The Carillon of Madrid!

The first time several years back, I really did not notice or understood what it was. By the third time I dwell into its history and was fascinating. I like to update this older post on something unique in my dear Madrid. So much to see and enjoy, many over the years ,and I am sure a lot more to come. If in Spain, need to past by Madrid. Now here is the unique thing I like to tell you today, a carillon of singing figures in Barrio de las Letras neighborhood! The Plus Ultra building singing figurines!

The Plus Ultra building was built in 1913, and is located in the Plaza de las Cortes 8, next to the Westin Palace hotel, in front of the Congress of Deputies and the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, closely watched by the Statue of Cervantes. One of my latest favorite area to stayed, see posts. It was acquired in 1941 by the insurance company Plus Ultra (formerly Groupama), 100% owned since 2015 by Catalana Occidente (one of my former business partners..).  It occupies part of the site of the former palace of the Dukes of Medinaceli (most of the site is occupied by the Hotel Westin Palace-see post) and was built as a rental house for the Marquis of Amboage. Although the Plus Ultra building dates from the early 20C c. 1913, ordered to be erected by the Marquis of Amboage, the Carillon was inaugurated on December 20, 1993 by the Infanta Pilar de Borbón, Duchess of Badajoz.

On the balcony of the first floor there is a carillon that in addition to giving the hours at specific times of the day presents a small spectacle of mobile figures, the only one in Spain at the time of its inauguration. The carillon plays the anthem of MadridLa Marseillaise, the Radetzky March, Libiamo ne ‘lieti calici of La Traviata, the Ritirata of Madrid and the Boccherini minuet, among many others. With the holidays, the list expands to universal Christmas carols like White Christmas. The Goyesco (as a Goya style)  Carillon looks out from one of the balconies on the first floor of the Plus Ultra building. When it comes into operation, it captures the attention of pedestrians, who for a few minutes stare at the movements of the figures.


The Carillon consists of five figures designed by cartoonist Antonio Mingote, all of them from the Goyesque era: the painter Francisco de Goya, the Duchess of Alba accompanied by a dog, King Carlos III, a Madrid Maja (local women) and the bullfighter Pedro Romero. During the more than three minutes that the small show lasts, the figures perform a series of movements limited to the sound of a music performed by the 18 bells installed on the sides of the clock. This music varies as we hear it at different times.  Each of the five figures performs a different movement: the bullfighter Pedro Romero tempers his crutch before the onslaught of an imaginary bull, a manola (women) greets with her fan, Carlos III of Spain , the mayor king of Madrid  shakes his head, the Duchess of Alba will greet with a handkerchief and the painter Francisco de Goya draws in the air with a brush. They are only 1.40 meters high, but from the street you cannot see that they are mounted on the rails.

The Carillon was manufactured in the Netherlands by a company specialized in such rare gadgets. Although the technical realization is complex, the resulting spectacle is very simple and at the same time unique in Madrid. The clock is another jewel. The dial, 112 centimeters in diameter and with Roman numerals, was made of silver-plated red copper. It is covered by a stainless steel outer frame and its hands are plated with 24-carat gold. This was a renovation from the one manufactured in the Netherlands. Indeed, a marvel worth the detour to see it and of course something different in wonderful Madrid. To see the Goyesco show there are several sessions a day, at 12h, at 15h, at 18h and at 20h. On December 24 and 31 ,it also works at midnight. It is recommended to be very punctual since its entire duration is short.

The official Plus Ultra insurance company (owners):

The Spanish Guia Repsol tourist guide on the Carrillon (with pics) :

There you go folks, a unique visual entertaining arts in the famous Golden Triangle of the Arts of my dear Madrid. The Carrillon is nice, historical, and worth the detour for sure. Hope you enjoy it as I.

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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