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.
I’ve been working on revealing these restricted rooms for a little while now – negotiating access to locked spaces and requesting permission to take photos you won’t find anywhere else on the internet. And it’s all been worth it, because we finally get to see inside the most restricted corners of one of Madrid’s most emblematic buildings. But first, there are rules…
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.
The plain façade and Korean lettering were a good sign that we may have stumbled across a no-frills gem, then all was confirmed after peeping through the translucent door of Go Hyang Mat. We saw not one frill within: just lots of food on lots of tables – a surprise given it was a Monday evening.
Many know that Ernest Hemingway was here during Spanish Civil War, but did you know where he was staying, or who he was having an affair with? Also in this volume of lost stories, we uncover floods, Madrid’s lost tramlines and the blessed metro line.
Usera, just south of Madrid’s Manzanares river, is a fascinating neighbourhood that feels like a completely different continent. Join us as we explore some of the lesser-known corners of this barrio, including some wonderfully no-frills Chinese and South American eateries.
This small collections of Spanish vintage Christmas cards celebrate Spain’s traditional occupations, but look closely at the design details of each card. These beautifully ornate illustrations give us a fascinating insight into the bygone era of these time-honoured professions, especially into those that are now obsolete.
Sergio is the 4th generation of his family to run this kiosk by Opera, and just as his ancestors did, he stocks every national newspaper. There are no echo-chamber algorithms here – not even the positioning of each newspaper is strategic. At Sergio’s news stand, you can see how the rest of the world thinks.
Vallecas is a working-class neighbourhood with an unstoppable fire in its belly. It emerged out of a slum, only to be beaten back to the bones again by the most brutal pummelling the Spanish Civil War could give. Since then, this hard-left barrio has become a close-knit community and home to thousands of immigrants from all around the world, making it one of the most mesmerising corners of Madrid.
In the depths of the financial crisis, biologists Guillermo and Laura took over the neglected family olive grove and embarked on a risky project: to make farming a sustainable way of life once again.