City Guide Madrid

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Nueva Movida Madrileña

Issue 03/2012


Text Ilona Marx Photos Andi Zimmermann Illustration Roman Klonek

Elegant and rich in heritage, but slightly dusty – that’s been Madrid's reputation over the last few decades. The city’s famous façades, paid for with gold and silver from the New World, brought back by ship from Peru and Mexico, dominates the scenery, whilst the Madrilenian underground seemed to have only survived in the 80s film classics of Pedro Almodóvar.

But then the turning point came: the Spanish metropolis has been experiencing a surge of creativity, the like of which has not been seen since the Movida Madrileña youth movement, when Franco died. And that applies to all areas: whether it’s the fashion scene, gastro culture or the art world – confronted with an economic crisis and an unemployment rate of over 24 percent in the first quarter of 2012, a lot of Madrilenians have been rolling up their shirt sleeves and, in many cases, daring to reinvent themselves from scratch. Possibly with even more enthusiasm than the Catalans in Barcelona, because here at the country’s centre they are not quite as spoilt. The ocean is far away and the winters can be punishing. Even at the end of April it’s common to have temperatures like those in Northern Europe.

To make up for it, the city, which has 3.3 million inhabitants and is therefore the third largest in Europe, has a depth and earnestness that is sometimes missing in happy-go-lucky Barcelona. The best example is art. With the three internationally renowned museums, the Prado, the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum and the Museo Reina Sofía, Madrid has an incomparable concentration of masterpieces and comes on as quite the intellectual compared to its party-girl sister on the Mediterranean. But the metropolis still knows how to have a good time.

Madrilenian nightlife is famed for its excesses. You head out late – and don’t get home till dawn. Especially in the Chuecas district, previously known for its gay scene, now a playground for the urban youth, and the Barrio de Malasaña, known for its alternative lifestyle, many new bars and restaurants have sprung up. Elsewhere, for example in the chic district of Salamanca, a few newcomers are adding the icing on the cake of the already exclusive shopping and gastro scene.

The Madrilenians won’t be kept down. They have declared war on the crisis and risen to the challenge like toreros. Because they really do exist, the young business minds willing to tread new paths – and there are more of them around than you would think. But whether or not their chutzpah will be rewarded remains to be seen over the next few years. J’N’C editor-in-chief Ilona Marx and photographer Andi Zimmermann were certainly blown away and inspired by the new concepts these young metropolitans are coming up with. We recommend all you Barcelona fans out there to give Madrid a chance too!



La Casa del Abuelo (since 1906, one of the oldest and best tapas bars!)

Loewe (amazingly beautiful dresses and great bags. Also amazingly expensive!)

Óscar Hotel (right in the centre of the Chueca nightlife district – the hipster hotspot!)

La fresh gallery (young art and a young clientele – THE up-and-coming gallery in Madrid!)

El Paraguas (traditional Galician cuisine – mucho tasty!)

Galería Oliva Arauna (a pioneer when it comes to video art and photography.)

Panta Rhei (great bookshop in Chueca – inspiring!)

Bodega de la Ardosa (ancient pub – open from 8 am until 2 am!)

L’Habilleur (international fashion brands on two floors) Plaza de Chueca 8

Delic (very cosy café on one of the prettiest squares in Madrid.)

Cafeteria HD (burgers and chips in a very cool sixties setting – exceptional!)

Love dispensary (lovely shop selling top brands: Acne, Martin Margiela, Carven et al)

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