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  • In the center of Plaza Mayor, regally marching through throngs of people, is a massive cast-iron statue of the 17th century king Felipe III. Nowadays, if you look closely you'll see that the horse's mouth is soldered shut, but it hasn't always been like this.

    Not many people know that this spot hides a tragic story for hundreds of little sparrows. The statue was first cast in Florence by Juan de Bolonia and Pietro Tacca with the mouth slightly open. The opening was just enough for a small winged creature to fly inside, and that's just what the sparrows would do. They would perch on the mouth, and then fly deep into the bowels of the horse, lost, fluttering around for the way out. Sadly, when they finally found it they would realize that their wingspan was too wide to escape. And so sealed their fate, gobbled up by the noble steed.

    Hundreds of years passed with no one aware of the sparrow death trap. Until anti-monarchist protests in 1931, when a militant threw a small bomb into the horse's mouth. Suddenly hundreds of tiny bird bones filled the sky of Plaza Mayor.

    Restoration work on the statue by Juan Cristóbal after the Civil War sealed the horse's mouth, ensuring that no innocent bird would suffer the same fate in the deep, dark belly.
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