Peluquería Luis Martín is one of Madrid’s last remaining vintage barbers. It survived the frontline of the Spanish Civil war, the requisition of its beautiful chairs, and the untimely death of Don Luís Martín himself. Yet, 93 years later, and still having never given in to the hipster beard, this niche men’s hairdresser’s is still going strong.
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.
We walked through the long tunnel entrance deep into the ground floor of a 1970s residential building, entering what felt like a cellar bar in Žižkov (the Lavapiés of Prague). The food looked incredible – big, hearty, hot and perfect for one of the coldest nights of the year.
Did you know that there used to be a huge, octagonal market in Chamberí, or that the first passengers of one of Madrid’s metro lines were actually dead? Here are six old photographs and the forgotten stories behind them, but if you believe in ghosts, I recommend you scroll past number 3.
Usera, just south of Madrid’s Manzanares river, is a fascinating neighbourhood that feels like a completely different continent. Join us as we explore some of the lesser-known corners of this barrio, including some wonderfully no-frills Chinese and South American eateries.
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.
One of the best things about this accidentally retro bar is how much fun it is to explore. There are secret, time-bending portals connecting the endless labyrinth of dining rooms… or so it seems. When the same short, middle-aged waiter in a waistcoat kept appearing every time we entered a new room, we wondered how else he could have got there so quickly.
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.
Let this collection of offbeat finds inspire the new year’s resolution you never made: to slow down (or even stop) and look at the Madrid around you, and you might just see something you never knew was there.
Merry Christmas from Madrid’s traditional shopkeepers! Here are 24 beautiful vintage Christmas cards celebrating Spain’s traditional occupations.