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A Statue for Paco: The Beloved Stray Dog of Madrid



pero paco Madrid

In the heart of Madrid, on Huertas Street next to Paseo del Prado, stands a statue that pays tribute to a unique character: Paco, the stray dog who won the affection and admiration of the most influential intellectuals of the 19th century. This canine, who shared tables and discussions with figures such as Valle-Inclán and Pérez Galdós, is now immortalized by the Madrid City Council.


The Madrid of Tertulias and its Canine Protagonist


At the end of the 19th century, Madrid was a hub of ideas and debates, with epicenters in Café de Fornos, Teatro Apolo, Café Suizo, and the bullring on the road to Aragón. In these places, writers, journalists, and thinkers exchanged ideas and experiences. Among them was a dog with no known owner, wandering the streets in search of food and company: Paco.


From Stray Dog to Madrid Icon


Paco was a stray dog who, according to chronicles, had no fixed home but many friends. His territory spanned from La Tabacalera in Lavapiés to Calle de Alcalá, and in every corner of the city, he found a friendly hand offering food and affection. Over time, Paco became a symbol embraced by all Madrileños, earning the nickname “the bullfighting dog” due to his frequent presence at the Madrid bullring.


On June 21, 1882, Paco met his tragic end in the bullring, after being gored by a novice bullfighter when he jumped into the arena. This event only cemented his legend further, with a massive farewell reflecting the city’s affection.


Recognition of an Urban Hero


Paco’s story was revived by two merchant associations: Nuevo Rastro and Barrio de las Letras. These associations fought to commemorate the famous dog with a statue. Finally, Paco received his well-deserved tribute in the form of a sculpture inaugurated at number 71 Huertas Street. The figure, designed by Madrid artist Rodrigo Romero, is a faithful representation of the dog, with details that reflect his character and presence.


More Than a Statue: A Symbol of Valor


The unveiling of Paco’s statue took place during the San Antón festivities, patron saint of animals, attended by Madrid’s mayor, José Luis Martínez-Almeida. This monument not only remembers Paco but also seeks to highlight the importance of dogs in urban life. Inspired by the figures of Hachiko in Tokyo and Balto in New York, Paco’s statue joins the list of tributes to animals that left a mark in history.


The Legend of Paco Continues


Paco was much more than a stray dog; he was a character who lived among the great writers and thinkers of his time, a regular visitor of Teatro Apolo and the bullring. His life, which began like any other stray dog’s, transformed into a series of adventures that made him known and loved by the entire city. From his christening at Café de Fornos, sponsored by the Marquis of Bogaraya, to his tragic end in the bullring, Paco lived a life worthy of legend.


Today, his statue on Huertas Street not only commemorates his life but also perpetuates his memory, reminding all Madrileños and visitors that kindness and affection can transform lives, even that of a simple stray dog. Paco, the most famous dog in Madrid, continues to be a symbol of the city, an eternal figure living in the hearts of all who know his story.


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