Salesas is a blend of the latest indie fashion and traditional establishments like Café Gijón
Info & history
Art & culture
Food & drink
Barrio de las Salesas has lately emerged as a popular tourist and shopping destination. It’s a small district to the east of Paseo de Recoletos, bordered by Barquillo and Fernando VI streets, Plaza de Santa Bárbara and Calle Génova.
It borrowed its name from the Convent of Visitación de Nuestra Señora aka Convent of Salesas Reales. The architectural complex, made of a church, a convent and a palace, was founded in 1748 by Queen Barbara of Portugal, the wife of King Ferdinand VI. Both the Queen and the King have their burial place right here. The elegant building complex, including a majestic stairway that gives access to the Rococo church façade, was designed by French architect François Carlier.
At present, religious services take place in the Parish Church of Santa Bárbara, and the palace and convent house the Supreme Court. Other judicial institutions, namely, the National High Court and the High Court of Madrid, stand in Plaza de la Villa de París.
The Mapfre Foundation has been acquiring Spanish art since the 1980s. It runs amazing exhibitions. In 2008, it opened its new facilities in a beautiful palatial mansion on Paseo de Recoletos; in May 2014, it inaugurated a new exhibition hall dedicated to photography.
In 1885 it was called ‘Teatro de la Princesa’; in 1996, it was designated as an Asset of Cultural Interest by the Ministry of Culture. Together with Teatro Valle Inclán, it’s the home of the National Drama Centre.
The main characters in Spanish history, politics, film, arts and sports have their wax figures in this museum. If you’re in the mood, visit the crime gallery and the room of horror. Not for the faint-hearted!
The Foundation of the Architects’ Association of Madrid, on Calle Piamonte, holds exhibitions, seminars and conferences on architecture and urban development for architects and the general public.
The big stars in this district are the multiple fashion stores, on Piamonte and Almirante streets. You’ll find international brand boutiques and independent designers’ stores. Their carefree, casual style contrasts with the sobriety of Barrio de Salamanca, even when both districts may ooze elegance and glamour.
Salesas offers stylish clothing for boys, girls and babies - small-scale fashion in original, non-mainstream designs. Indie fashion and the latest trends for the little ones is what you’ll find in the numerous stores whose decoration draws in both children and their parents. Some brands make clothing using recycled materials obtained through complex transformation processes.
Next to the Chueca district is Calle Barquillo, lined with stores devoted to electronics: TVs, audio systems, cameras, microphones, amplifiers, and all the audio and video accessories you can imagine.
In Salesas you can’t miss the old, traditional Café Gijón. Opened in 1888 by Asturias-born Gumersindo Gómez when he returned from Cuba, this coffee house soon turned into the meeting place of the leading Spanish intellectuals of the time: Ramón y Cajal, Baroja, Pérez Galdós, Benavente, Valle-Inclán, Severo Ochoa and Ramón Gómez de la Serna, to name but a few. Café Gijón has kept its nineteenth-century décor and flavour; it’s well worth a detour if you happen to be walking along Paseo de Recoletos.
Salesas has a restaurant for every taste, from a business specialising in preparing lobster to the establishment serving local food run by chef Mario Sandoval, who was awarded a Michelin star for Coque, his restaurant in the town of Humanes de Madrid. His new restaurant, in the newly opened CasinoColón, is Columbus.
Plaza de Santa Bárbara is perfect to have a beer in one of the many nice outdoor bars. If you’re there, you won’t need to walk much to find a specialty store offering tea, chocolate, olive oil, pastries or homemade bread.