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Visiting
Madrid

Route of the artistas The Madrid of the Bourbons Route of the monarchs Natural Madrid
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Route of the artists


History  


Madrid, as capital of Spain and a first class European city, has for years been a center for meetings amongst artists and writers. Especially since the 19th C., Madrid has become one of the most important cultural centers of Europe, where artists and people of letters meet from all over the world.

During the 19th C., in an environment of maximum poverty, the ingeniousness of our artists emerged. They lived in times of difficulties in economy, illness and hunger, but the intellectual productivity is at a maximum in this era.

The 20th C. started at a cultural zenith. Coffee shop meetings in the capital were common habit for the erudites; prosperity and the growth of the city become dormant with the construction of diverse buildings.

After many changes in government, a coup d'etat and the proclamation of the Second Republic, the Civil War broke out. Many writers saw themselves obligated to go into exile and cultural activity diminished.

Upon the monarchy's restoration in Spain, many of the exiled returned, and the illustrous life of the capital was regained. Currently, it is one of the most important cultural centers in the world.


 
Route  

Ther are four points that take you a bit off the central tour path:

La Ermita de San Antonio de la Florida: This hermitage is home to Fancisco de Goya's most important frescoes, among them the Ciclo de los Milagros de San Antonio, which decorates the dome, pechinas y crucero, and narrates the miracle of San Antonio de Padua on Lisbon in which he resuscitates a dead man in order that he declare innocent his accused murderer. The remains of Goya have lain in the hermitage since 1919.

El Puente de Toledo: Constructed by Pedro de Ribera between 1719 and 1732, this footbridge crosses the Manzanares. Preceeded by the older and bigger Puente de Segovia (16th C.), this bridge demonstrates a discrete beauty.

El Parque de la Fuente del Berro: Acquired by the Duke of Frías in the 17th C. and ceded to the monks of Montserrat in the 18th C, this park was scene of many parties and celebrations. In 1941, it was acquired by the Ayuntamiento (City Hall) de Madrid. Now it is a garden-filled park, with a smattering of small constructions and fountains, and a pond with several different streams of water.

Museo Sorolla: This is the site that least moves away from the central tourist route. Situated in what was once the house of the Valencian painter, it exhibits his work and the collections that he put together in his lifetime. The museum reflects the environment in which the painter lived.

To take the central tourist path, one could take the following path:

Starting at the Cuartel del Conde Duque, constructed by Pedro de Ribera to house the Royal Companies of the Guardias de Corps under the reign of Felipe V. The severe-looking walls contrast with the doorway which allows entrance to the cultural center in which the Municipal Historical Archives and the Municipal Hemeroteca are housed.

Following the street La Princesa, one comes upon the Plaza de España, dominated by the Statue of Cervantes and a sculpture of Don Quijote and Sancho Panza.

Catedral de la Almudena

Down the calle Bailén, many historical buildings are discovered, but we won't stop to visit them on this route. Continue along until the Iglesia de la Virgen de la Paloma, a small church that was erected behind the catedral de la Almudena, which reflects life in the time of Pérez Galdós.

Continuing along calle Mayor, and very near the Puerta del Sol, we find the Plaza de Pontejos, surrounded by small, charming shops in which the most traditional souvenirs can be found.

Down calle de Huertas, we slip ourselves into the middle of the siglo de oro. Here in the Barrio de los Literatos or de las Musas (the Neighborhood of Letters or of the Muses), the Casa-Museo de Lope de Vega, el Corral de la Pacheca and the Corral de la Cruz are the highlights. In this area, Lope, Tirso de Molina, Cervantes, Quevedo, Calderón and Góngora, among others, premiered their plays. Cervantes himself is buried in the convent 'de las Trinitarias'.

Upon reaching the Paseo del Prado, we can visit the famous Museum, especially the Goya and Velázquez rooms, in order to give ourselves an idea of the society of this era through its paintings.

Continuing along Paseo del Prado, we arrive to the Plaza de la Cibeles, from where we turn onto the calle de Alcalá in order to visit the Royal Academy of Fine Arts, center of meetings and chats during the Siglo de Oro and, today, cultural center of exhibitions, theatre and conference center. Within its walls, parties are common occurences, or one can simply have coffee in its "pecera (fishbowl)".

Biblioteca
Nacional

Returning to the Paseo de Recoletos, we reach the Biblioteca Nacional (National Library), whose exterior is worth seeing, although it is not possible to enter within its halls, in which the most important base of documents of the country is stored.

At the Plaza de Colón (Columbus), turn to find the Plaza de las Salesas Reales, where the Church of the same name rises. Dating back to the time of the Bourbons, this church conserves within a notable number of paintings, sculptures and sepulchres.

Finally, we will end our visit at the Municipal Museum, to which we arrive by calle de Mujía Lequerica. This builiding is another of the works by Pedro de Ribera and is situated in the old Hospicio de San Fernando, the chapel is still conserved with the sepulchres of Beatriz Galindo and her husband, as well as a canvas of Lucas Jordán. This is one of the best museums for learning about the history of Madrid and possesses an 1830 model of the city by León Gil Palacios.

 
   
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