After the sun sets, there is a place in Madrid that will transport you to an idyllic world where everyone lives together without borders – Lavapiés, a neighbourhood whose multi-ethnic character is made plain by the variety of African, Arab, Latin American and flamenco sounds filling its nightlife.
Between the Embajadores and Emperador Carlos V small squares and the Antón Martín, Tirso de Molina and Cascorro squares, the bustling activity in the Lavapiés area goes on throughout the day and well into the night.
As the shops dim their lights, the streets get lit by those of the cultural spaces in the area: the Teatro Valle-Inclán, the concerts at Casa Encendida Cultural Centre and La Tabacalera Community-led Cultural centre, the Circo Price theatre, the National Film Library and the many alternative theatre venues turn Lavapiés into a bohemian and vibrant hub of artistic activity.
The melting pot of nationalities that this area has come to be is illustrated by a very diverse culinary offering, with Indian, Lebanese, Syrian, Moroccan, Egyptian, Senegalese, Latin American, Italian and also Spanish food restaurants. Places to taste these international flavours are to be found along Lavapiés, Ave María and Miguel Servet streets, while the almost unbroken ribbon of terraces on Calle Argumosa, Calle Magdalena and the adjoining streets belong to many traditional taverns and modern gastropubs serving mostly local dishes.
With a full belly, you can explore the fascinating choice of entertainment venues in Lavapiés. La Escalera de Jacob and La Victoria Cultural Space-Samotracia Theatre Hall or live music stages like El Juglar run a wide range of artistic performances such as stand-up comedy, theatre plays, cabaret or music shows that take place in centuries-old vaulted cellars typical of old Madrid. El Candela bar, open till 6am, adds a touch of flamenco to a night out in Lavapiés.
San Lorenzo and Alternative Festivals
During the second week of August, the streets of Lavapiés are all decked out to celebrate the traditional San Lorenzo verbena or popular festival, with fair stalls, raffles, activities for children and concerts, as part of the celebrations that every year, on 10 August, honour St. Lawrence, the patron saint of the basilica named after him, located in the neighbourhood. But this is not all: neighbours’ associations in the area have recently begun to promote Alternative Festivals welcoming present-day rhythms, such as rap or hip-hop, and multicultural folk expressions, like belly-dancing or Bollywood choreographies.
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