Lavapiés is a neighbourhood of extremes. It was recently crowned the coolest neighbourhood in the world by Time Out Magazine, but is also one of the most multicultural – and poor – in Spain.
It’s 1979. Franco had died just four years earlier and the transition to democracy was well underway. Everything painted, moulded and built in this era would become a time capsule to Spain’s post-dictatorship optimism. Or, at least, what still remains of this era.
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.
I’ve always been curious to see inside the Casa de Baños in Lavapiés, and the opportunity finally arose when we returned to our flat after a week away to find that the boiler had exploded. As you’d imagine, very little gets done over the Christmas period, so we were to embark on yet another fascinating no-frills adventure, and what an insight it’s been.
The best thing about exhibitions in La Tabacalera Promoción del Arte? They let you see inside this beautiful building. And the best kinds of exhibitions are the smaller, more subtle ones, opening up all corners and details of this 225-year-old industrial masterpiece.
Wander around Lavapiés’ maze of connected high streets and find dozens of Asian spice stores firmly grounded. Gentrification is going to need to work hard to push these neighbours out.