May 25, 2024

Mmmm Madrid

Elegant city without pretention or ostentation

Madrid is artistic. Its elegant, stylish and colourful. Sometimes it verges on the tacky. It lacks the pretentiousness of Paris and the ostentatiousness of London.

The modest elegance of Madrid, December 2016
A Madrlieñan bin, a touch of elegance, but not as ostentatious as a Parisian bin, August 2019

The beautiful tiling of Madrid’s bars and cafes

You can see Madrid’s colourful artistic side in the beautiful tiling of its bars and cafes.

Fatigas del Querer, Madrid,
December 2018

Azulejos in Madrid, Christmas 2021

More Azulejos, Madrid, Christmas 2021



That bright light

What is always stunning about Madrid is the light. The light is bright and white and creates iridescent colours. Perhaps this is why Madrid is so colourful. How could you not want to be.

Some Madrileñan street art,
December 2017

In this way, the most mundane looking objects can be viewed as works of art.


The colourful fireworks of Madrid’s locksmiths

Madrid’s locksmiths have a neat way of making themselves known. All over the city you can find these little flocks of stickers advertising their services, always in different colours.

Stickers left by locksmiths, December 2017
Stickers left by locksmiths, December 2016

Sexy, cool, fashionable and street

Like any capital city Madrid’s centre has a flavour, which combines penthouse with pavement.

Madrid centre.
December 2017

Food and wine in Madrid

Its not bad.

Some fine looking tomatoes, Madrid centre,
December 2017

They have alot of impressive fish markets.

Swordfish, Supercor, Boadilla, Madrid, August 2019

The Spanish tend to only eat Spanish, though they’ll hate you for saying that. They have their own dishes. Alot of them are simple and focus on quality. However some of them are peculiar and well worth trying.

Fried egg with squid in its ink, a Spanish speciality, Madrid
December 2017
Pulpo (octopus), a Spanish speciality, December 2016


Percebes, another Spanish delicacy, expensive and overrated in my opinion, December 2016
Cochinillo, baby pig, tastes pretty good, banned in England, Supercor, Boadilla, Madrid, December 2019

And there’s nothing as enticing as the illuminated window of a Spanish delicatessen.

Ham shop, Chinchon, close to Madrid,
December 2017


Shop selling pastries, Madrid, December 2016

Madrid Rio

One of my favourite things to do in Madrid is to walk along Madrid Rio. About ten years ago the mayor of Madrid decided to put this dirty big dual carriageway, which ran either side of the city’s river, underground. On top of the road he built a pedestrianised pathway, with lots of parks, sculptures and play areas. Marvellous.

Madrid Rio, where there were once cars, there is now just peace, December 2017
El Rio Manzanares, which runs through Madrid, is shallow and tame,
December 2017

At a certain point you can cut off into a park called Huerta de la Partida and get a view of the royal palace of Madrid.

Palacio Real de Madrid, as seen from Huerta de la Partida,
December 2017
Huerta de la Partida, December 2017

If you walk along the length of Madrid Rio, towards the South you will also find a variety of very funky modern looking bridges, which have been built across the river. Many of them are real spectacles. They’ve been making the tourist guides – I remember a Norwegian man once approaching me with his reluctant looking family, trying to work out which way one of the bridges was.

Bridge over Madrid Rio, August 2018
Bridge over Madrid Rio, August 2018

Casa Mingo

There’s a very old fashioned restaurant not too far away on the northern stretch of the Madrid Rio. The interior is fantastic and the waiters are all old boys. The food is OK, roast chicken, which if the truth be told I always find a bit dry, cider, salad and cheese.

You can park on Calle Aniceto Marinas, where if you’re lucky you’ll see the Alsatian dog, who is immortalised in street art, on the doors of the garage Talleres Ribercar. From there you can walk along Madrid Rio, then come back for a bite at Casa Mingo.

Alsatian dog, basking in the sunlight, and his own portrait,
Talleres Ribercar, Calle Aniceto Marinas, December 2017

El Cemetario de Almudena

Another fairly offbeat place I like is the Almudena Cemetery. Its a fairly austere place, but bewildering in size.

Entrance to the Almudena cemetery, April 2019

The buildings are ugly. I’m not sure when they were built, but to me they reek of fascism.

Chapel like building in the cemetery, April 2019

When I visited in 2019, some squatters had taken one of the big buildings outside.

El Parque del Gran Retiro

El Retiro is Madrid’s greatest cultivated park.

You’re probably not into late nineteenth century Spanish literature, but one of its greatest figures Pio Baroja, has a great statue of his own, at one of the entrances.

Pio Baroja, looking a little bit like Lenin, at the entrance to El Retiro

The Bear

The bear is Madrid’s animal and El Madroño is its tree. Madrileños tell me you wont find El Madroño anywhere else.

The bear and El El Madroño,
December 2017
The bear and El Madroño, somewhere else (on a door),
December 2017

There’s a neat looking souvenir shop, that tries to do everything a little differently, which has a couple of decent t-shirts, spinning off the bear theme.

T-shirt, once again the bear and El Madroño, Madrid centre,
December 2017

The old Madrileñan street plates

I love coming across these metallic street plates in Madrid. I think they’re awarded to shops that have been open for a certain length of time.


This is not a name plate in the street, but rather one on one of the most famous buildings of Madrid, Edificio Espana, December 2016

The old Madrileñas have style

Older women in Spain do not go out without a fight. Many of them comport themselves, hold themselves and have haircuts befitting of a Queen.


The white taxi cabs

The white taxi cabs with a red stripe look like a South American football shirt on wheels.

Madrid taxi cabs, December 2016

Modern Art

Madrid is a pleasant blend of classical architectural styles and modernism. The way in which things are blended in and proportioned is effortless.

Babies head at Atocha train station, Madrid, August 2019
Another head, on a roundabout, in Madrid, August 2019


These three buildings, which are all north-west of the centre of Madrid, all share a certain ugliness. They are at the same time modernist, highly fashionable and desperately ugly. They are perhaps inspired by the brutalist architectural style, which was fashionable in western Europe at the time. I imagine that they were all built in the 1960s or 70s.

Suburban Scene

Close to the centre of Madrid there is a suburb full of these rather charming little detached homesteads. They are almost like the kind of houses Roger Hargreaves fashioned for his Mr Men characters. They are elegant, though simple and basic in form. They have the sense of being perfectly proportioned and adapted to man’s need for personal space.

August 2019


There’s not a lot to say about Ignatius other than he’s a sight to see. He’s a comedian, I suppose, though I find him more cerebral than funny, and if anything a little bit sad, too. I just can’t get this poster out of my mind.

Poster advertising Ignatius,
December 2017

David Beckham and Gareth Bale

They both made it to Madrid, as you might know.

David Beckham, Madrid, December 2016
Gareth Bale, Madrid, December 2016

Madrid from a Distance

The four towers of Madrid seen from the hills around Escorial, December 2019


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