Posts tagged ‘Madrid’

June 16, 2018

Towns of history and Castle in the Province of Cuenca!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Almodovar del Pinar Almodovar del Pinar

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

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

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

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

Arcas del Villar Arcas del Villar

 

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Garcimunoz Garcimunoz

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

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

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are

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

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

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

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

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June 15, 2018

Quaint towns of the Province of Cuenca!

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

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

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

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

Tragacete

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

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are

Tourist office of Spain: Spain on Tragacete

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

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

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

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

Canete Canete

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are

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

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

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

Villalba de la Sierra

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

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

Una Una

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

Una

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

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

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

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

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

Tarancon Tarancon

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

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

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

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

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June 14, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Colmenar de Oreja Colmenar de Oreja

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

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

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

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

Some of the things to see and do here are

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

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

Villarejo de Salvanes Villarejo de Salvanes

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

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

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

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

Some things to see and do here at Chinchon are

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

Chinchon

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

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

Chinchon Chinchon

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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June 13, 2018

The mountains of Madrid, Navacerrada!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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June 12, 2018

A different kind of museum, wax in Madrid!

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

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

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

Madrid

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

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

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

Further webpages to help you plan your visit here are

Madrid tourist office: Madrid tourist office on the Wax Museum

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

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

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

 

 

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June 12, 2018

Alcalà de Henares and Cervantes or is it Don Quijote!

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

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

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

Alcala de Henares  Alcala de Henares  Alcala de Henares  Alcala de Henares  Alcala de Henares  Alcala de Henares  Alcala de Henares  Alcala de Henares  Alcala de Henares  Alcala de Henares  Alcala de Henares

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

May 31, 2018

My early days in Torrejon de Ardoz,Madrid!

On a rainy day all day, I am thinking of expanding my writings on a not really touristic town of my beloved Madrid. Yes the province or Comunidad de Madrid. I spent many summers here, when a young teen. Much later, came back with the family just for the memories and the shopping center of Toys R Us! and the boys love it.  I am talking about Torrejon de Ardoz.

Here is my latest blog post on Torrejon de Ardoz , a bit writing on other towns :  A bit on Torrejon de Ardoz

Torrejón de Ardoz  is in the Comunidad de Madrid of which the capital city of Madrid is the main city.  Torrejón is in the corridor area of  Henares  (Alcalà) and also has presence in the metro area of Madrid. ​ It really took off in the 20C as a city growing along the expressway A-2 Madrid-Barcelona.  In addition it is connected to the rail line Madrid-Barcelona, and the beltway roads of M-50 and M-45 as well as the  M-206  towards Loeches and Ajalvir.  It is only 19 km from Puerta del Sol in Madrid and 9 km from Adolfo Suarez Barajas airport. There is a toll road, the radial or R2 Madrid – Guadalajara, the M-108 connects with Ajalvir;and the M-206 connects San Fernando de Henares with Loeches ; and finally the  M-300 connects to  Alcalá de Henares.

The suburbian train lines or Cercanías C-2 and C-7 have a city center station and another in the residential area of Soto del Henares (near the Hospital de Torrejón ,and the industrial park Casablanca). The city center station is at the Plaza de España. The line C-2 Guadalajara – Madrid Atocha – Madrid Chamartín (- Cercedilla/Segovia-El Escorial/Ávila), and the line   C-7 Alcalá de Henares – Madrid Atocha- Madrid Chamartín (- Las Rozas – Príncipe Pío).

There is bus connection I took when a child and also tested my family on it on our trip back then in 1993. Of course, the buses still do the run. You take the 224 in avenida de América, Madrid bus terminal to direction Hospital de Torrejon at Torrejon de Ardoz, you stop at Constitucion and there take the local bus no 4 to Parque Corredor a huge shopping center my kids love it.

Need to do a pit stop here.  The Centro Comercial “Parque Corredor” has an hypermarket Alcampo (from the French chain Auchan), and more than 180 stores including the famous Toys R Us and a children playground.  By car as we do mostly is on the road M-108 Carretera or highway of Ajalvir-Torrejon between Km 2 and km 5 well posted on the road. The webpage in Spanish is here: Parque Corredor

Torrejon de Ardoz

A bit of history I like,short.

In the 11C, after the castle of Aldovea, the town of  Torrejón de Ardoz is created. In 1118, the kingdom of Castile under king Alfonso VII, reconquered Alcalá (Henares) and these lands of which included the castle.  On an anecdote history will said that in 1906, Mateo Morral  tries to assassinate the king Alfonso XIII, and his wife and was able to escape to Madrid  ,however he is notice by several persons in a lot not far from  Torrejón de Ardoz, where he had stopped to eat. These persons called the security guard of the lot,  Fructuoso Vega, that after some verifications followed Mateo. Eventually, he gave up peacefully , but when he was conducted by the guard to the police station of Torrejón de Ardoz, he was killed by the guard and later this one took his life as well. Maybe a complot never to be known the roots of it. In 1955 the USA air base comes here as part of the agreement with Gen Franco and the USA . I came to play baseball here in the 1970’s and a team from the base form part of the baseball league of Madrid with 8 teams including Real Madrid (my team) Atletico de Madrid, Rayo Vallecano, Condepols, Piratas, and the Abraham Lincoln school from memory.  We played the games at the Elipa municipal fields which today it is still the Baseball federation base of Madrid and a baseball field still in use. In 1992 , the Americans leave and where the air base was now you see many installations, like a hospital, hotel, golf course, etc. all under the Defense ministry of Spain.

Here are my two loves for Madrid, Elipa and Bernabeu, always Real Madrid! Madrid, Bernabeu and the Elipa

Things to see in Torrejon de Ardoz, or rather other things to see in addition to above.

The Casa Grande is located in the Calle de Madrid in the old town of Torrejon de Ardoz. It was built in the 14C to beginning of the 15C. It was founded in the 16C by the Company of Jesus  to managed the Imperial College of Madrid. After the expulsion of the Jesuists in 1776 under the reign of Carlos III it had several owners. For a long time was the headquarters of the Civil Guard until 1974 on which Rafael Onieva purchased it and restored it to turned it into a lodging (4 stars) and artistic place that is today. It ,also ,house an important museum of byzantine icons with more than 1200 pieces.

The Saint John the Evangelist or Iglesia de San Juan Evangelista,located in the Plaza Mayor,was built from the 16C. At first ,it was a small Church with two Chapels and two nerfs ,and the dead were buried in the Church.  From about 1784, worked began to expanded as we know it today. A Basilical style with three nerfs and a dome. There is a famous portrait of the painter Claudio Coello entitled the martyrism of St John the Evangelist or El Martirio de San Juan Evangelista that dates from 1675.

Another big area for entertainment for the family but one we have not been is the Parque Europa that opened in 2010 as an improvement and enlargement of the previous park of the Ardoz.  It has many activities for the family and a huge complex in miniature of the famous buildings of Europe. More here: Parque de Europa

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here, and why not, something different from off the beaten path for Spain, and great for kids at the shopping center and Europa park.

Torrejon de Ardoz with map on the Casa Grande location: http://gestiona.madrid.org/nomecalles/Inicio.icm?munic=148&usuario=munic148

City hall official: http://www.ayto-torrejon.es/plantilla.asp?nPagina=1&ccClave=221

Comunidad de Madrid tourism  on Torrejon in Spanish: http://turismomadrid.es/es/descubre/madrid-%C3%A1rea-metropolitana/7018-torrejon-de-ardoz.html?eprivacy=1

There you go another of my gems of youthful days and still memories that will not go away. Hope you enjoy these posts on something different. And remember, happy travels, good health,and many cheers to all!!!

 

 

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May 30, 2018

Belmonte, a castle and a story !

I am coming back at you with Castilla La Mancha, just a lovely not often visit region of my beloved Spain.  This as said, was my insistance to come with the family a few years back. I finally convince the Mrs, and we came; well the rest is history. All my family love it and now I get to have some nice memories of my dear late wife Martine.

The castle of Belmonte is link to the history of Spain and France and I was very much wanted to show it to my wife. The first time we tried with all the kids wanting to go to Madrid (for shopping!) we arrive late at lunch time and needed to wait too long we continue our journey and me very upset. I told them next time we come in this is a priority, and so we did come in August 2017. This time we saw the castle and around areas again. Oh yes it is in the Province of Cuenca as well!

Some of my previous blog posts on it are here:

Includes Belmonte here: https://wordpress.com/post/paris1972-versailles2003.com/13697

Just for you Castle of Belmonte: https://wordpress.com/post/paris1972-versailles2003.com/18537

Belmonte ,the city, is located at km 342 of the road N 420 that takes you from Cuenca to Alcazar de San Juan, and the same road can even take you south to Córdoba ,and over east to Tarragona. You need to come by car from Madrid on the A3 direction Valencia , at Tarancon, take the road direction Salices to junction with La Almarcha to take the N420 direction Belmonte .

A bit of history I like

In the papal bull of Innocent III the bishop of Cuenca call it  Bellomonte (beautiful forest), due to the forest that surrounded the town. In 1294 , it appeared in the accounts book of king Sancho IV between the towns on which he collected money to pay his knights that were to accompany  Don Juan Manuel, the future Prince of Villena,to the lands of  Murcia. In 1323  the town gained some notoriety on the Chronicon domini Joannis Enmanuelis,saying that in this year 1323 Don Juan Manuel (also nephew of king  Alfonso X started to built a wall ramparts called Belmont and on the same time built the fortress old  Alcázar. The first member of the family of Pacheco  that was lord of the town was  Juan Fernández Pacheco, that was given by the king  Enrique III the privilidge signed at Tordesillas in 1398, given him the reason for being a person of great importance for the war.  The lordship was inherited by his daughter  María, that married Alfonso Téllez Girón y Vázquez de Acuña. From this marriage came two sons  Juan Pacheco  and Pedro Girón (born at Belmonte). The lordship eventually was inherited by Pedro Girón. The youngest was  Juan Pacheco, first Marquis of  Villena, that ordered built the castle of  Belmonte in 1456  as well as the collegiale Church of San Bartolomé on the same date as the castle.  King Pedro I  of Castile been at Sevilla in 1361  gave the city of Belmonte the royalty and priviledge of a city.  Later, king Enrique II of Castile,  to gained the trust of the courts of Burgos in 1367 gives the privilidge of city and exempt the town of the jurisdiction of  Alarcón  with the same rights as those of nearby castle or Castillo de Garcimuñoz.

Things to see in Belmonte

Of course, a must is the Castle of  Belmonte. Built in the gothic mudéjar style of the 15C where the construction was started in 1456  by ordered of don Juan Pacheco. The exterior was similar to the castles of  Manzanares el Real in Madrid , and Mombeltrán in  Ávila as done by same architect Juan Guas. There is really no certainty of when was finished many dates but the most often said is that of  1474 due to the imminent civil war of 1475-1480.  The castle house the Marquis lord Diego López Pacheco.

Belmonte Belmonte Belmonte Belmonte

By marriage, the castle passes to the family of the House of Montijo and in the 19C is passed on to the Countess of  Teba.  However, was the heiress to the House of Villena,  Eugenia de Guzmán, better known as Imperatrice of the French under Eugénie de Montijo married to Emperor Napoleón III of France. She ordered the castle restored on the exterior and interior such as during her time done with the Patio de Armas, the principal stairs and the chalk chimneys  as well as some of the roof. These works lasted from 1857 to 1870 ,and were ended due to the defeat of the French Second Empire. From 1881 to 1885 the castle is occupied by French dominican brothers that used it as a monastery; after their departure the nephew-grandson of the Imperatrice Eugénie ,the Duke of  Peñaranda, Hernando Fitz-James Stuart y Falcó, continue with the restorations and even came to live in it.  Currently it is the property of the Ducal House of Peñaranda descendants of the Duchess of Alba, María Francisca de Sales Portocarrero, sister of Eugenia de Guzmán, aka Eugenia de Montijo.

Belmonte Belmonte

After a visit to the Castle there is a presentation showing life in it from medieval times to the war of succession of Castile in the second half of the 15C between Princess Juana “La Beltraneja” protected by the Marquis of Villena and her aunt Isabel known later as the Catholic Queen or Isabel I and the role the owner of the castle in this war.  The result was the unification of Castile and Aragon  as Spain in 1492  after the fall of the kingdom of Granada where the owner of the castle Diego López Pacheco  participated and was name by the Catholic kings ,captain general of the frontier in the war.

Then, you can go and see these.  Colegiata gótica de San Bartolomé or collegiale Church gothic from the 15C  built on a previous visigoth Church. You see the wonderful choir leather furniture from the 15C engraved with biblical stories that were taken from the Cathedral of Cuenca in the 18C; the first choir chairs engraved with images of the whole of the Iberian Peninsula. It has an organ from the 18C that still in use for concerts and events of religious music . Some of the retables or altars are from the 16C and 17C very nice.

Antiguo alcázar or Palacio del Infante D. Juan Manuel, (old fortress or palace of the heir to throne) for many years in ruins , the last fall out was in Christmas 2005. Now totally restored and part of the lodgings of the Ruta de Don Quijote (route of Don Quixote), opened in 2014.

Hospital de San Andrés (St Andrews hospital) founded in 1415 in ruins since 1970. It was a lodging for passerbys and pilgrimages, now the altars retables of it are kept in the Collegiale Church of San Bartolomé. Plaza del Pilar or square Pilar there is only some supporting pillars save from those that surrounded the biggest square in Belmonte. There si a fountain restored in the 1990’s and two pillars sweet and sour and from the center you see the College of Trinitarians now a health center. Plaza de correos y telégrafos or postal and telegraph square, there is the former college of the Company of Jesus and later was municipal prison.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here, all worth it I said.

Tourist office of Castilla La Mancha on Belmonte in English: http://en.www.turismocastillalamancha.es/patrimonio/castillo-de-belmonte-20864/descripcion/

City hall of Belmonte on tourism in Spanish: http://www.belmonte.es/turismo/

Castle of Belmonte official in English: http://castillodebelmonte.com/en/

There you go, another jewel in down soulful Castilla La Mancha, hey you read Don Quijote by Miguel Cervantes y Saavedra, then you need to come by these lands. Have wheels and go into another world.

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

May 29, 2018

Huete, a little corner of Castilla La Mancha

Again on my off the beaten path trips , the lone road warrior in my beloved Spain. I was recently asked if have a favorite region, well all of Spain is wonderful, or as they said in the 80’s tourist slogans; Spain is everything under the sun. However, if hard press, the lonely souls of Quijote will make me choose Castilla La Mancha.

And off we go again in this land of minds and souls going to a little town less than 2K folks ,where my family enjoyed several trips and joy, this is Huete.

My previous blog posts here : https://wordpress.com/post/paris1972-versailles2003.com/13697

https://wordpress.com/post/paris1972-versailles2003.com/18918

Huete is in the province of Cuenca, Castilla La Mancha region. It is in the northwest corner of the province at  54 km from Cuenca and 120 km from Madrid. It has a train station on the line Madrid-Cuenca-Valencia. However, the car is king on the A3 Madrid -Valencia corridor and up to Huete on the CM 310 road.

A bit of history I like

In the 6C there were signs of a town here on the plains of Álvar Fáñez, later it was taken to mines on chalk that still abound in the region even empty.  It was later known as Wabda forming part of the corus of Santabariyya or Shant Bariya on the plains of a castle with much of it walled. In the 9C and 10C was a very important center of the tribes of Hawwara and Madyuna under the family of Banu Di-L-Nun that later took control of the area in the taifa of Toledo (1031-1085).  It was here at Huete that  al-Qádir, the last king of Toledo left the territory after giving in to the forces of king Alfonso VI even before becoming king at Valencia.  It is the legend that under the patronage of the Saints Justa and Rufina on the encirclement of the Almohades Arabs and after failing on the last offensive there was a huge storm that filled the moats of the castle with water so avoiding a collapse and giving them time for the forces of king Alfonso VI to arrived to finally defeat them.

In 1164 took place here the Battle of Huete where the troops of the House of Castro under Fernando Rodríguez de Castro “the Castilian”, defeated the troops of the House of Lara ordered by the Count Manrique Pérez de Lara, that died in combat as well as his brothers  Álvaro and Nuño. The battle was a result of the turbulent minority age of Alfonso VIII of Castilla, winner of the battle of  Navas de Tolosa, that needed to fight amongst others his uncle king Fernando II of León, that had taken the city of Toledo in 1162.

During the period of the Trastámara (house of  Segovia and Isabel I the Catholic) in 1388, king Juan I gave Huete to dame or  Doña Constanza, oldest daughter of  Pedro I and Duchesse of Lancaster, in order to solved the dynastic problem at the moment to reach the Castilian throne.  In the Peace of Troncoso and treaty of  Bayonne it was agreed that together with Guadalajara, Olmedo ,and Medina del Campo, Huete, and all its lands and rights were given to  Doña Constanza,and that her  daughter, Catalina, was to married the infante Enrique, adopting both as Princes the heir to the throne of Castile and for the first time the title of Prince of Asturias (title to the heir to the throne of Spain even today). By the 15C Juan II gave the title of city and the Catholic kings in 1477 gave the city the title of Noble and Loyal city that has it since then. As an anecdote in the 19C king Fernando VII spent the summer for a few days here in 1816.

Things to see in Huete

Urban wall ramparts of Huete. Andalucian origins with several reforms and on the transfer to the kingdom of Castille in the 12C .Done with several different techniques and materials such as cemente, stones, and ceramics. You have the moon castle or Castillo de Luna  the fortress of  Wabda,  also of Andalucian origins done on top of a Roman that still can be seen on the walls.

Huete

Palacio Episcopal de Huete, or episcopal palace built in thrre phases, on which you see from the first one the shield of the bishop Solano end of the 18C ; second done by bishop Palafox early 19C with the central part unfinished.  In 1570 the first jesuist arrived to found the college and later the college of letters and grammar; they were sent off in 1767, and the building was inactive just with clerical function. The building goes thru many changes such as second half of the 16C you see it on the facade on the left of the main gate . In the first third of the 17C the  convent house with a patio and nice quarters were done.  The Church started building it in 1700 and you can see the nice entrance gate where the Royal arms and the inscription by king Carlos III that ordered in 1770 the transfer of the parish of San Nicolás de Medina,known then as San Nicolás el Real. The place now a parish Church the brotherhood of the Virgen de Guadalupe ordered built the Chapel in roccoco style.  In 1795,the brotherhood of Saint John the Evangelist coming from the parish of Santa María de Atienza, built the Chapel for them here. Today, the Church is manage by the brotherhoods of  San Antonio Abad, Our Lady of  Loreto, and St John the Evangelist that does a very important festival in the second weekend of May.

Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de Atienza or Our Lady of Atienza Church. This is one of the 10 parishes that during the middle ages and even modern times had Huete and this was the oldest; probably on top of an old mosque. The style is artistic with a gothic ,a rare example in the Province of Cuenca. In 1790 , the Church falls off leaving only the absinthe that is kept as a hermitage. Iglesia de Santo Domingo or the Saint Domingo Church was built in the 14C with sisters coming from the area of Amasatrigo thanks to donations by Catalina de Lancáster, Queen of Castille and Lady of Huete.  The current Church is from 1620 .There were renovations from 1621 to 1642. One of its members was the bishop of Astorga ,don Diego de Veancos y Salcedo, buried in one of the Chapels decorated with his bishop’s arms.  The convent was clear of its duties in 1835, and sold losing even the cloister done in the last third of the 16C.

Huete

Torre del Reloj  or Clock tower; from the very early times the tower was still at its current location even if the designs were done in 1795,  after many stop for lack of funds, were finally finished in  1805 . The La puerta de Almazán gate call like this because it connects with the parish Church of  San Nicolás de Almazán, was the most important of the walled ramparts.

Huete

Convento de Jesús y María. or Jesus and Mary convent. It is built on an elevation where the hermitage of Santa Lucía,from which the Bells were used to put in the convent bell tower. Worked began in 1554 ,and finished in 1576 when Sisters of the order of San Lorenzo Justiniano coming from  Cuenca to house here.  This is one of the best examples of the Cuenca architecture of the 16C, a rectangular level around a cloister with arcs of half point on square and boxed pillars, a very innovative construction at the time.

Huete

Iglesia de San Pedro or St Peter’s Church in ruins of a Church from the 17C with a nice Chapel with gothic designs of the 16C.  Ermita de San Sebastián  or hermitage.  In this spot it was known as the quarry of Chopos , where a vegetable garden was done dating from 1689,and renovated in 1737.

Monasterio de la Merced , or Mercy monastery is a Church from 1670 and a cloister from 1645-1647. Here is preserved the image of the Virgin or Virgen de la Merced of which festival is done in the month of September also known as the festival of Huete or of Merced that was before an important cattle fair. Founded by the end of the 13C,and currently the oldest part kept are the the central facade from 1639. the facade was renovated in the neo classic style in 1867 and the south corner next to the city hall entrance  renovated end of the 19C.  The cloister is one of the best baroque patios in the province of Cuenca done as said between  1645 and 1647, done with different materials. The Church was done in 1670 and in 1754 the sacristy was built that currently has a retable altar coming from the abbey of Caracena del Valle done in the second half of the 16C. In the last part of the 18C the Monastery was enlarged. Today, there are inside the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo Florencio de la Fuente ( a contemporary arts museum). Also, the city hall, and several administrative services such as the Tourist office, library, the parish of San Esteban ,and three museums.

Huete Huete Huete

Some nice museums indeed that have not seen all are:

Museo Florencio de la Fuente , in the monastery of Mercy above and very nice indeed with a collection of international contemporary arts by such as Villatoro, Salvador Dalí, Pablo Picasso, Bores, Camille Corot, Pedro de Matheu, Vicet Ochoa, José Bautista etc, under donations by others such as the museum founder to the city of  Huete.

Museo de Arte Sacro or museum of sacre art; you have here an excellent collection of religious art such as the Cross of San Nicolás de Almazán, Cross of Santa María de Atienza, done in 1618 in silver, told one of the best Castilian crosses of the 17C that is shown in processions during the festival of St John the Evangelist around May 6 each year.  You will see a wonderful ivory Christ from the 17C and a collection of ornaments and dresses such as the cape of the Captives or manto de los Cautivos, knitted in the  Philippine style of the 18C for the Virgen de las Mercedes.

Museo Etnográfico , bringing the collection of tools used for the trades in the area such as a collection of tools for use in agriculture and cattle ranching. Museo de la Fragua or wrough iron museum with a collection of tools for this kind of work.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are:

City of Huete in Spanish with on left column info on Arte y Patrimonio ( arts and heritage) and Museos (museums). http://huete.org/wp/

Tourist office of Castilla La Mancha on Huete in English: Tourism Castilla La Mancha on Huete

And again, hope you enjoy this natural trip to natural and soul searching of my beloved Spain. WE really had enjoyed this trips even my dear late wife Martine.

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

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May 29, 2018

This is unique San Clemente, Cuenca!

When we made our runs of Castilla La Mancha in the last couple of years, after I convince my dear late wife Martine to come here. It was not easy to convince as she wanted to go elsewhere in Spain. However, my adolecent and youthful days were spent around here, and it is like a pilgrimage each time around my beloved Spain. So on a sunny day of 23C in my neck of the woods let me tell you about this town in the Province of Cuenca, Castilla La Mancha region.

San Clemente

bar resto El Carmen memories of good food and Martine

I did a blog post before on the touristic parts, here it is. San Clemente, Cuenca Province

We were base in the serrania de Cuenca high on the mountains at 1400 meters, and used it as a base to go by car all over the Castilian countryside.  I have remote recolletions of been by here before, but we decided to pass by and check it out with the family. It was a memorable stop and we love it. This is San Clemente, another memorable spot of nice family souvenirs that today are stronger than ever. She would still reminded me about it ,and I am sure , it would have been easy to convince her again to vacation by these lands.

San Clemente is in the southeast part of the  province of Cuenca  historically it is known as the town of  Mancha Alta, inside the  Mancha de Montearagón area, this name came from the fact that the Castilians traveling to Valencia  (once conquered by king Jaime I of Aragon in 1238) climb up or went up towards Aragon, and therefore the high or alta on the name that was at a higher altitude.

IT is about 110 km from Cuenca, 80 km from Albacete 197 km from Madrid ,and 200 km from Valencia on the banks of the Rus river and the roadcross of the  A-43 and AP-36, and only 30 km from the A-3 that connects fast and free Madrid to Valencia. The signalisation of the roads are AP-36 ( Autopista Ocaña-La Roda: Ocaña – La Roda), A-43 (Autovía Extremadura-Comunidad Valenciana), A-3 ( Autovía del Este: Madrid – Valencia) connecting itself to the  A-43 at Atalaya del Cañavate. The A-31 ( Autovía de Alicante: Atalaya del Cañavate – La Roda – Albacete – Almansa – Alicante) connects also with the A-43 at Atalaya del Cañavate. Other roads and directions are the N-310 ( Manzanares – San Clemente – Villanueva de la Jara)  N-301 ( Ocaña – Cartagena) ; CM-3009 ( Saelices – San Clemente),  CM-3112 (San Clemente – Honrubia) ; CM-3117 ( San Clemente – Minaya). N is National and CM is communal roads.

It could be tempting by many but I would not do this trips with bus or train, not comfortable in my opinion. However, there are buses and a station in San Clemente connecting to Madrid, Albacete, Cuenca, Valencia, and severall other towns. The train station closest are in Villarrobledo at about 29 km and  Albacete at 80 km.  Albacete has AVE connection to correspond with any city in Spain using RENFE.

A bit of history I like.

Here, there was a Goda town venerating the Virgin and once the Moors invasion the Virgin was hidden in a rock inside a cave.  On this spot, later came to live a Moorish people but a pastor found the Virgin in a cave known locally as the Mora or moor at the foot of a castle. The Virgen de Rus is today the Patron Saint of  San Clemente, an a Church was built at the foot of the old Castle.  The name of the town comes from a knight that was installed here name  Clemente Pérez de Rus, the name of the castle before the founding of the town.  The conquest of Cuenca and Alarcón by king  Alfonso VIII and later defeat of the moors at Navas de Tolosa in 1212, is the cause for the annexation of San Clemente and its territory in Castile.  Depe nding of the town castle of Alarcón it passes to be part of the Marquis of Villena under the lordship of the Manuel, first and later of the Infantes of Aragon finally passing to Don Juan Pacheco, Master of the order of Santiago (St James), and first marquis of  Villena.  In 1445,  Don Juan Pacheco raised it to a City recognized by king Juan II of Aragón and Navarra ,and  Enrique IV of Castilla.  The town of San Clemente took side with queen Isabel la Católica on the fight with Juana for the right to rule in Castile and rises up against the power of the Marquis of Villena that sided with Juana. Once the war of succession over, the Catholic Kings incorporated the town into the crown and freeing it from the association of  Alarcón; receiving the visit of the Catholic Kings (Isabel and Fernando)  in 1488 as gratitude for the services rendered to them. During the follow up war of Succession was the headquarters of the Duke of Berwich showing support for king Felipe V that gave the town the title of most noble , most loyal and trusted city.

In the 19C during the War of Independance of 1808-1814 (against Napoleon’s France) it offered resistance to them as Napoleon sent a division Frére to reinforce the army of Moncey  that were operating in Valencia and Dupont that was in Andalucia. However, the Frére division could not do what it was intended due in part to the resistance of the local people of San Clemente, amongst them was the local heroe Bibiano Hellín. During the Spanish Civil War it was built here an aerodrome and was the home of the 3ª squadron of the group 12 of Russian bombers  Tupolev SB-2 (katiuska) and some Russian fighters planes such as the biplanes Polikarpov I-15.

San Clemente San Clemente

Main things to see in San Clemente, in my opinion.

At the Roman times both Republican and Imperial there was a Roman bridge to cross the Rus river with three arcs and still the best preserve of the Roman bridges in the province.

Casa Consistorial, or city hall (ayuntamiento) it is a renaissance style building on the Classic line on the corner in a rectangular form and two levels and a tower on top with the coat of arms of the Habsburgs of Austria. The facade falls into the silhouette of the Plaza Mayor that in the older days was completely encircled . The construction of the house is from the 16C during the reign of king Felipe II. It was built and renovated thereafter between 1566 and 1622.

San Clemente San Clemente

Parroquia de Santiago Apóstol ,or parish Church of St James the Apostle is on the renaissance style from the 16C with elements Gothic from early in the 15C and some Baroque from the 17C.  It is a basilical Church with three nerfs and huge pillars and chapters and starets coupolas.

San Clemente

Torre Vieja,or old tower, was built in the 15C before 1445 during the reign of king Juan II .It is a tower with a square built and it is the oldest construction in San Clemente.  Currently it is the Tourist office and from 1998 the Etnographic museum of Labranza,

San Clemente

Castillo de Santiago de la Torre  or castle of James of the tower is on the west of San Clemente,on the banks of the Záncara river.  It is a medieval castle that belonged to the Order of ST James or Santiago as well as the Marquis of Villena and the Catholic Kings. However, last in 2017 was in bad shape and hopefully it will be safeguarded for future generations.

The main event here is to come during the Festival of Rus or Fiestas de Rus on the Sunday of resurrection when groups of young and young at heart come together in the main square or Plaza Mayor  below the columns of the old city hall with money in cash to begin one of the most beautiful spectacles in all of Castilla-La Mancha. The auction of the walks of the Virgen de Rus. The square is full of people on foot with notary, and brotherhoods houses that within half an hour of uses and costums starts the groups putting a quantity of money on the table for all to see, each group would do the same until the last one and on the last minute push for the highest amount ;even bats have been given to the groups to reach the last table with the highest amount. The auction of the Cross follows the same ritual but with younger groups . Until the spectacle is done and all go to Mass.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip to this nice town of Castilla here

tourist office of San Clemente: http://www.turismosanclemente.com/

city of San Clemente with things to see in Spanish: http://www.sanclemente.es/que-ver-en-san-clemente/

There, a new town for you maybe… this is another of the jewels you will find in nice Castilla La Mancha, the region of Don Quixote of Cervantes Saavedra.

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

 

 

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