In my eighth volume of 10 no-frills finds, I bring you a last survivor, a no-frills chocolate con churros place, royal ruins and missing pieces of Berlin and Galicia. I also take you back in time with traces of Madrid’s bygone high-streets, and I encourage you to look up because a worm’s-eye view is highly underrated.
1. THE LAST SURVIVOR
Once upon a time, in a land not so far away, there was a tiny hilltop village of around 20 little houses…
Today, only one survives. All of its neighbours were knocked down as recently as last year, but their gardens remain, growing wild over the still-visible streets that once restricted them.
What’s that we can see? A bike? It belongs to a man, who still lives inside this house. His neighbours were relocated but he remains, waiting for the city council to grant him his chance to join them.
Visit this miniature ghost town just half an hour by metro from the centre of Madrid by getting a copy of my MNF Map, with hundreds more places just like this to explore!
2. CHOCOLATE CON CHURROS IN CASA LUCIANO
The perfect treat for after an Autumnal walk around Retiro Park.
Location: Calle de Atocha, 120
3. AN AUTUMNAL WALK THROUGH RETIRO PARK
Feel fabulous walking the red-leaf carpet under golden trees.
4. A MISSING PIECE OF THE BERLIN WALL
I think I’ve just found a missing piece of the Berlin Wall, but the wall looks older than the buildings it’s enclosing.
Location: in numerous places around La Chopera housing estate, Delicias.
5. VINTAGE HIGHSTREET SIGNAGE
This former grocery store is now a workshop, but maintains its beautiful, original signage. It’s also right across the road from our favourite no-frills Moroccan diner, Restaurante Ikram.
Location: Calle Rodas, 6
6. WEAR AND TEAR IN A BRAND-NEW POP-UP GALLERY
I wonder if this is where the till used to be… Welcome to Lavapiés’ brand-new, pop-up exhibition space on Calle Argumosa 33, which used to be a corner shop.
Explore two floors of independent artworks that challenge the systems we live in, some of which are even worthy of Madrid’s street galleries.
7. A GHOST BAKERY
Admire the colours of this ghost bakery in Delicias with beautiful, no-frills signage.
Location: Calle Caravajales, 7
8. A RASTRO URBAN SKY FRAME
Exploring the Rastro goes far beyond all those beautiful living museums and eccentric characters: it’s also in the hidden architectural gems and the sound of neighbours beating eggs to make tortilla.
Location: Calle San Cayetano, 8
9. ROYAL RUINS
History once banished to the Netherworld re-emerges again thanks to urban transformation – the same process that saw these 18th-century royal stables buried.
As workers step aside and archaeologists move in, will they find themselves sitting at the tip of the iceberg of the past? Because Madrid’s Alcazar is still missing… Perhaps it lies just beneath our feet after all.
10. GALICIA’S MISSING HÓRREO
This little sculpture is an hórreo – a traditional stone hut built for storing grain. It’s raised off the ground to avoid moisture and animal thieves, but the crosses remain curious extras (I always used to think they were tombs!).
This particular hórreo was brought all the way over from Corcubión in Galicia, and installed in the middle of a square in Barrio del Pilar. The square it’s on is named after the hórreo’s origin.
Location: Plaza de Corcubión