cerebral museum

The Crypt

Posted in Uncategorized by Cassandra on August 29, 2009

After a failed attempt to buy a bike, I was wandering around the Western side of the city. Walked to the highest hill and was able to look down into the Casa de Campo, a huge wild park (something like six square miles). Situated next to the park on the NE side a hugh white domed cathedral caught my eye and I made my way down. It was the Almudena Cathedral, the largest Catholic cathedral in Madrid. When I got to the gates, I got distracted again by the view down into the valley of the park and while walking down the hill toward it, I spotted a sign pointing toward the cathedral’s crypt. I couldn’t pass it up.

19th century stained glass

19th century stained glass

It was built in the late 1800’s, and officially recognized in 1993 by good old John Paul II.

The neoclassical monument houses most of the burial chambers right below the walkways. The walls are made of vaults too. I suppose this is more of a mausoleum because it’s above ground. Some of the gigantic marble stones shifted a bit as I walked over them, and rocked back and forth with a little effort. Interesting construction.

fresh flowers over a recent addition to the crypt

fresh flowers over a recent (2007) addition to the crypt

I was the only person in the place, found a record player behind the candle stand playing slow hymns on repeat. The candles were actually little light bulbs that glow when you toss a coin in. The midday light through the windows hurt my eyes.

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A breeze was blowing through a dusty back door, and the record skipped for a few seconds. Just the right amount of creepiness to satisfy my taste.

Portrait of the virgin of Almudena, namesake of the cathedral, 16th century

Portrait of the virgin of Almudena, namesake of the cathedral, 16th century

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Plaza Mayor and Puerta del Sol

Posted in Uncategorized by Cassandra on August 24, 2009

A week or so ago, Lucía and I walked down to the Plaza Mayor. It’s a rectangle shaped plaza enclosed by three story residential buildings. Full of terraza style (and way overpriced) cervecerías and statues, it has been packed with people the few times I’ve been. The plaza was built in 1619, restored in 1790, and apparently you can still see blood on the walls in some places leftover from the bullfights. I’ll let you know if I see it, because I doubt it.

Mlaza Mayor around sundown

Plaza Mayor

Just tonight I returned with a friend from San Francisco. Dominating the street performance scene was a group of three gypsy men and a young girl, two playing guitar and one singing. The little girl kept time clapping and sang briefly. She had beautiful curly black hair down past her waist. The men had tattoos, lots of silver jewelry. They weren’t dressed up. The music was all they needed to entertain. It’s hard to explain the sound. Intense for sure. We were entranced and sat on the ground nearby for the better part of an hour watching them. Hope to find more of this music around in the future. Another photo in the plaza, the Spanish national flag is in center. Apparently the whole plaza used to be covered in the mural paintings like these.
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And this below is the Puerta del Sol, another well known plaza near the old city center in Madrid. I will never get over how beautiful the light is here. I will also probably repeat that over and over, so prepare.

Sci-fi clouds over bronze Renaissance man on horseback

Sci-fi clouds over bronze Renaissance man on horseback

Sunsed from the Puerta del Sol. Appropriate.

Sunsed from the Puerta del Sol. Appropriate.

Enamorarse

Posted in Uncategorized by Cassandra on August 22, 2009

My dear friend Peter Prato sent this quote my way, and I enjoy it very much.

“Writing in the 1930s, Ernest Hemingway acknowledged that Madrid was never Europe’s most beautiful city, admitting that “I do not believe anyone likes it much when he first goes there”.

Madrid was, Hemingway continued, “worth spending a month in every spring, if you have money to spend a month in any European capital”. Also, like those of us who live here precisely because we couldn’t bear to leave, Hemingway’s conclusion was simple: ‘It makes you feel very badly to know that you will have to die and never see Madrid again.'”

But after casting initial impressions aside, Hemingway saw what those of us who live here experience every day: “When you get to know it, it is the most Spanish of all cities, the best to live in, the finest people. It is in Madrid only that you get the essence.”

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