Posts tagged ‘Europe’

April 13, 2021

Basilica Saint Martin of Tours!!

This is an update of an older post on a wonderful monument that must be seen more and an a beautiful city of the Loire, Tours! Initially, we came by here practically passing by city center and as time went by we started to stop in the city with nice memorable moment for my family. However, on this post , I like to tell you more about the Basilica Saint Martin of Tours! Hope you enjoy it as I, even if the pictures were dark fault of a phone camera!

And while at wonderful historical Tours in the Indre et Loire dept 37 of the Centre Val de la Loire region, we come to another beauty of my belle France. This is the Basilica Saint Martin of Tours.  A major work of art and a very intense religious building indeed. I have written several posts on Tours and what to see inside but really need to do justice to this basilica and write a post just on it.

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The Basilica Saint Martin of Tours is a former collegiate Church of St. Martin de Tours, which was essentially from the 11C, was decommissioned, vandalized and transformed into a stable in 1793, during the French revolution, then demolished following the collapse of the vaults in 1797, only two towers being kept. The present Basilica, much more modest, was built between 1886 and 1902 in the Neo-Byzantine style it is a basilica in limestone, granite and marble, covered with slates. It was consecrated as a Basilica in 1925. The statue of Saint Martin, which crowns the dome, weakened by the storms of early 2014, was deposited to be restored; Its base was consolidated and the statue was re-established on top in 2016, in anticipation of the Saint Martin day, celebrated every year on November 11th.

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A bit of history I like

The body of Saint Martin, who died in Candes, was transported to Tours and modestly buried on 11 November 397, three days after his death, in a Christian cemetery outside the city, on the verge of the Roman road to the west. According to Gregory of Tours, Bishop Brice built a wooden building in 437 to house the tomb and the Mantle of Saint Martin, called for this reason a Chapel. Instead the first Basilica of Saint Martin’s Tomb, whose dedication took place in 470, Martin’s body was buried in a sarcophagus behind the altar of the new Basilica. A large block of marble overlooking the tomb, marking its place. In 508, it was in the Church of Bishop Saint Perpet that Clovis, in the aftermath of his victory over the Visigoths at the Battle of Vouillé, he received the insignia of consul from the ambassadors of Emperor Anastase, following which he rode the distance between the Basilica and the Cathedral of Tours by throwing money at the people.

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From the reforms of Pepin the Writ, which wanted to impose the rule of Saint Benedict to all the monasteries of the Franks’ Kingdom at 741. Finally a council held in Aix-la-Chapelle in 817. Imperatively imposed the Benedictine rule on all the communities entitled Monasteries; The clerics of Saint-Martin had to choose between the status of monks and that of canons and adopted the second. From that date, the sanctuary of St. Martin is no longer considered a monastery, but as a Collegiate Church served by canons. The head of the community is still called “Abbot of St. Martin”, but from 844 it is a layman (in 860, it is Prince Louis, heir of Charles the bald; in 866, it is Robert the Fort, count of Tours and ancestor of the Capetian).. This was the main place of Christian pilgrimage in the 5C (Saint Martin was in any case the Holy protector of Gaul). The Council of Chalon-sur-Saône in 813 gives this pilgrimage the same importance as that of Rome.  It was then an important step on the Via Turonensis of the Pilgrimage of Santiago de Compostela. The sanctuary was one of the five major pilgrimage Churches. In the 15C, the Basilica benefited from the munificence of King Louis XI, who lived in the Royal castle of Plessis-du-Parc-lèz-Tours, and his funeral were held there in 1483.

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During the war of religion of 1562, the shrine of Saint Martin was burned by the Protestants and only a piece of the skull and an arm bone were kept. The old church survived until the French revolution, but in conditions of great decay due to lack of maintenance since well before 1789. In 1793, the Basilica was transformed into a stable to house a hundred horses and for 4 years it was the Martin’s stable. In 1797, a report found that the chaining that maintained the Basilica were partly stolen; The vaults of the ambulatory collapse in November and, as a safeguard for the inhabitants, the town ordered the complete demolition of the Basilica. The monumental organ of Lefevre (5 keyboards, double 32 games), also disappeared at that time. Of all this, only the Charlemagne tower (see post), restored in 1963, the clock tower and the canonical houses in the neighborhood of Saint-Martin cloister, a gallery of the Renaissance cloister, remains. Announcing the rediscovery of the tomb of Saint Martin de Tours in 1860 which allowed to restore the Martinien cult and revive a project of restitution of the grandiose site the new Basilica, smaller than the old one, would be perpendicular (oriented north-south ) and would share with it only the location of the former bedside, above the tomb of Saint Martin. The work began in 1886, the crypt with the tomb was inaugurated in 1889, the church in 1890, and the whole of the masonry was completed in 1902, allowing the Basilica to be opened to worship the following year. Cardinal Maurin consecrated the building as a basilica on July 4, 1925, and the layout of the forecourt was completed in 1928.

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Built in 1843 for the Hospital of the Good Savior in Caen, in an 18C buffet, the current organ is bought by the city of Tours in 1956, and has undergone several restoration campaigns. It has two keyboards and a crankset for 17 games: In all, these are more than 1,800 pipes. It was restored and modified in 1977. Stéphane Béchy, was co-holder of 1984 to 1991 had made a recording in 1984 with works by Bach, Mozart, Mendelssohn and Jehan Alain

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The tradition ended as to the last abbot Robert, Count of Paris, elected King of the Franks in 922, and a lay abbot after him, the title of lay abbot of Saint-Martin was transmitted from father to son in the Robertiens, then Capetian, and was carried by the kings of France from Hugues Capet until 1789. Good to say: a religious institution, the petit Clercs of Saint-Martin de Tours, was founded in the years 1920 by Canon Rutard, diocesan priest. Seminarians from other French regions rich in vocation for the diocese of Tours, they also ensured daily religious service at St. Martin’s Basilica. Boarders, the little clerics of Saint-Martin followed their education on the spot, then followed their courses in various colleges of Tours (Collège Saint Grégoire, college Notre-Dame La Riche). The institution, living in particular of the generosity of the Touraine people, settled in the shadow of the Basilica at 3 Rue Baleschoux until 1970, the date of their disappearance. The little clerics of Saint Martin gave about 300 priests to the Diocese of Tours.

Some of the webpages to help you plan your trip to this wonderful city of Tours and its basilica are:

The Official Basilica Saint Martin: https://www.basiliquesaintmartin.fr/

The Tours tourist office on Saint Martin: https://www.tours-tourism.co.uk/see-and-do/chateaux-loire-gardens-heritage/legendary-saint-martin

The Central Loire Valley tourist office on Tours: https://www.loirevalley-france.co.uk/outings/city-visits/tours-ville-dart-et-dhistoire-heart-loire-valley

The Touraine Loire Valley regional tourist office on the Basilica: https://www.touraineloirevalley.co.uk/cultural-heritage/saint-martin-basilica-tours/

There you go hope it helps you enjoy this magnificent Basilica Saint Martin of Tours. The city is linked very easily to Paris by train with good parking and even connection to the TGV station outside in St Pierre des Corps. Wonderful road takes you there easy too like we take the D952 along the Loire river. We like to park by Nationale underground parking. You can take from Paris the A10 or the A11 to Le Mans and then the A28 down to Tours.

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

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April 12, 2021

Villa Torlonia in Rome!

This was another wonderful find off the beaten path in Rome! Yes we were renting not far from it and on our walks we stumbled into it and glad we did. Let me update for you and me my post on the Villa Torlonia in Rome!

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Once in a while it is good to go off the beaten path and find new things to see and do while visiting. I went to Italy several times on a regular basis repeating the same sites . However, once with the family we decided to explore. We set out in an apartment away from tourist central Rome and went out on long walks all over.  These long walks led us to a wonderful place with no tourists but local Roman families.  Let me tell you a bit about the Villa Torlonia in Rome!

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Villa Torlonia is an old villa of the Torlonia family built in the early 19C. It is located in the Nomentana district of Rome (where we stayed )  and has become in 1978 a municipal park which houses three small museums: the Museum of the villa in the Casino Nobile, the Museum of the Casina delle Civet, and the Casino dei Principi.

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A bit of history I like

We went there walking from our apartment and walk we did, until we found this beautitful Villa Torlonia by chance. Located on the street , Via Nomentana, the land was owned by the Pamphilii who used it as farmland in the 17C. Purchased by the Colonna family, the land retained their agricultural vocation until their purchased  in 1797 by the Torlonia family. The Villa Torlonia was built from 1806 for the banker Giovanni Torlonia.  He ordered built an imposing villa in the neoclassical style, surrounded by an English garden. It was completed by Alessandro Torlonia, who notably arranged the gardens in the southern part, built in the area of Capanna Svizzera la Casina delle civet (1840) and built two obelisks (an Egyptian and an honor of his parents in 1842.

From 1920, it was rented for a symbolic gesture to the Torlonia family by Benito Mussolini, who made it his state residence until 1943.  In June 1944, the property was all occupied by the Allied High Command which remains there until 1947. There was  a shelter against aerial bombardment, which allowed to discover a 3C Hebrew cemetery with many acropolis in the under-holding catacombs. After the war, the villa was abandoned until the restructuring project started in 1978. The villa was acquired by the municipality of Rome which transformed it into a public park and its buildings in museums.

These are the Casino Nobile or main casino, imposing building of Villa Torlonia. The Casina delle Civet (built in 1840, rebuilt in 1908-1916 , restored entirely from 1992 to 1997 following a fire in 1991), which houses a museum of stained glass.  The Casino dei Principi ( Princes Casino), neoclassical construction of 1840 which houses temporary exhibitions.

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There is a theater (Teatro Torlonia) of the people, as a Temple of Saturn, hellénic style (1838) with its columns and triangular pediment representing Saturn , and the Moorish greenhouse as well as the false ruins ( False Ruderi), and the Fountains Gallery. The park gardens has over 13 Hectares, with several small artificial lakes. Jewish catacombs dating from the 2C/3C have been discovered in the field in 1918.

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All for a wonderful family day in antique Rome. La Dolce Vita at its best indeed.  Some webpages to help you plan your trip here and all worth it are:

The museums in Villa Torloniahttp://www.museivillatorlonia.it/en

The Rome tourist office on the museum of Villa Torloniahttps://www.turismoroma.it/en/places/musei-di-villa-torlonia

The Rome tourist office on the museum Casina delle Civette of Villa Torlonia: https://www.turismoroma.it/it/luoghi/musei-di-villa-torlonia-casina-delle-civette

The Rome tourist office on the museum Casino Nobilie of Villa Torloniahttps://www.turismoroma.it/en/places/musei-di-villa-torlonia-casino-nobile

There you do come over its really a nice place with lots to see for the day if includes visiting the museums. The area is very residential and lots of local Roman families in the park. A spot to spend a day at Villa Torlonia in Rome!!

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

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April 12, 2021

Villa Paganini in Rome!

And came across this old post from one of our family trips to Rome. It brings back lots of memories and some time passed I need to update for you and me! Let me tell you about the Villa Paganini in Rome!

Going on my usual walks in any city and why not in nice Rome, we stumbled upon a nice park and curious as ever we took a peek. It was again another find away from the tourist hordes of Roma, and been with normal Italian families enjoying a day in the park, but not just any park.  This is Villa Paganini at official address Vicolo della Fontana 38 on the lake or Largo di Villa Paganini . It is across from Villa Torlonia ,( see post). This is a small street off the main Via Nomentana, and the neighborhood where we rented our apartment away from the crowded center. It is nice to walk amongst history as I like it, and something genuinely local, now that’s Italian.

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A bit of history I like

The present little public park was arranged in the 1930’s, as what remains of the ancient Villa of the mighty Cardinal Alberoni, who bought it in 1721 and ordered built a richly decorated mansion in the middle of the park. Few traces of the original accommodation and some furnishings. is located in front of the Villa Torlonia in whose entrance is placed the monument to the fallen.

The visitors can stroll along the avenues shaded by tall pines and stand on the shores of a pond crossed by a bridge fed by the water descending from an artificial grotto rustic style. In the park there are also two monumental fountains and a historic fountain , which has been dedicated an inland route. Among the valuable plants present in the park is worth remembering an American Sequoia tree  and some yew plants and Caki. It is indeed an oasis in Rome and worth the trip especially if with small children but my mine were teens and like it too.

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The origins of the Villa are linked to Cardinal Mariano Pierbenedetti da Camerino, who bought the vineyard in 1585 to transform it into a prestigious residence. Of this period remains as the only testimony the marble fountain today located at the corner of Via Nomentana and Via de la Fontana. In 1722 the estate was purchased by Cardinal Giulio Alberoni who undertook important work in the arrangement of the buildings and the garden of which remains visible today only the wall fountain leaning against the small building adjacent to the Casino Nobile. The park then passed into the hands of numerous other owners who transformed the Villa and the park according to the 19C romantic taste with sinuous and irregular road paths, a rustic pond and several fountains. When in 1890 the property was bought by Senator Paganini, all the vast countryside surrounding the Casino Nobile, cultivated in the vineyard and reed beds, was gradually disappeared under the pressure of the growing building expansion, and the park was divided and fractionated in numerous cottages. In 1934 the municipality of Rome bought the complex for public use, using the Casino Nobile as a Montessori school. The Villa was opened to the public on April 21, 1934 in the presence of dictator Benito Mussolini. In 1938, on the side of Via Nomentana, was placed the monument to the fallen of WWI. In the years 1950’s, in an internal portion of the park, a series of prefabricated houses were built that house schools and service rooms.

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Some of the webpages to help you plan your trip here are:

More from the city of Rome  culture in Italian: http://www.sovraintendenzaroma.it/i_luoghi/ville_e_parchi_storici/ville_dei_nobili/villa_alberoni_paganini

The city of Rome, Region of Lazio on Villa Paganini in Italian: https://www.comune.roma.it/web/it/scheda-servizi.page?contentId=INF75635

There are beautiful restaurant Villa Paganini which we did not go in as we were just walking around on a two weeks vacation to Rome with the family. Also, there a very nice B&B lodging features prominently in all the major bookings sites, we of course had our own full apartment. However, it looks very nice for a family to be here, the area is superb. As well as access to the villa .

For references, the villa B&B and restaurant webpages are (check for updates as with the times….)

https://www.villapaganinibb.it/home-eng

http://www.ristorantevillapaganini.it/en/

There you go, another dandy in old but dandy Roma, and the pretty Villa Paganini. Hope you have enjoy the post as I and we are looking forward to be back when possible.

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

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April 11, 2021

Basilica of Sacre Coeur, Montmartre, Paris!

Ok so this is a landmark and just around the corner celebrating the Paris uprising of 1871 or the Commune makes it clear to update this post to me. After all, the Basilica of Sacre Coeur was done as a reason for that conflict. I have been in it and well all around Montmartre or Paris or is it Montmartre in Paris! Let me update for you and me ,an introductory older post on it; hope you enjoy it as I.

What can I say about Sacre Coeur, it is a very popular Basilica Church of Paris. One of the most see and must stop on your way to Paris. The historical center of a wonderful district ,a city in its right call Montmartre.   The hill of martyrs as in English, no heroes of any sort, but those earlier Christians who gave it all for the faith. Here Saint Denis was beheaded by pagans lords, but He continue to preach all the way to Saint Denis where now is his Basilica de Saint Denis (most French kings are resting there now) see post ,and all begun at Montmartre.

Here in Montmartre, you have the wine harvest the only one left in Paris, with the vinyards celebration every year with a nice festival. Here is the nightclubs all beamings like Moulin Rouge, and Lapin Agile. The hilly streets full of nostalgia, and the impressive Church of Saint Pierre (12C). But all is small when we compare it to Sacre Coeur, the holy cross ,the church on the hill of martyrs=Montmartre.

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This is my humble take on it, a bit of history I like

Ordered built by a National cry in 1873 , to help pay for its construction by a National call of reconciliation and the French gave , a lot. The Church was finally completed in 1914 but not consacrated then on 1919 after the end of WWI. It was not really totally finished until 1923. The style is Greek cross  (neo byzantine)  with a huge dome of 83 meters ( 274 ft). Inside  in the ceiling the back of altar is decorated with the biggest mosaic in France covering a surface of  474 sq meters (5100 sq ft) . Built  representing the Sacred Heart of Jesus glorified by the Catholic Church and France. At the base, there is an inscription « Au Cœur très saint de Jésus, la France fervente, pénitente et reconnaissante » or At the heart of the very saints of Jesus, France passionate, penitent and acknowledge. It has ,also, the heaviest bell in France call the Savoyarde, weighting almost 19K kgs with 3 meters in diameter ! The organ is one of the most historical significance as well  having been transferred to the Basilica in 1919.

You can see the wide of Paris by standing in the parvis in front of the Basilica Sacre Coeur, high of 200 meters above sea level given a panoramic view as far as 50 kms (31 miles). The inspiration for Sacré Cœur’s design originated on 4 September 1870, the day of the proclamation of the Third Republic, with a speech by Bishop Fournier attributing the defeat of French troops during the Franco-Prussian War to a divine punishment after “a century of moral decline” since the French revolution, in the wake of the division in French society that arose in the decades following that revolution, between devout Catholics and legitimist royalists on one side, and  social democrats, secularists, socialists, and radicals on the other. This schism in the French social order became particularly pronounced after the 1870 withdrawal of the French military garrison protecting the Vatican in Rome to the front of the Franco-Prussian War by Napoléon III; the secular uprising of the Paris Commune of 1870-1871, and the subsequent 1871 defeat of France in the Franco-Prussian War.

To get there, the easiest are the Funiculaire de Montmartre or the Montmartrebus (stop Place du Tertre) , by metro the stations closest are Anvers line 2 and Abbesses line 12. You can ,also, walk up the stairs , nice to do if you can. The admission is free.  I have come by metro and then walk up and by car at nearby parking Anvers (Saemes) walk up; once with my young boys too the cable car or funiculaire!

Once by the hill plenty to eat and will take the opportunity to tell you my favorites over the years. My favorites are the Le Moulin de la Galette , La  Bonne Franquette , and brasserie Chez Eugene .  Just walk as much as you can here, the whole area if full of charm,many movies,and history that keeps bringing folks to Paris emerge from here. Like the great movie Le Fabuleux Destin d’ Amélie Poulain made famous at the Cafe des deux Moulin, 15 rue Lepic , and the great ateliers or shops of Painters like the Halles Saint Pierre ,and the museum of Montmartre. The Clos Montmartre at rue des Saules with its vinyards, and the great Fete des Vendages de Montmartre. The old moulin de la galette at rue Lepic and the moulin Radet at rue Girardon, the remaining windmills of Montmartre. And just by 22 rue des Saules my old time favorite French cabaret Lapin Agile.

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The official Basilica Sacre Coeur of Montmartre in Paris: http://www.sacre-coeur-montmartre.com/

The Paris tourist office on the Basilica Sacre Coeur of Montmatre ,Parishttps://en.parisinfo.com/paris-museum-monument/71192/Basilique-du-Sacre-Coeur-de-Montmartre

Hope you get your highs while looking the beautiful scenes of Paris from the hill=butte, at night is sublime,and if clear day awesome. Do visit the wonderful Basilica Sacre Coeur!

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

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April 11, 2021

Church of Saint Sulpice of Paris!

Well here is an important church of my eternal Paris yet shamefully will tell you not been in it. I have many but then again there are so many. As said, these are monument of architecture and history that tells the story better than anything ,and I love to visit them. As I update my posts, come to realise that there can be sites like this where I need to be back when possible. Anyway, I did passed by it several times and will update this older post on the history description of this wonderful Church of Saint Sulpice of Paris. Hope you enjoy the story.

This is to know Paris at its best, no where else you will find so much history than on them.  I have come by here, but never a post solely on it. The Church of Saint Sulpice has a lot history on it if not on my top 3 it is certainly in my top 10. Let me tell you a bit about it and keep in mind to come back to see it when possible.

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The Saint Sulpice Church is in the Odeon neighborhood of the 6éme district of Paris. It is located in place Saint-Sulpice with an official address of 2 rue Palatine. It is dedicated to Sulpice the pious, Archbishop of Bourges in the 7C.  Saint-Sulpice is not a frequent dedication in the churches of France. Yet it is a French Saint born at the end of the 6C in the Diocese of Bourges and of Noble ancestry. He would have been raised at the Royal palace, which would have initiated him into business. Dubbed the good or the pious, known for his austerity, fasting, his affability, but also for his healing gifts on the sick, indulging in prayer and serving the poor, he was said to enjoy a gift of persuasion through his voice that led people to invite to conversion . The Bishop of Bourges would have conferred on him the orders to make his preaching official. In 624, he was appointed Bishop of Bourges. Pursuing his role as missionary, he focuses on the conversion of the Jews, many in his diocese, and participates in the training of the campaigns. After 17 years of Episcopate, he chose a coadjutor to devote himself entirely to the service of the poor. He died in Bourges in January 646 or 647. More than 340 churches are dedicated to him in France, which is little in a country that has about 45 000 religious buildings.

The present Church of Saint-Sulpice took the place of a small sanctuary dedicated to Saint-Sulpice-des-Champs, which would go up in the 12C. Rebuilt, then enlarged in the 14C and 16C, it eventually proves to be insufficient for the population of the parish. It was the priest Jean-Jacques Olier , who arrived in his duties in 1642, who set in motion what was going to be the very long journey of the construction of the new church. The plans were approved in 1645. The first stone was laid by the Regent Anne of Austria in February 1646. The plans are to build the largest church in Paris (119 meters long and 57 meters wide). The old church will be totally encompassed (it was at the level of the present choir, the Cross of the transept and two bays of the nave). Nothing prevents the building ,but for the sanctuary, the choir and the nave, the old church will have to be broken up gradually.  The selected style is Classicism with abundance of Corinthians elements, the carved decorations (capitals, cherubs, and vases of flames) made the body with stone giving a very neat architectural look.  As said, for all those visiting Paris coming here is a necessary step; its architecture is the epitome of Classicism, the decorations, the murals and frescoes of the chapels deserve careful look. You see the giant clams and its Virgin and Children, reliefs and sumptuous mausoleum offer the Church artistic masterpieces in Paris.  Forty years will pass. It is the energetic priest Jean-Baptiste Languet de Cergy  who will restart the construction in 1719 thanks to a lottery.

The Chapel of the Virgin, future Axial Chapel, is the first element that will be built. The young king Louis XIV (he was seven years old), in the presence of the Regent Queen, signed letters Patent authorizing the mastery of work to receive legacies, foundations and donations.  In 1660, after ten years of interruption, the work resumed. The choir and the nine chapels of the ambulatory are erected, then, in 1674, these are the four large piles of the Crusaders. In 1676, the north arm of the transept came out of the ground. The choir of the Old Church (which hinders the construction) is then destroyed. But in 1678, the funding dried up, the crates were empty. In addition, a huge passive is discovered. It is important to be clear: legacies, foundations and donations are not enough for such a large construction. The financial situation is even disastrous forty years will pass. Nothing is more built. The new church will use the nave of the ancient… with a difference of four meters (because the old church dates from the 12C and the natural level of the soil was ascended during the ages-in addition the plans of the new building envisaged a first raised level). The transept is not finished, the South arm does not exist. The aspect of the neighborhood is the one given by a interrupted construction site, with the inevitable nuisances for the residents and a deformed cult house, prey to the bad weather.

In 1714, an energetic abbot was appointed to the priesthood, Jean-Baptiste Languet de Cergy Above all he organizes a lottery that will fill the crates and assure, from 1719, the continuation of the construction site. The construction site will end around 1745 (facade excluded). Nevertheless, in September 1718 with a small bequest, he buys stones that he has deposited at the corner of the streets. Then he distributes a leaflet where the unfinished church, open to all the winds, is drawn. In the foreground is Saint Sulpice in person, accompanied by prelates, who exhorts the wealthy parishioners (and all others) to give.  And from 1719, the work resumed. Languet de Cergy died in 1750,the factory, thankful and then enjoying sound finances, ordered the magnificent mausoleum that can be seen today in the Chapel of St. John the Baptist.  After twenty-five years, in 1746, the Council of State demanded the sharing of profits: a half for Saint-Sulpice (whose façade still remained to be built).

The sculptor Jean-Baptiste Pigalle rested the two giant tridacnes (offered by the Republic of Venice) on marble supports reproducing a marine décor. Above, the Holy One with the famous octopus.  The architecture of the nave, of very classical style.  As for stained glass windows, remember that in the 18C fashion was clear. We can see that the second floor of the nave includes a series of large white glass windows. Saint-Sulpice is a church that enjoys a very high brightness.  The decorations were highly evolved from the 18C to the 19C. The murals and frescoes of the chapels deserve a careful glance. Each chapel has its own dedicated painter. The sculptures of Jean-Baptiste Pigalle with his two blessed and his Virgin of the Child in the axial Chapel, finally the  Bas-reliefs and a sumptuous mausoleum, offer to the church some masterpieces of the art of Paris.  The façade of Saint-Sulpice. the construction of the Church began with the axial Chapel, the ambulatory, then the choir, the transept and the nave. Came the necessity in 1726 to choose a façade a Classic styled with two superposed Pedestal, bordered by two lateral towers. Each pedestal supports a series of lintels, the whole is crowned with a wide pediment. But this kind of façade is conceived only preceded by a grand forecourt: they must therefore clear the space and, for this, buy back the buildings that are there… to demolish them.  In 1766 the architect dies. The towers are barely begun. In the face of the novelty of the project, the King asked the academy to decide. The project a  low square floor and no more polygonal, with pilasters, as well as a triangular pediment, above, a rotunda tower and not the campanile. The construction of the North Tower resumed in 1775 and ended in 1780. The South tower, because of the French revolution, was never completed.

After the Concordat of 1802, the church was in a bad state. Work was done to put it back afloat, especially in the re furnitures. Paintings and various objects which were purchased , and even the woodwork of the Chapel of the Sacred Heart.  But it was only from the restoration, and especially from 1824, with the rise on the throne of king Charles X and the arrival of the ultras, that the Church could hope to regain its former splendor.  The Church of Saint-Sulpice is rich in multiple murals and frescoes.  One owes the initiative of these artistic creations to the city of Paris. Between 1820 and 1875, the latter commissioned renowned painters to decorate all the lateral and radiant chapels, not forgetting four large canvases in the transept.  Some great names were sought, such as Eugène Delacroix  for the Chapel of the Saints-Anges and whose paintings obviously aroused controversy. In 1824, Jean-Dominique Ingres  was asked to take over the Chapel of the Souls of Purgatory (at that time, dedicated to Ste. Anne and located next door), but he declined the offer. Refusal that deprived the posterity of a promising artistic comparison.

Chapel of the Holy Angels. This side chapel (the first on the right when entering the church) is one of the most interesting by Eugène Delacroix.  The artist took six years, from 1855 to 1861 (and with the help of an assistant), to create the two large oil and wax paints, as well as the vault that is a strengthened canvas. The spandrels receive large paintings of angels in grey. Jacob’s struggle with the Angel, the subject of one of the two great murals, is the only theme in the Bible where one sees a mortal fight with a celestial being. Jacob fights all night long for the angel to bless him. In response, the Angel tells him that he will no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, that is, “strong in front of God.” So it will be the name of the Jewish people, descendant of Jacob. Shows celestial beings throwing ashore the envoy of King Seleucus V, who came to Jerusalem to seize the treasures of the Temple. He is beset by a fiery horse mounted by an angel in the Golden armour and whipped by another angel who descends from heaven. Eugène Delacroix in Saint-Sulpice ,at the time he painted the Chapel of the Holy Angels, the priest of the church had forbidden the artist to work on Sundays. Delacroix was very upset because the music of the offices threw him in such a state of exaltation that he worked twice as many times on Sundays of sung masses. With his assistant, he decided to play a trick on the guard responsible for monitoring the application of the instructions. The chapel, during the works, was closed by a palisade and a door. On a Saturday night, the two compadres set up a mannequin, dressed like the painter, sitting on a chair. On Sunday morning, the caretaker went to check that no one was working. Applying his eye to the keyhole, he saw the dummy, took it for Delacroix and knocked on the door to expel this disrespectful. No answer, he thrust the door. Delacroix and his accomplice come out of their hiding place and surprised our man… in flagrante of breaking and entering. And Delacroix was finally able to work on Sundays!!!

The Chapel of the Virgin is one of the oldest places of the monument. In 1774, enriched with an open dome, very original, responsible for plunging the assumption into a sort of celestial light. You can also see two paintings by Carl Van Loo , about the life of the Virgin, and the Angels of the Slodtz brothers adorned with garlands.  Finally, the most majestic element is undoubtedly the white marble statue, the Madonna with the Child, by Jean-Baptiste Pigalle  in a niche created by Louis-Philippe Mouchy, his nephew and pupil. In this chapel, the Classical and the Baroque come together in a happy way, but in general, the darkness prevents to admire it fully.

Having been restored, the Chapel Saint-Jean-Baptiste-de-la-Salle is one of the most beautiful in the church. The fresco paintings trace two episodes of the Life of Saint Roch, as well as an allegory of his apotheosis on the vault.  There are many chapels dedicated to Jean-Baptiste de la Salle in the churches of France. This presence is justified because this Saint, a contemporary of king Louis XIV, devoted his life to the education and training of the young children of the popular classes, an activity which the Jesuits ensured for the affluent classes. At Saint-Sulpice, he was all the more entitled to his chapel that he was trained in the priesthood at the Sorbonne and at the Séminary de Saint-Sulpice. Here in the Chapel Saint-Jean-Baptiste-de-la-Salle , in illustrations of the Life of Saint Roch. The same was done in the Chapel of Saint-Maurice and in the Chapel of Saint-Vincent-de-Paul. Finally,  see the two masterful frescoes in the Chapelle Saint-Martin.  The fresco of Saint Martin sharing his coat is very nice. The Chapelle Saint-Jean-Baptiste does not shine by the beauty of its paintings, but by its two magnificent works of art in marble: a Saint Jean-Baptiste preaching  and the funeral monument of the parish priest of Cergy.

The funeral monument of the parish priest of Cergy represents the struggle of immortality against death. An angel raises the funeral veil which covered the prelate. Immediately, to the right, death flees, frightened by the hope of eternal life and resurrection, which humbly awaits the prelate, both hands strained. A work with a very strong symbol, made from 1756 to 1758.  In 1777, Chalgrin receives the charge of finishing the façade, in particular-and according to his own plan-the towers. Once the North tower was completed in 1780, Chalgrin addressed the sculptors for the large statues of the four evangelists on the upper floor. Unfortunately, the state of the archives does not allow us to know who did what. Chalgrin also commanded sculptors to do the three large stone statues, which remained unfinished, located in the gallery of the first floor of the Portal. Again, we don’t know who did what. The sculpted decoration of the baptismal font chapel under the Tower. Small reliefs, statues and great bas-relief of the Baptism of Jesus Christ are still in place, but in plaster.  The pulpit to preach of Saint-Sulpice, made in 1788, is an architectural piece as original as it is magnificent. It gives the impression of being suspended in the air.  The project, in a very classical style, was innovative for the time  with a great sense of balance in both shapes and colors. The allegories of the theological virtues (Faith and Hope), frozen on the pedestals, seem to weigh with all their weight to stabilize this elegant construction that its apparent lightness seems to threaten to collapse. On the lampshade, Charity  was carved into the wood.

The marble statue of Saint Vincent de Paul holding small children was very successful during its creation. It was exposed to the Salon of 1857 and received a medal.   The Choir of Saint-Sulpice. for the reception of the seminarians, it was decided to expand the sanctuary of the Church by advancing the altar to the nave, and to enrich the choir with a decoration worthy of the greatest Parisian cult places after the Cathedral. In 1825, thanks to a sumptuous tabernacle adorned with four palms created for Saint-Sulpice, the order of the altar pads for the coronation of king Charles X.  The Golden bronze bedrock of the high altar Jesus in the midst of the Doctors of the Church is of the same maker of the choir.  The stained glass windows of Saint-Sulpice. At the end of the 17C, the Church still had only the sanctuary, the Chapels of the ambulatory and the south transept before the work was interrupted for forty years. But this did not prevent the filling the apse and the radiant chapels in stained glass. It is a time when we demand light, and it will be even more true in the 18C.  In the 16C, the Council of Trent opposed the historiated stained-glass windows, which were dear to the Middle Ages and Renaissance, and kept the churches in darkness. At the time of the Counter-Reformation, the faithful were to be able to read the missal inside the church. So, it was settle for a beautiful medallion in the center of a white glass window, often enriched with a floral-themed garland around the edges. In Saint-Sulpice, the large windows of the second level of the nave are even filled with white glass. Only the rectangular mesh in lead ensures the decor.

The restoration of the ancient stained glass of Saint-Sulpice began in the 19C. Unfortunately, the explosion of the Luxembourg magazine in 1871 destroyed or damaged many of the stained-glass windows in place. The general restoration of the canopy was done from 1872. The face of Christ in the resurrection has been redone. Perhaps also the face of the Virgin in the Annunciation, although the sources consulted do not mention it. The stained glass window showing Saint Sulpice  in adoration before the Sacred Heart is a creation of 1885 to replace the original stained glass window destroyed during the War of 1870.  Nevertheless, it is at the Church of Saint-Sulpice that one can admire the most important collection of stained glass windows made during the reign of king Louis XIV. More precisely, their creation is part of the decade 1670. During the visit of the church, you must not miss to have an eye on the floral decorations of the borders.  The organ of Saint-Sulpice has an international reputation. Built by Cliquot in 1781 (with 5 keyboards and 64 games), it was already looked at at the time as one of the best in the kingdom. Aristide Cavaillon-Coll rebuilt it from 1857 to 1861. He reused many of the elements created by Cliquot to link classical tradition with romance. The 20C has respected this illustrious instrument; it has retained all its original characteristics. And many wonderful concerts are played here indeed today.

There you go a historical big Church of Saint Sulpice of Paris, a must to visit indeed and one I myself need to come for it too . Hope you enjoy the reading the long history of it and description on architecture but the history I like is long here (I had even condensed it!). 

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are:

The official Church of Saint Sulpicehttps://www.paroissesaintsulpice.paris/visiter-et-decouvrir/

The Association friends of Aristide Cavaillon Coll on organshttp://www.cavaille-coll.fr/

The Paris tourist office on the Church Saint Sulpicehttps://en.parisinfo.com/paris-museum-monument/93215/Eglise-Saint-Sulpice

There you go folks, an wonderful monument of eternal Paris, the most beautiful city in the world and monuments like this definitively makes it so. Enjoy the Church of Saint Sulpice of Paris.

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

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April 11, 2021

The Grand Palais of Paris!

Ok time to update this jewel of my eternal Paris. Granted for the record the petit for me is more romantic than the giant grand but nevertheless a wonderful monument of Paris indeed. Let me update for you and me this wonderful monument, the Grand Palais of Paris!

Let me tell you about another wonder of my beloved Paris. This is a huge building and sometimes on the spot that it is it goes unnotice somehow. In addition to the wonderful architecture it hosts a variety of events second to none in Paris. I like to tell you a bit on the history of the Grand Palais de Paris.

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The Grand Palais is located on the edge of the Champs-Elysées, facing the Petit Palais, which is separated by the Avenue Winston Churchill in the 8éme arrondissement or district of Paris. The Grand Palais des Beaux-Arts was built  from 1897, for the Universal exhibition scheduled from April 15 to November 12, 1900, instead of the vast but uncomfortable Palais de l’Industrie of 1855. It was a monument consecrated by the French Republic to the glory of French art. As the pediment of the West Wing (Palais d’Antin) indicates, its original vocation is to welcome the major official artistic events of the capital. The ceremony was held on May 1, 1900 for the grand opening. The Grand Palais is served nearby by the Metro lines 1 and 13  at the Champs-Elysées-Clemenceau station, and Metro lines 1 and 9 at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Station, as well as the RATP  bus lines 42 and  73.

The main building, with a length of nearly 240 meters, consists of an imposing space surmounted by a large canopy. The slightly lowered cradle vault of the North and South Naves and the transverse nave (paddock), the dome on pendants weigh about 8 500 tons of steel, iron and glass. The total weight of metal used reaches 9 057 tons. The summit of this set culminates at an altitude of 45 meters. The colonnade of Deglane, inspired by the one in the Louvre, but without the grace, conceals cautiously the splendid innovation of the metal structure. The Grand Palais is, on its own, a summary of the tastes of the Belle Epoque, but at the same time marks the end of a certain conception of architecture where the masterpiece, both an artist and a technician, occupies a prominent role.  The communication between the large nave and the other parts of the palace (Salon d’honneur, central wing and  Palais dAntin) is done by a wide iron staircase of classic inspiration tinted with Art nouveau.

The sculptures the copper Quadrigas crown the two entrances and their pediment, to the new avenue. These allegorical works, imposing on the passerbys at an altitude of 40 meters, represent,  on the side of the Champs-Elysées,  Immortality ahead of time and on the side of the Seine river  the triumphant harmony of discord.  The mosaics inside, the pavements of the elliptical hall are mosaic of ceramic sandstone. There is a large floral motif in a central symmetry, consisting of tesserae with poorly supported colors (beige, brown and green), but detaching well on a white background. The outer friezes, located under the Peristyle de Deglane (facade on Avenue Winston Churchill ), consist of a long band with brightly enhanced gold colors using the traditional mosaic technique.

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The game of the tesserae is animated by very regular opuses and underlined by marked contours as well as subtle gradients. It includes representations of the great civilizations of history as perceived at the end of the 19C, including Egypt, Mesopotamia, and the Rome of Augustus to the Greece of the century of Pericles, the Italian and French Renaissance in the Middle Ages, Europe Industrious to that of the classical and Baroque arts. The more distant civilizations are not forgotten, glorifying in passing the period then at its apogee of the great colonizing nations in the Mediterranean and sub-Saharan Africa, the East and the Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia and Indochina With the Khmers and temples of Angkor, the Cochinchina and the Vietnamese landscapes around the city of Hue, the Far East with representations of mysterious China and Japan , and  evocations of the two Americas.

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From 1947, the building loses its function as a palace of fine Arts, for which it was built.  Several events are held on the artistic side such as French and independent artists, painting and sculptures etc. etc. from the years 1960 the technical shows are done here such as automobiles, agricultural and horticultural machines, etc. etc. Commercial events such as living and decorations, etc. and various makes such stamps, concerts etc. etc. All too numerous to mention in a simple blog post.

During the 20C, the Grand Palais is sometimes a witness of the tragedies of history, sometimes an object of unexpected uses. At the beginning of  WWI, the Grand Palais was used as barracks for colonial troops preparing to go to the front. It quickly became a makeshift hospital for the wounded in the Navy who could not find a place in the crowded hospitals of the capital.  During , WWII and the Nazi occupation, the palace was commandeered by the Nazis to house military vehicles there. In August 1944, the nave was bombarded and a fire was declared, without major consequences, in part of the building; the firefighters are however hampered in their work by rescuing animals from a circus that has elected home under the large canopy. They must also protect the works sent for an exhibition by working artists or prisoners.

In 1964, part of the north wing of the Grand Palais, at the request of André Malraux then Minister of Cultural Affairs, became a National Gallery destined to receive large temporary exhibitions. Presented in 1966, a retrospective of the painter Pablo Picasso and an important presentation of African art.  Numerous exhibitions of classical painters, impressionistic (Renoir), and modern (Zao Wou-Ki, Prassinos, Mušič, Manesser) are organized thereafter. and other uses followed of diverse splendor and magnitude. And this has continue today. Since 2009, hives have been installed on the roof of the Grand Palais to promote biodiversity and make the life of bees in urban areas known.

Since January 2011, the public establishment of the Grand Palais des Champs-Elysées has merged with the National Museums . On February 12  2018, it was  announced the forthcoming closure of the Grand Palais, from December 2020 to the spring of 2023, in order to carry out a larger renovation by 2024, the date on which the games of Fencing are to take place during the  2024 Olympic Games. The Grand Palais will reopen to the public in 2025.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here and it is a must while in Paris are:

The Official Grand Palais of Paris:  https://www.grandpalais.fr/en

The Paris tourist office on the Grand Palais: https://en.parisinfo.com/paris-museum-monument/71080/Grand-Palais

There you go another grand piece of architecture and history in my beloved Paris. Did i tell you I can keep writing on Paris and will never finish? YES! Hope you enjoy the Grand Palais of course!

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

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April 10, 2021

Royal Museum of the Armed Forces and Military History ,Brussels!!!

And another dandy in a wonderful area of Brussels, the parc Cinquantenaire we love to walk to. And voilà we find out about two wonderful museums  Autoworld (see post) and this Royal Museum of the Armed Forces and Military History!!! I like to update the post for you and me, and great memories with the family. Oh yes I know about this part of my university studies (see post).  Hope you enjoy it as I!

Another trip to one of my favorite cities in Europe. This is Brussels at its best and we love the museums especially those dealing with history. Brussels has a beauty that should be seen by all history buffs.  I was there with the family and they love it, especially my boys!  The Royal Museum of the Armed Forces and Military History or the Musée Royal de l’Armée et d’Histoire Militaire,is a military museum that occupies the two northernmost halls of the historic complex in Cinquantenaire park. And it is wonderful, highly recommended for the history and military buffs.

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We actually got there on the tram 25 stop at Montgomery and came into it from outside into the park on a glorious walk in town which we love to do once in a city. We got to Brussels by car from France on the N2 and in Belgium on the N6 coming in the RO or rocade(beltway) road to our hotel (see post) and then on foot all over, great I am telling you!

The museum has a peculiar time schedule that it closes at noon, and speaks out on public announcement that you can stay in the Aviation hall or the restaurant (very convenient). We didn’t want it cafeteria style food in the resto,and don’t like to wait an hour doing nothing. So decided to come out, boy that took some times, there are no signs to let you out and all door into the museum were closed!!! When we finally asked at the resto they told us there is an exit hallway by the WC lol!! this is the rest room! Never would figure in my life the exit door was by going thru a bathroom /rest room first, but here it is. Oh well we got out,and lesson learned not to get caught at lunch time here. The rest was nice historical ,wonderful ,full of great airplanes, tanks, military heavy equipment, uniforms, and swords, rifles etc from the Napoleonics times to the present. There are presentation of historical events with the equipment use all the time.

The idea came in the Brussels exhibition of 1910 when a section on military history was presented to the public and met with great success. The museum was originally installed on the site of the Abbaye de la Cambre and moved to the Cinquantenaire Park in 1923. The park is set on the continuation of the Rue de la Loi which starts at the end of the  Brussels Park before the Royal Palace .(see posts).

All is house by the parc du cinquentanaire, monumental building, first pushed by King Leopold II idea of bringing Belgium to the forefront of nations. For the 1910 World Exhibition, Louis Leconte collected about nine hundred objects and called his compilation Musée de l’Armée / Museum van het Leger (Museum of the Army). These objects were to give the visitor an idea of the history of Belgian armed forces in the 19C. The exhibition was a big success.

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After WWI, things moved very quickly. The collection grew considerably because of numerous contributions by private persons and through the support of several foreign governments. After 1919, the building bulged with so many items that new housing was necessary. A new home for these items was found in the northern wing of the Jubilee site. On June 28, 1923, King Albert I officially opened the Military Museum. Louis Leconte had been dismissed from active military service and was appointed head curator. During World War II, the occupying forces closed the Museum down. After the war, the collections once again opened to the public. Where it continue today to marvel the world of its wonderful displays.

You have theme spaces coming from main entrance,going thru a Dutch gallery, then the Belgian war of 1830, a technical area of weaponry and armaments, medieval, Napoleonic era, 1914-1918 WWI era, the Russian gallery , the Tanks (many American tanks here) display in a patio open area in the middle of the building, you have a huge Aviation dept with planes from many countries including Mig soviet era, Navy gallery area, upper level hall Bordieu with light machine guns,a contemporary European conflicts gallery and Belgium during occupation.

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in addition, the museum offers a trace of most if not all airplanes lost over Belgium in WWII. Today this record includes 4281 losses from Air Forces of the following nations: Belgium 98, France 100, Britain and Commonwealth 1515, United States 732, Italy 17 and Germany 1819. Research is conducted on over 1000 aircraft losses for which detailed information is still missing.

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There is a museum boutique shop open every day exept Mondays 9h to 12h and then 13h to 16h45. The Skycafé resto is open from Tuesday through Sunday between 10h30 to 16h20 ,kitchen is open Kitchen 11h30 to 14h ADMISSION IS FREE Closed On Mondays, January 1, May 1, November 1, December 25, and election days . The north wing, has been occupied by the aviation hall since 1972 when the Air and Space gallery was inaugurated.  The collection includes various types of aircraft, both military and civilian, some dating back to the early 20C.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are:

The official Royal Museum of the Armed Forces and Military Historyhttps://www.klm-mra.be/D7t/

The Brussels tourist office on the Royal Museum of the Armed Forces and Military Historyhttps://visit.brussels/en/place/Royal-Military-Museum-War-Heritage-Institute

The museums of Brussels webpage on the Royal Museum of the Armed Forces and Military History: https://www.brusselsmuseums.be/en/museums/war-heritage-institute-royal-museum-of-the-armed-forces-and-of-military-history

Hope you enjoy it, it is history of all phases of our events over the years. Very well set up , and good welcome. For me is going back to my old dreams and still in touch with the world of aviation, the Royal Museum of the Armed Forces and Military History is a must in Brussels!

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

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April 10, 2021

A nice look at Autoworld, Brussels!!!

And I take you my closest neighbor and a city we have come since the early 90’s many times. Of course one of our favorites in Europe. I am like to update this older post on Autoworld in Brussels, Belgium.  Of course, these are my favorite pictures, we took a bunch lol!! Hope you enjoy it as I.

This is a magical place, if you like automobiles and been around them ,then it is a must. I spent my University days and into fatherhood surrounded by NASCAR in Daytona Beach Florida USA, and became addicted to them. The thrill of speed and just avoid that bear or grey uniform of the South, = police. After years, it became clear that the affection was not just speed but the beauty of the craftmanship ,the men who rode it, and the stories behind building them. Awesome ! I ,in a way, lucky to be in France where they are several nice auto museum like the one in Le Mans 24 hrs!

However, going on many trips to Belgium , business and personal, and stopping several times in Brussels, never imagine to me that there was an auto museum there. Until 2013; then I saw it fully with the family and it was unbelievable seeing the eyes of my boys and explaining these cars to them, even my dear late wife Martine got on it. It was a memorable trip and one we look forward to repeating and did. One spot to return when possible.

I am talking about the AutoWorld of Brussels. You get here from city by metro line 1A and 1B Station Mérode, and by bus /tram 81 / 82 22 / 27 / 61 / 80. OF course, we walked all over and came here walking from the botanical garden (see post)! Autoworld  is an automobile museum house in the Halle Sud or south hall of the Palais du Cinquantenaire (parc du Cinquantenaire) in glass and steel that was built for the universal exposition of 1897. 

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I have been to auto museums but this one is the best for sure. You have more than 250 cars, that includes motocycles, jeeps, fire truck, etc, you have a nice restaurant and neat complete boutique store. All the vehicles are arranged by motives and era on two floors of exhibits. The temporary expositions are there all year with newer and spectacular vehicles to see, even garages, and road racing competition areas, check the webpage. You have an educational space by Autoworld that shows the ins and outs of the automobile. On Sundays there is a restoration workshop to show how to keep these marvels.

 A brief historical lines, tell us that the main force behind this was king Leopold II idea to making Belgium keep up with the joneses,,,, and the Universal Expo of 1897 was it. In order to connect the museum of Colonial history at Tevueren to the Cinquantenaire Park where the rest of the exhibition was taking place, the avenue de Tervuren was built. The large halls that now house the Army and Air Force Museum (see post) and Autoworld date from that period.  All these development thru the years led to the formation of the Autoworld museum in 1986

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The story goes on this spot,  that from 1880 when Belgium celebrated its 50th anniversary of their independence it was decided to host a National Exhibition. Before, the king Leopold II ordered to have traced the outlines of a huge park on an abandoned military training camp outside the city of Brussels, on the plains of Linthout covering 12 hectares (parc du Cinquantenaire). The building was designed in two sections linked by a semi circular colonnade with an Arc of Triumph built in the extension of the Rue de la Loi.

The museum now has about 400 vehicules from automobile collections retracing the histoy of it from 1886 to 1960 and carriages, motocycles etc. By visiting, you see the history of automobiles from the Belle Epoque to the Great War (WWI), the Crazy years, 1930’s, WWII, 1950’s ,and the Golden years in Europe.. Most of the cars in this museum came from private collections making most of the brands and models in it   including some animal drawn carriages, electric, steam, and gas cars. Some work on pedals and others by turning a crank. The collections are mostly from Gantois Ghislain Mahy, the motos from Marcel Thiry, the pieces from the Royal Art and History Museum in the Salle Pierre d’Ieteren, and the cars of Charlie De Pauw.

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The first exhibit on the main floor (street level) is divided into two. Start your tour by walking up the center aisle and look to your left side, walk around in an anti-clockwise circle. When you have completed the full circle walk up the center aisle again and work your way clockwise on the right side of the floor. This is a chronological tour of cars from different makes. At the very rear of the first floor( 2nd US) on the right corner is a small room that you may miss but is worth a look. Inside, away from roaring engines and gas guzzlers are horse carriages, including the one used in 1853 for Napoleon III wedding.

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The mezzanine floor has an evolutionary timeline of cars from the late 1800s to the 2000s and a blank spot for “the future”. This brief tour will highlight the makes and models most popular in Europe in each decade. A great chance to admire the first models of Ferrari and Jaguars which look nothing like they do today. On the right as you exit is a shop where you can buy some souvenir keychains and postcards,  but most importantly thousands of miniature model cars for every make you can imagine.

 Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are:

The official Autoworld museum: https://www.autoworld.be/home

The museums of Brussels on the Autoworld: https://www.brusselsmuseums.be/en/museums/autoworld-museum-brussels

Hope you enjoy it as much as we did. An awesome Autoworld to hold onto it, and nice walks afterward from here in pretty Brussels. And remember, happy travels, good health ,and many cheers to all!!!

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April 9, 2021

The Royal Galleries of St Hubert, Brussels!

And of course, with the family and especially wife tagging along we needed to do some shopping and why not at the chic beautiful Royal Galleries of St Hubert in Brussels!! This is a must visit me think , very nice. I am updating this older post for you and me, with lots of memories of our ramblings in the city which we are looking forward to be back when possible. Hope you enjoy the shopping meaning the post !!!

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In our trips to Belgium, Brussels play a big part of it. As said, we like big cities even if lately the smaller town are beginning to appeal and maybe the reason we live in a 7K folks town now. However, the big cities are still attractive and shopping is our past time!  I am used to the passages or thru ways found in Paris; so coming to other cities always love these. Brussels has an exceptional one that all should visit. This is the Royal Galleries of Saint Hubert. We love the Camper shoes, Corné Port Royale chocolates, Longchamp bags, le Pain Quotidien resto, Leonidas chocolats, Mokafé coffee shop, and Häagen Dazs stores!!

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The Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert is a complex of three covered passages all along glass in arcades decoration. These galleries are the Galerie de la Reine (queen’s  gallery) on the rue du Marché aux Herbes to the rue des Bouchers; the Galerie du Roi (king’s gallery) on the rue des Bouchers to the rue d’Arenberg; and the Galerie des Princes (princes gallery) from the Galerie du Roi to the rue des Dominicains.

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These galleries opened in 1847 and are amongst the oldest in Europe; they maintain an ambiance of greatness that still exist today, whether it be through the special shops or notable chocolatiers, been the first one Neuhaus chocolate store that was opened here where they are still today.

In the Galerie du Roi houses the Royal Theater of the Galleries or Théatre Royal des Galeries  while the Galerie de la Reine house the theater of Vaudeville opening in 1884 with the name of Casino Saint-Hubert.  The Galerie des Princes was previously called the Passage du Prince. It has the name on the stone above the entrance. This Galerie des Princes houses the library Tropismes, at no 5 there is lodging chambre d’hôte ,and the restaurant L’Ogenblik. There are apartments in the first floor (2nd US) above the stores and extend throughout the whole building.

The Vaudeville theater used to be a flower market but eventually transitioned into a theater in 1872 and hosted several prominent entertainment figures. While both theaters are open to the public, it is mainly the Théâtre des Galeries that continues to showcase performances, concerts and plays.  Brussels was also the first city that the Lumières brothers (the founders of cinematography) visited after debuting their first films in the Grand Café in Paris. These ten short movies  called moving pictures at the time were screened in the Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert in March 1st, 1896.  The Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert contains several letters and manuscripts by renowned scientists, artists and cultural figures. The Museum of Letters and Manuscripts houses an extensive collection showcasing the correspondence and personal thoughts of some of the world’s most historic figures in the arts and sciences including Einstein, Van Gogh and Brussels’ own Jacques Brel.

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However, the most important here is the shopping to kill for, the best  of Brussels in my opinion and we love to visit each time in town, which was often. The Galeries Royales St Hubert are on the tentative list of Unesco World Heritage Sites. Again, looking forward to be back when possible.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are:

The official site of Galeries Royale de St Huberthttps://www.grsh.be/en/home/

The Brussels tourist office on the Galeries Royales: https://visit.brussels/en/place/Galeries-Royales-Saint-Hubert

Hope it helps you decide to come to the Galeries Royales St Hubert , it is really beautiful. And remember, happy travels, good health,and many cheers to all!!!

April 9, 2021

Oh Toledo, the essence of Spain!!!

Oh yes a wonderful city visiting since teen years ; happy to have brought my wife and boys to it and continue to visit again when possible, never tired of Toledo, the essence of Spain!!! This is an introductory older post I like to update for you and me, on a black and white series with pictures on individual sights. Hope you enjoy it as I.

When I lived in Madrid in the 1970’s, my trip to Toledo were often as family living nearby took me there for long afternoon walks.  The trips were done by car on the old N401 road (now A42). On each trip to Madrid , a stop at Toledo was a must. When in 1990 I took my girlfriend (later wife) to Madrid , a stop in Toledo was a must. We have come back many times with the boys, my dear late wife Martine, love the city, especially the good prices she found on decoration on swords and the lunches ! It will stay in our memories forever. Toledo is a forever memory !!!

Toledo is about 71 km from Madrid. From Toledo part the N-400, which connects this city with Cuenca by Ocaña and Tarancón.  There is now an excellent  A-40 highway of Castilla-La Mancha, that unites Avila with Maqueda (where it links with the Extremadura highway), Toledo, Ocaña (where it joins the highway of Andalusia), Tarancón (where it connects with the highway of Valencia), Cuenca and Teruel. A former national road 401 Madrid-Toledo-Ciudad Real was transformed at the end of the decade of 1980 in the current A-42 .  The mid 19C Toledo was one of the first Spanish cities to have a railway, being joined to Madrid by Aranjuez and inaugurated the line by Queen Isabel II on June 12, 1858. The current Toledo train station, in the Neomudejar style, was inaugurated on the 24th of April of 1919 and is a building of remarkable beauty, especially the coffered ceilings of the main room. (see post)

Toledo is a municipality and city of Spain, capital of the homonymous province and the autonomous community of Castilla-La Mancha. It is known as “the Imperial City” because it was the main seat of the Court of  Carlos V and also as “the city of the three cultures”, for having been populated for centuries by Christians, Jews and Muslims. The old town is located on the right bank of the Tagus river, on a hill hundred meters high above the river, which surrounds it by its base, forming a pronounced meander known as “Torna del Tajo”.

I would tell you a bit about the history of Toledo and some things to see of my favorites.

 The history of the city dates back to the Bronze Age. It was an important center Carpetania until its Roman conquest in 193 BC and there are several remains of the Roman activity in the city, like the aqueduct or the circus. After the Germanic invasions, the city would become with Leovigildo in capital and, later, in the principal ecclesiastical seat of the Visigoth kingdom. In the year 711, after a moderate resistance, Toledo was conquered by the Moors led by Tariq ibn Ziyad. During the Moslem domination, the old Visigoth capital was characterized by its opposition and individualism, concretised in the Taifa of Toledo. king Alfonso VI reconquered the city in 1085. During the modern age the city stood out as the seat of the Catholic monarchs and for their participation in the war of the communities of Castile. When the court moved to Madrid in 1561 the city went into decline, accentuated by the economic crisis of the moment. Already in contemporary times, its Alcazar (see post) became a symbol of the Spanish Civil War because of its siege and defense. In 1983 it became the capital of Castilla-La Mancha, maintaining the capital of the province in Toledo.

In 1162 the city was conquered by King Fernando II of León, during the convulsed period of the age minority of Alfonso VIII of Castilla. King Leonese named Fernando Rodríguez de Castro “El Castellano “, a member of the House of Castro, governor of the city. The city of Toledo remained in the power of the Leon until the year 1166, when it was recovered by the Castilians.  Queen  Isabel (I) the Catholic commanded to build in Toledo the monastery of San Juan de los Reyes to commemorate the Battle of Toro and be buried there with her husband, but after the reconquest of Granada the Kings decided to be bury in this last city, where their remained today .

After the beginning of the Spanish Civil War, the city remained in the Republican zone. However, in the Alcazar of the city, seat of the Academy of Infantry, a group of loyalists to the Rebels (Nationalists) took refuge, in command by the Colonel Moscardó, who resisted the government since July 21, 1936 until the arrival of the troops of the General Varela on September 27  1936. The Alcazar, almost completely destroyed in the siege, was rebuilt in its entirety later.

The manufacture of swords in the city of Toledo goes back to Roman times, more specifically at the time of the Republic, when they were famous their swords and knives, but it was under Arab/Moors domination and during the Reconquista when Toledo and its guilds of swords played a key role. Between the 15C and 17C the industry related to the manufacture of swords had a great boom in Toledo to the point that the industry of swords became considered the best in Europe in late 16C. In early 18C began the decline of production, which motivated the creation of one of the royal factories, the arms factory of Toledo, in 1761 by the command of King Carlos III. In the Royal Factory all the swordmakers guilds of the city were gathered and it was located in the old house of the Coins. During the 20C, the production of white weapons for the troop was reduced exclusively to the arms of cavalry and, after the Spanish Civil War, to the supply of Sabres to officers and noncommissioners of the different bodies. After the closing of the factory, in 1996, this place was rehabilitated to house the school of Architecture of the Campus of Toledo.

Things to see in a general view as more in my blog postings:

The Puerta del Sol (Mudejar), the new Puerta Nueva de Bisagra, the old Puerta de Bisagra, the Puerta del Vado and the Puerta del Cambron. The wall has the so-called Torre de la Alsneera. Among the various bridges that cross the waters of the Tagus are the Alcantara and San Martín. The Cathedral of Santa Maria (Gothic), the Church of San Ildefonso (Baroque), the Church of San Román (Mozarabic), the Church of Santiago del Arrabal (Mudejar), the Church of Santo Tomé (Mudejar). Other Catholic buildings are the monastery of San Juan de los Reyes, a prominent representative of the Gothic Elizabethan; The convents of the Mother of God, Santo Domingo el Antiguo and San Pedro the Martyr, the Hermitage of Cristo de la Vega (Mudejar), or the Church San Sebastián (Mudejar), built on a mosque.

Properties associated with other creeds are the synagogues of Santa Maria La Blanca (in synagogue origin, although later it was transformed into a Church) and the Synagogue of the Transit (present Sephardic Museum), in addition to the mosques of Bab al-Mardum, or of the Christ of the light (Cristo de la Luz), in origin a Muslim temple and enlarged for conversion into Church, and the ancient Mosque. Others like the Palace of Galiana, the Palace of Fuensalida, the Palace of Amusco, the House of the Temple, the House of the Nuncio, and the archiepiscopal Palace of Toledo, as well as the Posada de la Hermandad. One of the nerve points of the city is the square of Zocodover. In the streets of Toledo there are other buildings such as the museum-Hospital of Santa Cruz (Renaissance), the Hospital de Tavera (Renaissance), the Teatro Rojas and a Roman circus.

The castle of San Servando, a medieval castle next to the banks of the Tagus River and the Infantry Academy, as well as the Alcázar de Toledo, a fortification on rocks located in the highest part of the city. It’s from the 16C-20C. From 2010 It houses the Army Museum.   Among the finished works are the escalator of the farm (or «of Recaredo»); Museum of Santa Cruz and the so-called Museum of El Greco, a house-museum conceived as recreation of the home of the artist, as this was lost centuries ago. This House contains several relevant paintings, although the famous painting of the burial of the Count of Orgaz is located in the Church of Santo Tomé, also in Toledo.

The Museum of the Councils and the Visigoth culture, located in the Church of San Román, has Romanesque paintings from the 13C and an important collection, original and replicas, of Goldsmith Visigoth, along with other archaeological finds dated between the 6C to 8C. The Sephardic Museum is located in the Transit synagogue, located in the Jewish quarter. In the hermitage of Cristo de la Vega, the image that presides the altar was popularized in the work to good judge, better witness of Jose Zorrilla.

Some of the activities of great interest here and worth to be here at the time are the Easter celebration declared a festival of international tourist interest since March 14, 2014, is celebrated in spring with various processions, highlighting those that take place on Good Friday, and religious and cultural events. Due to the Spanish Civil War, most of the steps were burned or destroyed, so they have had to create new steps or use other images from churches and convents of Toledo. As Toledo is a Castilian city, its Holy Week is characterized by being austere and introspective, as well as great beauty, due in part to the beautiful frame in which it takes place: Toledo. Many people take advantage of Easter to visit the Conventual churches that are only open to the general public at this time of year.  Also, the Corpus Christi ,a festival declared of international tourist interest, the origins of which date back to the 13C. The procession goes through 2 km of  decorated streets. In recent years, after the transfer of the festivity of the traditional Thursday to the current Sunday, has chosen to make two processions, one each of those days, there are certain differences in terms of members and protocol between them.

The Toledo tourist office : https://turismo.toledo.es/

The city of Toledo on public transports: https://www.toledo.es/servicios-municipales/policia-local-y-movilidad/

The Castilla La Mancha tourist office on Toledo:  http://www.turismocastillalamancha.es/patrimonio/lugares-por-descubrir/toledo/

There ,hope it helps your next visit here as I believe history is part of travel and makes it more full.  A wonderful town to spent dayss… really in every little croony street on every temple, history and sharing is evident. Hope you enjoy the introduction to Toledo the essence of Spain.

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

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