Palacio de La Moncloa before the Spanish Civil War

Facade of the Palacio de La Moncloa before the Spanish Civil War (photo taken in 1920).
Tribune of music in the Dining room of Palacio de La Moncloa before the Spanish Civil War (photo taken in 1920).
Main staircase of the Palacio de La Moncloa before the Spanish Civil War (photo taken in 1920).
Bedchamber of the Duchess, Palacio de La Moncloa before the Spanish Civil War (photo taken in 1920).

The Palacio de La Moncloa before the Spanish Civil War was the old palace before of suffer a damage during the Spanish Civil War, and after be rebuilt to the current Palacio de La Moncloa (being now the official residence for the Prime Minister of Spain) with a very far layout of the original.


The current Palacio de La Moncloa is heir to an ancient farmhouse, located in the middle of a vast agricultural estate, through which have passed marquises, dukes and kings.

It dates back to the first third of the 17th century, when Gaspar de Haro y Guzmán, Marquis of the Carpio and of Eliche, took the orchards of La Moncloa and Sora, which were located in the vicinity of Cantarranas stream.

At the highest point of the land, the Marquis ordered to raise a mansion, originally known as Palacete de Eliche and also as Casa Pintada, referring to the frescoes that adorned the outside walls.

Apart from this fact, little is known of the original appearance of the building, but presumably was designed with two floors and attic, as is clear from an appraisal conducted in the 18th century.

After passing through several owners, La Moncloa was bought in 1781 by María Ana de Silva, Duchess of Arcos, who undertook the first major reform of the palace, following the Neoclassical trends of the moment.

After her death in January 1784, the estate passed to her daughter, María del Pilar Teresa Cayetana de Silva, the popular Duchess of Alba portrayed by Goya.[1]

In 1802 died the Duchess, an occasion that was used by King Charles IV to buy the property, with the intention to annex it to the Royal Site of the Florida. Five years later it would add the Dehesa de Amaniel or de la Villa, next to La Moncloa, also acquired by the monarch.

In 1816 the building was restored by architect Isidro González Velázquez, who proceeded to its consolidation and the elimination of some ruinous elements, in addition to acting on the gardens.

During the reign of Isabel II in 1846, the entire property was transferred to the Spanish State. At first it was under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Development, until was taken the decision to create a museum, which was inaugurated in 1929. The adaptation works were directed by Joaquín Ezquerra del Bayo.

The Civil War (1936–39) meant the virtual destruction of the property. Being in ruinous state it was finally demolished during the government of Franco. In 1955 it was carried out its rebuilt, to be used as a residence for national and foreign personalities, mainly the heads of state that visiting Spain.

The project, signed by Diego Méndez, posed a layout very far from the original. Was devised a building of new plant, with which the old farmhouse of eighteenth tastefully it transformed into a palace of great dimensions, based on models inspired in the Casa del Labrador, de Aranjuez, with touches of the architecture of the Austrias.

Even were borrowed elements from other sets, such as the twelve columns of the old courtyard (actual Hall of Columns), coming from thecloister of the Archbishop's Palace of Arcos de la Llana, in Burgos.

With the advent of democracy, the current Palacio de La Moncloa was turned into the official residence of the President of Government and his family.


The following analyzes the evolution of architectural and ornamental of the palace from the last third of the 18th century, when it reached its peak, until its destruction in the Civil War, stopping briefly on the contributions of its principal owners.

The Duchess of Arcos, the owner between 1781 and 1784, put special attention on the interiors. The rooms were decorated in pseudoclassic style with abundant Pompeii and Herculaneum motifs.

To this period corresponds to the Cabinet of the Stuccos and the Dining room, dominated by a Tribune of musicians, and the sumptuous staircase leading to the upper floor.

In the next two decades, the Duchess of Alba continued the remodelation initiated by her mother, while embellished the gardens. The Garden del Cenador, the Pond of the New Fountain and the Pond of los Barbos were some of her contributions.

While her greatest contribution was the huge cave built under the palace, where was available a dairy to supply milk products to the House of Alba. This basement survived to the Civil War and in it Felipe González established his famous "bodeguiya" (a cellar).

For his part, Charles IV did not make too many reforms. Still, it was installed a mahogany staircase in the lobby and was enabled an office, for personal use of the sovereign, in one of the bedrooms.

In times of Joseph Bonaparte, it proceeded to the renewal of the decor. This task was developed by architect and painter Juan Digourc, of French origin.

With regard to the restoration of Isidro González Velázquez, his work was decisive for stopping the deterioration process in which was the palace, but also made some buildings of new fact, between them a House of Crafts.

But undoubtedly the most important restoration was developed between 1918 and 1929 by the Spanish Society of Friends of Art, under the direction of Joaquín Ezquerra del Bayo.

This performance was particularly thorough and pursued recover the appearance that the palace had in the 18th century, to be converted into a museum.

So much was this spirit in mind that, for example, managed to discover the Greek decoration ordered to perform the Duchess of Arcos to her bedroom and front bedroom, hidden under different layers of paint.

Special mention deserves the gardens of the estate, on which intervened in 1922 the prestigious painter and gardener Javier Winthuysen Losada.


See also



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