The arrival of the Court in
Madrid in 1561 did not engender enthusiasm in the high Castilian nobility, who
looked at the unexpectedly new conditions of a discrete village with certain
Although the Crown or the
Town Council elaborated plans of orderliness and embellishment of the city, the
nobility refused to invest the major expenditures required for the construction
of new and dignified palaces.
Main facade of the Bakery
House in Mayor Square, iluminated at night.
Without a doubt there should
have been, and we know of the existences of palaces or suburban estates in the
outskirts, like the House of Seven Chimneys or the house of Antonio Pérez,
on the road of Atocha.
The church established
itself soon in this Court, and different from the aristocratic remiss, it
supported the new capital, perhaps desiring that the Court not return to Toledo.
From the first years of its position in the Court, the church established
numerous religious orders in Madrid.
It is possible, that the
appearance of the architectural era believed to be in the reign of Phillip II is
given more to the disappearance of almost everything, and not necessarily
advancement in architecture.
Nevertheless, it is also
sure that during the first decades of the Court, the architectural and building
investments of the religious declaration, were humble and somewhat temporary
accommodations. Some writers in the 17th century have alluded to this.
The radical change came when
the Court returned from Valladolid in 1606, and it was confirmed that this would
be the definitive capital. It was then, and in the ensuing years, that many
palaces and the earlier convents initiated ambitious works of renovation and
reconstruction, in addition to producing new religious orders.
Along with palatial architecture, which is very
scarce today, as well as religious, which follow some forms, expressions, and
decorative repertoire that we can define as post-escorialism, mannerism, and
The temples adapted the
shape of the Latin cross, with floors liberally inspired by the Jesuit Gesu,
even though they also used the elliptical floor, as in San Antonio of the
Portuguese's or in the College of Doña María de Aragón, -
today The Senate.
The architecture of the
first third of the 17th century has reached us in a very paltry manner and some
churches of this era were reformed or finished later, varying or altering the
But this period, of
monumental architecture, timidly dynamic, of undeveloped surfaces and expressive
sobriety we can truly see in the temple of the Incarnation, El Carmen, Las
Alarconas, or Las Carboneras.
The only great palace of
that moment that was conserved in its magnificence is that of the Duque de
Uceda, today Capitanía General, designed by Francisco de Mora, even
though the work was directed by Alonso Turrillo, from 1608 to 1613.
accomplishment was the temple of the convent of The Incarnation, a royal
institution, which was built between 1611 and 1616. Its facade, designed by Gómez
de Mora, would be the example most repeated, but not the only one, between the
convents in the entire central region and part of Castile during the 17th
century and a good part of the 18th century.
organization had a total success, and consisted of a great vertical rectangle,
limited by giant pilasters and crowned by a pediment.
Below, is included an
efficient portico or porch, upon which mounted the Hispanic Choir at the foot,
illuminated by the large windows which open on the facade. Its decoration is
restricted to the Coat of Arms of the founders, patrons or of the order, and a
sculpture or relief in stone, hinting at the devotion or the name of the temple.
Without citing examples of the region, we will say
that in Madrid, of the temples that remain today, they adopted this type of the
facade, with or without a portico, such as Las Comendadoras, Las Alarconas, Los
Jesuitas, San Cayetano, or San José.
The late mannerism that was practiced at the start of
the 17th century revolutionized, and even though being the most frequent the
floor of the Latin Cross, with one nave, a transept and dome, they varied, they
energized, and the embellishment, architectural expression, and the area was
¡A magnificent display
of early baroque sensibility appears in the decoration of the wall and the
double rhythmic rising and furrows of San Isidro, of the Jesuits, in Toledo
Street, the work of Francisco Bautista, that started the construction in 1630
and was finished in the decade of 1660.
This baroquism, tempered,
subdued, and elegant was developed during the reign of Philip IV, and took form
in the works of two outstanding figures.
Francisco Bautista, the
designer in addition to San Isidro, a extremely beautiful chapel, that fused the
bright composition and structure of the Madrid Baroque and with a decoration and
fantasy in solutions and ideas of advanced baroque sensibility, is the Chapel of
Cristo de los Dolores, of the V.O.T. from 1660 to 1664.
The other Fray Lorenzo de
San Nicolás, writer, theologian, and skilled worker, architect of San
Placido, a magnificent composite of
architecture-decoration-pictorical-sculpture-alterpiece in the decade of 1650 to
1660, and Las Calatravas, from 1660 to 1670, of rich and imaginative decoration
and superb cupola, a short church almost centralized.
At the end of the century,
the architects maintained the same structures, although they reduced the forms
and introduced variations. The ornamental repertoire, now baroque, is rich and
opulent, with fruits and products of Castile, which are dazzling over totally
The Segovia Bridge
the left, the Shrine of the Virgen del Puerto and, at the botton, The Royal
The brothers, José
and Manuel del Olmo are prefect representatives of this last third of the 17th
century, with two churches famous for their beauty. The convent temples of Las
Gongoras, from 1663 to 1675, and Las Comendadoras de Santiago, from 1667 to
1697, with a handsome and open floor of the Greek cross, illuminated by a
Of the civil architecture
during this third of the century, there are very interesting examples revealing
as to how Madrid Baroque influenced the city. One is the façade of the
Casa de la Panadería in the Plaza Mayor by Tomás Román and
Jiménez Donoso of 1672. Others are the Puerta del Buen Retiro, of 1692,
and the patio of the Colegio Imperial on Toledo Street of 1673, these last two
works by Melchor de Bueras.
However, the pattern most
widespread, repeated and representative of 17th century native Madrid
architecture was constituted by the urban and public palaces, whose
characteristics blend in such as homogenous form, created a typical and
unmistakable image of the city.
The best known is "Palace
of the Austria's," whose model admits variant, always be within a design
that resulted in efficiency, highly representative, monumental, solemn and
perfectly adapted to the urban use.
The starting point of this
type of construction is undoubtedly the "Palacio de Uceda" from 1608
to 1613, the pattern being the Palacio Ducal, in Lerma (Burgos), of 1604, both
the works of Francisco de Mora.
These are horizontal rectangles, with two systematic
floors, mannerist fronts, slate roofs and attics, and cubical towers with
His nephew, Gómez
de Mora, developed this design along the lines of these initial buildings,
introducing succulent variants and a dynamic baroque, in addition to very
intellectual arrangements, in the works such as the new facade of the Fortress,
from 1611-19, the City Hall, from 1621-48, and the Court Prison, from 1629-35,
now the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
This model created in Madrid a widespread soundness
that was repeated in a multitude of houses and palaces of the nobility, in the
Casa de la Panadería, and in the facades of the Palacio del Buen Retiro,
from 1630-40, work of Alonso Carbonell.
His creation was an ideal
and original adaptation for a city, suddenly transformed into the Court, that
completely lacked an archetypical model, and was immediately recognized as the
image of Madrid, with is own and personal architecture of the Madrid of the
The pictures shows:
- Main facade of the Convent of The
- The Madrid City Council building, in Villa
Square, is a typical Madrilenian Baroque building. Since its completion, this
has been the City Hall. Its architecture, untouched except for the balcony
overlooking Mayor Street, was constructed by architect Juan de Villanueva for
the Queen and her attendants, to watch the Corpus Christi procession.
- The Segovia and Toledo Bridges are perhaps
the oldest monuments in Madrid, for their rich architecture contrasts with the
small size of the river Manzanares. This bridge was commissioned by king Philip
II who, having established Madrid as the capital of Spain, wished to endow the
city with fine monuments. In 1532, the royal architect Juan de Herrera designed
a solid bridge of austere line, being the Renaissance rhythm of its arches and
the typical Herrera balls on the parapets the only decoration.
- House of Seven Chimneys
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