It is where the countercultural movement Movida madrileña was conceived, and from here new trends are always spreading. The streets and squares are lively in the morning, with the quiet, bustling rhythm of its inhabitants starting their day; in the afternoon it feels calmer as people settle down and find themselves in bars and squares. The nightlife is fun and varied, with both intense clubs and bigger dance halls, so there is something for every taste and age group. The neighbourhood is just a stone's throw away from Gran Vía, Madrid’s main road, but it feels like a totally different place, thanks to its petite, pastel-coloured buildings and its inhabitants' unique way of life.
THE EPICENTER: “TRIBUNAL”
If you’re in Madrid and want to meet friends, the best place would be the Tribunal metro station. This is the most famous metro station in Madrid (on Metro lines 1 and 10). Every moment, day and night, there are people. During the weekend this station seems to become the centre of the world, with swathes of people gathering and meeting here before going to dinner, to drink or to dance.
STREET ART AND TRENDS: “PINTA MALASAÑA”
Malasaña has it all: quiet, residential streets are blended with the energy of its youthful inhabitants. Street art has always been prominent here, and throughout the year there are many street parties and festivals that bring fresh colours and fun to the area. It is fantastic to walk through the streets on Pinta Malasaña, the one day each year when the best urban artists invade streets from 8am to 8pm, and decorate the storefronts. Residents and tourists can admire their creations in real time while enjoying a beer or two.
THE BEST BARS AND WHAT YOU CAN EXPECT
There are two different types of bars in Malasaña: hipster ones, with modern decoration and innovative menus; and the timeless bars, unchanged in decades, which allow us to take a step back in time. What they have in common is the clientele: those who live in Malasaña frequent both types of bars... and indeed, as can be found all over Madrid, they have "tapeo". This is a sort of ritual, where you go from bar to bar, from one beer to another, from one tapa to the next. A visit to Malasaña must include a stop at La Ardosa, which fits the category of the more timeless bars. It has an inclusive environment (this is the beauty of Madrid), with locals and tourists, students and the elderly. They come together to drink beer, or better still vermouth, and eat a pincho of Spanish tortilla. La Ardosa’s quirks? To access the inner salon and the bathroom you have to duck and pass under the bar, just like the waiters do. Be careful not to hurt your back!
THE DISCO: “TUPPERWARE”
If you love nightlife – no matter what your age is – Malasaña has a lot to offer. It has smaller establishments that play very specific music genres; bars that turn into clubs at night, dimming the lights and raising the volume; and finally the most classic discos. Here all music tastes can be satisfied. If you like pop-rock and 80s and 90s sounds, then your place is Tupperware, one of the neighbourhood's classics. You will be able to listen to international music on the main dancefloor – if you find some space, especially on Saturday or Sunday – or go up to the first floor for a more chilled vibe.
THE MARKETS: “BARCELÓ” AND “SANILDEFONSO”
Madrid is a city of markets. They bring all walks of life together, into a social melting pot that is part of the DNA of Madrid and Madridians. There is no better place than a market to spend your time in the city. The Mercado Barceló is the place where you can food shop and learn about the best Spanish ingredients. You can buy fruit, vegetables, meat, and fish side-by-side with the elderly ladies and gentlemen who have been shopping there their whole lives. The Mercado de San Ildefonso is a different type of market, there are dozens of places where you can buy lunch or dinner (from Chinese to Italian, from Peruvian to Spanish cuisines) to eat at the shared tables.
THE TERRACE: “AZOTEA FORUS BARCELÓ”
Malasaña seen from the streets is fascinating... but from above, it is even more so. Everything seems calmer from the heightened perspective of a rooftop bar, and you can enjoy the views across the neighbourhood from many different bars, glass of wine in-hand. The Azotea Forus Barceló always feels magical and is a perfect spot to watch the sunset from.
FEAST IN THE SQUARE: “2 DE MAYO”
2 de Mayo (2nd May), is the most important date for Malasaña and also the name of its main square. It is here, on 2nd May, that a crowd protested against the French occupation in 1808, an even we continue to celebrate. Now, every year on this day, the square is filled with young people – and some not so young people – who sit in the square day and night to party, drinking beers and dancing along to the live music. It is a must if you want to experience real street fiesta!
CULTURE, HISTORY AND A SECRET: “MUSEO DEL ROMANTICISMO”
Malasaña is home to many museums – one of the most interesting is the Museum of Romanticism. Museo del Romanticismo is located in the ancient palace of the Marquis of Matallana, which was built in 1776. Here you will discover the best of nineteenth-century decorative art. You can spend your afternoon admiring works by Goya – it feels almost as if you are reliving the years of Madrid’s Romanticism. A well-kept secret of this museum is that even without buying an entry ticket you can go to the charming and almost unknown garden-bar to get a drink.
And that's not all! History and culture enthusiasts can also visit the History Museum (Museo de Historia de Madrid), a few steps from Tribunal metro station, with its magnificent baroque entrance by Pedro de Ribera. Don't miss the masterpieces of Francisco de Goya, Luca Giordano, and Joaquín Sorolla.
The Plum Guide opens in Madrid from July 2019 along with five other new cities: Barcelona, Berlin, Copenhagen, Lisbon, Madrid and TelAviv. These will join a collection that already includes London, Los Angeles, Milan, New York, Paris and Rome.