The toilet of Fernando VII and his royal backside
The trip of the toilet of Fernando VII from Prado Museum to Museum of Romanticism.
If you ever thought that Madrid is a boring city you are completely wrong! This amazing city has a wide cultural offer, partly because of its museums and varied exhibitions. Today we are getting away from the most popular museums located at Prado Avenue to visit the Museum of Romanticism, nearby Tribunal metro station and among the pieces on display, we will highlight a curious one: a toilet! The toilet of Fernando VII!
This museum was an ancient neoclassical palace built in 1776, and thanks to its collection we can travel to the 19th century and get to know the bourgeoisie lifestyle and the main characters of that period in Spain. So, try to imagine the luxurious ambience, the masterpieces by Francisco de Goya hanging on the walls…but let’s forget all this, because today we’re not talking about Goya, we are going to focus on a special piece of furniture: the toilet of our “favourite” king Fernando VII !
Are you surprised or maybe a little bit disappointed about the subject of this post? Believe me, after reading it you will discover that talking about a toilet and body wastes it’s very inspirational.
Once inside the museum, we have to skip nine rooms of the palace to reach the room X whose name is “The Corridor”. It is dedicated to the male hygiene, and related to this, it is necessary to detail that even in the19th century the daily cleaning was not a priority, not even for the upper class. During the Romanticism, no one was shocked to find a washbasin in any room of the bourgeois palaces. Gentlemen used to have their urinals close at hand during the meetings and in case of urgency they just relieved their blader there, no matter where, just one condition: it hat to be out of the sight of their wives. It was at the end of the 19th when the bathroom was finally created and these types of activities became private and intimate.
Readers who have already joined one of our tours, may not be surprised at the lack of cleanliness aforementioned. But let’s go back inside the museum because one piece stands out in room X: the toilet of Fernando VII. In the 19th century there were some lucky people who had a toilet at home. Well… at their home or museums… after a few lines you will understand why I’m saying this.
The toilet of Fernando VII it’s an elegant furniture, armchair shaped, made out of wood decorated with bronze incrustations, all upholstered in gold. To sum up: it’s a toilet which invites you to sit on it, except for the hole in the middle of it, whose function is clear. Although it looks like a luxurious toilet, getting rid of the wastes deposited there was not different in a palace or in an ordinary house, as the clean-up had to be done by hand in order to take it out of your home. Imagine the stink!
However, the beauty of the toilet it’s not its most impressive quality because its former location is even more shocking! This toilet was conceived to be in one of the rooms of the Prado Museum! Concretely, nearby the room 39 close from Goya’s paintings, due to the bad relationship between the king and the painter. We have already warned you at the beginning of the post that we had surprises. Maybe you are now wondering about the relation between the Prado Museum and the royal backside of the King.
Let’s go for it: Fernando VII “the Desired”, as he was called in Spain, deserves a whole article because he provoked many historical tragedies, but we have something important to thank him. He was the one who had the idea of turning the ancient Natural History Cabinet located in Prado Avenue, into a Museum in 1819. But wait… he was encouraged by his second wife Maria Isabel de Braganza, it was her idea, but Fernando took the merit for himself, so if we think about it deeply… we owe him nothing! In spite of the brief mention to this king, here you have one of his portraits, made by Goya with affection…no, it’s not a caricature but just looking at it you can imagine how bright this king was.
The 39 room was formerly a place reserved for the rest of the Royalty and it had an attached room dedicated to the intimate hygiene of monarchs. The name of this small room was “Toilet of Your Majesty in the Royal Museum”. It’s a small retreat decorated with colourful marble tiles with naturalistic decoration. Although this decoration was ordered by Fernando VII, it was completed after his death in 1835 and the toilet was moved to the Museum of Romanticism in 1923.
We regret to inform you that, following the rules of Prado Museum, taking pictures inside it’s not allowed so we can’t show you how the small room of the Toilet looks like nowadays. But being optimistic, this will encourage you to get lost at Prado Museum trying to search for the room where the toilet was located and as well as for the exhibition of the Museum of Romanticism to see the magnificent furniture. Besides, if you’re looking forward to discover why Fernando VII was such a great king, do not hesitate and join one of our tours or find us at Puerta del Sol!!