Cover image for Habsburg Madrid: Architecture and the Spanish Monarchy By Jesús Escobar

Habsburg Madrid

Architecture and the Spanish Monarchy

Jesús Escobar


$124.95 | Hardcover Edition
ISBN: 978-0-271-09141-9

Available as an e-book

288 pages
9" × 10"
117 color/26 b&w illustrations

Habsburg Madrid

Architecture and the Spanish Monarchy

Jesús Escobar

Winner of the 2022 Eleanor Tufts Award from the Society for Iberian Global Art

“A rich, thoughtful, well-written, and even entertaining read.”


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  • Description
  • Reviews
  • Bio
  • Table of Contents
  • Sample Chapters
  • Subjects
With its selection as the court of the Spanish Habsburgs, Madrid became the de facto capital of a global empire, a place from which momentous decisions were made whose implications were felt in all corners of a vast domain. By the seventeenth century, however, political theory produced in the Monarquía Hispánica dealt primarily with the concept of decline. In this book, Jesús Escobar argues that the buildings of Madrid tell a different story about the final years of the Habsburg dynasty.

Madrid took on a grander public face over the course of the seventeenth century, creating a “court space” for residents and visitors alike. Drawing from the representation of the city’s architecture in prints, books, and paintings, as well as re-created plans standing in for lost documents, Escobar demonstrates how, through shared forms and building materials, the architecture of Madrid embodied the monarchy and promoted its chief political ideals of justice and good government. Habsburg Madrid explores palaces, public plazas, a town hall, a courthouse, and a prison, narrating the lived experience of architecture in a city where a wide roster of protagonists, from architects and builders to royal patrons, court bureaucrats, and private citizens, helped shape a modern capital.

Richly illustrated, highly original, and written by a leading scholar in the field, this volume disrupts the traditional narrative about seventeenth-century Spanish decadencia. It will be welcomed by specialists in Habsburg Spain and by historians of art, architecture, culture, economics, and politics.

“A rich, thoughtful, well-written, and even entertaining read.”
“This lavish and splendidly illustrated volume is an important addition to the literature on Spanish architecture and urbanism of the early modern era in the English-language literature.”
“Jesús Escobar’s Habsburg Madrid is a new and original book on Spanish urban history and architecture, focused on the court and capital town in a way never addressed by Spanish historians.”
Habsburg Madrid is a lively read and will hold great appeal for the architectural historian and architect, both of whom will sense Escobar’s own excitement about his discoveries that afford this kind of detailed analysis for the first time.”

Jesús Escobar is Professor of Art History at Northwestern University and author of the award-winning book The Plaza Mayor and the Shaping of Baroque Madrid.

List of Illustrations

Preface and Acknowledgements

Notes on Documents and Sources

List of Abbreviations


1. Architecture and Grandeza

2. Monarchy and Governance: The Royal Palace, ca. 1620

3. Justice and Penance: The Court Prison, ca. 1640

4. Town Versus Court: The Town Hall, ca. 1660

5. Regency and Renovation: Palaces and Plazas, ca. 1680

Conclusion: Madrid of the Spanish Habsburgs

Appendix: Madrid’s Town Hall





Download a PDF sample chapter here: Introduction