Zoom out of Madrid on Google satellite view and red clusters begin to emerge. Between grey, gridded avenues and barren parks, see clusters of winding narrow streets with red roof tiles and tiny plazas, which were once independent towns with their own culture, economy and architecture. Today, even though they lie well within the city limits of Madrid, they remain different.
There are few streets in Madrid with such a well preserved traditional shopping district. Green grocers, bodegas, a coal merchant’s and a wicker store are just some of the living museums I found on the short stretch of Calle Calatrava and its surrounding streets.
The prices are low, the quality is fine, the service is quick, the menu is in Spanish and the soul and decor of the bar is utterly no-frills.
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…
Recent exhibition La Tienda de la Esquina (The Corner Shop) celebrates Madrid’s beautiful antique facades. But, given these old shops are an increasingly endangered species in the Madrid streetscape, you may find yourself cynically wondering if these sculptures are actually miniature death masks.