A district brimming with bohemian and hipster urbanites. The mecca of vintage looks and underground culture in Madrid
Info and history
Art and culture
Food and drink
Leisure and nightlife
The district Malasaña resembles a square, bordered by Gran Vía on the south, Calle Fuencarral on the east, Calle Carranza on the north and Calle de San Bernardo on the west.
It owes its name to Manuela Malasaña, one of the heroines and victims of the historical events that took place in Madrid on 2 May 1808. Plaza del Dos de Mayo, at the heart of the neighbourhood, commemorates the rebellion against Napoleon’s occupation led by captains Luis Daoíz and Pedro Velarde, officers at the headquarters of the Monteleón Artillery Regiment. The square, which has kept an arch of the old military premises, pays tribute to the two brave captains with a monument.
In the festive 1980s, Malasaña witnessed the birth of the movida madrileña, an underground movement that revolutionised the arts, culture and Spanish society at large.
The district includes Triball, a shortened version of ‘Ballesta Triangle’, an area named after Calle de la Ballesta where new establishments that embrace sustainable business practices are to be found. Triball seems to have been born again lately, with the opening of spaces dedicated to culture, fashion and gastronomy.
The History Museum is housed in the Real Hospicio del Ave María y Santo Rey Don Fernando. The building, designed by architect Pedro de Ribera, can be considered one of the finest examples of eighteenth-century Baroque architecture in Madrid. The museum has interesting collections that show the city’s historical and urban development, plus the arts, customs and traditions of Madrileños.
The construction of this place of worship, designed by several architects, Pedro Sánchez, Francisco Seseña and Juan Gómez de Mora among them, started in 1624. Its elliptical floor plan and its fully frescoed walls make this church unique. Great artists like Francisco Ricci, Francisco Carreño de Miranda and Luca Giordano took part in the decoration of the building.
Opposite the History Museum on Calle Fuencarral stands the seat of the body that is responsible for auditing the accounts of the Spanish government and its agencies.
Fancy a little retail therapy? Malasaña is a great shopping district, with thousands of things to buy.
Most stores can be found on Calle Fuencarral, bordering with Chueca, on the easternmost tip of the district. This mostly pedestrian street is lined with youth fashion and sportswear brand stores, tattoo artist studios, as well as retailers dedicated to alternative and vintage fashion. The Fuencarral Market is a hub of underground culture.
A weekly Saturday fair occupies Plaza del Dos de Mayo: DOSDE Market, whose stalls sell unusual handmade items. This open-air market attracting young people also offers workshops, exhibitions, shows and photo marathons.
In the nearby seductive narrow streets, the stars are small shops selling vintage clothes, (new or second-hand) and comic books.
In Triball independent shops abound, including grocer’s stores offering organic food, bakeries selling home-made bread and cakes, and showrooms of emerging Spanish fashion designers
In Malasaña there are dining options for every taste and palate. Traditional old taverns are the ideal place to have tapas and a refreshing beer. One of them is Bodega de la Ardosa, open since 1892 and serving draught beer or vermouth, accompanied with typical tapas like crispy pig’s ear, tortilla de patatas (Spanish potato omelette) or preserved seafood.
At one of the countless outdoor bars and cafés in the neighbourhood, you can savour drinks and tapas al fresco. Most of the spots you should visit border the squares of Dos de Mayo, San Ildefonso (a.k.a. Plaza del Grial) and María Soledad Torres Acosta (Plaza de la Luna). Grab one of the coveted outdoor tables and enjoy traditional Spanish specialties or dishes with an unexpected twist, organic meals, vegetarian or vegan recipes… You choose.
For a quieter, relaxing afternoon, there’s no better place than one of the many finely decorated coffee houses in Malasaña. Get a seat and take out your book, or have a nice time chatting with a friend over a cup of tea or coffee .
Malasaña has retained the soul (a tad kitsch) of the 1980s underground movement known as ‘movida madrileña’. Proof of this is that, despite having extended its activities to daytime and no longer being for the night owls only, the district still shines at its brightest when the sun goes down. The clubs cater for music lovers from every quarter, be it rock, punk or indie pop that they’re after. All of them are quite small; there are no mega nightclubs in the area.
The true focus of Malasaña’s nightlife is Plaza del Dos de Mayo. In the adjoining streets stand countless pubs, some of which – Penta or LaVía Láctea, for instance – have been alive and kicking since the ‘roaring 80s’.
For those who’re used to partying till the wee hours of the morning, there are nightclubs on Valverde, Barco and San Vicente Ferrer streets playing music to dance all night long to the rhythm of rock, electronic sounds or pop.