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Posts Tagged ‘monastery’

Madrid,Spain

November 2, 2010

MONASTERY OF EL ESCORIAL

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MONASTERY OF EL ESCORIAL

This mountain town is nestled in the Sierra de Guadarrama at the foot of Mount Abantos about 30 miles from Madrid.  Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984, the Monastery and Real Sitio de San Lorenzo are prime examples of Spain’s imperial glory.  Walk through this scenic outpost which was once the powerful stronghold of Philip II King of Spain, ruler of one of the world’s largest empires.


Asia,Nepal

December 12, 2009

Nepal

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NEPAL IS A PLACE WITH A RICH CUL­TURE BEGGING TO BE EXPLORED. WITH A MYRIAD OF ONE-OF-A KIND ACTIVI­TIES AND UNIQUE LANDMARKS, A TRIP TO NEPAL WILL EXCITE THE TRAVELER IN EVERYONE.

One of the most remarkable aspects of Nepal is the history and culture that shaped the present-day South Asian country. History buffs will be delighted with the jewels of knowledge that lie beyond what meets the eye. From the ancient Newar kingdom to the Nepal Sambat Calendar, Nepal has a diverse back­ground. As the birthplace of Buddhism, it’s a renowned spiritual destination. A mixture of mountains, hills, plains and marshy grasslands with intertwining rivers, the country features a diverse terrain. The mountainous region, in the north, is Nepal’s claim to fame. The Great Himalayan Range contains the highest altitudes in the world-including Mount Everest, located on the border of Tibet. For the avid trekker, Nepal is a playground. With arduous trails and high altitudes-plus white water rafting-Nepal has an adventure for everyone. And when you get off the trails, there’s a whole city to explore. Nepal’s capital, Kathmandu, promises one-of-a­kind sights and scenes. Live like a local and bathe in the Bagmati River or watch the monkeys do so at Swayambhunath, a religious temple complex atop a hill at the Kathmandu Valley. Here you’ll find the Monkey Temple, where holy monkeys inhabit a temple in the northwest part of the complex. A sacred site that boasts killer views of the capital city, Swayambhunath is a site not to be missed. After checking out a few local gems, shop in the small markets sprinkled across Kathmandu. Pick up treasured gifts such as exquisite jewelry, Newari woodcrafts and exotic spices and teas. After a long, exciting day of shopping, there is only one thing left to do: enjoy a nice dinner, of course. From five-star cuisine to sidewalk cafe fare, finding a scrumptious meal is never an issue. Drop into the neighborhood cafes, where tourists intermingle with locals over highly acclaimed Malaysian cuisine. Stay awhile and you will find yourself chatting with a monk or an eager-eyed world-traveler.


Burgos,Spain

November 12, 2009

Burgos in Castile and Leon

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The province of Burgos is situa­ted in the north-east of the community of Castile and Leon and has occupied a privileged place in Spanish history.

Nature has been generous with Burgos, providing it with an extremely varied landscape where we can discover high hills, bleak uplands, fertile meadows and riverbanks and northern green valleys. Several of the most outstanding Burgalese landscapes are protected within the Network of Natural Spaces of Castile and Leon: in the north of the province the karstic complex of Ojo Guareria, the Obarenes Mounts and the Orduna Pass. The Natural Park of the Sierra of Demanda to the East, the canyon of the river Lobos to the south and the Natural space of Yecla near to Santo Domingo de Silos. This natural wealth means that many outdoor sports can be practiced such as skiing, canoeing, climbing, hiking, rafting, horse-riding, etc. Hunting and fishing are especially important in our province.

The Historical-Artistic Heritage is copious and extremely varied: from the site of Atapuerca where the oldest human remains in Europe were found, the different cultures and peoples have left their legacy in the capital and pro­vince. We can find prehistoric paintings, Celtiberian forts, the Roman city of Clunia and the town of Banos de Valdearados, the Visigothic hermitage of Quintanilla de las Was and Romanesque art of exceptional quality distributed throughout the province. Gothic art can be seen at its best in the Cathedral of Burgos, but there are also important examples in the capital and province. There are also some outstanding Renaissance and Baroque monuments.

Both legendary and live names in popular tradition are associated with the history of Burgos, such as El Cid Campeador, Count Fernan Gonzalez or the Seven Infantes of Lara. The traditio­nal festivities show the wealth of Burgalese folklore. We can highlight the festivities of “El Colacho” in Castrillo de Murcia; the day of the Penas (clubs) during the patron saint festivities of Saint Peter and Saint Paul in Burgos and the festivity of San Juan del Monte in Miranda de Ebro, all of which have been declared of tourist interest.

Apart from the great natural and cultural heritage, Burgos has, over the years, always welcomed and fed the traveler. The accommodation offer is extensive: from modern and comforta­ble hotels to guest-houses, camping sites and rural accommodations, in order to satisfy the demands of our visitors. Gastronomy is worth a separate men­tion, two products have the name “Burgos”, black pudding and cheese, but the exquisite lamb, game, meat and vegetable stew (olla podrida), mediaeval lentils, pork products, etc. must also be included. In the many bars and restau­rants, the visitor will have the chance to taste these dishes. The excellent wine of Ribera del Duero is the compulsory accompaniment.

 THE CAPITAL

Situated between the old Castle and the Arlazon River, Burgos is a city which has known how to preserve its personality.

The marvelous Cathedral, decla­red Heritage of Humanity, dominates the town with its open-work spires.

The Royal Monastery of Las Huelgas, a Cystercian monastery and pantheon of the kings and queens of Castile, the Cartuja (monastery) of Miraflores with masterpieces by Gil de Siloe and the mediaeval churches of San Lesmes, San Gil, San Nicolas and Santa Agueda, among others, preserve mas­terpieces of sculpture and Gothic and Renaissance painting.

There are also palaces such as the House of Cordon and the House of Miranda and old pilgrim hospitals, such as “del Rey” or San Juan, which are testi­monies of the city’s historical importan­ce on the Road to Santiago.

The Museum of Burgos must be visited in order to discover the heritage of Burgos and its province.

The riverbanks of the Arlazon and the large city parks add the counterpoint to the extensive cultural heritage.


Spain,Toledo

September 16, 2009

San Juan de los Reyes Monastery, Toledo

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HISTORY

San Juan de los Reyes Monastery was commissioned by the Catholic Monarchs in the town of Toledo, to honour the victory in the town of Toledo, to honor the Battle of Toro in 1476.  This battle put an end to the War of the  Succession in favour of Princess Isabel, sister of late King Enrique IV. They were fighting against the supporters of Juana, daughter of the king’s illegitimate marriage. At first the architecture and decoration were designed for the monarchs’ tombs, years before conquering Granada, which is where they were buried in the end. As they were very devoted to the Franciscan Order, they decided to give the monastery to the observant Franciscan monks.

The architect Juan Guas, from Brittany, was chosen for the design and construction Spanish-Flemish Gothic style or the Gothic of the Catholic Monarchs, a fusion of Flamboyant Gothic from Flanders, with Mudejar, that was developed in Castilla. Juan Guas died and Enrique Egas replaced him to finish the cloister. The construction works started in 1477 and ended at the beginning of the sixteenth century.

A fire during the French invasion in 1808 destroyed the origi­nal altarpiece, the important library and community building that had another plateresque cloister. After the seizure of church property in the nineteenth century, the cloister was given to the Monument Commission to set up a museum. At the end of the nineteenth century, the architect Arturo M6lida carried out a subjective Neo-Gothic restoration project, with traces of historicist Romanticism. In 1954 the building was given back to the Franciscans and in 1977 church life was restored.

The single nave with side chapels between the buttresses is covered by very complex cross vaults. The crossing does not protrude at ground level and it’s covered by a star vault. As the monarchs’ tombs were going to be kept here, the place is decorated as a great tapestry with repetitive images of saints and the coat of arms of Spain with St John the Evangelist’s eagle, under two lions facing each other, which is a symbol of royalty. The lion and castle symbolise the kingdom of Castilla and the bars symbolise the kingdom of Aragon, which also owns the kingdom of Sicily, which is represented by the eagles with crowns. Underneath are the symbols of the yoke and the arrows to symbolise the union of kingdoms. The chancel is decorated with an altarpiece from the old Santa Cruz Hospital. The sculptor was Felipe Bigamy and the painter was Francisco de Comohtes, both from the mid-sixteenth century. It depicts scenes from the Passion and the Resurrection, as well as two original scenes from Santa Cruz Legend: the invention or discovery of the Cross by St Helena.

The cloister has a garden, little paradise on earth and hortus conclusus or enclosed garden, an allegory of Mary’s virginity. The ground floor is covered with German cross vaults, where the ribs do not cross in the centre. There is an array of figures of saints and between them there are ribbons with plant motifs and animal motifs dragons, apes, fantastic birds… by toledan sculptor Cecilio Bejar in twentieth cen­tury. The Renaissance steps, designed by Covarrubias, take us to the top floor where four halls start with mixed line arches and continue with nineteenth-century wooden ceilings. The stone archs shows the Tanto monta currency which refers to Alexander the Great when he arrived in Gordion, where a yoke with a complicated knot symbolised the promise to conquer the East. Alexander cuts the knot with his sword and exclaims: ‘tanto monta’, which means, ‘it makes no difference’. This cu­rrency shows that the king and queen ruled on equal terms in each of their kingdoms.

On the outside, the rectangular building is surrounded by ver­tical pinnacles to look like a catafalque surrounded by funeral torches. The polygonal apse at the front and the powerful white stone figures of pages carrying the kingdom’s arms have recovered their splendour after the la­test restoration. Chains and shackles hang from the outside walls in remembrance of the Christians in Granada who were held captive. In 1494 the Queen ordered them to be hung there as trophy of pain and triumph. The main entrance for visitors today is crowned with an amazing Spanish­Flemish group of sculptures: the Cross with a pelican, bird that pecks at its own breast to feed its babies with its own flesh and blood. It has there­fore been considered an image of Christ’s sacrifice.


Europe,Spain

September 11, 2009

Monastery of Santa Maria De Veruela

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Veruela, the Oldest Cistercian Monastery in Aragon, Spain

Veruela is situated in a small valley formed by the River Huecha, which has its source very close to the monastery, and is sheltered by the mythical mount Moncayo. The oldest surviving document which mentions the founding of the monastery dates back to 1 145 when the ground at Veruela was donated for the construction of a Cistercian monastery. This religious order was founded in France in 1098 by Roberto de Molesmes who wished to re-establish the original austerity of the fifth century Benedictine order. Molesmes later retired to Citeaux, near Dijon, . Shortly afterwards, Saint Bernard founded Claraval, taking on a monumental spreading and doctrinal task. In Aragon, great orders were established, notably Veruela (1145 or 1146), Rueda (1153) and Piedra (1194), all of which are found in the province of Zaragoza. These religious orders fomented new cultural, spiritual and religious values and brought economic and political advantages. The roturadores (plowmen), as the Cistercian monks were known, due to their economic and agricultural influence, organised their abbeys into real hubs of activity, by ploughing uncultivated land or territorial borders thus regenerating depopulated or sparsely populated areas, both of which are typical of the Veruela region. Controlled water resource management was necessary and thus the Verolense monks set up a wide-ranging network of irrigation channels, weirs and windmills around the Huecha river basin.

The construction of the monastery must have been sufficiently advanced for the community to move there in 1171. Work on the church continued for another two hundred and fifty years. The end result is sparten, with few sculptured ornaments – in keeping with the doctrine of Saint Bernard – However, the cathedral style proportions and craftsmanship demonstrate the extensive financial \resources of the monastery. High returns maintained a large and undiminishing monk community and alll, veel-for continual improvements and extensions to the monastery. Thus, between 1472 and 1617, the Verolense abbots were appointed by the king and no longer by the Cistercian order. Great abbots from this period were Hernando de Aragon (1535 – 1539), grandson of Ferdinand the Catholic, who later became the Archbishop of Zaragoza, and his good friend and successor, Lope Marco (1539 – 1560).

Under the governance of the Cistercian Brotherhood of the Crown of Aragon, created in 1617, the abbots held office for a period of four years until the event of the abolition of monastic orders when church land was sold off. This political change coincided with one of the largest expansion programmes of the monastery, the construction of the new monastery (XVII-XVIII) incorporating individual cells for the monks (around sixty-five cells).

The Becquer family in Veruela

The selling off of land under Mendizabal in 1835 led to the abandonment of the Monastery of Veruela which had been in irreversible decline since the beginning of the century. The Madrid Central Commission for Artistic Monuments (Cornision central de Monumentos Artisticos de Madrid) insisted on the conservation of the monastery, saving it from destruction. Since then it has been the destination for countless romantics, amongst others, the Becquer brothers Between April 1877 and 1973, the jesuits took up residence here, and used the building for training purposes It was declared a national monument in 1919 and became a listed building in 1928. In 1976 the Spanish Directorate General for Fine Arts granted the Provincial Council of Zaragoza permission to preserve and renovate the building Several hundred million pesetas was invested over a sustained period of more than twenty years. In 1998 Veruela became the property of the Provincial Council of Zaragoza which continues to oversee the restoration works and has initiated a cultural development programme.

Following the selling off of the land in 1835, Veruela became a summer retreat for determined travellers who went to study rocks or enjoy the natural beauty spots at Moncayo where according to a saying dating back to 1861   All ailments are cured by the air in Veruela        The poet Gustavo Adolfo Becquer and his brother, the painter Valeriano enjoyed an extended stay in Veruela with their families between December 1863 and July 1864. During this perod, Gustavo Adolfo wrote a series of nine letters known collectively as Desde mi celda (From my cell), written for Madrid’s daily newspaper El Contemporaneo (published between May and October 1864) and Valeriano, who returned to Veruela in August 1865, produced various drawings and water colours, notably Expedicion de Veruela (Columbia University, New York). The poet was already familiar with the area as his wife came from Noviercas in the Sorian area of Moncayo and the Moncayo landscape inspired many of his most famous works such as El monte de las animas (1861), El gnomo and La corza blanca ( 1863)

As a result of their stay in the monastery of Veruela, the two brothers prepared a series of articles on Veruela and its people, written by Gustavo Adolfo and illustrated by Valeriano Becquer s articles published between 1865 and 1869 and his brother Valeriano’s paintings show their interest in anthropology.