Estatua Felipe III a caballo

Statue of Felipe III on Horseback – A death trap for birds

It has been written a lot about the cemetery that was established in Plaza Mayor of Madrid. And we do had it, exactly inside of the statue of the Felipe III’s horse.

If you think about a bird hunter, you will probably imagine someone hidden among the fauna, waiting
for the crowd of birds to get closer to him to take advantage of his aim. And when that moment
comes, he press the trigger and all the hit birds fall to the ground. They try to fly but they can’t, and so
their lives quickly come to an end.

Something like this happened in Madrid some years ago. Not in countryside nor in the mountains but in Madrid city center. Don’t think about a Madrid citizen hidden among the concrete fauna handling his gun and waiting for Madrid pigeons to pass in front of him to pull the trigger in the middle of Puerta del Sol. No. Something much simpler: A horse, the horse of king Felipe III. But not the one that he used for riding, one forged to be unbreakable.

Felipe III Horse Statue cemetery of sparrows
Felipe III Horse Statue Plaza Mayor (Madrid)

This horse never closed his mouth and so some people thought he had a jaw problem. None of that. The poor horse was born that way.

As Madrid birds saw him standing still and quiet, they thought that his mouth would be the perfect ​​shelter in the rainy days of winter and during the hot days of summer. And so, the naive sparrows went happily straight inside his stomach. In that moment the horse became a hunter and his mouth a mortal trap. The wings that gave birds their freedom suddenly became their condemn. Their length when opened didn’t let them go out through the half-open mouth of the steed.

The hunter and his rider were cast in Florence in the early sixteenth century and have been in the Plaza Mayor of Madrid since the second half of the nineteenth century. During such a long time it is easy to imagine the amount of sparrows that for centuries got stuck in the mouth of the horse. The cemetery was discovered during the celebration of the 2nd Spanish Republic in 1931. At the highest point of the celebration the republicans pulled the monarchical statue down, introduced a powerful firecracker into the mouth of the horse and when the belly of the animal burst, hundreds of tiny bones blew up in the air.

Once the mess was discovered and once the Spanish Civil War was over in 1936, the statue was reconstructed without forgetting to close and weld forever the mouth of the hunting horse. So do not worry, you can now walk at ease along the Plaza Mayor. We do not have any more cemetery inside its walls.

What we do have are a lot of interesting stories about Madrid in the square. So if you would like to know more about it we recommend you to suscribe our blog as well as to try our Free Tour Madrid to keep on discovering some new and incredible stories and secrets about this awesome and fun City.


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