Money Heist

  • La casa de papel
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  • La Casa de Papel. Círculo de Bellas Artes de Madrid. © Netflix
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  • La casa de papel
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  • La casa de papel
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No heist had ever garnered as much media attention as the one that began on our screens back in 2017. Watched by millions in over 190 countries, this Netflix hit has received numerous awards, including an International Emmy for Best Drama Series. Set in Madrid, most of the action takes place in the Royal Mint of Spain, so it’s not uncommon to see people standing outside it taking a selfie. But, we’re going to let you into a little secret: the façade that we see on our screens is not actually the Royal Mint, but the CSIC or the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC). The fourth season brought many more locations to our city. Discover them!

A misleading façade

The Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) is the country’s largest public scientific research institution. The exteriors of the building where the characters are busy printing out 2.4 billion euros belongs to the CSIC, and not to the Royal Mint.

La casa de papel - Foto: Vancouver Media / A3 TV

An excellent alternative

The series was not shot in the Royal Mint for two reasons. Founded in 1893, following the merge of the Casa de la Moneda and the Fábrica del Sello, this entity is in charge of producing bank notes and coins, so filming inside was obviously out of the question. Another reason was operational factors: the Royal Mint is located on the corner of a very narrow street, Calle Jorge Juan, and a very busy one, Calle Doctor Esquerdo. The CSIC, on the other hand, which has a very similar façade is situated in an area closed to traffic, making it easier to film action scenes. The Royal Mint of Spain is not open to the public, but you can visit its museum, Casa de la Moneda Museum, which is considered one of the most important of its kind in the world. Its numismatic collection provides an overview of the history of coins from the 7th century to the present, and its philatelic collection includes all Spanish postage stamps ever issued by Correos, the Spanish postal service.

La casa de papel - Foto: Vancouver Media / A3 TV

The Rooftop in Money Heist

In the third episode, the main characters go up to the building's rooftop. That’s something they couldn't do at the CSIC headquarters, since it doesn't have one, so they had to film on top of the School of Aeronautical and Space Engineering (ETSIAE), at no. 3 in Calle del Cardenal Cisneros in Madrid.

La casa de papel

Finally, if you head to no. 30 in Calle Miguel Yuste (in the San Blas-Canillejas district, near Quinta de los Molinos and Wanda Metropolitano Stadium), you’ll be surprised to see the secret warehouse from which The Professor gave his orders (and even more so if you noticed that on the show it’s located at no. 30 Calle Alcántara).

Much more Madrid in the third season

The show’s third season premiered in July 2019, and once again Madrid plays a very important role. If you visit our city, you’ll recognise the centrally-located Plaza de Callao (the square where thousands of 50-euro notes are released) and the Ministry of Public Works (although the Bank of Spain is the target of the gang’s new heist, the façade of the building that appears on screen actually belongs to this ministry, located in the area of Nuevos Ministerios). You can also enjoy the rooftop of Círculo de Bellas Artes, Cuatro Torres Business Area (which you see as the blimp that rains down money passes by), or the century-old avenue of Gran Vía (down which Marsella rides a bike and drives the police crazy).

The fourth season 

The fourth season, in which Madrid features heavily once again, premiered in the middle of the coronavirus crisis. 

In Episode 3, the scene where The Professor and Berlin are debating whether to let Palermo -who’s also in the scene- lead the Bank of Spain heist takes place inside the Casino de Madrid. We see its spectacular modernist staircase and Bar Las Estancias. It’s there that Berlin has trouble with his bow tie...

In the same episode, Agent Antoñanzas, who has turned mole, calls The Professor from a phone box at the corner of Paseo del Pintor Rosales and Calle Romero Robledo, right next to the house where, as the plaque on its façade informs us, sculptor Victorio Macho (who made the famous statue of Benito Pérez Galdós in El Retiro Park) once lived. Don’t go looking for the phone box, though... it doesn’t really exist. 

Nor does Madrid have a Chinese restaurant called Lao Che, which is in fact the name of a ruthless mob boss in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.

In Episode 7, posters with Río's picture on them appear all over Madrid, including Pasaje de los Cubos, which is in the famous Plaza de los Cubos off Calle Princesa. We get an impression of its graffiti, which is an example of the city's urban art.

In the same episode, The Professor makes another appearance on the screens of Cine Callao as well as those of FNAC, which is located in the same square.

In addition to the four skyscrapers of Cuatro Torres Business Area, there’s another that plays a starring role this season: the Castellana 81 building, known as the “BBVA Tower” by architect Sáenz de Oiza. Its silhouette is seen in the sky while a helicopter is trying to rescue Gandía, the bank’s head of security.

And the fifth!

In true James Bond style, the fifth season of Money Heist brings us fantastic shots of the cities where the secondary plots unfold. Lisbon and Copenhagen are the chosen locations this time, although Madrid naturally continues to be where all the major events take place. The Ministry of Public Works and the surrounding area -from El Corte Inglés on Paseo de la Castellana to the Caleido building and Sáenz de Oiza's tall, thin high-rise- are once again the focus of the action, including a metro station whose sign reads “Banco de España” (Bank of Spain), but which is actually Nuevos Ministerios.

The name of the restaurant Tokio and her ex-boyfriend, René, decide to hold up is shown in the foreground, to make sure we all get a good look at it. It’s Tatel, a trendy establishment on Paseo de la Castellana whose owners include Rafa Nadal himself. The restaurant has a bit of a vintage club feel to it, and its cuisine is predominantly Spanish. How is it, then, that the restaurant we see on the show is clearly Japanese? There's a trick to it: the interior belongs to another restaurant, Ichiban, which is located in Calle Alberto Alcocer and does in fact specialise in oriental food.

And speaking of food, the now ex-inspector Alicia Serra has an angry confrontation with The Professor, who, given the circumstances, urges her to join his group. She’s not keen on becoming a fugitive and wants to stay in Madrid because -as she shouts to all and sundry- she likes tripe, Puerta del Sol and… yes, maybe there’s something else that fascinates her too.

In one of the flashbacks that bring back Berlin’s character, we see him stage a robbery along with his son and some of the group's members in a spectacular palace where his wife, Tatiana, has been invited to give a piano concert. Outside we’re in Denmark, but once we move inside, we’re back in Madrid. The entire scene was shot in Fernán Núñez Palace. It's usually closed to the public but we’ve been able to get a good look at it in multiple films and TV shows. In another flashback in the very last episode, Berlin makes a request of his brother, who’s heading to the library from the hideout where they make their plans: “Bring me some biscuits from San Onofre”. From Horno de San Onofre bakery, we presume. What a great choice!

The final episodes

Although none of the most famous thieves on the planet are named Madrid, our city is one of the stars of the show, and its role in the last few episodes is just as prominent. It’s a sprint to the finish that begins with an escape: by Alicia Serra and The Professor; first one and then the other, then both of them together with a legion of police chasing after them. After escaping the stormwater detention vault, which actually exists and is found under Club de Campo Villa de Madrid country club as part of the Canal de Isabel II sanitation network, the former inspector goes to Tamayo’s house, located at no. 3 Calle López de Orgaz. There’s no need to check the map. Madrid doesn't have a street with that name, despite the colonel’s insistence on closing off the neighbourhood of Chamberí to trap the elusive fugitives.

But is that really the neighbourhood we’re seeing? Almost, almost... but not quite. Sometimes it's the Barrio de Salamanca and other times it’s Las Salesas. Let's break it down scene by scene. From the window of the home where Alicia and the group’s leader are hiding, we can make out the shop Pretty Lala, which specialises in accessories, costume jewellery, furniture and other objects from the 1950s to the 1970s. The shop is located at no. 36 Calle de Villanueva. When the bin lorry that picks up the lead characters passes by, we also get a glimpse of Cherubina, a clothing shop at no. 8 Calle Núñez de Balboa. Before getting on, The Professor and his reluctant companion put their dexterity to the test as they climb down a rope hung from a balcony which takes them directly to the back door of a restaurant that they have to walk through. The place is packed, just like in real life. Merci (no. 3 Conde de Xiquena) was originally a coal cellar, but today it’s an ultra-modern bistro where you can order, for example, sardines marinated in lime or ham croquettes in a thoroughly chic atmosphere with decor featuring palm trees, demijohns and wooden and aged-iron details. A shame they didn't have time to stay for dinner!

There are two other characters who will also be forced to skip dinner, even though they've already sat down to it: Berlin and Tatiana. We see them in a very revealing flashback on the terrace of Dani Brasserie, located on top of the Four Seasons Hotel in Plaza de Canalejas and helmed by chef Dani García, with the copper dome of the former headquarters of La Equitativa insurance company in the background. What would they have ordered had they stayed a little longer? Let’s take a wild guess: beef fillet with green shisho pesto for him, and wild sea bass for her.

But the fact is they didn’t even stay for the wine. Be warned! There’s a huge spoiler -and a fun trick on your eyes- ahead. When Berlin follows his wife down the stairs, it’s not the door of the hotel we see but that of the Real Casino de Madrid, an early 20th century building just opposite the Four Seasons. Soon you’ll understand why this change was made. In pursuit of his beloved, the white-collar criminal gets into a taxi that takes him through Plaza de las Cortes, with the Church of Los Jerónimos lighting up the horizon, to the door of a hotel where the pianist is meeting up with her lover, Rafael. Surprise! The hotel is actually still the Four Seasons, which has sculpted elephants on its facade that make it very easy to recognise. Everything that happens next takes place at the hotel, a building that once housed a bank, Banco Español de Crédito, which couldn’t be more up the aggrieved husband’s street. Inside we see the elegant lobby, which was once the trading floor, and the bar of Dani Brasserie, the same place where the scene began but in the indoor section this time. Perhaps instead of a Negroni, our favourite villain would have been better off ordering a Sol, a Lavapiés, or a Malasaña: the bar’s cocktails are named after neighbourhoods in Madrid.

The Professor, Berlin and Rafael make up a dynasty of thieves whose criminal origins are revealed to us in the famous Plaza Mayor. In one of its lively outdoor bars, The Professor tells them a secret: he saw his father die when he was just a boy. It happened, we are shown through his memories, when a police officer shot him down as he was escaping after a heist, on the stairs of a bank which is actually the Faculty of Pharmacy of Complutense University (UCM). The end! It’s over! We've come so far! Although since we’re here, it might be a good idea to head to the Reina Sofía Museum to enjoy some works by Salvador Dalí, whose silhouette is even pictured on the brass ingots that will forever remain -in the plot of the show, anyway- inside the vault of the Bank of Spain, an iconic Madrid building which, no matter how often it’s mentioned or we think we’ve spotted it, never actually appears on screen.

 

FILMING LOCATIONS

This is the country’s largest public scientific research institution and one of the filming locations of the Netflix hit series Money Heist.

Government building that houses several ministerial departments in the district of Chamberí.

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