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Max Abroad : The Best of Spain

Quite simply writing about the best things Spain has to offer and anything that might crop up along the way. Spain is a lot more than just sun, sand and sea...

An Architectural Jewel
29 October 2018

 

Built to mirror a similar structure in London which was installed just over 30 years earlier, Madrid's Palacio de Cristal (Crystal Palace) is a lovely architectural jewel that recalls an era when spaces were built simply to be beautiful.


The ornate glass and steel greenhouse that sits on the edge of a lake in Buen Retiro Park was finished in 1887 as a space to exhibit arts and wonders in a setting that was both lovingly baroque and still naturally stunning. From the high glass dome to the bright red brick foundation, the building is a thing of beauty. Since the the walls are glass the park's lush green surrounds can also be appreciated in addition to whatever exhibition is on display inside. The palace is also outfitted with a boat landing on the waters of the park's small lake and an entrance fitted out with classically-styled columns. 

 


Since the palace is essentially an elaborate greenhouse it is no wonder that the first exhibition in the space was display of exotic Vietnamese plants that were brought into Spain for the event. The intention was originally to continue displaying wondrous plants in the space, but as time went on the palace began showing more art than flora.

Today, the Crystal Palace can still be visited by anyone who wants to take in the art on display inside or the natural vistas outside, or both at the same time.   



Like 1        Published at 15:12   Comments (1)


Chamberi....The Ghost station
24 October 2018

 

If you have travelled on the Madrid Metro's line 1 (the "blue" line) you have probably noticed an old station flashing through the train car's windows for a few seconds between the Bilbao and Iglesia stops. This is the now-disused 'Estación de Chamberí', and its history provides an instructive glimpse at the history of the Madrid Metro itself.

One of eight stations on the Metro's first line, the Chamberí station linked the nascent system to the Plaza de Chamberí above. Opened in 1919, this inaugural version of the Metro ran for four kilometres, from Cuarto Caminos to Puerta del Sol. However, this modest start would quickly become a popular and vital part of the urban landscape, expanding rapidly over the following decades to become one of the longest and most comprehensive metro systems in the world.

As part of this progressive expansion, the trains on line 1 were lengthened in the 1960s. This meant the end for Chamberí; built on a curve, and close to both Bilbao and Iglesia, lengthened the station's platform proved both pointless and basically impossible. Chamberí was closed on May 22, 1966. The rails, however, were not moved, nor the trains rerouted, so it served for decades thereafter as the mystery station glimpsed by passengers on trains merely passing through. 

The rails and overhead electric lines continued to be maintained, but the rest of the station fell into dilapidation and disrepair. It remained, however, a sealed example of the transit systems origins, and thus rehabilitation efforts began in 2006 to transform Estación de Chamberí into a museum chronicling the history of the Madrid Metro. Opened in 2008, the museum — called Andén 0, or "Platform Zero" — features a fully restored Chamberí, complete with old ticket offices, turnstiles, maps, and a film about the building of the Metro.

 

The main attraction, however, is found in the beautifully reconstructed original ads lining the walls of the platform, composed of tiny, brilliantly-coloured tiles just as they were in 1919. Just don't be startled by the trains that still rumble through this abandoned-station-turned-museum, separated from the exhibit area only by a clear glass barrier.

Located on the Plaza de Chamberí, a short walk from either the Bilbao or Iglesia stop on the Metro's line 1. The visit is free, but make sure to get there early, as a there is usually a long line of visitors due to the "one person out, one person in" policy.



Like 3        Published at 15:13   Comments (2)


Welcome to the Prado
11 October 2018

Last week I found myself in Madrid and I grabbed the opportunity to visit one of my favourite galleries: El Prado. This spectacular gallery boasts the most extensive collection of Spanish paintings from 11th -18th century, and numerous masterpieces by artists such as El Greco, Velázquez, Goya, Bosch, Titian, Van Dyck and Rembrandt. 

The quality and variety of the collection on offer make the Prado one of the world's best-endowed museums. It combines a first-class collection of Spanish painting, the most important works of the Flemish and Italian schools, and many fine examples of the German, French and English schools.

Additionally, it is home to such masterpieces as Las Meninas by Velázquez, the Two Majas by Goya, Nobleman with his hand on his chest by El Greco, the Garden of Delights by Bosch, and The Three Graces by Rubens, among other priceless pieces.

 

Velaquez

Goya 

 

El Greco

Bosch

 

Rubens

 

Although the museum was created to house primarily works of painting and sculpture, it also contains major collections of drawings, engravings, coins and medals, as well as items of clothing and decorative art.

In 2007 the museum's exhibition area was practically doubled with an extension designed by the Spanish architect Rafael Moneo. The new area includes four rooms for temporary exhibitions, the restored cloister of the church of Los Jerónimos, a large entrance hall, an auditorium seating 438 people, as well as various storage facilities and workshops for the restoration of artworks. Elements worth noting on the exterior include the impressive bronze doors by Cristina Iglesias and the Tuscan box gardens. If you ever get the opportunity to visit Madrid, pass by the Prado and take a look...if you don't here's a video....

 

 



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