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Discover Madrid's 2nd of May with Spain Walking Tours

Updated: Apr 25



dos de mayo Madrid

Have you ever wondered what lies behind Community of Madrid Day? Every year, May 2nd marks a special day in the region, but what is the history behind this celebration? Join us on a journey through time as we explore the events that gave rise to this commemorative date.


Historical Context


Let's go back to 1807, when French troops occupied Madrid under the command of General Murat in 1808. In the same year, Fernando VII abdicated in favor of José Bonaparte, sparking outrage among the people of Madrid. On May 2nd, 1808, tensions erupted as Madrileños gathered in front of the Royal Palace, resisting the French attempt to take away the remaining members of the royal family in Madrid (Infanta Maria Luisa and Infante Francisco). The violent popular reaction unleashed a fierce struggle against foreign occupation that spread throughout the city.


Despite the superiority of the French forces, the resistance was brave and relentless. The Puerta de Toledo, the Puerta del Sol, and the Monteleón Artillery Park witnessed heroic confrontations. Among the insurgent leaders were Captains Luis Daoíz and Pedro Velarde, whose sacrifice in Monteleón Park inspired others to join the fight.


However, the passivity of the Spanish military was notable. While the people fought with knives, sticks, and stones, they remained quartered, except for the brave gunners of Monteleón Park who joined the insurrection.


Manuela Malasaña


During those days, Manuela Malasaña became famous, a 17-year-old seamstress whose courage and sacrifice made her a symbol of resistance during the May 2nd, 1808 uprising in Madrid.


Manuela Malasaña was in the wrong place at the wrong time when she encountered a French patrol in Plaza del Dos de Mayo. According to reports, these soldiers seemed to be attempting to abuse her. However, far from succumbing to fear, Manuela showed unwavering bravery. Armed only with the scissors of her profession as a seamstress, she boldly confronted the soldiers during the inspection. Her act of resistance not only distinguished her as an example of courage but also inspired others to join the fight for freedom.


The tragic death of Manuela Malasaña in Plaza del Dos de Mayo consecrated her as a heroine of the uprising. Today, the neighborhood of Maravillas, which was Manuela's neighborhood, has dedicated a street to her, and the neighborhood is popularly known as "Malasaña."


Goya's Paintings


The subsequent repression was relentless, marked by shootings and executions. The tragedy of May 2nd was immortalized by Francisco de Goya in his famous paintings "The Charge of the Mamelukes" and "The Third of May Executions," which are housed in the Prado Museum.


In the painting "The Third of May Executions," French soldiers are shown with their backs turned, aiming towards the right, where the Madrid residents condemned to death are. The scene is imbued with drama and tension, highlighted especially by the use of light, which illuminates the heroes and allows their characters and attitudes to be distinguished. Additionally, it is significant that in the background, the Royal Palace and the Cathedral of Madrid can be glimpsed among the shadows, which many interpret as a reflection of the passivity of the monarchy and the Church in the face of the sacrifice of the people of Madrid.


Enjoy and explore Madrid at your own pace with Spain Walking Tours apps


Today, the memory of the heroes of May 2nd lives on in the streets of Madrid. With Spain Walking Tours, you can follow in the footsteps of these brave individuals and discover the lesser-known but equally fascinating corners of the city. Would you like to explore the history of Madrid for yourself? Download the Spain Walking Tours apps and start your adventure today. You won't regret discovering the living history of this vibrant city!

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