The barrio of Sol, along with parts of the barrio of Palacio, includes large parts of the historical area called Madrid de Los Asturias that roughly coincides with the boundaries of the area of Madrid in the period of the Hapsburg dominance in the city.


Librería de Fernando Fé, once located at Puerta del Sol, 15 near where the lottery store now is, held tertulias. It also sold some lesbian themed materials, including the book Zeze by Ángeles Vicente. This location opened in 1907, having moved from Carrera de San Jerónimo, 2 where they originally opened in 1876. The store and its publishing house were bought out in 1929 by the first large Spanish publishing company, Compañía Iberoamericana de Publicaciones (CIAP)

Centro Hijos de Madrid was a school for orphans that opened on 18 April 1904. It was located at Calle de Alcalá, 12. Students included Lucía Sánchez Saornil, who enrolled around 1908 when her mother died.

Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando, located at Calle de Alcalá, 13, was founded by Royal Decree on 12 April 1752 as a national academy of fine arts; the school subsequently added a museum. Women were allowed to join long before other institutions in Spain were open to them. Lesbians who have attended the academy include Carolina Durán, Rosa Chachel and Matilde Calvo Rodero in the 1910s.

Cines Callao, located at Plaza de Callao, 3, was opened in 1926. It was and remains a popular place for all Madrileños to visit and catch a movie. During the late 1920s and early 1930s, it was also a place where lesbians would covertly have dates with other women. Among those lesbians taking dates there was Victorina Duran. The best day of my life is a documentary film made during World Pride Madrid, and follows the story of six people who attended the march from countries where homosexuality is illegal. A March 2018 preview of the film was held at Cines Calloa that was attended by Manuela Carmena and the film’s director Fernando González Molina. One of the stories told was that of Ugandan lesbian activist Ruth Muganzi. In her country, being a lesbian can result in up to seven years in prison and where others can murder lesbians with impunity.

Escuela de Artes y Oficios de Madrid was a school located at the Plaza de Jacinto Benavente and Calle de Atocha on the site of an old convent. Rosa Chacel was enrolled at the school to study drawing around 1910. She was only a student for a single year before transferring to the newly opened the Escuela del hogar y Profesional de la Mujer. It was also here that Carmen de Burgos took a teaching position in 1911. It was around this same time that de Burgos also started teaching the deaf and blind in the city, an activity she would keep up until her death. The building where the school once stood no longer exists.

Un sueño de la razón by Rivas Cherif is the first Spanish play to deal with lesbianism. It was performed by the theater group Caracol at Sala Rex, which existed only for only two years between 1928 and 1929, in a basement at Calle Mayor, 8.

Teatro Albéniz, originally located at Calle de la Paz, 11, opened on 31 March 1945 in a building designed by a number of architects including Manuel Ambrós Escanellas. Its opening created a new theater center in the city, with its heyday occurring in the 1970s. The theater ultimately closed on 21 December 2008. Lola Rodríguez Aragón organized an opera season there in 1946.

Calle San Bernardo, 44, is where Lola Rodríguez Aragón successfully organized her own music conservatory on the grounds of the old Conservatorio madrileño. The school officially opened on 15 November 1970 after several years of effort as the Escuela Superior de Canto de Madrid. It was officially inaugurated on 17 January 1972, with Rodirguez heading the school for the next eight years before an emotional farewell performance by students in 1980. The school continues to operate to this day and is open to Erasmus students to enroll.

Calle de Alcalá, 1, is building where the telephone company, now known as Telefónica, that Lucía Sánchez Saornil once worked for was located. She was eventually fired from this job in 1931 because of her unionist activities. Being fired resulted in Sánchez redirecting her energy towards politics.

Gloria Fuertes created a women’s writing group that met in the basement of Carrera de San Jerónimo, 5. Some didn’t like them in the space, and played loud games of tabletop football, shouting out goals in order to make it impossible for the women to work.

Café de Lisboa, located on Calle Mayor, 1, in the Casas del Corderos building, was an important literary gathering site in Madrid. It opened on 4 November 1875, replacing two previous cafes located in the same spot. Ownership changed in 1910, with new owner Arturo Rodríguez cultivating it as a meeting place for members of the press. Prior to that, he did extensive remodeling, making it a bright airy space. Unlike most cafes of the day, it had a ladies dressing table and a separate entrance for women. While the main part of the café remained dominated by men, it offered women their own intellectual space and slowly integrate over time for writers and intelligentsia, both male and female. Among the women who gave literary readings there was Gloria Fuertes. It closed in the late 1950s, being replaced by the restaurant Noche y Día, and then a succession of other hospitality related business. The most recent was McDonalds. Nothing indicates the importance of the place in Spanish literary history.

Edificio Sociedad Madrid-París is a building located on Gran Vía, 32 and currently occupied by H & M. During the Civil War, the Republican aligned Unión Radio Madrid was based in the building. In addition to broadcasting La Pasionaria’s famous “No pasarán” speech, they also broadcast Lucía Sánchez Saornil’s poem “Madrid, Madrid, mi Madrid” around 1937 as the city was being bombed by Franco’s forces.

Because of intense bombing during the siege of Madrid, Mujeres Libres moved their offices from Gran Vía to a private home on Calle de Diego de León. Mujeres Libres was anarchist women’s union co-founded by Lucía Sánchez Saornil, Mercedes Comaposada and Amparo Poch Gascón. At its peak, the organization had 20,000 affiliates. It played an important role in educating women, teaching them a broad range of topics from basic literacy to sex education.

Librería Abril was a bookstore on Calle Arenal, about 300 meters from Plaza de Ópera. It was owned by Carmina Abril, José Gerardo Manrique de Lara and Pepe Hierro. It was inaugurated with a poetry reading by lesbian writer Vicente Aleixandre. Other writers who performed at the library included Gloria Fuertes, who after reciting a poem there in the late 1960s almost went to jail after a man denounced her for being a pacificist. This would have been difficult for the author because her homosexuality was relatively well known in literary circles, and the state could have punished her for being a lesbian despite her being discrete about her relationships.

Arantxa Serrano and Esther Olassolo were arrested on 23 February 1986 in front of Casa de Correos, which had served as the Dirección General de Seguridad during the Franco regime, and is located at Puerta del Sol, 7. The building had only formally changed its purpose a few days earlier. The couple, aged 23 and 21 respectively, were then detained for two days, and subject to police abuse which included a vaginal search. The police were found guilty of abuse of power, and were sentenced on 23 February 1987. The couple reported this abuse, and three years later, they won before a trial, winning financial compensation of 6,000 pesetas each.

Feminists in Madrid marched in protest of sexual exploitation, surrogacy and the proposed Trans Law on 23 October 2021. Their route started at Plaza de Neptuno and ended at Puerta del Sol. Several thousand women participated in one of the largest marches by women since the start of the pandemic, after the previous 23 Marzo International Women’s Labor Day marches had been denied permits by the government. One of the groups of women actively participating in the march were lesbians, who claimed that the gender self-identification components of the Trans Law were homophobic and lesbophobic. Many lesbians in Spain have been accused of being TERFs for excluding male bodied individuals from their dating pool. Some of this was reflected in signs, both by lesbians and other women in in attendance, including signs that said, “Terf es el nuevo feminazi” and “Ser lesbiana no es transfobia”.

Fundación Entredos, located at Calle del Marqués Viudo de Pontejos, 4, is a space for women to learn from other women. Classes and events they have run include yoga classes, writing workshops, cooking classes. Lesbians who have been involved in the organization include Victoria Virtudes. The foundation has marched in Orgullo Madrid.

Lua Les&Bi, located at Gran Vía, 40, planta 7, oficina 1, is a trans friendly pscyhology clinic for lesbian and bisexual women in the city. They use a integrative therapy , based on Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy. The women who founded the clinic had been catering to the pscyhological needs of lesbian and bisexual women since around 2005.

The Consejo de la Juventud, located at Calle Montera, 24, played host to the III Jornadas de Activismo LGTBI Internacional in 2020. The event was organized by Federación Estatal de Lesbianas, Gais, Trans y Bisexuales (FELGTB) with support from the Ministerio de Asuntos Exteriores, Unión Europea y Cooperación, in March 2020. The purpose of the conference was to share information about the persecution of LGBTI people around the world. Representatives from the European Parliament , ILGA World and All Out also participated, to assist attendees in understanding how they can be effective advocates for LGBTI rights outside Spain. Among the topics discussed was lesbophobia in Africa.


Café Varela, located at Calle de Preciados, 37, is a historic Spanish intellectual and literary cafe starting in the late 19th century and continuing well into the 20th century. In this period, it had high backed red couches, thin flowery columns and full moon shaped mirrors. In its hay day, women who gave poetic performances there included Gloria Fuerte. As Franco tried to silence regime critics by preventing gatherings of the intelligentsia, the cafe fell on hard times. It has since been replaced by Restaurant “Café Varela” which tries to maintain a similar style, though much of the original architecture disappeared when subsequent cafes operated in the space removed them. The current serves traditional Spanish and Galician food.

Marches, manifestations, demonstrations and parades

In February 1986, two women were arrested for having kissed in public. Lesbians in Madrid gathered at Puerta del Sol on 23 January at 8PM to protest the arrest on the day the police were to be sentences for abuse of power, and to proclaim their right to express their sexuality just like any heterosexual couple, even if they did not in general like such public displays of affection. They protested with prolonged kisses of other lesbians on the mouth.


Franco period (1970 – 1975)

                        During the Franco period, there were a few marches organized by lesbians in honor of Christopher Street Liberation Day in the early and mid-1970s.  These marches took place on a 450-meter-long route along Calle de Preciados between Puerta del Sol and Plaza de Callao, with around fifty to eighty lesbian marchers who were accompanied by a few gay men.

Spanish democratic transition (1975 – 1982)

            With Franco having died only seven months and five days prior, lesbians once again took to the streets on their traditional route along Calle Preciados to Puerta del Sol, on 25 June 1976. Victoria Virtudes, who had participated in the marches before Franco’s death, was once again present.

            Frente de Liberación Homosexual de Castilla (FLHOC) convened the first officially recognized and permitted Gay and Lesbian Liberation Day march in the city on 25 June 1978, with sources conflicting about the exact route taken, with one day a route along from Calle de O’Donnell to Torre de Valencia, a second saying the march went from Calle de O’Donnell and along Avenida Menéndez Pelayo to Plaza Mariano de Cavia and a third saying it went from Plaza de Santo Domingo to Puerta del Sol. Estimates for the number of marchers are conflicting.  One put the attendance at 4,000, with another at 7,000 and third at 10,000 people. [1]

Socialist government of Felipe González (1982 – 1996)

            Lesbians pushed boundaries with Pride in the 1980s, moving the protest from Centro to Vallecas where they thought getting a permit would be easier than it had been in the late 1970s. They also brought a decidedly feminist, sometimes radical feminist, perspective to Pride that had been absent from it before.

            Little information is known about Pride in 1985, 1989, 1990 and 1992.  Generally, at this time, the Pride march took place on the last Sunday in June, though sometimes the second to last Sunday in June. These marches are only spoken about in generalities like the route was “de la Plaza de Santo Domingo hasta Sol” and that very few people attended them.[2]

            Pride was convened by COGAM for the first time in 1987, with COGAM as the sole conveners.  It is another year where little is known of the exact march route as during the late 1980s and early 1990s, the Pride march had a quasi-clandestine route that generally ended in a central location like Puerta del Sol.  What is known is the route did actually end in Puerta del Sol as that year was the start of a regular tradition for a number of years of ending the march with a kissing event as an act of protest of the 19 September 1986 arrest of a lesbian couple arrested there for the same reason and accused of creating a public scandal. [3]

            Pride in 1988 took place on 28 June with around 100 participants on a route taking place from Plaza de Callao to Puerta del Sol via Calle de Preciados before participants finally dispersed into Chueca. Gays and lesbians continued their political demands that year, asking that the law discriminating against same-sex sexual behavior in the Spanish Penal Code be amended.  Compared to previous events, it was a more festive affair with brass brand marching the route.  There was also a kissing event at Puerta del Sol to protest the persecution of homosexuals by society and denounce the “persecución de la sociedad”.[4]

            Chueca began to play an increasingly important role in Pride starting in the late 1980s and early 1990s. With marches now taking place in Centro near Sol and Gran Vía, people slipped into Chueca after Pride marches where they flooded local bars and clubs.  By the mid-1990s, businesspeople in Chueca started organizing festive events to coincide with the march. [5]

            Five hundred people or so attended the 1993 edition of Pride, with a route that went from Plaza de Tirso Molina to Puerta del Sol. [6]

            Participation rates in Pride on 28 June 1994 was similar to the previous year, with between five hundred and one thousand people taking part in a route that started in Plaza de Tirso Molina and again ended in Puerta del Sol. [7]

            COGAM moved the march away from the Stonewall date of 28 June in 1995 to a weekend in order to increase participation, scheduling it for Saturday 24 June of that year.  COGAM also successfully asked the government for a change in route with a starting point at Puerta de Alcalá and ending at Puerta del Sol. This new route would be used each year until 2003. These were symbolically important streets in the city.[8]

Conservative government of José Maria Aznar (1996 – 2004)

            Pride in 1996 was convened once again by COGAM followed the same route as the previous year from Puerta de Alcalá to Puerta del Sol and continued to take place on a weekend, with an attendance between one, two or three thousand people on a day with 30 C / 86 F degree temperatures.[9]

            Pride 1998 continued along the same route that started in Puerta de Alcalá and ended in Puerta del Sol, taking place on the last Saturday of the month, 28 June.  With ten thousand people participating, it was one of the biggest marches in years.[10]

            Celebrating thirty years since the Stonewall riots in New York City, Pride in 1999 saw between 30,000 and 200,000 people participate in Pride and its connected activities in 1999, with the march route continuing its carnival type atmosphere between Puerta de Alcalá to Puerta del Sol. [11]

            Change happened with Pride in the period between 2000 and 2020, with eight different routes and one cancellation, with the most frequent route being between the Puerta de Alcalá and the Plaza de España, passing through Gran Vía. From 2000 to 2013 with the exception of 2005, the Pride march route traversed along Gran Vía.

Between seventy and one hundred thousand people marched on the 1.4 kilometer the 2000 Pride route between Puerta de Alcalá and Puerta del Sol.  COGAM had once again convened the march, which featured a number of politicians leading it. Temperatures were in the 40Cs / 100Fc during most of Pride Week and during the march. 

Pride participation more than doubled from the previous year, with an estimated 350,000 people participating in the march in 2002, one that followed the same route along Gran Vía.

Socialist government of José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero (2004 – 2011)

With the routing deviating from previous years and going from Puerta de Sol to Plaza de Callao this year, some 500,000 people turned out to march in Pride 2004. [12]

Pride 2007 had a route that started in Puerta del Sol or Puerta de Alcalá[13] and ended in Plaza de España, chosen because it was longer and could accommodate more participants.  There were more than a million participants in Madrid’s 2007 Pride celebration.

            Bloque Alternativo took place in 2007, formed by LTGBQ groups in the city.  It was the second time the group had presented an alternative Pride event, having done so in 2006. After the group failed to take the stage at the official Madrid Pride event, the group reformed at the corner of Plaza de España and Cuesta de San Vicente and around 400 people headed up Calle de Leganitos, then towards Plaza de Santo Domingo where they stopped for around an hour before heading along Calle de Jacometrezo in the direction of Plaza de Callao through Caballero de Gracia, after crossing Gran Vía. The group reached the Fangoria bus, and unfurled a banner saying, “Our rights are not business.” They then impeded the progress of Fangoria by sitting in front of their bus for fifteen minutes before finally dispersing.[14]

The route for Pride 2008 started on Plaza de la Independencia, continue along Calle de Alcalá, crossing Plaza de Cibeles, continuing along Gran Vía and ending in Plaza de España. Ahead of the parade, traffic was cut at 5:00 PM at Calle de Alcalá, starting at Plaza de la Independencia and Cibeles.  Fifteen minutes later, traffic was cut at Paseo de la Castellana, Paseo de Recoletos, Glorieta de Atocha, paseo del Prado, Calle Serrano at Goya and calle Alfonso XII. At 5:30 PM, traffic was cut at Gran Vía, Calle Princesa and Plaza de España.

            CRECUL organized their own march for Pride 2008, Marchas por la Visibilidad Lésbica, something which they repeated the following year. The route went from Puerta del Sol to Plaza de Callao along Calle Preciados. These marches, attended by only around fifty people, had limited success in terms of gaining media attention to issues that mattered to lesbians. Bloque Alternativo de Liberación Sexual and ESAP joined CRECUL. [15]

Madrid Pride 2009 festivities continued to feature lots of pictures of scantily dressed gay men, who were often featured in media representations of the event. With a motto for Pride 2009 of “Escuela sin armarios”, the route went from Calle de Alcalá to Gran Vía.

Asamblea Orgullo Migrante LGTBQ organized their own Orgullo event in 2009, with events taking place on 27 and 28 June, including a history of LGTBQ migrant session at Patio Maravillas located at Calle Acuerdo, 8, a manifestación with the motto, “Con fronteras no hay Orgullo”[16] at Plaza de Jacinto Benavente, a workshop on resistance strategies and several partying and social events.

            Orgullo Indignado organized their own Pride march in 2011, taking place on 25 June with a route from Plaza de Lavapíes to Puerta del Sol

Conservative government of Mariano Rajoy (2011 – 2018)

            The 2012 Pride march was convened by FELGTB and COGAM, and began on with a large firecracker going off at Puerta de Alcalá at 6:00 PM and ended at Plaza de España, traversing to Plaza de Cibeles and Gran Vía along the route. Banners displayed by participants at the march included ones that said “Amarse entre iguales no es tan diferente”, “Vamos de culo, por fin con orgullo”, “Estado laico igualitario”, “Homofobia es machismo”. More than a million people, up to around 1.2 million people participated in the 6-hour long march. [17]

The original proposed route for Pride in 2014 by FELGTB and COGAM was again Puerta de Alcalá and its passage through the Gran Vía to the Plaza de España, which had been the historical route for around a decade; this was rejected by the Madrid government for safety reasons.

            The outdoor stages for Pride in 2014 included ones at Plaza de Callao, Plaza del Rey, the merger of Chueca and Calle Pelayo and the inclusion for the first time of one in Plaza de Colón.

            Critical Pride took place again in 2014, with around five hundred marchers. Their march started in Plaza Antón Martín and ended at Plaza de Alonso Martínez, where a manifesto was read. The march traversed Calle Atocha, Plaza de Jacinto Benavente, Calle Carretas, Puerta del Sol, Calle Montera, Calle Fuencarral, Calle Infantas, Calle San Bartolomé, Calle Augusto Figueroa, Plaza Chueca, Calle Gravina and Calle Hortaleza.

            Rick Astley performed “Never gonna give you up” at Plaza de Callao as part of the 2015 Gay Pride.

            Arcópoli Asociación LGTB published a manifesto in honor of Pride festivities in Madrid in 2015.  The manifesto made several LGTB class specific mentions, including two about bisexuals, four about trans and one about cis people.  No other classes were mentioned. This statement was published by the Ayuntamiento Parla in 2016.

            The Consejo de la Juventud de España, located at Calle Montera, 24, published an institutional statement in support of Pride in 2016, mentioning bisexuals four times, transgender people four times and no other members of the remaining LGTB classes. The word lesbians did appear, but only as part of a list of all members of the collective.

            The best day of my life is a documentary film made during World Pride Madrid, and followed the story of six people who attended the march from countries where homosexuality is illegal. A March 2018 preview of the film was held at Cines Callao that was attended by Manuela Carmena and the film’s director Fernando González Molina. One of the stories told was that of Ugandan lesbian activist Ruth Muganzi. In her country, being a lesbian can result in up to seven years in prison and where others can murder lesbians with impunity.

Socialist government of Pedro Sánchez (2018 – 2023)

            Malasaña, La Latina, Lavapiés and Madrid de Los Austrias were all hosting Pride festivities in 2018 in addition to those found in Chueca.

            Arcópoli Asociación LGTB published a manifesto in honor of Pride festivities in Madrid in 2020.  The manifesto made several LGTB class specific mentions, including three about lesbians, three about bisexuals, and six about trans people. It also mentioned women twice and cis people once.  The previous year, in 2019, their manifesto had included one mention of lesbians, one about bisexuals and three about bisexuals.  No other classes or sex classes were mentioned.

            Arcópoli Asociación LGTB were the eighteenth in the march order at the 2022 Pride parade, behind a banner reading, “Frente a su odio, nuestra historia”[18].

            Partido Animalista Con el Medio Ambiente (PACMA), located at Calle Preciados, 11, were the sixty-sixth in the march order at the 2022 Pride parade, behind a banner reading, “Contra la discriminación. Ni homofobia, ni racismo, ni especismo, ni sexism.”[19]

[1] (Vázquez Fernández, 2020; Jana, 2020)

[2] (Berzal de Miguel, 2020; El País, 1986)

[3] (Enguix Grau, “Nos defilamos, nos manifestamos”: Activismis y manifestaciones LGTB en España, 2017)

[4] (Enguix Grau, “Nos defilamos, nos manifestamos”: Activismis y manifestaciones LGTB en España, 2017; moscas de colores, 2014; Medialdea, 2018; Sainz, 2018)

[5] (Santaeulalia, 2011)

[6] (BERZAL DE MIGUEL, 2020)

[7] (Berzal de Miguel, 2020; moscas de colores, 2014; Sainz, 2018)

[8] (Enguix Grau, “Nos defilamos, nos manifestamos”: Activismis y manifestaciones LGTB en España, 2017; Berzal de Miguel, 2020; Villena Espinosa, 2020)

[9] (moscas de colores, 2014; Berzal de Miguel, 2020)

[10] (Sainz, 2018; Berzal de Miguel, 2020; Sainz, 2018)

[11] (Berzal de Miguel, 2020; Sainz, 2018)

[12] (Enguix Grau, “Nos defilamos, nos manifestamos”: Activismis y manifestaciones LGTB en España, 2017; García Dauder, 2019)

[13] There is once again a conflict with sources as to what route was actually used.

[14] (Bloque Alternativo, 2007)

[15] (Bloque Alternativo de Liberación Sexual, 2008)

[16] English: With borders, there is no Pride.

[17] (EFE, 2012)

[18] English: Faced with their hate, our history

[19] English: Against discrimination. Neither homophobia, nor racism, nor speciesism, nor sexism


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