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Showing posts from July, 2015

Alcala de Henares

Calle Mayor
The Roman Empire found its way to Spain in the first century BC and they built a settlement in Alcalá de Henares. They called it, Complutum. The Visigoths drove the Romans away and they in turn were given the boot by the Moors in 711. The Moors named their new conquest, Al-Qal'at, which means citadel. Alcalá de Henares means citadel on the river Henares.
Alcalá was recaptured from the Moors in 1118 and became part of the bishopric of Toledo. It was in the early 16th century when Cardinal Jimenez de Cisneros conceived the idea of a univeristy town and laid the groundwork for a university with the specific purpose of training students as administrators for the church and the state. For years the Universidad de Alcalá was the center of higher education in Spain until it was moved to Madrid in 1836 and Alcalá was left to languish. Thanks to the forward thinking group of citizens called the Sociedad de Condueños (Society of Joint Owners) who bought several of the universit…

Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida

"I hate darkness. Claude Monet once said that painting in general did not have light enough in it.  I agree with him. We painters, however, can never reproduce sunlight as it really is. I can only approach the truth of it. " Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida
Mother, 1895
Joaquin Sorolla (1863-1923) was a prolific Spanish painter from Valencia. He has been dubbed "the painter of light". His works include portraits, landscapes, historical and monumental themes. He left behind some 2000 paintings and there is a good representation of his oeuvres at his former home which is now the Museo Sorolla.
In the painting, Mother, Sorolla portrays his newly born daughter, Elena, with his wife who looks lovingly at her daughter. It's difficult to use white paint without overwhelming the subject. But Sorolla meticulously works with gradations of white. The white wall is a different shade from the white pillowcases and the white bedcover. He works with the curves of the bodies under the…

The Streets of Madrid

"Love of God Street"  
What a blessed name for a street! We should all be so fortunate to live on a street with a name like this.
Calle de la Sal
Someone thought to enliven this building.  Nice comic balcony scenes. 
Calle Cervantes
Both Miguel de Cervantes and Lope de Vega lived on this street. And the Lope de Vega house is open to visitors. You have to reserve to join a tour of his house but the small garden is open to all.
Tea Shop in Huertas neihborhood
Where there's tea, there's hope.
Street sweeper, Plaza Jacinto Benavente 
"If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as a Michaelangelo painted, or as Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, 'Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well'." Martin Luther King, Jr.
Calle de las Hileras
Details distinguish the extraordinary from the mundane.
Calle de las …

Reina Sofia Museum

Madrid has some of the best museums in the world. The Reina Sofia Museo Nacional de Arte is definitely one of these. Under its roof is arguably one of the most intriguing paintings of all time, the Guernica by Pablo Picasso.  The canvas measures 11.45 ft. by 25 ft. It is larger than liife. And it tells a gripping story of a small town in the Basque region which was bombed by German Luftwaffe aircraft in 1937 during the Spanish Civil War.  It is forbidden to photograph this painting so here's the link to view it: http://www.museoreinasofia.es/en/collection/artwork/guernica.
Girl at the Window, Salvador Dali, 1925
This is an early oil painting by Dali of his sister. I too am drawn by the view from the window when I stand in front of this painting.  What must this girl be thinking? Is she longing to go out to the beach? Dali is a master at engaging his audience. His paintings often challenge our visual perception of his art. 
The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters - Francisco Goya, 1…

Buying Pasteles from Cloistered Nuns

Enter through this door
Years ago I had been to one of the convents in Madrid hoping to buy their pastries but alas, they were closed. It wasn't until recently that I finally had the chance to try one of their delectable cookies.
The Monastery of Corpus Christi is on Calle del Codo which is off the popular Plaza del Conde de Miranda.  Buzz the nuns at the door to let you in.  The second buzzer is for the monks which you can ring if you wish to go to confession. Once you're inside you pass a courtyard to a short corridor before you enter an open door where you can ask the nun in attendance what you'd like from the list posted on the wall. It is possible they may only have one pastry available (as on the day I went). If they have different items available, they will put the boxes of pastries or cookies on the lazy susan and you can put your money on top of the box you wish to purchase. Your change and box of sweets will come around shortly. 
Put your money on top of the past…