The Chueca area is located in the Barrio de Justicia.
In the times when Madrid became the capital of the country this area was farmland, but as the city grew it was divided into plots.
Most of this farmland belonged to rich noblemen.
In this area many blacksmith opened their stores, and due to the sparks produced when they worked the iron they were called Chisperos (sparklers). These Chisperos formed a very popular group that used to be in trouble with the Manolos, another typical group formed by men who were maintained by women. As the Chisperos worked very hard, they despised the Manolos and at popular fairs there used to be fights and arguments.
In the first half of the XIXth century, the University of Madrid was located in calle San Bernardo, very near to Chueca and many students used to live in this area. Thanks to them also many taverns, shops, cabarets, theaters and even brothels were opened in Chueca and the area became very popular.
When the University was moved to where it is now, the area decayed.
In the 1960s and 70s it had a very bad reputation, as it was full of bag-snatchers and junkies. Due to this situation many people left the area and sold their houses.
This was an opportunity for young entrepreneurs who wanted to open their own business as the premises were cheap. Many designers started in this area.
It was also the time when many gays came to Chueca that was, and still is, a very open minded area.
Many restaurants, art galleries and design shops were opened and the owners demandedmore security in the streets.Thanks to them and the new inhabitants the whole area changed completely and has become a point of reference all over the world.
In July the Gay Pride Week takes places every in this area and is visited by about 2 million people.
As in other parts of Madrid, when the area was being populated, the noblemen used to build hospitals or convents where poor people were looked after. Some of them still exist, like the Convent and Church of the Mercenarias Descalzas de la Purisima Concepcion, also known as the Convent of the Gongoras, as it is located in calle Luis de Gongora.
It is a small church that can only be visited when there is mass or with a special permission. It was built in barrock style.
Another extraordinary building is the Longoria Palace, nowadays headquarter of the SGAE (authorÂ´s organization).
The architect was Jose Graves Riera. It was built in 1902 and is a sample of the catalan modernism. Another example of this arquitectural style is the Casa de Perez Villamil, but with more Madrilian character.
In Chueca area are three interesting squares: Plaza de Chueca, Plaza del Rey with the House of Seven Chimneys and Plaza de Vazquez de Mella. They are completely different and offer particular aspects of the area.
Quite near we find the parish church of Santa Barbara.