Calle Serrano's revamped look has opened up a world of new possibilities in the city's best known shopping thoroughfare. The new wider pavements now make strolling along the street and window-shopping even more of a delight. The Salamanca district and its famous Golden Mile look better than ever.
Calle Serrano and the Salamanca district it lies in, which was created in the mid-nineteenth century by the marquess after whom it was named, is one giant fashion catwalk. With its wide streets and elegant buildings, it soon became home to the famous, especially the area adjoining Serrano, which came to symbolise the district, and now sports a completely new look.
Between Calle José Ortega y Gasset and Calle Claudio Coello lies an area in which leading firms and the most prestigious Spanish and foreign designers display their latest creations. Ágatha Ruiz de la Prada, Carolina Herrera, Chanel, Gucci, Loewe, Louis Vuitton and Miu Miu are just some of the boutiques you'll find here. Another store you won't be able to walk past without stepping inside is Manolo Blahnik. "Manolo's shoes are better than sex and they last longer". Madonna's comment only goes to show the true devotion of the great stars to the most famous shoes in the world.
A shopping spree in the area wouldn't be complete without a visit to Isolée an avant-garde space offering the latest from leading international firms (Comme des Garçons, Manish Arora, APC, Filippa K etc.), exclusive areas like that of the Taschen publisher's, and a Moët & Chandon glamorous champagne bar. For a more traditional afternoon you can head to El Jardín de Serrano, found in a nineteenth century mansion, and beautiful ABC Serrano. Dating back to the beginning of the 20th century, the building, which was once home to the Prensa Española publishing house, is one of the finest examples of Modernism in Madrid.
The Salamanca district has always had a reason to be proud of its cuisine. Traditional restaurants, wine bars, tapas bars, cafés steeped in history, restaurants which have been awarded Michelin stars (Kabuki Wellington, Ramón Freixa Madrid...) line the streets and offer a range of options to satisfy every palate. As well as excellent meals, visitors will also find an abundance of local cake shops offering tasty treats. Why not try the store opened by chocolate guru Oriol Balaguer or bombonería Santa, whose handmade sweets were a favourite among middle-class society of the early twentieth century? Santa's star products include rocas made with almonds and hazelnuts, rizados, logs, leña vieja (flaky chocolate) and bars of bitter chocolate with cinnamon or vanilla.
When it comes to the gastronomic shopping experience an unmissable stop is Mercado de la Paz. Together with Mercado de San Miguel, it is the only 19th century cast iron market still standing in the capital. Home to an array of stalls including the Cosmen & Keiless bakery, a sushimarket and stores specializing in the finest cheeses and Iberian products, it is a must visit for gourmets searching for original ingredients.
The Golden Mile is also the Silver Mile. And the mile for diamonds and other precious stones which glitter in shop windows and add even more glamour to the most exclusive part of the city. Calle Serrano is the street with the most jewellery stores in the Salamanca district. The work of leading Spanish firms can be seen alongside that of the most prestigious international companies, who chose this avenue, Madrid's undeniable symbol of luxury, as their new home.
Rabat is the latest jeweler's to open up in this area. Its exclusive neighbours include Suárez, Cartier and even Tiffany & Co. You may not see Audrey Hepburn eating a croissant for breakfast every morning while she gazes at the shop window but who can resist the jewels on display here?
In 2010, all the stops were pulled out to celebrate the long awaited refurbishment of Calle Serrano. This major shopping area, considered one of the most exclusive in the world, has undergone important changes.