Historical City Centres and Traditional Building Stones as Heritage: Barrio de las Letras, Madrid (Spain)

Abstract

Traditional building stones are part of a city’s tangible and intangible heritage. Their conservation is essential to maintaining the integrity of historic city centres. Barrio de las Letras is one of the most historic and touristic neighbourhoods in Madrid, the capital of Spain. Social change over the last few decades has also contributed to the decay of its building stones. Fifty-eight percent of the streets in Barrio de las Letras exhibit interventions in the majority of the buildings that cover the original stone plinths, thus damaging the integrity of the stone of this neighbourhood. The plinths on the busiest streets suffer the greatest decay. The building stones of Barrio de las Letras are in a highly vulnerable condition. However, in recent years, there is a trend towards refurbishment with traditional building stones. This study aims to identify the building stones used in the plinths of historic buildings in Barrio de las Letras and determine their origin and state of decay. Mapping of all the stones that make up the plinths of buildings in this neighbourhood has been achieved. This investigation of materials can provide data of great interest for heritage studies, assisting in the provision of suitable conservation solutions.

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Acknowledgements

The authors are members of the Applied Petrology for Heritage Conservation Research Group [ref. 921349]. Authors are grateful to the Cristian Zapatero, a member of petrophysic laboratory of IGEO (CSIC, UCM) for creating the maps.

Funding

This work was funded by the Regional Government of Madrid, Spain, within the framework of the GEOMATERIALS-2CM [S2013/MIT-2914] programme.

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Correspondence to David Martín Freire-Lista.

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Freire-Lista, D.M., Fort, R. Historical City Centres and Traditional Building Stones as Heritage: Barrio de las Letras, Madrid (Spain). Geoheritage 11, 71–85 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12371-018-0314-z

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Keywords

  • Granite
  • Ashlars
  • Plinths
  • Conservation
  • Decay