Let’s start with an example. In 2010, Elisabet heard about a flat in a social housing block in Lavapiés that had sat empty for five years. She broke in, changed the locks, and made it her family home. With three children, now aged 14, 15 and 23, she was recently handed an eviction notice by the council telling her to move out.
Lo bueno de perderse por una ciudad es que, aunque te propongas un camino, no siempre llegas a donde esperas. Eso me sucedió hace poco, cuando quise ir a una iglesia y acabé encontrándome con dos cárceles, una que ya no existe y una que dicen que no lo es.
In 1946, Valencianxs José González and Pepina García caught wind that the market for horchata in the Spanish capital was untapped, so they packed their bags and hopped on a train from Valencia to Barrio de Tetuán and opened Oroxata (AKA the Horchata Factory) on Calle Pedro Tezano, 11.
Madrid, Madrid, Madrid… a fascinating city to live in, but only if you can afford to do so. If you weren’t born here, it’s difficult to deal with the stark contrast between the rich and the poor. The human mind cannot fathom such a contrast in the same place.
Having access to green space reduces depression by up to 40%, and reduces the feeling of worthlessness by up to 50%, according to a study by five doctors at the University of Pennsylvania. For those living below the poverty line, the improvement in mental health is proven to be even more profound.
Gran Via number 12, a splendid white building dating back to 1914, has seen many things in its 107 years of history, including the Spanish Civil War. But, at ground level lives the legendary Bar Chicote, once crowned the best in the world by MTV in 2004. Its bar top has seated a long list of personalities including Ernest Hemingway, Sofia Loren and Salvador Dalí, as well as royalty, sports, politics and intellectualism.
Siempre he creído que los bares de toda la vida son lugares inspiradores. Son puertas de entrada al Madrid obrero, al alma migrante y también son involuntariamente bonitos, tal y como lo es la ciudad.
On Sunday, 2 May, the night before the Madrid election, a group of activists broke into a derelict hotel in the centre of Madrid. Upon entering, they found 112 abandoned en-suite bedrooms, a decaying Andalusian patio, three large salons with a hundred wooden chairs, a sturdy stainless steel kitchen and an overall perfect space to build the youngest generation of social project La Ingobernable (The Ungovernable).
In 1950, amateur photographer Vicente Nieto Canedo took a photo of a maths teacher who was working at the Escuela Nacional de Artes Gráficas in Chamberí. It was so unusual to see a Black teacher that Canedo understood this an important moment to capture.
Madrid is world-famous for its lively LGBTQ+ scene, multiculturalism and the hedonistic Movida Madrileña which undeniably lives on. But, in the background of Pride celebrations and behind balconies decorated with feminist symbols, residents of the Comunidad de Madrid are denied fundamental freedoms.
On 4 May, the Comunidad de Madrid will go to the polls electing the 136 deputies that make up the Regional Assembly. One of the crown jewels of Spain’s autonomous regions, the election is also a bellwether for the broader mood of the country and a chance for the region to give its verdict on the response to the pandemic that has killed nearly 15,000 people in the Comunidad alone.
The Right is famous for writing and re-writing school history books in favour of conservative narratives, distorting society’s view from an early age. Now, they want to hinder children’s understanding of the world even further by censoring feminism and LGBTQ+ rights.
I know Serigne Mbaye from the grassroots activism circuit in Lavapiés, where he regularly frontlines at protests with powerful anti-racism speeches. It’s no surprise to those who know him that he’s now running for election in the Madrid Regional Government with Unidas Podemos, where he’s set to become one of Spain’s first Black members of parliament, and achieve many other firsts too.
The Cañada Real is a 16km linear neighbourhood made up of six sectors which skirt the east of Madrid. Sectors 5 and 6, where residents are mostly Roma, Gitanx and Moroccan, have been without electricity for more than six months.
The pandemic hasn’t affected everyone equally. In fact, it has exacerbated and deepened pre-existing inequalities. During lockdown last year, Madrid alone recorded a 37% increase in calls to its regional helpline for gender violence. Due to the pressures of the Covid-19 pandemic, women in the capital have evidently been disproportionately affected in comparison with their male counterparts.