The Casa del Ayuntamiento was designed by the well-known architect Juan Gómez de Mora in the 1640s but was only completed in 1696, long after he had died. The building then served as Madrid’s administrative headquarters from 1696 to 2007.
The Casa towers up above Plaza de la Villa in Los Austrias, one of Madrid’s oldest districts. The plaza is a lovely place for a stroll and offers a great view of the City Hall's ornate exterior. You'll also see the statue of Admiral Álvaro de Bazán out in front of the building. If you're puzzled as to why there are two entrances to the Casa, the reason is that half of the building served as a prison for a number of decades. Naturally, the prison had its own entrance while the other led to the administrative quarters.
Every Monday evening you can take part in a free guided tour of four of the rooms in the building. These tours are given in Spanish and English. The first room you'll be taken to is the Plenary Meeting Hall. Try not to crick your neck as you gawp at the impressive Antonio Palomino frescos adorning the ceilings. The combination of 17th, 18th and 19th-century styles makes this an impressive first room to visit. You’ll also see the seats of council members here. You’ll then be taken through to the Atrium of Crystals, where you can marvel at the beautiful stained-glass skylight which displays Madrid’s coat of arms and the Puerta de Alcalá. This room also has busts of famous Spanish authors on display. The Reception Hall is next: here you’ll see a huge chandelier which was confiscated from a monastery, along with many pieces of art, including two vases that were presented to Spain by France. The tour ends in the Hall of the Carreta, where portraits of Madrid mayors through the ages are on display.
The Casa del Ayuntamiento is within easy reach of Plaza Mayor and the Royal Palace. If you're coming by metro you should get off at Ópera or Puerta del Sol.
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