Tag Archives: garden

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

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:

Los Jardines de Cecilio Rodriguez in Retiro Park, Madrid

imageIf you’re looking to visit a nice garden in Madrid, Spain and don’t want to pay any admission fee (actually, there are many in the city that are free, while some ask for a minimal amount for you to enter), one of the best is the picturesque garden inside Retiro Park that was a creation of the city’s official park gardener (or the Jadinero Mayor de Retiro) – Cecilio Rodriguez. He designed a garden I thought is very much pleasing to the eyes – one that bears his name. Rodriguez was the director of Madrid’s parks and gardens, and also responsible for created the rose garden or Rosaleda, another beautiful and well-maintained garden within the Retiro Park.

imageThe entrance gates to the garden doesn’t open until 10 in the morning
imageThe garden is not only filled with carefully trimmed hedges but brightly-colored and blooming flowers as well
imageI stay beside this fountain all day. With its clear water, this garden feature does have a calming effect on anyone who sets his sight on it
imageRows of low plants of green and red dominate much of this area of the garden, while lining both sides of the pond. Water spouts from a number of fountains installed thru the length of the pond, making for an attractive view

imageBrick and stone edifice located on the side area of the garden. It is said to be a venue where gardening courses are held, and where garden tools and equipment are kept.

imageThe clean walkways of checkered tiles makes you want to stay and spend more time exploring the Los Jardines de Cecilio Rodriguez

imageThe pavilion building inside the garden, made of bricks and glass. I chanced on a film-showing (that’s how I observed the goings-on from the outside) the last time I visited the garden

imageThe garden has a handsome feature to boast about – its pergola, or some parallel colonnades supporting an open roof of long wooden rafters. It offers light shade for you to stay in and cool down while visiting the gardens on a hot sunny afternoon

image The garden features a pond filled with striving, floating lilies. In the middle of the greenish water are a number of rocks from which sculptures of birds appear to be taking flight.

Horarios:

Summer time: 10:00AM to 8PM
Winter season: 10:00AM to 6PM

Entrance:

Free everyday

How to go:

imageThe Cecilio Rodriguez Gardens is found right within the Retiro Park area of Madrid, along Paseo de Uruguay. It is near the Palacio de Cibeles and the Plaza de la Independencia.

Metro: Line 2 to Retiro station. Line 1 to Atocha and Atocha Renfe Metro stations (Currently, however, line 1 is under renovation, and will be available on November).

Bus: Number 51 (stops near the entrance of Retiro, at La Independencia, Alcala).

Map: