March 16, 2019

The Synagogues of Toledo!

So coming all the way south of my beloved Madrid passing by family  north of Toledo, and reaching nice historical huge and architecturally stunning Toledo. It is in the Autonomous Region of Castilla La Mancha. I have written several posts on Toledo and region but today will like to tell you about another gem.

I like to tell you a bit about the synagogues of Toledo and a bit of history I like.

The architecture of this part of the city differs in nothing from the rest of Toledo. The district orbits between the two ancient synagogues: Santa María la Blanca and Tránsito. It is difficult to find with certainty the topography of the old Jewish quarter. First of all, only very few writings or testimonies have been found to date. In addition, the Jewish community left the city after the violent pogrom of 1391, and again in 1492. The Jewish quarter fell completely into ruins until the second half of the 19C, where important reconstruction work took place. The rediscovery and rehabilitation of this district dates back to the 20C. However, the researchers have retraced with certainty the existence of several sub-districts: Arriasa, Sofer, Hamanzeit, Mármol (marble), and Degolladero (the slaughterhouse).

The Synagogue of Santa María la Blanca (St Mary the White)  was a Jewish place of worship ,then Catholic, and today a museum, located in Toledo. Built at 12C to serve as a synagogue, it was transformed into a church after the pogroms of the 14C.  Today it belongs to the Catholic Church which has made it into a museum open to the public.

Toledo

The synagogue Santa María la Blanca was built in 1180 as evidenced by a date in Hebrew on one of the beams. Toledo was already reconquered by the Christian princes since 1085. It is a superb example of a mudejar style that looks more like a mosque than a synagogue, especially by the absence of a gallery for women. Also typically Mudejar are, the use of white and smooth walls made of bricks covered with cement and lime, the geometric decoration of the friezes, and vegetal style of the capitals.  The synagogue is characterized by five naves separated from pillars supporting horseshoe arches. It was transformed into a church from 1405 after what centuries later one would have called a pogrom perhaps led by Saint Vincent Ferrier.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip to Santa Maria La Blanca are

Tourist office of Toledo on Santa Maria La Blanca

Tourist office of Castilla La Mancha on Santa Maria la Blanca

The Tránsito Synagogue was built in 1357 by order of the treasurer of King Pedro I, Samuel Levi. Archaeological digs suggest that this imposing construction is probably located on the grounds of an older synagogue. In 1492, the Catholic Monarchs donated it to the military Order of Calatrava, which transformed it into a priory. During the Napoleonic Wars, it served as barracks.

Toledo

It was joined by the Sefardí Museum, in the neighboring dependencies. As in many cases, the brick façade is austere and without decoration, but the interior is of great beauty. This is probably one of the best examples of Mudejar style in Spain. of harmonious dimensions with 23 meters long on 9.50 meters wide, and 17 meters high, it has a coffered ceiling in larch, richly adorned. With a special entrance, the Ladies ‘ day-care center is well lit by five large windows. It is the interior decoration that made this building famous with the wall that hosts the niche reserved for the Sifrei Torah, is covered with panels and a frieze of plaster carved in the oriental tradition. Many inscriptions run along the walls ,commemorating the name of Samuel Levi and Pedro I. Excerpts from the Psalms complete the décor illuminated by windows finely decorated with small columns and mashrabiyya of stone lace. In the dependencies, the museum exhibits donations and coins collected throughout Spain, which will allow you to explore the history of Spanish Judaism. Seminars, courses and lectures are organized during the year on topics related to Spanish Judaism. The synagogue is not used for worship.

toledo

The anecdote is that right outside there is gift shop held by an English lady for over 50 years living in Toledo. We made good talk on our several trips here and she has good stuff; does not know how long further as it seems there is no family takeover after she is gone. Maybe a chance to buy the place….

toledo

Some webpages to help you plan your visit to the Transito synagogue are

Tourist office of Toledo on the museum Sefardi at Transito

Tourist office of Castilla La Mancha on Sefardi museum at Transito

There you go two gems to visit and it is a must while in gorgeous Toledo, the Santa Maria la Blanca and Trànsito synagogues are nice to visit; hope you enjoy the post.

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

 

 

Tags: , ,
March 16, 2019

Plaza de Toros de Cuenca!

And why not bring you back down to my beloved Spain, I had to say is the second most visited country in the world according to the UN-WTO statistics with about 85M visitors last year! And on Unesco World Heritage Sites we have Cuenca too.

However, I have written several posts on the town and surrounding, we love it there and spent several summers with the family high in the mountains of the Serrania de  Cuenca. This time let me tell you a bit more on the Plaza de Toro or bullfighting arena a real tradition of Spain even if nowdays not practice in certain areas.

The Plaza de Toros of Cuenca (bullfighting arena) is located at Avenida de los Reyes Catolicos, s/n on the road out of town near the Parque de Santa Ana. It was first built in 1848 with two floors and 5,000 spaces. Later, in 1913, another enclosure was built, which lasted only a few years.

Cuenc

The city council built the current enclosure or arena in 1926 with the present of Santa Coloma bulls, for the right-handed Marcial Lalande, “Valencia II ” and Martín Agüero. The square, of reinforced cement, has pens, twelve stalls and the necessary dependencies to make bullfights easier. The San Julian Fair, the last week of August, comes with a fairground installed and a series of activities take place such as theater, parade of floats, bullfights, circus, etc…. In addition to a wide and varied sports program that includes an equestrian competition. As a culmination to these festivities, you will see great fireworks.  We were lucky while here to see briefly the Fiesta de San Juliàn August 24th, the traditional feast of the town in honor of their patron Saint.

Cuenca

A bit of history I like

Cuenca had counted on three other bullrings before the current was built. The first was known as the Pintado or painting, located on the grounds occupied by the delegation of Finance of the local government, in the parque San Julián, annexed to other areas where the cinema Palmeras was.

The second arena, known as La Perdigana or, which was located on the site of what was then Cine Xúcar and Hotel.  The third plaza, in the neighborhood of Casablanca, to which it was known like the one of Caballeros or knights, inaugurated in 1913, and in which they acted the torero with swords ,the first of the 20C, among them Juan Belmonte, in 1915.  This square was shot down after the 1920 fair. Six years was Cuenca without bulls during the Fiestas of San Julián, occupying  the bullfighting part in the Plaza Mayor, as was done annually by the fairs of San Mateo or on the occasion of some extraordinary event. On September 5, 1927, in the new bullring in Cuenca as we know it today. It is good to tell you that the first special mention was the presence of Manuel Rodríguez “Manolete” three times, in the years 1943 and 1944. One of the greatest bullfighers of all time.

The bullring of the city of Cuenca, with a century of history, will conclude its works of consolidation of the structure and waterproofing, because of the numerous humidity’s that it presents, before the next bullfighting fair, in of August 2016.

Cuenca

Cuenca

Some webpages to help you plan your trip or you can ask me are

Tourist office of Cuenca on heritage sites

Maxitoro for info in season in Spanish

Entradas Toros Cuenca for info and ticketing in Spanish

The Fairs are in summer so as the time approaches look up the site Maxitoro  or Entradas Toros Cuenca, for ticket information and more on the contenders. It is an experience to live it at least once, and then some more… depending on your personal views which are many. The Plaza de  Toros of Cuenca another gem to see in the historical town. Hope you enjoy the post.

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

 

 

Tags: , ,
March 15, 2019

Chambord at Christmas!

Another place that we love to come for Christmas over the years was not far from us and still is like that. We love the region and have come here several times, castles are it but so many will take you a lifetime to see them all. Again, the most famous are in the region known as Centre-Val-de-Loire but there just as famous and good ones in the neighboring region of Pays de la Loire. I have several posts on Chambord in my blog.

However, for Christmas believe deserves a post on its own. This is my take on Chambord at Christmas! Future planning is a must.

Chambord is located in the Loir-et-Cher department no 41, in the Centre-Val de Loire region.   The town is famous for its castle and its fully enclosed park, a national hunting reserve where the presidential hunts take place. The town and the whole territory of the municipality of Chambord are the property of the French Republic administered in the form of a public establishment of industrial and commercial nature name the Domain of Chambord.

Chambord

Do come and celebrate Christmas here is really magical and gorgeous place to be at. Celebrate the end of year celebrations in the largest of the Loire castles. Enjoy a magical Christmas at the Château de Chambord . Many animations await you, and I will tell you some.

A magical and warm atmosphere takes place in the castle that will celebrate its 500 years in 2019!  More on the 500 celebrations here: Official Chambor castle 500 years anniversary in English

Before celebrating its fifth centenary, the Château de Chambord has many surprises for you during the holidays.  As each year, the Château de Chambord has concocted a program rich in animations to wait until Christmas and prolong the feast during the holidays. For more than a month, the castle is transformed and wears its winter clothes. Firs trees and decorations come to the castle, from the ground floor to the second floor, passing through the grand staircase with double revolution and the chapel!

On the outside, the magic of Christmas seizes the French gardens with splendid illuminations that accompany the lighting of the facade of the castle. The walkways leading to the entrance will also be transformed with a hundred fir trees that will illuminate at dusk.

 Chambord

In the castle, do not miss the perambulations of the musicians who will punctuate a visit dotted by costumed characters in the style of the 16C. Singing, dancing, and period music. Enjoy an artistic Christmas in the heart of the Sologne. Story tellers readers will come to tell fun and amusing stories for the enjoyment of the youngest. In the warm atmosphere of the rooms on the ground floor, at the fireside, comfortably seated on cushions, they will travel in the fairy tale universe! The children will leave to discover King François I through an exciting exhibition.

 Chambord

Finally, who says Christmas meets Santa Claus! The children can be photographed with the man in red and exchange a few words with him. The external walkways of Chambord are adorned with a hundred illuminated fir trees, which amaze the little ones and families all together. The interior is also dressed in majestic fir trees and a sumptuous decoration. From the ground floor to the first floor, through the entrance porch and the chapel, the visit path is sublimated by the magic of Christmas. The lighting of the French gardens and highlight of the north facade of the castle.

 Chambord

Presentation of firs trees made by prestigious brands on the second floor: elect the most beautiful fir tree among the 20 presented! Traditional wooden games (billiards Louis XIV, Hole-Madame…) and board games. Dance and Song of the Renaissance, wandering of characters in costume, nature animations, coloring, reading tales, meeting with Santa Claus and many other surprises… Except on 24, 25, 31 December and 1 January.

 Chambord

Great new show: “Beauty and the Beast, a new story “. The spectators are transported in the adventures of Princess Laideronnette, cursed by a witch, in search of her beloved. A baroque and wonderful spectacle for young and old in 16C costumes, created especially for the occasion. On stage, actors and musicians to transcribe this fabulous story. The program: Plots, travels, special effect of period, artistic fencing, old music and many other surprises!! Indeed magical in the Castle surroundings!!

Chambord

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are

Official Chambord castle Christmas celebrations past year

Official Chambord castle events to come in English

You will enchanted here at Chambord, and the gardens are recently renovated as I told you in one of my Some News from France series. It will be gorgeous. I do buy some wines here especially from nearby Cheverny nice crisp and good value for house wines.

Chambord

Hope you enjoy the post. And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

 

 

Tags: ,
March 15, 2019

Amboise at Christmas!

Here I am to take you into the fairy tell land of the Loire and its castles. There are so many ,even living close to them will take me a life time to see them all. I am trying ok. However, after seeing several of them over the years, one become to make choices and pick favorites that received repeat visits. First , I go into the castle let me tell you that Amboise is in the so call Valley of the kings castles in or around the Loire river. However, there are two regions in France that converges on it. Amboise is in department Indre-et-Loire no. 37 ;then it is in the Centre-Val de Loire region and not in the Pays de la Loire region that ,also has many castles along the Loire.

Clear that out of the way, let me tell you about Amboise at Christmas time. We come with the family here often as it is also where we buy our house wines of Touraine-Amboise appellation. A bit early for planning!

This is a family affairs that begins at the castle and overflows into the city center of Amboise along the Loire river; needless to say you should come here at Christmas time. It is magical. More so this year as it is the 500 anniversary of Leonardo Da Vinci at the Château du Clos Lucé; more on this festivities here Official Viva Da Vinci 2019 festivities 500 anniversary

Every year, the Château of Amboise proposes to you to live Christmas over the centuries and to discover how the holidays have evolved over the years, from the origins to the Renaissance and until today.  Come and visit the castle which, for the occasion, gets to offer you scenes richly decorated in its rooms. You will find everything that makes you dream small and big when approaching Christmas: Decorated fir trees, logs and confectionery, cribs, fairy sets… All within the framework of a true Royal castle!  You follow the guiding thread: the Angels. Discover them in different forms, in the decorations of the castle or the paintings hanging on the walls, during your angelic visit of the Royal Castle of Amboise.  From December to January, you can also enjoy concerts, musical tales, creative workshops, a Roisou pastry cake tasting and a magnificent Renaissance ball!

Amboise

 

amboise

And at the city center ,Christmas in Amboise, it is the occasion for all the dreamers, to fall back to childhood and to rediscover the wonder that invades everyone in the approach of the holidays. The historic heart of the city is illuminated every evening by hundreds of glittering garlands, from the place Michel Debré to the place Saint-Denis via the Tour de l’Horloge. A forest of fir trees sublimated by a light all red and green welcomes you in the old town. At nightfall, the banks of the Loire river are the privileged witnesses of the marvellous illumination of the Royal Castle of Amboise.

Amboise

Fleurs-de-lis and cherubs come to life in a whirlwind of lights and colors for the greatest wonder of the entire family. In the Council room, near the roaring wood fire, a gigantic nativity scene presents, with the traditional characters of Advent, a village stage full of colorful goodness! Close your eyes, alert your ear… You would almost hear the fisherman’s banter negotiating his most beautiful catches with the fishermen, under the eager look of the neighborhood cats. In the salon Louis-Philippe, the fir tree is ready, the socks are hanging from the chimney, and some packages and gifts already adorn the foot of the dream tree.

amboise

At the Château du Clos Lucé, Leonardo da Vinci welcomes its guests in a decor magnified by sumptuous plant creations. The grand staircase takes on the airs of a pristine forest, and brings you into the living room with a beautiful red fir tree. At its foot are already laid a few packages, promises of joys to come, under the benevolent protection of the mechanical lion of the master of the castle (in case some would consider opening the packages before the hour!). In the kitchen, candied fruits, spices and prepared poultry are already out. Finally, only the guests are missing to celebrate these wonderful moments of reunion! Welcome to magical Amboise!

Amboise

We came first once from Versailles and we love it; we have come back several years at Christmas and many others on shopping. We plan to come back in May, are you around? Amboise is magical indeed! I have several posts on it in my blog, but feld a Christmas ahead of time for planning was in order. Enjoy it

Amboise

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are

Official Chateau of Amboise on Christmas 2017 in French

Official tourist office of the touraine Loire valley region on Christmas 2017 in French

City of Amboise tourism on things to see in English

There you go  do plan ahead and be here , I guarantee you will love, grand royal, sublime historical architecturally stunning and great Renaissance period costumes and decorations. Amboise is wonderful ! Christmas in Amboise will be from December 21 2019 to January 5  2020! 

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

 

 

Tags: ,
March 15, 2019

Salon d’Apollon or Salle du Trône ,Versailles of course!

So I am coming back again to my beloved old home of Versailles. What can I say when you are lucky enough to lived there for almost 10 years and worked in Paris.… Well I have come back several times and have many posts on it in my blog. However, there are areas missing a bit more of it me think.

This is the case with a nice living room of Apollo or Salon d’Apollon or more commonly call by us locals… as the Throne room or Salle du Trône. Let me tell you a bit more on it ok

The Salon d’Apollon or living room of Apollo is also, known as the Salle du Trône or room of the throne. It is inside the wonderful beautiful palace/museum of  Versailles, holding its name from the ceiling representing Apollo on its chariot. The living room of Apollo is located on the first floor of the Château de Versailles, in the King’s large apartments. It is adjacent to the mercury and war rooms (Salon de Mercure et Salon de la Guerre).

Versailles

Serving as the King’s room from 1673 to 1682 and then as the Throne room as soon as the king and the court settled in Versailles, the king granted his ordinary hearings here. The room was also reserved for dancing during the evenings of apartments.

The living room of Apollo is dedicated to the Greek god, god of the Sun, to whom the Sun King identified himself. Commissioned by king Louis XIV, the ceiling is a painting by Charles de la Fosse which represents Apollo on his chariot dragged by four couriers, accompanied by the figures of France, the Magnanimity and Magnificence and the procession of the seasons figured by Flora, Ceres, Bacchus and Saturn in the center.

The covings represent Porus led in front of Alexander, Coriolanus raising the Siege of Rome at the request of his mother, Vespasian raising the Colosseum in Rome, and   Augustus building the port of Miseno . The four continents are represented in the four angles of the ceiling.

Versailles

The chimney was surmounted by the portrait standing of king Louis XIV in a royal suit, wearing the insignia given to the Kings on the day of their coronation. Painted in 1701 by Hyacinthe Rigaud to illustrate the power of the king and his natural majesty. This portrait is now preserved at the Louvre museum, a copy replaces the original in the living room of Apollo. In front of the painting is a portrait of king Louis XVI.

The living room of Apollo or Salon d’Apollon or Salle du Trône  was restored last in 2014.

Versailles

Salle du trone king Louis XVI special exhibition

The official Palace/museum webpage has a bit more on it. Chateau de Versailles on the Apollo Room

The whole place is magical and to think it was once practically my backyard literally used to play and jog with my boys in the gardens! magical sublime nostalgia setting in and vacation time is coming to plan lol!  Versailles is it. Enjoy the post and thanks for stopping by.

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

 

March 14, 2019

Colmenar de Oreja, Comm de Madrid!

So as I am in the neighborhood of Comunidad de Madrid why not tell you about another gem not far from the capital and full of the nice things of my beloved Spain, everything under the sun!

Again, written in general about the things to see in Colmenar de Oreja but feel obligated to tell you about some of its best gems such as the Plaza Mayor and the Church of Santa Maria la Mayor. Hope you enjoy the ride as we do.

First, some orientation on the town and region ok.  Colmenar de Oreja  is 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 M-404 by km 50 at Villarejo de Salvanés (see other post) until Belmonte de Tajo and here take the M-303 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 other post).

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 Plaza Mayor was started building it in 1676, as one of the magnificent examples of the typical porticoed Castilian squares when it was finished in 1794. It comprises the city/town hall and the Pósito. Its south cloth gives to a majestic architectonic ensemble formed by the Gardens of Zacatín, the mouth of the tunnel of Stone of the same name (which crosses under the square of part to part), and, the troughs. It has been the framework of a multitude of films and television series. In the popular festivities both in May and September, a portable wooden square with tenders is installed, so that they can celebrate all kinds of bullfighting events, something that the people continue with great devotion and tradition.

Colmenar de Oreja

Colmenar de Oreja

The 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.

Colmenar de Oreja

Colmenar de Oreja

Colmenar de Oreja

In 2008 ,the paintings were restored and the floor changed. In addition, since  2009 it has a prestigious body worth admiring, donated in its entirety by the neighboring Maria Perez Garcia, who wanted to contribute in this way to the patrimony of Colmenar de Oreja. Thanks to his gesture you can enjoy beautiful concerts.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are

Tourist office of Colmenar de Oreja

Tourist office of Comunidad de Madrid on Colmenar de Oreja in English

Tourist office of Madrid on Colmenar de Oreja in English

There you go another gem in the off the beaten path roads of the Comunidad de Madrid, again just south of the capital , Colmenar de Oreja , an easy ride by car all worth it for a pleasant afternoon away from the city. Hope you enjoy it as we do.

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

Tags: , ,
March 14, 2019

Torre del Homenaje and Iglésia de San Andrés in Villarejo de Salvanés, Madrid!

So let’s stick with my beloved Spain and gorgeous Madrid community region that is just wonderful me think. Again, these I have written before a while back on a general passing sense, and I feel they need a bit more exposure in my blog.

Therefore, I will like to tell you a bit more on the Torre del Homenaje (homage tower) and Iglesia de San Andrés (St Andrews’ Church) at Villarejo de Salvanés in the Comunidad de Madrid, just south of the capital city of Madrid!

A bit of orientation first just to tell you ok. Villarejo de Salvanés 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.  Ahh for those in public transport you can easily go from Atocha in Madrid to the town on bus lines 351: Ronda de Atocha (Madrid)  Estremera – Barajas de Melo, bus line 352: Ronda de Atocha (Madrid) Fuentidueña – Tarancón,  and bus line 353: Atocha (Madrid) Villamanrique – Santa Cruz de la Zarza.

The Torre del Homenaje or tower of homage or castle of Villarejo of Salvanés, constitutes a unique architectural site in Spain. It belongs to the town hall of Villarejo de Salvanes. The castle of Villarejo of Salvanes was part of the defensive system that protected the passage by the old way of Toledo, as well as by the so-called Senda Galiana (Roman road that linked the Galia (France) and Hispania (Spain), in use during the Middle Ages). The castle of Villarejo of Salvanes was the seat of the special court of the military orders and, in the 19C, was accommodated as a refugee to Gen. Juan Martín Díez ,the subborn one ( Empecinado). Hero of the Spanish War of Independence, El Empecinado participated in several episodes, which became legendary, where he routed the Napoleonic army.

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. My memories thanks.

Villarejo de Salvanes

Villarejo de Salvanes

The parish Church of San Andrés Apostol 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. At the beginning of the Spanish civil war it lost its artistic heritage. After an earthquake in 1969, the roof and vaults were demolished and completely restored in the 1980’s.

Villarejo de Salvanes

The Church of San Andrés Apostol, consists of a polygonal apse with high buttresses, which make it similar to the castle. It is a single nave and has two side chapels, sacristy and tower, recently topped by a slate spire. In its main façade we see a pediment with a shield of the order of Santiago in the center as in the side door. Other shields, like the Aponte’s, flank the building.  It is presided by San Andrés, patron Saint of Villarejo de Salvanés, the image is framed in a plaster altarpiece inaugurated in 2000. The images of the Blessed Nicanor Ascanio and José de San Jacinto, both illustrious sons of the locality, complete the ensemble, which is crowned by a carving of Christ in its color. In the ample presbytery stands out the neo-Romanesque tabernacle, the altar, the seat and the pulpit in white stone.

Villarejo de Salvanes

The interior of the Church of San Andrés, also has two side chapels. The one on the right or the Aponte chapel is closed by a Renaissance gate and contains two altarpieces with the images of the Immaculate Conception and Jesús Nazareno. In it you can contemplate the founding headstone in addition to the images of the Virgin of Health (Salud), the Resurrected, San José de la Montaña, San Juan Bautista and the Naked Cross, which is called here  “La Sabanilla “. In the chapel on the left we find the baptismal font of 1959 and the altarpieces of Nuestra Senora  Del Carmen, wood carving, and Nuestra Senora De la Soledad with the recumbent Christ. In the nave of the church are the images of Jesus attached to the column and the Holy Christ of the Faith, as well as a Holy Supper. The sacristy, which was one of the old side chapels, is the one that preserves the ribbed vault and there is a size of San Andrés from the beginning of the 17C.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here as an off the beaten path of my Spain are

Tourist office of Villarejo de Salvanés on heritage in Spanish

Tourist office of Comunidad de Madrid on Villarejo de Salvanés in English

Lovely town we love to pass by and come in for a relaxing afternoon and walks on our road warrior ways in old Castile!  Villarejo de Salvanés is a nice clean town with friendly folks! and nice monuments. Hope you try it and enjoy it as much as we do.

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

 

Tags: , ,
March 14, 2019

Plaza Mayor and Castillo de los Condes, Chinchon!

So keeping up with the rides… heck I am taking you back to my beloved Spain, everything under the sun! And my favorites areas since childhood, Comunidad de Madrid or old Castile, of which Madrid is part and also Chinchon.

I have written before over the years in my blog on Chinchon of course. However, there are two spots I love the most ,and would like to tell you a bit more on them. These are the Plaza Mayor (main square) or Castillo de los Condes (Counts’ Castle). Hope you enjoy it.

First a bit of Spanish geography and directions.  Chinchón is a town located in the southeast of the Comunidad de Madrid , in the region of Las Vegas, 44 km from the capital. From Madrid you can reach Chinchón by the highway A-3 taking the detour of the M-307, shortly before reaching Arganda. From there take the roads M-311 and then the M-313 to Chinchón. It can also be reached by the A-4, taking the turnoff of the M-404, shortly after Valdemoro, which takes us through Ciempozuelos and Titulcia to Chinchón. From Conde de Casal (next to metro station same name) bus stop in Madrid you can take bus line 337, to Chinchon terminus Valdelaguna.

The Plaza Mayor of Chinchón is an example of popular architecture. The first houses with arcades and balconies were built in the 15C, and was completely closed in the 17C. It has a circular shape ,covered with sand, and a simple structure, clear, tidy and hierarchical. The buildings are of three floors, with white houses on arcades, wooden balconies painted in green and red-tiled roofs, it’s like the Middle Ages! And 234 wooden balconies called Claros or clear, supported by standing with shoes type columns offering a breathtaking view of the bullfights and other regularly-held shows on the square. Bars, restaurants and other taverns hide behind the arcades. Since its construction, the Plaza Mayor has hosted numerous activities such as Royal celebrations, proclamations, corral of comedies, games of canes, bullfights, executions, sacramental rites, religious, political and military acts, as well as serving as a set for the  Cinema such as the bullfighting scene of the film Around the World in 80 Days, circus show in The Fabulous World of the Circus.

Tourist office of Comunidad de Madrid on the Plaza Mayor of Chinchon

Chinchon

Chinchon

Chinchon

The Castillo de los Condes or Counts’ Castle or Castle of Chinchon. In Chinchón there were two fortresses; The first, apparently, of the 15C and now disappeared. The current castle was built in the second half of the 16C by order of Diego Fernandez de Cabrera and Bobadilla, third count of Chinchón after being the first destroyed during the communal riots.

A bit of history I like tells us that the Manor of Chinchón, held by the Cabrera family since the time of King Henri IV of Castile. The original castle suffered damages of consideration in the attack made by the communal troops in the year 1520. The square was delivered with all its artillery in 1521. The third count of Chinchón, Diego Fernandez de Cabrera and Bobadilla, decided to demolish the remains of it. On its plot, it ordered to raise a new castle, taking advantage of the materials of the old. It is known that its construction lasted from 1590 to 1598. The Castle of Chinchon was well preserved until 1705, year in which it suffered the consequences of the War of Spanish Succession. At that time it was occupied by the troops of the Austrian Archduke’s army, led by the Marquis of Mines. Its dependencies were used for the installation of abundant artillery. Later, it suffered a fire in its northwest part, as a result of the storage of hemp.  A century later, in 1808, during the three days of siege to Chinchón, it was plundered and burned to the hands of the Polish Brigade of the French Marshal Claude Perrin Victor, in the context of the War of the Independence of Spain.

The castle of Chinchón is built in concerted limestone masonry, filled with mortar and stones. The spans and moldings are made in ashlars, except the access door, partially lifted in masonry. It exhibits the blazon of the Counts of Chinchón, framed by padded ashlars. The building is of two bodies, which overlap each other forming a large rectangular plant. It is topped in cylindrical towers, which are located in the corners of each of the bodies. Its appearance responds to the characteristics of Renaissance architecture. Rugged and very horizontal, he sought to avoid enemy artillery fire. The walls on the slopes are intended to hinder the access of sappers .It is surrounded by a moat, which is partially conserved. The castle was abandoned in the 18C after being the residence of the Counts of Chinchón for two hundred years.  Access to the interior of the castle is not allowed.

Tourist office of Madrid on the Castle of Chinchon

Chinchon

Chinchon

Chinchon

You have a nice day in Chinchon a typical Madrileno town not far from the capital and yet in the country. Some webpages to help further plan your trip here are

City of Chinchon on heritage things to see in Spanish

Tourist office of city of Madrid on Chinchon

And to add, it is good to get lost in the labyrinth of cobbled streets that go up to the Church of Nuestra Senora de la Asuncion (Our Lady of the Assumption), which contains a painting by Goya, the Assumption of the Virgin, painted in 1812. Just next door is the superb theater of Lope de Vega, built in the 19C, which sometimes serves as a cinema. The village has thus inspired two great names of the arts: Lope de Vega and Francisco de Goya. A little further is the Torre del Reloj or tower of the clock, which watches over the village. Surrounded of a rampart, the esplanade flanked by its three monuments overlooks the Plaza Mayor and offers a splendid panorama on Chinchon. The village also houses a charming Parador de Turismo (lodging hotel), in the Convent of San Agustin, erected in the 17C.

There you go come on over, nice weather is coming and Chinchon is waiting for you. And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

Tags: , ,
March 13, 2019

Houdan in the Yvelines 78, nice!

So I am sticking around a bit and into my beloved Yvelines dept 78 of the Ïle de France region. This was my old hunting ground…and I have come back as nostalgia sets in always. I have written bits of pieces on it, however, need to tell you more.

I like to tell you about the nice historical city of Houdan. Now I bring you to the heart of the Yvelines; visitors should dare more to come over and out of Paris! This is another example of a town that is not portrayed as Royal, but it is, go figure ::) .  It is Houdan, 43 km from Versailles. The nice road N12 (free road) passes by the town as well as the Paris Montparnasse direction Granville line that has stop at Houdan.

The bit of history ,I like tells us that Houdan belongs to the Lords of Montfort from the 10C and later was added to the Duchy of Brittany!!! by marriage. It was disputed between the English and finally entered the Royal domain with the marriage of king Louis XII and Anne of Brittany/Bretagne. Given by king Louis XIV to the Luynes family in exchange for lands closer to Versailles, and stayed with them until the French revolution.

The fair or festival of Saint-Matthieu is done here every year for 2-3 days on the last weekend of September (Saint-Matthieu saint day is Sept 21). It is one of the oldest fairs in Europe with the first one going back to 1065, by the Count Amaury II de Montfort.

If not at this time in town, go to see the St James and St Christopher Church or église Saint-Jacques et Saint-Christophe gothic style built in the 15-16C with a renaissance choir, and an organ originally from 1739.  The first church of Houdan, at this site, was built in the 11C under the surname of Saint-Jacques-le-Major (St James the Mayor). It was rebuilt from the beginning of the 16C with the donations of the inhabitants against promises of indulgences. In 1510, the surname of Saint Christopher was added to that of Saint James. Private donation funding explains the length of the work: they ended in the early 18C. With a construction spanning three centuries, the Church of Houdan syncretize the transition from Flamboyant Gothic to Renaissance style. See the tracery of flamboyant style on the windows, and the Renaissance capitals on the pillars of the transept. The transept has only one arm and the upper part of the steeple is missing; probably for lack of funding.

houdan

houdan

The Church of Saint-Jacques-le-Major-Saint-Christophe, 50 meters long, with a fairly stripped interior, is nonetheless worth the visit for its juxtaposition of the various artistic styles, from the gothic walls to the altarpiece of the high altar of 1672, not to mention a 1582 fresco. The canopy is made of white stained glass where fragments of 16C stained glass were inserted, some with a very beautiful greyness.

houdan

houdan

Also, the tower or donjon very visible as you entered the city by car .It is what remained of the old fortifications been built in the 13C by Count Amaury III de Montfort; a massive tower alone in the western part of the town with 25 meters high and 16 meters of diameter, flank by four smaller towers of 4,8 meters in diameter; it is used today as a water tower.

houdan

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are

Tourist office of Houdan

Tourist office of dept 78 Yvelines on Houdan

This is an overlook town for those visiting the Paris/Versailles corridor and as it is still an off the beaten path area that visitors should try to visit more if can. There is so much to see, I know!!! Anyway, Houdan is nice and lovely city center around the castle and donjon tower, the market right next to the Church all around you! Enjoy it

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

March 13, 2019

Dourdan in the Essonne dept 91! ïle de France!

So I am around the neighborhood telling you about some off the beaten path towns that are worthy of coming if so close to Paris. The department 91 Essonne is not well known yet surrounding Paris and well worth your while to pay attention to what it has to offer.

One of my highlights of coming here is the town of Dourdan, and I like to tell you a bit more about it. When, we go down south a bit on the region of ïle de France into magical Dourdan, about 44 km from Paris in the department 91 Essonne.

This Celtic village later Gallo Roman town, birthplace of the Capetian kings and royal town from the 10C, is today known for its castle, 13C very well preserved.  The road A10 passes on the north of town before the tolls of Saint-Arnoult-en-Yvelines (that I always avoid lol!). You have the better road D836 crossing the town west to east and onwards to Etampes and Rambouillet. Also, the D838 goes up to Versailles and the D116 with a beltway going to Arpajon. You,also, have good train service on the line RER C and the TER Centre Val de Loire that passes by here destination of Vendôme or Châteaudun, without stops from the gare Paris Austerlitz.. There is a train station in town as well as the Dourdan-La Fôret servicing the RER C as terminus.

dourdan

A bit of history I like

The castle at Dourdan belongs to Hugues le Grand, Duke of the Franks that built this castle to his taste and died in it in 956AD. Also, here was born in 940, Hugues Capet founder of the dynasty of Capetians kings and crowned himself in 987, so Dourdan can be called the foundation of the House of France, royal town since the 10C.  It was in 1220 that king Philippe Auguste decided to built a new castle here taking as a model, the Louvre. The donjon was 26 meters high which was impressive at the times. It was offered as a chic place to such folks as Blanche de Castille, Marguerite de Provence, Saint Louis, Louis d’Evreux, Jean I de Berry, Sully, favorite Anne de Pisseleu and Anne of Austria. The town had a Hôtel-Dieu to welcome pilgrims .  In 1314, Jeanne II of Burgundy future queen of France was prisoner here. By 1340 it was completed the Chapel Saint Jean l’Evangéliste (St John the Evangelist).

dourdan

The castle of Dourdan owned by Jean Ier de Berry since 1400 , and he ordered the construction of the ramparts. It passed thru many ravages of wars for many years and by 1562 king Henri II sold the property to the Duke de Guise, in the 17C by wish of his son. king Louis XIII gives it to the queen Marie de Médicis.  At the time, of the French revolution, the castle was the property of the Duke of Orleans, and became a prison. In 1961 the Castle is sold to the city, and now used as a museum.

dourdan

Other things to see  are the Church or église St Germain d’Auxerre built along the lines of the Cathedral of Chartres in 1150 and finished in the 13C  with modifications in the 15C and 17C, the Church is 50 meters long by 18 meters wide, with a spiral north tower at 50 meters, the bronze bell called “Germaine” dates from 1778 and weighs 2300 kg, the portal gate on the north side is from the 15C, and there are wonderful paintings, sculptures.

Dourdan

Inside the Saint Germain d’Auxerre Church, you can see a funerary slab adorned with the effigy of Guillaume de Chatillonville, which served as a bridge over a ditch under the French revolution. It was returned to the Church after being recovered by the local Dourdannais. The shrine of the relics of Saint Félicien in precious glass and metal which was offered by Marguerite-Louise d’Orléans, Grand Duchess of Tuscany in 1695 is displayed every 9th June. Portraits of the priests of the Church since the French revolution, in particular that of Father Gautier, complete the decoration. The organ, built in 1870. The first bronze bell melted in 1599, the second, named Germaine, was cast in 1778 in bronze. A chest in the sacristy is dated 1733. The Church was used as a prison during the French revolution and was brought back to Catholic service by 1795.

dourdan

The Hôtel-Dieu with the Chapel of Saint Jean l’Evangéliste or St John the Evangelist. In 1220 was built the Hôtel-Dieu, destroyed and rebuilt from 1766 with the Evangelist Chapel mentioned in 1340. Modified in 1852 and 1885, it served as a hospital until 1970. Now it is a retirement home.

dourdan

There is a vast hunting royal forest that became domain in 1870. The ramparts are still there since the Middle Ages, long of 1700 meters and with 24 towers, Four gates (Paris, Chartres, Etampes, and Puits des Champs) and three wells (Grouteau, Croix-Ferras, and Petit-Huis) ; today only remains some in the north, west, and east of the city, two towers on the blvd des Alliés, one tower on the trail of Laubier, and the tower or tour du Petit-Huis on rue de l’Étang.

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

Tourist office of Dourdan

City of Dourdan on castle and museum

There you go another jewel very close to Paris and on the off the beaten path, worthty of a visit indeed. And you will be glad you visit the Royal town of Dourdan in the Essonne of the Ïle de France region of my belle France. Enjoy it

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

Tags: ,
%d bloggers like this: