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The secrets of Gobernador Street in Madrid

Madrid's Centro is the repository of a fascinating and often unknown history. Although some of the great events that occurred are public knowledge, there are other aspects about the most central neighbourhoods in the Spanish capital that are kept secret from the vast majority of passers-by and even the residents themselves. Today we will put our magnifying glass on the historic Barrio de las Letras or Literatos, one of the most pleasant places to buy a home in Madrid Centro. Declared a Priority Residential Area in 2008, the district is the most welcoming, as we can see in the enigmatic Gobernador Street. 

What is the secret of this street? The enigmas surround the historical person to whom the street has been dedicated. It was Julian de Picos who was the governor of Madrid at the end of the Middle Ages. He had good connections in court, which in the 14th century had still not settled definitively in Madrid (Valladolid, Salamanca and Toledo were much more important cities), Picos was a dark character with thirst for power. He didn't perform particularly well in any job he had (including the military), and was promoted in the Castilian royal bureaucracy as the governor of Madrid.

His work through this institution would not be remembered precisely for the materialisation of large urban projects or for the improvement of the quality of life of the city. De Picos would soon reveal himself as a dubious manager, squandering the money from the municipal coffers in many cases. However, the worst would not be the bad administration of the public treasury but the corrupt practices that would characterise its mandate. De Picos did not hesitate to get bribes and to favour those who had supported him in the past. It was not possible to reproach disloyalty towards his friends but towards the town of Madrid - yes, of course.

Madrid - madrid centro

Foto: © Engel & Völkers Madrid

There came a time in his government when the city's funds could not cover the committed payments, thus leaving the town in a bankrupt situation. As an added shock, the governor proceeded to raise taxes in a generalised manner, causing great discomfort to the people of Madrid. The increase in fiscal pressure went hand in hand with the dissemination of bad character practices, which were increasingly questioned by the people. De Picos responded to these complaints by taking greater control of public life in Madrid, ruling almost like a dictator and irremediably distancing himself away from his fellow citizens.

Finally, the pressure reached such an intense point that the King of Castile himself, Alfonso XI, had no choice but remove the unpopular governor from office. This would be, of course, one of the many episodes that would underpin the nickname of 'El Justiciero' with which Alfonso XI is known. However, the punishment for De Picos would go far beyond his dismissal and the notable fine imposed on him. Real rejection was shown by people, with large crowds going after the ex-governor, who had to leave Madrid after the demolition of his house. Nevertheless, the street that bears his name is an unbeatable option to buy a home in Madrid's Centro.

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