Posts tagged ‘Madrid’

April 6, 2021

The amazing aqueduct of Segovia!!!!

So I need to update/revise links on this older post of a magnificent monument of my beloved Spain. This is another of my favorite cities of my beloved Spain, or is one of many I think. From an early age , I think first time was when I was 10 years old with my mother; I keep coming back over the years, then with my wife, and then with the family and boys and parents and and ….lost count but each time is like the first time. The  Aqueduct of Segovia is awesome, a must to see. Hope you enjoy the tour.

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Well I admit only once took the bus as always came here taken or on my own by car from Madrid. The roads are good if hilly and curvy even if now they have expressways such as the AP 6 and AP 61 but my all time favorite was/is the N603; from Madrid you can come on the A1.  I drive around to find a parking either at 14 Paseo Ezequiel Gonzalez next to the tribunal , you walk past the statue to famous restaurantor Candido and onwards to the Cathedral and Aqueduct nice walk and car is very safe or the Alcazar or by the Aqueduct and then walk all over the city. By intercity bus you come from the bus depot at Moncloa and the Avanzabus line ,there are suburbian trains such as cercanias by changing trains in Cercedilla. The fast trains or AVE can be taken at the station Segovia-Guiomar and for cheaper slower trains you can do the Avant trains.

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I have written quite a bit on Segovia and all its attractions before, but this one is the Aqueduct, needs a stand alone post. To me , the Aqueduct is in essence my third choice here after the Alcazar and the Cathedral of the tops things to see in Segovia.  According to experts, the Aqueduct of Segovia was built in the second half of the 1C AD or early 2C AD  during the reign of Adrian of Trajan. It is  813 meters long, with about 728 meters visible in the city. It has a maximum height of 28.5 meters and a minimum of 0.5 meters out of the city. The water transported, is on a slope of 1%, to make runs freely into town from the source in the Frio River , 17 km from Segovia ,bringing it to the area of Acebeda 15 km further. The exact location according to experts is from the Aceveda river , a small stream of the Frio river in a pine and oak forest in the northern slopes of the sierra de Guadarrama at 1255 meters altitude.

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It has in all 20400  granite stone taken from the Guadarrama area , 120 pillars or columns and 167 arcs of which 75 are simple arcs , 44 double arcs all in the main area to see and some beyond the city.  The granite stone bound only by their own weight, without any mortar ,thanks to a perfect balance of forces. The stones have small cavities necessary for the use of the self tightening pliers for lifting the blocks The most beautiful part is when crossing the Plaza de Azoguejo square.  To see the best is to position yourself on either side of it , either on the  Plaza de Azoguejo square on the left or the Plaza de Artilleria or Artillery square on the right, as you notice that the aqueduct seems to divide the city in two.

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At the time of the Catholic monarchs the first great work of reconstruction of the aqueduct was carried out. Later, in the 16C, it was when the statues of the Virgin of Carmen and San Sebastián were placed in the central niches. The Aqueduct of Segovia is special in that it has been used almost without interruption since Roman times to the present day.  If you are daring and would like to follow the path from outside the city you can. I have gone by car as much as possible and some walk but not done it completely. You have to be in good shape as it is hilly.

Not far from the source (locally call the Azud) , the aqueduct channel had to cross the small brook of Valdeconejos (valley of rabbits). Here is an interesting structure in the form of a small bridge of 5 granite plates that still serve their original purpose of leading the water of the small creek of Valdeconejos over the top of the aqueduct channel.  Both the Azud (the source) and the Valdeconejos bridge can be reached on foot in about 1 hour (3km) from the village of Revenga.  We parked here in Revenga or you can too at the entrance of the road that runs along the north side of the Embalse the Puenta Alta Lake. However, we stop here, you can continue on the road  from the parking beyond the end of the lake and then follow the yellow aqueduct signs up the hill. There is a track that goes up steeply and passes through the fence, follow this to above the creek on the north side until the track reaches some meadows; cross the creek here, and follow the yellow signs steeply up the hill until reaching the aqueduct channel this can be recognised by the box-shaped maintenance shafts that have been installed on the water pipe in the early 20C. Follow the track now along the contour lines towards the captions upstream (to the right, sign to “azud”).  On the way back, the aqueduct can be followed past Valdeconejos until reaching the track that descends again to Revenga. It is even possible to follow the aqueduct all the way to the city. The tourist information in Segovia can organise trips to the aqueduct source, and has a brochure (saw in Spanish) describing three walks along the course of the conduit, from the mountains to the city.

Once in Segovia, at the junction of the Calle del Coronel Rexach and the Avenida del Padre Claret (this later takes you right into the aqueduct in your car !) is a small monument that marks the start of the most spectacular section of the Segovia aqueduct. The cylindrical stone ( Roman lettering are on it)  is a monument from the 17C, found close to Segovia. It has been placed on the wall that originally supported the Roman aqueduct channel, and  which now carries its narrower successor, the channel from the 15C. This wall, 141 meters  long and 1,4 meters wide, runs up to a building that covers the second and final cleaning basin before the aqueduct bridge. This building, is known locally as the Casa de Aqua. Inside is a basin with an entry and exit of the aqueduct channel. Contrary to the Casa de Piedra, there is no channel at the base of the basin, so that any sediment that accumulated had to be removed by hand, and could not be flushed out. Any dirt would be extremely difficult to remove. The building is at least partly Roman. Once entering the city the aqueduct bridge of Segovia starts at the Casa del Aqua.

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There you have a brief to the point story on one of the most emblematic buildings of Spain, the Aqueduct of Segovia. Some webpages to help you plan your trip ,which is a must, and ask me if need further guidance.

The Segovia tourist office on the aqueduct: http://visitsegovia.turismodesegovia.com/es/monuments/aqueduct

The Segovia provence tourist office on the aqueduct: http://acueducto.turismodesegovia.com/

The Castilla Y Léon region tourist board on Segoviahttp://www.patrimoniocastillayleon.com/en/segovia

And there you go folks a wonderful monument to mankind this aqueduct of Segovia. Again, is a must to see and hope this post will get you going towards it when possible.

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

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April 2, 2021

Some news from Spain C

And here I am back to my lovely Spain, never too far! I have great sunny weather with temps going to 26C or about 79F. In my beloved Madrid it is now 55F and cloudy and we have 56F and some clouds. The times still sad with more complication of confinement. More info on this tirinig and repeated news can be found in the Foreign Relations Ministry of the Kingdom of Spain or in Spanish Ministerio de Asuntos Exteriores , Union Europea, y Cooperacion.(the official news and rules).

Now things are going on of course. Let me tell you my favorite news from Spain; and hope you enjoy the reading as this is my 100 posts on the series. Thanks for reading me over these years!!!

The ‘Moroccan Trilogy 1950-2020’ brings together 250 works from the time of independence to the present. It can be seen until September 27 2021 at the Reina Sofía museum in Madrid. It is limited to three temporal stages: until the seventies, the lead years until 1999 and finally Generation 00 from 2000 to the present. And it sticks to the three cities with the greatest cultural effervescence at this time: Tangier, Tetouan and Casablanca. This exhibition, on the other hand, has been possible thanks to the National Foundation of Museums of Morocco, the Mohammed VI Museum, from which some paintings have emerged, the Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art – Qatar Museums in Doha, from which they have Checked out others and the Qatar Foundation.

The Italian architect Francesco Sabatini (Palermo, 1721-Madrid, 1797), who spent most of his professional career in Spain at the service of the Crown and which this year marks the tricentennial of his birth, planned in 1771 the extension of the Royal Palace of Aranjuez with two wings attached to the towers of the main facade, due to the large family of Carlos III. At the western end of the south wing the new chapel would be built. On the main floor of the north wing, the new theater or coliseum was arranged. The National Heritage of Spain shows until April 4,2021 the campaign ‘Extraordinary National Heritage’: an opportunity to visit the Carlos III theater in the Royal Palace of Aranjuez. It has a tempera painted vault, which Mengs left unfinished!!

It was the first opera known in the Spanish language. The libretto was written by Lope de Vega. And the play papers burned forever among the embers of the fire that struck down the Real Alcázar of Madrid in 1732. But the opera has just been resurrected at the initiative of the singing and composition students of the Madrid Conservatory to bring back to life ‘La selva sin amor’ the jungle without love. Lope de Vega theatrical proposal explored all the possibilities of machinery and special effects. The cannon salutes and the fireworks shook the aristocracy as much as did the simulation of the waves, the beehives of the castles, the lighting devices and the liturgical apparatus that transported Venus aboard a carriage drawn by a pair of swans (fictitious). We know all these details from the documents that survived the fire and even from specific references to which Lope de Vega alludes. The play was reborn last March 24 and 25 at the Theater of the Higher School of Singing in Madrid. Now looking to expand it to other mediums and countries when possible.

The King Felipe VI and Queen Leticia have visited Fuendetodos (province of Zaragoza, region of Aragon), Goya’s hometown, on the occasion of the 275th anniversary of the painter’s birth, which was celebrated , March 30. Goya represents a precursor icon for modern art in many of its expressions and disciplines, from painting itself to the most contemporary creations in the cinematographic field, through literature, theater, the performing arts or sculpture itself. Well said by the Monarchs.

The Paseo de México, in the Retiro park, will open to the public tomorrow after a year and a half of works. The gate that gives access from the Plaza de la Independencia, next to the Puerta de Alcalá, reopens from 6h to 22h for those who want to walk and enjoy this restored space of more than 10,600 square meters of surface. Wonderful one of my entries living and visiting my Madrid! They have recovered historical, environmental, patrimonial and accessibility values. The restoration works of the great avenue that connects the city with the Estanque or big pond of the park have pursued the objective of returning the garden to its original characteristics, while at the same time providing it with the latest technical advances in environmental engineering. The fountains and flooring have been restored, new benches and furniture have been included so that the spaces can be enjoyed by citizens, evoking the image of the installation as it was in the first half of the 20C. Wow!! Can’t wait to be back!!

They find in Toledo a section of wall from the Umayyad Caliphate from the first third of the 10C. There is evidence that this set of structures, a total of three new towers and a section of wall of about 30 meters, are from Al-Hizan, that Abderramán III built.  The restoration works of a section of the medieval wall of Paseo de Cabestreros, which is being carried out by the Ministry of Culture and Sports, have allowed the discovery of an Umayyad wall from the 10C. From this first discovery and incorporating the studies of archeology of architecture and archeometric analysis, it has been possible to detect how, embedded in later phases, there are two more towers that were amortized by modern constructions, mainly by the construction of the Hospital de Santiago!

Something for everyone, the underground lovers! In the province of León is the Cueva de Valporquero, an underground cathedral that water erosion has created for thousands of years. It has impressive galleries that can be explored on foot to contemplate the various rock formations. An enclave located next to a privileged natural environment: the Valporquero beech forest, very close to the Hoces de Vegacervera, which has various hiking routes for lovers of active tourism. This Leonese enclave in the district of Valporquero de Torío opened its doors to the public in 1966. The cave has various galleries open to the public, such as the Great Rotunda, the largest room; speleothems such as the Tower of Pisa, the Twins and the famous Madonna and Child; or the Gallery of the Fairies in which, in the rainy season, the water rushes into a waterfall 15 meters high. Outside the cave you will find the Valporquero beech forest, one of the best shady forests in the Cantabrian Sea. Among its undergrowth, animal species such as roe deer and vegetables such as hawthorn and holly are sheltered. An unforgettable landscape located in the middle of the Los Argüellos Biosphere Reserve, which is perfectly complemented by the monumentality of the Hoces de Vegacervera. There you go get down under!

When was the last time you dropped by Alcalá de Henares? (me in august 2019 can’t wait to be back!) This UNESCO World Heritage gem often goes unnoticed, even by locals themselves, despite being a stone’s throw from Madrid, yes indeed. You can explore all the essential places, such as the university of 1499, the birthplace of Cervantes or the Jewish quarter. There is no lack of a walk through Calle Mayor and Calle del Imagen, always with a lot of atmosphere. You can go to the Roman city of Complutum, origin of the current Alcalá de Henares , you will discover one of the most important archaeological sites in the Community of Madrid. The imperial forum, the market, the hot springs, and the famous fish mosaic in the House of Hippolytuslos. That explains the enormous relevance that Alcalá had in the times of the Old Roman Empire thanks to its strategic location between Mérida and Zaragoza. Starting with the story of the legendary witches of the city accused of causing misfortunes and incomprehensible events. From the Plaza del Padre Lecanda to the Archbishop’s Palace to remember what the inquisitorial processes were like passing through the Jewish quarter and the Antezana Hospital, this route is full of disturbing moments. In addition to the Cervantes’ s birthplace or the Chapel of the Oidor, among other stops linked to the biography of the writer, you will also visit places of the time, such as the Old Prison or the Hospital de Santa María la Rica. In the Plaza de San Diego, in front of the beautiful Plateresque façade of the University in whose auditorium the Cervantes Prize is awarded each year. You will see /notice know how the coexistence between Muslims, Christians and Jews in the city of Alcala was centuries ago. The walk takes you to the old walls and the Puerta de Madrid, which in the 18C allowed access to the historic center. You also discover the courtyard of the Museum of the Society of Condueños, the old Hospedería de Pobres Estudiantes. A way to explore the old town in a surprising way. Lovely Alcalà de Henares , a must to visit while in Spain.

Much progress has been made in terms of conservation and awareness since the Casa de Fieras (zoo now closed) was founded in 1774 in the Retiro Park of Madrid. Animals are no longer considered a spectacle but a unique window to get closer to nature and learn from it. Some of the better zoos/parks now in my opinion are:

In Faunia of Madrid, a nature theme park which allows you to travel to Antarctica or feed the sea bears without leaving Madrid. Located in Vicálvaro, it has more than 3,000 animals of 300 different species distributed in thematic areas with their own habitat, temperature, light conditions and humidity. In its 16 hectares dotted with lakes and ponds, visitors can enjoy the largest polar ecosystem in Europe, the tropical heat of the Amazon rainforest or the elegance of the kingdom of butterflies, among other facilities. The park has several restaurant areas, a children’s play area and a route that shows reproductions of different dinosaurs. My fav wonderful!

In the Loro Parque of Tenerife, penguins, gorillas, otters, sharks and killer whales , and many other animals will delight visitors who come to this unique space, named by Unesco and the Canary Government «example for all zoos in the world » due to its projects for the protection and reproduction of gorillas and other endangered species. A Thai village; the largest in the world outside of Thailand, welcomes Loro Parque, which has set several hard-to-beat records: its collection of parrots is one of the most extensive on the planet with 4,000 birds and some 350 species and subspecies .

The Bioparc in Valencia recreates the equatorial forest, the habitats of Madagascar and the great wetlands of Africa. The great merit of this natural park, which is not a zoo, is that the animals, the vegetation and the landscape coexist faithfully recreating the original ecosystems.

Sharma Climbing Madrid, the largest center in Spain, measuring 4,000 square meters and a benchmark in the world. You have different paths with colors and levels of difficulties, so the challenges are increasing. on walls up to 19 meters high (with about 160 tracks and around 150 blocks). It is a large-scale climbing wall. Here the Spanish National Team trains, Olympic athletes because it is approved for international competitions. At the climbing wall they rent climbing shoes and harness, the necessary equipment for those who do not have it. You only have to bring liquid magnesium to avoid sweating from your hands . For the courageous a new fashion all over. See it at Sharma Climbing Madrid. Calle Julián Camarillo, 55. Open until 22h. Webpage: https://www.sharmaclimbingmadrid.com/es/inicio/

For the outdoor lover and daring, I have only done parts of the first one below for the historical value. The Sierra de Madrid has many challenges and one I know a bit this one. The route of the Spanish Civil War of the Frente del Agua or water front is an itinerary to discover the different fortifications used by the Republican side and the Nationalists side in the Sierra Norte. The old Paredes de Buitrago washhouse serves as the starting point of a path where milestones and explanatory panels allow a visitor who will need about four hours to travel its 12 km. From the beginning of the war, the defense of the El Villar and Puentes Viejas reservoirs was vital to control the water supply to Madrid. This caused this front to remain in permanent tension, which can be verified by making a route in which more than twenty elements of defensive architecture can be identified between trenches, bunkers, shelters and machine gun nests.

Another one that begins in the Las Lagunillas recreational area, located about 400 meters before reaching the port of Navafría, on the M-637 road that connects the Segovian town of the same name and the Madrid town of Lozoya. The objective is to crown the Nevero peak, one of the most important and highest mountains in the Sierra de Guadarrama, with a height of 2,209 meters. It is located on the border between both regions and, before reaching it, the path offers places of great beauty, such as the Peña Cuervo. This is an outstanding rocky tusk that rises in the middle of the slope with a beautiful viewpoint or the Hoyos de Pinilla lagoons; vestige of the glacial past of the Carpetanos Mountains.

And the one, also, known as the Bosque de Finlandia or the Finnish forest (its original name is El Potario), it receives its name from its great resemblance to the forests of the Nordic country. Located on the outskirts of Rascafría, the Monastery of Santa María de El Paular, the first Cartuja of Castile, serves as the gateway to this 13-km, four-hour route, which continues through the Puente del Perdón until entering an area rich in poplars, firs and birches. All this until reaching a beautiful jetty, next to which stands out a small wooden hut with red windows that, according to what is said, was used at the time as a sauna, thus increasing the Finnish reminiscences of the place. In addition, to get to this point you have to go through the Camino de Papel or paper road, baptized in this way because it leads to an old paper mill, today in ruins, from where it is said that the first printed edition of Don Quijote came out in 1605, thanks to the paper that the monks of the monastery produced.

The traditional recipe of Paco Pastel, a bakery in San Lorenzo de El Escorial, has won this year the title of best torrija (yummy love it! )in the region. The jury of the Association of Artisan Pastry and Bakery Entrepreneurs of the Community of Madrid, chose it from among 18 participants. Paco Pastel is at Calle Pozas, 181. San Lorenzo de El Escorial (Madrid).webpage : https://pacopastel.com/

At number 11 of the Plaza de la Cebada, Madrid ,venue for concerts in the early days of Alejandro Sanz; you have El Viajero here since 1995, the former Bar Musel founded in 1926, a meeting place and promotion of culture in La Latina where Alejandro Sanz, then a much less known young Alejandro Magno, gave one of his first concerts. Ignacio Ventosa, the current owner of this 19C palace with eclectic furnishings, steep stairs and a roof terrace with views will tell you stories of this bar the lung of La Latina neighborhood. Especially since Dolores Posadas and her husband, Uruguayan travelers, hence the name, rescued the place. It has been frequented by such relevant figures as Jean Paul Gaultier, Lindsay Kemp, James Hunt, Pedro Almodóvar, Javier Mariscal, Miquel Barceló, Santiago Segura, Ceesepe, Carlos and Jorge Berlenga or the Carmona, including King Felipe VI. It has hosted live shows by artists such as Paco and Pepe de Lucia, painting and photography exhibitions by Luis Asin, Ceesepe or Guillermo Fornes and film screenings, talks, literary gatherings, radio programs, interviews, communions and even a funeral. webpage : http://www.elviajeromadrid.com/index-en.html

How about those Spanish whites? Well they are up and coming along just fine thanks to Peynaud a pioneer French wine experts from Bordeaux. Long old history. Now you have CVNE ,the centenary bodega of Rioja presenting their newest Monopole Gran Reserva blanco 2014, a wine of limited production with grapes Viura and Palomino. A traditional house in Rioja for many years followed by yours truly. And if a less famous but equally good you like to try , I recommend this one. The Remelluri blanco 2013 Rioja with a bright lemon yellow, without hints of oxidation. It came from a cool area that reflects an equally fresh vintage, with flint above the white flowers on the nose. Very tasty on the palate, vertical, with elegance and silkiness. Very careful and delicate elaboration, it still denotes youth. The bodega of   Granja Nuestra Señora de Remelluri (Our Lady of Remelluri Farm) . Done with White Grenache, Viognier, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, and Roussanne grapes. Go for it!!

And there you go folks, for now, some news from Spain is going strong thanks to you all. Looking forward to better times for travel and visiting again my beloved Spain. Hope you enjoy the post as I.

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

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March 31, 2021

Navacerrada , the mountain of Madrid!!

I was recently been watching the world alpine ski championship from Cortina, Italy and remind me of my try of skiing while living in my dear Madrid. The closest mountain was Navacerrada, the craddle of Spanish skiing that gave the country its Olympic medal. I like to update this memorable post for you and I. Hope you enjoy it as I do.

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 beach bum 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 in 2017 and really enjoyed it.

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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. The peak is higher as you can see in the picture below

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 town of Real Sitio de San Ildefonso , and the south ladder or Madrilene belongs to the town of Cercedilla. . From here you can use as a base to visit La Granja de San Ildefonso (see post) , Segovia (see posts), San Lorenzo de El Escorial (see post), Rascafria , Fuenfria and others.

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%.

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.

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. 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. For info I always come here by car.

The town of Navacerrada on tourist info: https://www.aytonavacerrada.org/index.php/turismo-20

The Madrid tourist office on the Puerto de Navacerrada: https://www.esmadrid.com/en/tourist-information/puerto-navacerrada

Weather conditions especially snow by Infonieve in Navacerrada: https://www.infonieve.es/estacion-esqui/puerto-de-navacerrada/webcams/

The Puerto de Navacerrada webpage https://puertonavacerrada.com/en/the-resort/surroundings-and-patrimony/

Lately I read that due to the virus and less frequency two ski lanes will be closed, sadly, the space will be reduce so go as soon as you can before all changes.

Hope you enjoy it as I do; this short introductory post on Navacerrada. A spot of memories in my heart never to be forgotten and looking forward to be back when possible. And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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March 31, 2021

Plaza de Colon of Madrid!!!

Another dandy full of memories for me and family, well as you can read, Madrid is all happy memories that will last all my life. Hope you get the idea, Madrid to heavens and a hole in the sky to look down on it every day! This is the nice Plaza de Colon of Madrid!!!

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Not a moment goes by not thinking of all the things done here, living and visiting; and both ways. One of the emblematic places in the city is the Plaza de Colon or Colon Square in the upper part away from centro Madrid.  The area is nice, modern ,and upscale. It was my passage when opened the Wax museum (see post)  around it that my Mom took me. It has been great going to the National Library (see post) as a youth, and then many times over visiting with the family. Always great souvenirs of my Madrid.

The Plaza de Colón is named after Christopher Columbus (Cristobal Colon). Located at the intersection of the districts of the Centro, Chamberí and Salamanca, the square has a large open space known as the Gardens of Discovery , delimited by the streets of Goya, Jorge Juan and Serrano. The west side of the square consists of a crossroads at the center of which rises the monument to Columbus, where the Paseo de la Castellana is to the north and the Paseo de Recoletos to the south. The square was originally called Plaza de Santiago, or St, James Square. In 1893 it was decided to rename the square to Plaza de Colón in honor of Christopher Columbus.

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Erected between 1881 and 1885, this neo-Gothic-style monument consists of a column surmounted by the statue of Columbus (Colon) . Originally placed on the square itself, it is installed from 2009 in the center of the crossroads, surrounded by a basin. This space occupies a surface of 18 700 m2. In quadrangular form, it is divided into two triangular zones. Under the first, to the west, is the Fernán Gómez Cultural Center, as well as underground parking. The second zone, to the east, is mainly occupied by the monument of the Discovery of America, inaugurated in 1977. The Spanish Royal Mint stood here previously until 1970. In the vicinity, has risen from 2001 a mast of 50 meters high which bears the largest Spanish flag in the world, measuring 14 meters by 21 meters or 294 m2. There are stairs at the end that take you down to the Oficina de Turismo Colón.(Tourist office at Colon).

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The wonderful architecture and historical here is the  Torres de Colon or Columbus Towers  office building completed in 1976, dubbed “the electrical outlet” due to the shape of its top. . In the crossing of the square or Plaza de Colon with Calle de Génova you will see the towers, at its bottom you will see an isle that crosses with Calle Génova, the sculpture with the Women and the Mirror is the work of Fernando Botero. Car parking Empark under the square entrance by Calle de la Armada Española,1 just parallel with Paseo de Recoletos. Also, metro Colon Line 4 and Serrano line 4 and many bus lines.

We, also, stayed in a nice hotel when I first took my girlfriend  in September 1990, later wife and now dear late wife Martine. It was a moment to impress the new girl and book the Fénix Tryp hotel at Calle Hermosilla just after the Plaza de Colon with windows looking over it. Now it is a Melia Hotels property. The hotel is an icon for us as well. We even have visited couple times afterward! Decorations inside are the same!

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Other memorable moment of this Plaza de Colon is that upon visiting with my girlfriend we needed to take money out, first time needed to do this in Spain for me!. Looking ,asking finally at the hotel there was a Barclays bank across from Colon Square or Plaza Colon, 2  and we did!  Well the Barclays left ,after 50 years at this location,, in July 2018 ; it now says my sources will have a mix office business stores at that location. Here just for the memories!

Just below the wax museum, you have the Casino de Madrid, yes a Casino!! At Paseo de Recoletos, 37-41 which is just south of the Plaza de Colon. And just a bit further down one my hunts with my mother and later wife, the Restaurante El Espejo, under new management ;  a glass deco resto very quaint and popular with Madrilenos. webpage: http://www.elespejonouveau.com/carta/

The Madrid tourist office on the Plaza de Colonhttps://www.esmadrid.com/en/tourist-information/plaza-colon

The Madrid tourist office on the Discovery America gardenhttps://www.esmadrid.com/en/tourist-information/jardines-descubrimiento

The Madrid tourist office on the Fernan Gomez Cultural Centerhttps://www.esmadrid.com/en/tourist-information/fernan-gomez-centro-cultural-de-la-villa

A nice place to walk , when you want to be away from the tourist centro areas and see the real working Madrid a bit. The Plaza de Colon is another must stop for me when in town, it brings lots of good memories for my soul. Hope you enjoy the post, and dare come over from centro.

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

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March 30, 2021

Plaza de Espana of Madrid!!!

And love to update for you and me this older post in my blog. This is a memorable square for me as came here first in 1970 looking for Don Quijote statue and even climb it as young teen in my crazy days!!! Love it; sadly too poor to have a camera then. Once back as a young adult was already more stable , had the camera but did not climb the statue … Anyway, came with the family and show them around, and then came back again, and again, always a must stop in Madrid for me. Hope you enjoy the update on the Plaza de España or Spain’s square of Madrid!

I like to bring up one that is very popular and better known for the literary history on it. I will talk about the Plaza de Espana. Many times came here with my dear late mother Gladys to seek history of our Spain, and play and get some refreshing afternoon splash on the fountain , and more… All again repeated bringing my girlfriend and the then dear late wife Martine, as well as the boys. The ladies always in our hearts.  The square is very central to many nice things to do and gorgeous parks , as well on the ending of the Gran Via and continuation into Calle de la Princesa all the way to the Faro de Moncloa and Arco de la Victoria, many times walk the beat , gorgeous just thinking about it.

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The Plaza de Espana was before inhabited by vegetable gardens irrigated by the stream of Leganitos, that started in the nearby fountain of Leganitos between the Gran Vía and Calle de la Princesa. The square  is located in the district of Moncloa-Aravaca and  Argüelles , at the western end of Gran Vía and north of the Royal Palace.  The Calles  de la Princesa, Leganitos, Bailen, Ferraz and La Cuesta de San Vicente can be found in this square, as well as the Gran Vía. And  with 36 900 square meters is among the largest squares in Spain.

It is best known for the statue at the center dedicated to the Spanish  writer Miguel de Cervantes y Saavedra and for the skyscrapers that border it that are the Edificio Espana (built 1953 with 117 meters/ 384 feet)  and the Torre Madrid (built 1957 with 142 meters/ 466 feet).  In front of the statue of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza, a pond of rectangular form is located that forms one of the most typical views of the Spanish capital, since just behind it see the buildings of Torre de Madrid and Edificio España. The constructive part of the monument is elaborated in granite, while the sculptural part was decided to be made in red stone from Sepúlveda ,and with some additions in bronze.This accomplishment was carried out on the occasion of the third centenary of the publication of the second part of Don Quijote, in 1915, and which continued with the centenary of the death of the writer (1616), in 1916.

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The sculptures that make up this emblematic monument have, on the one hand, a seated Cervantes and at the base of the monument, and under the feet of the writer, are the statues of Don Quijote and Sancho Panza. The set was finalized when the figures of Dulcinea and Aldonza Lorenzo were added, also characters of the Cervantes novel. Alluding to the universality of Don Quixote, the monument also contemplates the five continents, all of them reading the work of Cervantes. On the other side and above the fountains, is represented the Spanish Literature, dressed in period and holding a book with his right hand. The tree that predominates in the landscaping of the square is the olive tree, in homage to the Castilla La Mancha fields in the wanderings of Don Quijote and Sancho.

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There, you will also, find the House of Gallardo, built in 1911, considered one of the notable examples of the Art Nouveau style of architecture in the city. In the opposite corner is located, the Royal Asturian Mining Company Building, an architectural complex of great beauty; built between 1891 and 1899. Almost at the beginning of the Calle de la Princesa, is the Palace of Liria, an architectural ensemble that belongs to the House of Alba and has some notable gardens. Nearby, in Calle de Ferraz, you will find the Cerralbo museum (see post). A few meters from the museum, another of the obligatory visits is the temple of Debod,(see post) a funerary monument of Egyptian origin that moved to Madrid in 1970. The popular Gran Via, or the Senate building.

You get here by Metro station Plaza de España,  located on the eastern corner of the square service by line 3 and 10 and connection with the line 2 Noviciado ,as well as many bus lines. Parking by calle de San Bernardino, 4, between the metro stations Plaza de España and Noviciado good location behind the square.

The Madrid tourist office on the Plaza de Españahttps://www.esmadrid.com/en/tourist-information/plaza-de-espana

It is a memorable spot with many families even on weekend, sharing this beautiful spot with the world.  I remembered fondly and do stop by every chance of visiting the city which has been every year since 2003! I could not come to Spain without stopping in Madrid, if won’t feel the same…my family so kindly learned why and I thank them. They too became in love with the city, who wouldn’t! From Madrid to heaven and a hole in the sky to look down on it everyday!

Again, hope you have enjoy the post on the Plaza de España of Madrid, and thanks for reading me over these years, appreciated.

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

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March 30, 2021

Plaza de la Villa of Madrid!!

And here I am back updating revising my older posts on my sentimental city of my world, Madrid. This is an old square with lots of architecture and history in it. I like to give you this update of the Plaza de la Villa of Madrid, for you and me. Hope you enjoy it as I.

In my continuing saga of showing bits and part of my beloved Madrid , I come to a historical old spot of the old town.  Let me tell you about a hidden gem just off another old spot in my beloved Madrid. It was not my early hangout but later as a visitor. Some of the wonderful things you will see here are:

The Plaza de la Villa (formerly Plaza de San Salvador) is located in the historic Centro of Madrid, next to Calle Mayor. It has its origin in three small streets, corresponding to the primitive medieval layout of the city: the Calle del Codo appears on the east, the Calle del Cordon for the south and Calle de Madrid on the west. The House of Cisneros (16C), a Plateresque palace that closes the southern part of the square, and the Casa de la  Villa (17C), of Baroque style, one of the headquarters of the city Council of Madrid, located in the western zone of the square, is followed in antiquity. Although in 2007 the Mayor’s office moved to the Palacio de Cibeles ,part of the functions are still there on rooms in the western part.  The Plaza de la Villa was one of the main nuclei of medieval Madrid. Originally called and known as Plaza de San Salvador, by the Church of the same name that also gave the main street, and on whose porch were held the meetings of the city/town hall. By that name, Fuente de San Salvador, would be known popularly the first great ornamental source that the old Council of the town ordered to build in the square, still reigning Felipe III in the 15C, was given its current denomination, coinciding with the award of the title of Noble and Loyal Villa received by Madrid, from the hands of King Enrique IV of Castilla.

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Casa y Torre de los Lujanes , These two buildings, built in Gothic-Mudejar style, are the oldest, among those of a civil character, which are currently preserved in the city. Its construction dates from the 15C and its name refers to its first owners, the family of the Lujanes, rich merchants of Aragonese origin. From this lineage are retained several shields, which appear on the Gothic façade of the main facade.  According to tradition, the tower was housed King Francis I of France, made prisoner in the Battle of Pavia (1525). It is currently the headquarters of the Royal Academy of Moral and Political Sciences.

Casa de Cisneros ,  It is a house-palace, built in Plateresque style in the year 1537, at the behest of Benito Jiménez de Cisneros, nephew of Cardinal Cisneros, from whom it takes its name. The facade that faces the Plaza de la Villa was raised at the beginning of the 20C, when the City Council of Madrid acquired the property of the palace and proceeded to its reform to integrate it within the dependencies of the Casa de la Villa. The facade that leads to Calle de Sacramento, which was initially the main, is the one that gathers the greatest historical-artistic values, since it was barely modified during the aforementioned works of reform.  According to tradition, this palace served as a prison for Antonio Pérez , secretary of King Felipe II. In it was born the politician Álvaro de Figueroa y Torres, Count of Romanones. General Ramón María Narváez , one of  its inhabitants, died in this house.

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Casa de la Villa  , occupies the old lands  of the houses of the Marquis de Vallecerrato, Don Juan de Acuña, president of the Councils of Treasury, Indies and Castilla successively, until his death in 1615, moment in which it is acquired by the Madrid’s City Council which, since older days, met in the bordering  Church of the Savior (San Salvador), now gone. However, its refurbishment lasted until its inauguration in 1692. In this House lived the Duke of Osuna Don Pedro Girón when on the Holy Thursday of 1621 was made prisoner by order of the king.  Old City/Town Hall of Madrid (1693-2007 , when it was officially moved to the Palace of Cibeles). Its construction began at 1645, and was completed in 1693. The gallery of Tuscan columns of the facade that faces the main street is the work of Juan de Villanueva (1789).

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Monumento a Bazán . On the occasion of the third centenary of the death of the Marine Don Álvaro de Bazán, in 1888 the city council decided to erect a monument in the center of the square, which was not inaugurated until December 19, 1891. The bronze statue installed on a pedestal on whose back side can be read the verses that Lope de Vega dedicated to the honoree:  “El fiero turco en Lepanto; / en la Tercera el francés; / y en todo mar el inglés, / tuvieron de verme espanto. / Rey servido y patria honrada / dirán mejor quién he sido / por la Cruz de mi apellido / y por la cruz de mi espada.” Translated looks something like this:  “The fierce Turk in Lepanto; /In the third the French; /And in all the  sea the English,/had to see me in dismay. /served King and Fatherland honored/will say better who I have been/by the Cross of my surname/and by the Cross of my sword. ”  Bazán appears treading a Turkish flag, dressed in half armor and band of Captain General of the Navy on his chest, resting his left hand on the knob of his sword and carrying on the right a flare of general.

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The Madrid tourist office on the Plaza de la Villa: https://www.esmadrid.com/en/tourist-information/plaza-de-la-villa

There you go another bright spot on the many faces of Madrid. This is in Madrid center or centro district with plenty to keep you awake for several days me think. Hope you enjoy the Plaza de la Villa or City Square as I!

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

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March 30, 2021

Monasterio de las Descalzas Reales of Madrid!!

One of the most emblematic monuments of my beloved Madrid and on a nice old neighborhood ,, this is my Monasterio de las Descalzas Reales, a wonderful architecturally but hugely historical monastery. Right in the middle of the city you find this hugely important building for the history of Spain, and I like to tell you a bit more on it . Hope you enjoy it as I.

I came back as a visitor, maybe more curious of what I had around me, found out, there was a lot and of course with more money to enjoy these things. I came here and was completely amazed of the beauty, the history, and the care peaceful ways of this place. I came back with the family and each time is memorable; a must to visit in Madrid. If you like museums and go the golden triangle of Madrid, well ,do come here,point. I am talking about the Monasterio de las Descalzas Reales in the Plaza de las Descalzas Reales, with parking underground right across The Monastery of the Descalzas Reales; a must to see while your time in Madrid!!

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Let me tell you briefly the long history of this wonderful spot in Madrid.

The Monastery of Our Lady of the Visitation, located in Madrid and better known as the Royal Barefoot, is a monastery of cloistered nuns, Clarisas Coletinas, founded in 1559 by Juana of Austria, daughter of king Charles V and Isabella of Portugal , widow of Prince Juan Manuel of Portugal, sister of the King of Spain Felipe II and mother of the future Portuguese King Don Sebastián. It is located in the heart of Madrid, in the Plaza de las Descalzas Reales, near the Puerta del Sol, Plaza de Celenque and Calle de Preciados. It is a 16C classicist building that houses in its interior important works of art. Part of the monastery is currently dedicated to museum that you can visit.

Here and in front of the building of the monastery was proclaimed on several occasions the Kings and hailed to the princess  of Asturias, raising for the occasion a plank and a canopy. In the 19C was placed in the middle of the square the source of the Mariblanca that was previously in the Puerta del Sol and that today is in the interior of the Casa de la Villa, (at the Puerta del Sol there is a replica at present). Today you can see two statues, one in bronze dedicated to Francisco Piquer in homage to his work of creation of the Monte de Piedad. Another dedicated to the Marquis of Pontejos (Joaquín Vizcaino).. See post on Puerta del Sol.

The chronicles mention that in 1339 the first courts in Madrid were held in this palace. (in the Plateresque courtyard of the cloister of the monastery, the shields of an unknown nobleman are preserved as testimony.) In the 16C, the former palace that had been mentioned belonged to the Imperial Treasurer Alonso Gutiérrez of Madrid, who on more than one occasion gave shelter to the emperor Charles I. In this House several children were born among them the smallest, Juana, who later founded in the same site this monastery of the Descalzas Reales (Royal barefoot).  Juana  of Austria was the founder of the monastery of the Royal barefoot. In 1559, the day of the assumption took place the grand opening party of the monastery, even though the church was still not built. There was a solemn procession in which king Felipe II and the whole Royal family participated. In 1564 the Church was completed and the Holy Sacrament was placed on the main altar on the day of Conception.

In 1580 the monastery accomodated Mary of Austria, widow of the Emperor Maximilian II of Habsburg, who arrived with her thirteen-year-old daughter, Margaret. The Empress adopted the Community regime and her daughter professed as a nun Mary of Austria died on February 21, 1603, asking in her will to be buried at the foot of the altar of the garden prayer, in the low cloister, with a plain stone and smooth as a headstone. Thirteen years later Felipe III moved the corpse to a luxurious sepulcher made of marble and bronze, placed in the choir of the church.

.The Archduchess Marguerite of Austria, who became Sister Marguerite of the Cross, died there in 1633. She is buried in the monastery, as her mother the Empress Mary of Habsburg , daughter of Emperor Charles V and wife of Emperor Maximilian II as well as Princes Alphonse , François  and Gonzalve  of Bourbon, elders of the descendants of the kings of France.  In 1559, the day of the assumption the community of Coletinas entered at last in the monastery, in solemn procession. Throughout history were several nuns of Royal Blood, besides Juana of Austria and Mary of Austria.

These were: Infanta Margarita, daughter of Mary of Austria,  Infanta Ana Dorotea of Austria, daughter of the Emperor Rudolph II, who took the habit at the age of twelve and died in 1694 with eighty two years;  Infanta Maria de la Cruz and Austria, who died in 1715, with seventy four years,  Infanta Catalina Maria de Este, daughter of the princes of Modena, granddaughter of the Infanta Catherine and the Duke of Savoy, who took the habit at eight years of age in 1622 and died in 1628 without age of profess.

Margaret of the Cross, daughter of John Joseph of Austria, granddaughter by paternal line of Felipe IV and by maternal line of the painter José de Ribera. She entered the convent at the age of five and left its habits on September 17, 1681 coinciding with the second anniversary of her father’s death. On September 3, 1715 King Felipe V dictated a royal decree that granted the perpetual title of Grande de España to all the abbess of the Barefoot.:(Descalzas).

During the Spanish Civil War the monastery was deprived of its community. However, he was cared for and protected, putting its works of art safely. They fell on it some bombs which produced malfunctions mostly in the vault of the staircase and in the choir which was destroyed. The restoration was carried out during the same years of the war when, among other things, the deteriorated roof tile was changed by a new slate. After the war, the nuns came back. In the middle years of the 20C was built in the square of the barefoot an underground parking (I park here too) whose works affected the building slightly. On this occasion it was restored and consolidated, conditioning some of its dependencies to be visited on a tour.

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Some of the things to see inside the Monasterio de las Descalzas Reales are

The Cloister of this monastery (or closing yard) is famous for the processions that take place in it during the Holy Week, especially the one of Good Friday, in which the holy burial leaves, with old music of the time of the foundation of the monastery. In this event procession a Christ recumbent of Gaspar Becerra that is carried to rods (without urn). They are used for the occasion (as in the procession of the Corpus Christi) rich liturgical clothes and sometimes hang in the walls of the four pandas of the cloister the tapestries with the theme of the Eucharistic Apotheosis, produced in the Flemish looms of Raes and Geubels. The courtyard has a total of sixty six pieces of marble. The shafts of the columns are cylindrical and slender and show an influence of the Sevillian palaces

The ornamentation of the great staircase, with mural paintings and on canvas, was carried out in different eras. The second section depicts the royal balcony, with the Kings Felipe IV and his wife Mariana of Austria, with the Infanta Maria and the Prince Felipe prosper, indicating that there was to be carried out before 1661, date of the death of the latter.

Capilla del Milagro , this Chapel of the Miracle, and decoration was done on the wishes of  Juan José de Austria, step brother of king Carlos II (you can see the inscription on site) that had a daughter born outside marriage in the Monastery, Margarita de la Cruz , sister profess in 1666(Marguerite of the Cross).

The majestic classic building houses a museum of major works of art . Among the many relics on display are putatively pieces from Christ’s Cross and the bones of Saint Sebastian. Among the priceless art masterpieces are Titian’s Caesar’s Money, tapestries woven to designs by Rubens, and works by Hans de Beken and Brueghel the Elder.  The museum collection also includes such rarities as portraits of Royal children of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth from the late 16C referring to Polish–Spanish relations that inspired Calderón’s La Vida es Sueño (Life is a dream). Portraits of the son and daughter of King Sigismund of Poland were painted by Martin Kober in 1596 and were sent as a gift to King Philip III of Spain. A wonderful historical arts museum that need to be seen!

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Some webpages to help you plan your trip ,and a must to see are:

The Madrid tourist office on the Monastery: https://www.esmadrid.com/en/tourist-information/monasterio-de-las-descalzas-reales

The National Heritage of Spain on the Monastery: https://www.patrimonionacional.es/en/visita/monastery-las-descalzas-reales

Again, see it and come back to tell me otherwise. The Monasterio de las Descalzas Reales is a gem to be seen by all. Hope you enjoy the post.

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

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March 27, 2021

Parque del Oeste of Madrid!!!

And here again, find myself updating a memorable space in a sentimental city for me. I have lots of memories of this histocal park in Madrid with lots of youthful exhuberant activities… I have many posts on Madrid in my blog and this one deserves an update/revision. Hope you enjoy the Parque del Oeste or western park of Madrid!

My lovely park another memory that cannot resist visit every year, lucky now that I can do that. My beloved Madrid and my wonderful Parque del Oeste.  So many things here to do other than basic stuff you can do in a park. There monuments such as the magnificent Temple of Debod (see post),and the cable car to Casa de Campo (see post on teleferico) , just fantastic. This is another park you should visit wholly while in Madrid.

Parque del Oeste or western park has 8 hectares, located in the area of Princesa, where the temple of Debod shine in all its splendor. It was installed on the remains of the barracks of the mountain (Cuartel de la Montana) according to the same solar orientation that had in its place of origin. The garden enjoys magnificent views of the country house, the park, and the Sierra. It is officially at Calle Ferraz, 1 and the best to get there by metro Plaza de Espana line 2,3 and 10, Principe Pio lines 6,10,and Radial, as well as Moncloa lines 3 and 6, and Ventura Rodríguez on line 3. It is specifically located between the Carretera de Coruna or expressway , Ciudad Universitaria (university city) and the district of Moncloa, between the avenue of the Arco de la Victoria and the Paseo del Pintor Rosales, to the east; linea del ferrocarril or railroad line, west and Avenida de Seneca, north. They cross it inside, the Paseo de Roberto Chapi, Paseo de Camoens and Calle Francisco and Calle Jacinto Alcántara.

Inside there is an artificial estuary of about 600 meters in length. A cedar tree call “El Abuelo ” or grandfather (Cedrus Atlantica), catalogued as a singular tree, two specimens of Sophora “Pendulum “, a majestic Ginko, the Choperas of Populus nigra and the plantations on the edge of the estuary of Corylus, Cornus, etc. At the end of the Paseo de Platanos (bananas), which runs along this area, you can contemplate various species of birds in the center of AviFauna, such as different birds etc., providing information panels.

Before the 20C, the land currently occupied by the park was the city’s main garbage dump . The work began in 1893 and the first phase was inaugurated in 1905. This phase comprised an approximate area of 87 hectares between the current streets of Moret, and Seneca,and Paseo de Camoens, today Paseo de Camos. In 1906 continued the works of the second phase, reaching the mountain barracks (present location of the Temple of Debod). It was spread parallel to the Paseo del Pintor Rosales, on old dumps. During the Spanish Civil War the Parque del Oeste became battlefield of the Battle of the University city, opening trenches and building bunkers that still today can be seen in its far north. Once the war was over, Cecilio Rodríguez, responsible for the municipal parks, took care of his reconstruction, which lasted until the end of the 1940s. During the years 1956 and 1973 it was extended, occupying the grounds of the Cuartel de la Montana, building the Rosaleda and the Parque de la Montana , placing it at the current Temple of Debod.

You have several monuments ,statues, busts in the park ,but the obvious must are:(pictures in individual posts)

The Téléferico or cable car connects from 1967 the Parque del Oeste with that of Casa del Campo. The three gun bunkers of the Republican side that are retained of the twenty that were installed during the Spanish Civil War. Its magnificent Rosaleda (pic ent below) with more than 15,000 m2 and 20,000 roses from all corners of the planet.  The Temple of Debod, a gift from the Egyptian people to Madrid for having helped them avoid the floods that would have caused the Aswan dam. It is from the 2C BC and is dedicated to the Egyptian gods Isis and Amon; A lookout or viewpoint next to the Temple of Debod have a splendid views and the light in this place is amazing.

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Others are the Fountain of Juan de Villanueva,Monumento al Maestro or the master, Bust of Jaime I, bust of Paul Harris,. Monument to José de San Martín in the north end of the park. Monument to the Infanta Isabel . Statue of General José Gervasio de Artigas (Argentina). A statue of a Nymphe , statue to the poet Miguel Hernández, the statue of the Blessed Virgin, the equestrian sculpture of Simón Bolívar, the monument to the fallen of the Cuartel de la Montana.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are:

The long webpage of the city of Madrid on Parque del Oeste in Spanish: https://www.madrid.es/portales/munimadrid/es/Inicio/El-Ayuntamiento/Parques-y-jardines/Patrimonio-Verde/Parques-en-Madrid/Parque-del-Oeste/?vgnextfmt=default&vgnextoid=0a57899a90c7e210VgnVCM2000000c205a0aRCRD&vgnextchannel=38bb1914e7d4e210VgnVCM1000000b205a0aRCRD

The Madrid tourist office on Parque del Oeste in English:  https://www.esmadrid.com/en/tourist-information/parque-del-oeste

Again ,another dandy in my beautiful Madrid! One of the nature activities spots you cannot miss visiting the city and enjoying its many spots along a wonderful residential area. Hope you enjoy the Parque del Oeste as I do.

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

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March 27, 2021

The Real Jardines Botanico of Madrid!!!

Love to update this older post for you and me, this is a memorable park  ,one of the first ones I ever visited in Madrid since 1970. In my quest to update and revise these old post, I had a great satisfaction of re living these wonderful places of mine. Hope you enjoy it as I. Let me tell you a bit on the Real Jardines Botanico or the  Royal Botanical Gardens of Madrid!

My continuing saga to show the beauty of my beloved Madrid continuos. This is something you come as a child and sticks with you. My dear late mom Gladys brought me here first, and then I took my dear late wife Martine, and then with my boys and then again. It is very nice, educational and family fun for all.  This is a treasure chest of history and fun knowledge right in the famous triangle of museums of Madrid. I have posts that talks about it , but this is the first time alone and well worth it.

The current site of the botanical garden or the Real Jardin Botanico is not accidental and responds to the interest of the enlightened monarch, Carlos III, to create a complex dedicated to the natural sciences in Madrid. That is why it was located next to what today is the Prado Museum, which at the end of the 18C was the Museum of Natural Sciences. The scientific spirit is currently preserved as the space is managed by the Higher Council for Scientific Research, which organizes a multitude of activities of an informative nature, such as conferences and exhibitions. Its collections include a herbarium with more than a million spreads, the library and archive, with about 10,000 drawings, as well as the sample of 5,000 species of living plants. Located officially at Plaza de Murillo, 2,and best going there on Metro Atocha line 1, Atocha Renfe train station metro stop and line 2 Banco de Espana.

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A bit of history I like

Founded by Royal Order of 17 October 1755 by King Fernando VI in the spot of Soto de Migas Calientes, near the Manzanares River, king Carlos III ordered the transfer to his current situation in 1781,at Paseo del Prado, next to the Museum of Natural Sciences that was being built (current Prado Museum). King Felipe II created the botanical garden at the behest of the Doctor Andrés Laguna, next to the Royal Palace of Aranjuez. Later, king Fernando VI installed in 1755 by the orchard of Migas Calientes (currently Iron gate=Puerta del Hierro, on the banks of the Manzanares river) creating the Royal Botanical Garden. The continuous extension of the garden led king Carlos III to give instructions in 1774 to move it to its current location in the Paseo del Prado , within the program of management of the Prado and Atocha construction.

That between 1774 and 1781 year of the inauguration with a distribution in three levels, and part of the enclosure, which highlights the Royal gate (Paseo del Prado). On this basis, between 1785 and 1789 a second and definitive project was carried out, more rational and according to the scientific and educational function that the garden should have. It occupied an area of 10 hectares distributed in three terraced levels that adapted to the orography of the terrain, arranged in the form of Square barracks, following an octagonal layout and topped in the corners with circular fountains. The two lower ones Terraza de los Cuadros and Terraza de las Escuelas Botanicas remain today as they were built, while the superior one Terraza del Plano de la Flor was remodeled in the 19C with landscaped features. The enclosure was closed by an elegant iron gate, seated on granite stone and had two access doors: the aforementioned Real Puerta de Sabatini, Classic style with doric columns and pediment, and another secondary, In front of the Prado Museum, which currently accesses the enclosure ,current Plaza de Murillo.

The garden became the recipient of the recipient of the scientific expeditions that sponsored the Crown in this period. Between the 18C and 19C it participated in the development of at least five scientific expeditions, including the Royal Botanical Expedition of the New Kingdom of Granada (present-day Colombia), the botanical expedition to the Viceroyalty of Peru, the Royal Botanical Expedition to New Spain (present-day Mexico), the expedition around the world, and the Scientific commission of the Pacific now Philippines . It contains approximately 5,000 different species of trees and plants around the world.  In 1857, important reforms were carried out that still persist, such as the cold stove that bears its name and the renovation of the upper terrace. Also at that time a zoo was installed, which twelve years later moved to the Retiro park (where it would be known as a zoo Casa de Fieras) in 1893, opens the calle de los libreros (street of booksellers and popularly known as Cuesta de Claudio Moyano) and cutting one end of the main body of the garden, so its surface is reduced to the current eight hectares.

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The before mentioned terraces are:

Terraza de los Cuadros (or portraits) is the terrace located below and the most spacious of all. It includes the collections of ornamental plants, medicinal, antique rose, aromatic and orchard and fruit trees, within the geometric tables formed with hedges of boxwood that surround small sources (fontanels) in the central axis of the tables. At the end of the central promenade of this first terrace you will find the coral rock spot.

Terraza de las Escuelas Botanicas ( botanical schools) ;this second terrace is a little smaller than the previous one. This terrace shows the taxonomic collection of plants. Ordered phylogenetically by families, around twelve sources are located. You can take a tour of the plant kingdom from the most primitive plants to the most evolved.

Terraza del Plano de la Flor (map of the flower) this is the highest terrace and a little more reduced, with a romantic style. It is divided into twenty-five figures or bedding curvilinear, limited by hedges of Durillo, four roundabouts and a central roundabout with a pond and a bust of Carlos Linnaeus. On the north flank of this terrace are the greenhouse Graells, a structure of the 19C, where we find tropical plants, aquatic and bryophytes. Next to the former is the largest and most modern greenhouse, the Exhibicion or exhibition, which is divided into three environments with different requirements of temperature and humidity (tropical, temperate and desert).

Terraza Alta o de los Laureles (High Terrace or laurels) , this terrace added as an extension of the garden in 2005, is of much smaller dimensions than the previous ones and is behind the Villanueva pavilion. Destined to host special collections, here is the Bonsai collection donated by the Spanish former President Felipe González.

You find as well the most important herbarium in Spain, bringing together nearly a million spreads, some from the 18C. It is composed of: the Fanerogamia Herbarium, the Cryptogamia herbarium and the historical collections. The latter gather the plants collected in the scientific expeditions carried out during the 18C and 19C.

The Library of the Royal Botanical Garden was formed at the same time as the garden grew. In 1781 it had some 151 works of which 83 were of botany, 19 of Natural history and 49 of Chemistry. Currently at last count, the library consists of some 30 000 books of everything related to botany, 2075 titles of periodic publications, some 26 000 leaflets or separate chucks , 3000 titles in microfiche, 2500 maps. It has facilities and equipment suitable for Internet consultation, reading and reproduction, on paper, microfiche and microfilm, photocopying of books and magazines and scanning zenith.

The Germplasm Bank since its foundation, the Royal Botanical Garden maintains a seed exchange with other institutions around the world. The relationship of the seeds that can be exchanged is published annually in a publication called Index Seminum, which is distributed to more than 500 gardens and research centers. From 1987, with the construction of a refrigeration chamber where they can be stored at low temperature, dried and hermetically sealed, the conditions of conservation of the seeds were improved. This improvement allowed to extend the viability period of the seeds, so it was decided to carry out collection campaigns throughout the state.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here ,and a must visit me think are:

The official webpage of the Royal Botanical Garden of Madridhttp://www.rjb.csic.es/jardinbotanico/jardin/

The Madrid tourist office on the Royal Botanical Gardenhttps://www.esmadrid.com/en/tourist-information/real-jardin-botanico

The Superior Council of Scientific Investigation on the Royal Botanical Garden of Madridhttps://www.csic.es/es/investigacion/institutos-centros-y-unidades/real-jardin-botanico

The Digital Library of the Royal Botanical garden of Madridhttps://bibdigital.rjb.csic.es/en/

There you go folks, a wonderful space worthy of a visit or two, the Royal Botanical Garden or Real Jardin Botanico of Madrid is awesome, educational, scientific, and naturally beautiful. It should be fun for the whole family, and to be enjoy as we do.

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

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March 25, 2021

Cathedral of Alcalà de Henares!

Oh these are always a big task, gorgeous monument, wonderful architecture, and beautiful history. Cathedrals are like a book once you go in, you will understand the history of the city , country etc much better. I have been lucky to have seen some of the best ones and now will show you one in a wonderful university town of Don Quijote’s fame! This is simply the Cathedral of Alcalà de Henares. Hope you enjoy the updated post as I.

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We really like this town coming back repeated times, and me way before since childhood.  I introduce my dear late wife Martine to these wonderful places and she came  to love them too.  Let me tell you, about Alcalà de Henares and especially the Cathedral.  The place is famous for the Cervantes house and museum and especially the University, but to us the Cathedral was more impacting and the bars/restos around it were sublime ,never to forget.

Alcala de Henares has the Cathedral or Catedral Magistral de los Santos Justo y Pastor, children martyrs of the faith. This was a great Church and wonderful bell tower that you climb 140 steps right from the spot where the children Justo and Pastor were massacred and became Saint Justos and Saint Pastor. It offers a spectacular view of the city after climbing the helicoidally staircase.  You will see wonderful chapels and the tomb of Cardinal Cisneros that together with Queen Isabel I the Catholic were instrumental in Columbus discovery of new lands  in America.  The cloister also has a nice collection of statues and stones found in the area.

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The Gothic Church Magistral is raised to Cathedral Magistral of Santo Justo y Santo Pastor (the boys).  It is dedicated to Mary Magdalene and it is Magistral since all its priests are doctors in Theology only one of two which is Magistral (the other is St Peter in Louven Belgium). It was built in 1514 in a isabeline gothic style.  The story goes that in Roman Hispania there was a period of great persecution of Christians under the government of emperor Diocletian ; during his period happened the martyrdom of the Saints Justo and Pastor, boys of 7 and 9 years old executed in 304 outside of Alcalà de Henares for their refusal to refuse Christianism.

The Cathedral outside is simple and austere, while inside it is divided into three naves call Centro, Evangelic, and Epistolary. In the Centro nerf you will find the urn of silver and gold in a crypt where the remains of the boys Saints are kept and a stone where they were martyred. These relics were transferred to Huesca and then to France to avoid destruction by the Arab/moors.  The walls onn the exterior are covered with Segovian lettering and you look at the front gate of a gothic style with a central medallion representing Saint Ildefonso, and the high tower in the renaissance style at 62 meters high, on top there is nice chapter in the Herediano style.  It has a Cloister of the 17C with arcs and pillars, the floors are covered with renaissance carpets coming from different convents in the city. From the cloister you go to the  Sala Capitular (capitulary room) and the old library.

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The interior the Church is divided in three nerfs covered with vaults on top of pillars. The Church looks like a traditional Latin cross with a transept. It lost quite a bit during the Spanish Civil War with many works of arts and historical objects. On top of its religious duties the Church Cathedral houses a center for the interpretations and a museum. The Central nerf rises over the lateral nerfs without a main altar on a gothic style and portraits showing the passion of Christ. In the presbytery you see a table given by Pope Sixtus V to king Felipe II The space is preceded by the image of the Virgen of Cisneros and enclosed by a wrough iron gate that survived the fire of 1936. On the girola or dome like you see the Crypt of the Saints Justo and Pastor where an urn is preserve with silver and gold lining (1702), where the remains of the Saints and the stone on which they were martyrize are kept.

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The nerf of Epistolary is located where the most important Chapels and the parish of St Peter. This later one built in 1622; showing a gate in granite Stone in the Herediano style and a Baroque interior with a half orange dome. The Chapel of the Virgin of the Valley is the Patron Saint of Alcalà de Henares. It has a half point arc entrance venerating inside the incorrupt corp of San Diego de Alcalà that is shown to the faithful every November 13 day of the Saint. From the eleven Chapels that originally counted the Cathedral only five remain as well as the sides of other six painted on the wall meaning a missing space. After the Church was elevated to Cathedral important excavation work was done and burials of the 16C, 17C and 18C were found.

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There is a nice Museo Diocesano or Diocese Museum opened in 1997 showing a monographic portrayal of the boy Saints Justo and Pastor as well as the sepulcher of Archbishop Carrillo in addition to showing the Treasury that includes objects of jewelry, paintings, arts, and liturgical costumes.

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Some webpages to help you plan your trip here to this wonderful town of Alcalà de Henares!

The official webpage of the Cathedral of Alcalà de Henareshttp://www.visitascatedraldealcala.org/

The Alcalà de Henares tourist office on the Cathedral: https://www.turismoalcala.es/turismo/monumento-catedral-magistral/

The city of Alcalà de Henares on public transports: https://movilidad.ayto-alcaladehenares.es/

There you go ,I hope you like it as we did, it is the real deal in my beloved Spain indeed.  The Catedral Magistral of Saint Justo and Saint Pastor of Alcalà de Henares is awesome. And remember, happy travels, good health ,and many cheers to all!!!

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