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Picasso. 'Guernica' Modernism and Avant-garde movements The turn of the century brought new winds of modernity. The aesthetic sensibility of the time was marked by a different, freer attitude towards art and life.


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Palaces and castles in the Madrid Region

The first stop is Alcalá de Henares, 30 kilometres from Madrid. Its university has been awarded the World Heritage designation by the UNESCO, and is a must on cultural trips. We'll visit the Monastery of San Bernardo, a Baroque building, built from 1618 onwards by the architect Juan de Mora, author of the Plaza Mayor in Madrid and the Pantheon in the Monastery of El Escorial.

The Monastery of San Bernardo is also called "Las Bernardas" because the founder, Cardinal Bernardo de Sandoval y Rojas, gave the building to the 24 Cistercian cloistered nuns in his family. Its simple brick façade is integrated into the group of buildings including the Convent of La Madre de Dios and the Archbishop's Palace.
The interior is stunning: We'll find the impressive elliptical dome in the church, the altarpiece and the collection of oil paintings by the court painter Angelo Nardi. The monastery also houses a Convent Museum with objects such as Cardinal Sandoval's chair, a small chest belonging to Charles V and a facsimile of the polyglot Complutense Bible.

Our next stop is the town of Loeches, just half an hour by car from Alcalá de Henares. Here we can find the Monastery of La Inmaculada Concepción. This Baroque building was founded in 1640 by the Count-Duke of Olivares. It has a luxurious chapel that reminds us of the pantheon in the Monastery of El Escorial. It houses the family vault of the Count-Duke and of the houses of Alba and Berwick.

We then continue on to Aranjuez, located about 70 kilometres away from Loeches. The Spanish monarchs have been coming to the Royal Residence of Aranjuez in spring for several centuries.
We'll start the visit at the Royal Palace. Although it was commissioned by Philip II in 1561, the original structure of this Herrerian building was designed in the time of Philip V (first half of the 18th century) and was subsequently extended several times. The main façade was built in the reign of Ferdinand VI (1746-1759), and Francisco Sabatini built the side wings that close the original structure of the Bailey, in the reign of Charles III.

We'll be able to see collections of paintings, sculptures, clocks and decorative arts. These elements are a good example of the importance of decoration for the monarchs, especially the Porcelain Room.
We can also discover the gardens in this town, which inspired Joaquín Rodrigo to compose his famous Concierto de Aranjuez. Its grid street plan is a perfect urban example of the Baroque period. A good way of ending our visit is a walk round the Casa del Labrador house and the pond in the Prince's Garden.
The entire site is also listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, in the Cultural Landscape category.


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