A key event took place in the 18th century;
it is the time when the city acquired the true proportions of a capital. Until
that time, the relationship between the Court and City had simply been that the
city had been the settlement for the court. There is no integration of the
population and the court, which established its own area near, but outside the
city: the Retiro.
This aspect changed in that century. From that
moment, the Court extended its influence over everything in the city. The City
became the Court and thus the true capital of the absolute state. This
conception is accompanied by the treatment which Madrid received in this period
in the form of "improvements".
The Bourbons were the promoters of these "improvements".
The figure of Charles III (1759-1788) in
this context became a reference point for the urban development plans of the
period. He is fortunate enough to be able to carry out ideas and projects
designed during the reign of his father and brother (Philip V and Ferdinand VI),
and to develop new ones which will be carried out in time, under Charles IV or
Although the structure of Madrid did not
change, its future development as a metropolis was prepared: the treatment given
to the edges of the city - the urban development of the outskirts - is the best
example of this renovating if not transforming spirit of the daily Madrid. With
it appear public buildings as organizing factors of the city which define the
new dimension as a capital.
1 - The Post House:
The main building of the Sun Gate and the only one preserved the 19th century
remodelling of the square. It was used for one of the services that were
reorganized in that period and it was built by the french architect Jaime
Marquet, between 1766 and 1768. The neo-classical facade and its two identical
inner court are the main characteristics of the building. The project dates from
the reign of Ferdinand VI and today it is seat of the Presidency of the
Autonomous Community of Madrid.
2 - The Royal Courier
House: This building belonged to the one just described and was built in
the times of Charles IV, between 1775 and 1800. It stands on Pontejos Square
behind the Post House and was built by Pedro Arnal. It is a good example of
neo-classical architecture. Today it houses departments of the Community of
3 - The Royal Customs
House: In Alcala St. (numbers 5, 7, 9 and 11), it is another building of
public type, constructed during the reign of Charles III. It serves to organize
the area and its facade is the guideline for the street. It was built by the
King's favorite architect, Francisco Sabatini, between 1761 and 1769. Its main
characteristics include three inner court, two of them identical as from the
centre of the portal which is of great simplicity, and the alternating
triangular and curve cornices of the windows of the main floor.
4 - The Royal Academy
of Fine Arts: The Goyeneche Palace, built by Jose Benito Churriguera in
1725, was chosen to house this institution, a clear exponent of bourbon cultural
policy. In the reign of Charles III, in 1774, Diego Villanueva remodelled the
facade to suit the neo-classical taste of the time. This transformation is
considered by the specialists to be the end of a period and the beginning of
another. It is located at 13, Alcalá Street
5 - The Gracia
Gentleman's Oratory: located at the number 5 of the street of the same
name. It is a small church designed in 1786 and totally finished in 1795, and it
is considered to be one of the masterpieces of neo-classical architecture in
Madrid. It was built by Juan Villanueva, inspired by Palladio's style.
6 - Saint Joseph
Church: on Alcala Street and the corner of Gran Via. It was built by
Pedro Ribera between 1733 and 1742 during the reign of Philip V. Ribera was one
of the best exponents of the century 18th baroque architecture, which
disappeared after the construction of the Royal Palace. It may serve as an
example of comparison with the neo-classical models built in the second half of
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by JLL & JRP
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