Tag Archives: Spain

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.

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