There is no self-respecting mother who has not snapped at her children "you bring me down the street of bitterness". The same phrase can also be intoned by a person who suffers the insults of their partner or who, as the definition of the phrase is included in the dictionary of the Royal Spanish Academy (RAE), is simply going through a "prolonged distressing situation". . The meaning of the expression does not contain too much mystery, but its curious origin does.
Although there are currently streets and alleys of Bitterness in numerous streets in towns in Spain and America, the street of original bitterness seems to be located in Madrid, where other popular expressions such as "the boondock" or "be cooler than an eight".
To search for the origin of the phrase "you bring me (or take me) down the street of bitterness", nothing better than going to the chronicler of the Villa de Madrid, Ángel del Río. The journalist and writer left some thirty books on the stories, legends and secrets of the capital of Spain, being Madrid to die for... with laughter and amazement where the author entered the public thoroughfare we are talking about.
Actually, there are different versions about the origin of Calle de la amargura, although all of them are located in the vicinity of the Plaza Mayor.
We start with the most literal theory. Before the Plaza Mayor was a square, the Luján Lagoon was located in that place, so called because it is on the land of the Luján family. And on one of the paths that led to the lagoon a tall grass with a bitter taste abounded.
The other versions point directly to the current Siete de Julio street, between Plaza Mayor and Calle Mayor. In the times of Alfonso XI, in 1342, the soldiers who went to fight in Algeciras against the Arabs said goodbye to their relatives there. It is said that the sad images of the farewells pushed the Archbishop of Toledo to say: "This is the place of bitterness." And so the nickname of the street was coined.
However, the most widespread belief about the origin of the expression has to do with the numerous executions that were carried out at the time of the Inquisition. When the Holy Tribunal ordered the inmates to be executed by hanging or the vile garrote in the Plaza Mayor, the condemned had to first pass through that street on their way from jail. One last macabre, bitter parade.
Legend has it, later promulgated by the chronicler Pedro de Répide, that Rodrigo Calderón, a politician and soldier in the service of Felipe III accused of murder and witchcraft, uttered a few words that gave rise to the phrase: "Like Christ, you walk me ahead of the houses of its judges in this street of Bitterness".
According to the criteria of The Trust Project