So secret is this landmark that not even all Madrileños know it is here... so let us enlighten you to the hidden gem that is La Quinta de los Molinos...
This beautiful park is set in just over 21 acres in the El Salvador district of the city. You will find yourself in an oasis of olive, pine and eucalyptus trees, however if you are fortunate enough to be in the city of Madrid in spring the attraction is the abundance of almond trees. As you walk through the park the heady scent of their blossoms will make it hard for you to leave, if you can imagine the scent of 1500 almond trees in blossom it is very seductive. The gardens once owned by Arias Ildefonso Pérez de Guzmán El Bueno y Gordon the VI Conde de Torre Arias - the 6th Count of Torre Arias are tranquil and the perfect place to while away an afternoon any time of the year.
The Count sold the gardens to the architect César Cort Boti in 1920 but upon his death in 1978 the gardens had become unkept however still very desirable. After the death of César Cort Botí, his family in an agreement with the city of Madrid sold 21 acres of the estate to be used as a public park and in 1997 La Quinta de los Molinos was declared a Historic Park of Cultural Significance. César Cort Boti had built his home in the park, it was he who planted the orchards of Almond trees, designed and built a pink Mansion to match the colour of the blossoms. As you see the park today you see and experience his vision. There are even two water mills from the United States bought by César in 1920 in order to irrigate the trees in the park and so the estate was named La Quinta de los Molinos, The Fifth of Those Mills.
In his ideal to bring a Mediterranean homestead to Madrid César created his dream farm, there is a brook, a 2,000 square metre pond, decorative fountains, even a grotto and there are several buildings on the estate including the Clock House and the Palace.
His vision became a reality that we can only imagine was above and beyond his dream. César created a lasting legacy that is now shared with everyone. All who visit become enchanted by this haven that César Cort Boti and his family called home. How lucky they were to have such a visionary man to have built such a home and how lucky are we that his legacy is there for us all to experience. Take time to visit La Quinta de los Molinos next time you are in Madrid you will not be disappointed...
Temple of Debod... and the Goddess of health, marriage and wisdom...
This is a site that is quite simply beautiful and a must see whilst in Madrid. It is situated in the Parque del Oeste, and is magical and atmospheric at any time of the day or night.
This shrine is dedicated to the Goddess Isis and was relocated from the banks of the Nile just south of Aswan and opened to the public in 1972. It was built at the beginning of the 2nd Century BC by Adikhalamani, the Kushite king of Meroë with the first chapel being dedicated to the moon god Amun then during the Ptolemaic Dynasty it was extended to become a small temple dedicated to Isis of Philae. The roman emperors Augustus and later Tiberius also added to the temple through decorations.
The Egyptian state donated the Temple of Debod to Spain in 1968 after UNESCO asked the international community to help save the historical legacy with the threats of flooding after the construction of the Aswan High Dam. Spain had provided help in saving the Abu Simbel Temples and as a thank you for their assistance Egypt made Spain the legacy holders for this magnificent temple.
Image of the Temple de Debod in Egypt before relocation to Spain.
As caretakers of the Temple of Debod the Spanish authorities have done it justice. It should feel that the Temple of Debod does not belong here, but strangely it feels like the temple is at home. Surrounded by water it is quite breathtaking and an amazingly magical place to sit and watch the sunset when in the evenings people gather and there is a celebratory atmosphere that is quite extraordinary. You get the feeling that the Ancient Egyptian Goddess Isis is happy that her Temple is here, and as the Goddess of Nature and Magic you can certainly feel her presence as the sun sets over this magnificent city...
El Parque de Retiro... "In memory of all the victims of terrorism"
El Parque de Retiro is a place that means a lot of things to different people. For some it is a place of fun and laughter, memories of childhood, romantic walks in the park, and memorable vacations. It is a place of royalty, of historical significance and a remarkable landmark of beauty. It is now also a place of reflection and remembrace following the terrorist attacks in Madrid in March 2004.
El Parque de Retiro was once the exclusive property of the Spanish Monarchy until the late 19th century when it became a public park which has gone on to become one of the main attractions in the city.
In 1561 King Philip II moved the Spanish Royal court to Madrid to the royal palace of Buen Retiro, and a formal avenue of trees were placed in in the gardens. The park has been influenced greatly by Spanish Royalty over the centuries and has had many additions created and ordered by Royal decree including a French Style garden commissioned by King Philip V called Parterre Francés this particular garden is home to the oldest tree in Madrid which is thought to be some 400 years old.
The park has been a focal point for centuries for royal courts, resplendent plays have been performed in the park for royal families and their courtiers including the courts of Philip IV and Charles II. Italian operas were the entertainment of the day in Buen Retiro for Ferdinand VI. King Charles III was the monarch who modified the perimeter of the park with stylish wrought iron railings and the following King Charles was monarch when the Astronomical Observatory was built by Juan de Villanueva.
Fruit trees were added by Queen Isabella II as well as trees to offer shade in the heat of the Madrid summers and during her reign the Campo Grande was landscaped. There are numerous statues and monuments, fountains and attractions that you will stumble upon of Kings and Queens from bygone eras such as the lake that has a monument dedicated to King Alfonso XII and the Galápagos Fountain was created to commemorate the birth of Isabel II, and of course there is the Paseo de las Estatuas, an avenue lined with statues of Kings and Queens.
There is the boating lake, the cafes and picnic benches, the army museum Museo del Ejército and of course Madrids very own Crystal Palace the Palacio de Cristal built in 1887 by Ricardo Velázquez Bosco who was a famous Spanish architect, archaeologist and scholar. Ricardo also designed and built the Palacio de Velázquez also in the Parque de El Buen Retiro which functions as an arts and crafts gallery. The park is vast so many an enjoyable day can be spent in a different garden or part of the park.
This park over the centuries has become a vast oasis in the middle of Madrid and has a number of gardens to while away a day or two during your visit to the city each with their own character and botanical significance. The Jardín de Vivaces, translated to the Garden of Perennials offering colour all year round, the Jardines de Cecilio Rodríguez, a classically Andalusian style of garden named after its designer that has 4 ponds with fountains, cypress trees and peacocks walking majestically throughout the garden. There is also the Jardines del Arquitecto Herrero Palacios with its artful topiary to look in wonder at and of course no great royal park would be complete without a rose garden.
The rose garden, or The Rosaleda has a statue that has caused much controversy in a Catholic country and many Madridiens have asked for the sculpture to be decommissioned. It is the statue of El Angel Caído, translated to The Fallen Angel. The statue is of Satan and represents Lucifer falling from Heaven. It is the only statue in Europe that is dedicated to Satan.
A poignant area of the park is the Bosque del Recuerdo, which translates to The Forest of Remembrance. The forest has 192 olive and cypress trees planted to commemorate the 191 civilians who died in the 11th March 2004 terrorist attack in Madrid. The 192nd tree is for the special forces agent who also died in the attack. Their Majesties King Juan Carlos I and Queen Sofia were the first people to lay flowers at the memorial forest and their white flowers had a message "In memory of all the victims of terrorism".
The park has held significance for many people throughout history. It has and continues to be a place of entertainment, relaxation, family outings and now a place of reflection. Take time whilst you are in this great capital city to visit El Parque de Retiro you will not be disappointed.
The name behind the city…
Upon exploration of the city you will find Madrids historical and modern landmarks, the emblematic symbols that offer meaning, very often with an amazing historical story attached.
Madrid is a city to be explored and has an interesting and lengthy history dating back to prehistoric times. There are several theories as to how Madrid was named with the cities current name believed to have its origins rooted in the 2nd century BC and is an amalgamation of the various the civilisations who have occupied the land and their languages.
The Roman Empire founded a settlement on the banks of the River Manzanares and named the dwelling Matrice. Matrice is plural for the Latin word Matrix which translates to breeding female or womb. Fitting that the city is now the captial and Mother City of Spain.
During the Islamic Conquest in the 7th Century AD the name was changed to the Arabic word for a water channel, al-Majrit. Where the Palacio Real now stands once stood another palace built during the 9th Century AD by Muhammad-I on the site of a small Visigoth village. You can see archaeological artifacts that were found at the site in the The National Archaeological Museum in the Salamanca district of the city.
One particular landmark that is very relevant to another name that legend says the city was once called is the statue of El Oso y El Madrono, translated simply to be the Bear and the Strawberry Tree. Legend has it that Madrid was once known as Ursaria. When you hear this name you may think of Ursa Minor, the star constellation that is the Little Bear. It is thought that it was the son of King Tyrrbenius of Tuscany and Mantua, whose name was Ocno Bianor gave the city this name. Ursaria in Latin means Land of Bears, and the city was so named due to the amount of bears that lived in the surrounding forests. The famous statue of El Oso y El Madrono is situated in Plaza La Puerta del Sol and the bear and a strawberry tree have been the official symbol of Madrid for centuries.
So there we have it, how Madrid got its name. ..
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