita, daughter of Mary of Austria.

Infanta Ana Dorotea of Austria, daughter of the Emperor Rudolph II, who took the habit at the age of twelve and died in 1694 with eighty two years.

Infanta Maria de la Cruz and Austria, who died in 1715, with seventy four years.

Infanta Catalina Maria de Este, daughter of the princes of Modena, granddaughter of the Infanta Catherine and the Duke of Savoy, who took the habit at eight years of age in 1622 and died in 1628 without age of profess.

Margaret of the Cross, daughter of John Joseph of Austria, granddaughter by paternal line of Felipe IV and by maternal line of the painter José de Ribera. He entered the convent at the age of five and left his habits on September 17, 1681 coinciding with the second anniversary of his father’s death.

On September 3, 1715 King Felipe V dictated a royal decree that granted the perpetual title of Grande de España to all the abbess of the Barefoot.:(Descalzas)

During the Spanish Civil war the monastery was deprived of its community. However, he was cared for and protected, putting his works of art safely. They fell on it some bombs which produced malfunctions mostly in the vault of the staircase and in the choir which was destroyed. The restoration was carried out during the same years of the war when, among other things, the deteriorated roof tile was changed by a new slate. After the war, the nuns came back.

In the central years of the twentieth century was built in the square of the barefoot an underground parking (I park here too) whose works affected the building slightly. On this occasion it was restored and consolidated, conditioning some of its dependencies to be visited on a tour

The Cloister of this monastery (or closing yard) is famous for the processions that take place in it during the Holy Week, especially the one of Good Friday, in which the holy burial leaves, with old music of the time of the foundation of the monastery. In this event procession a Christ recumbent of Gaspar Becerra that is carried to rods (without urn). They are used for the occasion (as in the procession of the Corpus Christi) rich liturgical clothes and sometimes hang in the walls of the four pandas of the cloister the tapestries with the theme of the Eucharistic Apotheosis, produced in the Flemish looms of Raes and Geubels. The courtyard has a total of sixty six pieces of marble. The shafts of the columns are cylindrical and slender and show an influence of the Sevillian palaces

The ornamentation of the great staircase, with mural paintings and on canvas, was carried out in different eras. The second section depicts the royal balcony, with the Kings Felipe IV and his wife Mariana of Austria, with the Infanta Maria and the Prince Felipe prosper, indicating that there was to be carried out before 1661, date of the death of the latter

Capilla del Milagro , this Chapel of the Miracle, and decoration was done on the wishes of  Juan José de Austria, step brother of king Carlos II (you can see the inscription on site) that had a daughter born outside marriage in the Monastery, Margarita de la Cruz , sister profess in 1666(Marguerite of the Cross).

The majestic classic building houses a museum of major works of art . Among the many relics on display are putatively pieces from Christ’s Cross and the bones of Saint Sebastian. Among the priceless art masterpieces are Titian’s Caesar’s Money, tapestries woven to designs by Rubens, and works by Hans de Beken and Brueghel the Elder.  The museum collection also includes such rarities as portraits of Royal children of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth from the late 16C referring to Polish–Spanish relations that inspired Calderón’s La Vida es Sueño (Life is a dream). Portraits of the son and daughter of King Sigismund of Poland were painted by Martin Kober in 1596 and were sent as a gift to King Philip III of Spain.

Again, a must see in Madrid. Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are

National Heritage of Spain on the Monastery:

Tourist office of Madrid on the Monastery:

Again, see it and come back to tell me otherwise. Hope you enjoy the post.

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

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August 8, 2018

Museo de América, Madrid!

This is a dandy to visit. I heard about it but been on the extreme opposite of my living areas never came over. Until much later in life, on my trips to Madrid , decided to come over with the family. I really was missing something beautiful ,educational, historical, architecturally inspiring a real museum of real facts and events. I love it!

I am talking about the Museum of Americas or Museo de América up Calle de la Princesa ,right past the Faro de Moncloa on a hilly area just behind the lighthouse tower or Faro de Moncloa. The wonderful Museo de América, a museum on all Spain relates to Latin America and our cultures is here!

Let me tell you a bit on it and hoping you will come and see it.

The Museum of America (Museo de América) is a national museum  is dependent on the Ministry of Culture. There are exhibited collections of art, archaeology and ethnology of America since pre-Columbian times to present  times. The idea of collecting such collections, envisaged since the time of Cardinal Cisneros, was concretized by government law of 1941 ; the works, which began in 1943 , finished  in 1954. Once the institution was established , the collection that was exhibited in rooms of the National Archaeological Museum were transferred to its definitive location in 1962.

The works kept at the museum are of various origins. They are made up of donations, legacies and progressive acquisitions, and essentially of collections formerly deposited in the National Museum of Archaeology. Until 1868, these works were stored at the National Museum of Natural Sciences. In 1771, king Charles III had founded a Royal Cabinet of Natural History, containing objects from the first archaeological excavations and scientific expeditions. This small collection is the original nucleus of the museum.

Madrid Madrid Madrid

The collections cover a period extending from prehistoric times to the present day; The essentials, however, consist of pieces of pre-Columbian archaeology, ethnography and colonial art. They bring together more than 25 000 objects.

Through a magnificent collection of pre-Columbian objects (such as those coming from Peru and Guatemala), from the Colonial era (Andean schools and the Viceroyalty of New Spain), and from the contemporary indigenous peoples (from the North west Coast to Amazonas), and using an anthropological discourse, presided over by respect for all cultures, the Museum of America offers the possibility of stopping at the many objects, texts and images that have spread for centuries realities and inventions on America. In this way it is possible to recognize how their peoples and cultures evolved through more than 12,000 years of history, how their models of society were articulated, how it was their contribution to the world of religion, and what instruments they used to communicate with each other.

The permanent exhibition is organized in five parts:

Knowledge of America: This space seeks to present the way in which the knowledge of the American continent and its peoples has been built in Europe, through the exhibition of the myths that once spread over the New World, Chronicles, Expeditions and mapping.

The Reality of America: This part is intended to be a presentation of the settlement of America from the original migrations to the development of the different indigenous cultures, presented chronologically.

Society: this part evokes the existence of the various American societies: Tribal Societies and complex societies. It is treated daily life, through housing, the economy, the organization of society, the power.

Religion: in this space are exposed the main deities, as well as myths and sacred places, rites, objects of worship,… This part is equally interested in the religions of the United States and the Catholic religion, established by the Europeans.

Communication: Here, the exhibition focuses on the development of written and oral communication in America. It is based on Codex, but also on native languages and Spanish.

The exhibition of objects of art or archaeology are complemented by audiovisual presentations.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here and you must I said!

The tourist office of Madrid here:

The Government National Official site on the museum in Spanish

Museums of Madrid site on Museo de América:

Hope you have enjoy this brief description and encourages you to come over; you will be glad to know more about my beloved Spain and its people.

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


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August 7, 2018

Téléferico de Madrid, cable car!

Moving right alone in this tour of Madrid, and on a cooler days here even if heat is on its way again, and of course Madrid is always hotter in Summer ! Let me tell you about a ride I enjoyed since childhood and probably one of the first persons to tried it.

My mother was always looking for inexpensive ways to entertained me and as we lived in Madrid for several years , just after the cable car opened, we certaintly was there right away. The ride is short the thrill of a boy huge, and the experiences and memories to last a lifetime.

I came back several times like a child, first to show my girlfriend, later dear late wife , Martine, and then the boys all tried it. Even repeat , we needed to take this simple ride from paseo del Pintor  Rosales to the Casa del Campo. I am talking about the Téléferico de Madrid or cable car.


base at Paseo del Pintor Rosales Sept 1990


And my boys Aug 2016

Again, I have mentioned in my previous posts on Madrid but never a post alone and I think for my memories and all those families coming ,thinking of coming or repeat a show of it alone is worth it me think. So here it is, the Teleferico de Madrid!

The Teleférico of Rosales aka of Madrid starts from the Paseo del Pintor Rosales to arrive at the Plaza de los Pasos Perdidos of Casa del Campo   (Cerro Garabitas). In this terminal there is a restaurant-cafeteria and a car park and in the Paseo de Rosales another car park, with 350 places, and a restaurant, EL Balcon de Rosales, operated by the same company that owns the cable car.


The company Teleférico de Rosales, S.A. was created in 1967. After the city of Madrid had granted it a lease for 35 years on a parcel of land of 1500 meters in the park of Casa del Campo for its installations.   The cable car was built in one year by the Swiss company Von Roll. The Cable was   inaugurated in 1969. Since March 2012, it has a digital planetarium which, on the first Sunday of each month, offers simulations encompassing the sky from day to night.


The cable car is a bicable system. It has 80 cabins, each of which has a capacity of five persons, and runs a distance of 2 457 meters, at a maximum height of 40 meters. The engine station is 627 meters above sea level as from Alicante and the twin train station at 651 meters. It has a capacity of 1 200 passengers/hour and its speed is 3.5 meters per second. The journey lasts 11 minutes in direct sunlight, above a desert park, with the sole view of the back of the Royal Palace and the Cathedral of the Almudéna.


You , also, can see on clear days , just begun the journey, the parque de la Rosaleda and parque del Oeste, which in spring will find very florid and colored. As we move away from the point of embarkation, the view towards Madrid improves. Soon we will be struck by the photograph that can be made of the Royal Palace and the Cathedral of the Almudena. If you look a bitn we will also see the triangular roof of the Royal Theater protruding from the left side of the palace. Nearby are also the tower of Madrid and the Edificio (building) España (Spain), which emerge from the Plaza de España. When the thickness of the trees allows it, one can also distinguish the temple of Debod.



Looking down we will find the train station of Príncipe Pio, the hermitage of San Antonio de la Florida and the Manzanares River. When we cross the M-30, a few meters from the entrance of the cars to the tunnel, we begin to fly over the Casa del Campo. Its silhouette shows the platform of the Moncloa lighthouse (Faro), the Picasso tower and the inclined gate towers of Europe(Puerta de Europa). A little more to the left we see the complex of the four towers(Cuatro Torres), the highest skyscrapers in Madrid.


Upon arriving at destination ,looking to the front, we have the Casa del Campo. To the right, the large expanse of the park, with its immense grove mainly of holm oaks and pine trees accompanied by countless shrubs. And in the background, the relief of the Sierra de Madrid. On the left side the lake is hidden among the trees, but sometimes it can be located because a large stream of water tends to emerge from its central point. A little further ahead we will see the amusement park (Parque de Atracciones), easy to distinguish by the structure of the roller coaster.


You get there on metro Argûelles lines 3, 4, and 6, as well as bus lines 21 and 74 or walking from Centro Madrid.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are

official transport of Madrid EMT on the cable car :

The tourist office of Madrid: Teleferico de Madrid by the tourist office of Madrid

And the story is told , in prime time. Hope you and your family enjoy this wonderful ride in Madrid.

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

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