Friday, January 29, 2016

Random Madrid

Assumption of Mary
I keep going back to Madrid. I like it so much I was there twice this year. On the second visit, I decided to check out some of the places I hadn't yet seen like the Templo de Debod and the CaixaForum. I wanted to see the statue of Julia in July but didn't have much time then so it was great to see her last November.

I was made aware of the crypt of the Almudena Cathedral by local friends. The entrance to the crypt is on Calle Mayor, at the back of the cathedral. A chapel runs the length of the crypt and it is flanked by side altars separated from the apse by a row of columns supporting a vaulted ceiling.  At the back of the crypt and across the central nave from the main altar is this beautiful painting of Mary, Queen of Heaven. There were many people inside the crypt on the feast of the Almudena and the tombs were decorated with beautiful flowers, just like on All Soul's Day. A choir was singing the Almudena hymn which has a beautiful refrain: 
Santa Maria de la Almudena
Reina del cielo
Madre de amor

Metro: Opera (this is a long walk to the Cathedral)




Templo de Debod
The Templo de Debod appears on many "Must See" lists for Madrid. Yet when we walked around the Parque de la Montaña where the temple is located, there were few visitors around. Those who were there were relaxing under the canopy of trees or jogging around the park. It's a peaceful spot above the bustle below. 

The Templo de Debod dates back to 200 BC. It was brought to Spain stone by stone from Egypt as a gift from that country to Spain for helping save Abu Simbel. Had the temple not been sent to Spain, it would have been buried forever under the waters of Lake Nasser. I love the tranquil setting with expansive views of the rooftops and domes of Madrid. Preciosa!

At Parque de la Montaña. Metro: Ventura Rodriguez or Plaza de España

Dia y Noche (Day and Night)
We happened to pass by these statues on our way out of Atocha train station and stopped to admire these three-meter high bronze heads. Day and Night are the works of Antonio Lopez Garcia who is considered the "finest Spanish painter of his generation", this according to Museum of Fine Arts in Boston which owns a smaller version of Day and Night. And a successful sculptor as well! Lopez explained to art daily.org that "Together, of the same size and of the same girl, and of the same age, suggested to me the passing of time, the day and night". The model is the artist's granddaughter, Carmen.

Metro: Atocha Station 

Caixa Forum
This vertical garden on Paseo del Prado forms part of the CaixaForum. It is the work of French botanist Patrick Blanc whose works span the globe. The green wall has 15,000 plants culled from 250 species. It provides a rich contrast against the rusted steel façade of the CaixaForum. Metro: Atocha
 Julia (Concepción Arenal)
Julia is the work of sculptor Antonio Santin Benito. Her real name is Concepción Arenal and she was the first female student to attend the Central Universidad (now the Complutense Universidad de Madrid) having enrolled in the Faculty of Law in 1841. Concepción was forced to wear men's clothing in order to attend her classes. She graduated in 1848. 

Arenal is also known as the founder of the feminist movement in Spain. She founded the feminist group, the Conference of St. Vincent de Paul to help the poor, established Construction Beneficiary to build affordable housing for workers and served as Secretary General for the Red Cross from 1871 to 1872.  Her literary works have been published including Ode to Slavery, the Future of Women and The Education of Women, among others. Her epitaph reads: To virtue, to life, to science. 

Julia
The statue of Julia can be found on Pez Street in the Malasaña District.

Metro: Noviciado

Flamenco Dancing at Retiro Park
Many visitors to Madrid skim through the park because of their tight schedules. The best time to see local color at the park is on weekends when families are out in force and enjoying the many recesses of the park, kids run around as if just released from school, the castañas and ice cream vendors are thriving, and performances by street artists abound. Just remember the gate you entered from.

Metro: Retiro, Line 2

Sunset
The Palacio de Cibeles was the former post office and communications building until 2007 when the city council made it their home. Grateful to friends in Madrid who took me to the viewpoint which has a 360° view of Madrid's skyline. The best part though was arriving just before the sun took a bow. Timing is everything.
Metro: Banco de España Station, Line 2
Entry fee: 2€

*****

Images by TravelswithCharie


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