Walking through Madrid’s city centre, between Cybeles Square, the Bank of Spain with its ¨golden ball¨ and the Buenavista Palace, also called, due to its current use, Cuartel General del Ejercito (Army Headquarters), there is another palace, more discreet in size, but surely, much more balanced and harmonious than its neighbours. It is the Palacio Linares; a beautiful example of Neo-baroque architecture, a good reason and a good excuse to tell you a few anecdotes ranging from the purely historical and artistic to the filmmaking and paranormal. Let’s go for it…
Should we start with the filmmaking? It is in this palace you are about to visit and also in its surroundings where the greatest part of the comedy ¨National Heritage¨ of the brilliant director Berlanga was shot, whom in 1981, chose it as the setting for the adventures and misadventures of Marquis of Leguineche and his crazy troupe.
Continuing with the seventh art, we can also tell you, that right next to here is the bar that the novel, and later taken to the cinema, ¨Stories from the Kronen¨ originated from. But don’t look for the Bar with the same name, it doesn’t exist.
What did exist in this place was the ¨Real Pósito de la Villa de Madrid¨, meaning, the grain store destined to alleviate the possible famines in times of poverty. And that was the use of this site until the end of the 19th century when the Marquises of Linares bought it from the city hall in order to build their luxurious Palace.
Perhaps we should briefly explain who this characters were, they appeared in the shadow of the complex network of monarchies, republics, restorations and industrial revolutions so common throughout the Spanish 19th century.
The queen Isabel II, the one that turned the country into a battlefield, was given a strange chance. After having been dethroned, expelled and replaced by a provisional government, she was given the opportunity to have her son proclaimed king. The answer as you know… or you can imagine: Alfonso XII
And with him a new Court arrived, formed by former nobles and a few not so nobles that had achieved their titles, fame and wealth, thanks to the political upheaval, together with the coal, steel and steam revolution. Indeed… what nowadays we would call the new rich, instead of pure aristocrats.
Our Marquis de Linares, Don José de Murga y Reolid, was one of this new nobles, who had made his fortune trading with the Americas and the railways… and finishing his position as economist, philanthropist and senator. In fact, he was one of the richest men in Spain back in 1858.
He came from a very wealthy family of Basque traders, he was appointed Marquis and Viscount by the short term King Amadeo de Saboya, he married Raimunda de Osorio y Ortega and it´s this, apparently normal, romantic and simple fact that takes our story to a new dimension; the unknown one.
Stories were told in the ¨mentideros de la villa¨, something like the social networks of the times but without tablets and around hot chocolate and cakes, that Doña Raimunda was, actually, Don Jose’s stepsister, result of his father’s love affair. It was also said that both lovers, when they found out about their kinship, they asked the Pope for permission to remain married. The latter, after getting paid for it, issued a papal bull or an ecclesiastical permission to suit the sinners in question, which meant they could hold hands now and again mixed up with loving looks. All of this without becoming sinners…
But flesh is weak and, according to the legend or the bad tongues, they allowed themselves something more than holding hands… as a result, a baby girl was born whom her parents, horrified for their sins, and maybe for what would people say, drowned her and confined her within the walls of the Palace. The legend continues and to this day there are some who say that the spirit of the girl walks around the halls of the Palace, singing children´s songs and calling her parents between sobs….
So, although the restored palace remains an architecture jewel, it’s full of decorative arts of the late nineteenth century, and nowadays is the headquarters of the House of America, it is your choice to go in, to see, to listen and to discover everything that it’s hiding between its four walls.