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.
Like the Taj Mahal, Don Justo’s cathedral was born out of unwavering devotion to someone, and both of these magnificent specimens of religious architecture rose up from ordinary farmland. But aside from these similarities, the awe I felt on seeing the Taj more than 10 years ago suddenly reemerged as I tilted my head up towards Don Justo’s self-built cathedral.
My obsession with horchata began exactly where it should: on the coast of Valencia, surrounded by orange blossom and flamingos. On my return to Madrid, I vowed never to rest until I’d found the best horchata in town, and there it was – as it has been for 74 years – in a little roadside kiosk run by the fifth generation of the same family.
In 1919 – the year of its inauguration – Madrid’s metro consisted of just one line with eight charming little stations. Almost 100 years later, this vast subterranean labyrinth is the seventh-longest underground system in the world and hosts around two million journeys every day.
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.
The plain façade and Korean lettering were a good sign that we may have stumbled across a no-frills gem, then all was confirmed after peeping through the translucent door of Go Hyang Mat. We saw not one frill within: just lots of food on lots of tables – a surprise given it was a Monday evening.
Many know that Ernest Hemingway was here during Spanish Civil War, but did you know where he was staying, or who he was having an affair with? Also in this volume of lost stories, we uncover floods, Madrid’s lost tramlines and the blessed metro line.
Much like a municipal bin, a no-frills bar is never more than 50 metres away in the centre of Madrid. Going for an impromptu knees-up was never easier, be it at a train station, on a train, in a hospital or even next to a funeral parlour.
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’.