Posts tagged ‘Spain’

July 31, 2021

Monument to Chambord in Sainte Anne d’Auray!

Let me take you to an off the beaten path site in a very popular town of my beautiful Morbihan , and lovely Bretagne. This is in the city of Sainte Anne d’Auray near me where I past by several times a week. I have written briefly on it in several posts but feel deserves a post of its own, therefore ,here it is for you.  Enjoy it for the history of it, usually only written by the victors. I will tell you a bit more on the Monument to the Count of Chambord!

The monument statue to the Count of ChambordDuke of Bordeaux  . This is in honor of the support the count of Chambord had for Bretagne.  The monument to the Count of Chambord was erected in 1891 in Sainte Anne d’Auray , in memory of Henri d’Artois, claiming the Crown of France as Henri V.

A bit of history I like

During the attempt to restore Henri V, a pilgrimage was organized by the royalists of western France at Sainte Anne d’Auray to pray for the King’s return to the throne. The latter is maintained every year on 29 September, the anniversary of the birth of the Prince, until his death in 1883. As a result of this, a subscription was launched and allowed to acquire the land as well as built the  five statues. On 20 February 1889, a civil society, known as the “Société de Saint-Henri”, was created for the purpose of the erection and maintenance of a Memorial of Monsieur Le Comte de Chambord. This group buys the land destined for the monument which is finally realized in 1891. A wall and a grid are installed in 1897, but the originally planned garden does not see the day, due to lack of sufficient funding until 2012.

The annual pilgrimage, more or less abandoned after WWI, was revived in 1983 at the initiative of the Union of Legitimized Circles of France. In 2012, the monument was restored and the garden finally realized. On 31 May 2015, Prince Louis de Bourbon, Duke of Anjou and Burgundy (heir king as Louis XX) and his wife Princess Marie-Marguerite went there during a ceremony organized in their tribute, on the occasion of their official visit to the Morbihan. And I follow up!

The monument is located in near of the Basilica of Sainte-Anne d’Auray, about 700 meters to the west,direction Brech,  the monument consists of a summary statue in cast iron of the Count of Chambord, depicted on his knees and in Sacred outfit, placed on a granite pedestal. At its four faces it has the two saint patrons of France and Paris; Sainte Jeanne d’Arc in front and Sainte Geneviève in the back, as well as the two great heroes of the French chevalry, Bayard to the left and Du Guesclin to the right, all four standing.


A bit on who was the Count of Chambord as he is generally known.

Henri (born 29 September 1820) is the son of the Duke of Berry, murdered on 13 February 1820 by Louvel and the grandson of king Charles X. On August 2, 1830, Charles X abdicated in his favor, but Henri followed his grandfather in exile in England. His mother, Marie Caroline de Bourbon, attempted to raise an army in battle in the west of France in 1832 , her attempt fails. In 1833, Henri V was 13 years old and considered a adult. He followed king Charles X in exile in Prague after England. After the fall of the Empire in 1870, the legitimists Royals tried to impose the restoration of the Bourbons on the throne of France. This restoration failed because Henri categorically refused the Tricolor flag (French revolutionaries and current flag of France), prefering the White flag (Royal) to be use. With him disappears the eldest branch of the Bourbon.

As he is very much connected to the Castle of Chambord (see post) that was his once, there is a whole room on him there including his letter refusing the king’s title on the flag issue. The museum piece on the Count and the letter display. You can see my blog posts on Chambord. You can see his story there in remarkable personages page in English:

Some further webpages to help you plan your trip are:

The official Count of Chambord webpage in French:

The official Union of Legitimized Circles of France (Royals) on Chambord

The official Royal Prince Louis heir to be Louis XX king of France

There you go folks, an interesting other history of France that even today still has conversation talks in my neck of the woods, still Catholic and Royal. Hope you enjoy it, the monument to the Count of Chambord in Sainte Anne d’Auray. A great excuse to stop by the Basilica Ste Anne (see post).

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

July 29, 2021

The Estanque Grande del Parque del Buen Retiro of Madrid!!!

And I take you to my dear beloved Madrid again. Of course , written plenty on this wonderful city, and as well on the Retiro park. This time I like to concentrate on the big pond in it or the Estanque Grande del Buen Retiro in Spanish full name. I like to tell you details of it but mostly its history, as do not want to repeat myself. Here is my take on the Retiro park big pond! OK great news, just name to the Unesco World Heritage list , Parque del Buen Retiro I knew it!!!

The Estanque Grande del Buen Retiro or the Grand Pond of the Good Retreat, popularly known as the Retiro Estanque or Pond, is an extension of an artificial body of water, located in the Retiro Park. It was created in the first half of the 17C as one of the most important landscape elements of the Buen Retiro,an ancient possession of the Spanish Crown arising during the reign of Felipe IV. Its ownership corresponds, since 1868, to the City Of Madrid, as well as the landscaped spaces on which the current public park was formed. With an area of 37 240 m2 and a volume of water of 55 150 m3, it has a jetty that allows recreational navigation and the holding of rowing and canoeing competitions. On its banks are the Monument to Alfonso XII and the Egyptian Fountain.



A bit of history I like

The Estanque Grande was built in the context of the works of the Buen Retiro, a set of palaces and gardens promoted in 1632 by the Count-Duke of Olivares for the enjoyment of King Felipe IV. In its location, it was occupied of a primitive pond, from the time of Felipe II who frequented the old Royal room of the Monastery of the Jeronimos,(see post) around which the Palace of the Buen Retiro would end up forming. According to some historians, it would be the pond that the aforementioned monarch had to make on the occasion of the entry into Madrid of his fourth wife, Queen Anne of Austria , and where a naval battle was staged in her honor. Although there is no written proof of this story, only the thought of historians.

Apart from the playful function that the Estanque Grande would eventually develop, its creation was mainly motivated by the need to have a large water reserve that guaranteed the supply to both the palace and the gardens and fountains. Hence four Ferris wheels were enabled on its banks, which extracted the water for distribution to different points of the complex. In addition to facilitating the practice of fishing, they had a scenic function within the theatrical performances that were held there especially during the reign of Felipe IV. According to the chronicles of the time, one of the most applauded performances was El mayor encanto, amor, or the greatest charm, love, of Calderón de la Barca that was staged in 1635, in the first Estanque Grande, with sketches of Cosme Lotti . Nautical simulations of naval combat were also carried out, using scale-made military ships and artifice fires. They were so numerous that the Royal site came to have its own fleet, integrated not only by military vessels, but also by gondolas and falúas, that made it possible to sail through the pond. In the Museum of Falúas Reales (Royal boats) , in Aranjuez exhibits a golden gondola belonging to this fleet, which King Carlos II commissioned in Naples, in 1686.

Recreational navigation was also practiced in the Rio Grande or El Mallo, a canal that started at the end of the pond and ended, after forming a circle and forking, in the lobbed estuary of San Antonio de los Portugueses (St Anthony of the Portuguese), a hermitage that was located on an artificial island, approximately where today stands the Fountain of the Fallen Angel (Fuente del Angel Caido). The Estanque Grande was surrounded by a lush forest, whose plantation began in 1638 and lasted until 1642. At that time, it should also have been carried out to afforestation of the Rio Grande, with a double row of trees on its edges.  In 1767 King Carlos III allowed public access to the compound, under certain restrictions, and established as a limit of the visits one of the banks of the Estanque Grande. During the War of Independence (1808-1814) the Buen Retiro was used as a barracks of Napoleonic troops, which caused significant damage to both the palace and the gardens, including the pond. With the arrival of king Fernando VII in 1814, its recovery was carried out, while new architectural elements were created The largest, the disappeared Royal Pier, was built in 1817 on the east bank, where the Monument to Alfonso XII is today. On the southern bank was built the Egyptian Fountain, which does stand still today.

During the reign of Fernando VII, the public visit to the gardens was still allowed, except for an area, called El Reservado (the Reserve), which the king took it for his personal enjoyment. In 1867, his daughter Queen Isabel II went a step further and allowed public navigation within the Estanque Grande, by leasing the facilities. In 1867, the boating service was inaugurated, with the assistance of professional rowers, and subsequently the first hotel establishments were opened on the banks. After the Revolution of 1868, which led to the dethroning of Isabel II, the Real Sitio del Buen Retiro (Royal Site of the Good Retreat) passed into the hands of the City Council of Madrid, which would make it a public park, with what the Estanque Grande went on as under municipal management.  In the first two decades of the 20C the physiognomy of the Estanque Grande changed substantially again, as a result of the construction of the Monument to the Spanish Fatherland personified in King Alfonso XII (better known as monument to Alfonso XII) on the shores, right in the place occupied by the Royal jetty. In 1917 the jetty was made that was to be definitive, this time on the northern bank and not on the east, like the previous ones. Six years later, in 1926, the jetty that has arrived to this day was built, as well as the lockers and surveillance posts annexed.

Some interesting facts I like

The Estanque Grande or big pond   has been dried several times throughout its history. This was proceeded in 1964, due to the filming of the film The Fabulous World, where it was used as a stage. In 1982 and 2001 it was emptied again, this time for cleaning, maintenance and repair. In 2001 it had to be waterproofed, since it was losing about 5000 liters a day. In 2001 it was completely emptied to repair it, and when the water disappeared they came to light, among others things , the following treasures: 192 chairs, 40 boats, 41 tables, 20 bins, 9 wooden benches, 3 containers, 19 town hall fences, 50 mobile phones, a gum vending machine, several shopping carts, numerous skateboards and an open empty safe. The Estanque Grande is inhabited by about 8,000 fishes, most of them carp although there are also other species such as catfish or pond perch. It also has other beings such as tortoises or crabs. As for the flora, there are several tree plantations on its banks, belonging to six main species: the false acacia, the white poplar, the chestnut tree of the Indies, the cedar of Lebanon, white eucalyptus and the shade banana trees.



At its deepest point, the pond measures 1.81 meters. Its dimensions are 280 meters long by 140 meters wide. Inside, 55,000 cubic meters of water can fit. During the reign of queen Isabel II, the Paseo de las Estatuas (later christened Argentina) was opened, which touches the west bank with the Puerta de España (Spanish Gate). After the transfer of the Real Sitio to the City of Madrid in 1868, the Avenida de México was inaugurated, which links its northwest angle with the Puerta de la Independencia (Puerta de Alcalà), through the Fuente de los Galapagos. The pond is bounded by four main tracks. The Calle de Nicaragua runs along its west side, while The Plaza del Maestro Villa passes through the back of the Monument to Alfonso XII, marking the eastern flank. To the north extends the Paseo del Estanque and to the south the Paseo de Venezuela.


The tourist office of Madrid on the Estanque Grande of the Retiro park:

Needsless to say as done it in previous blog but for short, I used to lived not far from it and it was  my park; the city limits of Madrid ended there really as the centro was for the visitors and a lot more today. The park has become very popular as well but it is big so all can fit in! My quickest entry was the Puerta de Hernani and the big entrance was at by the Puerta de la Independencia facing the Puerta de Alcalà on Calle de Alcalà ,my street! Memories forever and a must stop by me and now family when in town. It could be your memorable moment too, Retiro Park is awesome!


Hope you enjoy the park and the pond with me many memories that have lasted over the years and with my family too. Estanque Grande del Buen Retiro is sublime, and Madrid awesome! I shall return!!!

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

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July 25, 2021

Torre del Homenaje and Iglésia de San Andrés in Villarejo de Salvanés!

This is again the wonderful opportunity due to the times to spend time updating my older posts in my blog. It has been a wonderful rollercoaster ride with lots of memories and thrills! One of this was our road warrior trips in the Comunidad de Madrid of my beloved Spain. This time let me tell you about the Homage tower, and the Saint Andrews Church of Villarejo de Salvanés! Hope you enjoy it as I.  So let’s go to my beloved Spain and gorgeous Madrid community region that is just wonderful me think. Again, these I have written before a while back on a general passing sense, and I feel they need a bit more exposure in my blog. 

A bit of orientation first just to tell you ok. Villarejo de Salvanés is located at the km 48 of the expressway A3 Madrid-Valencia.  Some anecdote on the town I like on my history was that here in 1866, General Prim rose up against the government of O’Donnell and the Isabeline regime, failed coup.  Ahh for those in public transport you can easily go from Atocha in Madrid to the town on bus lines 351: Ronda de Atocha (Madrid)  Estremera – Barajas de Melo, bus line 352: Ronda de Atocha (Madrid) Fuentidueña – Tarancón,  and bus line 353: Atocha (Madrid) Villamanrique – Santa Cruz de la Zarza.

The Torre del Homenaje or tower of homage or castle of Villarejo of Salvanés, constitutes a unique architectural site in Spain. It belongs to the city/town hall of Villarejo de Salvanes. The castle of Villarejo of Salvanes was part of the defensive system that protected the passage by the old way of Toledo, as well as by the so-called Senda Galiana (Roman road that linked the Galia (France) and Hispania (Spain), in use during the Middle Ages). The castle of Villarejo of Salvanes was the seat of the special court of the military orders and, in the 19C, was accommodated as a refugee to Gen. Juan Martín Díez ,the subborn one ( Empecinado). Hero of the Spanish War of Independence, El Empecinado participated in several episodes, which became legendary, where he routed the Napoleonic army.



This is where we parked and walked around and my dear late wife Martine found a lady who told her where to buy groceries just around the corner in a Mercadona. She could speak Spanish/English too. My memories of always ok ;thanks. Another anecdote not told in original post is that on subsequent trips to the area we had thought of buying a house in this town on what would have been our next trip August 2018 . Unfortunately, she could not make it due to pancreatic cancer, ideas cut but not forgotten. RIP

The parish Church of San Andrés Apostol or St Andrew the apostle. Built in the 14C has high towers and on the front the shield of the order of St James (Santiago) as well as on the lateral door. The Church is on the Plaza del Castillo square. At the beginning of the Spanish Civil War it lost its artistic heritage. After an earthquake in 1969, the roof and vaults were demolished and completely restored in the 1980’s. The Church of San Andrés Apostol, consists of a polygonal apse with high buttresses, which make it similar to the castle. It is a single nave and has two side chapels, sacristy and tower, recently topped by a slate spire. In its main façade we see a pediment with a shield of the order of Santiago in the center as in the side door. It is presided by San Andrés, patron Saint of Villarejo de Salvanés, the image is framed in a plaster altarpiece inaugurated in 2000. The images of the Blessed Nicanor Ascanio and José de San Jacinto, both illustrious sons of the locality, complete the ensemble, which is crowned by a carving of Christ in its color. In the ample presbytery stands out the neo-Romanesque tabernacle, the altar, the seat and the pulpit in white stone.


The interior of the Church of San Andrés, also has two side chapels. The one on the right or the Aponte chapel is closed by a Renaissance gate and contains two altarpieces with the images of the Immaculate Conception and Jesús Nazareno. In it you can contemplate the founding headstone in addition to the images of the Virgin of Health (Salud), the Resurrected, San José de la Montaña, San Juan Bautista and the Naked Cross, which is called here  “La Sabanilla “. In the chapel on the left we find the baptismal font of 1959 and the altarpieces of Nuestra Senora  Del Carmen, wood carving, and Nuestra Senora De la Soledad with the recumbent Christ. In the nave of the church are the images of Jesus attached to the column and the Holy Christ of the Faith, as well as a Holy Supper. The sacristy, which was one of the old side chapels, is the one that preserves the ribbed vault and there is a size of San Andrés from the beginning of the 17C.


Some webpages to help you plan your trip here as an off the beaten path of my Spain are:

The Villarejo de Salvanés tourist office:

The local villas of Madrid on Villarejo de Salvanés:

The Madrid city tourist office on Villarejo de Salvanés:

Lovely town we love to pass by and come in for a relaxing afternoon and walks on our road warrior ways in old Castile!  Villarejo de Salvanés is a nice clean town with friendly folks! and nice monuments. Hope you try it and enjoy it as much as we do.

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

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July 23, 2021

Some news from Spain CVII

And why not my other love in my dear Spain. Well things there are a bit strained due to the covid19 with worries in Barcelona and Burgos as per govt figures here: The weather hotter in Madrid high of 34C today sunny with some clouds, along the coast will be hotter! Now let me tell you some news from Spain in my 107th post, thanks for reading it!

This summer the pilgrims return to the oldest and most trodden route in Europe. After a few months in silence, the Camino de Santiago is in celebration for being the Holy Year, also extended until the end of 2022 due to the pandemic. But the Compostela experience has been digitized and the pilgrim will find many novelties. These are some of them.

Pilgrims who cannot live without their cellular/mobile already have an app that allows them to certify their pilgrimage and obtain the credential in digital version. They will only have to scan the QR codes that they find on their way at the different points of the itinerary. La Compostela is granted only to those who make the pilgrimage to the Apostle’s tomb, making at least the last 100 kilometers on foot or on horseback, the last 200 kilometers by bicycle or 100 nautical miles, ending the rest of the Way from the port on foot. Disembarkation.

An escape room to test the pilgrim’s ingenuity. The famous escapism games help walkers and their neighbors to learn about the history, heritage and towns of the route, through tests, clues and riddles. Baptized as The Escape Way, the initiative also has elements of traditional yincanas and geocaching. After opening in Astorga (León), urban escape rooms will be available in a handful of towns on the Camino Francés (French Way): Arrés (Huesca), Los Arcos (Navarra), Santo Domingo de la Calzada (La Rioja), Belorado (Burgos) and Palas de Rei (Lugo). Webpage:

Based on this premise, a credential has been created that can be downloaded on the Camino Lebaniego website and that offers pilgrims to add stamps in the affiliated establishments to win products and stays based on indigenous gastronomy and foods, historically linked to the pilgrim tradition. . Webpage:

Due to the current difficulties created by the covid19, the Association of Municipalities of the Camino de Santiago updates the open shelters on its website every week. In addition, another novelty this year is Albergue LoT, a tool that reflects in real time the available places in these accommodations. amcsantiago webpage:

And Albergue LoT webpage:

On the occasion of the celebration of the Jacobean Year (Holy year) and within the framework of the commemoration acts of the VIII Centenary of the Cathedral, this year a special edition of The Ages of Man is being held. Under the title of LUX, which refers to the light inherent in Gothic cathedrals, the exhibition takes place in the provinces of Burgos, Palencia and León and has five exhibition venues: the Burgos Cathedral, the Churches of Santiago and Santa María del Camino, in Carrión de los Condes and the sanctuary of La Peregrina and the Church of San Tirso, in Sahagún. The exhibition addresses the origin and meaning of cathedrals and has as its common thread the figure of the Virgin Mary, a constant presence in so many cathedrals, churches, hermitages and monasteries that mark the Way. Webpage:

This Jacobean has invested more time and imagination than ever in climbing the path to the 21st century. The Xunta’s Safe Passage program also includes measures such as capacity limitations and Covid insurance to cover the expenses derived from a possible contagion during the visit to Galicia.

Let me tell show you the way to Avilés, the city where the founder of St Augustine in Florida USA (oldest city in USA 1565) was from Pedro Menéndez de Avilés!

Avilés is the third city in Asturias in terms of inhabitants after Gijón and Oviedo and has one of the best preserved old quarters in the Principality, declared in part a Historic-Artistic Site, as well as an interesting commercial past with still visible examples such as its medieval market of Mondays, which continues to be celebrated in the Plaza de los Hermanos Orbón since the Catholic Monarchs themselves allowed it in 1479. The Brazilian architect Óscar Niemeyer, responsible for the center that bears his name (Centro Niemeyer), which was inaugurated on the edge of the estuary just one year before his death in 2012 at the age of 104. It is also the only building of his in Spain and “his best work of him in all Europe”, as he himself said. The follower of Le Corbusier gave the project to the city on the 25th anniversary of the Príncipes de Asturias Awards after he himself received it in the field of the arts in 1989.

Both Woody Allen and Brad Pitt stayed in the best suite at the NH Collection Palacio de Avilés, a 17C building owned by the Marquis of Ferrera. That was what it was called until it was transformed in 2003 into a five-star hotel with 78 rooms, a monumental spiral staircase made of marble and mahogany and original furniture from the 16C. We must mention its French garden, in which Woody Allen shot several scenes of Vicky, Cristina, Barcelona in 2008. In the culinary section, the Sunday brunch at La Capilla restaurant stands out, with northern specialties.

The Calle Galeana street, famous for its arcades, and in the heart of Plaza de España, an area known as El Parche since the 19C. With the hotel starts the route of palaces through the center such as those of Valdecarzana, Camposagrado or Balsera, current headquarters respectively of the Municipal Archive, the School of Art or the Conservatory of Music.  The Valdés Theater, one of the buildings with the best acoustics in Spain. Its inauguration at the beginning of the 20C confirmed the cultural interest of the town, for which it is known as the Athens of the North. You can see in Avilés  the workshop of the luthier Roberto Jardón Rico ( Calle Domingo Álvarez Acebal, 4), one of the most prominent in Spain. There he makes violins for clients like artist Ara Malikian with a two-and-a-half-year waiting list. “We work with highly selected wood and own-made varnishes using natural resins, like centuries ago, so we can only make four or five a year, “he says surrounded by jewels like that Klingenthal cello from 1760 or that 1860 Mattias Neuner viola. The tour of Avilés ends in the medieval fishing district of Sabugo and the marina, once separated from the walled area by the estuary through a wooden bridge. This was where the burly whaling sailors lived, of which the local Avilesinos were also an institution.

It is one of the most deeply rooted traditions in Spain, and also one of the most famous among those who visit our country. We are talking about tapas, which has become an everyday thing, a way of life, of socializing and enjoying gastronomy. This art, proposed to be Intangible Heritage of Humanity by Unesco, is mandatory especially in some cities, which have entire streets and neighborhoods full of establishments in which the pincho is king. Holidu, the vacation rental search engine, has just published a study to establish which ones are the best to go for tapas. Of course most in Andalucia from where the idea originated. The cities of Sevilla, Granada, Santiago de Compostela, Cadiz, Malaga, Salamanca, Toledo, Almeria, La Coruña , and Pontevedra are tops as big cities goes.

In this return to the origins, Cruzcampo returns to rescue his roots in the same place where, in 1904, it brewed its beers for the first time. A venue full of history where Factoría Cruzcampo is now located, a renovated cultural space in Sevilla in which innovation and experimentation are the mantra of its young brewers Juan and Irene. In addition to tasting the seven craft beers that are made here, those who come to Factoría Cruzcampo can carry out a series of beer experiences, which include guided tours with blind tastings or tasting of pairings. Some words that implies Spanish way of life are arrejuntarse or getting together is synonymous with spending time in the company of family or friends, but it also implies joy and gratitude for being with those we love. It goes with the word fetén ,  pronounced when a meal is good or when we have a memorable moment. Not to mention duende or elf, that power that is born from within us in an almost magical way, that turns our emotions into forms of expression and that makes our creations come alive. Arrejuntarse, fetén and duende are three words with roots, character and, above all, a lot of accent, because they are closely linked to our way of being. Along with arte or art, fiera or beast, jaleo or fuss, flama,or flame, coraje or courage, pellizco or pinch, poderío or power, ojalá or hopefully and reliarse or reliance .Six young Andalusian artists have illustrated these words and used Cruzcampo’s most powerful beer bottles and cans as canvas: Cruzcampo Especial.

The Ribera de Curtidores is always a brilliant idea, but it might be best to avoid the late hours of the morning so you don’t die trying to find a nice heirloom at a good price. But they are right. Madrid in summer is transformed. For good. The festivities of San Cayetano, San Lorenzo and the Virgen de la Paloma in August are a summer gift, although the health situation does not allow the crowds characteristic of such celebrations. Even so, in the middle of the walks through the streets of La Latina reaching Plaza del Alamillo, going up Calle de la Morería until reaching Calle Bailén, crossing Caños Viejos , you can see the Almudena Cathedral. In search of a better view of the Cathedral, descending the stairs of the Segovia Viaduct and crossing the street of the same name, the heated passerby comes face-to-face with what will be his best discovery to date. The Emir Mohamed I park where, camouflaged among the infinite cultural offer of Madrid, the Arab Wall of the city has stood for centuries. There it is. An escape with more than 1,100 years of history. To this wall, from which new finds have been discovered over the years – as following the excavations of the 50s in the Cuesta de la Vega –, the legend of the nickname of ‘cat’ is also attributed to the people of Madrid . Already in the 11C, with the troops of King Alfonso VI waiting on the outskirts of Mayrit to conquer said Arab territory, a Castilian soldier scaled the wall – with the agility of a cat – raising the Christian flag over it. From its initial feat, the city became part of the Kingdom of Castile. It is said that since then the citizens of Madrid adopted this peculiar term. In the enclosure the fortress and the almudayna stood out, built between 850 and 886. The walled Madrid, although later a large part of the population settled in the suburbs. Today, it is the neoclassical Royal Palace that rests on the foundations of Arab origins. The same happens with the main mosque of which there are no vestiges as such, but there are remains of the Church of Santa María, built a posteriori on the Muslim temple and located between Calle Mayor and Calle Bailén. Although there are other stone footprints that reveal the Muslim passage through the city – such as the Watchtower in the parking of the Plaza de Oriente , the fortified wall is the greatest cultural expression of the Andalusian period in Madrid. And the heat is carried in another way: because it is already eight in the afternoon and because if a wall has withstood the pains and glories of the city that does not sleep for more than 10 centuries, it will be bad to endure a hot summer in Madrid. Perhaps the opinion that the capital in summer is a jewel is not unfortunate and the problem lies in not knowing where to look. As the designer Óscar Mariné used to say in times of the Movida, Madrid Me Mata. Or Madrid kills me, yes Summer are great we have tested several times!!

And Picasso finally hangs in the Prado, the museum of which he was appointed director on September 19, 1936. Although he accepted the appointment, he would never take formal possession of the position. He is in room 9B of the Villanueva building, where he shows’ Bust of a woman 43 ‘(painted in a single day, on October 7, 1943, in his studio on rue des Grands-Augustins in Paris, where he painted the’ Guernica ‘).This is a five-year loan, made by the American Friends of the Prado Museum, to which the Aramont Art Collection of the Arango Montull family has donated. After five years, it is expected that, as with Velázquez’s ‘Portrait of Felipe III’, it will end up being donated to the Prado. Bust of a woman 43 is a sample of Picasso’s response to the violence of World War II. In many of the female images painted in this period, the artist deformed the features of the figures in a radical way.

Picasso couldn’t be in better company. On one side, Velázquez and his ‘Bufón Calabacillas’. It was one of the two paintings that Picasso copied, at age 14, in his notebook during his first visit to the Prado in 1895 (the other was ‘Francisco Lezcano, the boy from Vallecas’). The drawings, made in lead pencil, are in the Picasso Museum in Barcelona. On the other side, a group of portraits by El Greco: ‘The gentleman with his hand on his chest’, ‘Jerónimo de Cevallos’, ‘Portrait of a young gentleman’, ‘Old gentleman’ … In the room, in addition to the splendid paintings by El Greco for the altarpiece of Doña María de Aragón, there is a nod to the donors of Picasso, ‘El Calvario’ by Luis Tristán is exhibited, which he donated to the Plácido Arango museum, who he was president of the Board of Trustees of the art gallery. In 1897 Picasso registered in the Prado copyists’ book to study the work of Velázquez. That year he also copied ‘The Annunciation’ by Murillo and a Venus by Titian. Picasso used to say that Velázquez “is first class” and El Greco “has magnificent heads.” Prado webpage:

There you go folks, some news of my dear Spain. Hope you enjoy the readings, and serve for ideas for a future visit as I do. And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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July 23, 2021

Palacio de Cristal, Parque del Buen Retiro of Madrid!!!

And this one is a dandy to update for you and me me me! It reminds me of so much of good memories from a boy to a men and marriage ,and fatherhood. It is impossible for me to visit Madrid without stopping here, and it is very difficult for me to visit Spain ,and not Madrid! Madrid to heaven and a hole on the sky to look down on it everyday!!! Let me tell you a bit more on the Crystal Palace of Madrid or the Palacio de Cristal de Madrid en el Parque del Buen Retiro!!!

madrid retiro park palacio de cristal arriving may16

So why not tell of the other palace in the Retiro park of my beloved Madrid! There is so much on this park alone to make a couple days in my Madrid! We love it, family love it ,and I am in love since teen years living there; a must for me to visit and of course will be yours too if see it.  I have written a lot of posts on my Madrid in my blog, but seldom a single post on this Crystal Palace ,done similar to the one in London. It deserves a single entry on its owns merits. Therefore, here is my contribution to the Palacio de Cristal of Madrid!

madrid retiro park palacio de cristal front may16

The Palacio de Cristal  is a metal and crystal structure located in the Parque del Buen Retiro (Retiro Park) of Madrid. It was built in 1887 on the occasion of the exhibition of the Philippine Islands, held that same year. The majestic structure of 22 meters high opened its doors!. It was the first non industrial building of its genre that saw the day in Spain. Nowdays, contemporary art exhibitions are currently held.

madrid retiro park palacio de cristal inside main hall may16

It was built inspired by the Crystal Palace, erected in London in 1851.  The structure is metal, and is completely covered by glass plates, hence its name. The ceramic decoration used in small friezes and finials highlight the figures of grotesques with heads of mallards. The Palacio de Cristal, in the shape of a Greek cross, is made almost entirely of glass set in an iron framework on a brick base, which is decorated with ceramics. Its domed roofs makes the structure over 22 meters high.

At its feet is an artificial lake and there is a staircase that is immersed inside it, where you can find several specimens of Cypress marsh trees, whose main characteristic is that part of its trunk and its roots are under water. The building is surrounded by  chestnuts trees. The Lake contains ducks. geese, black swans and terrapins, who will swim close to the steps, or you can hire boats on the lake for a closer view. It has a surface area of 2,900 m2 and a water volume of 3,480 m3. The spout reaches a height of 17 meters.

madrid retiro park palacio de cristal lake frt may16

On May 10, 1936, the Palacio de Cristal in the Retiro park was the scene in which Manuel Azaña was elected as President of the Republic. The courts had remained small to host the mixed assembly of Deputies and Commissioners and the Crystal Palace was chosen for voting and inauguration of  Azaña, the only candidate! Nowadays, it is part of the Reina Sofía Museum, and in its interior there are exhibitions of contemporary art.

madrid retiro park palacio de cristal boat may16

Located at the Paseo Républica de Cuba ,inside the Retiro park. Go there by Metro lines 1 Atocha, Line 9 Ibiza, and line 2 Retiro. Also , Renfe-Atocha trains and bus lines 2, 20, 26 , 61. Check for schedules as after the pandemic things might have change.

The Madrid tourist office on the Palacio de Cristal

The Reina Sofia Museum on outbuildings such as the Palacio de Cristal:

There you go folks, the enormous beautiful Retiro park of my beloved Madrid.  And the gorgeous Palacio de Cristal, can’t beat this combination ! Enjoy it as we always do!

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

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July 22, 2021

Other churches of Toledo!

And continuing my wonderful tour of updating older memorable posts in my blog, i come to Toledo. This is the world city of old and new, we came here often too as family just between Toledo and Madrid until recently the last one passed away. Looking forward to be back and ride my road warrior thrills on these wonderful spots and remember the good old times. Let me tell you about the other churches of Toledo in one post would do. Toledo invites you in always.

I come to you for a world historical city ,very popular and many times visited by me and many over the years. This is known to all me think. However, Toledo has in such a small space treasure throves of jewels to be seen. Time is still here ,and me think must go to the best known touristic wise. There are so many wonderful places to see here, and written briefly on many already. However, I feel need to tell you a bit more on the Churches of Toledo in my beloved Spain. I will be brief, just an introduction as they are all needed to be seen while in town!

The Church of the Savior or Iglesia del Salvador was at the time of the Muslim presence, a mosque, whose date is to be determined, although some researchers date it in 1041 or possibly earlier. Previous remains of Visigoth ecclesial occupation and even a late Roman period of the 2C have been found.  It is one of the Churches named in the guide of Tormes and in it were baptized Juana I de Castilla (“La Loca”=crazy) and the playwright Francisco de Rojas Zorrilla.  The present Church is built on an old Muslim mosque, so it is oriented towards the southeast, towards Mecca. For whose construction, as usual, different architectural elements were reused Visigoths, thanks to which has retained a horseshoe arches supported on Visigoths pilasters with sculpted decoration of figurative themes. The Pilaster of El Salvador presents in one of its faces various miraculous scenes of the life of Jesus, in overlapping records: The healing of the blind, the resurrection of Lazarus, the Samaritan and the Hemorroísa, as well as other themes of Eucharistic nuance that allude to Christ  as a salvation and whose iconography seems to be taken from some Paleo-Christian sarcophagus that  served as a model. The conversion to Christian worship in 1159 made it undergo various modifications, especially the construction of the Gothic Chapel of Santa Catalina, at the end of the 15C. The minaret, converted into a tower, would later be added to a brick steeple. Again in 1822 a new fire had it badly destroyed and only the Chapel of Santa Catalina was saved.


The Castilla La Mancha autonomous community tourist office on the church

The Toledo monumental city info on the church

The Church (Iglesia) of San Ildefonso is a baroque-style Church located in the center of the historical city of Toledo, is also known as the Church of the Jesuits and is consecrated to San Ildefonso of Toledo, patron of the city and father of the Church. Its construction, which lasted for more than a hundred years, began in the year 1629, on a land acquired by the Jesuits of Toledo in 1569 where were the houses of Juan Hurtado de Mendoza Rojas and Guzmán, Conde de Orgaz,  and that had also been the birthplace of San Ildefonso. Located between the Calle San Román and Calle Alfonso XII , the Church has a northwest-southwest orientation, so that its frontal facade is directed towards the Cathedral of Toledo. The interior of the Church, with its main nave in the form of a Latin cross plant, is large and white in color. On this nave stands the high dome over the transept. In the transept there are two large baroque altarpieces. The Chapels on the northeast side of the building, in order from the transept, are dedicated to the Virgin of Fatima, to San Francisco Javier, to the Blessed Christ Crucified and to San Francisco de Borja. On the southwest side are those dedicated to the Immaculate, Dolorosa or painful, St. Ignatius of Loyola and the Christ of the Martyrs. In one corner of the Church lies the Chapel of the Ochavada in which the relics of the Church are kept and venerated. The outside of the dome, due to its dimensions and the location of the Church, is one of the highest points of Toledo, next to the Cathedral of Santa Maria and the Alcázar, to which has notable views, just like the towers, which can be visited.


The Toledo tourist office on the church

The Church (Iglesia) of San Román  was built in Mudejar style in the 13C in the place where once there was an ancient Visigoth basilica and probably an ancient Roman building. Nowadays it is the seat of the Museum of the Councils and the Visigoth Culture. It is located in one of the highest and privileged places of the city, in the second of the Twelve Hills that form it. There is already news of the parish in the 12C and the Church would be consecrated in 1221 by Archbishop Rodrigo Ximénez de Rada. The tradition points out that here  was crowned king Alfonso VIII of Castile in  1166. The Church has a basilica plant with three naves, separated by horseshoe arches with alfas that support on pillars with Visigoth and Roman columns attached with capitals reused of Visigoth origin in some cases, distinguishing by its Corinthian leaves. The frescoes are divided into two areas separated by inscriptions. The four winged evangelists and the representations of Archbishops, the Saints Esteban and Lorenzo, angels or the Final judgement stand out. In the 16C, Alonso de Covarrubias designed the plateresque domed apse of coffers in the main chapel; And the paintings were subsequently covered, thus losing their trail until the first third of the 20C in which they were rediscovered. It was not until the  1940’s when they were recovered as much as possible.


The Castilla La Mancha autonomous community tourist office on the church

The Church (Igleisa) of Santo Tome or Saint Thomas the Apostle is located in the historical center of Toledo, and was founded after the reconquest of this city by King Alfonso VI of León. as quoted in the 12C , as built on the site of an old 11C mosque. This mosque along with others of the city were used as Christian churches without major changes, since in the making of the city there was no destruction of buildings. However, at the beginning of the 14C, being in a dilapidated state was completely rebuilt by Gonzalo Ruiz de Toledo, Lord of Orgaz and transformed the old minaret of the mosque into a belfry in Mudéjar style. Its fame is mainly due to house inside, the painting the Burial of the Count de Orgaz by El Greco, (El entierro del Conde de Orgaz de El Greco) which can be seen by accessing the back of the Church. The Church consists of three naves with transept, covered by barrel vaults and polygonal apse. It has the Church in its chapels, two Baroque altarpieces, one plateresque and a baptismal font from the 16C. They include an image of the Virgin Mary of marble from the 12C, and the altarpiece with ionic elements of the main chapel of the 19C.


The Castilla La Mancha autonomous community tourist office on the church

The Toledo Monumental city info on the church:

The Convent of San Pedro Martyr, through its successive extensions and modifications, became one of the richest and most important convents of the city. The convent, large, is organized around three courtyards: the closest to the entrance is called Real or Royal; The smallest is called Silencio or silence/quiet, and the Naranjos or Orangery  or Procesiones or processions  is located on the side of the epistle of the Church. The cloister called the Silence  is the oldest of all and possibly corresponds to a civil construction that, later, was included in the convent ensemble. It consists of three floors.  The second floor is made up of lowered arches resting on columns very similar to the lower ones. The cloister of the silence contrasts with the Real, of much larger size, which began to be built with traces of Covarrubias, in 1541, by his disciple Hernán González de Lara. It consists of three floors entirely built in stone. The low floor is composed of half-point arches resting on columns. The new church and the sacristy. It began to be built in 1587 and consists of two spaces: the largest, rectangular, is the one that really serves as a sacristy, and another, square, houses a small Chapel. The main space is covered with a flat Cistercian vault, bands and with eyelids. The most direct access from the Church to the sacristy is made by a door located at one end of the main side. There is the Chapel of Santa Inés, whose architecture is Gothic, with vault of edges, which contains several interesting graves. The works of the current church began in 1605. As a curiosity, in this monastery, was a member, the Dominican friar Juan Bautista Maíno in 1613. It is a renowned painter whose works include the “Adoration of the Shepherds ” of the Museo del Prado in Madrid. Since 1991 the building serves as university headquarters of the Faculty of Juridical and Social Sciences of Toledo, belonging to the University of Castilla-La Mancha.


The Castilla La Mancha autonomous community tourist office on the church:

And last ,but not least, the Hermitage of Our Lady of the Star (Ermita Nuestra Senora  de la  Estrella)  was founded by the Brotherhood of the same name, which was based in the neighboring Church of Santiago del Arrabal (see post). Its construction was carried out in 1611, it presents a plant close to a Greek cross. However, in extending the nave and presbytery, with respect to the arms of the broad transept, the axially of the building is strengthened, in the direction of the longitudinal axis of the bedhead. This makes it possible to lose the idea of a centralized plant, especially in addition, after the presbytery and the aforementioned axis, the dressing room of the Virgin. The present cover of the Hermitage is of late realization than the building; It was built around the middle of the 17C.


The official webpage of the hermitage

The parrish of Santiago de Arrabal in which the hermitage belongs

These are some of my favorite curiosity in the city of Toledo. There are plenty more to browse while in town. I have several entries on Toledo in my blog for more information on visiting. Well already well known no need to tell you further, is a must. The churches are beautiful architecture and a huge amount of history of Toledo, Spain, and Europe.

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

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July 21, 2021

Other churches of Valencia!!!

And here my update of this older post showing some of the religious monuments we saw while walking the pavement of nice Valencia, Spain. I have several posts on the city but rather than make several small ones I put together these churches in one post. Hope you enjoy the other churches of Valencia!!!

And why not come down the Mediterranean coast to a lovely town often overlook for the bigger two others but worth a detour indeed.  I have come since teens years as my aunt used to lived just south of it at El Saler. Then visited with the family and always nice souvenirs of our visits.  I have written several posts on it before but feel deserves to tell you about the other Churches architecture and historical jewels of Valencia, capital of Comunitat Valenciana in my beloved Spain.  Therefore, let me tell you a bit more on some of the other wonderful other Churches of Valencia.

The Church of San Juan de la Cruz, formerly Parish Church of San Andrés, located in Calle Poeta Querol N º 6 in the city of Valencia, was one of the first to be founded after the conquest of Jaime I of Aragon, on an old mosque. Its current configuration date, however, between 1602 and 1615 .  It is a single-nave church with chapels between the buttresses and polygonal headboard. In its facade the decorative elements are concentrated especially on the door, while the rest is a smooth brick wall on a stone plinth topped by a balustrade with balls. At the sides were opened two small chapels one of whose acropolis is still visible today. The cover is already from the end of the 17C and is notable for the use of spiral columns and side corbels on which two female figures seem to slide. The upper Aedicule was presided over by a statue of St. Andrew of which today only the traces of its cross with its characteristic shape of blade remain.  The highlight is, however, the rococo decoration of the interior, done in the second half of the 18C. Made in stucco, but worked with exceptional quality, the reloaded full forms of angels, fabrics and vegetation seem to climb the walls.


The city of Valencia on the church

The Valencia tourist office on the main sights to see

The Church of San Martín Obispo and San Antonio Abad, located in Calle San Vicente 11 martyr of the city of Valencia , was built in the 14C with reforms of the later centuries 15-16-17C being its styles Gothic Valencian and Baroque , retracing its antiquity to the time of the conquest of the city of Valencia by the troops of Jaime I, the Conqueror. It would not be until the year 1902, when the temple was definitively consecrated with the complete dedication of San Martín Obispo and San Antonio Abad. Its current design, with subsequent extensions and reconstructions, corresponds to the works of 1372 to 1401, in which it was used for the enlargement of the temple the space occupied by an old building,   graciously given to the parish by the General Council of the City in 1372. The Gothic construction presents a type of longitudinal plant, of a single nave, without cruising, with the peculiarity of its irregularity, in trapezoidal form, because only the wall of the gospel parallels the axis of the temple, being at an angle the western and southern one that it was adapted the layout of the streets that border them, especially to the west, Calle San Vicente, whose antiquity exceeds that of the church, being an old Roman way on the side where the parish building appears.


The official webpage of the St Martin Church:

The Valencia tourist office on things to see:

The Church of Santa Catalina the Martyr is one of the Gothic temples of the city of Valencia. It was erected in the Cathedral district, in the current Plaza Lope de Vega, on a previous mosque. In the 13C it acquired the rank of parish. It consists of three naves, with lateral buttresses, between which the chapels were installed, and girolas. Its baroque tower is very emblematic. In the 16C the Church was covered with classicist decoration to the Renaissance taste. After a awesome fire suffered in 1548, it was partially rebuilt. In 1785, following the prevailing fashion, it was given a baroque look.  The belfry was built between 1688 and 1705 . Masterpiece of the Valencian Baroque, is of hexagonal plant and its elevation is divided into four floors separated by mouldings, plus the body of bells and the upper crown. In its origin it was called Bells Salomonic by the helical columns that adorn that high part. It also stands out for the highlights as pilasters that adorn its angles and the decoration of its windows, where the decorative style of the ephemeral Baroque was moved with mastery. It reaches 56 meters high. The bells melted in London in 1729 and later, in 1914, the clock was added. During the restoration carried out in 2012, when going to repair the clock they realized that the machinery was relatively modern and had no value, so it was decided to remove it and replace the old bell that had been removed in 1902.  In 1936 the Church Santa Catalina the Martyr was assaulted by Republican militiamen and burned, demolished it completely. In the 1950’s works of Repristina were carried out, to give back its original gothic physiognomy, for which it was stripped to the walls of the remains of baroque and neoclassical decoration. It is a temple of Eucharistic reparation for more than 50 years, ruled by the Brotherhood of Diocesan operative priests. It has a nice museum inside.


The city of Valencia on the church

The Valencia tourist office on the church

The parish Church of San Nicolás de Bari and San Pedro martyr is a parish church located in Calle Caballeros No. 35, in the historical center, specifically between the neighborhoods of La Seu, El Carme and El Mercat. It is one of the best examples of coexistence of a 15C Gothic Church with a spectacular 17C baroque decor. After its restoration in 2016 it is popularly known as the Valencian Sistine Chapel. It has its usual worship schedule and also a timetable for sightseeing or cultural visits. The temple is located next to the Calle Caballeros, which was the old Decumano of the Valentia Edetanorum founded by the Romans in the year 138 BC, and in the vicinity of the Plaza de San Nicolás have been found funerary remains belonging to an ancient Roman temple. Then it was briefly a temple Paleocristian- Visigoth until the arrival of the Muslims in the 8C, when in its place a mosque was erected towards the east, towards Mecca. With the conquest of Valencia by King Jaime I of Aragon in 1238 this ancient mosque was consecrated as a Christian parish and donated to the Order of preachers or Dominicans, who baptized it in honor of St. Nicholas of Bari. Years later the same order added another titular Saint to the parish, St. Pedro el Martyr, who was the first martyr of the Dominican Order.  It was in the 15C when the temple was rebuilt and expanded acquiring its current physiognomy of the Valencian Gothic with a single nave, polygonal apse and six bays, in which there are so many vaults of simple crossing and six chapels to each side located between the buttresses of the nave’s pointed arches. Another gothic element that is preserved is the outer cover at the foot of the temple, built in the second half of the 15C, with archivolts in pointed arches, with a Baroque relief added later in the tympanum and with a meat dish carved in the key alluding to a miracle of St. Nicholas of Bari. On this cover there is a large neo-góthic rosette inspired by the star of David, which was an extension of the original Gothic rosette that had in the same place but smaller dimensions.

To the right of this cover is the only Chapel outside the temple, closed with a gate and call of the Christ of the Fossar, since in this place was the old parish cemetery before its 15C Gothic enlargement.   The taste for Baroque decoration opens its way inside the Christian temples within the atmosphere of the Reformation and the idea of modernizing the Gothic. For this reason at the end of the 17C, between 1690 and 1693, the Baroque recovered the interior with engravings, stuccoes and reliefs that were rather sculptures, like the plaster putti sculpted on each pilaster. It was, also the work of the arches of half point on the chapels that hide the original gothic pointed arches. The south facade, which falls to the pedestrian Plaza de San Nicolás, is all neo-Gothic style due to the urban renovation of the Plaza de San Nicolás promoted by the city/town hall in the 19C.

To the left of its cover is a ceramic panel of 1957 in memory of the premonition that the Dominican Valencian San Vicente Ferrer ( and came preaching in my current area of Morbihan and is buried in the Cathedral St Peter in Vannes! ) did to a young Alfonso de Borja, predicting that someday the young man would be named Pope, as it happened years later as Pope Callixtus III (He was also responsible for the retrial of Joan of Arc  that saw her vindicated) . Visits are only accessed by the door located in Calle Caballeros, No 35, which leads to a hallway through which access to the interior of the temple as cultural or tourist visits are not allowed on Mondays or during the worship hours. They can be made from Tuesday to Friday from 10h30 to 19h30, Saturdays from 10h30 to 18h30   and Sundays from 13h to 20h. The timetables may undergo modifications for specific liturgical celebrations, so it is recommended to consult the agenda of the Church.


The official parish of San Nicolas on the church

The Valencia tourist office on the church

The Church of Santo Tomás and San Felipe Neri is located in the Plaza of San Vicente Ferrer and is a temple built in the 18C in Baroque style. This Church is also called the congregation’s Church, because it was part of the convent house erected by the congregation of the Oratory of San Felipe Neri on the former parish of St. Thomas. After the disentitlement the rest of the convent complex was demolished and only the temple remained. The Church was built between 1727 and 1736 , and was inspired by Baroque models of Rome, recognizable especially in the broad façade. Constructed of red brick with elements of stone , it follows the form of the Roman Church of the Gesu and consists of two bodies: a wider inferior one crowned by a entablature and with a lowered arch on the door, and another more narrow upper , which corresponds only to the central nave, is topped by a triangular pediment and has two large volutes on its sides. Pilasters, corbels and statues compose a very classical image that is completed with the bell tower and its curious eighteenth sundial. If we enter, we will observe a Latin cross style temple, with a short nave covered with a barrel vault with lunettes between side chapels crowned by small domes. It also has a large transept on which stands a large dome and contains rich pictorial backgrounds.


The city of Valencia on the church

Also, the regional comunitat de Valenciana tourist office:

There you go folks, a small tour of some of the nice monument churches of Valencia a very nice city to walk as well, beautiful architecture is all around and history to boot. We always have come here by car, the most scenic route. Therefore, hope you have enjoyed the Other Churches of Valencia.

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

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July 15, 2021

Notre Dame of the Assomption of the Virgin Church of St Jean Pied de Port!

Now this is a wonderful town we like a lot and visited couple times. Road warrior trip up the steep mountains in the Pyrénées chain is awesome. However, once in St Jean Pied de Port, the wonders appeared in your face so nice. One of the meeting point of the route to St James or Santiago on the French road or Camino Francés. Let me update this older post on the Notre Dame of the Assomption of the Virgin Church of St Jean Pied de Port! Enjoy it as I.


So now, I take you deep south of France near the Spanish border and the wonderful Pyrénées and a wonderful city which took us a nice ride on the tops of the mountains peaks for the scenic ride !  I have written several posts on the town and its marvels but I believe the Church deserves a post of its own. The Church of the Assumption of the Virgin. Oh yes of course ,this is in deep Saint Jean Pied de Port  in the Pyrénées-Atlantique dept 64 of the Nouvelle Aquitaine region!


The church, formerly Notre-Dame du Bout du Pont is currently Church of the Assumption-of-the-Virgin located by the ramparts at 2 Rue de la Citadelle.  Among the many churches, Notre-Dame Church of Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, integrated into the ramparts at the bottom of the main street where the fortified bridge is actually the steeple bell tower. The foundations date from the 13C, is one of the most important Gothic Basque buildings with beautiful pink sandstone. Built in the 14C on the foundations of 12C by Sancho the Fort, it has inside, a large nave, pillars of pink sandstone and two stages of galleries or grandstands. Climb the steep street, rue de la Citadelle: Raise your eyes to the carved facades and lintels. Beyond the gate of France, a staircase leads to the round path amusing to go and indiscreet sometimes.


The Gate of Navarre leads to the Church square. On the left, a staircase leads to the round road that can be taken on almost the entire rampart of the right bank of the Nive river and from where you discover a magnificent view of the basin of the country of Cize. Near the bridge, the house that adjoins the bell tower has sheltered for centuries the Hôpital Sainte-Marie. The Church and the hospital were part of the same ensemble, according to a classical hospital architecture. These medieval hospitals were open to all,   Poor, passersby, and pilgrims.

Opposite stands the triangular gable wall of old Notre-Dame-du-Bout-du-Pont with its oculus. The tympan was hammered during the wars of Religion or during the French revolution. The upper part of the gate was awkwardly restored. Built in Gothic style radiating on Romanesque bases, the Church presents a nave with two aisles, two floors of grandstands, slender pillars, with no other décor than the search for the line and a polygonal chorus. It has a portal and bedsides ogival, a five-pans apse.


The Notre Dame of the Assomption of the Virgin Church, also has an organ dating from the mid-19C and whose factor was Vincent Cavaillon-Coll. It is composed of two keyboards and a pedal. It was the object of a restoration from 2002 to 2004 and on this occasion it was surmounted by the statue of Saint Francis Xavier, patron Saint of Navarre.

The city of St Jean Pied de Port on its heritage including the church

The French Basque country tourist office on St Jean Pied de Port

The Parish webpage of St Jean Pied de Port on the church :

This is a wonderful city Saint Jean Pied de Port, with plenty of culinary delights even the folks there come to my area on gastronomic festival and we load up on goodies. The Notre Dame of the Assomption of the Virgin Church is small but very nice encrusted into the ramparts on the main road that leads the pilgrims to Spain and the road to St James or Santiago de Compostela.

Hope you enjoy the tour, and remember ,happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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July 15, 2021

The Archeological museum of Alcalà de Henares!

This was a nice find, really. We have been here several times and me since childhood but never recall coming here or if was available then. However, in my walks with the family was curious enough to walked into it and was a pleasant surprise. Therefore, let me update this older post in my blog on the Archeological museum of Alcalà de Henares! Hope you enjoy it as I.

I like my times in Alcalà de Henares , and like to show you another gem of this very unique town and loaded with history, architecture and arts. The town is in the Comunidad de Madrid region of the kingdom of Spain.  This time let me tell you a bit more on the Museo Archeologico Regional or  Regional Archaeological Museum …a joint venture between the Comunidad of Madrid and the city of Alcalà de Henares showcasing the best archeological finds from the area covering a large period. Its a must to see in town.


The Museo Arqueológico Regional de la Comunidad de Madrid (M.A.R.) was created on November 27, 1997; It is based in Alcalá de Henares, occupying the building of the old school of the Dominican Convent of the Mother of God, in the Plaza de Bernardas, which also give to the Archiepiscopal Palace and the Convent of San Bernardo (see posts). Its inauguration took place on May 25th, 1999.   The Convent School of the Mother of God was founded by Maria de Mendoza, daughter of the Counts of Mélito, in 1565, as part of the university City of Alcalá, although the current construction dates from the 17-18C, since the original building was small and also structurally deficient , although it is probable that the entrance of the Convent , which currently accesses the museum, is reused from the previous.

In 1985, the year in which the State competences in the field of archaeology were passed on to the Autonomous Communities, the Government of the community of Madrid and the city of Alcalá agreed that the building would become the headquarters of the Regional Archaeological Museum of the Community of Madrid. At present the work is being carried out to expand its surface and in January 2018 the works were finally started, whose culmination is expected by the end of 2019.

In addition to its role of research and conservation of the archaeological heritage, it exhibits a permanent collection with a chronological and didactic itinerary: paleontological fossils, Paleolithic, Neolithic, vestiges of the Bronze Age and Iron Age, an important collection of Roman objects ,highlighting the mosaics, and elements of material culture from the old, middle and modern ages, reaching the archaeology of the industrial era. The museum carries out temporary exhibitions of archaeological, paleontological and historical themes. Among its dependencies is the library Emeterio Cuadrado, of restricted use, specializing in archaeology, cartography of the community of Madrid, museology and restoration.




Some webpages to help you plan your trip to this unique museum are:

The official webpage of the Archeological museum of Alcalà de Henares in Spanish:

The Alcalà de Henares tourist office on the museum

The Madrid city tourist office on the museum in Alcalà de Henares

There you go folks, a nice place to see in the middle of all the beautiful architecture, historical and religious of nice Alcalà de Henares. Do enjoy it we love it!

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

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July 6, 2021

Shopping, eating, and staying in Barcelona!!

Another memorable city of my dear Spain and lucky enough to finally seen it since I came to live in France! Therefore, I can say its a new city for me, first time was in 2014 and since several times!! Let me show you a bit of the shopping, eating and staying in Barcelona!!

Barcelona is a city lucky to have visited a few times , and each time see a bit more of it. However, one thing is certain relaxing lodging environment, invigorating shopping and delicious food is what is all about for me. On this post, will tell you about my Crown Plaza Hotel , the shopping at the Arenes or Arenas de Barcelona, and eating at a couple of places all within easy walking distance of my hotel. !

First, I stayed at the wonderful Crowne Plaza Fira Barcelona; a five stars and wonderful hotel of course paying 165 euros per night! The facilities were impecable and would love to stay there again when back to the city.



A bit more from the hotel’s webpage. Located 200 meters from the Magic Fountain of Montjuïc, the Crowne Plaza Barcelona-Fira Center offers stylish décor and spacious accommodations with Flat-screen TVs and Hydro-Massage Showers. Offering a fantastic view of Barcelona, the 173 Rooftop Terrace Restaurant features an outdoor pool, sun loungers and a dining area where you can enjoy Mediterranean specialties as well as a selection of drinks and cocktails. El Mall Restaurant serves a buffet breakfast and Mediterranean cuisine. In addition, the hotel has an elegant piano bar. Free Wi-Fi is available in the public areas and in the Rooms. You will also find a free Internet point in the lobby area. From the hotel, the historic center of Barcelona is easily accessible by bus or metro. The Crowne Plaza Barcelona-Fira Center is located 500 meters from Poble Sec and Plaça d’ Espanya Metro Stations. The Poble Espanyol Museum and the Joan Miró Foundation are 200 meters away as well as all the wonders of Montjuic.(see posts).



And of course for the benefit of those road warriors ,the closest car parking is at BSM Rius i Taulet, Avinguda de la Reina Maria Cristina, 16, located facing the Plaza del Universo square. Ideal for reaching on foot all in Montjuic and the Plaça d’Espanya by the Fira congress hall and the fountains of Montjuic. Easy access to the Avinguda Para-lel and the Gran Vía de las Cortes Catalanas. By the way the Crowne Plaza has become the Intercontinental Barcelona Hotel all in the family. I could not help telling you I worked for the chain in an accounting management function of several properties in France!

This is a hotel resa webpage telling you about the now old Crowne Plaza:

And the IHG official site on the new Intercontinental Barcelona:

I went out first to a nice find, just walking and heard the guys singing while setting up the tables so the gourmand curious in me told me this is a good happy place, the food must be good. Well it was super, with great Galician Patatas Bravas, and ham and codfish croquettes all down with a pint of Estrella Damm cold beer and coffee cortado all for 22€; the server was of course friendly and with 10 yrs in Barcelona coming from Argentina (probably following Messi !) Oh the place was the Casa de tapas Cañota at Carrer de Lleida, 7.


A bit more on it from the tabloids: In the Parallel/Poble Sec, you will find the restaurant Casa de tapas Cañota, a place where the classic spirit merges with a fabulous offer of Tapas. Its renovated decor, at the hands of a designer, makes this place a casual and informal restaurant with striking graphic illustrations. The menu is informal and economical and is based on excellent tapas of great variety par all tastes, without leaving aside the quality that characterizes the products of this Restaurant. At Casa de tapes Cañota you can have a good time in the company of friends watching football and tasting tapas; It also has a heated terrace with access to the mobility impaired. Closest metro and buses at plaça d’Espanya , and Poble Sec.

The official Casa de Tapas Cañota webpage:

And the reviews on my blog roll bottom of my main page YELP on the resto:

The second night I went to a more fancy restaurant on Paral-lel avenue again not far from the hotel. This was again friendly and plenty of food, tapas entries from shrimp to ham croquettes, and codfish fritters, to a nice size steak in pepper sauce , all wash down with plenty of local Rene Barbier red wines, crema Catalana dessert, and coffee for about 35€. Great ambiance and funny moments to share by all there, I was way at the end in a cozy enclosed area of sea decor ,really nice and wonderful corner. Oh yes the restaurant was the L’Amfora ,Avinguda Paral-lel 184 , metro plaça d’Espanya line 3.


A bit more info from the tabloids: Have an authentic Catalan and mediterranean experience. Enjoy a beautiful
maritime environment with your people while you savor the tapas selection, traditional paellas, exquisite grilled meats and the most selected seafood from the tank. Obviously, do not miss the typical desserts and the popular
sangria of Catalan cava. Furthermore, it has private meeting rooms for groups, vegetarian and vegan multiple options and children menus. They are located next to the plaça d’Espanya square, The Fira Congress Palace and The Magic Fountain of Montjuic.

The official L’Amfora restaurant:

And the reviews on my blog roll bottom of my main page YELP on the resto:

And of course the shopping nearby in the area,what better then the Arenas de Barcelona, the old bullfight ring! Built at end of the 19C and opened in 1900 in a neo mudéjar style and ended bullfighting here in 1977, after came the shopping center we know today. Right by Plaça d’Espanya (Spain square) you reach it on metro line 1 and 3, bus V7 and 165, and if coming from the airport the Aerobus leave you just on the other side of the square! webpage:


There you go folks, a nice 3 days 2 nights in wonderful Barcelona, short and sassy or pretty and smooth, a nice getaway in Europe to nice Barcelona . Hope you enjoy the shopping ,eating, and staying in Barcelona on this post.

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

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