Wednesday, April 30, 2008

El Dos De Mayo....Madrid 1808, Guerra Y Territorio

Kicking off my summary of the exhibitions surrounding the Dos de Mayo bicentenary is this one at the Museo de Historia in the Calle Fuencarral. It’s a free exhibition and runs until the 15th September. The first thing you learn from the exhibition is the importance of good cartography for any military campaign. When Napoleon decided to take full control of Spain the only decent cartography that existed for the Iberian Peninsula concerned the frontiers and sections of the coastline; there were hardly any maps of the interior. Napoleon’s army counted with units whose job it was to survey the countries they were so busily invading and so it was that many of the first quality maps of inland Spain were a product of the French army. Even today many national mapping agencies are either part of the armed forces or have historical links to them.

Maps are the main focus of this exhibition, but there is also a fascinating scaled model from 1830 of the city of Madrid. The model really brings home the small size of the city 200 years ago bounded as it was by Retiro, what is now the area of Plaza Dos del Mayo, the Palacio Real, Principe Pio and the Puerta de Toledo. Some of the maps on display show the villages of Chamartin, Vallecas or Hortaleza lying quite clearly some distance from the city. In addition there is a visual guide to events in Madrid on the 2nd May 1808 showing how the day developed in different parts of the city. Even if you are not interested in cartography there are still interesting things to see here.

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