Pedro Almodovar's Madrid

  • Pedro_Almodovar_Premios_Goya_2020_Dolor_y_Gloria © Premios Goya
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Stroll around the sets of famous films by the famous director, Adopted Son of the city of Madrid and winner of the Goya Awards.  Can you recognise the places that appear in his 2021 film, Parallel Mothers?

  • Pedro Almodóvar
  • His Madrid
  • His arrival in Madrid
  • One city, one director
  • His influence on Madrid

The curious spectator watches Almodóvar’s films and tries to recognise the various locations around the city. Some have become iconic symbols of the director’s universe. Others, on the other hand, are not easily recognisable. These are some interesting anecdotes about some of the hundreds of locations which make up Almodóvar’s Madrid.

Almodóvar – Spanish filmmaker, scriptwriter and producer – has been granted a great many international awards, including the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film for All About My Mother (1999) and the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for Talk to Her (2003), the Ariel Award for Best Ibero-American Film for Pain and Glory (2019), and a bunch of Goya Awards.

The M-30 Houses

At the end of What Have I done to Deserve This?, the camera pans away from the enormous blocks of flats where the main characters live, gradually fading away into the ocean of buildings of the big city. The three blocks are located alongside the M-30, close to the mosque, in the La Concepción neighbourhood. Almodóvar had first noticed them years earlier: “When I used to work in a Telefonica warehouse, close to Fuencarral, I would drive down the M-30 every day. I was always struck by those enormous hives at the side of the motorway”.

La Bobia

Seductive looks and a lot of flirting at this cafeteria, now known as La Bobia (Duque de Alba, 3), in El Rastro. It is a legendary spot on the Madrid Scene and plays an essential role in Labyrinth of Passion. It is the setting for the opening scene and the torrid encounter between the two main characters played by Imanol Arias and Cecilia Roth.

Conde Duque 

(Conde Duque, 9) “Water me! Don’t be shy!”. Standing outside what is now the Conde Duque cultural center, the character played by Carmen Maura asks a municipal worker to provide some respite from the suffocating summer heat in Law of Desire, giving us one of the director's most famous scenes.

La Calle de Arenal

Almodóvar shot the ending of Live Flesh on Calle Arenal, taking advantage of the Christmas decorations. One of the shots was going to include the Museo del Jamón located at the beginning of the street. The director shot the scene incognito from inside a van, and the street was full of pedestrians and extras hired for the occasion. When he examined the takes after several hours of shooting, Almodóvar realised that there was a man waiting at the door of the bar in every single shot. “I suppose he’d arranged to meet someone who never turned up”. The man in question was wearing glasses, and can be seen briefly at the end of the film.

Postcard-perfect Madrid

Almodóvar’s journey through Madrid has little in common with that taken by the tour buses. There are a couple of exceptions: the Plaza Mayor in The Flower of My Secret. And above all, the night panorama over the Puerta de Alcalá which serves as a backdrop to the opening credits of Live Flesh.

A Cardboard City

In Kika, the director did very little filming in recognisable locations. Nonetheless, he did include certain symbols of the city. In one of the rooms in the house, there are cardboard models of the Madrid Tower, the Kio Towers and the Europa Tower. Yet more cardboard: the decorative landscape in the background of Veronica Forque’s apartment is a model of the Picasso Tower. The skyscraper, once the tallest in Madrid, is seen again in Broken Embraces: the view from the office where the tycoon, played by José Luís Gómez, works.

Cemeteries, Trains and Airports

The most frequent locations in Almodóvar’s films are the cemetery of La Almudena, and Madrid-Barajas Airport. Always aware of the new developments in the city, in Kika, the director shot in the new AVE station in Atocha, with the arrival of Peter Coyote on the luxury train. Some years later, in All About My Mother, Cecilia Roth travelled between Madrid and Barcelona by AVE. However, Almodóvar was ahead of the times; the AVE had not yet reached the Catalan capital.

Museo Chicote Cocktail Bar

One of the main scenes in Broken Embraces was shot in this legendary cocktail bar (Gran Vía, 12) which has been visited by the brightest Spanish and international stars. If the walls of Chicote could talk they would tell us how Ava Gardner seduced the renowned bullfighter Luis Miguel Dominguín. In Broken Embraces, Blanca Portillo plays a character, who, aided by G&Ts, reveals the truth, which had remained hidden for so many years.

Crown of Thorns

The headquarters of the Spanish Historic and Artistic Heritage Institute (El Greco, 4. Ciudad Universitaria), known as the Crown of Thorns, is the venue for the revengeful character played by Antonio Banderas in The Skin I Live In to give a conference. Architect Richard Rogers described the building as "creative and energetic in every way, down to the last detail". Designed by architects Fernando Higueras and Antonio Miró in an organic style, its construction started in the mid-60s. Almodóvar chose to shoot that part of the film there because he felt it added much expressiveness to the scene.

Segovia Viaduct

Although it didn't open till 1949, the city's viaduct is a great example of Madrid’s 1930s Rationalist style. A bridge between the Royal Palace and the area of Vistillas, most of Madrid's inhabitants invariably associate it with suicide. This inescapable link with death is touched on in Matador, a film about passion taken to the extreme, and even more so in one of his latest films, I’m So Excited. In it, a provocative comedy filmed almost entirely in a studio, the character played by Paz Vega is involved in a suicide attempt on this very spot.

Viaducto de Segovia

Doré Cinema

The headquarters of the Spanish Film Library (Santa Isabel, 13) appears in two films. The first was Talk to Her, when Benigno (played by Javier Cámara) went to see the short film, El Amante Menguante, included in the film. In his latest and most personal film, Pain and Glory, Antonio Banderas, alter ego of Almodóvar himself, pays tribute to them, which leads to a hilarious scene.  

Other “Almodovar” Streets and Corners

  • Calle Montalbán, 7. The seventh-floor attic was home to Pepa (Carmen Maura) in Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown.. The Gran Vía skyline with the towering Telefónica building can be seen in the background.
  • Calle Almagro, 38. Home to the family of Antonio Banderas in Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown.
  • Calle de Sevilla, 3. Casa de Kika en Kika.
  • Tablao Flamenco 1911 (previously called Villa Rosa) (Plaza de Santa Ana, 15). The establishment in which the drag queen, Miguel Bosé, performed in High Heels.
  • Teatro María Guerrero (Tamayo and Baus streets). Theatre in which Marisa Paredes sang in High Heels.
  • Café del Círculo de Bellas Artes (Calle Alcalá, 42). The place where Victoria Abril and Peter Coyote met to discuss the script in Kika.
  • Plaza del Alamillo. The setting for the basement- caretaker’s house where Marisa Paredes lived in High Heels.
  • Plaza de Puerta de Moros. Place where the character of Leo (Marisa Paredes) tries to remove her ankle boots at the beginning of The Flower of My Secret.
  • Paseo de Eduardo Dato, 18. Home to Javier Bardem and Francesca Neri in Live Flesh.
  • Calle Segovia. The character played by Lluis Homar in Broken Embraces lives in this area under the Viaduct.
  • Cock (Calle Reina, 16). Tamar Navas worked here as a disc-jockey in Broken Embraces.



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