In one of Madrid’s many stark industrial zones, a Nigerian church provides an oasis of soul for its community. On any given Sunday, the area would be empty and silent, but for the rich gospel being performed to a lively crowd of parishioners.
They’re perfectly placed should you spontaneously decide to get your shoes shined, grab a bag of chestnuts or pick up a newspaper, but these gifts of the street are rewarded only to those who slow down. Allow yourself an extra five minutes to get to the nearest no-frills bar, and you’ll witness our streets come alive with a multi-generational community of micro shops.
For the past few centuries, Spaniards from all over the country have been packing their bags, saying adios to their towns and villages and setting sail for the big city. When they arrive in Madrid, they disperse into many different lines of work, but there’s one business over any other that harks back to the most recent migration boom. You guessed it: Madrid’s no-frills bars.
Five years ago, Mercado San Fernando was close to giving up the ghost, but this little bookstore arrived just in time. Now, the market is rampacked with locals enjoying craft beers, ramen and vegan food, but has it gone too far?
I’m getting used to the sound of hovering helicopters but what can I expect, living in Lavapiés? I live in a barrio so routinely pushed to the edge that, every now and then, the pressure becomes too much and its people crack.
Usman is a Mauritanian organic vegetable farmer with an allotment in the Jarama valley – a beautiful bit of local countryside with clay, terracotta soil, which I know well because I find it in the nooks of my freshly picked purple carrots.
I’d heard on the radio that there was going to be an eviction at 11 am, just a five-minute walk from where I lived. I turned on TeleMadrid and their cameras were already there. I put on my coat, grabbed my camera and said to my other half, “look out for me on the TV”.
Anti-homeless architecture is often disguised as useful features for pedestrians, but it secretly doubles up as defence against rough sleepers. Big money goes into making the most beautiful parts of Madrid hostile towards the homeless, and examples of these disturbing installations can be found everywhere you look.
Although street art is deeply connected with gentrification, its message is often precisely the opposite. The spray-painted murals adorning the walls of Madrid speak truths – truths that the passionate graffiti hunter Gerardo taught me how to read. In the secret messages left behind by graffiti writers, I saw not only themes of suffering and discrimination but also a growing backlash against them.
Under the first beam of sunlight on 3 October, diggers began tearing through people’s bedroom walls. By mid afternoon, around 50 makeshift homes had been razed to the ground, and around 80 people had been moved on.