MUSEO DE LA CIUDAD (CITY MUSEUM: contains many models of buildings and entire districts of the city helping to tell the history of Madrid almost from its beginnings to today's modern city.)   Calle Príncipe de Vergara, 140 - Metro stop: Cruz del Rayo  - COST: GRATIS!

Photo: May 13, 2000
Entrance of Museum At the left is a view of the entrance of the museum. The cobblestone walkway in front seems to evoke a distant memory of the past when streets were paved thus. I don't know the significance of the chain fencing. Past the columns you see in the center of the building lies the entranceway. To the left of this, in case you are curious is a well-placed cafe for your enjoyment: CALIFORNIA. Using the names of our states for the names of eateries in Madrid is a very popular custom: there is the NEBRASKA and IOWA that come to mind now.
Inside, the museum consists of 3 (or possibly 4) floors with the exhibits on the upper floors. The gift shop will be found on the ground floor near the entrance.

Let's go upstairs and see a few things. This museum allows you to take pictures inside!

You will see several detailed models of the city (scale of about 1 to 500). You will have to see them for yourself since they don't photograph well. They depict the village (Madrid is officially a village) at different times in the past. Thus, you will see how the city was always walled until the middle of the 19th century. You will see all the historic old gates, most of which have long since been demolished. To recapture the splendor of the past, in the early 1990s, Madrid did rebuild one of the these gates in its original location between the river and the Royal Palace. La Puerta de San Vicente stands there, and a scale-model of it stands in this museum! There are also large detailed models of the Royal Palace and Almudena Cathedral, a very lifelike model of today's Plaza de Pontejos (located in real-life just to the south of Puerta del Sol which is also represented by a model from the 1940's showing the great construction effort building the Metro terminal that lies just beneath the surface. But this list of models only scratches the surface!

In 1561, when Felipe II moved his court to Madrid, there was a housing crisis because all the workers serving the court needed a place to stay. Since 1534 there had been a law in Madrid mandating that all who had two-story houses make the upper story available to house workers in the court. Owners, to avoid having to surrender the upstairs of their houses to outsiders, rebuilt the front views to make them appear very undesirable to prospective tenants.

Photo: May 13, 2000
Unappealing front-view Inspect the front view of the (model) house on the left with the unappealing small windows, then click on the picture to see what the (model) house looked like from the rear. These types of houses were called, in Spanish, Casas de Malicia (Mischievously clever houses).

Photo: May 18, 2000
Modern Water Tower Before we leave the museum, take a look at the model of a modern water tower. Then, if you click on the picture, you will see the museum's model of what it looks like inside.