Mencos Palace / Palacio de los Mencos en Tafalla, Navarra, Spain


The Mencos Palace is located in Tafalla, a city within the Chartered Community of Navarra
in north Spain. The palace has a quite long and interesting history that
includes several occupations during wars, a period as a  Red Cross Hospital, and damages again during
the Spanish civil war (1936-39). The renovation of the building began in the
40s. So, there is a great amount of history but perhaps too much history for a
visit with young people.In order to
discover the tremendous heritage of this home, (fondly and carefully maintained
by the Mencos family), we focused our attention on two important portraits:











Tiburcio Redin and Cruzat Baron of Bigüezal (1597-1651) (a copy of the original one
exhibited at The Prado in Madrid. Check out The Prado’s website for more information) and tLuisa Gabriehe portrait of the Queen Maria  Luisa Gabriela of Saboya, the first and very young wife of Felipe V, the king who began the reign of the Bourbon
dynasty in Spain.

The activity
had two different parts. The students participated in the first one: “learning
to look a portrait”. At this point I must thank Georgina Valverde again. She is a programs coordinator teacher at department
of Museum Education in The Art Institute
of Chicago
who provided me with very useful material for working with
students. As an example, I wanted to publish some of the “Tips for leading
discussions about Art” here, and also take advantage of this opportunity to
encourage teachers to take notice of and join the educational programs of this

1. Give students time to look. The richest experiences with works of art involve time
for sustained looking.
2. Plan the direction of the conversation. Consider the sequence and direction of your
questions and how they relate to the goals and objectives of your lesson
3. Encourage inquiry through open-ended questions.
4. Keep the discussion focused on the artwork. Encourage students to support their
responses with the evidence available within the work of art.
5. Incorporate background information when relevant.
6. Be flexible! Discussions about art are inherently subjective and allowing students
to find and own their own voice and form opinions about what they see is a
critical part of the experience. (…)
We considered these portraits from different points of view such as fashion, the psychology
of the characters, historical and political facts on their times, the style of
the paintings… and so on.


The self-guide to portraiture in the Meadows Museum CollectionFaces of Spain” was also very helpful. This guide is displayed on internet in a pdf document and is very,
very useful. I really appreciate the kindness of The Meadows Museum in
providing this material for the public.


After my talk with students, Mrs. Cristina Lacabe, who works as art restorer, explained how
she restored the portrait of Queen Maria Luisa Gabriela de Saboya, and the
problems restorers face when doing their work. The first activity took place on
the stairs of the big entrance, just in front of the portraits, the second talk
was in a smart room of the palace.


This palace is well worth visiting, and the charming Mencos family would receive you at their
home if you ask for a visit. You have still time for this visit,
though this house is only open to the public from May to the end of October. For
more information, visit the web site of Mencos Palace (English version available). The city where
the palace is located also has some great little restaurants where you can
enjoy typical Navarran cuisine. Olite is also very close to Tafalla, as well as
several other cool little villages. For visiting this area have a look at Guiarte Navarra.
Waiting for
all of you in Navarra, Spain. Best wishes,
Follow Patrimonio para jóvenes on:


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