Posts tagged ‘Madrid’

March 21, 2020

The roads of my Spain!!

Ok this is a daunting task but always wanted to write something about it. As you have been reading my blog , you know I  love the road, the car is my second home! Road warrior all the way or we used to say in my good old Daytona Beach, put your pedal to the metal and rock!!!

Wait a minute! I have moved about the globetrotter in me and been around to so many countries, regions, and cities I lost count lol! Well in my beloved Spain I started out not driving at all , too young! but then did do it back in 1982 and it has never stop afterward!

Therefore, let me tell you a bit about the roads of Spain and my favorites and some photos to show. Hope you enjoy the freedom of the ride and Spain!

A generation or so ago, travelling around Spain was a time-consuming business; while the main roads radiating out from Madrid; numbered in Roman numerals from N I to N VI, were well surfaced, they were both dangerous and cluttered with slow-moving trucks/Lorries.  I remember driving into France on dirt roads, and the folks guiding me to follow the snow capped mountain to reach the border lol!!! and the EU came and the rest well even the younger Spaniards won’t know. All that is history, and today Spain has perhaps the best domestic transport infrastructure of any country in Europe… and thanks to Europe. Since Spain joined the European Union, it has benefited from major  development funds to help transform its isolated and impoverished regions into part of the modern Europe. The Spanish highway/motorway network is the third largest in the world, by length. Yes indeed!! A long way !!!

Highways in Spain come into two categores; the busy to very busy ones, hehehe! often toll roads , most of them radiating from Madrid, and along the Mediterranean coast: and the others, most of them carrying only light traffic. Nearly all of these are free. Spain’s toll highways  known officially as Autopistas are designated by the letters AP, as in AP8. Spain’s free highways, usually known as Autovias, are generally designated by the letter A, as in A66.

However, around the capital city of my Madrid, the system is different, and complex. Madrid is a maze of highways, yes not well managed at first and can be confusing to the many visitor counts I received…  with in addition to the A designated highway, the M highways for Madrid and R Radial highways (tolls). The highways  M30 (first finished in 1974 my sentimental as it passes near where I used to lived in Madrid!), M40, M45 and M50 , and even a short M55 nowdays are the main orbital routes round Madrid.  M50, the outermost, runs 80% of the way round Madrid, and connects all the main national A highways, from A1 to A6. The missing section is the northwest, from the A1 to the A6 – for which the A40 should be used. Orbital M highways are free, the radial R highways are toll roads (which i always avoid).


The traffic moving southwest from the French border on the Atlantic coast at Irun can both avoid most of the tolls and take a shorter route between San Sebastian and Vitoria, by using the N1 and A1 autovia, rather than the AP8 and AP1 autopistas.  The same goes for traffic heading for Zaragoza and Madrid, from Barcelona. Leave the AP7 (which is free round Barcelona) at exit 26, and follow the free A2 as far as Fraga, after Lleida. For examples.

The ranking if you will of highways or motorways in Spain runs as follows

Highways or dual carriageway: Spain is full of this type of road. Highways are the roads that can be identified by the letter “A” followed by the corresponding number of the motorway / highway. The letters and numbers are white on a blue background. Within this type of roads we can make a subdivision:

Nationals: are those identified with the “A” followed by the number.

Toll: they are identified with the letters «AP» and as their own name indicates, they include tolls.

Autonomous: when the road belongs to the community.

Local: when they are under local jurisdiction and belong to a municipality.

Roads of General Interest of the State: the roads of General Interest of the State, also known as national highways, are the roads that are marked with the letter «N» and with the corresponding number after the letter. Letters and numbers appear in white on a red background. These roads are single carriageways and are one of the roads that have the most kilometers.

First-level autonomous: these are the roads identified with the letters «CL» and behind the corresponding road number. The letters are black on an orange background. Second level autonomous: its letters are «CM» followed by the numbers that correspond to the road. Both letters and numbers are white on a brown background. And they are now even CU roads in a similar manner. Third-level autonomous: third-level autonomous roads are those identified with the following letters: «CR» followed by the numbers that correspond to the road itself. The letters are black on a yellow background.

Roads of General Interest of the State in European Itinerary: they are the roads that belong to European itineraries and are identified because they carry a prefix with the letter “E”, followed by numbers. The signage has a green background.

The normal speed limits are as follows:   Motorways (autovias and autopistas) : 120 km/h;  Main roads : 80 km/h,  90 km/h or 100 km/h as indicated; and  Built-up areas : 50 km/h or 70 km/h as indicated. There are now plenty of speed traps, or radars, on main roads in Spain, and police can and do issue on-the-spot fines. Advance warning of speed traps tends to be given,  However, the boxes are hard to tell so you must be alert if do not know the road or first time by it.

The Six radial toll roads which connect Madrid with its coasts and its borders divide the Spanish continental territory into 6 radial sectors. These radial roads are enumerated in clockwise fashion as follows

A 1 from Madrid to France as Madrid, Aranda de Duero, Burgos, Vitoria, San Sebastiàn, Irùn to the French French border.

A 2 from Madrid to France  as Madrid, Zaragoza, Lleida, Barcelona, Girona and French border.



A 3 from Madrid to Valencia or Carretera de Castilla La Mancha. I must say never pay toll on this road


A 4 from Madrid to Cadiz or Carretera de Andalucia as Madrid, Cordoba,Sevilla, and Càdiz

A 5 from Madrid to Mérida, Badajoz, and Portugal or Carretera de Extremadura

A 6 from Madrid to A Coruña or Carretera de A Coruña as Madrid, Medina del Campo, Benavente, Ponferrada, Lugo, and A Coruña.

La Granja

Some other roads that I count as my favorites over the years and the list is not inclusive are

N110 Soria San Esteban de Gormaz , Segovia, Avila, Plasencia.

N240 Tarragona, Lleida, Huesca, Jaca, Pamplona, Altsasu.

N310 Manzanares, Villanueva de la Jara.

N320 La Gineta, Cuenca, Guadalajara, Venturada.

N330 Alicante, Almansa, Requena, Utiel, Teruel, Zaragoza, Huesca, Jaca, French border at Somport tunnel.



N400 Toledo, Aranjuez, Ocaña, Tarancon, Cuenca. My all time favorite a pleasure to drive on it!



A402 Madrid, Toledo, Ciudad Real, After about 78 km of the A42 it splits into two roads the N401 and Autovia de los Viñedos

N420 Montoro, Ciudad Real, Puerto Làpice, Alcàzar de San Juan, Cuenca, Ademuz, Teruel, Montalbàn Valdealgorta, Reus, Tarragona.


N521 Trujillo, Càceres, Valencia de Alcàntara, to Portugal

N550 A Coruña, Santiago de Compostela, Pontevedra, Vigo, Tui

N634 Santiago de Compostela, Oviedo, Torrelavega, Bilbao, San Sebastiàn

There is now  beltways or rocade or periphérique roads  full or partial, and they have originated from the upgrading of one or several roads reaching the town to the autovía level, as the several  variant choices looping around the town were joined in a single beltway that received a new naming such as TO-20 or Z-40 (the Zaragoza beltway coming from France!). Other very popular ones around Madrid takes you to the international airport such as the M11 and M12 . My always nostalgic M30 first beltway finished in 1974. And the all the new ones making the area around Madrid messy to drive for the uninitiated such as the newer ones M40, M45, M50, and M55!



And some mountain roads in Castilla La Mancha;enjoy them as I do



Las Majadas

Some webpages to help you drive in my beloved Spain are

The General Directoire of Traffic information in Spain: Official DGT on traffic in Spain

Highway maps, handy from the Royal Automobile Club of SpainOfficial RACE on highways

Repsol guides on itineraries and route maps, the Spanish Michelin: Official Guia Repsol of Spain

And the weather in Spain from official agency AEMET! AEMET official weather reports on Spain

Just enough info for the smart road warrior, and then off you and enjoy it as we do. The roads of my Spain!

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

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March 21, 2020

The Serranias of my Spain!

So here I am making you read me 360 degrees back to my beloved Spain, the one of dreams and stories, architecture and history, and food and wines! This is another story, the mountains of the Serrania of Cuenca and its smallist towns done several times by yours truly in my road warrior mode!

This is my story on Tragacete, Cañete and Tarancon, follow me if you dare! The towns are so small but quant that will put them in one post ok, enjoy it.

We were driving all over Castilla La Mancha as our road warrior habits are known! And we realized were running short on gas/petrol so we were on the back roads of the Serrania de Cuenca and headed for Tragacete, another small mountain town pop of less than 500 folks but has a Repsol gas station !! yupeee! and the old Church of San Miguel, passing by was nice. This is real countryside and we love it!!!


Tragacete is of course in the Province of Cuenca and the already mentioned region on the high plateau of the mountains or Serrania Alta. It is part of the Natural Park of the Serrania de Cuenca. And we rented a house around here for several years which was memorable, great souvenirs with the family see my posts on Las Majadas especially.


Tragacete is a mountain town hahaha really! that starts at the valley formed by the Jucar riverbed. In its outskirts you will be on hills of considerable height, like Mogorrita with 1,866 meters and San Felipe with 1,840 meters (yes and we rented at 1400 meters). Tragacete’s natural environment is quite diverse, including valleys and canyons. Numerous trails marked as “Pequeño Recorrido” or short trails will let you get to know this gorgeous setting ,especially for the walkers in us. The historic quarter exhibits the main characteristics of the local architecture, namely balconies with grilles and wooden beams. One of the most beautiful examples is the Church of San Miguel Arcángel, built in masonry, with ashlar stones in its corners. Its marble ornamental screen on the wall at the back of the altar built after the Spanish Civil War of 1936.


City hall of Tragacete on its history in Spanish here : City Hall of Tragacete

Tourist office of Castilla La Mancha on Tragacete: Tourist office Castilla La Mancha on Tragacete

Cañete  is another small mountain town in the same area province of Cuenca in the autonomous community of Castilla-La Mancha, located about 70 km east of Cuenca, the provincial capital. We went to visit it a really old town on the CM 2106 road with lots of canyon, ramparts and old castle ruins way up town. The best here is the El Postigo canyon with old world laundries by the river , a water fall and escalation to the castle ruins but we did not went all the way, this is for the real outdoorsman aficionado!!! High up!


The town was the birthplace of Álvaro de Luna, a Castilian nobleman of the Luna family at the end of the 14C. He was Constable of Castilla, Grand Master of Santiago and worthy servant of King Juan II of Castilla. He is buried in the Santiago chapel, in the ambulatory of the Toledo Cathedral.

During the Spanish Civil War of 1936, the Republican militias who arrived from the Levantine region devastated the parish church, the Chapel of San Julián and the Sanctuary of Our Lady or Nuestra Señora de la Zarza, destroying   the images that the Christian piety   safeguarded and as far as worship existed in its sacred precincts , and which later they dedicated to warehouses or garages ; likewise, in the last moments of the war they destroyed the two beautiful bells of the parish Church.


The town of Cañete has areas such as the Hoz del Postigo, recovered as a tourist recreation area, with a picturesque landscape of waterfall, river, view of the hanging houses of the town, hermitage of the Patron Saint Virgen de la Zarza, vestiges of the walled compound, etc. The Cañete castle is accessible on foot and is of Andalusian origin, it had several extensions, especially after the Castilian conquest. The last reforms are from the 19C, from the Carlist Wars. It stands on top of a steep, narrow and long hill, dominating the town, next to the Mayor del Molinillo river. Yes way up long march. There is a nice Puerta de las Eras gate, in a bend, domed, with a horseshoe arch, and of Andalusian origin. Among the temples of Cañete are the Church of Santiago, the Chapel of San Julián and the hermitage of the Virgen de la Zarza.



The city of Cañete with a map showing its things to see here in pdf file format: city of Canete pdf file on things to see

Tourist office of Castilla La Mancha on Cañete things to see : TOurist office Castilla La Mancha on things to see in Canete

We came down on the N420 to take the A40 expressway to see a far away town of Tarancon on the intersection with the A3 that goes into Madrid. At Tarancon , you see the Church of Nuestra Señora de la Asuncion , (12C), but really nice was the Santuario de Riansares. Bombed in the Spanish Civil War and rebuilt in the 1950’s ; it had been in the family of the Duque of Riansares as well as built a castle next to it. The Duke and his family are buried inside.

Tarancón is another town from the area but lesser levels and a lot more accessable in the same province of Cuenca, in the autonomous community of Castilla-La Mancha. It is located between La Mancha and La Alcarria moutain areas in a valley. Tarancón is the second most populous town in the province, after Cuenca, so that it borders the provinces of Toledo, Guadalajara and the Community of Madrid, all of which are just a few kilometers from the town. For this reason, Tarancón is equipped with a network of state highways and roads, as well as rail and AVE routes, which connect it to the main cities in Spain. The A-3 or Autovía del Este (yes we know it very well) is one of the six radial highways in Spain and is the natural union between Madrid and the Mediterranean coast of the Valencian Community, more specifically with Valencia. It has three round-trip lanes respectively, on the Tarancón-La Almarcha section.  The A-40 or the Autovia Castilla-La Mancha (yes we do it !!), which starts in Ávila, passes through Toledo, Tarancón, Cuenca and ends in Teruel. The N-400 that connects Tarancón with Ocaña and Toledo. Tarancón has had a train station in its urban core since 1885, where regional trains on the Madrid-Cuenca-Valencia line stop. Tarancón has a bus station, with four docks, night lighting, café / bar, ticket office with ticket sales and information, etc a couple of lines does the run to Madrid but never use it.

In 1537 the town was given the status of villa, although it continued under the jurisdiction of Uclés. In 1591 it was included in the province of Castilla of the Order of Santiago. The town belonged to the province of Toledo until the territorial reform of 1833, by which it was incorporated into that of Cuenca. In 1973 the singer Nino Bravo (sad one of my favorites!) received first aid in Tarancón after suffering the traffic auto accident that took his life.

A bit more story on the above sites:

Sanctuary of the Virgin of Riánsares: located approximately 5 km from Tarancón. It was founded in the 12C. The palace was initially acquired by D. Fernando Muñoz, Duque de Riánsares where he built his pantheon and, next to it, a summer Palace in which to spend summer seasons with his wife, Queen María Cristina de Borbón. Later it was transferred to the Catholic Church and today is the Sanctuary that gives its name to the Patron Saint of Tarancón. More on a special site of the brotherhood of the Virgin of riànsares: Brotherhood of the Virgin of Riansares


Palace of the Dukes of Riánsares. It is the current headquarters of the Tarancón City/Town Hall. Restored building from the 19C, with a rectangular floor plan of two heights and an attic, it has a central courtyard with Tuscan columns, around which the rooms of the building are located. Outside you can see the remains of the original grid. The palace also had some beautiful gardens that in the 20C were transformed into the current Plaza del Mercado or market square. The home of the Dukes of Riánsares was also modified and few original elements have been preserved.


Church of Our Lady of the Assumption (Nuestra Señora de la Asunción), from the 16C, with a magnificent Plateresque altarpiece that presides over the main altar.It is located in the neighborhood of El Castillejo, the oldest of the town, prior to its construction, since the 13C, there would be a temple of uncertain location, although probably in the same place where the current church is erected, and it would be in the Romanesque style or neo-gothic. The first church dedicated to Our Lady of the Assumption must have been built in the 15C. It was a Gothic building with a single nave, with attached side chapels and a ribbed vault, which persisted until the end of the 19C.


Arco de la Malena or arch is the entrance door to what was once a walled enclosure, becoming the most evident proof of this, and as far as its origin is from the 11C. It is currently the arch that gives entrance and precedes the Parroquia de la Asunción or Parish of the Assumption.


The city of Tarancon on heritage: City of Tarancon on heritage

Tourist office of Castilla La Mancha on Tarancon: Tourist office of Castilla La Mancha on Tarancon

There you a nice quant beautiful scenary ride in the mountain towns and into the valleys of the Province of Cuenca in Castilla La Mancha autonomous region of my beloved Spain. Hope you enjoy the ride and do try it , its great!

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




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February 5, 2020

And we have Key West!

And finally I got the idea to write about a very lointime and favorite city of my life’s travel and residency. As I lived in different points in Florida for 18 years and 13 years in NJ i have come here often. Family still have boats base there, and I last saw in 2002. Therefore , the pictures are before that. However, like to keep it in my blog for the souvenirs, memories, recuerdos of my life. Let me tell you a bit about Key West Florida.

There is plenty to see here other than museum , aquariums, and beach activities. My coming here was to do fish barbecues after boating and coming back to landfill in the mangroves to do the cooking, awesome. I did also scuba diving in those years and jet ski riding. Many folks comes for the beaches and the fact of its closesness to Cuba and the tropical party ambiance. Key West is special and worth the detour. I like to tell you more on the historical aspect of it as I am afraid for the tourist look you need to look up updated information.

Key West is located at the western end of the Florida Keys archipelago in the State of Florida USA. The city occupies the whole of the last of the islands from which it takes its name, as well as a set of islets surrounding it. The portion of Stock Island north of Federal Highway 1 (US 1 commonly call), Fleming Key and Sigsbee Park to the north (two military grounds with restricted access) and Sunset Key (formerly called Tank Island and with limited access to residents) to the west are part of the city of Key West , it is also the county seat of Monroe County. The city is known for being the southernmost point of the contiguous United States and the southern terminal of Highway 1. Located 207 km (about 128 miles) from Miami and 170 km (about 105 miles) from Havana, Cuba, it offers an incomparable strategic position on the Strait of Florida less than 150 km (about 93 miles) from the coast of Cuba.

key west

A bit of history I like

Before the Spanish arrived on the North American continent, the island was populated by the Calusa Indians. Spotted by Ponce de Leon in 1521, it was only sporadically occupied by fishermen and wreck hunters during the Spanish era. Originally called “Cayo Hueso”  (and still call in Spanish today) that is to say island of bones by the Spanish because of the many bones they found there when they arrived, vestiges of battles between natives or Spaniards, the name was changed by the English in Key West, according to some because the pronunciation of the Spanish word hueso was close to the English word west, according to others because of the geographical position of the island.

In 1763, when Florida came under British control (Treaty of Paris in exchange for Cuba), Spanish and Native Americans who occupied the island were expelled to Cuba. When Florida returned to the Spanish again twenty years later, the island was only sporadically inhabited without permanent colonization. Fishermen from Cuba or the Bahamas, then later after the independence of the United States, others from the Atlantic coast, used the island as a seasonal refuge. In 1815, the governor of Havana gave the island to Juan Pablo Salas, an artillery officer of the Spanish navy stationed in Saint Augustine, Florida (oldest city in the USA 1565) . Salas hastened to sell the island when Florida came under US control. In fact, he sold it to an American merchant, John W. Simonton, whom he met in a tavern in Havana, for a sum equivalent to $ 2,000 ,at the time a huge sum (the amount has not been corroborated) .

John Whitehead had spoken to Simonton, about the strategic position it occupied on the Strait of Florida when he had discovered it during a sinking in 1819. It was the deep-water port that had especially impressed and he compared to a West Gibraltar. On March 25, 1822, Matthew C. Perry arrived in Key West on the USS Shark and took possession of the island on behalf of the United States.

John Simonton subdivided the island into plots which he sold to: John Whitehead, a friend who had advised him to buy the island, John Fleeming, an English merchant of Mobile in Alabama, John Mountain and John Warner who resold immediately their plot to Pardon C. Greene. It was the latter alone who made Key West his permanent residence and who became a successful merchant and for a time mayor of the city. The names of these four “Fathers of the Modern City” as we like to call them, are found in Key West today and were given to the arteries of the historic district during the first cadastre established in 1829 by William Adee Whitehead, a younger brother of John Whitehead. This cadastre is still in force today and has undergone few modifications. Fleming Street is however spelled with a single “e”. The main street that crosses the historic district from north to south was named after the first governor of Florida, William Pope Duval, governor from 1822 to 1834 as Duval Street.

key west

During the American Civil War, while Florida joined Confederation in January 1861, Key West and its naval base remained under Union control. Fort Zachary Taylor, built from 1845 to 1866, played an important role during the conflict. Two other fortifications, the Martello East and West Towers, were built from 1861 to serve as a depot for arms and batteries annexed to Fort Taylor. They were later connected to the fort by a railway to facilitate the movement of ammunition. Fort Jefferson in the Dry Tortugas, located 110 km from Key West (halfway almost to Cuba), served as a prison at the end of the Civil War and his most famous prisoner was Dr. Samuel A. Mudd, accused of conspiracy for treating the Abraham Lincoln’s assassin, John Wilkes Booth.

The term Conchs like the eponymous seashell applies to natives of the Bahamas of European descent. These are the “Conchs” who arrived in large numbers after 1830 and populated Key West. The term today applies to the inhabitants of Key West in general but distinguishes the clean natives or “Conchs” and the long-standing inhabitants but born elsewhere or “Freshwater Conchs” that is to say conch of fresh water. Towards the end of the 19C, the cigar industry replaced the salt works and the shipwreck trade. The arrival of many Cubans during this period of rebellion against Spanish domination (Ten Years’ War, then War of Independence) provided an expert workforce for this industry. In 1890 the population of Key West was close to 18,800, half of whom were of Cuban origin. Nearly 200 factories produced a hundred million cigars annually. José Martí, the father of Cuban independence, came to Key West several times to recruit volunteers for the cause and founded the Cuban Revolutionary Party there. It was from Key West that the battleship Maine left, which sank in the port of Havana and started the Spanish-American War. The Maine crew is buried in Key West Cemetery. The annex was renamed Truman Annex and still bears that name today. The Cuban revolution of 1959 breathed new life into the naval air base and Key West rediscovered the strategic role of wartime. In November 1962, John Fitzgerald Kennedy visited Key West a month after the Cuban missile affair was resolved. Key West remained a base for the many Cuban exiles arriving by sea from 1960 to 1980.

key west

There are typical neighborhoods such as the New Town on the eastern part of the island (mistakenly referred to as the north), most of which has been reclaimed from mangroves and lagoons, constitutes the new districts for the most part residential and commercial along Roosevelt Boulevard with the centers shopping, many hotels, sports fields and the airport.   Key West is the southernmost city in the contiguous United States and one of the city’s most photographed attractions is the landmark that marks this geographic point. In addition, the legend on the terminal indicates that the Cuban coast is “90 miles” according to the famous phrase of President Kennedy during the missile crisis, when it is actually 93 miles, or 150 km. And of course  ,do not miss Mallory square!!!and that is me!!!

key west

key west

One nice way to see the city main points and come back for more and something we have followed in many cities and countries is the little train ride and of course Key West has a good one !

key west

key west

There is also a nice small aquarium which I found one photo here

key west

In 1931 the house on Whitehead Street that you could visit today was a wedding present for the couple Hemingway who had previously occupied a room above the Ford garage on Simonton Street. The swimming pool Hemingway built there would have cost $ 20,000, an extravagant sum in the 1930s.

Charles Thompson, a hardware store owner, and Joe Russell, a bar owner – the famous owner of Sloppy Joe’s , introduced him to big game fishing. Joe Russell would have inspired the character of Freddy in To have it or not, a novel also strongly inspired by the Key West of the years of crisis. It was also during this period that Ernest Hemingway acquired the nickname “Papà”. It is estimated that it is in Key West that almost 70% of his works were written, in particular The Farewell to Arms, Death in the Afternoon, The Snow of Kilimanjaro, The Green Hills of Africa or For Whom the Bell Tolls. After his divorce in 1940 and the loss of his house, he rarely returned to Key West, preferring Havana. The polydactyl cats that surround the Hemingway house are believed to be descendants of Snowball, Hemingway’s cat. Like the novelist’s home, they are a typical Key West attraction.

Another famous imprint here was that of Tennessee Williams who came to Key West from 1941 and around 1947 reportedly began sketching A Streetcar Named Desire while he was staying at the La Concha hotel on Duval Street. In 1949, he bought the house on Duncan Street and made it his legal home until his death in 1983. Tennessee Williams’ house is a modest new town bungalow with no particular appeal. Today it is a private residence which is not open to the public. While Hemingway and Williams frequented Key West concurrently, they only met on one occasion in Havana, on Hemingway’s property, Finca Vigia.(west of Havana today controlled by the government).

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

City of Key West on heritage

Tourist office of the Florida Keys on Key West

Tourist office of Florida on Key West

Tourist office of the USA on Key West

There you go , there is a world to discover at Key West a small space full of history, tropical architecture, and just plain tropical fun , and this is just one tip of the wonderful Florida keys! Hope you can enjoy it one day.

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

February 5, 2020

Mercado Publico de San Lorenzo de El Escorial!

So staying in my beloved Spain and wonderful worldly San Lorenzo de El Escorial; I like to tell you more. It always amazes me of posts I make and concentrate on one major monument in the city or two leaving behind some wonderful architecturally and historically stunning buildings. This is the cas of San Lorenzo de El Escorial and its Mercado Publico de San Lorenzo. I like to finally tell you a bit more about it: hope you enjoy it as I.

San Lorenzo

The architectural and historical significance of it makes me turn to find it. We did walking the wonderful streets of San Lorenzo de El Escorial. Hope you enjoy market shopping as we do anywhere! Below my translation of the tourist office. At the end of the 18C, the city of San Lorenzo de El Escorial promotes its last great work for the common of the neighbors, which consists of a large house for the storage of wines, genres of Abacería shop; fish, bacon and other bouquets and rooms.


In 1797 the urban center of San Lorenzo was already consolidated, which made it impossible to find a central place in which to build the building, so the place occupied by the overseer was chosen for its placement. The project is entrusted to Juan de Villanueva and his works are developed between 1797 and 1806. In the construction highlights the main facade made of granite ashlars, access through a large central arch and the arches that form the inner courtyard.  Due to the increase in the number of students of the School of Children of First Letters of the Casa de los Soportales (Royal supporters committee) since 1794, the governor propose its transfer to this building, commissioning Juan de Villanueva to lift a new plant in 1806 which was accessed by Calle Francisco Muñoz.

Both the educational and commercial functions are maintained until, in 1873, the poor state of the same forces the City Council to auction its reconstruction. After this work, which will cover the inner courtyard, it becomes a building appreciated for its adequate conditioning. During the Spanish Civil War it had to suffer certain damages due to his abandonment, losing his superior glazing.

In 1949 the Mayor of San Lorenzo de El Escorial requested the realization of different works to prevent its collapse. In this way the glazed roof is recovered by means of a skylight, the second floor is closed with the current gallery and a “T” staircase is introduced between the first two levels. Shortly after the new skylight sinks because of a great snowfall.  One of the largest repair works is carried out in 1967, again because of the risk of the roof collapsing. At that time the alley called Repeso is covered, which was located between the Market and the Cuartel de Inválidos (handicapped barracks), covering the needs of commercial space that arise at this time.

The tourist office page on the Mercado is here: Tourist office of San Lorenzo on the Mercado Publico in English

There you another wonderful place very near all the major points in the city and we got some churros there!!! while waiting for lunch !!!

San Lorenzo

Many posts on San Lorenzo de El Escorial and this Mercado needed to show more, I did. Hope you enjoy it

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

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February 4, 2020

Cocheras del Rey, San Lorenzo de El Escorial!

So staying in my beloved Spain and wonderful worldly San Lorenzo de El Escorial; I like to tell you more. It always amazes me of posts I make and concentrate on one major monument in the city or two leaving behind some wonderful architecturally and historically stunning buildings. This is the cas of San Lorenzo de El Escorial and its Cocheras del Rey (kings carriages). I like to finally tell you a bit more about it: hope you enjoy it as I

The  architectural and historical significance of it makes me turn to find it. We did walking the wonderful streets of San Lorenzo de El Escorial. Below my translation of the tourist office.

The Cocheras del Rey (garage of the king) is a set of buildings dating from 1771 and was ordered by King Carlos III for his service and that of the Court, when the foundation of the Royal Site of San Lorenzo de El Escorial.

San Lorenzo

The whole was for a century at the service of the Royal House covering the transportation needs of people and luggage mainly during the autumn days, which was when the kings moved to the Escorial.

The part that is conserved of this set includes the Casa de los Oficios del Viaje( house of trades and trips), and Casa y Cuadra del Regalero (House and Stable of the Regalero) and a central garden, and is today private property, where a wide and valuable collection is shown that has as an argument the history of the life, activities and operation of the cocheras from 1771 to 1870, when it passed to individuals. The Collection is composed of a rich and varied sample of unique pieces: horse carriages, sleds, hand chairs, ties, furniture tools, maps, books, paintings, travel equipment, etc. since the 16C and mainly from the 18C and 19C.

The tourist office take on it here: Tourist office of San Lorenzo on Cocheras del Rey

Official webpage here; Official Cocheras del Rey in English

Another nice building to walk by and see it as part of the history of San Lorenzo de El Escorial , a lot more than a monastery! Hope you enjoy the story of the Cocheras del Rey.

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

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February 4, 2020

Royal Coliseum of San Lorenzo de El Escorial!

So staying in my beloved Spain and wonderful worldly San Lorenzo de El Escorial; I like to tell you more. It always amazes me of posts I make and concentrate on one major monument in the city or two leaving behind some wonderful architecturally and historically stunning buildings. This is the case of San Lorenzo de El Escorial and its Real Coliseo Carlos III. I like to finally tell you a bit more about it: hope you enjoy it as I.

The Teatro Real Coliseo de Carlos III is located in San Lorenzo de El Escorial; Comunidad de Madrid ,and it was built in the 18C. It is the only one that keeps the theater typology of that century intact, hence it is one of the oldest covered theaters preserved in Spain.

San Lorenzo

The Spanish Bourbon court, very fond of this entertainment (learned in France), set out to provide the Royal Sites with places destined for permanent theaters suitable for receiving Italian and French performance companies. Reigning king Carlos III, between 1770 and 1778, hired the French architect Jaime Marquet to performs three of the theaters of the Court, those of the Royal Sites of Aranjuez, El Pardo and San Lorenzo de El Escorial. Construction begins in 1771 and the following year was already finished.

The historic building has a rectangular plan with an axial axis, the room acting as a structuring element of the theatrical ensemble. This has a “U” shape and it opens the wide body of the stage, rectangular, where the original combs of the 18C are preserved. It has two levels of boxes on the existing ones on the ground floor and between the latter and the floor platform, there is also an intermediate level of running seats. The room is accessed from a hall that occupies the entire front of the main facade, with two stairs to the upper bodies.

Externally, the building has a compact appearance, with three-sided roofs, the body intended to house the armor of the stage comb rising above the set. The main façade, with a very simple layout, has two heights on the ground floor and is framed by chained pilasters. On the ground floor, the four interior access openings are located, corresponding to these holes those of upper floors, consisting of balconies on the noble floor and windows on the upper floor, with the upper openings being close together. On the main façade the central gaps on the ground floor are covered with a classic porticoes atrium supported by three pairs of columns on plinths, which is topped with a metal balustrade.

Some webpages to help you plan your visit here are

Tourist office of San Lorenzo on the Real Coliseo Carlos III

Tourist office of Community of Madrid on the Real Coliseo Carlos III

There you go another dandy especially for a performing visit at night in lovely quant San Lorenzo de El Escorial, a lot more than a monastery.

There is a museum link to this theater Real Colegio Carlos III and appropiately call the Museo del Coliseo, not yet in but should be interesting for next visit to keep it in this post for the heads up. Their webpage is here: Tourist office of San Lorenzo on the Coliseo museum

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



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February 3, 2020

Casa Duque del Alba, San Lorenzo de El Escorial!

So staying in my beloved Spain and wonderful worldly San Lorenzo de El Escorial; I like to tell you more. It always amazes me of posts I make and concentrate on one major monument in the city or two leaving behind some wonderful architecturally and historically stunning buildings. This is the case of San Lorenzo de El Escorial and its Casa Duque del Alba. I like to finally tell you a bit more about it: hope you enjoy it as I.

San Lorenzo

Not much on it as it is now private rental house but the architectural and historical significance of it makes me turn to find it. We did walking the wonderful streets of San Lorenzo de El Escorial. Below my translation of the tourist office.

The promoter of this building was the Duke of Arcos, Mr. Antonio Ponce de León Spínola, one of the gentile men closest to king Calos III. The trace and direction is due to the architect Manuel Machaca Vargas.

He was commissioned by the Duke of Arcos to house his family and servitude during the Royal days. His daughter, the XIII Duchess of Alba, immortalized by Goya in his paintings, will become its owner in 1784.

Its architectural configuration matches the style that Juan de Villanueva will impose on the Real Sitio de San Lorenzo de El Escorial, two floors and attic, being one of the few buildings of the 18C to which a third level has not been added. With the disappearance of the Royal days, the house is transformed into permanent housing, leading to its division into three parts.

Just a curiosity in the town and good for a nice walk around it; hope you enjoy it.

The tourist office take on it is here: Tourist office of San Lorenzo on the house of the Duke of Alba

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


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February 3, 2020

Parish of Grace in San Lorenzo de El Escorial

And taking you to some off the beaten paths of my beloved Spain even if in very much visited town of San Lorenzo de El Escorial for reasons mentioned in previous posts, I like to take you to another revered monument often if ever by passed.

Let me tell you more on the Parroquia de Gracia in San Lorenzo de El Escorial. The Santuario de Nuestra Señora de Gracia is at Calle Floridablanca, 7.

San Lorenzo

The devotion to the Virgin of Grace (Gracia)   has its origin long before king Felipe II chose this region to build the Monastery dedicated to San Lorenzo. Tradition tells us that after the reconquest of the region, shepherds found the image in a cave, in the upper part of the highs of the Herreria (blacksmith), where a hermitage was later built to house it. The remains of this hermitage can still be located in the current Finca de los Ermitaños (Bosque de la Herrería). In that hermitage there were three altars, the central one was dedicated to Our Lady of Grace, the image had the Child in its arms. was a bulge image, of a rod of a little more or less, both the Virgin and the Child wore silver crowns. The Lady wore in her right hand a bronze or golden iron scepter, and that of the Child, at least, since 1645, some silver hazelnuts and a precious stone set in silver.

At the beginning of the 19C (between 1808 and 1809) the primitive Image of the Virgin of Grace was transferred to the Parish of San Lorenzo, which at that time was in the current Sanctuary of Calle Floridablanca . The primitive image of the Virgin of Grace was burned in 1936 (by republicans during the Spanish Civil War). To repair this terrible loss in 1941 the sculptor D. Mariano Benlliure was commissioned a new carving, that is the most accurate reproduction of the previous one. This new Image, made in record time, was enthroned in the Parish of San Lorenzo on September 7, 1941.

San Lorenzo

The Virgin of Grace was proclaimed Patroness of the Royal Site of San Lorenzo de El Escorial in the Plenary Session of the City/Town Hall held on August 30, 1946, this proclamation being renewed in 1995, on the occasion of the celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of the Pilgrimage. The Image of the Virgin of Grace is venerated throughout the year in its Sanctuary of Calle Floridablanca in San Lorenzo de El Escorial. On the day of the Pilgrimage (second Sunday of September) the Image moves to its Hermitage in the Bosque de la Herreria (blacksmith’s forest) , returning again at night to its Sanctuary.

Some webpages to help you plan and know more of it are here

Parrish site of San Lorenzo on the Sanctuary of Grace

City of San Lorenzo de El Escorial on traditions see Gracia

There you go easy walk from the monastery into quant nice San Lorenzo de El Escorial; and see something unique of my beloved Spain at the Santuario de la  Virgen de Gracia.

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






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February 2, 2020

A king at Cuenca!

So here is another important figure in the history of my beloved Spain and pave the foundation for its unification and reconquest period. I happened to visit the city of Cuenca several times and always marvel of his equestrian statue there at Travesía Clavel, 6 street. Let me tell you a bit more on king Alfonso VIII, the Noble.

A 17-year-old Alfonso VIII of Castile tried to conquer the city, but after five months of siege, he had to retreat after the arrival of troops sent by the Almohad caliph Abu Yaqub Yusuf. Alfonso signed a seven-year truce but when, in 1176 the Cuencans occupied some Christian lands in Huete and Uclés, Alfonso intervened at the head of a coalition including also Ferdinand II of León, Alfonso II of Aragon and the Military Orders of Calatrava, Santiago and Montegaudio, besieging Cuenca for months starting from 1177’s Epiphany. The city’s commander, Abu Bakr, again sought the support of Yaqub Yusuf, but the latter was in Africa and did not send any help. After an unsuccessful Cuenca sortie against the Christian camp on 27 July, the besieged city was conquered by Alfonso’s troops on 21 September 1177, while the Muslim garrison took refuge in the citadel.

The latter fell in October, 1177 putting an end to the Moors domination in Cuenca. King Alfonso VIII granted the city a title, and it was considered to be “Muy noble y muy leal” (Very noble and very loyal). It was given a set of laws, the Fuero, written in Latin, that ruled Cuenca’s citizens, and it was considered one of the most perfectly written at that time. The diocese of Cuenca was established in 1183; its second bishop was St. Julian of Cuenca, who became patron Saint of the city.

King Alfonso VIII  (b.1155 –d.1214), called the Noble or el de las Navas, was the King of Castile from 1158 to his death in 1214 ,and King of Toledo. He is most remembered for his part in the Reconquista and the downfall of the Almohad Caliphate. After having suffered a great defeat with his own army at Alarcos against the Almohads, he led the coalition of Christian princes and foreign crusaders who broke the power of the Almohads in the Battle of the Navas de Tolosa in 1212, an event which marked the arrival of a tide of Christian supremacy on the Iberian peninsula. His reign saw the domination of Castile over León and, by his alliance with Aragon, he drew those two spheres of Christian Iberia into close connection.


In 1202, he claimed the county of Gascogne brought as a dowry by his wife Eleanor of England, daughter of Eleanor of Aquitaine. His expedition took him to the gates of Bordeaux, which he unsuccessfully besieged in 1205 or 1206.  King Alfonso  VIII was the founder of the first Spanish university: the studium generale de Palencia, which disappeared after his death. He also founded the order of Alcántara.

He was married in 1170 at his majority of age at 15, to Eleanor of England aged 8, daughter of Henry II of England and Eleanor of Aquitaine, whose possessions made him the largest sovereign of the moment. They have twelve children, including four daughters who become queens. One important one to me aws the Infanta Blanche (1188–1252), married to Louis VIII of France and regent of this kingdom during the minority and the crusades of her son Louis IX (1226 to 1235);later Saint Louis.

You can read a lot more of him here: Roman Catholic Saints on Alfonso VIII

There you go a nice walk up hilly streets but once you past it the views and the statue is nice. Travel and history goes hand in hand for me. Hope you enjoy Cuenca and the statue of king Alfonso VIII  as I do

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





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February 1, 2020

Alcalà de Henares and the Queen!

And bringing out some of my favorite and personal stories of history let me bring you back to one of the nicest memory town we had visited as a family; Alcalà de Henares. Many souvenirs here over the years; and plenty written in my blog on it.

However, what I have left out a bit is the historical significance of a visit and meeting between a navigator and a queen. This is my rendition to Reina Isabel I La Càtolica or Queen  Elizabeth I the Catholic of Spain and Cristobal Colon or Christopher Colombus.

The court of Isabel I ,the Catholic is, like that of her predecessors, itinerant. The journeys traveled by Isabel I of Castile. In 1503, the trip took place between Alcalá de Henares and Medina del Campo, where the queen died on November 26, 1504. During these trips, the queen administered her kingdom from the place where she was.

One of the most important events in the history of the modern world had its beginning in Alcalá de Henares with the interview of Isabel I, La Católica (Catholic) and Cristobal Colón (Columbus) . It was on January 20, 1486 and was held in the Archbishop’s Palace of Alcalá de Henares in that interview the trip to the Indies began to be forged that led to the discovery of the New Continent.

It ran on October 24, 1485 when a long entourage, which had left Córdoba and stopped in Jaén, arrived in Alcalá de Henares to spend the winter and rest … The stay lasted for almost four months, being one of the longest and most fruitful visits from the Catholic Monarchs to Alcalá de Henares. Christopher Columbus, who had followed the Court from Cordoba, was the last to receive an audience by the Catholic Monarchs on January 20, 1486 at the Archbishop’s Palace. That meeting between the queen and the navigator was produced in the Archbishop’s Palace, which can be seen at the end of Calle San Juan , where the Casa de la Entrevista (Interview House) is located.   Currently, on the cover of the front of the House you can see the Cardinal’s checkered shield and the door hardware is remarkable, in which, in addition to the Cisneros shield, another one with Colombine motifs can also be contemplated.

Alcala de Henares

Columbus was desperate. He needed money to finance his trip to the “Indies.” He had already received the refusal of King Juan II of Portugal to finance his project. It was then that he went to Castile to offer it to the Catholic Monarchs, although the Royal Council rejected it from the first moment. When everything seemed lost in Castile, his great friend and supporter Fray Antonio de Marchena convinced Fray Hernando de Talavera, confessor of Queen Isabel I (Elizabeth), to get the kings to receive the navigator. It was January 20, 1486. And the rest is history I like!!!

You can see her wonderful statue in Alcalà de Henares by the Plaza Palacio where there are many monuments including the old Archbishop’s palace. A quiet humble corner for such a great world personage that still influences millions around the world in a common language. The Reina Isabel I, la Càtolica statue at Plaza Palacio. (palace square). Hope you enjoy the post.

Alcala de Henares

Not too much on the story in the tourist office but here it is for reference: Tourist office of Alcalà de Henares in English

For events and cultural activities sharpen your Spanish and see it all here: Culture in Alcalà de Henares

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



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