Rebellion echoes down the ages in Malasaña. The brick arch at the center of this broad square marks the site of the Monteleón artillery barracks. When the people of Madrid rose up against Napoleon’s troops on May 2, 1808, Spanish troops were ordered to remain in barracks. The artillery, under the command of Luis Daoiz de Torres and Pedro Velarde y Santillán, defied the crown and joined the popular uprising. In return, the French reduced the barracks to rubble, killed most of the Spanish soldiers, and martyred their leaders, who are honored in the statues beneath the arch. (The event is chillingly captured in Goya’s painting Dos de Mayo in the Prado.) At the end of the Franco era, this bohemian neighborhood became a flash point for another rebellion, this time against Spanish authoritarianism: On May 2, 1976, to the delight of onlookers, a couple undressed on top of the arch—an event often cited as the beginning of the countercultural Movida Madrileña. That spirit is alive and well in and around Plaza Dos de Mayo.
Plaza Dos de Mayo
Our Rating Transportation Metro: Bilbao or Tribunal. Bus: 3, 21, 40, 147, or 149
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