Madrid Modernism

The Art Nouveau of Madrid never reached the same artistic level as Catalan Modernism. It remains relatively sober up to its demise in the 1920s – a fact that is not totally unrelated to the city’s Habsburg background. It is also very eclectic, remaining under the influence of the preceding architectural styles as well as being inspired by the contemporary trends in Catalan, French, Italian, Belgian, and Austrian architecture.

The portfolio contains ten outstanding Modernist buildings in the city centre of Madrid. Palacio Longoria is the most famous of them. Many others could be found in the city, also in the outskirts, where the Almudena Cemetery and the Colonia de la Prensa district – both important examples of Madrid’s Art Nouveau – are located.

I took the photos in April 2016.

You will find the locations of these buildings on the map below:


1. Palacio Longoria

Calle de Fernando VI 4 / Calle de Pelayo 61, Chueca
José Grases Riera, 1902-1904

Palacio Longoria is the most beautiful Art Nouveau building in Madrid. It was designed by the Catalan architect José Grases Riera for the politician and financier Francisco Javier González Longoria.

The façade of the building is decorated with soft, mostly vegetal ornaments. It has a round corner tower, hiding a staircase with a stained-glass dome, designed by the famous Casa Mauméjean. The L-shape of the palace creates a patio-garden on the other side. Its upper floors are supported by a column in the shape of a palm tree.


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2. Casa de Ruiz de Velasco

Calle Mayor 5, Sol
Francisco Andrés Octavio & José López Sallaberry, 1904-1906

This house was built for two textile entrepreneurs. Its architecture can be seen as a compromise between Eclecticism and Art Nouveau. The original plan by Francisco Andrés Octavio was traditional. José López Sallaberry turned it into Art Nouveau, adding the interlacing plants and undulating forms. The original symmetry and balance is still there.



3. Casa de Pérez Villaamil

Plaza de Matute 12, Cortes
Eduardo Reynals Toledo, 1906-1908

This building was constructed for an engineer. It has an asymmetrical façade. The railings of its balconies are decorated with whiplash lines. The staircase reveals the architect’s deep knowledge of the works of Victor Horta (e.g., Hôtel Solvay and Hôtel Tassel).



4. Edificio de la Compañía Colonial

Calle Mayor 16, Sol
Miguel Mathet Coloma & Jerónimo Pedro Mathet Rodríguez, 1906-1909

This building shows another combination of Eclecticism and Art Nouveau. Its façade is symmetrical but displays great dynamism and plasticity. The sculptural decoration is abundant, and there are many vegetal ornaments. The decorative elements of the façade were made by Daniel Zuloaga, who is also the author of the ceramic tiles of the upper storey, utilising motifs related to tea, cocoa and coffee. These were among the products marketed by the Compañía Colonial, to whom this building belonged. The façade is guarded by two lateral turrets.


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5. Apartment building on Calle Cava de San Miguel 4

Valentín Roca Carbonell, 1905-1907

This building, located in the Madrid de los Austrias, was constructed on the commission of the Duchess of Fernán Núñez, together with two adjacent buildings. Of the three, it is the closest to Catalan Modernism. Its stylised horseshoe arches are very interesting.


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6. Apartment building on Calle Cava de San Miguel 8

Valentín Roca Carbonell, 1908-1910

This is another of the three buildings on Calle Cava de San Miguel that Duchess of Fernán Núñez commissioned.



7. Casa Gallardo

Calle de Ferraz 2, Argüelles
Federico Arias Rey, 1911-1914

This French-looking building, located on Plaza de España, is the most famous example of the shift of Madrid’s Art Nouveau towards Eclecticism. Art Nouveau is more controlled here. The profuse façade decoration, ordered symmetrically, manages to create intense dynamism together with the corner dome. The voluted horseshoe arches adorning the central and lateral towers are unusual in European Eclecticism. On the corner tower under the dome stands a G, meaning Gallardo. The building was constructed for two Gallardo sisters, Esperanza and Asunción.


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8. Cine Ideal

Calle del Doctor Cortezo, 6, Embajadores
José Espelius Anduaga, 1915-1916

This is one of the oldest functioning cinemas in Madrid. It could originally accommodate 3,000 spectators. Since 1932, zarzuelas and other music shows were performed here as well. On its façade, a beautiful Art Nouveau stained glass can be admired. It is an allegory of cinema, and it is attributed to Casa Mauméjean.



9. Casa dos Portugueses

Calle Virgen de los Peligros 11-13, Sol
Luis Bellido y González, 1919-1922

Two adjacent buildings here were conceived as a single unit. One of them was commissioned by a financier. Its first three floors were designed as commercial premises and the fourth one as the home of the owner. The other, the headquarters of the Casa dos Portugueses, has a similar plan but it is crowned by a hexagonal tower with a slender dome coated with ceramics. The different uses of the building are reflected in the design of the façade openings: the commercial areas have large glazed spans, the private areas have smaller windows flanked by ceramic ornaments.



10. Edificio Simeón / Gran Hotel Reina Victoria

Plaza de Santa Ana 14, Cortes
Jesús Carrasco-Muñoz y Encina, 1919-1923

This is the most important late-Art Nouveau building in Madrid. It regenerates the old Eclecticism but uses an Art Nouveau formula. It was planned as a shopping center for Almacenes Simeón but now houses a hotel.


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