History

Encerrados en una cárcel que ya no existe

Lo bueno de perderse por una ciudad es que, aunque te propongas un camino, no siempre llegas a donde esperas. Eso me sucedió hace poco, cuando quise ir a una iglesia y acabé encontrándome con dos cárceles, una que ya no existe y una que dicen que no lo es.

The story behind the 1950s photo of a Black teacher in Madrid

In 1950, amateur photographer Vicente Nieto Canedo took a photo of a maths teacher who was working at the Escuela Nacional de Artes Gráficas in Chamberí. It was so unusual to see a Black teacher that Canedo understood this an important moment to capture.

Serigne Mbaye: from ‘mantero’ to activist to future member of parliament

I know Serigne Mbaye from the grassroots activism circuit in Lavapiés, where he regularly frontlines at protests with powerful anti-racism speeches. It’s no surprise to those who know him that he’s now running for election in the Madrid Regional Government with Unidas Podemos, where he’s set to become one of Spain’s first Black members of parliament, and achieve many other firsts too.

Alcalá No Frills: the side of Alcalá de Henares the tourists never see

Alcalá de Henares, just an hour from Madrid, is a city steeped in history and proud of it; it is the birthplace of Miguel de Cervantes and Catherine of Aragon and every year holds the largest Medieval market in Europe. But beyond the guidebook tales, the quaint Calle Mayor and the beautifully-manicured squares lies the real Alcalá, where a no-frills paradise awaits. Let me take you on a tour of my town and help you discover some of its lesser-known historical treasures.

Stolpersteine reveal Madrid’s Nazi war camp victims’ last chosen address

Over 75,000 Stolpersteine (stumbling stones) have been installed across Europe, marking where victims of Nazi war camps last lived by choice. Each small golden stone bears the name of the victim, their date of birth, the date of their camp deportation and when their lives ended – there are so far 12 in Madrid.

The story of Madrid’s hidden (and noseless) Virgin Mary statue

Worn paths strewn with broken bricks, bits of marble, litter and syringes crisscross the dusty land behind the building’s graffiti-scrawled bricks. A small temple-like structure draws the eye to the highest point. Inside it stands a battered five-foot tall white marble statue of the Virgin Mary, votive candles and carefully tended five-gallon buckets of red roses at her feet.

El Alamín: The utopian ghost town on the outskirts of Madrid

El Alamín, meaning 'the world' in Arabic, is an abandoned village on the outskirts of Madrid. A walk along the three streets of El Alamín reveals the world that a pro-Franco solider intended to build there in 1956. Juan Claudio Güell y Churruca, also known as the fourth Marquis de Comillas, fought on the national side during the Spanish Civil War. His militant legacy influenced the utilitarian architecture and planning of El Alamín: it's of a communist-style with a touch of Christianity, established to populate tobacco and cotton farmers.

The secret street stickers of Madrid’s people

Madrid-based writer and artist Lauren Klarfeld combines her love for the streets of Madrid with the people who walk them, and in this article, she reveals her secret project, Last Words For The Road.

A brief guide to Spain (written under Franco)

In 1965, Spain's tourism board published a handbook to Spain. It would become a highly collectable item of Franco's 'Visit Spain' campaign – one of the dictator's lasting legacies, seeding the mass tourism we're so familiar with today.

Seven secrets of Retiro Park

There's a bunker, a hidden chess club, a haunting forest and a forgotten city-centre zoo, among a few other secrets held by the gatekeeper of Retiro Park. But dive in with the darkest, most disturbing secret of all: the 'human zoo'...