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Madrid City


MEDIEVAL MADRID, around the calle Mayor, has many interesting buildings. On La Villa Square we find the 15th-c House and Tower of the Lujanes family. On the right there is the local Newspaper Museum and Library, in a building in the style of Toledo and with a Mudéjar entrance. Beyond La Villa Square there are the Church of San Nicolás de los Servitas, the oldest religious building preserved in Madrid, and Span Pedro El Real or El Viejo, a church founded by Alfonso XI, which has a Mudéjar tower. A little further along, there is the Square of the Marquis of Comillas, of great importance in medieval Madrid. Between this square and the one of La Cruz Verde, El Alamillo and La Ronda de Segovia there are remains of the Moorish Quarter.

The so-called MADRID OF THE AUSTRIANS begins to take architectural shape with Juan Bautista of Toledo and Juan de Herrera, who gives the aesthetic forms of Italian Renaissance a Spanish touch: The Convent of Las Descalzas Reales, the Bridge of Segovia, the House of Cisneros (on the Square of La Villa), the Chapel of El Obispo. Even more important historic sights come to Madrid with the architects Gómez de la Mora and Juan Bautista Crescendi. They are responsible for the Plaza Mayor and the House of La Panadería, the Convent of La Encarnación, the Prison of the Court (today the Ministry of Foreign Affiars), the Town Hall, the Palace of El Buen Retiro, the Palace of Los Consejos (today the local Ministry Headquarters).

BAROQUE MADRID is the work of the Churriguera family and their disciples, of the architect Pedro de Ribera and his contemporary Francisco Moradillo. Of the best works of that time the entrance gate of the former Hospice is preserved (today the local Museum and Library), as well as the Churches of Monserrat, Sacramento, Santa Bárbara and San Andrés, the Bridge of Toledo and the Entrance Gate of the Cuartel del Conde Duque (a former barracks)

THE BOURBON or neoclassical MADRID was built by the architects Sabatini, Ventura Rodríguez, Juan de Villanueva and a few others, in the company of a group of sculptors, who gave the finishing touches to the architectural constructions. Among the most important works here is Orient Palace which looks out over a magnificent panorama consisting of the gardens of La Casa de Campo, the Museum of El Prado, the Casón del Buen Retiro and Villahermosa Palace. The former Casa de Correos (Post Office building), one of the most characteristic buildings of Madrid with its clock striking 12 times to announce the New Year, stands in the center of La Puerta del Sol and is the seat of the Presidency of the Community of Madrid. It stands out together with La Real Casa de Aduanas, which is the Ministry of the Treasury today, in famous Alcal Street, the Astronomical Observatory, the Botanical Garden, the Fountains of Cibeles, Apolo and Neptuno, which were designed by Ventura Rodríguez; the Gate called La Puerta de Alcal, one of the symbols of Madrid, the Church of San Francisco El Grande and the huge entrance gates of the Retiro Park. All of them mark this area in a special way.

MODERN AND CONTEMPORARY MADRID. In the las third of the 19th c, outstanding buildings were constructed including the Royal Spanish Academy by Aguado, The Stock Exchange by Repullés and the Bank of Spain, by Adaro and Sainz de Lastro, all of them examples of Classical architecture.

There are two buildings preserved in Madrid which date from the beginning of the 20th c and are very different but have one point in common: the seat of the Sociedad General de Autores, the former Palace of Longoria, by Grase Riera, which is one of the few examples of Modernism in Madrid, and the Palace of Communications, by Palacios and Otamendi, where Plateresque and Modernist aspects are combined.

In the first decades of the century the Gran Vía is built. From 1910 to 1917, the first stretch from Alcal to the Red de San Luis. In 1922 it is extended as far as the Square of Callao and in 1925 the stretch leading to the Plaza de España is begun. At the same time it becomes the heart of the city which it is still today. Its remarkable buildings, especially the building of the Telephone Company, the Place of La Prensa and the Palace of La M?ica, as well as the Military Casino and the Círculo de la Unión mercantil e Industrial, which were constructed by Cárdena, Muguruza, Zuazo, Sainz de los Torreros, and others, as well as its numerous hotels, cinemas, shops, night clubs and discotheques make it one of the main thoroughfares of Madrid.

The Bank Central Hispanoamericano, the las work by Adaro, and the Bank of Bilbao Vizcaya, by Bastida, are other interesting buildings of the beginnings of the 20th c in the vicinity of the Gran Vía.

Other buildings of the first half of the century include the University City, the New Ministries, the Bullring of Las Ventas and the Momument in honour of Cervantes. This Monument, which stands near the Edificio España and the Torre de Madrid, which are an example of the architecture in the 50's, shapes the Plaza de España, in the vicinity of which we find the Debod Temple, which stands on the site where the Cuartel de La Montaña (a barracks) used to stand and which is a park today. The Egiypian Temple of the 4th c B.C. is a present which Spain received from Egypt in recognition of the Campaign of Nubia.

The Congress and Exhibition Hall was built in 1964 by Pintado Riba. Its main auditorium has room for 1,840 guests. There is another auditorium for 814 people and 9 more rooms, all of which are equipped with the most modern features. Today its façade shows a magnificent mural made of tiles by Mir.

In the complex "Altos de Hipódromo" and in many other places, it was Miguel Fisac, the architect of churches and buildings, who constructed such outstanding buildings as the Chapel of El Espíritu Santo, the Instituto de Óptica and the Instituto de Química Orgánica, within the group of buildings belonging to the Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (The Council for Scientific Research).

Torres Blancas (White Towers) on the Avenida de America and the modern Bank of Bilbao Vizcaya on La Castellana, both by Sáenz de Oiza, are representative of the 60's and 70's as architectural avant-garde symbols of Madrid. Also on the Castellana, which is the thoroughfare of finance there are Bankinter by Rafael Moneo and Bankunión by Corrales and Molez?.

Among the shopping centers, Azca deserves special mention, which was built by Perpiñá Sebri, and since the beginnings of it construction it includes underground roads and car parks, pedestrian areas, flats, shops and offices.

La Vaguada is the most modern shopping center in Madrid and was built by Césa Manrique. It symbolizes the 80's and includes one of the most complete offers with regard to shops and services serving the northern half of Madrid. Finally, since 1982 the silhouette of Madrid includes the Television Tower Torrespaña, which is 220m high and thus the highest building in Madrid.

Among the cultural centers, the first place corresponds to the National Library and Museums, the Council for Scientific Research, the Royal Academies, the Athenaeum of Madrid and the Círculo de Bellas Artes. Of more recent date are the Spanish Museum for Contemporary Art, the March Foundation and the Centro Cultural de la Villa or Cultural Centre of the City. Among others, Madrid also has another Cultural Centre called Reina Sofía.

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