Monthly Archives: November 2016

Museo de America, Madrid (Museum of the Americas)

Across the upper portion of its distinct-looking facade is a large sign that bears its name. The building is every inch majestic that it is sure to catch the people´s attention, or just about everyone who passes by. It certainly got mine the few times the auto bus I was in passed through the area as I was en route to a few day trip destinations, like Segovia and El Escorial). Its grand and imposing edifice sprawled in a wide area of land along Ave. de los Reyes Catolicos is definitely worth a second look.

imageMadrid, indeed, bursts in so much art and culture, ready for everyone to experience and enjoy by way of the numerous museums scattered all around the city. The Avenue of the Catholic Kings is proud to be the site of one of the city’s major museums, the Museo de America, or the Museum of the Americas. Possessing a stately and solemn stance, I would have mistaken it for a basilica or a cathedral were ir not for the large name on its facade that identifies it.

The earliest collections procured and displayed within was initiated by Carlos III way back in 1771; this was the time when early excavations and archaelogical work were done in the American continent.

imageThe museum is one of the finest in Madrid to explore since it has within its collection countless pieces of artistic, cultural, archaeological, and even religious artifacts and valuable historical items, all of which come from every corner of the American continents.

All in all, 25,000 items belong to the museums collection, with some of the most valuable ones included in the collection of the Royal Cabinet of Natural History. Through the years, the museo became more established, and earned the reputation of being one of the most respectable Madrid Museums. As such, more and more donors from the far corners of the world contribute to making its collections richer and more diverse.

imageCeramics, vases, urns and similar vessels, helmets and headgears, paintings and other forms of artworks — visitors are assured of a wide variety of artifacts and antiquities to be seen and apprecated at the museum. Museo de America is certainly a must-see, whether you are an individual with a great curiosity on American antiquities or an avid history lover. Many of the items in the collections were donations from other prestigious museums and similar institutions.
imageIn the museum grounds stands a huge stone equestrian statue. You can see the museo in the background
imageYou can also find a rectangular pond with a statue of Vasco Nuñez de Balboa (with inscribed description, Discubridor del Pacifico, or Discoverer of the Pacific in English) standing on one end

Direccion: You may visit the museum at Avenida de los Reyes Catolicos 6, Madrid

Horarios: : Museo de America is open from Tuesday to Saturdays, 9:30 Am to 3:00 PM and closed on Mondays

How to go: The museum is a few hundred meters away from Plaza de Moncloa. You can take the Madrid Metro and get off at Moncloa Station, via Linea 3 and Linea 6 – Circular. Take Avenida Plaza de la Moncloa, along which you will also find the Faro de Moncloa. The site is at the corner of Avenidas Victoria and de los Reyes Catholico. If you want to go via auto bus, available EMT lineas are 2, 44, 46, 61, 113, 132, 133

Nearby Madrid Attractions and landmarks:

1. Arco de la Victoria - You´ll never miss this tall monument if you´re passing by Moncloa. It is also considered a city gateway like those found at Toledo and Alcala; hence, it is called La Puerta de Moncloa.

2. Quartel General del Ejercito del Aire – the headquarters of the Spanish Air Force, a major landmark within the Moncloa-Aravaca district

3. Faro de Moncloa – observe and marvel at the city via a bird´s eye view — this you can achieve by climbing up the almost 100-meter high observation tower called Faro. Be awed by various Madrid attractions from up high – such as the Palacio Real, the Columbus Towers, and even as distant as the mountain ranges of the Guadarramas. It´s definitely worth your time — try to drop by before or after you made your visit to the Museo de America.

Admission Prices: 3 euros (regular) and 1.50 euros (reduced price)

When is admission free?
Entry to the museum is free during Sundays, the 18th of April and May, October 12 (National Day of Spain, and December 6 (Spain´s Constitution Day). Minors, students, and individuals over the age of 65 can also enter for free

Official Website of the museum

Map:

Parque el Buen Retiro’s Monumento a Alfonso XII

In front of El Retiro Park, Madrid‘s huge and rectangular-shaped Estanque Grande del Retiro, which is also referred to as the Great Pond by the distinguished Spanish architect Cristobal de Aguilera, is the magnificent monument of Alfonso XII. 

The statue is located halfway of the pond’s side adjacent to Plaza de Maestra Villa, within its eastern portion. The statue towers over everything else and is seemingly looking over the wide expanse of the estanque. The latter itself is an important part of the park in that it boasts of a rich Spanish history that started from Phillip IV’s reign, where it served as a recreational venue for the royals and their court to ride the boats and fish.

It was in 1902 when the plan to build a monument to Alfonso XII was formed. Consequently, a contest endorsed by then Queen Maria Cristina that would determine the architect for the monument project was held, with architect Grases Riera as the eventual winner.

The equestrian statue of Alfonso XI is made in bronze and known to be one of the tallest and largest structures inside the park.  The middle of the last century saw the structure being neglected, allowing it to deteriorate. It was in the 80’s when restoration were done. A number of statues and figures nearby also had to be replaced as part of the restoration.

Visit Alfonso XII Monument at El Retiro Park:

Today, no visit to El Retiro Park should be made without visiting the monument. You will not miss it, in the first place, since the estangue is near the main entrance to the park, the Puerta de Alcala. Walk towards Calle Nicaragua, along which is the front portion of the pond. You will have to take either Paseo del Estangue or Paseo de Valenzuela to reach the statue on the other side.

Near Puerta de Alcala is the Retiro Madrid Metro of Linea 2, which is right inside the park itself. From the station is a short walk to Fuente de los Galapagos and Paseo del Enstanque.

Nearby park sites and attractions:

Palacio de Velazquez, Palacio de Cristal, Cecilio Rodriguez Gardens

imageSunny day, blue skies with wispy clouds here are there — it was indeed a perfect morning to visit the Monument of Alfonso XII at Buen Retiro Park in Madrid

imageI was lucky to have chanced upon the spacious area in front of the equestrian statue as still empty. I could only presume that as the day progresses, it will be filled with tourists excited to take shots of the monument and the pond.

imageI took this shot of the estanque and the monument of Alfonso XII one early morning, and so the quiet and tranquility in the place is still apparent. The estanque was said to have been a witness to a number of Spanish kings and their entourage proudly displaying their gondolas as they wade through them, while at the same time, music was being played.

imageIn this picture is one of the four lions carved out of stone materials, fine masterpieces by exceptional artists, Pedro Estany and Agapit Vallmitjana Abarca. They are placed near the steps that lead to the central monument. Also nearby are four mermaids in various positions; such statues are creations of Parera Saurina, Coll y Pi, Rafael Atche, and Antoni Alsina.

imageAt the back of the monument are ionic columns forming a  beautiful collonade that further enhanced the Alfonso XII monument. These structures were also constructed by Pedro Estany. The steps beneath the statue are often used by visitors and tourists to sit around and stay while waiting for the setting of the sun.

Map:

Colmenar Viejo: Inviting Day Trip Town from Madrid

To the unquestionable traveler, Madrid, Spain is a goldmine, it being  surrounded by towns, all unique and beautiful. And as a self-proclaimed budget traveler who lives in this city, I take advantage of such a privilege to the hilt. Always, I’m on the lookout for every town that I could possibly visit.

In this country, you can expect every place to possess qualities that would make the tourists want to visit it. In the case of the Spanish pueblo, it is interesting to visit and explore for a number of reasons. It may be that it prides itself of some glorious age-old story, of how it came to be. Or perhaps, it cradles magnificent monuments that highly qualify it as a place of interest, like for example, the Segovia and the Roman Aqueduct, or Toledo and its Alcazar.

Colmenar Viejo, Madrid: My next day trip

Ermita de Nuestra Senora de la Soledad Colmenar ViejoErmita de Nuestra Senora de la Soledad

Colmenar Viejo is the nearest town I’ve been to — it is a mere 37 kilometers from Madrid. Clearly, its nearness to the capital, beauty, and convenient of travel to reach it are qualities that help it land in my list of day trip destinations.

Like other more traditional touristy towns, I rate it as a delightful getaway where you can spend hours of the days enjoying what it can offer — sites and attractions. It must be the most affordable trip I took bus – 3.60 euros for a one-way bus fare.

And it delights me even more that since distance is shorter, the journey involves easy and fast travel. By the time you are settled in your bus seat, you finally reached the final stop. You have reached your destination even before you know it.

It is apparent that like other small towns, time moves slowly, and you see less people going around, giving you much space to really wander the place. Needless to say, Colmenar is a geat option if you want a tranquil place of retreat, without the need to travel far from the capital.

What to see in Colmenar Viejo

1. Ayuntamiento/City Hall

Colmenar Viejo AyuntamientoEvery Spanish town is not without a city, and Colmenar Viejo is no exception. I deemed that the building exudes a modern style, with a simple facade, a spacious yard and benches in front to accomodate locals and tourists who would want to rest and while their time away.

2. El Corral de la Casa del Labrador

El Corral de la Casa del Labrador Colmenar ViejoEl Corral de la Casa del Labrador is showcased as a typical abode to be found during the 1900’s. During the pueblo’s early days, the homes were constructed using basic construction materials, like wood and adobe.

3. Centro Cultural Pablo Neruda

Centro Cultural Pablo Neruda of Colmenar ViejoA building made peculiar because of the bright yellow and jagged surfaced addition in its facade, Centro Cultural Pablo Neruda serves as the town’s training and educational center, offering young adults various courses, seminars, and workshops that define and enrich the participants’ role in the society.

4. Capilla de Santa Ana

Colmenar Viejo's Capilla de Santa AnaChapel of Saint Anne in English — also called the Capilla de Concepcion — is a small 15th-century church of Castile y Leon region of Spain. It boasts of a splendid Castilian altar piece, a work of art by Spanish sculptor De Siloé.

5. Ermita de Santa Ana

Ermita de Santa Ana Colmenar ViejoThe Hermitage of Saint Anne is one of the most photographed sites of the town. However, you need to go out of the main town center and reach the cemetery road in order to see this tiny yet charming hermitage. A creation from the 1500’s. I could only admire its simple design and structure, with its facade dominated by its wooden doors accentuated by an arch of stone wedges.

6. Basílica dela Asuncion de Nuestra Senora

Basílica dela Asuncion de Nuestra SenoraThe Basilica of the Assumption of Our Lady can be found on the site of the former Parroquia de Santa Maria, the construction of which would not see its end until almost 100 years. Architects Guas, Hontanon, and de Cuellar were responsible for the design of the church. Its tall, imposing edifice stand along Calle del Cura, at number 14.

7. Plaza de Toros de Colmenar

Plaza de Toros de Colmenar ViejoPlaza de Toros is another major pueblo attraction, with the La Feria de Nuetra Senora de los Remedios recognized as one of the most important bullfighting events within the Community of Madrid, second only to the San Isidro festival. During the particular feast, the plaza fills to the brim as bullfighting afficionados from all over Spain visit the town to watch the much-awaited sporting spectacle.

How I traveled to Colmenar Viejo

imageLikeness of Colmenar-born and matador of toros Senor Agapito Garcia Gonzalez, famous for the monicker “Serranito.” The bust is found in a park/square near the Plaza del Toros

Bus: I chose to ride the bus since the autobus company that offers regular trips is stationed at Plaza de Castilla, which is just a few blocks from the apartment. Take Bus 721 — one is scheduled to travel to Colmenar Viejo every hour or so. Trips are less frequent during weekends; hence, it is advised to check journey schedules a few days before your desired date. From Colmenar, you may take bus 724 to reach another pueblo, Manzanares el Real and its fascinating castle.

Ticket fare: 3.60 euros

Go for Train Option: You can take RENFE Train from Chamartín Station, where trips to the town is available every hour. Visit the RENFE website for schedule of daily trips to the town as well as ticket fare prices.

Map

Madrid Attraction: Palacio de Cristal de la Arganzuela

imageAfter an unintentional, albeit exhilirating exploration of Matadero Madrid, Arganzuela district’s center of culture and arts, I finally continued to walk to my original destination, the Madrid Rio, which is also located within the same area. I have always wanted to see for myself what they say is the vast expanse of the park as well as its impressive outdoor fitness facilities. Also, this Arganzuela park is well-known as a project that promotes the creation of more “green areas” in Madrid, and so, I was raring to write a blog article about it.

But once again, as I continued to tread the way to the park,  I stopped in my tracks literally, as I was greeted by the sight of a beautiful building that’s looking unique because it is made mostly of glass. The sign board in front reveals its name — the Palacio de Cristal de la Arganzuela. However, as I managed to look past its glass facade, I could discern that it is a large terrarium.

Even from afar, you can peer through the glass walls and see that its interior is filled with plants of different kinds, silver-colored tubes that are perhaps parts of the HVAC equipment of the facility,  large vats or containers, and vertical steel bars that hold the glass ceiling in place, serving as a strong reinforcement.

Formerly called the Nave de Patatas, the glass and steel edifice was once a part of the Matadero Madrid complex of the distrito de Arganzuela, until eventually it was transformed into a large museum of plants and herbs that it is today — a gargantuan greenhouse for all sorts of flora, a greening and environmental effort that the City of Madrid is proud of.

This garden / terrarium facility is also called Invernadero (in English it means greenhouse) and even known by a much longer name, Invernadero de Palacio de Cristal de la Arganzuela.

What to see in the crystal palace of Arganzuela

The glass house is so huge that it is able to take in and managage around 9,000 different species of plants, all of which are grouped according to the climate that they thrive in and flourish.

1. There are basically four different groups of plants; these are the tropical, subtropical, cacti and crass, and water plants. The Palace’s management made sure that the different groups of plants not only survived but flourished. This is ensured by simulating the type of climate necessary for every group of flora.

2. Apart from perhaps thousands of species of flora, the plant palace also features a variety of waterfalls and fountains filled with different species of fish. Various types of birds are also bred and cared for inside the greenhouse.

image
imageFront Facade and entrance to the Plant Greenhouse
imagePalacio de Cristal de la Arganzuela also has an equally beautiful back facade and entrance

Visit Palacio de Cristal de la Arganzuela

Location of site: Paseo de la Chopera 10 (near the Matadero Madrid Complex, Madrid Rio, and the Rio de Manzanares)

How to Go:

Via Auto bus: EMT lines 6, 19, 45, 59, 78, 76, 148, 247

Via City Subway: Legazpi Madrid Metro Station (Lines 3, 6)

Hours of Visit:

Mondays: The site is closed

Tuesday to Friday: 9 AM to 3 PM

Saturday and Sunday: 10 AM to 2 PM

Entrance Price:

Admission is Free

 Map:

Outside Madrid: Royal Town of Aranjuez

Aranzuez isn’t a huge, highly sought-after town, but it’s far from being hidden and obscure. It is actually one jewel of a Spanish pueblo, being the site of a spectacular royal palace. Still, many would consider it as low-key compared to the more popular day trip destinations like Toledo, Segovia, or even the faraway exciting getaways like Santiago de Compostela.

There’s no bit of a doubt, however, that this town 80 kilometers away from Madrid can hold its own, boasting of some of the most alluring sites and attractions.

Aranjuez, Madrid and its Royal Palace

aranjuez palace in plaza de las parejasThis town presents a great appeal to those who are interested in royal history, and this is thru the Palacio Real de Aranjuez, an 18th century palace that once served as the residence of the King of Spain. With the collaboration of distinguished Spanish architects such as  Juan Herrera, Juan Bautista de Toledo, and Francesco Sabatini, the royal edifice was built using a  mix of Renaissance and French style in its design.

It was in 1523 when the palace was officially declared the royal property of the Spanish Monarchy.  Beloved royalties who lived and died there were Elisabeth Fernese, wife of Philip V and Elizabeth of Valois, wife of Philip II.  Likewise, the Palacio Real was the site of the signing of various important treaties.

If you haven’t been to Aranjuez, Spain, it’s high time that you do. The Palacio Real will certainly amaze you. it is easy to find since it is right in the midst, as if to assert its prime importance as the town’s top tourist attraction.

Apart from the palace, other major attractions are its sprawling plazas, the Tagus River, and the Casa del Labrador.

Where to start your Aranjuez tour

imageThe Ayuntamiento Building at Plaza de Constitucion. The statue in front is Alfonso XII

Aranjuez is less than an hour away – whether by bus or by train. It’s one of those charming towns that are near Madrid, and very easy to reach — you’ll be there even before you know it.

You might want to start your tour at the Plaza de la Constitution, where you can see the Ayuntamiento — simple yet stately in its facade. On one side of the square stands a metal board marked on which is a map specifying all the major places of interest to see. Or you can head straight to the tourism office for a tour map plus instructions and advices on how to get around the town.

I spent the whole day exploring Aranjuez, and had a great time discovering all the reasons why the whole town was declared a World Heritage Cultural Landscape by the UNESCO. The Royal Palace was just impressive. You can see the grandness of the structure from the pictures that I took. I can proudly say that my shots of the palace are all postcard-worthy. Equally impressive are the gardens and plazas, the surrounding bodies of waters, and the Casas.

Aranjuez might be small, but it can very well compete with the much larger and more touristy Spanish towns. Needless to say, it must be one the first town-members of the community of Madrid that you must visit. Engaging locals, lots of eager tourists, amazing tourist attractions, what more can you ask for? Add Aranjuez to your must-see town list, do visit and explore it, and I assure you it is all worth your while.

What to see in Aranjuez, Spain

1. Royal Palace of Aranjuez

imagePalacio Real de Aranjuez in Spanish, this UNESCO-declared World Heritage Site was once the King’s official residence. One of the more popular Royal Sites, it now serves as a museum and is open to the public.

2. Iglesia de San Antonio

imageKing Ferdinand VI assigned Spanish architects Gonzalez Velazquez and Santiago Bonavia to build what was intended as a royal church, and one dedicated to San Antonio de Padua – St. Anthony´s Church or Iglesia de San Antonio. This Italian-inspired church from the 1700’s sprawls in one end of the Plaza de San Antonio. Nearby is the Tourism Office.

3. Iglesia de Alpajes

imageThe Alpajes Church, also called the Church of Our Lady of Sorrows, is a small church located in the old Alpajes quarter. Eventually, the said quarter was incorporated into the expanded Aranjuez town.

4. Parterre Garden

imageThe beautiful Parterre Garden is the most colorful of all that surround the Royal Palace of Aranjuez, I must say. It must be where beautiful flowers of all types and hues are found. The flowers were in blooming and exploding in all colors that the whole garden was such a fascinating sight. Parterre is in front of the West portion of the Palace.

5. Jardin del Principe

imageLiterally, it means the Prince’s Garden. The Jardin was a pet project of Charles IV which started when he was still the Prince of Asturias. Consisting of 150 hectares of land, it must have been the largest Madrid garden that I’ve seen so far. It took 19 years to build the garden, and was finished in 1908, at the time when Charles finally became king.

6. Casa del Labrador

Casa del Labrador, Aranjuez, Community of Madrid, SpainOne of the royal family of Spain´s favorite residences in Madrid, the Casa del Labrador is a World Heritage site. Public viewing and visits are allowed although I wasn’t able to because I visited Aranjuez on a Monday, when most of the sites are closed.

7. Jardin de la Isla

imageA beautiful garden found in the northern portion of the palace, the Jardin de la Isla is so-called because it is situated in the middle of bodies of water, by the Tagus River or Rio Tajo, and a man-made river.

8. Cascada de las Castanuelas

imageLocated beside the Jardin de la Isla, the Cascades was built to regulate the course of the Tagus River and to collect water for the gardens.

9. Tagus River

imageRio Tajo in Spanish, it is one of the main  bodies of water that surround the palace. Tagus River is of utmost importance to Aranjuez’ environment as it sustains the lives of a number of animal varieties, especially the waterfowl.

How to get to Aranjuez, Spain:

imageVia Bus: Take the 423 bus, found at Estacion Sur, Madrid’s biggest bus station. The latter can be reached via Metro Madrid Linea 6, at Mendez Alvaro.

Fare is 4.20 euros, and tickets are bought on the bus itself.

Via Train: Cercania train tickets are available at the ticketing counters of Chamartin and Atocha stations. Traveling by train is more or less the same as that with bus travel – around an hour.

For specific journey schedules and ticket prices, please refer to Cercania’s website.

Map of Royal Palace of Aranjuez:

Hospital de Maudes of Chamberi, Madrid [Sta Maria del Silencio]

imageTravel blogs have lauded this former Madrid hospital for the labourers as one of the most eccentric yet beautiful edifices in the city. I definitely agree with them. Its name is long, Hospital de Jornaleros de San Francisco de Paula; this alone makes you feel it is special. Hospital de Maudes for short,  its impressive white-and-brownish hued facade and stately towers give off a royal vibe.

At least once a week, I never fail to take a short eight-minute (as how I timed it) walk that starts from El Corte Ingles at the corner of Paseo de Castellana and Raimundo Fernandez Villaverde and ends at Cuatro Caminos, or vice versa. And when I do, this building located midway always earns from me a long, bewildered gaze.

Is Hospital de Maudes really a hospital or a church?

I am at a loss about the true “identity” of the Maudes Hospital. Is it really one, when if viewed from afar, it appears to be abandoned? It doesn´t look busy like any typical hospital rendering medical services.

And so I thought I needed to do some sleuthing by visiting the building myself. Going there is easy — Glorieta de Cuatro Caminos, a busy roundabout, is four Metro stops away from Valdeacederas station, which is a few blocks from my place.

Upon reaching the Glorieta, I turned to Fernandez Villaverde and walked its sidewalk down to the spot where I could take some long shots of the building. I also had to take pictures from close range, which meant walking back to the glorieta in order to cross Villaverde street and access the opposite sidewalk.

As I approached the building, I realized it wasn’t a hospital but a church. However, since it was mid-afternoon, the gates were closed and the main front doors shut. I was almost sorry about the glum surroundings.

After taking pictures, I walked to the back of the building, and discovered that this portion faces a street called Calle de Maudes. It became clear that it was named after its location.

A large sign, “Comunidad de Madrid” is posted on the facade, and this got me more confused. Is it a hospital? A church? Or did they turn it to a government agency of sorts?

I noticed a security officer was around, walking and checking the premises, occasionally stopping in front of the gate to observe people passing by. I notice he looked at me as I took pictures from the outside, but he didn’t seem to mind my presence and continued his unhurried gait around. All the while I took shots, I waited for him to venture near the grilled fence.

Finally, he did. This signaled me to field my questions about the building, to which he graciously responded.

Parroquia Santa Maria del Silencio

He explained that the original building was constructed to serve as a hospital, providing medical and health services to the laborers of the city.

Eventually, the property was divided, the part facing Raimundo Fernandez Villaverde now serves as a church, known as the Parroquia Sta Maria del Silencio, the Parish church for the deaf. (This church primarily serves the spiritual needs of people with hearing disabilities.) The other half located along Calle de Maudes Site operates as a government office.

I thanked the security guy profusely for his efforts to enlighten me as far as Hospital de Maudes’s current function is concerned. [I couldn’t remember the number of times I uttered “Como” and “Mas despacho, por favor” as he spoke entirely in Spanish].

Now, I see the building differently, having learned about its history and function as well (a noble one at that). I don’t think of it now as a beautiful building gone to waste but a Palacios masterpiece that has more than served its purpose.

imageThe edifice is currently under the administration of the Comunidad de Madrid.

imageOriginally a hospital that served laborers and workers of the city, the part of the building complex facing Villaverde is now a Church, Santa Maria del Silencio

imageThe Maudes edifice along Calle de Raimundo Fernandez Villaverde

imageNotice how the towers of the buildings have a strong resemblance to those belonging to the Palacio de Cibeles, mainly because both buildings were creations of the same Spanish architect, Antonio Palacio

imageThe beautiful facade of the hospital / church, as seen from the steps of Calle de Ciceron

Facts and trivia

1. Antonio Palacios, the Spanish architect of Hospital de Maudes and Cibele Palace, had a significant part in the construction of a number lineas of Metro de Madrid, designing the entrances to the stations.

2. Year 2016 marks its centenary, since construction was finished in 1916. A beautiful website, Palacio de Maudes, is dedication to its 100-year celebration.

3. The government agency currently housed at the Maudes part of the building is the Consejería de Transportes, Vivienda y Infraestructura, or the Ministry of Transportation, Housing and Infrastructure.

4. The owner of the land on which the building was built is Dona Dolores Romero. She ordered the creation of a hospital specifically meant to welcome city laborers needing medical attention but didn’t have the financials means to pay for it. The hospital was tasked to admit and retain patients up to their full recovery and restored ability to return to work.

How to reach Hospital de Maudes

Hospital de Maudes is found in one of bustling neighborhoods of Madrid, a few hundred meters away from the Glorieta de Cuatro Caminos. Immediate streets are Bravo Murillo and Paseo de Castellana, both of which intersect Calle Fernandez Villaverde, the street where it is found. Important landmarks nearby are El Corte Ingles and the the Governnment office, Nuevos Ministerios.

Nearest Metro Stations: N. Ministerios, Bravo Murillo

Autobus paradas: C1, C2, 149, 40, 5, 27

Map:

(If you have to upload or embed the map of Hospital de Maudes on your own blog or website, don’t search the key phrase Hospital de Maudes, but go for “Santa Maria del Silencio” instead, which is how they refer to the building on Google Maps.)

Matadero Madrid: From Slaughterhouse to Venue for the Arts

imageMadrid‘s distrito de Arganzuela must be proud for being the site of beautiful Moorish-inspired complex that serves to foster art and culture in the city.  Red brick-and-tile edifices stand on a wide area of land in front of Plaza de Legazpi, sprawled along the riverbanks of the Rio de Manzanares. The complex is a must-visit after a morning stroll at the Madrid Rio Park.

Its name is Matadero Madrid; and yes, you guessed it right — it used to be the city’s slaughterhouse (hence the name). Apart from being the workplace for butchers, it also served as a market (I presumed all that slaughtered livestock went straight to this place to be sold).

The building was constructed under the helm of famous Spanish architect Luis Bellido during the early years of the 20th century, and was thought of as a major representative of Spain´s progressive, modern  architecture. The project ensured the buildings or pavilions were functional to the optimum.

Moorish Architectural style

Notice the unique architectural style used in the pavilions, I say unique in that it is different from the designs common in many city edifices and structures.

The design used in Matadero is Neomudejar, which is Moorish styled architecture. Proponents of this particular style push for its emergence in the modern Madrid architecturul landscape, with claims that Neo-mudejar is uniquely Spanish.

Transformation to a haven for art lovers

Matadero continued to operate as a slaughterhouse until 1996, with the city government voted for the conversion of the place into a venue for contemporary arts and culture. As it was an experiment during its inception as a slaughterhouse, it continues such a tradition by making non-conventional renovations and development of the complex. This is done to optimize its use as a major haven for the creators and lovers of modern Madrid art.

What to see in Matadero Madrid

1. Deposito de Especies

imageWhat used to be a water tank meant for the slaughterhouse now serves as an archive and memorial.

2. Plaza de Matadero

imageThe main square of the complex, where arts and performance events such as dance, concert, and even circus acts are held.

3. Naves de Espanol

imageOne of the main centers of arts, Naves de Espanol is a chain of three buildings along the Calle de Matadero. Small performances and theater acts are performed in this venue.

4. Cineteca

imageA modern center where films of documentary nature are screened for public viewing. The movie house also serves as the office for the prestigious Documenta Madrid film fest, the film body dedicated to the showing of documentary movies promoted and endorsed by the Madrid City Council and Cinetica.

5. La Casa del Lector

imageThis venue was meant to accommodate the readers, and was created thru the efforts of the Germán Sánchez Ruipérez Foundation. La Casa del Lector is a place for promoting reading of all forms and holding cultural activities such as reading workships, film exhibitions, and music performances.

6. La Casa del Reloj

imagePreviously known as Matadero’s Pavilion of Central Services and Municipal Market, it is now both a cultural center and the Office of the Municipal Board of Arganzuela.

How to Go to Matadero Madrid

Nearest Madrid Stations: Legazpi (Line 6), Principe Pio (you will have to go through Madrid Rio first, which involves a long, long walk)

Autobus Lines: Lineas 8, 22, 79, 123, 18, 19, 180, 45, 59, 148 (among others)

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Madrid Attraction: The Crystal Palace of Buen Retiro Park

imageI’m having a break from my day trip adventures, even if I admit I always have the best times whenever I go to these beautiful nearby towns, the last being Avila, Manzanares el Real and Chincon. These three Spanish pueblos are such fascinating Spanish pueblos I advise everyone to also visit and explore.

But for now, time to focus again on the city proper and feature yet another entrancing Madrid attraction. This morning, I found myself in front of the Puerta de Alcala, in front of the city´s premier park. Entering through the park’s entrance in front of the Plaza de la Independencia, I’m set to visit a popular edifice within — beautiful park attraction.

Palacio de Cristal de Retiro

Crystal Palace is located at Madrid, Spain‘s premier park and garden, the Buen Retiro Park. The edifice is located along Paseo de Cuba, and a popular venue for various exhibits featuring various forms of arts and culture. Its very first exhibit happened in the 1887’s international exhibition, when it housed a wide variety of plants and animals from the Philippines.

What is the building of the Crystal Palace made of?

Main construction components are metal and glass, with the latter abundantly used as walls and ceilings to allow sufficient sunshine to to pass through. Consequently, this provides ample natural lighting inside the palace.

If only for the glass-and-metal make of the building, this renders the Crystal as one of the most attractive spots of the Retiro Park. Needless to say, the edifice-monument is one of the reasons why throngs of people are enticed to visit the park every day.

imageThe lush flora, the fountain in the midst of the pond, the pond itself, and the tiny water falls in the background — they all add to the beauty to the surroundings of the palace

Because of the lush greenery that surrounds the area, as well as the pond found in its front, the outdoor surrounding of the palace is as enjoyable to walk around as its interior. The tall and thick flora provides cool shade for people to enjoy as they pass through the palace and its vicinity. The pond is home to some wild ducks swimming in its water, which is a warm, interesting scene to enjoy.

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How to go to Crystal Palace

The edifice is royal and stately in appearance, which is why it was named a palace, in the first place. I was utterly mesmerized the first time I went there. And since then, I’ve been to the site for as much as I can, whenever I am in the area of Alcala or Puerta del Sol. The tranquility of the surroundings, the  pond, the ducks floating in the water, the fountain, and the palace itself have a calming effect, and so, I always come out of the park as devoid of tiredness and totally refreshed. Take some time to visit the Crystal Palace yourself, I assure you it will be worth your while.

Direccion de Palacio de Cristal: Inside the Buen Retiro Park, you can reach the site via Paseo Republica de Cuba or Paseo Fernan Nunez

Nearby Retiro sites: Jardines de Cecilio Rodriguez, Palacio de Velazquez

Horario: Open from 10AM to 10PM

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Outside Madrid: Castilian Town of Avila Spain

Town walls or murallas of AvilaLocated 100 kilometers from the capital city of Madrid is the beautiful town of Avila, Spain. A hundred kilometers might seem far, but it is actually not even if you must commute to get there. It is a mere 1 1/2 hours by train and a maximum of 2 via bus, and so you can´t blame me if I add this town to my list of convenient and affordable day trip destinations.

A part of the community of Castile Laon, Avila is a charming Castilian town, serving as the capital of the province that bears the same name. And by the way, trust me when I say it´s charming. Avila´s as charming as it can be. It immediately won my heart — a pounding one at that — the minute I stepped into the town and finally gazed at the wall gates near the Iglesia of Saint Peter. What a sight to behold! The wall, or the muralla de Avila, is such an entrancing monument, and comparable to Toledo´s Alcazar or Segovia´s Acqueducto Romano.

To be in Avila is like being transported to a 16th-century Spanish town filled with cobbled roads, medieval churches, royal houses, not to mention that the ancient walls that surround it.

When it comes to the wall, a quick inspection tells you that it is in perfect condition. It should be even after all these years, as this major Spain attraction, was built to serve as a strong enclosure to protect the town from invasion. The wall singularly puts Avila in the tourism map; it certainly is the reason why people – locals and tourists – come to visit the town in droves.

The town, whose beloved saint is St. Therese of Avila, is known for its numerous iglesias. I must have encountered one everywhere I go, which is why a number of them are featured in this article, such as the Iglesia de San Pedro, standing at the  major square of San Theresa, outside the walls; the Gothic-style Cathedral of Avila; and the Basilica de San Vicente, another highly popular church that’s located outside the muralla.

Indeed, the town of Avila has so much to offer in terms of fascinating tourist sites and attractions. Here are some of them that you will surely enjoy:

The Muralla or the Town Wall

imageFacade of the town wall, which was built to serve as protection and shield of the medieval town of Avila from the attacks of the Moors.

The Walls along El Rastro

imageWalk the pathway along that part of the wall at Parque El Rastro one late afternoon, and you´ll be mesmerized.

Basilica of San Vicente

imageNo words can describe the utter grace and solemnity of the Basilica of San Vicente. The Romanesque church, a national monument since 1882, was constructed using granite rocks. Also known as the Basilica of Saints Vicente, Sabina and Cristeta, it is one of the top church sites among tourists, and second only to the town´s Cathedral in popularity.

Church of Saint Peter

Iglesia de San Pedro, Avila, SpainThe photo shows the side gate to the Church of Saint Peter or La Iglesia de San Pedro. Notice the intricacy in the designs of its door, stone column, and arch components. Declared a monument of cultural interest in 1914, the church is located on one end of the Plaza de Santa Teresa de Jesus.

The Cathedral of Avila

imageKnown as the Catedral del Salvador de Avila, both Romanesque and Gothic designs were applied during its construction. The cathedral holds the distinction of being the first Gothic church to be built in the country. Its apse is a part of the muralla, and is considered as the most important turret of that section of the wall.

Convento de San Jose o de los Madres

imageBuilt in the beginning of the 1500’s, Convento de San Jose served as a convent for the Carmelite nuns of the town. It was declared a historical site and national monument in 1968.

The Town Ayuntamiento

imageWhile average in height and appearance, the beauty of the Ayuntamiento of the City Hall of Avila cannot be denied especially when its facade is lit up in the evening. The historic town hall, together with other establishments, enhance the beauty of the square, Plaza Mercado Chico.

Iglesia de Santiago

imageLa Iglesia Parroquial de Santiago is a breathtaking Avilan church that displays both Roman and Gothic styles. Thanks to its octagon-sided bell tower, Iglesia de Santiago is recognizable even when viewed from the distant mirador at Parque El Rastro.  The church was declared a monument of cultural interest on the 13th of April, 1983.

Plaza de Santa Teresa de Jesus

imagePlaza de Santa Teresa is also known as El Grande, and is one of the two recognized main squares of the town, the other being the Plaza Mercado Chico, found within the walls and home to the city hall. In the photo, the statue of the Monument to St. Therese faces the Puerto de Alcazar, one of the Wall Gates.

Yemas – Los Pasteles Traditionales de Avila

imageAvila can be dubbed as the town of delicious sweets and pastries, with the yema as its traditional Spanish food delicacy. I bought a box of 6 piece at Chuchi, one of the popular pastelerias around and enjoyed some of the best-tasting sweets I must have had in a long time. Most shops sell them at 6 pieces for 2.50 euros, and 4.50 to 5 euros for a box of 12.

More Avila sites and scenes

imageWith its yemas and other delicious sweets, Avila wins the title of ¨Spain´s Pastry town”
imageFrom the mirador, or the viewing balcony of the Parque de Rastro, you will be enthralled by the breathtaking view of the Ambles valley and all else that your eyes can see as everything is illuminated by the soft glow from the setting sun.
imageStatue of St. Therese de Avila with bountiful offerings of bouquets of flowers
imageBeautifully lit and animated fountain inside the courtyard complements the walls in adding mysticism to the surroundings
imageAs the sun’s rays kiss the orange granite stones of which the wall is made of, it magically turns golden

imageWhat an exciting day trip destination Avila is! I’ve seen so much, but there is more to explore — more churches, more sections of the muralla, and more truly spectacular views from atop this town wall (if you access it). Needless to say, much can be explored and discovered in Avila. It is not surprising that people who’ve been there would love to do a second visit. I myself is planning one, definitely soon.

Want to Enjoy a tour of the Wall?

Accessible tramos or sections to the public: Casa de Carnicerias, Puerta del Alcazar, Arco del Carmen and Puente Adaja

Entrance Fee: General Price is 5 euros; Reduced Price is 3.5 euros

Free entry: Tuesdays, from 2PM to 4PM

How I traveled to Avila, Spain:

One can reach the town via Renfe (train) or by bus. I opted for the latter, as always, as I find it convenient and less “invasive” compared to the train. Albeit, bus ride do take more off your time.

1. Via Autobus:

In Madrid, take the Metro station Linea 6 and get off at Mendez Alvaro. This station is found inside the Estacion Sur, the biggest and the busiest bus station in the city. If you’re in the vicinity of Atocha, take the EMT autobus 10 and alight at the Avenida Ciudad Barcelona – Pacifico parada, near the Pacifico Metro. Ride the train at this station, and get off at the next one, which is Mendez Alvaro.

I opted for the Jimenez Dorado bus, which arrived and departed on time. A plus: They offer video and music playing gadget in front of your seat. Too bad I didn’t bring my earphone.A one-way ticket to Avila Spain is around 7.50 euro, but if you buy an ida y vuelta (round trip) ticket, you´d spend less, at 13.61 euros. Be advised that tickets are not sold on the bus, but at the Estacion Sur ticketing counter. I made the mistake of falling in line at the darsena (platform) for nearly an hour only to be refused. After acquiring tickets from the counter, I had to wait for another two hours for the next scheduled trip.

Other Bus Companies offering trips: Avanza bus Company is also found in Estacion Sur. Visit its website for prices and bus schedules.

2. Via Train:

RENFE have regular trips to Avila. Please check costs and schedules on its official website.

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