Architectural History at the Conde Duque Center in Madrid

Discovering Conde Duque Centre 1

Front of Conde Duque Cultural Centre

Discovering Conde Duque Centre 2

Principal Entrance of Conde Duque Cultural Centre

Discovering Conde Duque Centre 3

Patio of Conde Duque Cultural Centre

What’s the history of the Conde Duque Center?

Conde Duque is a huge building in Madrid. The front is an impressive 228 meters long. For many years, it was the biggest building in Madrid.

It was King Philipp V who decided to build it at the end of 1717.

In the XIX century, it housed the military academy, the astronomical observatory and part of the communications system for the optical telegraph on the tower (the ancestor of the electric telegraph). Unfortunately, in 1869, a devastating fire halted the building’s evolution, until the municipality bought it in 1969. In 2011, a complete renovation radically changed it and this incarnation is what you will see today.

Where is Conde Duque Center located?

It is situated in the centre of Madrid, near the Gran Via y Plaza de España, in the district officially called Universidad, but commonly called Malasaña. (Referencing a famous seamstress (Manuela Malasaña) who was killed by Napoleon’s troops during the noted rising of May 2nd in 1808.) Everybody now knows it as Malasaña! As traditionally, the university areas were a culture mix in every town, this was similar throughout Europe. Madrid was the same and that’s why it’s not surprising that Conde Duque has become an interesting cultural centre.

What can you find there now?

Conde Duque is one of three municipal cultural centres in Madrid and offers a large array of activities.

You can find multiple libraries; not just a general one for readers, but also an historical one (about the city’s history) and a musical one.

If art is more your thing, you can admire paintings at the contemporary art museum. It’s worth visiting the reconstruction of Ramon Gomez de la Serna’s office. Ramon was a central character of the Spanish avant-garde; the inventor of a literary style called “gregueria.” (short sentences which were a mix of humour and metaphor, for example: « the most important thing in the life is not to die. »)

There are also great temporary exhibitions: Currently “The Still Traveller” of Chema Madoz, an artist from Asturias who created an exhibition consisting of 34 unpublished photographs (all unique copies) plus a video (see pictures).  It’s all full of a sense of humour.

Throughout the year there is also a great program of theatre and dance…

Conde Duque activities have a seasonal rhythm. In autumn, you can enjoy the famous international jazz festival of Madrid called JAZZMADRID. For a few euros, you can listen to amazing artists (around one hundred concerts are planned!) in both auditoriums.

In the summer, it’s the cinema which receives honours.

Two months of outdoor cinema is shown on a giant 300 square metre screen and the central common area becomes a pleasant after work party full of things to drink and eat before watching the movies.

Furthermore, the neighbourhood is very nice, with lovely streets to explore and great shops to discover.

All information and programmes can be found on Conde Duque’s official website.