Around the old Conde Duque military quarters, a district with narrow streets, traditional taverns and original stores
Info & history
Art & culture
Food & drink
Conde Duque developed around the old military quarters bearing the same name. Joyful, bohemian and spontaneous, it has newly created, modern stores with a vintage twist. Unlike its noisier southern borders, Gran Vía, Plaza de España and Calle Princesa, Conde Duque is a quiet and peaceful neighbourhood.
The full name of the huge Conde Duque quarters is Royal Bodyguards Quarters, an elite military unit whose members were the guards of the kings and queens of Spain. In 1717, the first Bourbon king of Spain, Philip V, appointed the prestigious architect from Madrid Pedro de Ribera to build the military complex. On the 200m-long frontage, the stone façade in the Churrigueresquestyle facing the square is quite remarkable.
Currently, the Conde Duque quarters are a big cultural centre like Matadero or CentroCentro. Following the building’s rehabilitation, completed in 2011, it now houses the City Archives, the Municipal Newspaper and Periodical Library, and the Town Historical Library. Exhibition rooms, an auditorium and several stages complete the lot.
This spectacular palace was built in 1773 to a design by Ventura Rodríguez and other renowned architects of the time. It’s the Madrid residence and home of the foundation of the House of Alba, one of Spain’s most preeminent noble families. The palace contains a celebrated private art collection, including great works of art like the Portrait of the Grand Duke of Alba, by Titian, and the Portrait of the 13th Duchess of Alba, by Goya.
This cultural space is housed in an old brewery whose metal and glass façade is as attractive as are the original illustrations and drawings inside. All of them are works of famous artists which appeared in the newspaper ABC and the magazine Blanco y Negro.
The nunnery of the Military Order of Santiago was founded by King Philip IV in 1650. The remarkable church has a Greek-cross plan, with a crossing crowned by a beautiful dome, supported by chamfered columns.
The palace was built in the eighteenth century as the home of the Marquises of Guadalcázar. In the late nineteenth century, it was acquired by the Bauers, a family in the banking business. In the first 25 years of the twentieth century, it was the centre of the musical life of the city, and today it’s the site of Madrid’s Higher Singing College.
The shopping itinerary in Conde Duque doesn’t pass by big department stores, fashion chains or branded shops. Instead, there are plenty of boutiques d’auteur, small establishments with original décor and a character of their own.
The fashion brands with stores in the area are not easily found in high streets. Here, the classic and the modern seem to coexist comfortably, so much so that you can buy everything from a suit in the British mod style of the 1970s to the latest exclusive sportswear.
In Conde Duque, alternative fashion shakes hands with vinyl records, rare or limited edition books and used bicycles. Besides, you’ll be able to get handcrafted bags and lovely accessories. If your guitar is broken, take it to an instrument repair shop in Conde Duque; they’ll bring it back to life for sure.
The tapas bars in Conde Duque normally sit on narrow streets, in the shadow of the skyscrapers that line Gran Vía and Plaza de España, and in tucked-away squares full of charm like Plaza de las Comendadoras, PlazaGuardias de Corps and Plaza de Cristino Martos.
The neighbourhood keeps a good number of traditional taverns whose patrons drink refreshing pints or barrel-aged vermouth and eat typical tapas like anchovies marinated in vinegar, croquettes or olives. Going out for tapas in Conde Duque is a long-standing ritual whose temples are these old establishments, alongside bars that serve classic recipes from Madrid with a modern touch, organic ingredients or products from exotic cuisines.
The local coffee houses are usually warm spots with a friendly atmosphere, carefully decorated in original styles: Scandinavian, retro, etc. They’re great for a hot cup of coffee and a pastry or a slice of homemade cake.