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The New Calle Serrano
Madrid City Mayor Alberto Ruiz-Gallardon inaugurated in late fall, 2010, the new look of Calle Serrano, after two years of reconstruction. Calle Serrano is famous for its stores in the swanky Barrio of Salamanca, the home of many wealthy and politically powerful Madrileños. Gallardon is known for the rebuilding of Madrid, and Calle Serrano was one of his pet projects. The rebuilding of the street started from Calle Maria de Molina and ended at the Puerta de Alcala. One lane of traffic was removed and the sidewalk was increased in size. The sidewalks have new attractive paving, which is smooth, yet anti-skid. Many new trees were planted, so now there are a total of 2300 trees. There are new asymmetric wooden benches along the street for people to take a rest. Underneath the street, there is going to be a new parking garage with 3297 parking spaces. Many of these will be assigned to residents, but there will be many for visitors too. The sidewalk also has a bicycle path. The part reconstructed is 3.1 km long.
The street will be touted by Madrid as the Fifth Avenue of Madrid. There are a large number of banks on the street. There are at least 40 jewelry stores too. International designer boutiques and very expensive clothing stores abound on the street. One can find a large variety of stores selling shoes and women's purses. One writer says that the devil has designed the store's windows and stocked the stores to tempt any passerby. What makes the street special are the very many beautiful buildings with remarkable architecture on the street.
The street was named after Francisco Serrano y Dominguez, the first Duke of la Torre. He lived between 1810 and 1885, and was born on the Isla de Leon in the Province of Cadiz. He was a soldier and statesman, and last president of the First Republic. He lived at Calle Serrano, 14.
There are many interesting stores and museums on this street, and not all of them are expensive.
Number 6 is the home of Mallorca, a coffee shop that has many delicious desserts, chocolates, and other goodies. This chain has many stores in Madrid.
Number 13 is the home of the National Archaeological Museum. This museum is open while remodeling takes place. Queen Isabel II founded the National Archaeological Museum in 1867. The most famous exhibit is the beautiful bust of La Dama de Elche, a wealthy Iberian woman who lived in the 5th century BC. This is considered the jewel in the crown of Iberian art. She was found in a garden in Elche in Alicante in 1897. She wears large wheel shaped head pieces and very large jewelry. She is powerful, serene and hypnotic. Her gaze is enigmatic through her almond shaped eyes. The sculpture is 56 cm tall and is painted limestone. Salvador Dali called her “the most beautiful woman of the world”.
Another similar statue is the Dama de Baza, found in an Iberian cemetery in Cerro de Sanctuario near Baza in 1971. This statue is 1.3 meters high and is made in soft limestone. There are also Visigothic gold crowns that were discovered in 1859 near Toledo, and these date back to the 8th century. The Islamic collection is very good and they have 7 huge ceramic vases that came from Andalucia.
Number 14 is the home of Alvarez Gomez, a perfumery that was started in 1899, and where many famous people buy their perfume.
Number 18 is the home of Musgo. This is part of a chain that has inexpensive prices for home decoration and women's fashion and accessories. It has another store at Serrano, 61, at the ABC Mall.
Number 47 is the home of the home store of El Corte Ingles. The ground floor sells books.
Number 52 is the home of El Corte Ingles, a department store that sells fashion for men and women, shoes, jewelry, and perfumes. At the basement is a very good supermarket.
Number 54 is the home of Guante Varade, a small store that has been selling gloves since 1902.
Number 56 is the home of Santa, a small store that sells a very wide variety of gourmet chocolates.
Number 61 is the home of the ABC Serrano Centro Comercial, a mall that sells fashions, shoes, children's clothes, jewelry, handbags, and a wide variety of goods. At the ground floor there is a cafeteria.
Number 75 is the home of the US Embassy, which provides services for the thousands of American citizens who live in Spain and provides visas for other nationalities that want to visit the USA.
Number 86 is the home of Soloio, a small store specializing in men's neckties and women's scarves.
Number 89 is the location of Restaurante Jose Luis, famous for its tapas.
Number 122 is the home of the Lazaro Galdiano Museum. Dr. Jose Lazaro Galdiano lived from 1862 to 1947. He was an intellectual, financier, publisher and book lover. He accumulated more than 20,000 books. He also loved art and accumulated one of the best private art collections of Europe. His Spanish art collection was one of the largest and he regarded the collection as a search for clues to national identity. He married an Argentinian lady and built a mansion called the Palacio Parque Florido. He had no children and when he died he left his estate to the government. His house is now a museum.
On the first floor are the jewels of Galdiano’s wife. Many of the jewels have huge diamonds and represent the culture at the start of the 20th century. Most of the jewels are very beautiful and artistic. The first floor also has hundreds of objects d’art, all beautiful and historic. The second and third floors have hundreds of paintings. The ceilings are painted with beautiful allegorical frescoes, and rooms have beautiful Venetian chandeliers. Among the Spanish painters represented are Goya, El Greco, and Velasquez. Every room has a theme, such as English painters, Italian painters, French painters, etc. The quality of the art that Jose Lazaro Galdiano accumulated is impressive because he had the most exquisite taste of his time.
Among the collections are those connected with archaeology, ceramics, porcelain, arms, jewelry, miniatures, sculpture, paintings, silver, crystal, watches, fans, furniture, and miniatures. If one had an unlimited amount of money, one would choose what is in this beautiful museum. The best thing is that few people visit this museum and one can visit it in peace and quiet, the better to enjoy looking at the beautiful objects. It is like visiting the mansion of a prominent person of the past with wonderful taste.