Spanish version

Calle de Alcalá

Skyscraper with broad basement

Calle de Alcalá begins in the Puerta del Sol and is the longest street in Madrid, and maybe in Europe, with more than 600 house numbers. It crosses Madrid from east to west. Along its route its character changes. The first part, the historical street, is the one that interests us here.

Along this street we can see several high buildings. They were the first "skyscrapers" in Madrid. To build them they asked an arquitect from Chicago for advice. But the Spanish arquitects were not convinced that these buildings would be safe, this is why these buildings always have a broad base and end with a kind if tower.

Paco, the Dog (El Perro Paco)

Where nowadays we find a Starbucks coffeehouse, there used to be an old cafe called Cafe Fornos. It was a meeting place for many polititians, writers and other wellknown people, where they used to sit and discuss the social or political situations for hours. It is said that in 1879, on Saint Francis of Assisi´s Day, a mongrel entered the cafe.

Paco the DogIt was a small, black male dog. It approached the table where the Marquis de Bogaraya, later one of the mayors of Madrid, was sitting. He found the little dog quite funny and gave him some meat for dinner.

As it was the saint´s day, he called the dog "Francisco", in short Paco.

From that day on, the dog went to the cafe every evening. If the Marquis was not there, any other customer would give him something to eat. The dog always walked the spender home. Some people tried to make him enter their homes, but he never did it. He preferred to live on his own.

Time went by and Paco, the dog, became a popular inhabitant of Madrid. Songs were written in his honour, chocolate dolls made with his image and even a newspaper had his name, El Perro Paco, and was supposed to published the dog´s political and social point of view. In fact all newspaper published articles related to Paco´s activity the day before, where he had been, who he had been with or if he had liked the theater-play he had seen the night before.

Paco could enter any restaurant, he went to the theater and also to the bullfights. In those days the bullring was close to Puerta de Alcalá and the bullfighters used to go on foot from their homes to the ring. Paco had two favorite bullfighters, Frascuelo and Lagartijo. He used to wait on the streets in front of their houses and walk with them to the bullring.

In 1882 Paco was at a bullfight. The show was a disaster. The apprentice matador was being shouted at by the public that did not enjoy his faena. It seems that the little dog got nervous, jumped to the arena and started barking at the bullfighter. The matador, who by that time was angry with the public, with the bull and with himself, pointed his sword at Paco and wounded him. The public was astonished. If the police had not stepped in to help the bullfighter leave the bullring, the people would have killed him right away.

The Madrilians were completley devastated, people cried on the streets, the newspapers wrote about the dog´s health every day until his death a few days later.

Paco, the dog was buried in Retiro Park, although nobody knows exactly where.


The building of the Academia de Bellas Artes (Academy of Fine Arts) was a palace. Carlos III bought it to house the academy here. All its members have donated works to it.

Elephants on the Banesto buildingIn front of the Casino is the building of Banesto, which was the first American bank in Spain. On the facade we can see several elephants.

The Casino was always just for a very exclusive circle. Some years ago, to become a member one had to pay about six thousand euros. Nowadays the cafeteria is open to the public.

Carlos III decided that the center of the city could not be changed so he expanded Madrid towards the area that is nowadays the Paseo de la Castellana (Castellana Avenue).

The area between the Cibeles and Neptune was dedicated to leisure. The inhabitants promenaded to see and to be seen. In the middle was a line of pine trees. The women were always accompanied by a chaperone, so they could not start any kind of relationship with their suitors. It was decided that the chaperone had to walk five pines behind.
Casino of Madrid-a place for a few Many buildings in this area were old palaces. What is now the Headquarter of the Army used to be the palace of the Duchess of Alba, the Palacio de Buenavista. Afterwards it belonged to Manuel Godoy who asked Goya to paint a nude woman, the maja desnuda for his private lounge there. It was the first painting of a nude woman seen from the front. As Goya thought that this could cause him some problems he painted another one with a dressed woman, the maja vestida. It is said that this painting was in front of the other one. There was a special device that made it go up, so that the maja desnuda could be seen.

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