Thursday, May 18, 2017

Odds and Ends

I wandered down to the Royal Palace today. I visited it last summer, but somehow missed seeing the Royal Armoury, which sounds interesting. Alas, they do not allow photos inside. There is an extensive collection of the arms and armour of Charles V (who was also Holy Roman Emperor) and Philip II. Both of these sovereigns actually led their armies in the field and so had personal armour and weapons. Here is a photo from the web to give you an idea:

Click to enlarge

What I really wanted to see was the famous dagger of Boabdil, handed over by the last ruler of the Emirate of Granada in 1492, but alas again, it was not on display.

I did get a few interesting pictures, though. You pass by the Teatro Real on the way to the palace and I took a couple of shots showing how big it is. Here it is looming over you as you come down a side street:

And again, from another street on the other side. They are in the process of cleaning the exterior, I believe.

The front facade is curved and on either side there are beautiful apartment blocks that follow the same curve. The opera is the building on the left:

Between the Teatro Real, the opera house, and the Royal Palace, is the Plaza Oriental and the centerpiece is a large statue of Philip IV. Both Galileo Galilei and Velazquez had a hand in designing it:

There are a number of entrances to the palace: this is the one facing the opera:

Notice the statues on top and the nifty coat of arms with the royal crown. As I said, no photos from inside the armoury, but this is what you see as you leave: the Plaza de la Armería with the main entrance to the Royal Palace on the far side:

As I was leaving this part of town I passed by an interesting building:

This is the Escuela Superiór de la Música Reina Sofía, another example of the queen's remarkable support for the arts. The motto on the outside reads "no aesthetica sin ethica" which means "no aesthetics without ethics." This is a lovely sentiment and one simply hopes it is true.

Spain has had some awful rulers, but it has also had more than its fair share of selfless and devoted ones of whom Juan Carlos I and his wife Sofía seem to be particularly outstanding examples. You really need to read the history of Spain in the 20th century to get a sense of this, but the short version is that after several decades of the repressive dictatorship of Francisco Franco, when he died there was a smooth transition to the rule of Juan Carlos I that survived one attempted military coup through his courage and good sense. He presided over the opening up of Spanish society and its joining the European Union as well as its healthy economic development.

Let's listen to a piece by Granados. Like much of the Spanish piano repertoire this has been transcribed successfully to the guitar. The Maja de Goya played by John Williams:


Will Wilkin said...

Great architecture pics! Architecture is the most functional and public of the arts, it is sculpture and engineering and social function all in one. When stripped of its sculpture and aesthetic elements, it becomes oppressive and poisons the public space.

Bryan Townsend said...

Thanks, Will! I am almost completely ignorant about architecture. I attended one lecture on the subject about 40 years ago and learned what a mansard roof is, and that's about it. But I do notice some interesting buildings from time to time.