As well as cleaning, receiving post, and providing comfort and security to her residents, María has invaluable long-term knowledge of her building. She knows every square inch, who has lived here and who has died here. She knows things you wish you knew, and things you’re glad you don’t.
From river launderettes and crucifix carpenters to streetlamp lighters and shoeshiners – in just the last few decades, countless jobs that had existed for centuries have disappeared. Let’s take a glimpse of these lost trades and professions, because there’s a lot we can learn from what is now obsolete.
Madrid in August is a giant ghost town, except for the fraction of establishments that remain open for business (even the vending machines have closed for the holidays). But August is also the most curious month, with roadworks suddenly exposing a proliferation of ‘rabbit holes’ that lead to a forgotten era.
Hearty, home-cooked Senegalese food rolls out of the kitchen fast at Mandela 100, which is owned by Mamadou from Senegal. His Africa-themed diner has hit the ground running, much to the delight – and relief – of Lavapiés locals, because it’s not just quality that can be found here; it’s also equality.
Ice cream academic Pedro begins the week at his micro ice cream factory in the working-class neighbourhood of Vallecas. His aim is to experiment with a new savoury ingredient, while also finding the perfect level of sweetness.
“These children will become doctors, hairdressers, cooks, rickshaw drivers, photographers – any number of destinies await them. There are potential millionaires, celebrities and probably criminals too and actually, some of them may already have died or had children of their own.”
I’ve been working on revealing these restricted rooms for a little while now – negotiating access to locked spaces and requesting permission to take photos you won’t find anywhere else on the internet. And it’s all been worth it, because we finally get to see inside the most restricted corners of one of Madrid’s most emblematic buildings. But first, there are rules…
Despite the near extinction of an ancient civilisation, the pupusa survived and thrived for generation after generation until it was finally brought across the Atlantic Ocean to central Madrid, in a Salvadoran restaurant near Atocha station.
Despite their straitened circumstances, the citizens of Lavapiés are a fiercely proud tribe. Throughout history, when pushed too far, they have risen up in bloody clashes with the authorities, and here’s why.
Unless you live on this quiet, narrow street in Lavapiés, there’s almost no reason for you to walk down it – that is, unless you’re going to the Duck Church. Nestled into the ground floor of a centuries-old building lives a tiny temple devoted to the rubber duck, and its priest is Leo Bassi – a 66-year-old clown who was born on tour.