Temple of Debod - The Oldest Building in Madrid

In this post, we want to tell you about one of the most exotic and mysterious buildings in Madrid: the Temple of Debod. Interestingly, this building has the distinction of being the oldest building in Madrid, dating back more than 2000 years ago. But here’s the thing. At that time, the city of Madrid didn’t even exist yet. So, who built this building?

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Origin of the Temple of Debod

Although it might seem hard to believe, this building was built in Egypt in the year 200 BC by order of the Nubian king Adikhalamani. The place chosen for the temple was the small city of Debod on the banks of the Nile River. Back then, Madrid didn’t even exist, and the place that the city stands today was very far away from civilization in those days.

Temple of Debod in Madrid
Temple of Debod | Image credits: Roberto Taddeo (Flickr / C.C.)

From its construction more than 2000 years ago, the temple was dedicated to the god Amun, also known in Ancient Egypt as the god of the wind and the “King of Gods”. It was believed that the mere mentioning of his name would petrify the crocodiles in the Nile.

Temple of Debod Madrid
Temple of Debbod | Image credits: migossan (Flickr / C.C.)

History and progress

Forgotten for 12 centuries, the temple remained intact until the 20th century, when the Egyptian government began construction on the Aswan Dam (1961). This dam had the essential function of preventing the constant flooding of the Nile that devastated their crops. But there was a problem. The construction of the dam meant that the Temple of Debod had to be destroyed, along with other historic buildings.

How did Temple of Debod get to Madrid?

It is at this moment when an international delegation made up of experts from different countries (Spain, Poland, United States, and others), in coordination with the Egyptian government, took action to save the endangered buildings. As a token of appreciation, the Egyptian government decided to donate some small temples to those countries that had collaborated on the endeavor. The Temple of Debod was taken apart stone by stone, and all the original inscriptions that had been damaged by floods were restored. Later, the blocks of stone were taken to the Port of Alexandria.

On June 6, 1970, a huge ship transported all the stone blocks to the Port of Valencia (Eastern Spain). Once there, trunks transported the temple to Madrid, where it was rebuilt like a gigantic puzzle thanks to a team of expert Egyptologists. The place chosen for the temple was a small hill near Plaza España (“Parque de la Montaña“), right where some of the bloodiest battles in the Spanish Civil War took place (1936-1939).

Temple of Debod Madrid
Reconstruction works of the Temple of Debod in Madrid (1970) | Image credits: Wikipedia (C.C.)

Today, the Temple of Debod is one of the most popular places for Madrilenians. In the evening, hundreds of Madrilenians and tourists alike gather there to see the gorgeous views of the city as the sun goes down.

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Temple of Debod: Useful information

-Opening Hours: From 1st April to 30th September: 10:00 am to 2:00 pm and 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm / (Saturdays and Sundays: 9:30 am to 8:00 pm / Mondays: closed). From 1st October to 31st March, 10:00 am to 2:00 pm and 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm (Saturdays and Sundays: 9:30 am to 8:00 pm / Mondays: closed).

-Price: Free admission.

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About Javier

Hola! My name is Javier Redondo, tour guide in Madrid for more than 8 years.
As a good "Madrileño", I love football (I support Atlético de Madrid), eating tapas and walk the cobblestone streets of old Madrid 🙂

This Madrid blog is where I share tips on popular attractions, local food and off-beat spots.

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