Centro Cultural Conde Duque

You can listen to this piece of music while reading some information about the cultural center Conde Duque.


In the 18th century, when the bulding Conde Duque was built, reigned Charles III who was born in 1716 and began to reing in Napoles in 1734 and then became king of Spain in 1759 until he died , in Madrid, in the old alcazar of the Austrians in 1788. The type of government imposed by Charles III is called Enlightened despotism.

Spain, during his reign could show his power by the vast extent of its possessions and by the cultural and European tone that the monarch printed as the initiatives of renovation and, in general, to all the acts of State. Even to his errors, he was the most kindly dictator, and that is considered by all historians as an open parenthesis in the middle of the process of descent of the monarchy a prove was the rapid decline of so much prosperity as soon as he died.

The economy thanks to him, prospered a lot, while other countries lived in ruin, the death of Carlos III made the economy plummeted and make very difficult then the recovery of.


Baroque churrigueresco: churrigueresco came from a surname, Churriguera. The Churriguera were a family of baroque architects, whose works were characterized by their ornate decoration this term has been used to name the Spanish baroque of the first third of the 18th century. The term was also born with a contemptuous sense (bad). It is an asymmetric, irregular art, therefore not very aesthetic. The baroque is also characterized by its curved features, open spaces, fragmented and also decorative features. It was constructed in the early 18th century to lodge the “Reales Guardias de Corps.”


Who commissioned its construction ?

Felipe v commissioned  Marques de Vadillo to build a building which can lodge the “guardia de corps”.

“Reales Guardias de Corps”: It was a scort that Felipe V create the 21 of June in the year 1704 made to be protected both on horseback and on foot.


Pedro Ribera was the architect, in 1720 he was named as Ardemans and during his life he built important buildings such as the Bridge of Toledo, the Hospicio de Madrid (today Municipal History Museum) and the Churches of Montserrat, San Cayetano, San Antón and Del Sacramento.

Original and current function

It was a military academy, an astronomical observatory and part of the communication system that communicated Madrid with Irun, but a devastating fire in 1869 destroy part of it. But nowadays, it has stopped being a military and astronomical to become a cultural center with a large library. Also today, you can see old performances there, including an assembly hall.

Main architectural and decorative elements

An attempt was made to find a balance between the past and the present, leaving a record between the present and the past in the southern area, it is the only one not restored in the 20th century. On the façade, on the plinth, there is an inscription in Latin, motto of the royal bodyguards, in addition to the cross of Saint George of the order of Montesa, homage, to the last cavalry regiment that occupied it, recalling the past of the military building.

 The stone ornament placed in the 19th century was eliminated, now with new stainless steel exterior carpentry, and warm wood inside. After a long time, it was finally completely restored, including the observatory that it had in the 18th century, where one of the Torres de Castilla was located. The original and traditional Arabic tiles were replaced by cold plates of zinc, thus hiding the modern services of the building (light, gas ...) Except in the central patio, on the sides of the observatory where you still remain pretty tiles. Finally, the arches of half a point built on stone columns, of the old stables, under the iron beams, divided into 3 were restored.

Carlos de Riaño decided to leave the brick walls to remember the original barroco. Now the facades are covered by false similar painted trompe l'oeil thanks to the restoration and rehabilitation led by Julio Cano Lasso. 


exterior conde duque

State of conservation and restorations

Two fires destroyed, in the years 1859 and 1869, the roofs and much of the building. In the middle of the 10th century it was proposed to be demolished it because of its poor state of conservation, but shortly afterwards it was defended its restoration for public use.



In 1981, with the intention of restoring it, the architect Julio Cano Lasso carried out the corresponding project to convert it into a Cultural Center. Finally, between the years 2006 and 2011 the total rehabilitation of the building is carried out.




It's made up of quartz, mica and feldspar. It is known as an igneous plutonic rock since in ancient times we found in the depths of the Earth. It is usually used for facades and the paved of streets besides exterior for its resistance.


Is composed of large amounts of calcium carbonate, for its resistance to flexibility and impacts is quite high. Also is soft and with durability so is used for masonry and construction. Thanks to the fact that it also has low abrasiveness, they are easy to cut.



It is a piece of construction generally ceramic with rectangular shape, versatile for the handling of a single man. Being solid it has a lot of density, besides that it depends on the quality of the clay and the temperature that was submitted. Most of times have an red color.

Why did they used this type of material?

These bricks are resistant to the fire because it have made in a furnace at high temperatures so it helps to burn more slowly and the inhabitants of the building can escape with time . It is one of the reasons that the Conde Duke was rebuilt with bricks so, if he would happen again it will be more resistant. If the rainwater is in direct contact for 2 whole weeks it can be damaged, given that the brick has a lot of permeability. It can be damaged by condensation as water vapor, creating fungus, stains and characteristic snell that it produces.

Other type of materials



Concrete is used in most of buildings, bridges, tunnels and dams because had a great strength and resistance. It can support natural disasters such as hurricanes or earthquakes, proof of this, are buildings as old as the Roman Coliseum, which today still stand. It consists of a mixture of cement, sand, water and gravel or crushed stone. Also, concrete can carry some type of additive to improve its characteristics depending on the use that will be given to the mixture. Fire resistance is one of the best features characteristics of concrete, which makes this material one of the best options when reinforcing the fire protection of a building

Zinc is a bluish white metal that conducts electricity. Although it can be a fragile metal, at an approximate temperature between 100 ° and 150 ° C it becomes malleable, it has superplastic properties. The most frequent uses of zinc refer to metal alloys, for example brass, alpaca, bronze, German silver and soft or aluminum solders, among others. Being a material resistant to corrosion, it is used mainly for the manufacture of nails, wire, tubes and materials with steel. Decorations of this material are also usually found, since it does not affect the oxide. It is resistant to climatic changes and rain due to the little corrosion it has, but with the fire melts.