Posts tagged ‘Europe’

January 15, 2022

Curiosities of Pau!!!

I am bringing you back to a wonderful city of the old region of Béarn in the south of France, Pau. This was my cruising town on my way to Spain for many years until finally step in and saw Pau, even a tour de France race, It has been sort of home base in the area thereafter for us. Pau  is in the department 64 Pyrénées Atlantiques in the region of Nouvelle Aquitaine.

I have written several posts on Pau, and decided to do this one on two curiosities briefly mentioned before but needs more exposure me think. Anyway, Pau is a delight to visit, worth the detour. Here is my take on the City Hall/Saint Louis theater, Villa Lawrance, and the Bernadotte museum.

The Pau City/Town Hall and the Saint-Louis theater are part of a building located on Place Royale. The latter, built from 1854 to 1862, accommodated the theater in 1862, then the municipal services, from 1878. The current location of the building is initially intended to accommodate a new church dedicated to the worship of Saint-Louis. On April 28, 1876, the municipal council therefore ratified the decision to buy the Saint-Louis theater and its outbuildings. In the fall of 1878, after development work, the City/Town Hall took possession of the premises and still occupies them today.

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The Saint-Louis theater opened its doors in 1862, replacing the main theater in the city which was then located at number 4 of the Place Gramont, now destroyed, and of which only the facades and a few decorations remain. The 300-seat room is decorated in the Second Empire style.  The theater, now 430 seats strong, reopened in 1984, and hosted a number of shows and performances until it was closed again on October 25, 2013, when the condition of the hall was again deemed worrying, following the fall of part of the decor of one of the boxes, In June 2016, reopens again ,and now hosts both dance performances, concerts and plays, as well as conferences.   

The Pau Pyrénées tourist office on the theaterhttps://www.pau-pyrenees.com/pau/saison-theatre-a-pau-programme-2021-2022/tabid/315/offreid/05e05a3e-0da6-4ff4-a10b-eb96c12c54ba

The city of Pau on its cultural richnesshttps://www.pau.fr/article/pau-capitale-culturelle/

The beautiful Villa Lawrance housed the Robert Poplawski Institute of Legal and Economic Studies between 1946 and 1970, housed the Faculty of Law, Economics and Management before the creation of the University of Pau and the Pays de Adour ,then the administrative services of the presidency before a dedicated building was built on the campus in 1994. Since 2002, it has been the headquarters of the Cercle Anglais or English Circle of Pau and houses its collections. Villa Lawrance was built in 1840 and was then called Villa Schlumberger. It was later purchased by the Lawrence family and took its present name. At the time it was a villa in the countryside, the city of Pau not yet extending that far. The Lawrance bought land around to make a park. This was bought by the city of Pau during WWII.

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The English Circle was founded in 1824 by a few English living in Pau such as Lord Selkirk or Lord Oxenden. First settled in Place Royale, the circle moved to the Hotel Gassion, then to the Trespoey and Riquoir villas before finally joining the villa Lawrance at the initiative of the city/town hall of Pau. The Musée de Pau Ville Anglaise presents a collection of photographs, as well as rare books dedicated by their authors to certain members of the circle. You can also see bronzes there, as well as a set of paintings by Paul Mirat, Blocaille or Alan Sealey for example. 

The parc Lawrance is one of the public gardens in the city of Pau. It is a park featuring ancient trees, such as cedars of Lebanon, lawns and paths. There is a play area for children. It is located in a district with many English villas of the 19C, not far from the Pau exhibition center or the Place de Verdun.

The city of Pau on its parks/gardenshttps://www.pau.fr/article/parcs-et-jardins

The Pau Pyrénées tourist office on the parc Lawrencehttps://www.pau-pyrenees.com/pau/parc-lawrence/tabid/315/offreid/79b4d7ee-9578-4dd4-87b7-46fc875e7002

We took a peek at the  Bernadotte museum, at the limits of the neighborhood of Hédas ; the birthplace of this Jean-Baptiste Jules Bernadotte chosen by Napoleon I to secure the continuation of the royal house of Sweden in 1818 he finally became the king of Sweden as Charles XIV, and king of Norway as Charles III. Today the current king Gustav XVI is a 7th line descendant Bernadotte. The Musée Bernadotte is here since 1951.

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There were many efforts to do a museum on his native house but difficulties always prevail the opening, Many years passed and many changes, due to the dilapidated buildings in Rue Neuve des Cordeliers ,today Rue Bernadotte, modified the appearance of the “Maison Balagué”, the only one that remained intact. On the occasion of the passages in Pau of the kings of Sweden or the members of the royal family of Sweden, the birthplace of the Marshal was the object of a visit. The house was visited in 1872 by Queen Joséphine, in 1878 by Gustave V, then prince royal, in 1892 by Oscar II, who returned in 1899, and finally by the Duke of Sudermania, future King Charles XIII of Sweden. In 2018, to celebrate the bicentenary of the accession of Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte to the Swedish throne, Carl XVI Gustaf, Queen Silvia, Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel visited the restored birthplace of the founder of the dynasty,

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In 1935, the birthplace of Bernadotte was poorly maintained and in poor condition. A company, the “Association des Amis du Musée Bernadotte”, was therefore set up in order to safeguard the interests of the house. The mayor at the time,took over the file in order to allow the museum to reopen in good conditions. He thus contacted the Swedish ambassador in France to set up a viable financial project. The whole of the birthplace and the collections belonging to the Bernadotte Society were therefore bought back half by the city and the other half by the Swedish crown.
The Lundberg donation still makes up the bulk of the Bernadotte museum’s collections, even if successive additions have been made by the various kings of Sweden. The life of Bernadotte is thus evoked, from the young soldier of the king, to the general of the French revolution, then marshal of Napoleon, to the crown prince and finally king of Sweden and Norway. The museum contains paintings, miniatures, watercolors, drawings, engravings, snuffbox, porcelain, rare books and prints, coins and medals, dispatches, personal memories (saber, spurs, gloves) , etc. The letter in which Napoleon authorizes Bernadotte to respond favorably to his appointment as Crown Prince of Sweden is part of the collection on display at the museum. The royal iconography is also very present with many documents, engravings and paintings, evoking the reign of Charles XIV Jean (Bernadotte), and his successors.

The city of Pau on the Musée Bernadottehttps://www.pau.fr/article/le-musee-bernadotte

The Pau Pyrénées tourist office on the museumhttps://www.pau-pyrenees.com/pau/musee-bernadotte/tabid/315/offreid/4a8189e0-fede-4220-9615-687965dc0294

There you go folks, a dandy collection of curiosities of Pau. Again, a wonderful city to visit, worth the detour, we love it. Hope you enjoy this brief introduction to the City Hall/Saint Louis Theater, parc/Villa Lawrance, and Bernadotte’s museum of Pau!

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

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January 14, 2022

Some news from Spain CXVII

And here is Spain everything under the Sun! Winter can be harsh but even with the pandemic things are moving right along. I see crowds coming back even if still behind pre virus numbers. Hope you enjoy this latest episode of some news from Spain!

The commitment to contemporary art of the Prado Museum. The gallery is committed to continuing with the deployment of the permanent collection in 2022 and will have as its main exhibition the meeting of El Greco and Picasso, as well as reopening the doors to 20C artists. Three of them will be present this year: Picasso, Philippe Parreno and Fernando Zóbel, Picasso and El Greco exhibition between November 2022 and February 2023. As part of the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of Picasso’s death, in November the Prado will show a selection of works by the Malaga-born artist alongside the work of the Cretan, In the work of Picasso, which appears as a copyist in the records of this museum, the influence of authors such as Velázquez and Greco himself is evident, the latter capital to understand the first stage of the career of the painter from Malaga, between the blue period and the cubism. Then will come Fernando Zóbel and the history of art (from November 15, 2022 to March 5, 2023), around the author’s sketchbooks in which, starting from the classic copy, he ends up building his own abstract imaginary.
Frenchman Philippe Parreno will recreate in a virtual room the Quinta del Sordo, Goya’s house on the banks of the Manzanares on whose walls he developed the black paintings. It will be in May 2022. The official Prado museum : https://www.museodelprado.es/en/visit-the-museum

The Teatro Real presented its 2021-2026 strategic plan this Wednesday 12 January 2022, which had to be reformulated (initially, it was planned until 2024) due to the covid pandemic, In more practical matters, the strategic plan contemplates the creation of a digital historical archive of all the material of historical and musicological interest, as well as the renovation of the floor of the stage box after 25 years of maximum and uninterrupted use, In addition, within the The ‘Cerca de ti’ (Near you) program provides for the permanent installation of a screen on the Teatro Real’s façade facing Plaza de Isabel II. The official Teatro Real or Royal Theater : https://www.teatroreal.es/en/season/season-21-22

An anecdote!! Christian Franzen, the Danish photographer who ended up at the court of king Alfonso XIII, At a time when up to twenty portrait studios were kept open in the limited space between Carrera de San Jerónimo, Puerta del Sol and Calle de Sevilla and Calle del Príncipe, Franzen opened his studio in the latter direction. His future was sealed when one day the sister of King Alfonso XIII, the Infanta María Teresa, entered the door, ready to be portrayed. It was so satisfied with the result that, a short time later, it was the monarch himself who decided to also use hos services, at a time when these commissions were a symbol of social distinction. By 1907, Franzen was already well known in the city. From the RTVE documentary collection, which acquired the archive of this photographer after his heirs put it up for sale in the early 1970s, they assure that Franzen’s importance as a photographer is twofold: firstly, as a reporter for the first illustrated magazines, photographing the cultural life of Madrid, the social gatherings, the theaters and the salons. We owes him the technical improvements to the magnesium flash, which makes it easier to shoot indoors and at night. And, secondly, as a portrait painter. Franzen stands out for his clientele , he is the most beloved photographer of the Royal Household and the aristocracy , and for the treatment of the figure and light in his portraits of members of the aristocracy, the upper bourgeoisie and the most important figures of political life , social and cultural of the time dedicated their best poses: from Joaquín Sorolla to Mateo Sagasta,and the mysterious woman that Franzen portrayed so much was his daughter María.

The history of Madrid with postcards is the title of the original exhibition that opens today, Thursday, January 13,2022, at the Moda Shopping Mall: a journey through the visual history of the capital since the end of the 19C. The sample is made up of more than 500 illustrated postcards dated from 1892 to 1970 that reflect the daily life of old Madrid, the emblematic buildings and streets and some great events, such as the coronation of Alfonso XIII, among others. Transport, especially the tram, occupies a prominent place in the exhibition, with postcards of the first section between Sol and Goya of the electric tram, of the construction of infrastructures such as the San Luis network or of the buses circulating through the Plaza de Cibeles, Calle Alcalá or Puerta del Sol. Moda Shopping Mall ,Avenida General Perón, 38-40. from January 13 to February 13 2022. Free entry. The official Moda Shopping : https://www.modashopping.com/proximos

The Construction Board of the Temple of the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona plans to finish this year 2022 the two towers of the evangelists Lluc and Marc, which will measure 135 meters in height, if the virus situation evolves positively. They have reported that this year they also plan to climb three more levels of the tower of Jesus Christ, so that it is completed in 2026, which “will depend on the progress of the forecast of visitors. In addition, for this 2022 they have planned to start the conservation and cleaning of the Nativity façade, the oldest of the expiatory temple, which has been darkened by the effect of time and contamination on the stones. If the forecasts of the builders of the basilica, the most visited monument in Catalonia, are fulfilled, by the end of this year three of the five central towers will be finished, after that of the Virgin was completed on December 8 2021 with the lighting of the illuminated star that the crown. The two towers of the evangelists Mateu and Joan, the tower of Jesus Christ and the four towers of the Passion façade will still be missing. Again, stay tune,for now book your tickets here: https://sagradafamilia.barcelona-tickets.com/

The new urban lungs of the 21C make Madrid, the city with the most km2 of green areas in Spain. Some of these ara not new but most already mentioned in my blog such as the Jardines del Buen Retiro gardens, Casa de Campo Park, Plaza de Oriente square, Jardines de Sabatini gardens, Campo del Moro, Quinta Torre Arias farm, Quinta del Berro farm , Huerto de las Monjas, Royal Botanical Garden, Patio of the Reina Sofia Museum , Jardin del Capricho, Palacio de Anglona, Quinta de los Molinos, and Jardines del Templo of Debod gardens, Enjoy Madrid ! The Madrid tourist office on parks/gardens : https://www.esmadrid.com/en/parks-gardens-madrid

Sigüenza , medieval tapas, donceles, ghosts and … the shortest marriage in the history of Spain. This is a nice town in Castilla La Mancha. Worth the detour me think. The story goes that as a maiden and Sigüenza he had little, but the nobleman Martín Váquez de Arce, killed in an ambush during the conquest of Granada, has gone down in history with this nickname. Badly done because, in other times, the doncel (male of Docellas) were young men between 12 and 16 years old close to the nobility who had not known a woman. And he had a wife, a daughter, and a quarter of a century when he died. Be that as it may, the culprit of the name is the poet, novelist, playwright, literary critic and philosopher belonging to the generation of 98, Miguel de Unamuno who, when contemplating his alabaster coffin in the Cathedral of Sigüenza, could not avoid comparing it with that of the young maidens due to the delicate features of the recumbent statue. Earlier, the essayist José Ortega y Gasset had described it as “the most beautiful funeral sculpture in the world.” But there is much more among its labyrinthine cobbled streets of medieval court such as palaces, museums such as the Diocesano del Arte Antiguo (with works by Zurbarán and Francisco Madrazo), the Casa del Doncel, handicraft shops where they dispense wine casks as well as mirrors in gold leaf, etc.

Calle Mayor , and specially No 9, hides a curious medieval craft themed shop, La Edad Media or the middle ages (awesome place), which in addition to jewelry inspired by that time, tapestries, engravings, Celtic art, ancestral recipe herbarium or leather goods, also organizes workshops for the reproduction of medieval art and painting. Not forgetting the medieval pinchos (local for tapas) route, which has its own contest and offers delicacies such as migas, Castilian soups, roasts of lamb or kid, pickled game and drunk honey sweets. Another essential gastro: conventual pastries such as the truffles of the Hermanas Clarisas or Poor Clare Sisters. The tour continues in the 12C Church of Santiago, home of the Rural Romanesque Interpretation Center. Destroyed during the Spanish Civil War, it hides jewels such as an Andalusian watchtower, whose remains were found in the latest archaeological investigations, The castle, converted into a Parador. Not only does it offer one of the best views of the city, but it was the scene of one of the shortest marriages in our history, that of Blanca de Borbón with Pedro I el Cruel, who broke the link on their wedding night when he found out about that the King of France, his wife’s uncle, would not pay the agreed dowry. Doña Blanca was disowned and confined in the castle. Hence, according to her own and strangers, her ghost swarms in the rooms on cold nights,,,,,

The Sigüenza tourist office on its heritage see it in 3 days : https://www.visitasiguenza.es/siguenza-en-tres-dias/

Some interesting proposals that do not require any expense in Madrid. Enjoy them!

Mirador de la Cornisa del Palacio Real, or the Royal Palace corner lookout, Located in the Plaza de la Armería, between the Royal Palace and the Almudena Cathedral, is this new lookout from which you can enjoy beautiful views of the Campo del Moro gardens and of the Casa de Campo is framed in the improvement and adaptation works of what will be the welcome area and main access of the future Museum of the Royal Collections, whose inauguration is scheduled for the end of 2022. The Madrid tourist office on the mirador/lookout: https://www.esmadrid.com/en/tourist-information/royal-palace-panoramic-viewpoint

Estacion fantasma de Chamberi ghost station, Closed in 1966, the ghost station was designed by Antonio Palacios. After decades of neglect, the movie Barrio de Fernando León de Aranoa brought it back to the present day in 1998. Now the curious can enjoy its brilliant finishes and its colorful and luminous just as they were decades ago. Capacity is limited, so to visit it it is necessary to request an appointment on the webpage: Museums of Madrid on Chamberi: https://museosmetromadrid.es/museos/estacion-de-chamberi/

The Temple of Debod,(see post) In the Parque del Cuartel de la Montaña, near the Plaza de España, is this Egyptian temple from the 2nd century BC. built by order of the king of Meroe Adijalamani, who wanted to dedicate a chapel to the gods Amun and Isis. In the 6C, after the conversion of Nubia to Christianity, the temple was closed and abandoned. Already in the 20C due to the construction of the Aswan Dam, the Egyptian government gave it to the city of Madrid and it was transported, rebuilt stone by stone and opened to the public in 1972. The Madrid tourist office on Debod: https://www.esmadrid.com/en/tourist-information/templo-de-debod

The Ermita de San Antonio de la Florida,(see post) or St Anthony of Florida Hermitage, With a sober appearance, the Ermita de San Antonio de la Florida surprises us with the great pictorial ensemble that Goya painted at the end of the 18C. In this masterpiece of Spanish art, the Aragonese artist always kept in mind that he was decorating one of the most popular temples in Madrid, famous for its pilgrimage on June 13. The Madrid tourist office on the hermitage: https://www.esmadrid.com/en/tourist-information/ermita-de-san-antonio-de-la-florida

Palacio de Abrantes or Palace, Built between 1653 and 1655 as commissioned by Don Juan de Valencia el Infante. Subsequently, the building successively changed hands until, in 1842, the Dukes of Abrantes bought it and commissioned a thorough remodeling in order to adapt it to the aristocratic tastes of the mid-19C. It then became the headquarters of the newspaper Correspondencia de España until, in 1888, its owners sold it to the Government of Italy, which established its embassy there. Then a new reform was carried out. Today it is the headquarters of the Italian Institute of Culture, the cultural embassy of Italy in Madrid, which promotes Italian arts and sciences, and annually organizes a wide variety of cultural activities, such as exhibitions, cooking courses and conferences. The Madrid tourist office on the palace: https://www.esmadrid.com/en/tourist-information/instituo-italiano-di-cultura

The Museo de la Escultura al aire libre de la Castellana or the Castellana Open Air Sculpture Museum, located under the overpass that joins the Calle de Juan Bravo and Calle Eduardo Dato, contains an excellent collection of Spanish abstract sculpture. The museum was opened to the public in 1972 occupying an area of ​​4200 square meters and its purpose was to recover an urban space for common use, turning it into an area of ​​passage, rest and recreation and to bring Spanish abstract art closer to the public. To save the unevenness of the land, the museum is structured in three levels that descend from Calle Serrano to Paseo de la Castellana. The Madrid tourist office on the open air museum: https://www.esmadrid.com/en/tourist-information/open-air-sculpture-museum-paseo-castellana

Aleix Puig, winner of MasterChef 7, opens his delivery resto in Madrid after having conquered Barcelona, where in a week they dispatch 12,000 hamburgers , Located at Calle Divino Pastor,9 of the Malasaña neighborhood they have been rushing the hours for days so that everything is ready, They bet on Classic and simple burgers. Good meat, with a more toasted and somewhat smoky flavor and brioche bread. And it is important not to scatter at the first bite. He boasts that American maxim that a hamburger must be eaten in seven bites.I want people when they want a good hamburger to think of Vicio, Their webpage is coming soon : https://ganasdevicio.com/

Quintoelemento, or Fifth element , the restaurant on the seventh floor in the well-known Kapital nightclub (previous cinema), located at Calle de Atocha 125. A new futuristic space that has revolutionized this terrace previously used for drinks before the dances. In Quintoelemento, which follows the trend of reconverting or expanding the gastro offer in discos and clubs after the closures and restrictions due to the covid virus, they have wanted to merge world flavors with traditional Spanish , They want to separate itself from Kapital, even though it is located in the same building, and show its concept of integral leisure for another type of public. First they have advanced the time in which we eat and have dinner, we make the so-called late, and, on the other hand, there is more and more demand for more complete experiences that go beyond the gastronomy. They are committed to a long consumption, from 13h to 14h from Monday to Sunday, where you have a unique audiovisual show, a quality gastronomic proposal, signature cocktails and from Thursday to Sunday, there is a DJ and a show, define sources from the Group Kapital. On the sixth floor, the old “cinema” of furtive kisses between young people, today a spectacular winery is located with 150 interesting references and some reserved for more privacy and events ,It has an area of ​​180 square meters where ultra-definition content is projected 4K Quintoelemento Calle de Atocha, 125. Seventh floor of the Kapital building,For the 18 and over, webpage : https://quintoelementorestaurante.com/

There you go folks, another dandy some news from Spain! Thanks for reading me on this series and hope it helps you expand your horizons or get to know better my beloved Spain. Stay safe and have fun, life is too short.

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

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January 14, 2022

Church Notre-Dame de l’Assomption of Sainte-Marie-de-Ré!

Let me take you to an island off continental France in the Atlantic ocean, Another wonderful spot in my belle France, Let me update this older post on the Church of Notre Dame de l’Assomption in Sainte Marie de Ré  for a change of scenery. Here the sea its at its best and you are in an island! My wandering road warrior trips took me to this church and is worth the detour. Therefore, let me tell you about one of its beacons, the off the beaten path Church Notre Dame de l’Assomption in the town of Sainte-Marie-d-Ré, the main one on the island. First a bit on the town and then the Church ok

Sainte-Marie-de-Ré is located on the Ïle de Ré (island), in the Charente-Maritime dépt 17 of the Nouvelle Aquitaine region. The coast is lined with beaches and small cliffs , where the remains of many fish locks are discovered at low tide. The presence of many blockhouses of the Atlantic Wall on the coast reminds us of the dark hours that the town experienced during WWII. On December 27, 1888, Sainte-Marie took the name Sainte-Marie-de-Ré.

The parish of Sainte-Marie-de-Ré, quoted as early as the 12C, is known as probably the oldest of the island. The present Church Notre-Dame de l’Assomption was inaugurated in 1864. With its simply bleached interior walls and its apparent framing, it shows the sobriety of a barn; But, by its imposing proportions, its large nave with three ships, the refined decor of its choir and its beautiful brightness, it is nonetheless majestic. Besides, some visitors, from the first glance, find it as a cathedral appearance! Its steeple, dating from the 15C, once painted in black, served as a bitter. The platform of this steeple is equipped with a parapet on crows forming machicolations that have been blocked during restorations and even partly reconstruction in the 19C in the Church Notre-Dame-de-l’Assomption ,there are ex-votos in the form of beautiful models of boats that are exposed.

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In 1467, the Church was fortified and surrounded by a ditch. Undoubtedly the ambient insecurity, of the Hundred Years War, led the inhabitants to fortified the Church. It served as a refuge for the population, and thus it allowed to withstand external assaults. The Church then had a belfry, but still no steeple; the Gothic octagonal spire dates from the 14-15C. In 1870, the bell tower was black, to serve as a bitter vessel. Until 1950, it was painted regularly. The base of the steeple testifies to what remains of the edifice of the medieval period if you ascend to the bell tower at 19h , at the time of the Angelus, you will hear the bell ringing very closely in your ears! The steeple of the Church of Notre Dame de l’Assomption has 47 meters in height with 91 steps to climb it and reach a walkway; 20 meters is this walkway above the ground. The more you go up, the more the steps are reduce and become quasi straight!

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The smallest bell date 1775; it comes from a Swedish boat probably shipwrecked. The bell has no name. The middle one, done in 1853, is called Marie-Françoise Xavière. The biggest, in bronze, dates from 1818, it is called Magdeleine. It is worth to climb these 91 steps, the panorama on the village of Sainte-Marie de Ré is splendid. Once the promontory was used as a maritime surveillance station. During the week, the bell tower is visited by registering at the Sainte-Marie tourism office. Otherwise, on Sunday morning, members of the Association of Friends of the Church are there. Lovely!

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The parish of Ïle de Ré on the Church in Sainte Marie de Réhttp://www.iledereparoisses.fr/pages/les-eglises-de-l-ile-de-re/ile-de-re-sud-est.html

The city of Sainte Marie de Ré on tourism infohttp://sainte-marie-de-re.fr/index.php/tourisme

The Ïle de Ré tourist office on Saint Marie de Réhttps://www.holidays-iledere.co.uk/discover-ile-de-re/1-island-10-villages/sainte-marie-de-re

There you go folks, another dandy town in beautiful Ïle de Ré island, this is Sainte Marie de Ré, lovely, worth the detour.  Enjoy the Church Notre Dame de l’Assomption, and as this is an island,get to enjoy its beaches ,laidback ambiance,and lovely side streets especially in Summer months. Hope you have enjoy the tour as I.

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

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January 14, 2022

Church Saint-Martin of Saint-Martin-de-Ré!

Let me take you to an island off continental France in the Atlantic ocean, The beautiful tranquil Ïle de Ré and its wonderful main city of Saint-Martin de Ré. We had a cold weather spell but we went anyway as a taste of the island, This is an update of an older post and I have others in my blog on Saint Martin de Ré. Let me tell you about it and the Church Saint Martin.

Saint Martin de Ré is located on the Ile de Ré (island), in the Charente-Maritime dépt 17 of the Nouvelle Aquitaine region. This small town has agglomerated the hamlet of the Noue stretching continuously along the south coast of the island of Ré, from the pointe de Chauveau to the Grenettes beach, facing the ïle d’Oleron. The coast is lined with beaches and small cliffs , where the remains of many fish locks are discovered at low tide. The presence of many blockhouses of the Atlantic Wall on the coast reminds us of the dark hours that the town experienced during WWII. During the French revolution, the town bore the name of the L’Union.

The parish Church of Saint-Martin in Saint-Martin-de-Ré still draws its gothic ruins in the heart of the city. Ravaged several times by conflicts, it was eventually rebuilt more modestly in the 17-18C, reusing what remained of the Gothic edifice. In fact, the construction of a new building in the 14C, which seems to have continued in the 15C after the troubled period of the Hundred Years ‘ War, began. In view of the surviving ruins, the Church had to be spacious and very bright, with a perfectly respectable vaulted height. It was also fortified ,and it took the name of “Grand Fort”, in view of the remains of machicolations still present today on the medieval ruins. It is a complete system of machicolations on arches on the facades that overflow on the walls.

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The Ïle de Ré, with a Protestant majority, was sacked in 1586 during disputes on the territory against the Catholics. The church collapses in large part; however, there will remain only the base of the walls of the nave and the lateral chapels and the high walls of the transept, preserved because of their military importance, being fortified. In the 17C the cult was able to resume in the devastated edifice, after the victory of the Catholics over the Protestants. In 1629 the actual reconstruction work begins. They will last for several years. But the building was again ravaged in 1696 during the bombardment of the stronghold of Saint-Martin-de-Ré by a fleet consisting of English and Dutch ships. In the French revolution, the cult is momentarily closed.

The bell tower now serves as a panoramic terrace on the city and its surroundings. The steeple formed by a square tower is now visitable and contains three imposing bells: Marie Thérèse ,the biggest one ; Charles Catherine ;the middle one; and Marie Pierre Michel Samuel Augustine, the little one. The oldest parts date from the 15C: These are the walls of the two crosses of the transept, still in elevation, endowed with a path of round and endowed with their gates to the mutilated statuary. The chapels of the present choir ,and those of the aisle also subsist in the medieval building. You can also see a window of flamboyant style and now obstructed on the north hole wall. The building of 1628 was also vaulted with warheads and followed the orientation of the medieval church. However, it was strongly shaken by the collapse of the bell tower in 1774, and only the clipped columns and the high sides of the aisles and the nave seem to remain. The orientation of the choir was altered after the collapse of 1774, and a new steeple was built at the site of the medieval shrine. The church was then covered with a roof.  The 18C bell tower, of neo-classical style, built during the reconstruction of the Church when its orientation changed. Previously, it was the choir that was in that place. The Church of Saint Martin has a rare characteristic with five altars side-by-side along the apse!. From left to right you see the Altar of the Holy Rosary, the High Altar, the Altar of St. Martin and the Altar of the Sacred Heart. The Altar of St. Radegonde, is hidden. Stained glass on the right aisle of Saint Augustine and his mother, St. Monique, are in meditation in Ostia. The Chapel of the Sailors with its traditional ex-voto of models of boats and paintings.

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The parish of Ïle de Ré see Saint Martin Church : http://www.iledereparoisses.fr/pages/les-eglises-de-l-ile-de-re/ile-de-re-centre.html

The Saint Martin de Ré tourist office info: http://www.saint-martin-de-re.fr/fr/information/73142/office-tourisme

The Ïle de Ré tourist office on Saint Martin de Ré : https://www.holidays-iledere.co.uk/discover-ile-de-re/1-island-10-villages/saint-martin-de-re

There you go folks, a wonderful sea life off the beaten path for many visitors but a find by locals, just another wonderful spot in my belle France. The Church Saint Martin in Saint Martin de Ré is worth the detour, Hope you enjoy the post and see my other posts on the Ïle de Ré

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

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January 13, 2022

The wonders of Mont Saint Michel !!

What about the wonder of our world , Mont Saint Michel. We have been to it and my sons even had gone on school trips. It is something beyond description really, how it can be  there! This is a marvel of our times, and so much written on it; I will update this older post for you and me with a bit of history I like.

The Mont-Saint-Michel in the département 50 of the Manche in the region of Normandie. It takes the name from the rocky isle consecrated by Saint Michel where today it is the Abbey of Mont-Saint-Michel. There is a statue of the Saint at the summit 157 meters high at sea level.

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A bit of history I like

The rocky isle is at the mouth of the Couesnon river on which it falls into the Manche. It has 960 meters in circumference arising above a sandy plain at 92 meters high sea level. You have up of the stones from the abbey at about 79 meters and from the floor of the abbey to the tower there is 35 meters, the spiral arrow has a height of 40 meters and the statue of Saint Michel itself has 4 meters. At the beginning of time, it was known as tomb hill or mont Tombe. Probably because of a stone or monument megalith destine to the pagan cult; that was replaced by one honoring the Saint Michel from 709. From 710 and during all the middle ages it was known by the monks as the Mont Saint-Michel. In 867, the Treaty of Compiegne gives the Cotentin,as well as the Avranchin to the king of Bretagne,Salomon. The controversy between the Normans and the Breton arise from this cloudy definition, claiming this area was not in Normandie given to the Viking king Rollon in 911, the Mont Saint-Michel stayed Breton even attached to the parish of Avranches, which in turn belongs to the archdiocese of Rouen. You are with me so far ,ok.

It was part of Bretagne while in 933, Duke William I of Normandie takes over the Avranchin with the border set at the Sélune river. The Benedictines monks established here in 966 upon request of the duke of Normandie, and the pre Roman Church is built at the same period. At the Chapel of Saint Martin in the abbey were buried the Breton dukes of the house of Rennes such as Conan I le Tort (+992), and Geoffroy I Béranger (+1008), husband of Havoise de Normandie, grand benefactor of the abbey given the revenues of the Saint-Méloir-des-Ondes and Saint-Benoît-des-Ondes to the abbey. In 1009 the Duke of Normandie takes control of the Abbey of Mont-Saint-Michel, and the abbot Maynard will need to moved to the abbey of Saint-Sauveur in Redon to be replace by the Abbot Hildebert Ier, chosen by Duke Richard II of Normandie. The limits between Bretagne and Normandie independant of the location of the water source and precisely at 4 km to the west of the bottom of the massif of Saint-Broladre. From 2001, the brothers and sisters of the monastic fraternities of Jerusalem coming from the Church of Saint-Gervais in Paris, insured a presence all year round, replacing the Benedictine monks that were coming here since 1966.

Ok so what can you see here… ? Many things but my favorites story telling of them is as it is. The Abbey of Mont-Saint-Michel ,and all its dependancies such as the Chapel of or Chapelle Notre-Dame-sous-Terre, Chapelle Saint-Aubert; and the fountain or Fontaine Saint-Aubert; the parish Church of Saint-Pierre ,which originally housed the inhabitants of the Mount. The Church is led by a priest name by the Bishop of Coutances. The Church preserves relics from the 11C in its pillars but in general they belong to the 15C and 16C. The nerf has only one lower altar that lower to the Choir. It has a small bell, but the Church has rich decorations like stained glass from the 15C, altar and columns from 1660, baptismal fountain from the 13C , a Virgin and the Child and education of the Virgin as Sainte Anne teaching Mary from the 15C-16C , and a copy of the statue of Saint Michel. It is still surrounded by a cemetery. The town is one of the few French cities preserving the medieval fortifications, dating from the 13C to the 16C. The ramparts of Fanils, continue the walls of Monteux, of Cantilly,and of Pillette, dating from the 16C with the tour Gabriel.

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On the culinary front what else is new in France! You have the sheep or lamb pre salted or mouton/agneau de pré-salé ,much better grill in carbon. The Omelette de la mère Poulard, native of Nevers, Burgundy and arrived at the Mount at 21 yrs old (also the name of the restaurant). These are made with fresh eggs, fresh cream, well beaten to merinque with a special rythme and cook in a copper pot on carbon wood fire ;delicious.

The official Abbey Mont Saint Michelhttp://www.abbaye-mont-saint-michel.fr/en/

The Mont Saint Michel Tourist Officehttps://www.ot-montsaintmichel.com/en/discover/visit-the-mont-saint-michel/

There you go folks, a wonderful site and a must to visit while in France. The Mont Saint Michel is unique and grand, words cannot describe it, you must come, Monte de San Miguel or Mount Saint Michael. Hope you enjoy this brief introductory post, there are many others in my blog

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

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January 13, 2022

The underground of London!

Yes my dear readers I have done this too. The underground of London or is it the metro or the subway or even the tube!!! Anyway, you get the idea is below level, of the earth, quick easy but prefer do the walking above ground , see more, get it. Anyway, here is my take on something I have done the underground of London!

Let me tell you about the station I used the most for business and even show around my family on our visit, the Gloucester Road station.

The Gloucester Road underground station of the lines: Circle, District and Piccadilly of the London Underground, in zone 1. It is located in the district of South Kensington in the London borough of Islington.  On the District and Piccadilly lines, the station is between South Kensington and Earl’s Court, (my line and lodging with the family), and on the Circle line, it is between South Kensington and High Street Kensington. On the District and Piccadilly lines, the station is between Earl’s Court and South Kensington, and on the Circle line, it is between High Street Kensington and South Kensington. Gloucester Road is the farther interchange between these three lines, although the tube map promotes the easier interchange at South Kensington.

london gloucester tube bdlg ent sep15


The Gloucester Road station is in two parts: sub-surface platforms, opened in 1868 and deep-level platforms opened in 1906, The deep-level platforms have remained largely unaltered with no lift/elevator access, A two-story station building in cream-colored brick with arched windows and an ornamental balustrade at roof level was built . The planning of the line encouraged the local land owners, including Lord Kensington, to extend Cromwell Road westwards and the opening of Gloucester Road station, stimulated rapid residential development in the surrounding area , In the 1990s a deck was constructed above the District and Circle line platforms on which was constructed a shopping mall and apartment building.   As part of the development over the sub-surface platforms, the station buildings were remodeled internally to share a single entrance and ticket office Space in the Piccadilly line building that was formerly used for operational purposes or as the exit to the street is now used for retail purposes. Art on the Underground have used the disused platform for temporary installations of sculptures, murals or photographs. Artworks have been by a variety of artists over the past 20 years, including David Shrigley, Chiho Aoshima and Heather Phillipson.

london heathrow airport on piccadilly tube to Gloucester sep15

The London transports site on the Gloucester road underground/metro/subwayhttps://tfl.gov.uk/tube/stop/940GZZLUGTR/gloucester-road-underground-station

The London tourist office on the Gloucester Road station : https://www.visitlondon.com/fr/informations-voyageurs/endroit/35659257-gloucester-road-underground-station

Now a bit of expansion on the London underground and public transports in London from my humble point of view, Whether you’re an overseas visitor in London on vacation, or a UK citizen visiting the capital for the first time, the London Underground is an efficient and economical way of getting around. However it can be confusing if you’ve never used it before as any other. London is divided up into nine travel Zones. Central London is covered by Zone 1. As you move outwards, you pass through Zones 2-9. The London Underground is divided into 11 different lines which are color coded. Signs to each line will give both the line name, and it’s color, Regular underground stations are represented by a line. You can’t change between different lines at these stations. Interchange stations are represented by a white circle with a wide black outline. You can change between lines at these stations.

london south kensington station piccadilly line sep15

Tickets can either be bought from the machines available at each Underground station, from ticket offices on the station (be aware, not all stations have ticket offices, and they’re not open all the time), or in advance from the Visitor Shop also oyster cards as never use this visitor shop, If you are traveling to multiple locations , you can buy paper travelcards that allow unlimited travel on the Tube, trams, Docklands Light Railway (DLR), and London Overground services, as well as some National Rail services within the London travel zone. You can get them for 1 day or 7 days, from ticket offices on the stations, or online in advance via the Visitor Shop, Never use these only the tube at Gloucester Road and Earl’s Court mind you.  You will need  one Oyster Card or ticket per adult. Up to 4 children under the age of 11 can travel for free with an adult who has an Oyster card or ticket for the tube. 11 – 15 year olds will need to get either an 11-15 year old’s Travelcard, ticket or Oyster Card. Children 16 and over are counted as adults and have to pay adult fares. I used the Oyster Card , excellent choice, When getting on the train, stand to one side to let other passengers off first, rather than trying to battle your way through. Don’t worry about missing the train, or not getting on – everyone else will be doing the same.

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If staying for a few days, or intend to visit the city in the near future a few times, you can opt for the Oyster cards, they are good reusable, rechargeable, and very convenient. I still have mine!! The official Oyster card for info:https://oyster.tfl.gov.uk/oyster/entry.do

Buses can be a cheap and easy way to get around. They run from 5 in the morning until not long after midnight. Major routes may also have night bus services that run from midnight until 5. I did try once the double decker bus by Gloucester Road.(see post)  There are 2 types of river boat service ,the River Buses which operate as an alternative to the Tube and buses, (can use the oyster card here) or the River Tours which are more leisurely but are an excellent way of seeing London (not for oyster cards), I have used taxis once from the Heathrow airport to the Earl’s Court exhibition center way back, I have driven my own car in London ,piece of cake and avoided the congestion zone !

Some webpages to help you plan your visit that I have used are

The London transports body on planning your journey on public transports : https://tfl.gov.uk/plan-a-journey/

The London transports boday on congestion zones map in pdf file format for printing: https://lruc.content.tfl.gov.uk/congestion-charge-area-map.pdf

The London transports body on low emission zones to get in with your car : https://tfl.gov.uk/modes/driving/ultra-low-emission-zone/ulez-where-and-when?intcmp=52227

There you go folks, it has been a while I wanted to do this post and finally is here. Hope you find it useful for your next trip to London, whenever possible nowdays. I have great memories of Gloucester Road and Earl’s Court underground stations.

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

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January 12, 2022

Westminster Abbey of London!!

On our trips in Europe lucky we have been able to visit several countries and of course England would have been on the list and it was. I have visited many times on business trips but had one visit with the family. One of the nice things to see there is the Westminster Abbey, and like to give you a glimpse.

Westminster Abbey is one of the most famous religious buildings in London or the UK for that matter. Its construction dates mainly from the 13C, under king Henry III. It is the burial place of most of the kings and queens of England and also of famous men and women. The Poets’ Corner honors the writers of the kingdom. Almost all of the coronations of English monarchs took place in this abbey.  The abbey’s real name is St Peter’s Collegiate Church. Westminster means West Abbey because it was located west of the City as opposed to Eastminster, a Cistercian monastery which was to the east, beyond the Tower of London, (see post) on the site of the current Royal Mint. In ancient French, Westminster Abbey was called Ouestmoustier or Latin, monasterium.(Monastery).

London westminster abbey jul10

A bit of history I like

According to legend, the Westminster Abbey was founded in 616, on the site of an old islet of the Thames called Thorn Ey   or Thorn Island. A fisherman named Aldrich is said to have witnessed visions of the Apostle Peter there. Then, in the middle of the 11C, the Anglo-Saxon king Edward the Confessor had his palace built on the banks of the Thames near the monastery which he then decided to build with larger dimensions and which he dedicated to Saint Peter. The abbey was consecrated on December 28, 1065.  In the 13C king Henry III decided to rebuild the church in the Gothic style. Between 1503 and 1519, under the reigns of Henry VII and Henry VIII, the Lady Chapel was built, today called the Henry-VII Chapel. In 1540, the Benedictine monks had to leave the monastery during the Anglican reform. Twenty years later, Queen Elisabeth I re-founded the monastery by giving it a different status. There is no longer an abbot, the chapter is chaired by the dean of Westminster.

Since William the Conqueror,(Duke of Normandy, France and King of England)  all the kings of England, then of the United Kingdom are crowned in Westminster Abbey, with the exception of Edward V and Edward VIII. The King Edward’s Chair, also known as the Coronation Chair , which has been used for the enthronement of British sovereigns since Edward I, is today stored in the Edward the Confessor Chapel.  More than 3,000 people are also buried in the church, including 16 British monarchs, some of them accompanied by their spouses, and many other notable personalities, including six British Prime Ministers, writers, poets. , scientists, actors or explorers.

The tomb of the Unknown Soldier is located near the western gate, buried among kings because he had acted for good, for the cause of God and his home. There are also two French people there: Benjamin de Rohan, Duke of Frontenay and Baron de Soubise , brother of the Duke of Rohan,(Bretagne) he is the last military leader of the Calvinist resistance in France. And François de La Rochefoucauld, Marquis of Montendre (La Rochefoucauld-Doudeauville branch). Huguenot, he had to flee to England where he enlisted in the army and finished Field Marshal of Great Britain and chief of staff of the English armies.

The official Westminster Abbeyhttps://www.westminster-abbey.org/visit-us

The London tourist office on Westminster Abbeyhttps://www.visitlondon.com/things-to-do/place/610825-westminster-abbey?ref=header

There you go folks, can’t missed while visiting London. Even if travel will be made more difficult there from Europe, if you go, one that cannot be missed. Hope you enjoy Westminster Abbey as we did.

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

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January 12, 2022

St Paul’s Cathedral of London!!

On our trips in Europe lucky we have been able to visit several countries and of course England would have been on the list and it was. I have visited many times on business trips but had one visit with the family. One of the nice things to see there is the St Paul’s Cathedral, and like to give you a glimpse. Also, one of my favorite areas of London to hang out when on business trips.

St. Paul’s Cathedral in London is the cathedral of the Diocese of London of the Church of England. It was built after the destruction of the old church during the Great Fire of London in 1666. It crowns Ludgate Hill, a site which housed four shrines before the current cathedral and is located in the City of London, the historic heart of the city that has become today the main business district. It is considered to be the masterpiece of the famous English architect, Sir Christopher Wren. The Dean of Saint Paul is the head of the chapter of Saint Paul Cathedral. He is an important dignitary of the Anglican Church.

London st paul cathedral jul10

A bit of history I like

The first known,church incorporated in the Roman enclosure, was built out of wood, under the reign of Æthelbert, king of Kent. It is this first church which will know in the year 604 the consecration of Mellitus, first bishop of London, by Augustin of Canterbury. It was destroyed by the Vikings in the 9C and rebuilt in 962. The Saxon church was destroyed by fire a second time in 1087 and the construction of a fourth cathedral began almost immediately under the aegis of William the Red (or le Roux French name), son of William the Conqueror (Duke of Normandy, France and then King of England)  to whom he had just succeeded. The “old Saint Paul” as it was called this 4th church was, with its 586 feet (179 m), the third longest cathedral in Europe and its spire reached 164 meters!. It stood on a large area surrounded by walls that followed Creed Lane and Ave Maria Lane to the west, Paternoster Row to the north, Old Change to the east and Carter Lane to the south. This enclosure was then pierced with six gates.

The fifth cathedral was done following the fire of 1666, the reconstruction of an equally impressive cathedral was therefore essential. This task was entrusted to Sir Christopher Wren on July 30, 1669. The first stone was laid on June 21, 1675, the choir opened to the public on December 2, 1697, the last stone crowned the building in 1710. The cathedral of Wren is a mixture of Classical and Baroque architecture.  The study of the dome began in 1685. Wren was inspired by the dome of Michelangelo, designed for the Saint Peter’s basilica in Rome, and also that of Jules Hardouin-Mansart, designed for the Hôtel des Invalides in Paris.

On the west side of the St Paul’s Cathedral are the two clock towers. The northwest tower has space for a clock, which has remained empty. The southwest tower contains four bells. The largest is called “Great Paul”, manufactured in 1881, and was until 2012 the largest bell in Great Britain (16.5 tons). Another bell, called “Great Tom”, rings on time, and also on the announcement of the death of a member of the British royal family, a bishop of London, or a lord mayor of London during his tenure. The last occasion when this bell rang to announce a death was in 2021, for Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. The northwest tower contains twelve bells, one of which, called “The Banger”, rings for services at 8h.

An anecdote I like: During the bombing of London in 1940 by the Luftwaffe, Saint Paul’s Cathedral was for Nazis aviation one of the hotspots of the English capital and, therefore, a privileged target for the latter. But on the night of the bombing, while most of the city’s buildings were in flames, the cathedral received only one projectile; the latter only damaged the roof only superficially thanks to the mobilization of civilians who were responsible for putting out the fire caused by the bombs. The next morning, while the city was suffocating because of the event of the previous day, Saint-Paul Cathedral rose, with its immaculate whiteness, above the blackish smokes which rose to the sky. It is partly because of this event that the cathedral has become a strong symbol for Londoners.

The official St Paul’s Cathedralhttps://www.stpauls.co.uk/

The London tourist office on St Paul’s Cathedralhttps://www.visitlondon.com/things-to-do/place/284990-st-pauls-cathedral

There you go folks, can’t missed while visiting London. Even if travel has become more difficult, a must while there. Hope you enjoy St Paul’s Cathedral as as we did. 

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

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January 11, 2022

The Puertas or Gates of Retiro Park of Madrid!!!

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

It was home away from home and just love it enormously, can’t visit Madrid without been at the Parque del Buen Retiro! I have several posts in my blog because not only is my Spain ,but beautiful moments of my life; Retiro park, my Retiro, my Madrid!!  As written briefly before in separate posts, let me tell you again briedly the story on each gate taken from my library, It will be a trip in nostalgia lane for me, and hope you enjoy it too.

In 1865, a new street was opened in El Retiro that joins the Puerta de Alcalá with the Ronda de Atocha and the Atocha train station that has existed there since 1851. On the west side of the street, a new neighborhood is created in which today we find the Prado Museum, the Botanical Museum, the Spanish Academy of Language, the Casón del Buen Retiro and the Stock Exchange, as well as other official or private buildings. To the east, an iron fence was built that separated the street from the gardens. This street, with the initial name Calle de Granada, is the current Calle de Alfonso XII. Thus begins the construction of a fence that, together with the different puertas or gates that have been added throughout this century and a half, will delimit and close El Parque del Buen Retiro. This work will not end until 2001 with the last of the gates built: the Puerta del Ángel Caído.

The Puerta del Ángel Caído was not built until 2001, thus being the closest to the Atocha train station. Once crossed and after walking along the Paseo del Duque Fernán Núñez, we arrive at the Fountain that gives it its name.The Fallen angel fountain,

At about 300 meters down Calle de Alfonso XII; there we have the following entrance: the Puerta de Murillo. Like other gates that we will see along, it is an entrance that we could call a service entrance, formed simply by a lattice work and which leads to La Chopera, an area named for the poplars that are around it and which currently houses municipal sports facilities.

mad retiro park puerta de murillo ent apr17

Again, some 300 meters further on, and always following Calle de Alfonso XII, we have one of the most important gates in terms of design and history: the Puerta de Felipe IV or Mariana de Neoburgo. Its construction dates from 1680 and served as the entrance arch to the first wife of Carlos II, María Luisa de Orleáns. Later, in 1690, the sculptures on the sides of the arch were added, which correspond one to Mars and the other to Penelope. Mariana de Neoburgo, second wife of Charles II, entered the gate, and an inscription with her name was included on the gate’s under arch. Originally, the gate was located in what is now the Plaza de Cánovas del Castillo (Neptune Fountain), since at that time El Retiro reached that area. In the middle of the 19C, it was the front of the disappeared Hermitage of San Juan, attached to the old palace and on whose site stands the Palacio de Comunicaciones/Cibeles, today the seat of the Madrid City Council. In 1922, it was installed in its current location, in front of the Casón del Buen Retiro and giving access to the Parterre of the park.

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Walking along and just 200 meters away, along Calle de Alfonso XII connecting with Calle Antonio Maura is the Puerta de España, (1893) giving way to the Paseo de Argentina, better known as Paseo de las Estatuas, a place that was previously occupied by the Plaza Grande of the old palace.It is made up of four columns and several entrances with barred doors that give access to the park. On the arch of the main door, we can see the republican coat of arms. If we enter through it, we will only have to go straight along the Paseo de las Estatuas to reach the pond.(Estanque).

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About 400 meters from the previous one, we leave the Calle de Alfonso XII and arrive at the Puerta de la Independencia, in the Plaza of the same name, in front of the Puerta de Alcalá. Done in 1817 as entry gate to the Casino de la Reina located in the Ronda de Toledo. In 1885 it was transferred to the Retiro park by the Cibeles fountain and square. and was installed here in 1885, It has two groups of Doric style columns on which two cupids rest, This was one of my most used gates living and visiting Madrid !

mad retiro park ent alcala pl de la independencia feb13

We will turn to take Calle de Alcalá (my street ! ) in the direction of Calle O’Donnell, always, once again, leaving El Retiro on our right. About 200 meters from the last gate, we find the Puerta de Hernani,(another widely used gate by yours truly) which leads to the Paseo Salón del Estanque. It was made of iron in 1888 , replaced in 1943 for a bigger one, located in the Calle de Alcalà in front is my family Church Iglesia de San Manuel y San Benito, the one we see now. As soon as we enter, we see the promenade with two beautiful fountains, while, on one side of the gate, we have an underpass that allows us to cross the Calle de Alcalá underground and exit to Calle Lagasca. The possibility is being considered that the origin of its name is due to its location, next to Calle O’Donnell, and the fact that it is near the statue of General Espartero on horseback, both characters closely linked to the Hernani uprising, (Carlists wars).

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About 30 meters further on we arrive at the Puerta de Lagasca, in front of the street of the same name. Normally we have always seen it closed, it may be in disuse or a service gate in the park.

From the Puerta de Lagasca, we will continue for 400 meters, always leaving the park on our right; We will see, then, that the street divides in two; At that point, we will take Calle O’Donnell, leaving Calle de Alcalá on our left. There we have the Puerta de Madrid, one of the entrances, next to the Puerta del Ángel Caído, which gives access to the Paseo del Duque Fernán Núñez, better known this section as Paseo de Carruaje. It was designed in the last third of the 19C. Also, the longest in the Retiro park (the Promenade).

If we follow the 200 meters that separate us to the corner of the intersection of Calle O’Donnell and Avenida de Menéndez Pelayo, we arrive at the Puerta de O’Donnell. As we enter through it, we will see the Artificial Mountain and we will have the Casita del Pescador or Fisherman’s House nearby.

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To get to the Puerta de la América Española, located about 200 meters from the previous one at “O’Donnell”, we must take Avenida de Menéndez Pelayo to the south, leaving El Retiro on our right. Once we cross it, we will be on the Paseo de Colombia and, from there, among other routes, we will be able to visit the ruin of the Hermitage of San Pelayo and San Isidoro.

We continue walking another 200 meters to the south and we arrive at the Puerta de la Reina Mercedes. Located in front of the Calle de Ibiza, through it we enter the Paseo de Panamá, which we can walk to the Plaza de Guatemala; There, we continue along the Paseo de Chile and we will arrive at the Monument to Alfonso XII, after which we have the Retiro Pond or Estanque. Queen María de las Mercedes, occupied the throne of Spain as queen consort from her marriage to Alfonso XII, on January 23, 1878, until her death, five months later, on June 27, 1878. During her short reign, enthusiastic about the idea of ​​building a temple of adequate importance for the Virgen de la Almudena, she gave up the land where the Almudena Cathedral of Madrid stands today. Since 2000, it is there where she is buried, as had been the wish of Alfonso XII.

About 100 meters further south, we arrive at the Puerta de Sainz de Baranda, in front of the street of the same name. The previously called Calle del Límite received the name of Mayor Sainz de Baranda in memory of Don Pedro Sáinz de Baranda, the first constitutional mayor of Madrid (previously they had the name of Corregidores) after the proclamation of the Cadiz Constitution of 1812. And aka as La Pepa  was the first Constitution of Spain ,and one of the earliest constitutions in world history. Also, the first Spanish legislature that included delegates from the entire nation, including Spanish America and the Philippines.

The Puerta del Doce de Octubre, (October 12 discovery of the new America) in front of the street of the same name, is one of the entrances to the Cecilio Rodríguez Gardens. Cecilio Rodríguez Cuevas, a native of Valladolid, entered the Madrid City Council as an apprentice gardener when he was 8 years old and ended his professional life as Director of the Department of Parks and Gardens of the same city council. In 1914, he was appointed Senior Gardener of the Retiro park, one of his best works being the Rose Garden of the park.(Rosaleda)!

At 100 meters, in front of the Niño Jesús University Children’s Hospital, we have the Puerta de Herrero Palacios. We enter the area where the Cecilio Rodríguez Gardens are located and is the closest to the Palacio de Cristal or Crystal Palace. The architect Don Manuel Herrero Palacios was Director of Municipal Parks and Gardens in the 60s of the 20C.

Are you with me ? We continue right along for another 300 meters to the south along Avenida de Menéndez Pelayo, we arrive at the Puerta de Granada. Through it, we can access the Paseo de Uruguay within El Retiro and get through it to the Rosaleda and the Fuente del Ángel Caído. This gate was one of the last to be installed in 2001

About 100 meters further south, we have the Puerta del Niño Jesús (another gate frequent by yours truly) in front of the Plaza of the same name, through which we enter the Paseo del Duque Fernán Núñez that takes us to the Rosaleda (rose garden). Before reaching it, there is an old building from 1850 in the shape of a tower called Castillete Metereológico, in which it is planned to install the Museum of Meteorology. In it, the first optical telegraph dependent on the Astronomical Observatory was installed. As of late still in the works.

mad retiro ave menendez pelayo y pl nino jesus jul15

From the Puerta del Niño Jesús, we turn slightly to the right; Following the trellis of the park and after about 300 meters, we arrive at the Puerta de Dante, dedicated, as its name suggests, to Dante Alighieri, writer, among other works, of the well-known Divine Comedy.

We finally reached the Puerta de Mariano de Cavia, located on the corner of Avenida Menéndez Pelayo and Calle Esteban de Villegas. This will be the last of our route and is about 200 meters from the previous one.

And of course, hope you enjoy the walk amongst these wonderful gates of the gorgeous magnificent Parque del Buen Retiro or Retiro park of Madrid. The total walking distance of the above is about 3,5 km! enjoy it!!!

The Madrid tourist office on the Retiro parkhttps://www.esmadrid.com/en/tourist-information/parque-del-retiro

The city of Madrid with a detail map of Retiro park in pdf file good for printing and take alonghttps://www.madrid.es/UnidadesDescentralizadas/ZonasVerdes/Parques/Retiro/2021/Plano%20con%20puertas%20y%20viales.%20Jardines%20El%20Buen%20Retiro.pdf

There you go folks, a best detail description of the Puertas or gates of the Parque del Buen Retiro or Retiro park of my beloved Madrid. Hope you enjoy the reading and do take the tour, awesome!

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

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January 10, 2022

The Centro Cultural Conde Duque of Madrid!!

And I am back in the neighborhoods of off the beaten path areas of my beloved Madrid. This is pretty well known building already but seldom visitors dare go to this real Madrid area, and they should. Let me tell you about the  Centro Cultural Conde Duque or the Cultural Center Count Duke of Madrid!!

The CondeDuque Contemporary Culture Center  Calle Conde Duque, 11. The metro lines that can get you there are Noviciado , and Plaza de España on lines 2, 3 and 10, San Bernardo on lines 2 and 4 and Ventura Rodríguez on line3, Several bus lines best the No 2. The Conde Duque is located in the heart of the Universidad neighborhood (belonging to the Centro district of Madrid), which is limited by the streets of Princesa, Gran Vía, Fuencarral, Carranza and Alberto Aguilera. The neighborhood gets its name from the Central University, opened in 1843 on Calle de San Bernardo, in the old Jesuit novitiate.

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It was built in the early 18C (worked began in 1717 finished in 1730) to house the Royal Guards Corps. Two centuries (and two fires) later, the 58,000-square-meter barracks was on the brink of demolition due to its poor condition, but the insistence of the public to use it for public use managed to save it. The Royal Guards Corps barracks formed part of the optical telegraph communication system devised in Spain in the 19C. The telegraphy tower located in this barracks was number 1 of the Castilla Line that communicated Madrid with Irún. This tower communicated with the headquarters of the Royal Post Office at Puerta del Sol.

The current and reformed CondeDuque not only serves as a cultural container for the city, it also houses part of its history with the Villa Archive , the Historical Library, the Municipal Newspaper Library, the Musical Library and the Municipal Museum of Contemporary Art.  It was intended for cultural and leisure activities for all audiences. Concerts, exhibitions, ferias or cinema cycles take place both indoors and in its large central patio. The Conde Duque center also has multi-purpose rooms, a theater and a modern reception hall.

Regarding its name, there have been different versions of the origin. On the basis of some writings of Mesonero Romanos from the 19C, the idea spread that it was due to the Count-Duke of Olivares, valid of King Felipe IV. However, another hypothesis indicates that this name comes from being based on the site of the previous palace of the Count of Aranda and Duke of Peñaranda. Other, more recent investigations suggest that the Conde Duque or Count-Duke in question would be the III Duke of Berwick y Liria, also Count of Lemos, who promoted the construction of the neighboring Palace of Liria, and whose family retained ownership of the barracks grounds until 1943. 

The official CondeDuque Cultural Centerhttps://www.condeduquemadrid.es/

The Madrid tourist office on the CondeDuquehttps://www.esmadrid.com/en/tourist-information/conde-duque

There you go folks a dandy neighborhood of wonderful architecture in chic Madrid. This is right off Calle de la Princesa where we went walking to the Conde Duque. Hope you enjoy this bit of off the beaten path walk in my Madrid.

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

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