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4 things you probably did not know about Madrid’s Casón del Buen Retiro

By | 1 April, 2020 | 0 comments

Casón del Buen Retiro

There is a stunning building on C/ Alfonso XII that stands majestically alone, easily identifiable by its façade’s four perfect columns and neoclassical style. It is none other than the Casón del Buen Retiro, an enigmatic building whose history is a fascinating and little-known tale we will share in this post.

1) It was originally a ballroom

It is mostly known for being annexed to El Prado Museum, where for decades it has been used first as an art gallery for 19th-century works from the Museum of Modern Art and later as a Study and Interpretation Centre, which is its current use. But it was originally built to be the ballroom of the court of king Philip IV.

2) Frescoes by Luca Giordano

The building’s vault still boasts to this day a mural by this Neapolitan artist dating back to the 17th century. The painting is an allegory of the Golden Fleece, an order of chivalry founded in the 15th century, considered to be one of the most prestigious orders in Europe, as it had ties to both the Austrian and Spanish crowns.

3) Its façade crumbled in 1886

That year, in the spring, a cyclone tore through Madrid. It was a tragic day during which about fifty people lost their lives. Several buildings and public spaces were damaged, hundreds of trees were uprooted in the Botanical Gardens, carriages were upturned, etc. Thereafter, the building remained forlorn for years, which is when people started referring to it as Casón (“big house”). Its façade and most of its roof were eventually reconstructed.

4) The first home of Guernica

In 1981, Guernica was flown from New York to Madrid. With the highest security measures in place, the local authorities transported it to this building, where it was exhibited for 11 years behind a large glass screen. It was not until 1992 that it was transferred to the Reina Sofía Art Centre, where it can still be seen today.

Photo (C) Tíndalos

Categories: Guías Madrid

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