Campo del Moro

A military field from medieval times to Franco

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The Campo del Moro, Moor’s Field, now the great expansive park that sweeps below the west side of the Royal Palace, was the hardest side of Muslim Madrid to attack. As such, Muslims posted fewer sentinels on the western wall. It was this side that a nimble young boy in 1083 scaled, securing a rope for Alfonso VI’s men to climb up and surprise the Muslims. Later nicknamed El Gato, The Cat, this one boy is attributed with carrying out the deed that led to the fall of Muslim Madrid.

Fast-forward many centuries to the Civil War (1936-1939) and it was from the Campo del Moro that Nationalist forces under Franco frequently besieged the city. Madrid was a Republican stronghold and the capital held its ground for two and a half years until it was impossible to hold Franco and his followers any longer and the city fell.

The main reason the Campo del Moro was a battleground was that, like its medieval existence, it was less inhabited, easy to set up camp on, and simultaneously, harder to conquer. Perhaps both sides hoped to keep the death toll of citizens to a minimum. That intention was severely compromised as the siege continued for another two years. When Franco took the city, he showed no mercy and ordered the execution of hundreds of thousands.

At A Glance

Campo del Moro

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