Five things you may not know about Franco

Uncharismatic character Having cast such a huge shadow over Spain, I imagined that Franciso Franco must have been either dazzlingly charismatic or devilishly Machiavellian. Not so, according to the Personas Con Historia podcast by Luis Lorenzo, a professor of history at Uex (University of Extramadura). The genial professor paints a rather unflattering portrait of el Caudillo, chuckling over his …

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Agua va! (The history of toilets in Madrid)

Lack of facilities Though I love Madrid, the city is, quite literally, a bit of a toilet. Due to the lack of public facilities, many partygoers end up relieving themselves in the city streets so that after a steamy Saturday night, the pavements absolutely reek of piss by Sunday morning. Luckily our lovely ex-mayor Manuela …

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A fire in Madrid’s Alcazar: arson or accident

A narrow escape If you’ve ever been to the Prado you must have seen Velazquez’s masterpiece Las Meninas. Painted in 1656, the picture shows princess Margaret Theresa with her pet dog, dwarf, and ladies in waiting. The enigmatic painting is now famous the world over, but what’s less known is that it narrowly escaped being burned up …

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The destruction of Madrid’s churches

Napoleon comes to town Time was you couldn’t swing a cat, let alone drive through central Madrid without hitting a church or monastery. A lack of urban planning meant that the city’s narrow streets were stifled by religious institutions. That was until Bonaparte’s troops rolled into town. The new ruler, Napoleon’s brother, Joseph, decided to …

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