The Spanish Golden Age in literature is best remembered for one of the greatest novels ever written: Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes. This period is considered the most influential in the literary history of Spain because besides prose works it was also innovative in the media of poetry and theatre.
The man who revolutionized the theatre genre was the playwright Lope de Vega, who even wrote a manual in which he describes his techniques of writing a play. Today, all of his work is immortalized in the House-museum Lope de Vega in Madrid which was his home for 25 years.
Purchased in 1610, the house was Vega’s biggest source of inspiration and the location where he wrote some of his most prominent works. There is no room inside that doesn’t have shelves of old books that he collected during his lifetime. For fans of this period in literature, the museum is a must-see destination because it is one of the few houses decorated in the spirit of that time.
Unfortunately, besides being his inspiration, it was also the place where Vega suffered many losses. He lost his seven-year-old son and a few years later his wife died in childbirth. After their deaths, Vega became very religious and spent most of his time in his workroom hardly maintaining the property.
He gave his home to his granddaughter Feliciana who later passed it on to Luis Antonio de Usategui, the last owner of the Vega bloodline. Usategui lived there until 1674 when he sold it to Mariana Romero Rodriguez, a Spanish actress.
From the 18th to the 19th century, the house had many different owners and the interior underwent a lot of changes. It is said that the original structure could not be seen anymore because of the many renovations and refurbishing. Thanks to the biographer Alvarez Baena, the Royal Academy of the Spanish Language had guidance to renovate Vega’s home in its original glory.
Baena made many types of research in the 18th century and did many studies which were very helpful for the renovation. The museum project started in the 1930s, and the first room that was recovered was the writer’s working room. Step by step, the whole house was finished, and many of Vega’s personal items were returned here from several museums across Spain.
There are many books, a few paintings, and furniture in the house that belonged to him and are on display today. Visitors can admire the oratory and the amazing garden in the back of the property which Vega called ‘mi güertecillo’. In the kitchen, there is an old cooking place and bronze pots from the 17th century and the dining room has an astonishing wooden table with six chairs which were personally used by the writer and his family.
There is also a little altar placed in the entry hall with various sculptures of saints. It was made by Vega who became very religious after he lost his son and wife and called it the prayer room. The restoration was finished in 1935 and the same day when the museum was open to the public it was also declared a monument. Over the next few years, besides museums, private collectors also started to donate items that had belonged to the writer.
Another donation was from The National Spanish Library which gave many pieces on deposit in order to fill the bookshelves. There is a 45-minute free guided tour in which visitors can see how the upper middle class had lived during the Golden Age. It is one of the most visited monuments where many activities are held, such as exhibitions, cinema, and of course, theater plays.