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20 Curiosities of Madrid that will surprise you

Being Madrid, the capital of Spain, it is not surprising that its streets and its history are full of curiosities. There are thousands! Today I will tell you some of the most interesting curiosities of Madrid that you may not know.

If you want to know more, you can read this article with more than 45 things to see and do in Madrid (city).


20 Curiosidades de Madrid que te sorprenderán

20 CURIOSITIES OF MADRID


1. The Malasaña neighborhood is named in honor of an embroiderer


In the uprising of May 2, 1808, Manuela Malasaña was executed by the French because according to them she was “armed” with scissors that she used to work. The residents of the neighborhood paid tribute in his honor and named one of the streets in the neighborhood after him, although later, the entire neighborhood was named the same.


2. The oldest restaurant in the world is in Madrid


The oldest restaurant in the world opened its doors in 1725 and you will find it in Madrid. This is the Sobrino de Botín Restaurant. In it, you can taste one of their best-known dishes such as oven-roasted suckling pig or Madrid stew.


3. A 17th-century fountain at the Opera metro station


The Caños del Peral Fountain is one of the oldest monuments in Madrid. It was part of some Arab baths and supplied water to the city's Royal Palace. It spent many years buried and during the construction of the Opera station in 1991 it was discovered. Since then, you can visit it underground.


4. There is a piece of the Berlin Wall in the city


Berlin also wanted Madrid to remember the Berlin Wall and therefore donated three blockades that, today, still have the original graffiti. You can find these blocks in the Berlin Park. In the park, you can also visit some statues that represent Germany.


5. Calderón de la Barca lived in the narrowest building in Madrid


On Calle Mayor, at number 61, you will find the narrowest building in Madrid. It is 4 meters wide and this is where Calderón de la Barca lived and died.


6. The Puerta de Alcalá is not symmetrical


The Puerta de Alcalá is one of the essential places to visit in Madrid. In it, you will be able to see that its sides are not equal. And this is due to King Charles III. The architect in charge of designing the door presented several projects and the monarch chose two options due to confusion. In order not to contradict him, the architect carried out two projects, one on each side of the door. The columns are different, with different figures represented, with children and heraldic shields.


7. The Bear and the Strawberry Tree


Do you know the meaning of the Bear and the Strawberry Tree? The Bear has always been part of the city's coat of arms since the 13th century. As for the meaning of the strawberry tree, it is because for a time there were territorial disputes between the church and the city council. So, the church was left with the pasture lands and the city with “all the tree stands and the game.” To commemorate this agreement, they added the strawberry tree, along with the bear, to the coat of arms of Madrid.



20 Curiosidades de Madrid que te sorprenderán

8. There is a crocodile hidden in the church of San Ginés


Another of the curiosities of Madrid is that, on an expedition of the Catholic Monarchs to America, a crocodile chased them and in order to escape unharmed they entrusted themselves to the virgin. The virgin supposedly managed to get them to safety and as a souvenir they brought this stuffed crocodile to Madrid, displaying it along with religious prints. This crocodile was displayed in public until recently, but after a long time in which the parish priests complained that it was not the right place to have the crocodile displayed, they finally hid it and it is in the chapel.


9. At 10pm at home!


Until 1868, it was prohibited to leave Madrid after 10 p.m. in winter and 11 p.m. in summer. King Philip IV ordered the construction of a wall that surrounded the city in 1625. This rule was imposed to control the goods entering the city. The wall was demolished in 1868.


10. The largest clock in Madrid is not the one in Puerta del Sol


The Puerta del Sol clock is one of the most emblematic places in Madrid. But contrary to what you may think, it is not the largest in the city. The Atocha clock has taken the record since the station was renovated in 1992. To give you an idea, its hands measure 5 and 7 meters long.



11. The horse on the statue of Philip III in the Plaza Mayor has its mouth closed for a reason


When the Second Republic was proclaimed, one of the followers put an explosive in the horse's mouth to destroy the statue. The explosive detonated, leaving small pieces of bones on the ground. These bones belonged to sparrows that took refuge in the horse's mouth. The statue was rebuilt, covering all the holes so that birds could not enter and make their nests in it.


12. Madrid has a fountain dedicated to Lucifer


In the world there are a total of 7 statues dedicated to the devil, and in Madrid you will find one of them. It is located in the Retiro Park and is a must see in the city. It was sculpted by the sculptor artist Ricardo Belives in 1878.



13. Why are people from Madrid called cats?


Surely the answer is not what you expect. Although many people think that the nickname comes from our love of sleeping late, in reality its origin is very different.

The story dates back to the year 1083, when the Christian army wanted to conquer the Arab citadel of Magerit, which was surrounded by a 12-meter-high wall. One of the Christian soldiers went ahead of the rest and began to climb it with the help of a dagger that he was sticking into the wall. Once at the top, he changed the Arab flag for the Christian one, and began to take the city.

After this display of agility, they began to call the soldier and his family members 'cat'. He even changed his last name, and it is said that those with the last name 'Gato' are his descendants.


14. Curiosities about the Retreat


  • El Retiro was used to reconstruct naval battles and water shows. Felipe IV used to participate in them.

  • Retiro Lake had a small central island that was used for fishing and theatrical performances.

  • The deepest part of the lake is 1.81 meters and the shallowest part is 60 cm.

  • There are more than 8,000 fish in the water (approximately 1,500 are carp) and they are enormous in size.

  • In 2001 the pond had to be emptied for repairs and many objects were found in it, some of them attract attention. Only 50 mobile phones were found, but taking into account that this was 20 years ago... it is not that strange, but 192 chairs, 40 boats, several shopping carts and a lot of furniture were also found... Who throws away the shopping cart? to the lake?


20 Curiosidades de Madrid que te sorprenderán


15. The tallest skyscraper in Europe in the 1920s


In the 1920s, Madrid was home to the tallest skyscraper in Europe. It was the Telefónica building. From there, the first Spanish call to the other side of the pond took place; King Alfonso XIII and the president of the USA, Calvin Coolidge.


16. The shortest and longest street in the city


Calle de Alcalá is the longest in the city (it is about 10 km long), while the shortest is Calle Rompelanzas (only 20 meters).


17. Did you know that there is an Egyptian temple in Madrid?


In Madrid there is a temple brought stone by stone from Egypt. The Temple of Debod is one of my favorite places in Madrid and I tell you more about it in the post More than 45 things to see and do in Madrid. It was a gift from the Egyptian government to thank Spain for its help and commitment to saving the temples of Nubia.

20 Curiosidades de Madrid que te sorprenderán

18. The Arab wall of Madrid


The Arab origin of Madrid, or Magrit / Mayrit, is still present in the capital. Little remains of the Muslim presence in the city, but you can go to the Cuesta de la Vega (near the Almudena Cathedral) and you will be able to see the remains of the old wall that surrounded the city back in the 9th century.


19. The student who dressed up as a boy


A lonely young university student, leaning against a stone wall, with several pages of notes in her hand and a lost gaze. Her name is Julia and she is famous in El Barrio de Malasaña.

You will find it on Pez Street. Julia symbolizes the story of a woman who dared to break the rules in the 19th century. At a time when only men had access to the Central University, on San Bernardo Street. She chose to dress up as a boy so she could attend classes as a listener. Many talk about legend, but this heroine really existed. Its name was Concepción Arenal and it was in 1842 when it achieved what no one had done until then.


20. Madrid also has a statue of Liberty


Madrid has a statue of liberty, created by the Aragonese sculptor Ponciano Ponzano, the same one who sculpted the lions of Congress. He created it in 1853. That is, about twenty years before that of Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi, which ended up being a gift from the French government to the United States. The Spanish Statue of Liberty is smaller, about two meters high, and all made of white marble. To see it you just have to enter the Pantheon of Illustrious Men, one of the most curious museums in the city.


20 Curiosidades de Madrid que te sorprenderán


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