Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Visit to Madrid

We have just returned from a five day visit to Madrid and surrounding area.   It was a coach trip, so we did not have the opportunity to visit particular areas of Napoleonic interest.  But we did keep our eyes open for anything of interest.

On our first day we were exploring Madrid on foot, and entered the Plaza Mayor on foot.  As we passed through this attractive arch we noted an inscription stone dedicated to the Rising in Madrid on 2 May 1808

Next day we visited Segovia.   As far as I know nothing of particular interest happened here during the Napoleonic period.   We spent the day walking around the town, which is famous for its Roman Aqueduct and its Arab Fortress or Alcazar.   As we entered the grounds of the latter we found this impressive monument to the Spanish troops who fought against Napoleon.
Our best find was the Spanish Army Museum in Toledo.   We only had one day in Toledo, and we had to choose between a visit to the Cathedral or the Army Museum – the museum won.   It is a relatively new museum and is housed in the impressive Alcazar in the middle of the city.

We were delighted to find a special display of military models, many of them Napoleonic.  The figures were well displayed and we spent so much time on this display that we had to rush the rest of the visit.

Although it is a new museum, the permanent displays are not up to the standard of the special display.  We were very disappointed in the Napoleonic section.   It consisted mostly of paintings, plus a few exhibits which were poorly lit and the captions almost impossible to read.

The same was true to a large permanent display of model soldiers.   They were set in the wall at about waist height (perhaps for young children to see) and were poorly lit.  So it was impossible to see the detail or enjoy the painting.   The only similar large collection I have seen was at Kulmbach in Germany about twenty years ago.  That, by comparison, was well displayed.   The figures were all in dioramas, all well lit and all at head height.  A sort of platform was provided by each display for children to reach the required height.   What a shame that the Toledo was not the same.

In addition we were not allowed to take any photographs, and there were no postcards of the model soldiers available.  

The museum is well worth a visit, but what a shame that the model soldiers are not displayed to their best advantage.


  1. Military museums in our country are a complete disaster. Probably it has to do with the highly politisied army we have had in the not so long-ago past. Difficult to find an equilibrium. Next time you come to Madrid give me a shout and I'll give you a tour around the main locations related to the may 2nd 1808 uprising


  2. I would like to take you up on your offer of a tour of Napoleonic Madrid.

    The Toledo museum is a very impressive building, particularly the new part which shows he Roman excavations.

    They temporary display of model soldiers is also very well presented.

    But the permanent display, both model soldiers and Napoleonic period, were both very disappointing.

    Obviously a lot of money has been spent on renovating the building, what a pity that they did not present the exhibits in a more modern way.

  3. It will be a pleasure to drive around a brother of the blogosphere and wargamer collegue! ;-)
    Actually you can find my email in my own blog, so I'm totally serios about the offer.

  4. Next time we are in Madrid I will certainly contact you. It always interesting to meet a fellow wargamer, and I would like to see more of Napoleonic Madrid




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