Abandoned the city on the nobility and clergy hands, the housing compressed, without any order or plan to guide its grown, around palaces, small elegance convents and stingy factory, although wide extended and with big gardens, showing then a bizarre and dense net.

Without hierarchical avenues, nor squares, except Plaza Mayor, nor walks, except the Prado, which would give relief and coexistence frame. Madrid only had streets, and one of them was its heart, the central point which resumed its network and condensed its people, that mixed fellow who declared their presence invariably heading to Puerta del Sol.

So that when they have to describe Madrid, first they think that city begins with the king and State institutions, to immediately pass to churches and palaces.

The manuals and Madrid guides published during the first half of the century always show on first place the never ending list of parish churches, schools, charitable institutions, oratories and particular churches, convents and regular clergy houses.

Mesonero, Madoz, Monlau, each of them witness of what there was and was disappearing in front of their eyes, as the religious buildings list decreases day after day and many of them remains, at middle century, only the memory, the open stump as empty plot in the middle of the city.

List only to be compared to the Grandees of Spain palace's and another nobility title, which have their residence in Madrid: Liria and Alba Dukes palaces, Osuna's, Medinaceli's, Infantado's, Hijar's, Villahermosa's, Abrantes Duchess, Benavente Countess, etc.

Quite an string of an agrarian rents consuming nobility, overwhelming of servants and unable to leave in the city a palace worth such name.

Nobody never regretted that Medinaceli's on the oriental side, or Osuna's on the occidental side, or many others ended up demolished, even when it was not because of the fervour of a liberal revolution, who was satisfied dissociating the nobility possessions at the same time that demolished and alienated churches goods.

And on the space that palaces, convents and charity buildings left, the rest of madrilenian housing sparkled mainly because of its grottyness and meanness, exposed now with so many empty spaces opened by the pickaxe, to all the looks.

"They have learned the mole architecture", explained a traveller of the 17th century, and Doré and Duvillier, travelling in Madrid, gone the second half of 19th century, could not find a better testimony to describe just what they saw.

Houses mud built, with one single floor, big, huge, but without any interior yard and very few carriage-doors, so that carriages had to stop in the middle of the streets, not offering a better aspect.

Clergy and nobiliary, up to the bearable limit, Madrid started the century sunk, breathless, literally covered with garbage and grime, over which rubbles of war destruction would pile up, immediate reason for the ruin.

The city, controlled by nobility and clergy, lacked of the most elemental services of urban police and enough resources to erect new buildings in the place of the demolished big rambling houses and churches.

Homes' garbage piled up during the whole week on the doorways, until carts came to pick it up on weekends; streets without pave produced huge ponds in winter and raised dust clouds in summer; lighting, although began to be installed systematically during the second half of past century, was very deficient. Of course, there was not enough water neither for public nor private hygiene.

It should not surprise then that the ruin of the absolutist monarchy would acompany in Madrid and the rest of Spain of a deadly plague epidemic and that exasperated madrilenians, although saving the posterity some revolutionary days under the classical noble head-rolling - of which, however, they had a big deal on hand - choose priests and friars for their rage target.

On July 1834, while plague took to the tomb 4.000 affected, the rumour that public fountains had been poisoned by nuns and monks began to run, just the same as one century and a couple of years later, under July heat, run the rumour of poisoned candies from catchiest ladies.

All exacerbated passion due to "the tiredness of pulling for ten years the chain of suffering", for the support that clergy had given to the absolutism, for the civil war that factious priests and bishops encouraged, reveals on this religious slaughter that, as Javier de Burgos wrote, shakes the policemen and shatters the " accommodated classes and naturally pacific of the city neighbourhood".

At middle of thirties, Madrid gave a desperate impression on its streets, impotent to find a way, a drift, without plan nor resources, dirty, deadly, poorly fed, with poor masses, unable to built itself as capital nor stand on its shoulders the new State beginning, besieged and undecided, after Fernando VII death.

Copyright © 2002 by JLL & JRP

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