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los primeros tenedores

Something that for us is now an everyday utensil was not always part of our lives. In fact, in Spain King Felipe III and his favourite the Duke of Lerma were the promoters of the use of this instrument in the early 17th century, although its existence dates further back by many centuries. Specifically, the fork came to Spain in the 11th century from Constantinople, the result of Byzantine refinement.

As with many other innovations, high society initially viewed the use of this strange implement for eating as an eccentricity. Furthermore, the earliest forks were veritable daggers with highly-sharpened spikes and were thus somewhat dangerous, particularly if there were any disagreements at table…

Another drawback of the earliest forks was that they were not curved...

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When in 1888 the Spanish consul in Bordeaux ordered the mortal remains of Francisco de Goya to be exhumed for the first time, he was astounded to discover that the corpse’s head was missing. The consul sent a telegram to Spain, which said: “Located Francisco de Goya’s corpse, but the cranium is missing”, to which the Spanish government answered: “Send Goya’s corpse with or without the cranium”.

When the mortal remains of the great painter arrived in Spain, they were first laid to rest in the Sacramental de San Isidro cemetery and later, in 1919, they were transferred to his definitive resting place in the church of San Antonio de la Florida.

As for the true reason for the missing head of Goya’s corpse, there are several theories, almost all of them with little foundation...

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El Escorial

The Monastery of El Escorial is one of the jewels of Spanish renaissance architecture. It is located just a few kilometres from the capital, in the town of San Lorenzo del Escorial, virtually at the foot of the Madrid Sierra. Its construction was ordered by king Felipe II in 1563 and the works were undertaken in record time. The great building was erected in only 21 years (1584) owing to the king’s interest in seeing it completed in his lifetime.

Felipe II textually told the architect: “I want a palace for God and a hut for the king”, and this is what was done by Juan de Herrera, the architect who oversaw the works. The part inhabited by the king and his family was absolutely austere, with terracotta floors and whitewashed walls covered in Talavera tiling in the lower half...

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