17th Century: The Italian origins of VillaJardines

The first owner of the building appears to be Melchora Marullo, Marquise of La Floresta. She moved from Sicily to VillaJardines in 1627 after she widowed Antonio de Quintana-Dueñas, regent of the Council of Italy. The building was her official residence in Madrid.

De wilt

This is the first known urban planimetry of Madrid. It was done in cartographic material circa 1622 and it has bibliographic descriptions. Its title is “The Villa of Madrid, Court of the Catholic Monarchs of Spain”, dated in 1622 and first published in Amsterdam by Frederik de Wit in 1700. In the blue zoom you can see how in 1622 VillaJardines was already the most important building in the street. VillaJardines appears as property of Melchora Marullo, but the map was really finished in 1632, after she moved to Madrid in 1627. With the available information, it is not possible to really know if the building already existed in 1622 or if it was built by the Marchise de la Floresta in 1627. In any case, VillaJardines already appears in Madrid’s first map.

In 1627 Mariana Melchora Marullo and Patti moved to her residence in calle de Jardines (Madrid) from Sicily after she widowed Antonio de Quintana-Dueñas, regent of the Council of Italy under the kings Philip III and Philip IV of Spain. She was part of a prominent Italian family and she enjoyed a lot of political power in the south of Italy. Her husband was an influential advisor to the Kings of Spain (and Sicily) until his death.

The building’s first evidence dates back to 1627. Nothing garantees that the building is older, but she probably owned the house before she moved to Madrid. She married in 1606 to a Spaniard who had been living in Madrid until 1602. They travelled very often to the court, until he died in Madrid in 1626. Nevertheless, the first notice only appears in 1627, when she moved to Madrid. At the time, calle de los Jardines was fully developed with new buildings in a fast growing city.


Bernarda Diana Quintana-Dueñas was their only daughter and she married three times to three prominent Spanish men but did not have descendants with any. In 1625 she married Fernando de Toledo, Lord of Galvez, who died in 1644. Then she married with Juan de Bracamonte, uncle of the president of the Council of Italy from 1658 to 1664 and later on with Juan Cardenas, whose two relatives had also been presidents of the Council of Italy.

Antonio de Quintana-Dueñas was one of the regents of the Council of Italy and the Council of His Majesty under Philip III and Philip IV of Spain. He was rewarded with the Sicilian title of "Marchese della Foresta di Trifontane" in November 1619, granted by Felipe III. Antonio de Quintanadueñas married Melchora Marullo and Patis , Baroness of St. George . They had a daughter, Diana Bernarda Quintana-Dueñas and Marullo, second Marquise de la Floresta and Countess of Quintana de la Plaza, both states located in the south of Italy

Antonio de Quintana-Dueñas was one of the regents of the Council of Italy and the Council of His Majesty under Philip III and Philip IV of Spain. He was rewarded with the Sicilian title of “Marchese della Foresta di Trifontane” in 1619, granted by Philip III. Antonio de Quintanadueñas married Melchora Marullo and Patis , Baroness of St. George. They had a daughter, Diana Bernarda Quintana-Dueñas and Marullo, second Marquise de la Floresta and Countess of Quintana de la Plaza, both states located in the south of Italy. (Monarquia Española, Blason de su Nobleza, Volumen 2, written by Juan F. Rivarola y Pineda, 1736)

Who were they all? Did they all live in the building? Let’s try to get back to the 17th Century and see who was who.

Until 1626: Antonio de Quintana-Dueñas, Regent of the Council of Italy and Proconsul of His Majesty, Marquis of la Floresta di Trifontane

Antonio de Quintana-Dueñas became regent of the Council of Italy in 1602. He was sworn Baron of La Floresta and Lord of the San Giorgio and Grasseta feuds in Sicily on May 20th, 1606 when he married Melchiora Marullo and Patti, daughter of the latest Baroness, Diana Patti. King Philip III of Spain awarded him with the title of Marchis della Floresta di Trifontane on April 10th, 1619.

The Quintana-Dueñas were part of a Spanish family of wealthy wool merchants who exported during the 15th Century to Flanders, France and Italy under the reigns of emperor Charles I and king Philip II of Spain.

In this manuscript there is a genealogical tree of the Quintana-Dueñas house, Marquises of Floresta and Barons of Villegas. It starts with Juan Rodriguez de Villegas, Knight of the Banda, and finishes in the eighth generation with Mariana Melchora Quinta-Dueñas y Marullo, married to Francisco de Toledo y Silva, Knight of Calatrava and daughter of Antonio de Quintana-Dueñas regent of the Council of Italy. The manuscript belongs to the Salazar and Castro Collection at the Royal Academy of History.

In this manuscript there is a genealogical tree of the Quintana-Dueñas house, Marquises of Floresta and Barons of Villegas. It starts with Juan Rodriguez de Villegas, Knight of the Banda, and finishes in the eighth generation with Mariana Melchora Quinta-Dueñas y Marullo, daughter of the regent of the Council of Italy, married to Francisco de Toledo y Silva, Knight of Calatrava. The manuscript belongs to the Salazar and Castro Collection at the Royal Academy of History (Madrid).

The government of the Spanish monarchs was organized through specialized structures called councils, with headquarters in Madrid. The most important ones were the Council of Castille, the Council of Aragon, the Council of Navarre, the Council of The Indies, the Council of Italy, the Council of Flanders and the Council of Portugal. The Council of Italy (or officially the Royal and Supreme Council of Italy) was the organization that served the Italian businesses for the Spanish kings. It controlled the Habsburg territories in Italy and it was composed of a president and six regents: two for the Kingdom of Naples, two for the Kingdom of Sicily and two the Duchy of Milan (in all three cases, one Castilian and one Italian).

The beginning of the 17th Century saw the rise of “proconsuls” under the reign of Philip III of Spain. They were influential Spanish representatives in other territories outside the iberian peninsula (basically Europe and overseas). As regent of the Council of Italy, Antonio de Quintana-Dueñas exercised independent judgment and even implemented his own independent policies in the absence of a strong royal leadership, as it happened with Philip IV.

Antonio de Quintana-Dueñas died in Madrid in 1626.

From 1627 to 1646: Mariana Melchora Marullo and Patti, Baroness of La Floresta, Countess de la Plaza, Baroness of Saint George

Melchora was the daughter of Francesco Marullo (Mauroli) and Diana Patti, governors of the territory of La Floresta from 1573 to 1605. Upon her mother’s death, in 1605 she became the Baroness of La Floresta, Countess de la Plaza and Baroness of Saint George (she disputed the titles with a relative). She married Antonio Quintana-Dueñas in 1606. 

Melchora was an Italian noblewoman who obtained a lot of authority in the Kingdom of Sicily from the kings Philip III and Philip IV of Spain, with the help of her husband, Antonio Quintana-Dueñas. She lived most of her time in Italy, but spent a great deal in Madrid lobbying for her interests. She held a long-lasting territorial dispute with an Italian cousin and forced the personal intervention of a very young King Philip IV of Spain.


Atti della Gran Corte dei Conti delegata: 1843. Secondo semestre. Tipografia di Bernardo Virzi – 506 páginas

On June 8th, 1616 the Supreme Council of Italy awarded the ownership of the Barony de la Plaza (Kingdom of Sicily) to Mariana Melchora Marullo and Patti over her cousin Antonio Statela Caruso Roca and Patti, Marchis de Spacafurno, who refused to accept. The Supreme Council of Italy confirmed it again on March 14th 1618, but again he refused to accept. In 1619 Antonio de Quintana-Dueñas became Marquis de la Floresta di Trifontane in Italy. In 1621 Philip IV became King of Spain (and Sicily) and confirmed Antonio de Quintana-Dueñas as regent of the Council of Italy in 1622. On september 20th, 1624 King Philip IV condemned Antonio Statela to return to her cousin Mariana Melchora all her historical rights over the Barony de la Plaza and condemned him to pay the costs of the whole legal process, as well as all the historical income since 1618 plus interests. In 1624 Mariana Melchora and Antonio Quintana-Dueñas consolidated a great authority in the south of Italy, with the personal blessings of the king himself.

Mariana Melchora Quintana-Dueñas Marullo and Patti widowed in 1626, moved to Madrid 1627  and died in Madrid in 1646.

Until 1646: Bernarda Diana Quintana-Dueñas Marullo, Marquisse de la Floresta di Trifontane, Countess de la Plaza, Baroness of Saint George

Diana Bernarda was born in 1604 and became the governor of the territory of the Floresta when her father died in 1626. He had built a small church dedicated to St. George. She was known as “Melchora” Quintana-Dueñas.


Atti della Gran Corte dei Conti delegata: 1843. Secondo semestre. Tipografia di Bernardo Virzi – 506 páginas

She married three times, but she never had children.

  1. Fernando Suarez de Toledo y Silva, Count of Quintana, Lord of Galvez and heir to two of the noblest Spanish families, knight of the Order of Calatrava. They married on October 26th 1625. He died in 1644.
  2. Juan de Bracamonte Guzman, born in 1593, knight of the Order of Santiago, uncle of Gaspar de Bracamonte, Count of Peñaranda, Viceroy of Naples from 1658 to 1664 under Philip IV.
  3. Garcia de Cardenas Ulloa y Zuñiga, born in 1622, Marquis of La Mota, second nephew of Juan de Zuñiga, president of the Council of Italy from 1599 to 1600; and also related to Manuel de Acevedo y Zúñiga, president of the Council of Italy from 1622 and 1624.

Melchora lived and died in the Floresta and was always sensitive to the spiritual and material needs of the different governments, the financial difficulties of the citizens and the maintenance of the Catholic worship. Her memory has been passed on for generations and it still lives in the memory of the elderly as an unprecedented example of a heartfelt sensitivity.

Melchora Quintana-Dueñas died in Floresta on October 27th, 1675, childless. The historical branch of the Quintana-Dueñas dinasty ended with her. In 1677 the Floresta territory, and thus the title, in Italy was inherited by Prince Paolo Ardoino, her nephew. In Spain, the title of Marquise of la Floresta di Trifontane was inherited by Miguel de Salabert Quintana-Dueñas, third Marchis della Floresta di Trifontane (Madrid, 1775-1827).

Until 1646: Fernando Suarez de Toledo y Silva, Lord of Galvez, Jumela and Las Moralejas, Knight of the Order of Calatrava

On July 4th 1613 Fernando Suarez de Toledo became the Lord of Galvez. He was the third son of Juan Suarez de Toledo and Paula Castelví, but the death of his two older brothers allowed him to inherit the title. He belonged to the Toledo dinasty, one of whose members, Garcia de Toledo, was Viceroy of Sicily in 1565, and another, Alvaro de Toledo, was the Royal Chaplain in Sicily. Fernando de Toledo was a member of the Order of Calatrava.


As Lord of Galvez he was very active and increased his mayorazgo (a legal arrangement for which the first son inherits all the properties associated with a title of nobility). On an annual basis, he designated mayors and local administrators dealing with justice and taxation, with jurisdiction throughout the manors of Galvez, Jumela and Las MGalvezoralejas. In 1621 he managed to recover the village of La Moraleja.

On October 26th 1625, he maried Melchora Quintana-Dueñas and became the Marchis of La Floresta and Count of Quintana de la Plaza. In 1628 he increased his territorial power, annexing the Huerta del Rey to his existing territories. In 1639 he bought more land in Monte Aragon, which had previously belonged to the Order of Calatrava.

In 1636 Fernando de Toledo asked the king Philip IV of Spain to make the Italian title “Marchese della Floresta di Trifontane” valid as a Spanish title, and thus he became in Spain the Marqués de la Floresta. When he died in 1644, the title of Lord of Galvez was inherited by his sister, the Marquise de San Vicente.

From 1646: Pedro Fernández de Saavedra, unknown

There is nothing recorded concerning Pedro Fernandez de Saavedra, apart from buying the building, along with his wife Maria López, to the heirs of Mariana Melchora de Quintana-Dueñas on June 29th 1646.

There is no evidence when Mariana Melchora de Quintana-Dueñas died, but it was before 1646, when a sort of foundation under her name was created to manage the rents from her inheritance. This sort of foundation was a legal structure in the seventeenth century to preserve the wealth of families. Detail of the 1749 Planography Map of Madrid (courtesy of Luis Fernandez Rodriguez-Crespi)

According to the information contained in the 1749 Planography Map of Madrid, the building was sold to Pedro Fernandez de Saavedra and his wife, Maria Lopez after Melchora de Quintana-Dueñas died in 1646. (Detail of the Planography Map of Madrid in 1749 – courtesy of Luis Fernández Rodriguez-Crespí)

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Carlos Vilán celebrates in VillaJardines

On May 15th, a friend was 50 and was ready to celebrate. We gathered some common friends in the perfect place, VillaJardines. We felt it was almost historical. Even a big project might come up from a simple conversation!

A dear friend of mine, Carlos Vilán, was overjoyed when I suggested to celebrate in VillaJardines his 50th birthday celebration with common friends, all related to his brilliant dance career. A tea & champagne soirée was quickly organised and some 50 guests came to celebrate. But, wait, who is Carlos Vilán?

Carlos Vilán is one of Spain’s most iconic dancers and one would think that he has been around for ever. He has danced with world divas, like Maya Plisestskaya. He learnt from Antonio Gades, still recognised as Spain’s best male dancer ever. He was promoted by Antonio Ruiz Soler, the first Spaniard to reach Hollywood. He was mentored by Maria Rosa, still recognised as Spain’s best dancer ever.

From left to right: (1) Carlos Vilán, dancer and coreographer; (2) Ricardo Cue, Maya Plisetskaya's agent and Spain's most credited Dance Director; (3) Merche Esmeralda, flamenco dancer; (4) Maria Rosa, still considered as Spain's best dancer ever. Spain`s 20th centruy dance history in VillaJardines

From left to right, Spain`s 20th Century dance history in VillaJardines: (1) Carlos Vilán, dancer and coreographer; (2) Ricardo Cue, Maya Plisetskaya‘s agent and Spain’s most credited Dance Director; (3) Trinidad Artiguez, flamenco dancer and Director of the Flamenco Academy; (4) Maria Rosa, still considered as Spain’s best female dancer ever. – With permission to publish the picture here. Please do not reproduce –

After 30 years dancing around the world, Carlos Vilán shared some beautiful moments with some of his closest and dearest references. The day was absolutely gorgeous. A delightful atmosphere increasingly became a lively celebration. Maria Rosa improvised a dance for us; Ricardo Cue secretly revealed details of his next project, which will be a ballet based on a world known deceased French designer; and even Carlos himself provided a little scoop about the Spanish National Ballet.

They all held an energetic conversation and predictibly all agreed that “the dance world has never been this bad, no, no, never, it cannot get any worse”, though their animated attitude really made them talk about future projects. And, wow, what projects if they ever come real!! I wanna be invited 🙂

Little scoop: One of the projects will involve Sergio Bernal, first dancer at the Spanish National Ballet. He is Spain`s latest dance star. He should be followed. He might change Spain for another country. We’ll see if the brits hypnotise him with their performing and budgetary potential. Ours is pretty scarce in Spain. Nevertheless, the Brexit might save us. If the UK leaves, Sergio will stay. Nobody is taking the Brexit option seriously. What if it  happens? The UK shall lose Sergio, to start with.

Happy 50th birthday, Carlos Vilán!

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A documentary on a film director’s unaccomplished dreams

A documentary wants to analyze one of the best European film directors of all times. Some of the stars who worked with him explore his personality in VillaJardines.

These past days have been rather busy and fun. VillaJardines has been chosen as one of the stages for a documentary currently being filmed in Spain and the United Kingdom. The building looks like a cool movie set!


Who was sitting on this chair yesterday? Loose lips sink ships and confidentiality does not allow me to talk. Nevertheless, a teaser will be released in April and the whole mystery will be revealed. Who were filmed in VillaJardines talking about what director?

The film director being explored was also a producer, a screenwriter and an editor. He is best remembered for big-screen epics. The documentary has the same name as his unfulfilled project. This film director assembled an all-star cast (Marlon Brando, Paul Scofield, Anthony Quinn, Peter O’Toole, Christopher Lambert, Isabella Rossellini, Dennis Quaid and Georges Corraface) but he died. The project was never finished.

The documentary is aimed to the highly cultivated public of a specific international TV chain. It is a real honor to provide the atmosphere for such a precious little jewel.

Hint: The mysterious film director was nominated seven times for the Academy Award for Best Director, for which he won twice. Yes! Now you know… 🙂

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Simon Bolivar lived in VillaJardines from 1799 to 1800

Not many people know that Simon Bolivar lived in Madrid between 1799 and 1802, where he married Maria Teresa Rodriguez del Toro. What did he do as a teenager in Madrid?

Simon Bolivar [i] was born in 1783 in Caracas and he is the father of six countries in Latin America (Venezuela, Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, Panama and Bolivia). He lived in Madrid in different periods between 1799 and 1802 and became a priviledged witness of two worlds. He first lived with his maternal uncle Esteban Palacios (one of the fathers of the 1812 Spanish Constitution), under the protection of Manuel Mallo, the Queen’s lover.  He was able to witness the sad reality of a decaying court. Simultenously, he was able to expand his knowledge with the cultivated Marquis de Ustariz. He also made several trips to Bilbao. And yes, apparently he lived in VillaJardines for almost a year.

The importance of being Simoncito in Madrid

Simon Bolivr in 1800, when he lived in VillaJardines

Simon Bolivar circa 1800, when he lived in VillaJardines. He was 16-17 years old

The importance of Bolivar’s visit to Madrid is not at all minor. It was in Madrid where he received an excellent education at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando, in calle de Alcala (5 minutes walking from VillaJardines). It was in Madrid where he dived into the illustrated spirit of the time and where he attended his first cultural gatherings (promoted by the Marquis de Ustariz). It was in Madrid where he experienced firsthand the sorrowful state of decay of the metropolis. It was in Madrid where he met his future wife (Maria Teresa Rodriguez del Toro) and where he married her (Parroquia de San Jose).

The learnings of his Madrid experience helped him later on as a liberator. He had the opportunity to personally meet everyone who was intellectually/socially relevant in a very small decadent court. He was well acquainted with the Royal Family and he personally knew the King. He lived firsthand the ambitions, intrigues and struggles of the Madrid court. He was able to connect with people who later on connected him to Paris and Rome. He understood how the system worked and he knew who was who and who was able to do what and when. With so much precious information, he was the first one to know what to do when Spain became vulnerable after Napoleon’s invasion  in 1808.

We are talking about one of the most relevant 19th Century world leaders. Nevertheless, not many Spaniards or Latin Americans know that Simon Bolivar lived in the building, or even in Madrid, along with his maternal uncles Esteban and Pedro.

Simon Bolivar arrived to Madrid in 1799, was hosted in the Aranjuez Royal Palace and befriended the Prince of Asturias

Simon Bolivar arrived to Madrid on June 10th, 1799 at the age of 15 [ii]. He joined his uncle Esteban Palacios, at the time a high official at the Ministry of Treasury under Charles IV. Esteban Palacios at the time was living in the residence of Manuel Mallo [iii], the handsome liutenant born in Popoyan (Venezuela) who was Queen Maria Luisa‘s temporary favorite (lover). Under his personal recommendation, less than a week later, on June 16th, Simon Bolivar was officially introduced to the Royal Court in Aranjuez by his uncle Esteban Palacios.

The huge gardens in the Royal Palace of Aranjuez are Spain's most important of the Habsburg period.

The huge gardens in the Royal Palace of Aranjuez are Spain’s most important of the Habsburg period

At that time, Simon Bolivar enjoyed a great wealth [iv] and lived according to his means. Upon his arrival, he asked the royal tailor to make him very fine levites and luxurious lieutenant uniforms.

Simon Bolivar quickly became acquainted with the Queen herself and often played with the Prince of Asturias. One afternoon, Prince Fernando was playing with Bolivar a ball and rackets game (“volante”, similar to battledore and shuttlecock) in the presence of the Queen. In a clumsy move, Bolivar severely hit and bruised the prince’s head, who angrily wanted to end the game. The queen rebuked him and forced him to continue. The future King of Spain Fernando VII was only one year younger than Bolivar. Little did the future king know that his games colleague would later on free the Spanish colonies and start Spain’s final decadence. History has also judged: Bolivar is regarded as a liberator and Fernando VII as a felon.


Esteban Palacios y Blanco, one of the maternal uncles of Simon Bolivar was born in Caracas in 1767 and died in 1830. He was Bolivar’s confirmation godfather. In 1799 he was Minister of Treasury in Madrid. In 1810 he was elected Member of Parliament in 1810 and signed the Constitution of 1812. He returned to Venezuela in 1825

A few weeks later after Bolivar’s arrival, his uncle Pedro Palacios also arrived to Madrid, and the three of them lived in Manuel Mallo’s residence. At that time, Manuel Mallo was the Queen’s favorite favorite, so Esteban Palacios indirectly gained a lot of power.

Don Manuel, Esteban, Pedro and Simon eat dinner together every day“. They enjoyed a prominent position in court but for some reason they decided “to take a house apart”.

It has been said that the reason why Bolivar and his two uncles moved from Mallo’s residence was to avoid any approaches between Bolivar and the Queen [v], but it was more likely because they were already too many people with too many things in a not very healthy environment for a teenager. You would expect each to have their own battallion of servants, horses and belongings. They probably just needed more space to be more comfortable, so they decided to move [vi].

On August 1st, 1799 Simon Bolivar “moved to a house apart in calle de los Jardines” with uncles Esteban and Pedro Palacios [vii] and stayed until mid 1800

Simon Bolivar apparently enjoyed a happy time during his stay at calle de Jardines in Madrid, living in a “well-off” home. Immediately after moving to his new house on August 1, 1799 Simon Bolivar began his studies at the nearby Royal Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando [viii]. He studied French, English and Italian; mathematics, dancing, fencing and riding, for about a year. He only stayed in the building for some months, but it is in VillaJardines where he experienced the passage from 1799 to 1800, from the 18th to the 19th Centuries.

There were plans to create a foundation in the building. An agreement was never reached.

In 2006 the Government of Venezuela had plans to create the “Simon Bolivar in Madrid Foundation” and use the building as its headquarters. The objective was to honor  in 2010 Bolivar’s 200th anniversary of his liberation process and to explain his life in Madrid. Several cultural activities dealing with the 1800 period were scheduled in a cultural center conveniently located for Venezuelans, Colombians, Peruvians, Panamanians, Equatorians and Bolivians living in Madrid. The Government of Venezuela thought Villajardines was suitable, but in fact it was really their only available option, as the rest of the buildings where Simon Bolivar lived, notably the Marquis de Ustariz’s mansion in calle Atocha 6, have dissapeared. After months of information exchange, an agreement was finally never reached

There is no written evidence that Bolivar really lived in the building. In fact, nobody really knows in what “well-off home” they lived in calle de los Jardines. However, the Government of Venezuela believes that it must have been in VillaJardines as the building was the residence of the Lecanda family [xi], distant Basque relatives of Bolivar; because Juan de Lecanda temporarily moved to Bilbao from 1799 to 1801 and thus the building was empty; because Juan de Lecanda and Esteban Palacios were colleagues at the Ministry of Treasury, being Juan de Lecanda responsible for the royal and municipal taxes at Customs for 30 years; and, over all, because Juan de Lecanda was a close friend of the Marquis de Ustariz, who mentored Bolivar when they fell in royal disgrace some months later. In 1799, connections in a tiny court were through family or acquaintances.


Bolivar was 19 years old and Maria Teresa 21 when they married on May 26th, 1802, on a Wednesday. The wedding gathered very influential people who represented the interests of the metropolis and the colonies. The ceremony was not really held in the present Church of San Jose (located in the street Alcala), although there is a commemorative plaque from the Government of Venezuela stating so. The ceremony really took place in the Palace of the Duke of Frias (now dissapeared), which housed the primitive Church of San Jose in Madrid. Nevertheless, the current church of San José in calle de Alcalá has become a traditional reference to Bolivarian pilgrims and fans. Even though Bolivar found love several times, Maria Teresa remained his only wife.

In 1800 Mallo’s good star was sharply eclipsed when the Queen decided to return to her former lover, Manuel Godoy. Being the Queen’s ex-lover, who maybe had too much information, Godoy decided to get rid of them all. Manuel Mallo was appointed Governor and shipped overseas, to “dissappear” half way through the trip. Despite being the Minister of Treasury, Esteban Palacios was imprisoned in the Monatery of Monserrat; Pedro Palacios took refuge in Cadiz; and Bolivar went to live with his new mentor, the Marquis de Ustariz, in his very luxurious mansion in calle de Carretas. He moved to Bilbao in March 1801 and returned to Ustariz’s mansion in December. In that residence he met Maria Teresa Rodríguez del Toro, who married him in 1802. She died 8 months after they married, upon their arrival to Venezuela.

Interested in living the young Bolivar Madrid experience?

You can go for a lovely walk and visit important spots in Simon Bolivar's stay in Madrid, between 1799 and 1802.

You can go for a lovely walk and visit important spots in Simon Bolivar’s stay in Madrid, between 1799 and 1802.

Posted for J. C., a singular Venezuelan coming for dinner.


[i] “Son derechos del hombre: la libertad, la seguridad, la prosperidad y la igualdad. La felicidad general, que es el objeto de la sociedad, consiste en el perfecto goce de estos derechos”

[ii] “Llegó Simoncito, tan guapo –escribió Esteban Palacios a Carlos Palacios–. Aunque no tiene instrucción ninguna, tiene disposición para adquirirla; gastó en su viaje no poco; llegó derrotado y ha sido preciso equiparlo nuevamente; le tengo un amor indecible”. (RUMAZO GONZÁLEZ, ALFONSO; SIMÓN BOLÍVAR (Biografía). Ediciones de la Presidencia de la República (Caracas, 2006).

[iii] Manuel Godoy resigned as Prime Minister in 1798 after losing the support of Queen Maria Luisa. He had a secret relationship with lover Pepita Tudo which caused discomfort in the official lover, Queen Maria Luisa. To end this relationship, the Queen forced her lover to marry her husband’s cousin. Thus, Godoy married Infanta Maria Teresa, cousin of Carlos IV, so he became a member of the royal family and calmly continued his relationship with Pepita Tudo.

Godoy left Madrid in 1798 and moved to Granada for two years. In 1799, Napoleon became the leader of the French Republic. In the mean time, Queen Maria Luisa chose a new lover, the Venezuelan Manuel Mallo (or Maillo). She used Mallo as her toyboy and to make Godoy jealous. She chose a flamboyant handsome young man who behaved as a millionaire in public, but who was not very interested in power:

“Mallo no puede llegar a ser nada. Su nulidad conviene mucho a la reina, que tiene verdadera ansia de gozar de la autoridad que ha recobrado y al Príncipe de la Paz que, hastiado hace mucho tiempo de las funciones personales de amante oficial, ha podido consentir en tener un sustituto, pero no un rival. Mallo es mayordomo de semana, cargo que equivale al de nuestros gentiles hombres, que sirven cada cuarto de mes; se le paga en dinero que despilfarra en joyas, caballos y coches. Por lo demás, siempre rodeado de espías y sin libertad para reunirse con nadie, especialmente con mujeres, es sin duda el hombre más desgraciado del mundo, porque es difícil concebir que pueda encontrar su dicha en el ejercicio de sus funciones”.

In 1800 Godoy is called back to power and he started to get rid of his rivals. Manuel Mallo was appointed as governor of one of the West Indies but never arrived. He was thrown into the sea and never seen again.

[iv] The majority of Bolívar’s wealth came from his estates. The most important of these was a sugar plantation but he also had silver, gold, and more importantly, copper mines in Venezuela.

[v] http://www.buenastareas.com/ensayos/Bolivar-y-Maria-Teresa/4547911.html

[vi] “Le visitan mucho los necesitados de favores, los que le adulan, hombres y mujeres, y quizá hasta la propia reina (disfrazada, según datos bastante fundados). En tales condiciones la intimidad respetable del personaje no logra la suficiente discreción. Los tres huéspedes, por lo mismo, se pasan a vivir en una casa de la calle de los Jardines”. (RUMAZO GONZÁLEZ, ALFONSO; SIMÓN BOLÍVAR (Biografía). Ediciones de la Presidencia de la República 2006).

[vii] Rourke, Thomas. Bolívar, el Hombre de la Gloria.

[viii] “A este niño–escribe su tío Pedro de Palacios– le tiene Esteban muy aplicado y él sigue con gusto y exactitud el estudio de la lengua castellana; el escribir, en que está muy ventajoso; el baile; la Historia en buenos libros, y le tiene preparado el idioma francés y las matemáticas. Está sujetico y observa mediana conducta o por mejor decir buena”. (RUMAZO GONZÁLEZ, ALFONSO; SIMÓN BOLÍVAR (Biografía). Ediciones de la Presidencia de la República 2006).

[xi] Pedro Luis de Bengoechea, in his “Little armorial of Amurrio surnames” claims that Lecanda originated as a surname in Villaro (Vizcaya). Villaro was a contraction of “Villa de Haro”, a name given to the town in 1338 by its founder, Juan Nunez III of Lara, who was the Lord of Vizcaya. Lecanda derives from the illustrious lineage of Leguizamón, a subsidiary of Leguizamoniegos of Arratia. Their palace was even located next to the Tower of Leguizamón. Some of the Lecandas moved to Llodio, and again they went to Vizcaya, settling in Begoña in 1647, in Bilbao in 1681, and Neguri. Juan de Lecanda, resident of Madrid, proved his nobility before the Royal Chancery of Valladolid in 1565.

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Paradise must be exquisite

On mid november a very special meal was organised in VillaJardines around two emotion catalysers: champagne and classical music, a perfect couple. In autumn, the perfect season

In Madrid we love food and we create lots of events around the table, both for lunch or for dinner, at home or in a restaurant, on a daily basis. Food is culturally important for us. Not only it provides nutritional support for the body, but it helps us relate to each other. Elaboration of the cultural significance of food and eating focuses on our social values, our meanings and beliefs rather than on dietary requirements and nutritional values. We pay a lot of attention to food.

Being as we are in Madrid, on this occasion the objective was to host in VillaJardines a whole new level in exquisiteness through the marriage of two world acclaimed celebrities: champagne and classical music.

Ingredient 1: A beautiful table.

A beautiful table always helps to make everyone feel at home. Everybody loves to be sorrounded by beauty. The dining table was decorated as the rest of the room: a very evocative autumn

The dining room was a little transformed to host 14 distinguished guests and a lovely string quartet along with the piano, which was moved from the sitting room. The dining table was decorated as the rest of the room: a very evocative autumn. Crunchy leaves with vivid colors ornamented the table, while dry trees and branches where placed all along the way from the street to the entry of the flat. It felt like a beautiful autumn walk, among the shedding of leaves from deciduous trees.

Confirmed! A sip of champagne listening to a string quartet and a piano is very close to my concept of paradise. It was paradise in fact.

Confirmed! A sip of champagne listening to a string quartet and a piano is very close to my concept of paradise. It was paradise in fact

A string quartet and a pianist literally delighted guests, who felt very close to ecstasy (yes, that rance-like state in which we transcend normal consciousness through music). Bravo!


Some felt “elevated” by emotions. A guest said: “At one point, I was feeling so many chills that I felt like a breeze of air passing thought my back . It was something like… levitating”

A delicious menu with such extra ingredients could only create empathy, excitement, feeling, happiness, joy, love, passion, sympathy, warmth, affect, agitation, ecstasy, inspiration, responsiveness, satisfaction, sensitiveness and a thrilling thrill.

Dainty, beautiful and elegant. Perfect. 🙂

(Posted for Yelena)

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5 Masterpieces to enjoy at the Prado Museum

The Prado Museum opened in 1819 as the Royal Museum of Paintings. The building was not designed as the typical encyclopaedic museum, where objects from all eras of art history are shown. It was rather designed to reflect the taste of Spanish royalty in art.

1. “The descent of the cross” (1425) by Van Der Weyden.

"The descent from the cross" is one of the most important painting of the entire 15th century

“The descent of the cross” is one of the most influential paintings of the entire 15th century.

Since its creation, it has been often copied and is extremely influential. Within van der Weyden’s own lifetime it was considered an important and unique work of art. Art historians have commented that this work was arguably the most influential Netherlandish painting of Christ’s crucifixion, and that it was copied and adapted on a large scale for two centuries after its completion. The emotional impact of the weeping mourners grieving over Christ’s body, and the subtle depiction of space have generated extensive critical comments.

It is one of the Prado’s main attractions and it might be moved to a new museum (Museum of Royal Collections, to be opened in 2016).

2. “The garden of earthly delights” (1490) by Bosch.

hola jose

The painting is named for the luscious garden in the central panel, which is filled with surreal nudes and giant birds and fruit. The triptych depicts the history of the world and the progression of sin.

This triptych is one of the most enigmatic and evocative paintings of the 16th century Netherlandish Renaissance. Designed in all probability as a private, moralistic, altarpiece (albeit somewhat eccentric), it consists of three hinged panel paintings filled with the most bizarre, fantastical figures and surreal creatures. This oil painting shows three scenes: Paradise on the left; Hell on the right and a garden of worldly pleasure in between.

This is another of the disputed paintings that might disappear from the Prado Museum. They were removed from the royal monastery of El Escorial almost 80 years ago and placed for safekeeping in the Prado by the government authorities during the Spanish Civil War. But now Patrimonio Nacional, the official heritage agency that administers all royal holdings, wants them back for display at a new museum in Madrid. The upstart Museum of the Royal Collections of Madrid, under construction, is to open in fall 2016, near the modern Cathedral and the old Royal Palace.

3. “The nobleman with his hand on his chest” (1579) by El Greco.

The nobleman with his hand on his chest, by El Greco (1579)

The nobleman with his hand on his chest, by El Greco (1579)

El Greco is a mannerist painter considered as the first great genius of Spanish painting. He was born in Crete (Greece) in 1541, which at that time belonged to the Venetian Republic. His name was Domenikos Theotokopoulos.

“The Nobleman with his Hand on his Chest” was painted circa 1579. It’s hard to know the date of the portraits of El Greco, as no contrats were usually made with these minor works.

This is undoubtedly one of his first works painted in Toledo and offers a lot of information of the Spain of the mid-sixteenth century. “The Nobleman with his Hand on his Chest” has become one of the icons of Habsburg society in Spain.

4. “The Maids of Honour” (1656) by Velazquez.

Las Meninas by Velázquez

Las Meninas was painted by Velazquez in 1656

“Las Meninas” (1656) by Diego Velázquez is the masterpiece of Spanish painting and one of the most important paintings in western art. It is one of the most controversial, talked about, analyzed and imitated painting in history.

The painting represents a daily life scene in the Habsburg court, in the palace of Phillip IV. In the painting we see Princess Margarita with her “meninas” (Maids of Honour) or elements of her daily life: maids of honour, chaperones, nuns, dwarfs and dogs. In fact, the painting shows how the young princess and her crowd interrupt Velazquez while he is painting King Phillipp IV and Queen Mariana of Austria.

5. “The nude maja” (1808) by Goya.

Who is she?

The frontal image of a naked woman created such a scandal that it was officialy “kidnaped” on 1813 by the Inquisition. It was later on transferred to the Real Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando on 1836 and then to the Prado Museum in 1901. Nobody knows who she is. She could be a queen or a duchess.

The Nude Maja was the first in a two painting series, the second of which was The Clothed Maja. It is said to be the first painting in which female pubic hair is visible, making it totally profane at the time. The identity of the model in the image is under debate. Some art historians think the model was the mistress of Spain’s Prime Minister, Manuel de Godoy, who commissioned the paintings. If it were true, then she is Maria Luisa of Parma, Queen consort of Spain, married to King Charles IV. Other art historians believe she is Goya’s mistress, Maria Teresa, the Duchess of Alba. In any case, many art historians agree that the model was a compilation of many female figures. In 1813, the Spanish Inquisition confiscated both of the paintings as obscene, returning them to the Academy of Fine Arts in 1936, after Goya’s death, where it was kept until it entered the Prado Museum in 1901.

In the 1930’s Spain issued postage stamps with the image of the Maja, and subsequently all mail bearing the stamps were denied entrance into the United States 🙂

Enjoy your visit to the Prado Museum!

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The Majesty of Madrid, by Rick Steves

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