Intense heat throughout the Pope’s Spanish visit brought some impromptu measures.
At the huge military airfield where pilgrims gathered for Saturday’s prayer vigil, there was no shelter from 39 degree temperatures. A fire engine passed through, dousing the crowds with water.
Emergency crews were overwhelmed. By mid-afternoon nearly 700 people had been treated; 23 taken to hospital.
“I’m not sure if organisers anticipated this heat, but we’re outside at the worst time,” said one young woman.
There were long queues for water. Many crouched behind emergency vehicles or portable toilets trying to find shade.
“We’re now giving the water free to everybody, before they had to pay 1 euro,” said a young volunteer.
Some had already walked the 10 kilometres from central Madrid. Officials appealed to people to keep their hats on, use sun cream and drink lots of water – though the advice was hardly needed.