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Malasaña is an area in the centre of Madrid, Spain. It does not correspond to any administrative division, but it is often conflated with Universidad, the wider administrative neighborhood on which Malasaña is located. The webpage providing touristic information published the Madrid City Council set as limits the streets of San Bernardo, the Gran Vía, Fuencarral and Carranza. Malasaña is associated with a creative and counter-cultural scene.
Malasaña is to the west of Chueca and to the east of Argüelles. It is surrounded by several metro stations and is a central neighbourhood of Madrid. Residents include Esperanza Aguirre, the former President of the Community of Madrid, amongst other politicians and several artists.
Malasaña is named after a 15-year-old girl Manuela Malasaña who once lived on San Andrés street. She was executed by the French following the uprising in 1808. Today, there is a street named in her honour very close to the roundabout Glorieta de Bilbao. The area's center is the Plaza del Dos de Mayo (in commemoration of a popular uprising on May 2, 1808, brutally repressed by the French troops and which started the Spanish Independence War)
Nightlife and commerce
This article contains wording that promotes the subject in a subjective manner without imparting real information. (June 2023)
Malasaña is a neighborhood and a center for the 'hipster' movement, with a high quantity of bars and clubs with many young people. Its history, which stretch back several decades, have led to the area's distinct musical and artistic tastes. Its streets are currently being renovated. Botellons (a meeting of people drinking openly on the street, often before going to bars or discos) are common in this neighbourhood. Large ones were held in Plaza de dos de Mayo before the police stopped the nightly practice after an unpopular festival in 2006. Botellon´s involving up to 200 people happen and the plaza where it occurs changes depending on how the police crack down on them. Parts of the neighbourhood closer to Gran Via has many sex clubs, sex shops and street activity. Drugs are rarely sold openly on the street due to police crackdowns in the early 2000s (decade). It is common for foreign women and men to illegally sell beer openly all over the neighbourhood.
The most common places open during the night are "style" places (alternative, funk, mainstream), mixed places (including some conspicuous LGBT, which have created a small gay scene distinct from that of nearby Chueca) and colourful or bohemian cafes. There are one or two bars for hard rock and metal, house, nudists, BDSM, gothic, Latin, classic, 1980s, hip-hop and other non-mainstream genres. Night life venues in the area include La Vía Láctea, Penta, Diplodocus, Nueva Visión, La Vaca Austera, and El Barco. Templo de Susu is a high-end retro clothing shop. Very bohemian cafes include Pepe Botella, La Paca, La Ida and Lolina Vintage Café. An American book shop and bar (J & J's Books and Coffee) sits on Calle Espíritu Santo near the Noviciado metro station.
It is unclear if Malasaña will maintain its atmosphere or if it will become more commercial and upmarket. Since 2017 the Mercado de Fuencarral, an iconic shopping hub known for its industrial aesthetic and for housing alternative style shops, closed down in July 2015 after being bought by an investment fund.
Commercially, Malasaña has many fashion boutiques as well as shops for design and niche market products. They are often cutting-edge shops or feature progressive designers and products. They are often economical and rarely mainstream. There are many secondhand vintage shops, used book stores and unique gift shops. Calle Espíritu Santo represents the melange of Malasaña by having, on one full block alone, a retro shop, butchers with uncommon meats, a fancy pastry shop, two vintage shops, a small florist, vegetable shop, five bars, three bohemian cafes, a retro food shop, two ethnic restaurants, two mid-range restaurants, and a couple more traditional bars along with two hip-hop clothing shops.
Malasaña is mentioned in a song by Manu Chao, surf instrumental Farawel Malasaña by Bambi Molesters from Croatia. Together with Chueca it hosted in October 2017 the Art Festival Los artistas del barrio, opening the doors of more than 70 venues to show the work of international and national artists like David Trullo, Pablo Sola, Daniel Garbade, Le frère, Pablo Kalafaker, Carmen Alvar, Rosa Guerrero, to mention a few. Film directors often used Malasaña as a set for their productions, so has Marco Ferreri's in El Cochecito (1960), Franklin J. Schaffner in Patton (1970), Fernando Colomo in Bajarse al moro (1989), Pedro Almodóvar in Pepi, Luci, Bom (1980) and in Law of Desire (1987), or Emilio Martínez Lázaro in The Worst Years of Our Lives (1994). It was the center of the movida movement in late 1970s and 1980s Madrid.
The architecture in Malasaña is traditional but rather uniform, with most buildings ranging from 4 to 6 levels, 3 to 5 windows wide, each building painted a uniform colour, almost all windows with French balconies and rare ornamentation. A special site is Pedro de Ribera's Hospice, now the Municipal Museum on calle Fuencarral (in the Malasaña neighborhood), which exemplifies the evolution of the Castilian baroque style towards a more decorative aesthetic. Whereas the Conde Duque Cuartel, today a cultural center, and former barracks counts as a piece of Madrid's Bourbon architecture.
Rents are high for small space and some buildings are very exclusive.
The open spaces of Malasaña
These are some places in Malasaña. more information on here
La Plaza del Dos de Mayo
This is probably the most popular and well known square in Malasaña. It is the heart of the neighborhood, and is surrounded by a number of bars and restaurants. During the day you will see a lot of families with children and many people who work in the area relaxing and catching some of the sun. The weekends are the same with many more people coming out to sit at the bars that stay full well into the evening. The crafts market in Malasaña that takes place over the weekend also draws a lot of people, and you can find a lot of the vintage shops in Madrid along the streets coming off the square.
The evenings in Plaza Dos De Mayo can also get lively, well into the early hours. It has become quite normal for many people to gather here after all the bars close and continue their fun. There will be people walking around selling beers out of little trolleys, and I have bought a few more than once ! So no matter the time of the day, if you pay a visit to Plaza Dos De Mayo in Malasaña at any time of the day, you won´t be alone.
La Calle Manuela Malasaña
this street stretches from Fuencarral all the way to San bernando, and like all streets in Madrid is full of life, there are bars and restaurants left and right, but this street is most well known for El Teatro Maravillas that has over a hundred years of history, and continue to showcase musicals, plays, comedy nights and much more. Then there is La Cerveceria Casa Maravillas, a really popular bar for people visiting Madrid. The décor is really cool, it is a traditional Spanish bar decorated with old Spanish adverts and makes you feel like you are taking a journey into the past.
La Plaza de la Luna
Another popular area to hang out in Malasaña, Madrid. The actual name of the square is "Plaza de Santa María Soledad Torres Acosta", but is locally known as Plaza de la Luna. As you would expect, it is surrounded by bars and restaurants and is very popular among tourists and locals.
A really popular spot here is Gymage Malasaña, where you will find a gym, a theatre, and a rooftop bar with a swimming pool! In the summer they put up a temporary bar in the middle of the square with a terrace and water spraying down on you to keep you cool, and in the winter there is an Ice skating ring so something for everyone here.
The square is just off Gran Via, the closest station is Callao and you can walk there in just a few minutes. Oh and if you want to buy board games, there are a couple of toy stores on the square that specialise in board games, worth a visit.
La Plaza San Ildefonso
Another square in Malasaña that is always full of life. A mix of bars with terraces always with a group of friends or a lone person like myself just enjoying the open air. A couple of points of interest in the square are the San Ildefonso Church that was constructed in 1827, but built on the grounds of the original building that had stood since 1619! so there is a lot of history here.
Then you have the Farmacia Malasaña, known as the Puerto Pharmacy. The buildings in the San Ildefonso square of Malasaña were reformed by the architect Manuel Bradi back in 1798, and there was actually a chemist previously known to be at this address, again a lot of history. Even if you just have to go in to buy some mints or a pack of plasters, it is fascinating to go in and see the old décor with all the wood panelling and old medicine jars lining the tops of the shelves.
La Calle del Pez
This narrow street in Malasaña runs from Corredera Baja to San Bernando. A small street with a lot of history. From films being made to the possession and exorcism of a number of nuns at a local convent, a lot has happened here.
The street gets its name from some events that happened here a long time ago. Legend is that the land was previously owned by a priest in the 18th century, and after the land was given and divide up by royalty, there was a lake that housed a lot of fish that died due to the water being polluted during the construction of the new buildings being erected, so as a tribute and a reminder, a fish was carved on the entrance to the original “Casa del Pez”.
Although it no longer stands you will still find a fish carved into the entrance of door number 24 in La Calle Del pez as a reminder.
As far as the more sinister, in 1628 it was reported that 25 nuns from the local convent had been possessed and had to be exorcised, including the founder of the convent Teresa Valla de la Cerda. Juan Francisco García Calderón was eventually held responsible, perpetually confined to the convent by the inquisition.
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