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Travel Photos...Spain and Portugal


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I spent the last three days of my trip to Spain and Portugal in October 2017 in Madrid, before catching a flight back to Sydney, Australia. It was a chance to relax before the gruelling flight home in Cattle Class. With that in mind, I decided to just amble through the streets of Madrid, looking out for those little things I may have missed in previous visits.

I have been to Madrid a few times before and I already have photos from previous visits in the Travel Photos section of my website.

Always a good place to start in Madrid is with the statue of Philip III in the Plaza Mayor.

At the Southwestern corner of the Plaza Mayor, we pass through the archway onto the Calle de Toledo.
We soon arrive at the Mercado de la Cebada, the City Market.
Many of the market stalls are well below the street level.
Taking a curving route from the Mercado to the West and North, we come upon the intriguing Cathedral of Almudena (Santa Maria la Real de La Almudena).

Ironically, the name Almudena may have been derived from the Arabic term for a citadel, "Al Mudayna".

This Cathedral has a large Neo-Romaesque crypt. The Nave is a modern version of Neo-Gothic.

Why? Let Wikipedia explain:

"When the capital of Spain was transferred from Toledo to Madrid in 1561, the seat of the Church in Spain remained in Toledo and the new capital had no cathedral. Plans to build a cathedral in Madrid dedicated to the Virgin of Almudena were discussed as early as the 16th century but even though Spain built more than 40 cities in the new world during that century and plenty of cathedrals, the cost of expanding and keeping the Empire came first and the construction of Madrid's cathedral was postponed. Making the cathedral the largest that the world had ever seen was then a priority, all other main Spanish cities had centuries old cathedrals, Madrid also has old churches but the construction of Almudena only began in 1879.

Francisco de Cubas, the Marquis of Cubas, designed and directed the construction in a Gothic revival style. Construction ceased completely during the Spanish Civil War, and the project was abandoned until 1950, when Fernando Chueca Goitia (es) adapted the plans of de Cubas to a baroque exterior to match the grey and white façade of the Palacio Real, which stands directly opposite. The cathedral was not completed until 1993, when it was consecrated by Pope John Paul II. On May 22, 2004, the marriage of King Felipe VI, then crown prince, to Letizia Ortiz Rocasolano took place at the cathedral.

The Neo-Gothic interior is uniquely modern, with chapels and statues of contemporary artists, in heretogeneous styles, from historical revivals to "pop-art" decor.

The Crypt.
The colourful, modern decoration of the dome of the Neo-Gothic Cathedral.
At the heart of the altar of the Cathdral is the statue of the Virgin of Almudena.
This is the Northern facade of the Cathedral of Almudena. It faces the Royal Palace across the Armory Square (Plaza de la Armeria).
The Royal Palace.
Walking North, we pass the Eastern wing of the Royal Palace.
The equestrian statue of Philip IV sits at the centre of the Plaza de Oriente. The Royal Palace is to the West of this square.
On the way to the Plaza Espana, there are large gardens to the left.
A memorial commemorating Cervante's Don Quixote and Sancho Panza. We have arrived in the Plaza Espana.
From the Plaza Espana we look at the chic Gran Via. My temporary abode was in the first block on the right, on the 8th floor (yes, there was a lift).
Apartment block on the Gran Via.
The sun setting on the Gran Via.
Strolling just North of the Gran Via, I suddenly realised that I was in the heart of the Red Light District of Madrid.

This statue of a young woman there caught my eye.

This is the Puerta de Alcala. It is close to the huge park called the Parque de El Ritiro.

Wikipedia has this to say about this monumental arch:

"Madrid in the late 18th century still looked like a somewhat drab borough, surrounded by medieval walls. Around the year 1774, king Charles III commissioned Francesco Sabatini to construct a monumental gate in the city wall through which an expanded road to the city of Alcalá was to pass, replacing an older, smaller, gate that stood nearby. It was inaugurated in 1778.

On March 8, 1921, at 20:20, the Prime Minister of Spain, Eduardo Dato, was driving his car home through Plaza de la Independencia after a long session at the parliament, when three Catalan anarchists driving a grey motorcycle with side-car shot him with a handgun. Dato was promptly driven to the Casa de Socorro hospital, but was dead on arrival."

This monumental arch is actually older than the ones in Paris and Berlin.

From the Northern end of the El Retiro Park, we can see the Parish Church of San Manuel y Benito. It was built in the first decade of the 20th Century and it was named after its patrons, the Catalonian businessman Manuel Caviggioli and his wife, Benita Maurici.

It is an excellent example of Neo-Byzantine architecture, and was designed by Fernando Arbos y Tremanti.

In the middle of the El Retiro Park, there is a large lake with boats for hire.
That is the monument to Alfonso XII.

Alfonso died at the age of 27 in 1885. He was succeeded by his unborn son, who became Alfonso XIII on his birth the following year.

A few of the permanent residents of the El Retiro Park.
The Park hosts a public library.
This Neo-Classical building in the El Retiro Park, called the Palacio de Velazquez, houses rotating exibitions of contemporary art.
A detail from the facade of the Palacio de Velazquez.
This is the Palacio de Cristal in the Park. It, too, houses various exhibitions of contemporary art.
To the Northwest of Madrid we come upon Sacred Ground, the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu. This is the official home of Real Madrid Club de Futfol (Royal Madrid Football Club).
Heading South from the Centre of Madrid, we find the Puente de Toledo (Bridge of Toledo). It was built in a Baroque style between 1718 and 1732.

It spans the Manzanares RIver.

The Northern end of the Toledo Bridge.
Looking Southwest across the Puente de Toledo.
The Manzanares River.
From the bridge I noticed this gentleman. Not sure what he was doing there. Is he a Pilgrim on the "Way of St James"?
This is the Arganzuela Footbridge. It spans the Manzanares River too.
As I was walking from the river towards the Prado Museum, I came across this new(ish) museum, the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia. It houses 20th Century Spanish artworks. To my surprise and delight, Picasso's famous painting of "Guenica" is housed here.

Alas, "Guernica" was in one of the few rooms where one was not allowed to take photos.

This sculpture is by Mateo Hernadez. It is the Bather, 1925.
This is by Salvador Dali. It is called "El enigma sin fin" (The Endless Enigma". It was painted in 1938.
This painting is by Andre Lhote. It is called "The Dance", 1922.
Another painting by Dali. This one is called "Face of the Great Masturbator" (Rostro del gran masturbador). 1929.
A detail of the painting above.
This imposing white building is the home of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Food and Environment. The Spaniards look after their public servants.

It sits opposite the Madrid-Puerta de Atocha Railway Station, and is close to the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia.

The Atocha Railway Station may not look all that impressive from the outside, but I found its interior to be most attractive.
Inside the Atocha Railway Station.
A pond with turtles in the Atocha Station. They all seemed very relaxed, as I was, preparing for my long flight home to Oz.

It was the end of a most enjoyable trip to Spain and Portugal.

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