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'If you can still remember it, you weren’t actually there.' This Madrid expression can only refer to one event: the cultural revolution that erupted after the death of General Francisco Franco. After almost 4 decades of a ruthless dictatorship, Spain was finally free. The capital of Spain celebrated this freedom with spontaneous street parties that grew into a cultural movement. Madrid was changed forever by the ‘Movida Madrileña’ (literally ‘the Madrid movement’).
‘I ask all my enemies for forgiveness’ – those were the last words uttered by Franco when he died on 20 November 1975. ‘Spaniards, Franco is dead’, declared the Spanish Prime Minister Carlos Arias Navarro, looking sad and defeated. Flags were hung at half mast on all government buildings; 2 days later, Franco's confidant and chosen successor Juan Carlos was crowned King. When the king unexpectedly announced reforms and the restoration of democracy, the people became ecstatic.
“The city relaxed closing times and subsidised new initiatives – anything was possible in Madrid”