Plaza de la Villa - Madrid antes de ser capital

Madrid before becoming the Capital of an Empire

We will travel back in time to discover the most unknown Madrid: Madrid before becoming the capital of the kingdom

The time has come to discover a part of the most unknown history of the Villa de Madrid. What was Madrid before becoming the capital of the Empire of Felipe II? Is it true that it went unnoticed? Who ruled the city? If you want to know the answers to these questions, stay with us!

Plaza de la Villa -Madrid before being the Capital of a Empire
Plaza de la Villa – Madrid

For a long time, Madrid had remained far from the centers of power, until the beginning of the 13th century, specifically until the year 1202, a key year in the history of our city, since it was the year in which the official regime of the Council was imposed. Those rules were written with the intention of carrying out an adequate administration of the town for the pretty first time in the Villa´s history. They were granted by King Alfonso VIII of Castile and thanks to them it became a free council (which basically means that Madrid became an independent town with its own council and court).  From this moment on, it became a strategic enclave, due to the great militarization that existed in the town, due to the Alcázar emplacement.

Until this moment, the urban, social, and economic development had been typical of a border city. Being a very well defended strong nucleus of resistance, where mainly Knight´s with a complicated economic situation lived who had lowered their aspirations in order to live on what the locals could supply. There was no industry or sources of wealth in Madrid at that time.

But… When would Madrid’s luck change? Well, it´s really easy to answer that question already, it will be from the changes made by Philip II, moving the Court to Madrid, when this town began to distinguish itself.

It was a realengo, so in it, there was no domain of the nobility or ecclesiastical. It was a land of knights who abandoned their military activities and found other activities to survive. To this situation of no presence of nobility or ecclesiastical hierarchies, another positive point was added to the town, the Pardo´s hill hunts. Madrid became a new city, without ties to the Castilian and courtly past. It was a capital that grew little by little, reaching fullness and splendor centuries later.

It is true that this capital status brought work and life, but also the need to return to the past to adorn and glorify it and thus make it worthy of the great dynasty of the Habsburgs and of a top European capital. Thus appears the tendency of scholars and writers to take away all the importance that Islam had in Madrid. Since it was frowned upon, and it was not admissible due to the fighting situation that existed, so they ignored that some of the principal buildings of the capital had muslim origins (the Alcazar, the Wall or the watchtowers).

Madrid before being the Capital of a Empire - Madrid Wall
Madrid Muslim Wall

As far as the Islamic past was concerned, it was neither recommended nor good for the new capital. Basically, because the Turk Imperium was considered the greatest enemy of the empire.

This led to a search for more suitable origins. From what appears the Visigothic Madrid, the Roman, the Carpetana Mantua… A whole new identity that would be created to hide an origin that at that time was considered shameful… but luckily, these times are behind us and today Madrid recognize its origins.

Do you want to know more in-depth how and where our beautiful city was born? Do you want to enjoy a good walk in Madrid discovering many more secrets of Madrid before becoming the capital of an Empire? If so, do not hesitate to join any of our free tour Madrid or in our Private Tour Madrid  !

See you in Plaza de la Puerta del Sol ready with our light blue umbrella for you!

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