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Monday, October 15, 2012 (read 615 times)

Madrid: from Medieval Madrid to Madrid of the Habsburgs

by Seun

The city of Madrid enjoyed a particularly prosperous period of history during which the city was edified to the grandeur in which it now stands. In 1086, Madrid, then home to a Moorish settlement, was conquered by the Castilian Christians under the leadership of Alfonso VI. But being no more than a small settlement, despite its remarkably useful geographical position, the then conquered city was rapidly forgotten. By the reign of the early Habsburg monarchy during the end of the 16th century, Madrid had not only already been established as the capital of the kingdom but was also now home to a well established artistic and political centre.

Whilst discussing this perhaps decadent period, it proves sensible to mark its limits as definitively as possible. The end of this prosperous period might be marked in the year 1700 with the death of Carlos the Hexed, the last Habsburg king, after whose issueless reign the crown would pass over to the Bourbons. The start of this era is undoubtedly a hazier mark. On one hand, it seems to make sense to mark the beginning of this period with the conquest of Madrid for Castile in 1086, but since this date boasts little other activity for at least a century, it would be somewhat misleading to mark 1086 as the start of Madrid’s decadence. A date that has greater significance and relevance to Madrid’s progression is 1202 and the following years during which Alfonso VIII bestowed the title of comunidad on Madrid and the muralla cristiana was constructed to replace what remained of the Moorish fortifications.

It was during the 13th century that Madrid began to significantly grow in popularity. Initially it was a popular hunting retreat for the royals and nobles but when Felipe II moved the court from Toledo to Madrid in 1561, the city was set alight with a rejuvenating flame which saw Madrid become the political, cultural and economic centre of the country. Both Felipe II and his father, Carlos I are to be held chiefly responsible for the vast urbanisation that Madrid saw during this period. To the latter is owed great thanks for the Palacio Real de El Pardo and the now destroyed but former glory of the Real Alcázar de Madrid which, although originally built by the Moors, was renovated hugely by that prince. Felipe II’s contribution somewhat outweighs that of his father’s. The Plaza Mayor is his and so too are the Puente de Segovia, Casa de Campo, and the Monasterio de las Descalzas Reales. The following Austrian princes left too their footprints in Madrid’s soil and with such great fortune, the sound of such a great voice still reverberates through Madrid today.

Keywords: madrid,history of spain,history of madrid,habsburgs,golden age spain

Posted In: Travel, Spain, Tourism, Culture


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