We had a very early start at about 3 am with lots of loud chatting on the street below, about an hour later there was even more people below and more noise. By 5 am we gave up trying to sleep and Andrew googled if there was any special events today, turns out it was Spanish Constitution Day.
So what is Spanish Constitution Day? It is a public holiday held on the 6th December and celebrates the Spanish people’s approval of the constitution in 1978. After the death of Spanish dictator, Francisco Franco in 1975, a general election took place to convene a parliament whose purpose was to draft and approve the constitution. The constitution was accepted by the Spanish people in a referendum held on the 6th of December and then proclaimed formally by King Juan Carlos on the 27th of December 1978. The Constitution set out how the government would be run, its powers and the system that Spain would operate on.
We set off to continue our tour of Madrid beginning at the Basicilica de San Francisco el Grande only to discover it, like many other tourist attractions were closed for the holiday. We did however get a great view of the Catedral de la Almudena, which we had visited the previous day.
Top and bottom left: Catedral de la Almudena; Bottom right: Basicilica de San Francisco el Grande
We continued walking back to the San Miguel Market, which we had visited briefly the day before and where the kids enjoyed strawberries and cream and Andrew some white anchovies.
After leaving the market we headed down to see the fountains, by now the crowds had grown considerably and was somewhat reminiscent of Oxford Street at Christmas time, something Max and Ava have never experienced. In fact many streets were blocked off and there was a few small protest groups amongst the crowds. We did pass one of the many sweet stores selling marzipan and saw this amazing building in the window.
The first fountain was the Neptune Fountain which was commissioned by King Charles III, in an effort to modernise the city and was constructed between 1780 and 1784. Surrounding the fountain are many beautiful buildings many of which are now hotels. Because of Constitution Day events there was a heavy police presence and you couldn’t get very close to the fountain.
We wandered through the park, where the trees still have their autumn leaves and we are in winter now to reach the Cibeles Fountain. The fountain is a symbolic monument of Spain and is named after Cybele, a Phyrgian goddess, who I’m guessing is represented as the female in the chariot.
Cibeles Fountain with Linares Palace in the background
The Cibeles Fountain was constructed in 1782 and is surrounded by four beautiful buildings, the Buena vista Palace (the Army Headquarters), Linares Palace (the Casa de América cultural institution,), Palacio de Comunicaciones (which is now Madrid City Hall and can be seen in the photo below) and the Bank of Spain.
Bank of Spain and Palacio de Comunicaciones that surround the Cibeles Fountain.
I have to say the crowds did not thin and by evening it was packed and we were quite happy to retreat to our apartment after a late paella lunch.