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”.
I’ve got a confession to make: I’m a little bit obsessed with confessionals. I suspect this might be one of the weirdest things a priest could ever be told through a latticed window, but although I have no intention of repenting my curiosity-related sins, an explanation might be helpful…
The sun pours through the smokey windows of this upstairs diner and is intercepted by half a dozen coconut palms, casting exotic shadows on the terrazzo floor. Everything – and I mean everything – is a shade of brown, as it has been since its last refurb a few decades ago.
Would you love to see trees, grass and fountains on Plaza Mayor again? Me too. The same can’t be said for the other lost stories I’ve dug up, however. Open-cast construction sites, cars parked in strange places, and the symptoms of war never made for an attractive city.
Emerge from Lavapiés’ metro into the Mediterranean Maghreb. Meander through its narrow, winding streets lined with candy-coloured facades and Juliette balconies, and catch a glimpse of the Middle East and Africa, but also Asia, Latin America and of course, Madrid.
In a dark cellar, just around the corner from the Lavapiés dungeon, a young Madrileño is enchanting people with his magic three times a week. His spellbinding illusions may not have been thrust onto the underground stage at all had it not been for hard times, but this sombre era in Spanish history is inspiring a new movement and Carlos Devanti is a driving force behind it.
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.
I’ve forever found no-frills bars inspiring spaces. They’re gateways to Madrid’s working-class soul, and are unpretentiously beautiful, just like the city. They’re also where Madrid No Frills was born, propping up the bar with a caña and a tapa and listening to the owner’s story.
In this volume of no-frills finds, we reveal the location of two classic bodegas, one no-frills microbrewery, and a bustling seafoodie gem. We also document two separate sightings of Madrid’s past, which had been lying dormant beneath our feet this whole time. It paid to go little off-grid too, leading us to a burnt-out train driver’s cabin and the quirkiest museum we’ve found yet.
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.