The beginnings of the process of turning Madrid into a modern city date back to the mid 19th century. The model assumed organised city space facilitating circulation of goods and people as well as entertainment (of the higher classes) in their free time. The author of the design to make Madrid greater was Carlos Maria de Castro, an urban engineer. The plans were prepared in 1857-60. They assumed establishment of a network of boulevards with several radial squares. This design was only partially executed. In line with Castro’s design, the city almost tripled, from 800 sq m to 2294 sq m. The new district soon surrounded the old centre from three sides: North, North-East and South. The industrialisation process in Spain started in the 1930s. Its effects were already noticeable in mid 19th century, primarily in the social hierarchy. That was the time when the first great fortunes of Castilian financiers were made. This was the sphere where the concept of “new Madrid” arose. The city was modernised on their initiative and from their money. However, it should be added that the bourgeoisie perceived the political and cultural centre primarily in France. Paris was supposed to be a model for Madrid.
In the second half of the 19th century the population of Madrid increased gradually, circa 1850 the city had more than 200,000 citizens, whereas at the end of the century the population of Madrid was 539,000. The hierarchical division of the city, noticeable already in Castro’s plan, became established in this period. The best and most elegant part of Madrid at the end of the 19th century was the neighbourhood of the Cibeles square and two avenues: Recoletos and Castellana. The aristocrats and the richest financiers of Madrid lived there and in the nearby Salamanca district. The new city centre was supposed not only to emphasise the power of state authority and the significance of the bourgeoisie, but primarily to enable the pleasurable spending of free time: walking down squares and streets, visits to theatres, shops and cafes. The introduction of visual layout was not limited only to the centre. Modern hospitals and “model prisons” were built at the North-West outskirts of Madrid in the second half of the 19th century. Cemeteries, for example the Eastern cemetery, were also set at the outskirts of the city.
Madrid was the head-quarters of state authority and administration, but also a place of great commercial transactions and financial operations. The capital city hosted the head offices of the largest banks, commercial, mining and transport companies. Similarly to state buildings, the Madrid architecture of a Great Capital most frequently applied the forms of academic historicism.
The turn of the 19th and 20th centuries in the capital of Spain faced the erection of many public buildings with sculptural and painting decoration of the “patriotic” iconographic program based on the “cult of many Spanish people” (scientists, discoverers and artists). Numerous palaces of aristocrats and the bourgeoisie were built at that time in Madrid. These urban residences received the most fashionable “architectural costumes”.
Key words: Madrid, 19th century architecture, reconstructions of European capital cities in 19th century