The growth of Madrid was so
fast and ambitious during those almost forty years of the reign of Philip II
that there won't be of more to leave profiled, with clarity, which were the
limits of the Village, in the moment to become the Court.
The Fortress volumetry after
king Charles's I reformations.
At that time, architects as Covarrubias and
Luis de Vega
reprocesses the old Fortress giving it a palace appearance,
spite of the difficulties they had with the old construction
estimate cost shortages.
It will allow us to gauge
the reach of this growth in the moment of Philip's II death, in 1598.
By 1566, a fence or wall, of
poor materials - brick, cement, rubbish -
drew the following perimeter:
That fence started up from
the wall of the 12th century, next to the Moorish headquarters, not far from
Paja Square, it lowered until Toledo Street, near the current Fuentecilla, and
rotated, soft on-line, more or less continuous, until Antón Martin's
From here, rotating to the
north, it arrived to the first Alcalá Gate, in the current cross of the
Alcalá and Sevilla Streets, facing towards the near cross of Fuencarral
and Hortaleza Streets, next to the modern Gran Vía, towards Santo
Domingo's Square, where it finished in the fence of the suburbs of the 15th
Madrid's recreation, at the
first half of 16th century.
Engraving by Juan Wingaerde, carried out between
1556 and 1560.
This growth, once again,
indicates how Madrid always looked for, in a resolved way, the orientation
toward the east, favored mainly for the softness of the relief, while toward the
south the land descended and towards the north it ascended.
But one of the first
consequences of the transfer of the capital to Madrid and maybe the most
serious, was the housing demand that the enormous population who moved to the
city generated Philip's II reign along.
The City Council, lacking
juridical and human means, overflowed by the events and almost always responding
late to the problems, it was in a short time before a situation of disorderly,
chaotic and uncontrolled growth, where the speculation and the spontaneous
constructions, neither under ordinances nor limitations, blustering for its
respects, as it is usually said.
The houses were quickly
lifted and running, without health guarantees, with poor and bad materials, and
without keeping the most elementary urban rules.
The proprietors of pieces of
ground, field, properties or vegetable gardens sold them or quickly parceled
them, trying to take advantage of the surprising housing and lodging demand.
The facades didn't keep, in
general, a continuous alignment that made that the streets have continually
turns, incoming and salient. Also in the projecting, all kinds of excesses took
This situation, created to
the necessity of forming an organism, half dependent of the Town Council, half
of the Crown to control these lecheries and urban disorders that gave to the
Court a chaotic and improvised aspect.
Main facade of the Fortress
after king Charles's I reformations,
highlighting the main front, flanked by
the the old castle's round turrets.
This organism called
Police's Council and Ornament, created in 1590, and presided by architect
Francisco de Mora, who had been an architect's assistant of Herrera in The
The situation began to be
slightly controlled, the Council carried out works to tidy up the streets,
eliminating projects, to align facades and to suppress abrupt differences of
land, as little ravines or hillocks that had stayed, without being modified,
surrounded by constructions.
Some years after being
created the Council, the king died, and with the new king, Philip III, the Court
was moved temporarily to Valladolid.
When that happened, Madrid
continued extending, and at the end of the century, the urban surface reached to
the current Toledo Gate to the south, Atocha Circus to the east and Pez Street
to the north.
The growth didn't stop, even
hurried with the turn of the Court from Valladolid, in 1606.
In 1625, the young king
Philip IV ordered the rising of a fence or wall that impeded this gigantic
growth which already took place about the daily and legal Madrilenians life an
entire series of inconveniences and problems.
Main facade reconstruction
of the Fortress after king Philip's II reformations,
who ordered to lift up
a tower called "Golden"
and a corridor that unites it with the
main front left round turret.
This fence pursued, not only
to close, with fiscal and police purposes, the numerous new arisen
neighborhoods, but mainly, to prevent that the growth continued.
And it stopped, because the
city didn't grow until the 19th century again, inside the limits marked by the
fence of 1625, that were as follows: to the south the called Toledo, Embajadores
and Valencia Outer Roads, to the east The Prado and Recoletos Walks, and to the
north the Génova, Sagasta, Carranza and Alberto Aguilera Boulevards.
One of the interesting
premises of the edict of rising the fence was, the prohibition of building
immediately beside the same one, so there were some empty fringes between the
wall and the next village.
From 1625, the internal
circulation of this Madrid was regulated or channeled by a group of main
arteries that, leaving the Sun Gate or near points to the medieval helmet, they
drove more or less in lines right or clear, to the extreme points but far from
From Santo Domingo's old
Square, next to the medieval monastery, they left diverse streets that drove to
the northeast end of the city, Leganitos Street - this rather short - and the
very long one Amaniel and San Bernardo Streets, whose width took to that the
town denominated it San Bernardo's Wide Street, to be distinguished of another
small one, located in another distant point of the city.
Facade of the Fortress at
the first half of 17th century.
As it can be observed, the Fortress has been
enlarged in its east side only,
looking for a symmetry that, the estimate
cost shortage , leaves it incomplete.
Apart from the mentioned
square, but going away in opposed sense, toward the northeast, the popular and
pure Corredera de San Pablo, today very shrunk its longitude, and near the end
of its itinerary Fuencarral Street, to finish melting with Hortaleza Street
These two, Fuencarral and
Hortaleza Streets were born in the same point, Red de San Luis, short street
that led them quickly to the Sun Gate. They were guided with determination
toward the north, and although were born together, they went separating
gradually, drawing more direct and right roads that from the north of the
periphery drove to the same center of Madrid, the already mentioned Sun Gate.
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by JLL & JRP
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