Although now it looks so modern, bear in mind that Carmen Square is in the heart of the old Madrid of the Asturias. So, of course, it has a lot of stories to tell you.
We should start with the famous brothel that was here in the Golden Age, and which was run by a certain lady called María de Peralta. It turns out that Felipe II ordered to demolish it and replace it with the Carmen Calzado Convent, probably to compensate one thing with the other and at the same time to give the Square a purer and more classic name.
But even with a convent there, that Madrid was full of dark alleys, vagabonds, hustlers and veterans of the Thirds of Flanders stumbling around and causing trouble in every street corner. They were all wandering around this area back in 1581, while King Felipe II controlled half the planet and around that time he was busy trying to add Portugal to his collection. You probably heard before what they said about him, that in his empire the sun never set.
We are going to stop in that year because the footfalls of the mercenaries boots were joined by the somewhat rough noise of huge hooves scratching the ground. And not the ground of this Square, but that one of the street that surrounds it: the Abada street.
Abada is a Portuguese word, and the explanation for all this starts with the trading routes that our neighbours had open in Asia and that was in the hands of Spain. Through them came spices and other exotic and unknown things to these parts.
So exotic that one day, the Contracting House of Seville announced to His Majesty the arrival at the port of a creature three times larger than an ox, armoured and armed with a huge horn on its head. It came from the remote Asian lands, and nobody here had ever imagined and less seen anything like it.
The beast was brought to Madrid for its exhibition, although the story becomes a little confusing between some versions and others. But it seems that in this Abada street, which by the way it means rhinoceros in Portuguese, the unbelievers were allowed to contemplate the little animal until the poor thing got fed up and began to attack and gore with everything that was on its way.
A story, of which the most practical ones will surely get a useful lesson: never put a rhinoceros on a narrow street full of people. The chances are, things will not end well…