Spain is different. Its history is all around us, yet it’s often difficult to unravel because of the post-dictatorial ‘pact of silence’ that still seems to haunt modern Spanish society. But, we’re doing our best to uncover Madrid’s lost stories, with six more curious photo-assisted tales awaiting you below…
SPAIN IS “DIFFERENT”
During his dictatorship, General Francisco Franco commissioned a series of tourism posters to project Spain around the world. His objective for the Madrid posters was to portray the capital as the grand, cosmopolitan city he believed it was, which was quite the contrary to what many foreigners imagined at the time, partly due to the very dictatorship he was imposing on Spain.
The photograph in this poster is arguably of the most ostentatious part of Madrid – the Cibeles roundabout – with the big city skyline in the distance…
Spot the differences between then and now: the trams are gone, the trees on Calle Alcalá have been chopped down, and of course, there’s a lot more traffic today.
THE CIGARETTE LADIES OF LAVAPIÉS
These ladies were quite the tribe – the Tabacalera’s proud, female-only workforce.
According to many that worked there, the Tabacalera was a fair employer and valued having happy staff. As a gesture of appreciation and practicality, these ladies were given a breastfeeding room by the old bathrooms, which you can read more about here.
THE SINGLE-ROW TERRACES ON PLAZA MAYOR
The terraces on Plaza Mayor, nowadays, can extend up to six rows deep, and all cars (apart from the occasional municipal vehicle) are strictly forbidden on the square. The waiters, however, still wear white jackets, and continue to serve café con leche as below, ceremoniously pouring the milk into your coffee at the table.
THE EARLIEST NO-FRILLS CAFÉS
A café economico is as it says on the tin: cheap. Quality may not be the priority, but that’s not to say that cheap and no-frills places don’t have the best coffee and churros in town – just browse through our foodie finds and no-frills bars if you need convincing.
MADRID’S HOT-AIR BALLOON RALLY
I think we can all agree that it would be brilliant if this still happened…
ALBERT EINSTEIN OUT-NOT-BLINKING EVERYONE
It was difficult to not blink when those old flash bulbs would explode in your face. However, during a visit to the Royal Academy of Sciences, Albert Einstein showed Spanish academics how it was done: don’t look directly at the camera. Genius!
There are four more volumes of Madrid’s lost stories, so why not carry on exploring Madrid’s less known history with Volume IV?