Monthly Archives: January 2017

Parque Madrid Rio: Green Park by the Manzanares River

The city of Madrid is not without impressive and beautiful parks There’s one that’s worth visiting, near the popular areas of Principe Pio Metro Station and Centro commercial — it is the ultra-green city park known as Parque Madrid Río.

The park can be described as complete and modern recreational because of the presence of various facilities found within. Modern recreational and sports structures and equipment, in particular, are situated in strategic areas along its length. Hence, promenaders and hikers, physical fitness enthusiasts doing some exercise using their favorite equipment, bikers, and even skaters are familiar sights in the park. Do you know that it even has what they call an urban beach? Amazing, isn’t it?

The park is linear in shape, running along the course of the historic Manzanares River. Comprising a total length of 10 kilometers, it traverses through a number of Madrid city districts such as Carabanchel and Centro, but it is best associated with Arganzuela, which is why many refer to it as the Arganzuela Park. Also found are a number of bridges meant for use by pedestrians and bicycle riders, such as the Arganzuela bridge. Most of these structure basically connect one side of the park to the other.

The Parque Madrid Rio is touted to be one of the most pedestrian-friendly places within the capital, where one can enjoy miles of walkways that stretch through the park. I myself had already taken a long and leisurely walk through it not once, but a couple of times, starting my promenade in the area of Plaza Legaspi, reaching Principe Pio n front of the gateway monument after almost 2 hours.

All in all, the fascinating green city park strip runs a total of 10 kilometres and on the average, is 25 meters wide. It also connects already existing green areas such as the Casa del Campo with the city centre.
Madrid Rio bridgePedestrian bridge offer convenient transfer of pedestrians and bikers from one bank to another
imageSign along pathway going to Matadero, a culture and arts center of Madrid
imageNave buildings at Matadero MadridimagePalacio de Arganzuela or Invernadero building (greenhouse) is found at the Plaza Legaspi portion of the park, beside Matadero
imageSky sleigh ride is one of the fun rides inside Parque Madrid

imageThese gigantic slides remind me of my childhood playground; such facilities are certainly a joy to kid visitors of the park

imageThe park features a spacious rink for skates and skate board riders and enthusiasts
imageLush fauna abound within the Madrid Rio park
imageWooden benches are also everywhere, in case your feet tire from all the walking
imageStately monument stands in the middle of the park
imageArganzuela coniaxial pedestrian bridge is one of the major bridges spanning the historic Manzanares River
imageThe Arganzuel footbridge consists of metal spirals that interlock. Wood component serves as floor of the bridge
imagePuente de Toledo is a very famous baroque-style bridge of Madrid filled with history, built way back in the early part of the 1700’s. Like the other park bridges, the Toledo bridge links both banks and roundabouts of Pyramides and Carabanchel or Marquis de Vadillo.
imageAlso known as Puente Segoviana, the Segovia Bridge a major bridge within Madrid Rio Park, and one of the popular Renaissance work of Spanish architect Juan de Herrera. The bridge is considered as a vital access point to the town
imageThe Bridge of Segovia with fountains accenting its area. Seen in the background are the Palacio Real and the Almuneda Cathedral
imagePuente de Segovia is recognized as the city’s oldest bridge in Madrid, constructed during the sixteenth century
imageEntrance to the Casa de Campo, located at the portion of Madrid Rio near Principe Pio

Direccion: Puente de Toledo Madrid, 28019

Metro: Principe Pio Line 6, Line 10, R
Bus: 25, 36, 33, 36, 50, 39, 65

Map:

Parroquia San Agustin, Madrid

imageParroquia San Agustin, or the St. Augustinus’ Church in English, is one of the finest work of Spanish architect Luis Moya Blanco, who is a strong advocate of classic architecture. Located on Calle Joaquin Costa or Paseo de Ronda in the District of Chamartin, the construction of the church lasted for six long years, from 1946 up until 1950.

image Marker found on the facade providing vital details of the church, like Moya Blanco being indicated as the architect and the duration of its construction

The church boasts of four small lateral chapels, all shaped in a circle, and are dedicated or used for various religious services and devotions such as baptism services, the Sacristy, the devotion to Sta. Filomena, and the Blessed Sacrament. The back area of the church is used as the parish house.

I had already attend Sunday mass at San Agustin a couple of times, the latest of which is just recently. While I needed to take a ride to the church via the Metro system (getting off at Nuevos Ministerios station), it takes only a few minute walk to reach the paroquia. The apparent quiet and solemnity of the church is what makes me want to attend the mass there once in a while. If ever, I always hear the mass at 1PM, the last one in the afternoon.

imageSimple yet beautiful principal facade of the church of San Agustin

According to its official website, Parroquia San Agustin is not merely a place of worship but moreso a community of the faithful that work toward commitment, conversion and action. To be a true member of the parish, one must feel it and takes an active part in the activities of the community.

How to reach Parroquia San Agustin:

imageAddress: C/ Joaquin Costa 10 Madrid
The most convenient way to reach the church is via Madrid Metro, with Nuevos Ministerios and República Argentina as the two nearest stations.
You may also ride the Auto Bus: C1, C2, 7, 16, 51, 19

Schedule of Masses:

Monday to Saturday: 8:00AM, 1PM, 8:00PM
Sundays and Holidays: 11:00AM, 12:00PM, 1:00PM, 8:00PM

Basilica de la Sagrada Familia: Heart of Barcelona, Spain

imageIt was a pleasant surprise that I got an online message from a favorite aunt based in California, who was excited because she learned I visited Barcelona. She told me about her own trip to the Catalan city, which I was more than happy to hear.

She gushed about her Spanish experience, euphoric about her tour of Sagrada Familia. Traveling halfway around the world was by no means an easy feat and their trip to Spain came with serious expenses, but she swore seeing Gaudi’s mammoth of a masterpiece more than compensated all this. If given the chance she said, she and my uncle would love to go through it again, if only to relive the experience.

I told her that I had already been to Barcelona, but was not able to tour the Sagrada due to time constraints. Hearing this, she was clearly frustrated, and wished I had the chance on the first visit. She egged me go back soon, and with entry tickets to the basilica.

Finally, Sagrada Famila

The first time I went to Barca, I only had half a day to spend there, which meant being content with the more easy-to-reach Barcelona attractions like La Rambla, the port, the beach, New City of Arts and Sciences, and the Old town. Like other Spain attractions such as Santiago de Compostela and Valencia, Barcelona was such a beautiful city that I found myself planning for a revisit in the future, albeit, nothing was definite.

Now, the recent talk with my aunt got me fired up and really committed to seeing Sagrada that it must have caused the Universe to heed my inner desires to return to Barcelona. To make a long story short, I was presented with another great opportunity to go there. Friends are going to the city and I was asked to come along.

It’s a coincidence that like the first, my second visit to the place proved to be unexpected as people decided on another spur-of-the-moment, car-travel, eight-hour-long trip. But this time, everyone was more excited as the main reason for going there was to see the basilica. And so it didn’t matter that the trip was a total of 8 hours, which was probably that long because of the number of stops. In my case, such long trips are burdensome as they always render me sleepless (I could hardly get a decent shut-eye during long travels, even if it happens in the middle of the night).

I’m back, Barcelona!

And so, the revisit happened at last. Early morning we passed by at the Philippine consulate in Spain at Plaça Reial, wandered through the area as we waited for the time of our scheduled entry to the Sagrada, and saw another beautiful Barcelonan church , the Catedral de Barcelona. We then went back to the plaza for some lunch, and finally 30 minutes before 1PM, went straight to the basilica.

Always, the sight of the basilica is mesmerizing from afar. But this also led me to wondering when its construction will finally be completed.  This time, I contented myself with just a few shots of the facade upon finding out the battery charge of my mobile phone had gone down to almost half empty. I needed to save as much battery as I expected to make tons of shots once I went inside.

After just a few minutes of staying in line, my group was able to go inside and see La Sagrada Familia. One of the most noticeable features inside the church is the hanging Crucifix, below a yellow umbrella that seems to glow. Everything inside church, the altar, walls decored witg stained-glass, the religious sculptures — everything is simply amazing.

La Sagrada Familia is one reason why people would want to visit Barcelona. While it can be disappointing that the basilica is in perpetual construction, with scaffolding here and there, it sseems that total completion is within just a few more year. I’ll make sure I’d be back to see again and witness the basilica’s full and glory when that time comes.

Facts about Barcelona’s La Sagrada Familia

image1. Antonio Gaudi was assigned the construction of the church in 1884, but did you know that he was not the original choice, but another Spanish architect Francesc del Villar? Gaudi was offered to replace del Villar after the latter had major disagreements with the people in charge of the project.

2. One reason why Gaudi’s own vision of the church has not been followed is because of the fact that portions of the basilica were damaged during Spanish Civil War. Likewise, after Gaudi’s death, work was continued by a number of Spanish architects, such as Lluis Gari and Francesc Quintana. Another famous artist, Josep Subirachs, was assigned to work on the facade.

3. Antonio Gaudi has a religious reason for getting involved in the building of the La Sagrada Familia. To be specific, he wanted it to be the last place sanctuary of Christendom.

4. The beloved Barcelona architect made sure the basilica is filled with Christian symbolism. For instance,once the holy edifice is finished, 18 towers will have been finished, representing the 12 Apostles, the 4 Evangelists, the Blessed Virgin, and Jesus Christ. The tower representing Christ will be the tallest of them all, and on top of it, a gargantuan cross will be placed.

5. The towers representing the four Evangelists – St Luke, St Matthew, St. Mark, and St. John will be capped by their respective symbols — an angel, a bull an eagle and a lion.

6. Antonio Gaudi lived to see the completion of the Nativity Facade. His death in 1926 was both tragic and senseless, as the master was hit by a tram on his way to the Sagrada.

7. Gaudi lived much of his life within another one of his creations, the Park Guell. He enjoyed his walks from his house located inside the park to his work at La Sagrada Familia.

8. His abrupt death in 1926 derailed the making of the Pasion facade, and the construction of the basilica in general. Eventually, another Catalan artist, Josep Maria Subirachs i Sitjar, was commissioned to continue with the construction. Many argued that his work was a world different from Gaudi, his being mainly straight and linear, while the latter´s were of curves. Debates subsided when the work of Subirachs proved to be impressive.–

Great photos that will make you want to visit La Sagrada Familia:

Facade of the Church showing the birth of baby Jesus. The Nativity facade faces the east of Barcelona. Gaudi’s vision of the church includes 18 towers. So far, eight has been built — these are four at the Nativity and another four on the Pasion facade.

imageWhen touring the interior of the basilica, you will surely not miss the prayer door that’s made of bronze. Inscriptions of the powerful and meaningful prayer phrase “Give us this day our daily bread” in 50 languages fills the door. Found the tagalog translation in the bottom part.imageTourists marvel at the stunning interior of the Sagrada Familia

imageChrist on the cross hangs under an illuminated umbrella, which for me suggests a floatng jellyfish, suspended in midair over the main altar. It is located in the apse of the church, the area of which is filled with columns or pillars resembling trees bountiful with branches seemingly reaching out to the heavens. The thick, solid columns are obviously meant as strong support to the whole structure of thr basilica.

imageThe stained glass windows of predominant red, orange, and yellow colors are so beautiful you simply couldn’t take your eyes off them. All you wanted to do is take your time in examining their details. The hues are bold and intense as the stained glasses are kissed directly by the rays of the sun during that time

Holy water font baecelona's sagrada familiaThe holy water font of the church in the shape of a shell or oyster

imageA closer look at the holy inscriptions in the basilica door

Passion facade Sagrada FamiliaFacade of La Sagrada Familia deficting the Passion and death of Jesus Christ. Includes the suffering of the Lord as He was cruxified. This part of the church is meant to reveal the sins of men.  According to stories, Antonio Gaudí magnified the suffering and death of Jesus, intending to make everyone realize the graveness of his sacrifice just to save mankind.

imageThe four towers over the Passion Facade, facing the Barcelona city center. Note: Access to the towers (including those at the Nativity) is not included in the regular entry ticket. Tickets to the towers can be bought inside.

Address:
La Sagrada Familia
Calle Mallorca 401
Barcelona 08013 España

Opening hours:
November – February: 09:00 – 18:00
March: 09:00 – 19:00
April – September: 09:00 – 20:00
October: 09:00 – 19:00
25 and 26 December, 01 and 06 January: 09:00 – 14:00

Tickets are on sale until half an hour before closing time

Disabled Access: Yes

How to get to La Sagrada Familia

Barcelona Metro System: Sagrada Familia, Blue and purple lines (lines 5 and 2 respectively)

Hop on hop off tourist buses (Barcelona City Tour) will also drop you off the site,

How to enter the premises:

1. Main access — Entrance is at Calle Marina, at the basilica’s Nativity facade, whether you’re touring as an individual or as a group.

If you belong to a primary or secondary school group on a guided tour, entrance is at Calle Sardenya.

Getting Tickets:

Regular entrance tickets are bought at Calle Sardenya. Persons with disabilities and their companions, as well as friends of La Sagrada, can have their tickets bought at Calle Marina.

Note: The schedule when La Sagrada Familia is open to the public isn’t fixed and be be altered depending on the important activities happening within the church.

Sagrada Familia Website

Buy tickets online

Map:

Craving for Tapas or Just About Any Other Food? Visit Chueca’s Mercado San Antón

imageClean. Gastronomic. Inviting. These are the adjectives that fittingly describe Mercado San Antón as a market that’s worth a visit, and many revisits after. Located in the middle of the hip and diverse neighborhood of Chueca, right in the corner of Calle Augusto Figueroa, did you know that the San Anton Market wasn’t always the roofed establishment like it is now?

Once, it resembled any other traditional Madrid market, complete with the usual wooden drawers, shelves and containers upon which various wares are put and displayed. The St. Antony’s Market in English, it’s so-called because of its proximity to a neighborhood of the same name. It has taken a modern look after undergoing a major renovation in the early 2000’s, much to the approval of Chueca locals as well as regulars coming from all over Madrid.

imageEntrance/lobby of the market along Calle Augusto Figueroa. Displayed on the wall is a directory of the tenant-establishments, indicating where they are located on the three floors

What to find in Mercado San Anton, Madrid

San Anton Market has three main floors, each with specific designations on what it serves or sells to the public.

1. First Floor: The Market

imageThe first floor is filled with stalls that sell “wet” and “dry” produce such as fish, meat, cheese, fruits, and vegetables.

imagePeas, beans, spices, and grain products

imageNicely stacked up in shelves are mangoes, persimmon, avocados, grapes, and many other fruits of bright and even hues, indicating their premium freshness and quality

imageThis floor isn’t strictly selling fresh produce, but it also has its share of food kiosks and bars

2. Second Floor: Comer y Llevar

imageFood kiosk serving all sorts of tapas with bacalao and sea foods as main ingredients. The second floor of the market has become a watering hole of sorts for tapa lovers and food connoiseurs

Spanish tapas at San AntonBelow the kiosk’s sign that says Tapa Espanola are an array of mouthwatering options. Not only does the second floor serve the popular Spanish delicacy, but other food varieties as well such as pescado (fish), hamburgers, Greek and Japanese food, postres and gelado, and vino

imageAsador de Manuela serves a variety of hamburgers

imageOccupying a part of the second floor is the Trapezio, the activity area of San Anton Market. From time to time, the exhibit and sale of novelty and eclectic items are held here. It also serves as a venue for cooking and tasting demos and shows.

3. Third Floor: El Restaurante

Much of the top floor of the building is La Cocina de San Antón, the market’s own restaurant. According to the esrablishment’s website, it assures the customers that it cooks and serves only the freshest and highest quality food ingredients, most of which come from the market’s own products. On the menu are popular, traditional Spanish cocidos, some of which are fused with the cuisine of other countries to afford customers uniquely international flavours.

Terrace at Mercado de San Anton RestaurantThe La Cocina de San Antón comes with a rooftop bar and a dining terrace, which I thought is the restaurant’s inviting feature, since Madrilenos do love to to eat el fresco, whether alone or with family and friends. Such a setting affords the diners to relish the best eats, engage in endless chats while under the blue city skies, and enjoy the fascinating views of the immediate surroundings of the barrio below

Tapas

Fancy Spanish tapas like I do? Let me tell you what I love about them. They’re bite-sized and so are easy to eat, but just a few pieces are enough to satisfy. To the shoestring traveler, they are top choice for food, being easy on the pocket.

But above all, tapas are full of taste. Bonafide lovers couldn’t be faulted for their unsatiable craving for these Spanish foods – they are just gastronomically divine. And when it comes to my first encounter of San Anton’s tapas, everything was sumptuous, to say the least. All that I ordered — the bacalao, pulpo, and cheese — they created an explosion of flavors in every bite.

Here are the tapas (and hamburguesa) I tasted at Mercado de San Anton:

imageBacalao Ajoarriero (Ajoarriero codfish), 1 euro

imageBrandada de Bacalao con cavier de lumpo (codfish brandada with lumpfish caviar), 1 euro

imagePulpo a la Gallego (Octopus Galician style), 1 euro

imageQueso de cabra con mostaza y miel y cebollas fritas (Goat cheese with mustard, honey and fried onion), 1.5 euros

imageQueso brie con frutos rojos (Brie Chees topped with red fruit jam), 1.5 euros

Hamburguesa

imageAsador La Manuela takes care of customers looking to dine on grilled food items. I decided that I must have a taste of its hamburger (selling for 6 euros, without fries). How was it? The Crema de Casar spread over the hamburger lends quite an intense taste, which only complemented the patty’s succulence and meaty flavor. Overall, it makes for a delightfully delicious meal.

Location

Mercado San Anton
Calle de Augusto Figueroa 24B Madrid 28004

Nearby Madrid attractions

Museo de Historia de Madrid, Gran Via, Plaza Callao, Plaza de Cibeles

Map

The Market’s Website: San Anton

Palacio de las Cortes de Espana – Home to the Spanish Congress of Deputies

imageGreat things abound that make Madrid a place to marvel at, they include the beautiful and majestic public offices found all around the city. Tall, sprawling, and possess impressive architectural designs — these are the qualities that the country’s government buildings have in common.

A fine example is the headquarters of the Congreso de los Diputados or the lower chamber of Spain’s legislative beanch, located at the Carretera de San Jeronimo. The Congress of Deputies in English, this branch of the Spanish Parliament is housed at the Palacio de las Cortes de Espana, the single most important edifice at the Plaza de las Cortes,

imageIt boasts of a grand design highlighted by the six columns in its entrance that lends strength to its dacade. The building is touted as one of the best examples of the city’s neoclassical architecture.

It is relatively new compared to other buildings in Madrid, having only been constructed in 1843 under the helm the Spanish architect Narciso Pascual Colomer and during the reign of Reina Isabel II. Still, the palace boasts of interesting stories about it, like its location being the former site of a convent. Needless to say, the Congress headquarters is one of the reasons the Carretera de San Jerónimo enjoys an influx of tourists throughout the day.

imageRenowned architect Pascual y Colomer is responsible for the neoclassical style of the building, while the attractive relief found in the upper front is a creation of sculptor Ponciano Ponzano. The most popular portion of the relief is the depiction of a lady with a girl on her side. Ponzano is also responsible for sculpting the two bronze lions found by the building’s staircase. His other creations are figures that represent various aspects of the state, such as Justice and Peace, Agriculture, and Fine Arts.

It is easy to reach Palacio de las Cortes since it is connected to Puerta del Sol via San Jeronimo street. It is also near other important tourist spots of Madrid such as Prado Museum,Puerta del Sol, Atocha station, Reina Sofia Museum,Plaza de Espana, Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum and Cibeles Palace.

Opening hours:

Lion in front of Palace of the CourtsIndividual visits: Congreso de los Diputados is open to the public during Saturdays. Visiting time is from 10:30AM to 12:30PM. Schedule may change during the month of August, depending on the official activities.

Group visits: Guided tours are scheduled from Monday to Friday, 9:00AM to 2:30PM and 4:00PM to 6:30PM. Time of visit may change during August, depending on scheduled official activities. Reservation is a must for guided tours.

Address:

Calle de Floridablanca, 28071 Madrid

How to Reach:

Long shot of Palacio de los CortesThe best way to get to the site is via Madrid Metro, with Sevilla, Banco de Espana, and Vodafone Sol as the nearest stations

Autobus: 3, 5, 9, 10, 15, 20, 34, 37, 45, 46, 52, 53, 203, 150

Admission

Enttance is Free, however visitors are required to present and ID or passport.

Map:

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