domingo, 12 de septiembre de 2010

Memories of Alcalá 47: Through the streets of Alcalá (I)

Spanish original

A walk through the old streets of Alcalá is one of the most beneficial forms of exercise that you can take - not only to free the mind and remember the old landmarks of our history, but to stretch one's legs and expand one's lungs, climbing the steep streets and breathing the pure air of the high ground. A privilege which many of us, unfortunately, have renounced or have had to renounce. To have such treasures and not take advantage of it them is like possessing a Velázquez painting without realising it.

The names of Alcalá's streets, in many cases, were created by the people. They are like a bouquet of harmonious and beautiful popular references, lost with the passing of time. Now and again the local councillors want to amend the town plan and name the streets after politicians, according to which party is in power. But the people won't allow them to rub out the original place names, and carry on using them regardless.

According to Sánchez del Arco and his editor/interpreter, Gabriel Almagro Montes de Oca, in the 19th Century the old town of Alcalá was formed around six squares and seventy streets. If you draw two straight lines, one from north to south from the cemetery to the sports centre, and the other from east to west, from the end of Calle los Pozos to San Antonio, the lines cross at the Alameda de la Cruz and the town is divided into four quarters. Sánchez del Arco named them as Constitución, Santo Domingo, Barrio Nuevo and Victoria. Previously the Town Hall had divided them in different ways to organise the electoral roll, taxes and municipal services.

1st District: Constitución
This quarter consists of a square, eleven streets, three alleys and one bajada [a way down or descent]. It is situated in the north of the town, the oldest part, and dominates the entire area. Its buildings are the most ancient and have the greatest historical and artistic merit. The old city wall extends all round it; you can still see parts of the wall, and the old town gate. It contains the highest number of original street names in the town. It is a privilege to live in its heights, although it can be difficult to climb up there every day.

Plaza de San Jorge
Plaza de San Jorge: Long ago this was called Plaza Alta de San Jorge [High Square of St George], forming a rectangle 41.5m long by 23m wide – an area of 954 square metres. It went on to be called Plaza de la Constitución, commemorating the first Spanish Constitution drawn up in Cádiz in 1812. Today its official name is Plaza de San Jorge, but it is popularly referred to as “Plaza Alta”.

Calle Sánchez Aguayo: This name was awarded in honour of the people's gratitude to Don Bartolomé Sánchez and Doña Catalina Aguayo, founders of the men's hospital called La Misericordia. It was formerly called Calle Carrera.

Calle del Padre Félix: In affectionate memory of the Bishop of the Diocese, Father María de Arriete y Llanos. It runs from the small square formerly known as Plazuela del Marqués to the Antigua Puerta de la Villa [old town gate]. Today it bears the name of Alonso el Sabio.

Calle Barranco: This name reflects the topography of the land [barranco = gulley or precipice]. Although officially called Calle Sánchez de la Linde, people carry on using its old name.

Callejón de Granara: Previously this was called Callejón de San Pedro in memory of St Peter, Prince of the Apostles, the first Christian Pope. Later on it was named after Dr. Granara, a noted physician. Recently its name was changed to that of the author of the History of Alcalá, Sánchez del Arco.

Calle de San Vicente: Formerly known as Calle Almenillas, but this was changed because the road leads to the neighbourhood of San Vicente.

Calle de la Soledad: This name was dedicated to the status of the Holy Virgin after the death of her son Jesus Christ [soledad = loneliness or solitude].

Callejón del Castillo: This is possibly one of the oldest street names in Alcalá. It is a narrow lane running beside our legendary fortress.

Callejón de la Guardia: This is named after Don Baltasar de la Guardia Fernández de Gatica, illustrious son of Alcalá.

Calle del Marqués: Previously called Calle del Collado, it has now reverted to its old name.

Bajada [Calzada] de San Vicente: So called because of its geographical situation.

Calle Angel de Viera: This began as Calle Beaterio, but was changed to the name of the founder of that benevolent foundation, The Venerable Diego de Viera.
C/ Angel de Vera

Calle de Coronado: Formerly Calle Picazo, but it was given its current name in memory of Don Carlos Coronado y González, eminent theologian and Canon of Toledo Cathedral. It is also known as Picasso, in honour of the celebrated painter from Málaga.

Calle de Pedro Mirabal: This was previously called Calle de los Toros, but the name was changed to that of the illustrious son of Alcalá, Don Pedro Mirabal, Bishop of Jaén. It joins the present Calle Monjas and Plaza de San Jorge, opening onto the Calle de Villegas.

Calle de Villegas: Known originally as Calle Oscura, but these days it is named after the distinguished Don Jorge Villegas.

Calle de las Monjas: This name originates from the principal building in the street, the Convent of Clarisas Concepcionistas [monja = nun]. Today the building is occupied by the Centro Escuelas Professionales de la Sagrada Familia, or SAFA as the school is commonly known.

Calle de San Francisco: Named after the founder of the Franciscan orders, St Francis of Assisi.

C/ Miguel Tizon - formerly C/ Carcel Vieja
Calle Nueva: So called because it is one of the newer streets of the old district.

Calle de Cárcel Vieja [street of the old prison]: now Calle Miguel Tizón, in honour of an Alcalá man who fought in the Cuban War. It reached as far as Calle de San Pedro.

Calle de la Atahona: This starts at the end of Calle Cárcel Vieja and continues to the house known as that of the Montero Ciego [ Blind Hunter]. It has the honour of having one of the oldest bakeries in the town.

Translated by Claire Lloyd

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