This part of town is a perfect representation of the eclectic mix of cultures Madrid has experienced in recent years. It’s always been a humble area, where, until the ’80s, mostly elderly people lived in the ‘corralas’, buildings whose apartment doors open up onto an interior patio of sorts, very typical in old Madrid. Thanks to the exciting multicultural vibe that has developed in this neighbourhood, as well as rent being a good deal cheaper than in other parts of the city, younger people have moved in and live together with the older locals. In total, the neighborhood boasts inhabitants of some 88 different nationalities. Indian restaurants are just as busy as their neighbouring traditional Madrid taverns – C/Argumosa, full of terraces, is one of the busiest in the area – and immigrants make up the social fabric that holds Lavapiés together. The San Lorenzo festival is celebrated here as well; the big party takes place every August, and fills the streets with locals and visitors. Tapapiés, the weeklong internationally flavoured tapas route has also become a must on the yearly calendar.
La Lorenza promises everything in the way of unmatched croquettes, a warm atmosphere and Galician influence. Add in fresh bread and a formidable wine list and you might begin to understand why this bar is so special; but the only real way to experience the true hospitality is to stop in, grab a stool and and drink whatever they serve you.
If you go to La Fisna, you won’t just get a great glass (or two… or three) of wine. What you’ll get is an education. Ask for staff recommendations and munch on classic snacks like fresh meats, cheeses and homemade sourdough.
Reina Sofía Museum
Located where Lavapiés meets Atocha, this is a must for art fans and one of the most important contemporary art museums in all of Spain. One of the features that draws us in is its impressive façade with glass and steel lift-shafts, designed by British architect Ian Ritchie. And it’s no less glorious if you come in through the back, where you’re greeted by three buildings, principally built of glass and steel, arranged around a courtyard and all covered by a triangular, zinc-and-aluminium roof, the work of French architect Jean Nouvel. This ambitious extension project adds almost 30,000 sq m to the already vast art space in the patio to the south-west of the main edifice. It includes temporary exhibition spaces. The Reina Sofía’s great jewel is unquestionably 'Guernica', Picasso's impassioned denunciation of war and fascism.
This boutique hotel is nestled inside a building that enjoys protected status from the City of Madrid, both its façade and its interior. Dating back to the 17th and 18th centuries, the building was originally destined to house carriages. All the rooms feature Nordic design, private bathroom, WiFi, 32-inch TVs and daily cleaning service. In the same street, just a few feet from the Plaza de Tirso Molina, the famous poet and children’s writer Gloria Fuertes was born in 1918.
If you do just one thing…
Meander around the stalls in the Mercado de Anton Martín, between fishmongers and butchers, and corners of gastronomy where you can feast on sandwiches, sushi, ramen and more, and even try some craft beers.