The Palace of The Guzmanes courtyard

© RicardMN Photography

© RicardMN Photography

The Palace of the Guzmanes (Palacio de los Guzmanes) is the current headquarters of the Diputación de León (the provincial government) is one of the most beautiful palaces in the city of Leon, Spain.

Don Juan de Quiñones y Guzmán, bishop of Calahorra, commanded its construction to Rodrigo Gil de Hontañón, the most important architect back then. He had planned the University of Alcalá de Henares and the Palacio Monterrey in Salamanca. The Palacio de los Guzmanes’ construction took place between 1559 and 1572 in the lands where the old city Wall used to stand, and also the place where the family’s older palace was. This was a mudejar building that was knocked down in order to build the new one. The construction work was never finished and the palace deteriorated until i tended up abandoned.

In 1882 it was purchased by the provincial government (Diputación) for its recovery, and since then, a series of reforms have taken place. They concluded with the extension carried out between 1973 and 1976 by the architect Felipe Moreno.

It is a place of delicate elegance from the Renaissance, with flair and structural simplicity. Inside, the extraordinary courtyard leads up the stairs to the administrative offices. At the main entrance, there are two reliefs: one represents Saint Augustine washing Pilgrim Christ’s feet. The other is the Annunciation. Likewise, there’s the sculpture of the aforementioned bishop Juan Quiñones de Guzmán, work by Valentín Yugueros. In the façade there is the mysterious Guzmanes’ coat of arms, a bucket with six snakes getting out.
The building’s base is like a trapezoid, with four towers at the corners and an indoor courtyard with columns and beautiful stained glass windows at the second level. The palace has two parts: balconies in the upper one and barred windows in the lower one. The main façade makes up a third part, which is a gallery of glazed arches between Corinthian pilasters. The building’s floors are vertically connected through a spiral staircase located at the Southeast tower.

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‘Fake Horizons’ (‘Falsos horizontes’) by Alberto García-Alix

© RicardMN Photography

© RicardMN Photography

Black and white pictures by Alberto García-Alix in his monographic exhibition ‘Fake Horizons’ (‘Falsos horizontes’) at the Tabacalera center in Madrid, Spain,  February-April 2016.

Alberto García-Alix (born 1956) is a Spanish photographer from León, Spain. A National Photography Award winner in 1999, El honor de las injurias (2007), a documentary film about Felipe Sandoval.

His work has reached different countries and has been praised by publications such as Vogue, British Journal of Photography or Vanity Fair. A motorcycle and portrait lover, his Leica and Hasselblad cameras have immortalized important national and international artists. He has always been inspired by bikes, tattoos, music and the night.

He defines his portraits as a confrontation with his own model. Garcia-Alix is one of the leading figures of the movement known as La Movida Madrileña leaving behind well-known and powerful images of this cultural movement’s youth. Among its members are some of his friends, who subsequently have become renowned personalities in different fields: Pedro Almodóvar, Rossy de Palma, Emma Suárez, Camarón de la Isla and many others. Often violently shameless, his works are recurrently raw and naked portraits. They are often considered to be overreactions but their expressive power and graphic effectiveness is undeniable.

García-Alix has devoted his entire career to black and white photography as personal and social documentation. Since his long stays in France and China in 2007 and 2008, he has been experimenting with video by documenting his images accompanied by his own texts and voice. An example of his video-art was showcased at it his exhibition De donde no se vuelve (2008) at the Reina Sofía Museum in Madrid.

Awards and recognition: Spanish National Photography Award 1999; Especial Guest for El País Newspaper at the Contemporary Art Fair in Madrid (ARCO); Shortlisted for the Deutsche Börse Photography Prize 2014 for his book Autorretrato/Self-Portrait, La Fabrica Editorial (2013).

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Monastery of San Miguel de Escalada BW

© RicardMN Photography

© RicardMN Photography

San Miguel de Escalada is a monastery in the province of León, Spain, located 10 km from the Way of St. James pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela. The building is an example of Mozarabic art and architecture or Repoblación art and architecture.

An inscription that has disappeared but was published by Father Risco in 1786 gave information about the church’s consecration in 951 by Bishop Genadio of Astorga, around the time of the founding of the Kingdom of León. It was constructed on a site dedicated to Saint Michael, probably a Visigothic church.

In 1050, due to an increase in the number of monks, the foundation was renewed by the Abbot Sabarico. In 1155 King Alfonso VII of León gave the monastery to the congregation of St Rufo of Avignon.

After the disentailment of ecclesiastical properties and lands in 1836 (Desamortización de Mendizábal), the monastery was abandoned and the monastic offices disappeared. The only buildings extant are the church, the tower, and the San Fructuoso chapel. The tower and the chapel are of Romanesque style. Later in the nineteenth century the buildings were declared a national monument. (Description from Wikipedia)

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St Patrick’s Church in Trim, Ireland

© RicardMN Photography

© RicardMN Photography

St Patrick’s church, Trim, County Meath, Ireland. Viewed from the castle’s southern curtain wall.

St Patrick’s Church Trim is a Gothic Revival style Roman Catholic church. It was built circa 1900. The church is surrounded by landscaped grounds that overlook Trim Castle. Celtic mosaics decorate the interior of the church with white marble reredos and stained glass windows depicting the history of Trim. Overall the church is a very imposing building. There is a fantastic pipe organ situated on the choir balcony that is serviced by a lift. The acoustics are excellent as a result of the scale of the church. A sizeable congreation of 800 could be accomodated in the church.

Trim is situated on the River Boyne and has a population of 8,268. The town is noted for Trim Castle – the largest Cambro-Norman castle in Ireland. It was once the county town but today that honour belongs to Navan. One of the two cathedrals of the United Dioceses of Meath and Kildare — St Patrick’s cathedral — is located north of the river. Trim won the Irish Tidy Towns Competition in 1972 and 1984 and was the joint winner with Ballyconnell in 1974.

The town has been used as the location for some film productions, including the use of Trim Castle to depict York Castle in Mel Gibson’s Braveheart.

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Guinness Brewery in Dublin

© RicardMN Photography

© RicardMN Photography

St. James’s Gate Brewery (Irish: Grudlann Gheata Naomh Seamuis) is a brewery founded in 1759 in Dublin, Ireland, by Arthur Guinness. The company is now a part of Diageo, a company formed from the merger of Guinness and Grand Metropolitan in 1997. The main product of the brewery is Guinness Draught.

Originally leased in 1759 to Arthur Guinness at £45 per year for 9,000 years, St. James’s Gate has been the home of Guinness ever since. It became the largest brewery in Ireland in 1838, and the largest in the world by 1886, with an annual output of 1.2 million barrels. Although no longer the largest brewery in the world, it is still the largest brewer of stout in the world. The company has since bought out the originally leased property, and during the 19th and early 20th centuries the brewery owned most of the buildings in the surrounding area, including many streets of housing for brewery employees, and offices associated with the brewery. The brewery also made all of its own power using its own power plant.

There is an attached exhibition on the 250-year-old history of Guinness, called the Guinness Storehouse.

The main product is Guinness Draught, a 4.2% abv dry stout that is one of the most successful beer brands worldwide. For many years a portion of the drink was aged to give a sharp lactic flavour, although Guinness has refused to confirm whether this still occurs. The thick creamy head is the result of the beer being mixed with nitrogen when being poured. It is popular with Irish people both in Ireland and abroad and, in spite of a decline in consumption over recent years, is the best-selling alcoholic drink of all time in Ireland where Guinness & Co. makes almost €2 billion annually. The brewery also produces Guinness Original, a 4.3% abv version of the Draught, without the nitrogen; Kaliber, a low alcohol pale lager; Guinness Bitter, a 4.4% bitter sold in a can with a widget; and the 7.5% Guinness Foreign Extra Stout.

St. James’ Gate in Dublin was traditionally a main starting point for Irish pilgrims to begin their journey on the Camino de Santiago (Way of St. James). The pilgrims’ passports were stamped here before setting sail, usually for A Coruña, north of Santiago. It is still possible for Irish pilgrims to get these traditional documents stamped at St James’ Church, and many do, while on their way to Santiago de Compostella.

The Guinness Storehouse was erected between 1902 and 1904. It was built by Arthur Guinness Son & Co. Ltd for use as a fermentation house. Fermentation is the last stage of the brewing process where yeast is added to the boiled mixture of barley, water, hops and allowed to ferment.

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Klostera Street in Old Riga

© RicardMN Photography

© RicardMN Photography

Klostera Street in Old Riga, Latvia.

Vecriga (Latvian: Old Riga) is the historical center of Riga, Latvia, located on the east side of Daugava River. Vecriga is famous for its old churches and cathedrals, such as Riga Cathedral and St. Peter’s church.

Vecriga is the original area of Riga and consists of the historic city limits before the city was greatly expanded in the late 19th century. In the old days, Vecriga was protected by a surrounding wall except the side adjacent to the Daugava river bank. When the wall was torn down, the waters from Daugava filled the space creating Riga City Canal.

In the 1980s Vecriga’s streets were closed to traffic and only area residents and local delivery vehicles are allowed within Vecriga’s limits with special permits. Vecriga is part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site listed as “Historic Centre of Riga”.

St. Peter’s Church is a Lutheran church in Riga, the capital of Latvia, dedicated to Saint Peter. It is a parish church of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Latvia.

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Old Riga

© RicardMN Photography

© RicardMN Photography

Old Riga and St. Peter’s Chuch.

Vecriga (Latvian: Old Riga) is the historical center of Riga, Latvia, located on the east side of Daugava River. Vecriga is famous for its old churches and cathedrals, such as Riga Cathedral and St. Peter’s church.

Vecriga is the original area of Riga and consists of the historic city limits before the city was greatly expanded in the late 19th century. In the old days, Vecriga was protected by a surrounding wall except the side adjacent to the Daugava river bank. When the wall was torn down, the waters from Daugava filled the space creating Riga City Canal.

In the 1980s Vecriga’s streets were closed to traffic and only area residents and local delivery vehicles are allowed within Vecriga’s limits with special permits. Vecriga is part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site listed as “Historic Centre of Riga”.

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