Pulpit of Cuchilleros Arch

Pulpit of Cuchilleros Arch and a heroic day for Madrid

In the Plaza Mayor of Madrid there is a railing located exactly on one of the stairs that connect Cuchilleros street with this mythical square. This railing is known like the Pulpit of Cuchilleros Arch and its history is related to Napoleon Bonaparte and the most important day that Madrid has ever lived.

Everyday thousands of people go down and upstairs of one of the most famous arches of the Plaza Mayor: Arco de cuchilleros (arch of cutlers). But hundreds of them don’t realize that they are passing next to a monument that lived in first person, one of the most important and heroic events that the people from Madrid have lived: The Penninsular War.

That monument is a small balcony after all. A simple metal railing at the top of the stairs of Arco de Cuchilleros that was used for the friar Antonio, from the Convent of San Gil, to harangue and motivate a great mass of Madrileños who were listening to him. It was 1808 and Napoleon’s troops had invaded Spain.

Napoleon, having Spain in his hands, has in mind to assign a new king for the country: his brother José Bonaparte. Madrileños were increasingly feding up with the French occupation. The nervousness and tension were in the air and it was in that precise moment when the Antonio turn that simple railing into something similar to what he usually used in his church : a pulpit, the Pulpit of Cuchilleros Arch


The pulpit in Arco de Cuchilleros (Plaza Mayor of Madrid)
The pulpit in Arco de Cuchilleros (Plaza Mayor of Madrid)

From that “pulpit” Antonio shouted and encouraged people to confront the French army and revolt against the Napoleonic Empire that had taken the power from the Spanish monarchy. There is no data about the day when this happened but it was probably in the days leading up to the most heroic day that the village of Madrid has ever witnessed: May 2, 1808.

Levantamiento del 2 de Mayo Goya
Uprising May 2nd 1808. Goya. Prado Museum

It seems a simple anecdote but probably this led to that glorious day the people of Madrid faced the Napoleonic army definitively with stones, knives, sticks, pots and blunderbuss. Everything was useful to attack the powerful french soldiers on horseback .
And none of this was useless because six years later Spain would fully recover its independence and also created its first democratic constitution.

In fact, that day was so important that nowadays May 2 is a holiday for the province of Madrid, and on it all those Madrid heroes that helped to be an independent country again are remember. Among them we won’t forget the friar Antonio and the pulpit that witnessed his speech.

Nowadays people will pass by the fence without finding any sign that explains its historical milestone. But now that you know the history of the Pulpit of Cuchilleros Arch, every time you go up or downstairs of Cuchilleros street look at it carefully and listen the stories hidden inside.

We hope you liked our post and hopefully you will be encouraged to continue discovering more about the wonderful city of Madrid. If you want to do it come with us any day from Monday to Saturday with our Free Walking Tour Madrid and start Discovering many historical and funny stories about this beautiful and incredible city.

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