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Living Museums

Living Museums

Latest obsession: confessionals

11 January 2019

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…

Living Museums

The ‘secret’ Lavapiés jazz club

8 October 2018

Those hermetic voile curtains are partly to preserve Café El Despertar’s clandestine atmosphere, they’re but mostly there to deter the naive walk-in customer. The steely elderly owner, with his enviable beard, is interested only in clientele who are specifically here for his jazz music, and most certainly not the police, who, for good reason, he constantly fears.

Living Museums

The Duck Church of Lavapiés

15 July 2018

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 centenarian 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.

Living Museums

The Outsider Artist building a life-size cathedral set for demolition

28 May 2018

Ex-monk Don Justo survived the Spanish Civil War and even tuberculosis, yet at 93 years old, he knows doesn’t have long left. He’s just a decade away from completing his 60-year mission to build a life-size cathedral, but when the local city council want it demolished, the question becomes, ‘who will outlive who?’

Living MuseumsNo Frills

The last horchata kiosk in Madrid

21 May 2018

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.

Living Museums

The vintage barber’s that survived being on the frontline

20 February 2018

Peluquería Luis Martín is one of Madrid’s last remaining vintage barbers. It survived the frontline of the Spanish Civil war, the requisition of its beautiful chairs, and the untimely death of Don Luís Martín himself. Yet, 93 years later, and still having never given in to the hipster beard, this niche men’s hairdresser’s is still going strong.

Living Museums

Inside Madrid’s last porn cinema: then and now

4 December 2017

Curiosity often gets the better of me, but I like to think I’m prepared for what lurks behind the curtain. In 2015, however, I was forbidden to look. The man inside the tiny ticket window told me: “Sorry love, this isn’t for you.”

Living Museums

The last toy hospital in Spain

24 July 2017

“Do you know about the toy hospital?” a friend asked. “It’s the last one in the whole of Spain and the owner is about to retire – you have to write about it!”

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