Monthly Archives: December 2016

15 Fun Things to See and Do In (and Near the Vicinity of) Puerta del Sol, Madrid

imageBustling, reverberating, full of life — these words perfectly describe Puerta del Sol, or the Gate of the Sun in English. A gargantuan, irregularly-shaped plaza in the midst of Madrid, it serves as a focal point from which important streets like Calles Preciado and de la Montera branch out and lead to various other major Madrid spots, like Plaza del Callao and Gran Via, respectively.

Needless to say, Puerta del Sol is the heart of Spain.

Whether you’re a backpacker, a first-time traveller, or a high-flying businessman-jetsetter en route to Madrid, it is a must that you include Puerta del Sol in your itinerary. Surely, you will by enthralled by the place and its immediate surroundings as you spend the whole afternoon exploring its attractions, souvenir stores and kiosks, casas de juego (slot machine shops), spanish cafes and restaurantes, churches, and a lot more.

Here are 10 things that you will want to see and do in and around Plaza del Sol:

1. Step on the Kilometro Cero Marker

imageThe Kilometro Cero marker is proof that Puerta del Sol is the heart of the country. Located on the sidewalk in front of the Ayuntamiento building, take a picture of the marker with your feet stepping on it. This is traditionally done if it is your first time in the square.

2. Ogle at the Oso y el MadronoimageThe Bear and the Strawberry tree statue is regarded as one of the city’s important symbols. In fact, you will find its depiction in the official coat of arms of Madrid. El Oso y el Madrono is one of the most visited attractions of the square.

3. Be amused by the square’s street performersimageimageStreet performers must be permanent fixtures of Puerta del Sol. You might chance on one corner a motorcycle rider floating high with his bike, and on another a human statue playing chess. Others scatter all around the square as they act out the Predator, Edward Scissorshands, and various characters, mostly from Disney. Each one is eager to get the attention of passing tourists. Be wary about taking their pictures, however, as it isn’t free. See to it that you have at least a euro to pay afterwards.

4. Brought along your little ones? Delight them with kid’s face paintingimagePuerta del Sol is the ultimate fun place for kids if only because of the street performers dressed up as various fantasy characters. Heighten their excitement even further by having their faces painted with the likeness of popular cartoon heroes like Spiderman and Incredible Hulk. (Find the artist in that part of the plaza nearest Casa de Correos.)

5. Shop till you dropimageEl corte Ingles is arguably the most popular retail chain in the country. Packed with shoppers even on ordinary days, El Corte sells just about everything, even insurance, trip tickets and pet care supplies. The best times to shop — and get more out of your Euro — are the months when prices are at their lowest, like the mid-year months of July and August, and post-Christmas month of February.

6. Ride the Madrid MetroimageThe Metro Train Station has several access points in the plaza.  Known as the Vodafone Sol, it’s one fast ride that connects Puerta del Sol to other beautiful spots of Madrid. Adequate signs make riding the metro quite easy even for first-time riders. I suggest you take a city pocket map from the metro info counter; it is free, and definitely a handy guide.

7. Explore the Nearest (and equally popular) squareimageThe historic Plaza Mayor, Sol’s “Little Brother” (as I like to call it), is an enclosed square that once served as a bullring. Walk through the porticoed paths on its sides and check out the souvenir shops, cafes, and restaurants. Need assistance in touring Madrid? Visit Madrid’s largest tourism office, housed at the square’s Casa de la Panaderia

8. Buy all the souvenirs you wantimageLooking for an authentic abanico? Buy a traditional Spanish fan at Casa de Diego. Plaza Mayor boasts of shops that offer tons of souvenir items of all types, like porcelain statues of Flamengo dancers or toreros, Madrid shirts, mugs, and plates, keychains, and many others.

9. Sit by the central fountain
imageIn the midst of the square are two fountains, both of which have ledges that serve as popular resting places. Any spot here is perfect for you to people watch, gaze at the Casa de Correos and the giant billboards, or simply rest and while the time away.
10. Stroll around the royal gardenimageA must-see is Jardines de Sabatini, which is a mere few hundred meters away from the plaza and just beside the Palacio Real. In contrast to the dizzying pace at Sol, here you’ll experience a relaxing promenade. Filled with manicured hedges and lush greeneries, stroll by the garden’s sandy paths while checking the magnificent view of the Royal Palace from time to time.

11. Chomp on a bocadilloimage Maybe you turned hungry after all that wandering around all morning. Want to try some Spanish sandwich? I suggest that you opt for some bocadillos of Museo del Jamon, located along Calle Major (there is another one in Carrera de San Jeronimo). Jamon, lacon, chorizo, cheese — you can eat all your favorite bocadillos for 1 euro a piece. Have them served with a cold glass of cola or a chilled copa of beer. What an affordable and satistying snack that’s enough to get you going for the rest of the day.

12. Visit nearby churchesimageimageThe San Gines Church (above) and Almudena Cathdral, located along Calle Arenal and Calle Bailen respectively, are popular among the locals and Madrid old-timers. Both are two of the most revered in the city, and are often the sites of the yearly major religious events.

13.Have a feel of Spanish royaltyimageAppreciate the facade of the stately Palacio Real in Calle Bailen or explore its interior even, to marvel at the finest furniture and work of art created by Spain´s most revered artists and craftsman.

14. Relish on a Suckling PigimageA few hundred meters from the square, along Calle Cuchilleros, is Sobrino de Botin, famous for its roasted suckling pig. Order whole so you could cut it into half using the plate’s edge. Eating at Botin affords you the bragging rights for having dined at the world’s oldest restaurant.

15. Wiggle your way around on a segwayimageTour the plaza and beyond by renting one of those fast-riding, two-wheeled, foot-controlled contractions. Many who had done so swore the segway was a uniquely exhilarating way of exploring Sol.

The list doesn’t stop here. In fact, there must be tons of exciting things to do that will make for a truly memorable visit of the square. Drop on by if you’re in Madrid, and find out for yourself why it is a must-see. Do so, for your trip to Madrid, Spain is not complete if you didn’t see Puerta del Sol.

Madrid Attraction: Biblioteca Nacional de España

imposing national museum of SpainThe library’s facade turns yellow when kissed by the rays of the afternoon sun. If you’re someone with a great fondness for beautiful edifice, the biblioteca is one you will marvel at.

Have you ever been to the Biblioteca Nacional de Madrid? If you’re going to the direction of Plaza de Cibeles and Barrio Atocha via Paseo de la Castellana and Recoletos, you certainly will not miss it due to its sheer size and magnificence. The National Library of Spain in English, it is the largest library of the country, and one of the largest in the world.

The building is right in the corner of the paseo immediately after crossing the Plaza de Colon. In front is the Museo de Cera and Colon Metro Station.

Wealth of resources at Biblioteca Nacional de Madrid

The library boasts of large collections of books, documents, and reading resources. More than 26 million items are found in its keep;these are mainly 15 million books, thousands of “revistas” and journals, and various forms of manuspcripts and printed materials. It also possesses numerous items in different medium types such as audiovisuals, sounds and music scores, and electronic-based documents.

The library’s collections are overflowing that the items which could not be accommodated here are sent to an extention library located in Alcalá de Henares campus. The latter must be an appropriate choice for the library’s extenstion site since Alcala de Henares is considered to be the university town of the Communidad de Madrid.

Enjoy the Services of the National Library of Spain

While most public libraries in Madrid, and Spain as a whole, offer loan privileges, this is not the case with the National Library. In order to enjoy access to designated books and various library resources, you need to obtain a reader’s or researcher’s card.

Q1. What is a Readers Card?
Once you acquire your own Card, this affords you the basic privilege to borrow books.

Q2. What is the validity duration of the card?
It is valid for 3 years.

Q3. What are the requirements when applying for one?
You must present any of these legal documents: national identity card, residence permit, valid passport, driver’s license.

You can also apply for a card thru its website. Upon the approval of your application, you may claim your card at the library upon presenting any of the required ID’s.

Needless to say, Biblioteca Nacional is no ordinary library; but clearly, it reaches out to as many would-be users as possible, ensuring its easy accessibility via its Reader card.

Library Museum

Did you know that the Library has its own museum? 

Known before as the Book Museum, its task is to aid the library in providing the maximum educational, cultural, and recreational benefits to users and visitors. It also offers the public valuable information on the library’s history, operations, and various resources.

The museo’s collections include a number of valuable artistic and cultural pieces such as paintings and sculptures, and items that pertain to books, reading, and education, like typewriters and equipment used in the making of books.

imageThe library was built in 1712 during the administration of then King of Spain Philip V

imageThe Statue of Alfonso X, or Alfonso the Wise, stands on the entrance staircase of the building. He was the 13th-century ruler of Castile and Leon

imageBeside Alfonso X’s statue is that of San Isidoro. It is advisable to secure your own reader card to take full advantage of the benefits of being a borrower

imageIf you are a bibliophile, Spain’s national library is the best place for you to hang out and enjoy any of the immense reading resources that offers

Nacional Library of SpainOne of the two main gates of the building in front of Paseo Recoleto

How to go to the extention site:

Direccion: Meco, Alcalá de Henares, 28805 Madrid

By autobus: In Madrid, take bus number 227; upon reaching the town, take autobus 12, 250, 2

By Train: Ride the Renfe Cercanías Lines C2 and C7

Horarios:

Library hours: Mondays to Fridays: 9AM to 9PM; Saturdays: 9AM to 2PM

Museum hours: Tuesdays to Saturdays: From 10AM to 9PM; Sundays: 10AM to 2PM

Please refer to the website (by clicking at the link below) for any possible changes in the opening hours.
Admission: Entrance is Free

Library’s Website

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Photo of the Week: My Spanish Torera

imageI really thought the taxi driver had finally faced his worst nightmare

imageAlas! This is not a scene at the bullring of Las Ventas or El Pueblo de Chinchon, but a photoshoot in the corner of Carrera de San Jeronimo and Calle de Sevilla

imageLet’s give it to our “torera” who played the part to a T, albeit she still struck me as comely and every inch a lady

How often do you come across a Spanish torera in the middle of a busy street of Madrid, garbed in the traditional bullfighter outfit and on a defensive stance? Not too often, right?

Luckily, I chanced on one yesterday, she with her one hand with a firm grip on a sword raised high, seemingly ready to be thrusted onto a charging bull, and the other on a bright red cape.

Obviously she wasn’t Cristina Sanchez de Pablos, and neither did I secure a ticket to a Las Ventas bullfight event. Nonetheless, our subject was an absolute charmer while she did all those poses, which I assure you was a lot (upon much prodding by a “relentless” cameraman, I supposed).

Anyway, these pictures are such a great way to start my blogging week they even had me adding a new category: Photo/s of the Week. More pics like this to come, hopefully.

Navideña Feria Internacional de las Culturas 2016, Matadero Madrid

Navideña Matadero Madrid SpainMadrid, Spain is just magical in December. At this time of the year, the whole city spruces up, illuminates, and sparkles, what with all the holidays decors, trees, and xmas lights put up in many streets, avenues, and plazas. Weekends during this month means crowded shops and malls, plazas and streets overflowing with people, and restaurants and cafes filled to the brim.

Likewise, you can expect many Yuletide-related activities and events to happen, many of which would culminate on Christmas day, or by the end on the year, or at the latest, on the Feast of the Three Kings.

Madrid, Spain: Ciudad de Las Ferias de Navidid

Come Christmastime, Madrid becomes the city of fairs, and all things related to the merry season.

In instance, you can treat yourself to an interesting “feria” (especially if you’re an antiquarian) called the Almoneda at IFEMA Feria de Madrid which happens twice a year. The December fair, which is near Camp Naciones Station, offers an impressive display of antique items, paintings and other art pieces, and rare collectibles. The fair promotes its items as holiday gifts. Entrance to the Almoneda is free.

Another ongoing fair in Madrid is the Feria Mercado de Artesania de la Comunidad de Madrid at Plaza de España. It’s a free-entrance fair that started last December 10, 2016 and will end in January 5, 2017. The event is all about craftman and artisan items originating not only from the Communidad de Madrid but other autonomous Spanish regions. The fair is right within the area of Plaza de Espana, and so, it’s very accessible. The best way to get there is via the Metro (Lineas 3 and 10), where you get off at Plaza de Espana Station.

Navideña Feria Internacional de las Culturas at Matadero, Madrid

imageKnown as one of Madrid’s main centers for the culture and arts, Matadero, Madrid at Barrio Legazpi acts as the host of this year’s Navideña Feria Internacional de las Culturas. (Christmas International Cultural Fair). Various exciting and fun activities are scheduled to happen on the different facilities at the center and are meant for everyone of all ages to experience and enjoy this season.

Thru Navideña, Matadero Madrid gives Madrilenos and tourists the chance to make the most of the holiday season and enjoy a wide variety of entertaining activities such as movies, theater plays, exhibitions, workshops for kids, readings, art workshops, and so much more.

International Bazaar at Plaza de Matadero

Highly-awaited at the Navidena is the bazaar that involves the participation of the majority of embassies in Spain. All are assigned stands or kiosks that effectively serve as a platform where they can present and promote their country in the best way possible. I believe this is one of the most attended and liveiest fairs in the city because of the large number of participants to the event, which is more or less 75 countries.

Other Fun-Filled Navidena Activities

Apart from being able to enjoy roaming around a unique bazaar, have a taste and experience of various foods and cultural traditions from 75 or so countries, people are afforded various other fun activities in the event.

Every day, from december 15 to the 23th, different performances and events are scheduled to happen; such as cooking demos, film showing, concerts, cultural and traditional dances, plays, and more food tasting. The children are treated to story-telling, teatro infantil, anime cartoons, and so much more.

Just some of the many activities and the sites where they happen are as follows: the BID16 exhibition, a Latin show of modern designs, at Central de Diseno; a collective exhibit called El Ranchito-Rusia at Nave 16; toddler and children’s activity workshops at Casa del Lector; and engaging films to be shown throughout the duration of the feria at Cinetaca.

As promised by the event organizers, the event is meant to make the people understand and appreciate Christmas more. And as the current site of the event, Matadero Madrid welcomes everyone to witness and experience all performances, activities, and events, all of which will focus on “La Navidad”.

For a complete list of activities and corresponding schedules, you may refer to the Navidena Feria’s Official Website.

imageThe kiosks of the embassies are located at the Plaza Matadero, the area in front of the Nave 16

imageDay one at Matadero: 6 in the afternoon, yet only a few visitors roam the area — it must be the bad weather

imageMany children’s activities such as storytelling, storytelling and various workshops are held at the Casa del Lector

imageOnce the Yuletide decors were lit, this helped liven up the Yuletide spirit at the Plaza Matadero

imageThe kiosks of Israel and Finland. Navideña is aptly called “cultural” because of the participation of various countries

Navideña Feria Matadero Madrid Philippine Embassy Big smiles from the staff and officers of the Philippine Embassy to Madrid as they gamely pose for the camera

navideña feria, Madrid spainColombia keeps a jeep filled with sacks of coffee beans near its kiosk — one of the impressive displays at the Navidena

String lights Navideña Matadero MadridThe evening at the fair made brighter and more Christmassy by the holiday string lights

imageCineteca schedules excellent quality films in time for the Christmas fair

imageThe crowd intently watch a martial arts exhibition at Plaza Matadero, Day 2 of La Navidena

imageExhibition called BID16 is ongoing at Central de Diseño, showcasing Latino modern designs

imageSunflowers, stems and all drape from the ceiling of one of the halls, a Basurama exhibit that started last September and is still ongoing to become a part of the fair. The site was once a freezer and storage, a huge one at that; this was  when the place was still a slaughterhouse

Do come with your family and kids while the event is still on. With a great variety of fun and exciting things to see and do in Navidena Fair, it will surely make your Christmas this year a lot more special.

Name of activity: Navideña Feria Internacional de las Culturas

Duration: From December 15, 2016 to December 23, 2106

Time open to the public: 12PM to 9PM

Site of Activity: Matadero, Madrid (Ride  the Metro, Linea Circular and get off at Legazpi)

Entrance: Free

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La Iglesia de San Nicolas — The Oldest Church in Madrid

La Iglesia de San Nicolas, MadridBasilicas, cathedrals, parroquias — the Spaniards do love their places of worship, treating them as their go-to place after toiling the day at work, and their quiet sanctuary every weekend. They have such great respect for their churches that throughout the centuries, generations upon generations of Spanish builders put immense time and effort in the construction of these edifices, turning them into architectural and design masterpieces. It is typical for the churches’ interiors, such as the altarpiece and the nave, to be awed at, if only because of the fine, intricate details put into them.

Undoubtedly, Spanish churches, big and small, are not just creations of impeccable craftsmanship, but are great works of art.

Noticing how even the most recently built churches in the city possess the most breathtaking appearance, I always wondered how the oldest church of Madrid — Iglesia de San Nicolas de los Servitas — would look like. I always picture it to be a tall, imposing edifice sprawled on some major city plaza. Imagine how surprised I was when I finally got to visit it. The church was hidden in an inner street, obscured by surrounding edifices. Immediate streets are narrow, and the space in front is cramp, giving anyone a hard time taking a good photo of the church. Albeit still, it is located within the center of the capital.

Evidently, Saint Nicholas is a regular church, but considering its location, I deem it is still appropriately-sized to accommodate and serve the local parishioners of that particular area in Central Madrid.

Oldest Madrid Church

La Iglesia de Sn Nicholas dates back in the medieval 12th century, and so it is now listed to be the oldest parish church in Madrid, after the original Iglesia de la Santa Maria de la Almudena was torn down. Throughout the centuries, it had undergone a number of changes both in its facade and interior, particularly the small chapels found within.

Iglesia de San Nicolas bell tower and its Mudejar features

Iglesia de San Nicolas bell towerUpon closer look at its edifice, you would know that it exhibits a Mudejar or Moorish design, most especially in its bell tower. Not a few archaeologists have strongly suggested that it might have been originally a mosque. Another theory is that a Muslim place of worship was standing in its location.

The bell tower, in particular, is the oldest structure of the church. It is said to have been built in as early as the 12th century. This must be the reason it was the first to be recognized as a Spanish National Monument, way back in 1931. The rest of the edifice was built and finished about three centuries after, during the 15th century. Recognition of the church itself came in 1978, as a Bien de Interes Cultural.

Italian Iglesia de Madrid

The San Nicholas Church is often referred to as the city´s Italian church, since from time to time the mass is said in Italian. For a mass to be performed in the said language, a request must be done beforehand, together with an assurance that a large number of Italians will attend. They must have adopted the church as their own because of its proximity to the Institute of Culture of Italy, which is just nearby, also at Calle Mayor.

San Nicholas Church Bell Tower MadridThe bell tower, exhibiting rich Mudejar features, was constructed long before the rest of the church, way back in 1100’s.

Iglesia de San Nicolas Traviesa de BiomboAt the back of the church is the Plaza del Biombo, from which pedestrians can take the Traviesa del Biombo, a narrow and short passageway that traverses the side portion of the church and into its front

Iglesia de San Nicholas Baroque ReliefYou will find on top of the main entrance to the church a sculpted Baroque relief of San Nicolas, a work of art by Spanish sculptor Luis Salvador Carmona

How to find Iglesia de San Nicolas

Direccion: Plaza San Nicolas 6, Madrid 28013

Madrid Metro: Opera Station (Lineas 2 and 5), Vodafone Sol Station (Lineas 1, 2, 3).

From the Opera, you will have to walk down to the right direction of Calle de Vergara. Turn upon reaching the corner of Plaza Plaza Ramales and continue until you reach Plaza San Nicolas.

From the vodafone station, take the right side of Calle Mayor, passing by Plaza de San Miguel and Plaza de la Villa. Turn right at Calle San Nicolas and a short walk will bring you to the church.

What time to visit:

Mondays: 8:30AM to 1PM
Tuesdays to Saturdays: 9:00AM to 9:30AM; 6:3PM to 8:30PM Sundays: 10:00AM to 2:00PM; 6:30PM to 8:30PM

Map

Real Basilica de San Francisco el Grande

imageReal Basilica de San Francisco el Grande

Madrid, Spain has some of the most beautiful churches that it can be proud of. Not all are grand in size. Some are average or even small, like a number of community churches (or paroquias in Spanish) scattered in many barrios and neighborhoods within the capital.

The city, of course, is not without cathedrals and basilicas. It boasts of a number that could match the most stunning ones from other European countries.

Needless to say, Madrid churches, big or small, are all beautiful and majestic in their own right.

For instance, near the Palacio Real is the Catedral de la Almudena with its imposing, sky-high edifice that brags an impressive baroque design.

Needless to say, it is a suitable home to the Nuestra Seńora de la Almudena. Devotees to the beloved Lady flock by the thousands to the church during its feast day, which is on the 9th of November.

Also found within the popular tourist areas of Puerta del Sol and Opera, along the Calle Arenal is the Church of San Gines, where I occasionally attend the Sunday mass. San Gines is one of oldest churches in the city, and is known to hold some of the most important religious activities and events in the city. Aside from the masses, I visit the church on a regular basis because of St. Jude Thadeus, to whom I am a devotee. His statue stands on one corner of the church, near its entrance.

Real Basilica de San Francisco el Grande

imagePortion of the church facing the Dalieda garden

Still, another beautiful church located in the barrio of La Latina, near the Lavapies barrio and Embajadores, is the San Francisco el Grande Basilica. This basilica is dedicated to Saint Francis, and is said to have been built over a monastery that was founded by the Saint himself. Built in the 1700’s by King Carlos III, San Francisco Basilica is one of the five Basilicas Reales of Spain. Once you enter its interior, you will immediately be entranced by its stunning apse and lobby that form a circular shape.

What makes the church both unique and impressive are its set of domes, which consists of a big dome for the main chapel and six complementary small ones installed over the chapels that are distributed on both the southern and northern portion of the edifice.

The basilica was constructed from the common materials available during those times, mainly granite rocks. You would notice that the facade is built out of bricks and plaster material.

The San Francisco el Grande Church is a sight to behold because of its dominant design that is patterned after the Spanish artist Francisco Cabezas’ own style. The completion of the project was ensured by the great Italian architect Francesco Sabatini, creator of the Jardines de Sabatini. The interior of the holy edifice is filled with valuable artistic and religious items, including the finest works of art and masterpieces by Francisco Goya.

Dalieda de San Francisco

imageAdjacent to the basilica is the dahlia garden known as the Dalieda de San Francisco el Grande, where bountiful and in full bloom are a number of dahlia and other flower species and colors, especially those of yellow and red varieties.

imageThere is a wide terrace on Dalieda’s far end, from which you may enjoy a spectacular view of the Western portion of the city and beyond. On the same spot stands a sculpture named “El Sueño de San Isidro.” Finished in 1952 by renowned sculptor Santiago Costa, this particular work consists of two statues of what appears to be an angel providing comfort to the beloved saint. Unfortunately, there was no marker that could identify the two figures.

Where to find San Francisco el Grande

image

Location: Calle San Buenaventura 1, Madrid 28005

Means of transportation: Via Madrid Metro, La Latina Station

Schedule of daily masses

Laborables: Morning masses are held at 8:30 AM and 10:00 AM

Festivos: Schedule of Sunday masses are as follows — 10:30 AM, 11:30 AM, 12:30 PM, 1:30 PM, 8:00 PM

Museum Hours:

Inside the church is a museum that’s open to the public from Tuesday to Friday, from 11AM – 12:30PM and 4Pm – 6:30PM; and Saturdays, from 11AM – 1:30PM. Hours are subject to change depending on any scheduled religious ceremonies.

Admission price: Regular adult: 3 euros; Reduced price: 2 euros

Map

Casa de la Villa, Ayuntamiento de Madrid [Old Town Hall]

imageWe all know that the Palacio de Cibeles is the City of Madrid´s current Ayuntamiento or town hall, where its administrative functions and duties are performed. However, not many might be aware that the original town hall of the city is found near the Puerta del Sol, along Calle Mayor. It’s name is Casa de la Villa — and it is often referred to as the Old Town Hall of Madrid.

It is easily the most visited building among those found within the Plaza de la Villa, and early in the morning, throngs of people would already flock to the square and appreciate this beautiful Juan Gomez de Mora-designed edifice. There’s no doubt that Casa dela Villa is very popular if only for its historical importance as the city’s former main headquarters and town hall.

The monument is easy to reach since it is in a stragetic location, being situated between two popular Madrid squares — the Plaza de Oriente and Puerta del Sol and just along a street tourists and locals must know. The square is full with rich history itself, acting as the site of various important events that occured during the ancient, Renaissance period of Madrid. Its former name is Plaza de San Salvador, after the Church that bears the same name.

imageStately facade of the Town hall impresses many visitors and tourists. Not only did it function as a town hall, but Casa de la Villa was once designated as a jailhouse for the city´s prisoners

Plaza de la Villa Madrid, SpainIn honor of the death of famous Captain General Alvaro de Bazan, a bronze monument was sculpted by Mariano Benlliure and erected in the middle of the square, right in front of the town hall. On its pedestal are words by Lope de Vega honoring him. Bazan was the Captain who commandeered the Spanish Armada. imageHouse of Cisneros used to  be a palace from the 16th century and was built under Jimenez de Cisneros, the nephew of Cardinal Cisneros. The latter was the founder and builder of the Universidad de Alcala, found in the Comunidad de Madrid town of Alcala de Henares. Various renovations were done in the property, which included connecting the building with the Old City Hall via a short enclosed walkway.
imageThe enclosed walkway between Casas de Cisneros and de la Villa, serving as a connection or bridge between the two edifices
imageThe bridge that connects the House of Cisneros to the Old Town Hall was built during the early part of the 1900’s. The narrow street that traverses between the two buildings and below the enclosed walkway is called the Calle Madrid. It is connected to other small streets; these are Calle del Rollo and Calle Duque de Najera

imageThe House and Tower of the Lujanes take pride in having two of the oldest Madrileno architectural designs — these are the Gothic and Mudejar styles. The tower is said to be the older of the two structures; it has been in existence since the start of the 15th century. Originally the home to Gonzalo Garcia, it was acquired by Pedro de Luján in 1450

imagePlaza de la Villa is considered to be of high historical value since it is the focal point of ancient Madrid, being the site of the seat of old city´s administrative power – Casa de la Villa. It was here where streets found in the city´s old and original layout are connected — Calles Madrid, Cordon, and El Codo

imageThe facade of the building that faces the Calle Mayor. On its immediate side is the Palacio Marques Canete, or the Centro Sefarad. Just nearby is the building of the Italian Cultural Institute.

Want to see Casa de la Villa?

If you want to know more about the monument and perhaps see its interior, the best time to visit is Mondays at 5 PM, when a tour is held for visitors, and conducted in Spanish and English.

How to find Casa de la villa

Direccion: Plaza de la Villa 5, Madrid 28005

The historic edifice-monument is easy to reach: From Puerta del Sol or the Opera, walk the length of Calle Mayor until you reach Plaza de la Villa, at Number 5. The site is near two Madrid attractions, which incidentally are both Palaces, or at least named as such. These are the Palacio Marques de Canete, or the Centro Sefarad Israel (located immediately after the Casa) and Palacio de Abrantes or the Italian Cultural Institute (right in front of it).

Nearest Metro Stations: Vodafone Sol (Lines 1 to 3); Opera (Line 2, Line 5)
Auto buses near the site: Numbers 3, 20, 33, 39, 50 to 53, and 150

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Ya es Navidad: Madrid’s Starting to Look Like Christmas

The happiest and most awaited month of the year has started, and so I deemed it best that my first post for December is light but nonetheless special. Let’s make it filled with lots of pictures of fun and Christmassy colors. Isn’t it obvious that the Yuletide air already pervades around? The season of hope and inspiration is definitely upon us.

Indeed, it is apparent that Madrid is fast turning into a Yuletide paradise; there’s just no stopping establishments from sprucing up their buildings – inside and out – with tons of exciting Xmas displays. Streets, side streets and avenues are one by one being adorned with multi-colored lights. Plazas and gloriettas, big and small, boast of giant, glowing Yuletide trees of yellow, red, and blue.

And so for this post, time again for me to get my phone cam busy and capture photos of Christmas scenes from around the city, where possible.

imageEasily, Puerta del Sol is one of the most crowded spots in Madrid during the holiday season. The famous square’s Xmas tree this year glimmers with its blue lights, instead of yellow from the past few years
imageYuletide decors of life sized and gigantic toys and cartoon characters are displayed in the upper facade of El Corte Ingles

Cibeles, Alcala, Puerta del Sol, Atocha — it’s a given that these neighborhoods are some of the most colorful spots in the city. I expect to have pictures of these places draped in full christmas display, as I alway had in previous years.

Of course, I’ll explore Madrid further — I am only too sure to find more neighborhoods that are suited up, proud that they’re part of this year’s Yuletide revelry.

Here is some initial photos showing how dazzling and enchanting Madrid can be during the Christmas season. I’ll leave this as an open post, which means I will be posting more from time to time, as more places become spruced up for the Yuletide season.

imageInstead of multi-colored lighting, the Palacio de Cibeles is bathe in red this time
imagePlaza Mayor is a venue for many different cultural activities during the Yuletide season. December 1 showcases a night filled with Rumanian festivities at the square
imageBrightly-lit holiday house at Azca, Paseo de Castellana, Madrid
imageMore or less a dozen Christmas tree stand in the plaza in front of Picasso Building
imageimageStores selling traditional Yuletide goodies such as asadas castañas and maize (roasted chestnuts and corn) are found in strategic corners of the city. The store in the first picture above stands in front of the Nuevos Ministerios Metro Entrance, the second is in the corner of Calle de Bravo Murillo and Paseo de la Castellana. Prices of castañas vary from 2 to 3 euros for a dozen.imageKids have a grand time ice skating at Plaza del Colon
imageNeighborhood shops and downtown boutiques have started filling their shelves with holiday merchandize items. The lower part of the collage is a photo of Xmas trees sold at a Chinese variety store, while the upper half shows multicolored decor balls from Tiger, a popular novelty gift shop.
imageYou know Christmas is just around the corner with the sprouting of more flower stands and kiosks around the city, like this one at the corner of Calle del Postigo de San Martin.

imagePlaza Remonta in Bravo Murillo is no Plaza Mayor. It’s like many other typical town squares in Madrid; quiet and dimly lit at night. No matter, this plaza is one with the season by putting up two Christmas trees in its midst — modest but helpful nonetheless in illuminating the place come nighttime, a delight to the kids at play.
imageThe Nativity and other scenes that depict the birth and early years of the Child Jesus, displayed at Parroquia de San Antonio, Bravo Murillo and Cuatro Caminos
imageChristmas trees brightly shine at night as they surround the Artichoke fountain replica at the roundabout or the Glorieta de Atocha

Christmas at Plaza Mayor, MadridBusiness is brisk at the Plaza Mayor, with Christmas lights and decors as best sellers year after year
imageMadrid, Spain, Calle Bailen, carouselCarousels and similar fun rides and attractions are a common sight around the city. The first carousel is found in Plaza de Sta cruz, along Calle Atocha, the second is located at Calle Bailen, near Palacio Real

imageEl Corte Ingles leaves no stone unturned when it comes to the display of Christmas decors. Its branch along Paseo de la Castellana has already begun showing Yulletide theme visual messages in its large electronic display

imageThe red Christmas tree now stands beside the yellow fountain in Paseo de la Castellana and Calle Vitrivio, livening up the area in time for the merry season

imagePlaza de Espana has put up its own Christmas Tree, which stands beside the square’s famous oblong-shaped fountain and near Calle Gran Via

Madrid, Spain, Christmas, Gran ViaGirl pals pose for the camera with their sweet smiles, reindeer antlers headband, red noses, and all.

imageTerrace restaurants install their outdoor heaters to warm  up the cool evening ambiance, like this one near Puerta de Alcala

imageChristmas is in the air, especially in Plaza del Callao where to be found in its midst is an adorable bright-yellow Xmas tree and the Tienda de la Navidad

imagePlaza Callao’s Tienda de Nativid sells Yuletide trees, bells, lights, decors, and everything else that’s Christmas
imageCalle Preciosa spruces up in time for the holidays
imageVarious attractive, Yuletide-themed pastelerias and other sweet goodies are available at La Mallorquina, a popular bakeshoop located in a strategic spot in Plaza del Sol
imageFancy holiday lights dangles along the length of Arenal, providing sufficient illumination as pedestrians traverse through the street, and perhaps towards San Gines Church to hear the evening mass, or even further down to Palacio Real

imageThe city has already installed the holiday lights, which I believe are the same ones for the last couple of years, along Calle de Alcala. In the background is the Palacio del Cibeles
imageIn the same manner as that of the Cibeles Palace, the Ayuntamiento building in Plaza del Sol is also bathe in red, as if to signify the solemnity of the place while still actve in the celebration of the festive occasion
imagePhoto of the Puerta del Sol Xmas tree in close range

Every year, the agency Loterias y Apuestas del Estado come up with a video advertisement promoting the Christmas lottery draw in December, with this year’s draw scheduled to happen on the 21th. 2016 Anuncio Loteria de Navidad’s theme is El Mejor Premio es Compartirlo, roughly translated as “The best prize is Sharing.” And like the previous ones, it proves to be a tearjerker. Be ready with your hankie as you watch this heartwarming Christmas lottery ad.