Around 150 people are currently sleeping rough on Paseo del Prado. Since February this year, a homeless community of activists have been camping out on one of Spain’s most prestigious streets in protest for visibility, safety, security and access to affordable housing, and to end all homelessness in Spain.
There’s a bunker, a hidden chess club, a haunting forest and a forgotten city-centre zoo, among a few other secrets held by the gatekeeper of Retiro Park. But dive in with the darkest, most disturbing secret of all: the ‘human zoo’…
Spain’s first McDonald’s opened in 1981, replacing an old jeweller’s on Gran Vía. Many predicted that this gran hamburguesería would be the beginning of the end of Madrid as we knew it. And they were right.
Secret gay nightclubs and bars were opening right under Franco’s nose and the cornerstones of Chueca’s infamous nightlife were being laid. By the time the dictator died, in 1975, Spain’s marginalised communities were already organised and ready to begin the countrywide fight for freedom of expression.
What the lateros are doing is illegal and there are police everywhere. If they’re caught selling beer, their stock, which they purchased themselves, will be confiscated. But, for the tin men, it’s worth the risk.
In one of Madrid’s many stark industrial zones, a Nigerian church provides an oasis of soul for its community. On any given Sunday, the area would be empty and silent, but for the rich gospel being performed to a lively crowd of parishioners.
They’re perfectly placed should you spontaneously decide to get your shoes shined, grab a bag of chestnuts or pick up a newspaper, but these gifts of the street are rewarded only to those who slow down. Allow yourself an extra five minutes to get to the nearest no-frills bar, and you’ll witness our streets come alive with a multi-generational community of micro shops.
For the past few centuries, Spaniards from all over the country have been packing their bags, saying adios to their towns and villages and setting sail for the big city. When they arrive in Madrid, they disperse into many different lines of work, but there’s one business over any other that harks back to the most recent migration boom. You guessed it: Madrid’s no-frills bars.
Five years ago, Mercado San Fernando was close to giving up the ghost, but this little bookstore arrived just in time. Now, the market is rampacked with locals enjoying craft beers, ramen and vegan food, but has it gone too far?
I’m getting used to the sound of hovering helicopters but what can I expect, living in Lavapiés? I live in a barrio so routinely pushed to the edge that, every now and then, the pressure becomes too much and its people crack.