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This is a very special site for me. I can express this way my perception of reality through these photo image creations and share them with you as if you were at my home.

In search of silence in Spain
28 July 2016

      Maybe you need a few days for rest, to forget the stress of your work. Well, if this is so, I recommend you going to the "Valley of Silence", located in the province of Leon, northwest of Spain. There, you will find a very nice village, called Peñalba de Santiago. This village is to the southeast of Ponferrada.

Peñalba de Santiago in the Valley of Silence

Peñalba de Santiago

Peñalba is below on the right side. Las Médulas: in the middle and left side.

      To reach Peñalba, you have to go through the valley of the River “Oza”, a nice road next to the river, running through the forest valley.

The river Oza

      On reaching the village, we will have to leave the car in the large parking lot gratis, at the entrance, because here the road ends. In this way, we can enjoy even more of the village, as there are no cars or engine noises.

The parking

      The village is very nice, although we note that it has been renovated, from top to bottom, as it is a tourist destination, in the mountains of the area.

Some renovated houses

      From here, you enter the Valley of Silence, to the cave of San Genadio, on a route 30 min going and another 30 return, and above all, we will enjoy some beautiful views of the valley and mountains –mountains named “Montes Aquilanos”--.

"Montes Aquilanos"

      Peñalba  attract our attention by the framework of its streets, its rustic houses and the Mozarabic church.

"The church "Santiago de Peñalba"

      Noted for its exotic Moorish touch, especially remarkable in one of its doors.

The entrance of the church

      Inside the church, there is only a small altar for offerings; but outside is very interesting the pleasant walk up to the cave.

 

Inside the church

      The village was founded in the 10th century, by St. Gennadius, being a small monastery of Moorish influence the first construction. The Monastery was built among 909 and 937.Near the village, about 30 minutes walking, you can still visit the “Cave of San Genadio”, where the saint apparently retired to meditate himself. It is said that, in his search for silence, he even called for silence to the waters of the Oza (river). It is not surprising that this valley, today, is known with the name of Valley of Silence.     

      The Cave is a simple cavity, open all year, which is accessed from the village, after a short walk.

The Cave of San Genadio

        Currently the village has only 20 inhabitants, but it has a restaurant, a bar and several rural lodgings.

      By this time, you have deduced that you go to Peñalba in search of tranquility and nature. In fact, the access to the village is quite tortuous. The last 10km of the road, which goes from Ponferrada (the only one), are very narrow and wriggle route, between mountains with vertiginous cliffs. Fortunately, this favors one can still find there that famous silence that haunted San Genadio. And the views are priceless.

      One of the important features of Peñalba is its ideal location for practising hiking. From Peñalba there are two signposted routes: the Way of Herrerias (Peñalba - El Acebo, 18km) and the “Camino del Silencio” (“Road of Silence”) (Peñalba - Las Médulas, 30km). You can also choose to make a circular route, the "path of Tebaida Berciana" of 14km.

The Way of Herrerías

The Way of Herrerias

The Road of Silence

Las Médulas

      The photos give you an idea of how is the village, with its houses with slate roofs and cobbled streets. A real delight, although the nostalgic people will miss the times when everything was waiting for being restored.

       Well, I hope that you have liked this post and hope that you can visit the area of El Bierzo and concretely this nice Village: Peñalba de Santiago.

      Until my next post, kind regards,

Luis.

Sponsored by Costaluz Lawyers.

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First sustainable flats building in Spain and Europe
22 July 2016

        Perhaps you do not know that in Spain there is already the First Flats Building, based on geothermal energy and other techniques for saving of energy. And it is also the first building with those features, in Europe.

      Yes, this building is situated in Tres Cantos (a very new and small town 22 kilometres to the north of Madrid).

A view of Tres Cantos

Tres Cantos

      It all started when, in 2003, a group of Cooperative (Cooperative "Arroyo Bodonal"), in Tres Cantos, devised a project very revolutionary, against the rules of construction at that time, but very exciting. At the front of the project they were: Francisco Martin (Chairman), Carlos Nieto (Architect), Jose Luis Yañez (Vice Chairman) and Antonio Martinez (Secretary and Director).

From left to right: Antonio Martinez, Carlos Nieto and Francisco Martín


Geothermal installation

        The promoters of this project say they had many difficulties, to secure funding to develop the project. They visited 28 banks and only 4 of them said they would study the case. And, finally, only one (the Triodos Bank) decided to finance the project.

      These members of the Cooperative "Arroyo Bodonal" stood firm on the idea of carrying out the project, in full "housing bubble", in Spain, and during the worst economic crisis, which is remembered in many years. But it was worth the effort, because now their homes will stop release between 120 and 130 metric tons of CO2 to the atmosphere, per year, (73% less than a conventional house).

      They say that energy savings in these homes is very high. And Antonio Martin gives the example of the heat we had in Spain last summer; he says:  "Last summer, with the tougher wave of heat, over the last 30 years, the geothermal system, exclusively, faced air-conditioning, by underfloor heating, obtaining a result with excellent comfort, because the building lacks gas or air conditioners”. In the cooperative, they calculate that the savings produced by the geothermal system (which provides heating, air conditioning and hot water, ACS) exceeds 100,000 euros per year, a savings ranging from  75, 64%, if you stick to the criteria established by the Technical Building Code, and 48%, if the criterion is the Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design from the United States Green Building Council, which is the body that has just distinguished Arroyo Bodonal with its label's Top: the Platinum label.

Underfloor heating

      The cooperative Arroyo Bodonal has already made a first economic balance "The medium expense,  per household electricity in heating, climate control and domestic hot water, between May and December 2015, was 37.02 euros per month". They explain this ratio has been calculated from the actual amount of electricity billing, that has fueled the geothermal system, in these eight months: "they are excluded the savings, in electricity supply of LED lighting, inside and outside" . The savings will evolve and depending on the price of electricity. Yes, they say:  "It is important to note that, last summer,  the climate control and cooling system has faced, alone, to the heat wave stronger (40-42 ° C) over the past 30 years, maintaining an average temperature in housing, around 22-23 ° C) ".

      Arroyo Bodonal has been endowed with gardens with plants of very low water consumption (thyme, rosemary, broom, lavender, rockrose, oleander, durillo, etc.). Also, there is provided a system for the collection and reuse of rainwater for irrigation, by water tank, and a purification plant gray water from sinks, tubs and showers, for reuse in flushing toilets and cleaning of garages.

      And this is the result of the building:

       Well, I hope that you have liked this news and hope that you can visit Tres Cantos.

      Until my next post, kind regards,

Luis.

Sponsored by Costaluz Lawyers.

Please click below:



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