My Madrid, Alcala, how can I forget you!!!!

I am flying thru Madrid this time and memories flash back again. Its a mythical city in my life. I lived there as a young poor boy, and was so much welcome and accepted that its memories have lingered over the years. My heritage is from Tenerife on both father and mother side, and I was there like home.

This street or calle de Alcala has 10,5 kms long from the Puerta del Sol to the Ave de la Hispanidad,passing by the best of Madrid. Yes, it was and always will be MY street. For those who knows,  I lived in working class Madrid away from tourist center,right the locals, and the experience its great, each time on the city. Thanks God it has been often after I left it in 1974.

Who has not heard of this song Los Nardos from the movie Las Leandras with Rocio Durcal in 1969 “Por la calle de Alcalá, con la falda almidoná y los nardos apoyaos en la cadera, la florista viene y va y sonríe descará por la acera de la calle de Alcalá. El buen mozo que la ve va y le dice: “venga usted a ponerme en la solapa lo que quiera, que la flor que usted me da con envidia la verá todo el mundo por la calle de Alcalá…”  Meaning, On the street of Alcala with the skirt well pressed and the the spikenard on the hips, the florist come and go, smiling widely on the sidewalks of the street of Alcala. The good looking waiter that sees her ,tells her, come with me and put me on my vest anything you want, that the flower that you give me, will be seen with envy throughtout the street of Alcala. Something like that.

Here is a rendition in youtube, , and this one another favorite from Rocio Durcal, Viejo Madrid or old Madrid,  ohh can I cry?

The street began in the early 15C on the old road to Alcalá de Henares ,and reaching to  Aragón,and was call then calle de los  Olivares the street was started by masons, horseshoe artists, and carriage rentals with mules, and was the beginning of the diligences or people mover in the whole of Spain!! When Madrid became the capital of Spain in the 16C,more luxurious mansions and palaces were built on it.

Given way to the Puerta del Sol, until 1856  was the site of the church and hospital of  Buen Suceso,founded by king  Carlos I ;later it was the Hotel París, the most elegant of Madrid at that time, and on the bottom floor it was the venerable Café de la Montaña, now gone. At the corner with the calle de Sevilla,it was La Equitativa insurance company  building built between 1882-1891  you see the facade with heads of elephants under the balcony of the first floor  crown with a small tower and clock : in 1920 the Banco Español de Crédito purchase the building.

Continue on and see the old Customs or Aduanas building, and continue to see the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando, built in 1724-1725;follow this up with the Casino de Madrid built in 1905-1910  in the old building of the palacio de Villarroel.  Se emblematic building of Madrid, in the corner with Caballero de Gracia,and beginning of the  Gran Vía,see the French style palace of Union and Fénix, finished in 1910 . Its cupola a city landmark today ,used to be crowned with a ave fénix  symbolising the old company ,but in 1975, when the new company took over was change to a victoria style statue, this is the company or building  Metrópolis.

Moving right alont on old Madrid, as you crossed the Gran Vía and calle del Marqués de Valdeiglesias, you found the  Casa del Párroco, first building done between 1910-1912,as part of the public works to do the Gran Vía.  Just after you have the old theater or Teatro Apolo,considered a cathedral of the small art, capacity for 2,500 persons and built in 1873. Here was first played the greatest zarzuelas in history such as La verbena de la Paloma (1894), La Revoltosa (1898), and Doña Francisquita (1923). It closed in 1929, after being purchased by the bank Banco de Vizcaya for its headquarters in Madrid.  Going on the sidewalk to the right crossing the calle de Sevilla,you first see a building for the Banco de Bilbao built between 1920-1923.

You follow wondering the street and see the old Education ministry building or Ministerio de Educación, built in  1929 ,and it has a beautiful room or salon de Goya, and a completer gallery of pictures of all its ministries.  Another emblematic building and great for snack and coffee, is the El Círculo de Bellas Artes done in Alcala by 1921-1926 webpage You are about to reach Cibeles, and on the right you see the Banco de España built between  1882-1891. Right by the angle to  calle del Barquillo,in a former palace now you find the Instituto Cervantes. Right after at the old palace of Buenavista you now see the Cuartel General del Ejército de Tierra (headquarters of the Army).

You then reach the plaza de Cibeles,done under king Carlos III, with a nice perpective of the Puerta de Alcala. You have here the old Palacio de Linares (built 1873) , today the wonderful  Casa de América,to the left, and the palacio de Comunicaciones (old post office of Spain) today is the seat of the Mayor’s office to the right, built in 1905-1918. On the left sidewalk you see the now reopen until different beat the old  Cervecería de Correos, that have the peña or gathering group of  Federico García Lorca, and the Café Lión,with its famous crypt of La Ballena Alegre (happy whale) that have frequent visits by many  great names of Spain such as  Valle-Inclán, Penagos, Bergamín and Francisco Ayala;as well as politicals such as Azaña, Calvo Sotelo , José Antonio Primo de Rivera, and after the Civil War, such as  Dámaso Alonso and Vicente Aleixandre…And to the right you see the wonderful gardens del Buen Retiro.

Puerta de Alcalá, yes we arrive at the grand daddy for me, need to be here always visit by, the church of San Manuel y San Benito, built in 1911.  The Puerta de Alcala was done under king Carlos III in 1778 by Sabatini. At the entrance to what today is calle de Serrano, an old execution site of the Holy Seat, was the old primitive first bullfight arena of Madrid done in 1799. The current plaza Monumental de Las Ventas,was built in neomudéjar style in 1931. Around it many wonderful bars such as La Tienta, La Divisa, La Monumental, Los Timbales(my all time favorite in the area), El Albero, and Los Tarantos.

A bit after by metro Quintana you have my hangout when in Madrid at Docamar, since 1963 ,the best patatas bravas in Madrid, lol!!!

And the calle de Alcalá continuos it crosses the road M-30, and goes across the districts of Ciudad Lineal(Quintana) and San Blas ,finally ends running parallel to the avenida de América,in the interchange Eisenhower,where the road A-2 (carretera de Barcelona) and road  M-14 (avenida de la Hispanidad or carretera del Aeropuerto to Barajas) crossed.

Yes I lived at Calle Alcala 331, 2do A, Buzon 67, Madrid, metro Quintana ,line 5 yeaaaahhh!! I love you Madrid.

Thanks for the memories and my mother who is in heaven thanks you too.




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