You will probably have spotted that Gran Via is home to Madrid’s grandest theatres and its most spectacular shows. However, what isn’t so well-known is that pulsating deep within the barrios of Lavapiés and Arganzuela is a thriving no-frills theatre scene, which emerged hundreds of years ago.
When you first glimpse Marivi Ibarrola’s casually composed photographs of Lavapiés in the 1980s, you feel as if very little has changed. But stare for longer and you’ll see some profound differences: the Tabacalera no longer emits smoke from its chimney, the anarchists have been gentrified out of their squats, and cinemas have been demolished to pave the way for the Lavapiés we hang out in today.
Have you heard about our mission to celebrate the Madrid that most people ignore? Well, it seems we’re not alone. Here are seven unique Instagram accounts that unveil an alternative side to our endlessly fascinating city.
An entire village was built to exhibit these unfamiliar people in their ‘natural habitat’, with thousands of curious spectators paying for a glimpse into their exotic world. Welcome to the darkest corner of Retiro Park: Madrid’s erstwhile human zoo.
La cárcel de Carabanchel, Europe’s biggest and most notorious prison until its closure in 1998, was built under General Franco’s watch. Between 1940 and 1944, every wall was raised and every metal door was fitted by the same prisoners who would eventually do their time here. None dared lay a brick loosely or leave a screw untightened – this prison was a star-shaped fortress, and nobody was escaping.
In the darkest days of Spain’s financial crisis, Catalina Lescano Álvarez and a team of unemployed women from Peru and Colombia set up a little restaurant in Madrid’s Oporto neighbourhood. Going by the name of Sabores del Mundo, it was a brave and passionate project with two key objectives: to create employment for immigrant women and to provide a filling meal every day to vulnerable members of the local community.
I’ve always been curious to see inside the Casa de Baños in Lavapiés, and the opportunity finally arose when we returned to our flat after a week away to find that the boiler had exploded. As you’d imagine, very little gets done over the Christmas period, so we were to embark on yet another fascinating no-frills adventure, and what an insight it’s been.
Sergio is the 4th generation of his family to run this kiosk by Opera, and just as his ancestors did, he stocks every national newspaper. There are no echo-chamber algorithms here – not even the positioning of each newspaper is strategic. At Sergio’s news stand, you can see how the rest of the world thinks.
Only under freak weather conditions may we ever see Madrid under a blanket of snow again, but it’s unlikely, however, as in just the last 44 years, Madrid’s average temperature has soared by 2.3°C. To understand how high this is, in the same time, the global average has risen by 0.4°C, which is already causing irreversible damage.
Inside the old lift shaft of a former brothel, we’re holding a 22-photo exhibition throughout the month of December. Each photograph displayed on these walls is connected to one of our articles, helping you explore Madrid’s less-beaten path.