Madrid’s new Museum of Royal Collections has unexpectedly become home to the most significant Muslim heritage site in the city. Next month, the King and Queen of Spain will unveil a recently rediscovered section of the founding settlement of Madrid – the oldest known part of the 9th-century Islamic wall. The find has prompted a shift in the narrative around the capital’s origins as an Islamic outpost, confirming that Madrid did indeed start out as a Muslim settlement.
In 2018, the small port of Barbate in Cádiz hosted an eerie exhibition of disused pateras (small boats). The Town Hall’s plan was to raise public awareness around the phenomenon of irregular immigration and the human drama for people who risk their lives to cross the Strait.
“I was not a professional but I managed to take regular photos and, above all, to give them life. I feel happy because if I hadn’t been there, these photos wouldn’t exist. A story that is not documented or photographed does not exist.”
On Wednesday May 12, 1886, according to several reports at the time, the whole of Spain woke up to strong storms. By 6pm that same day, a tornado touched down in the capital and began a diagonal line of destruction between the then-town of Carabanchel and Madrid’s city-centre Retiro Park.
Paris has the Eiffel Tower; New York has the Statue of Liberty. But Madrid almost had this: a 200-meter-high globe in the middle of Retiro Park. This “Monumento a Colón” was designed before 1892 to commemorate 400 years since Columbus landed in the Americas, and to attempt to justify the Spanish Empire at a time when it was crumbling.
A tin of sardines from 1938 has just been unearthed. It’s so perfectly preserved that we can still see its original pink paint and decorative lettering, reading, ‘Sardinas en Aceite puro de oliva español (Sardines in pure Spanish olive oil). “It’s one of our best finds,” explains Luís Antonio Ruíz Casero, the leading archaeologist from CSIC out of a team of eight, who have been excavating the site for three weeks.
Eighty-three years ago to the month, in 1939, the old Vallecas Stadium was converted into a Francoist concentration camp. In the first four days of April, which were also the first days of a dictatorship that would last 36 years, Franco’s troops crammed around 9,500 people into the old football stadium in Puente de Vallecas.
Eighty-three years ago to the week, in 1938, Franco began bombing Madrid with bread whiter than anyone had seen before. A report in the newspaper Diario de Cadiz published at the time read…
Hero-worship is perhaps the oldest religion there is. But worshipers in Madrid may look enviously upon their fellows in London and Paris. The British capital, after all, has Westminster Abbey, where the ashes of Darwin, Dickens, and innumerable dukes and duchesses are mingled.
In 1749, orders were given by King Fernando VI for “all the gitanos of the kingdom of Spain” to be exterminated as “the final solution” to a population that “wouldn’t conform”. The operation was coined the Gitano Raid and left 12,000 Roma women, men and children dead, thousands of families dispersed and the economy of the Spanish Roma community ruined.
Today, Spain approved a new Ley de memoria histórica (memory bill) to tackle the legacy of Franco. From school education to exhumations, here’s a summary.
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.
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.
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.
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.