Madrid is becoming livelier and cooler
Countering crisis with creativity: new cultural and environmental policies are adding to Madrid's allure. And tourists are flocking there: ten million came to Madrid in 2017 - more than ever before!
Because the Manzanares River has hardly any water in summer and the surroundings weren't exactly inviting, ten years ago, the city launched a project worth billions to turn the area into a recreational park: Madrid Rio. You can exercise, cycle, or go for a stroll. And in summer there are often free concerts.
When the left-wing activist Manuela Carmena ( (on the right in the picture) was elected mayor in 2015, she declared war on smog. Nowadays tourists can use an app anywhere to hire electric bikes, e-scooters or electric cars for tours of the city center or a trip to the alternative arts venue La Tabacalera.
This disused Madrid tobacco factory stood empty for ages, until a group of activists managed to have it repurposed as a social and creative center. Here everything is offbeat: exhibitions, markets, art events. Around the corner are Indian restaurants, Italian ice cream shops, and many small art galleries as well. La Tabacalera is in the immigrant neighborhood of Lavapiés.
Tourists bring more money into the city. That in its turn attracts top chefs, such as Dani García from Marbella, who has two Michelin stars. Recently he has been offering his fusion cuisine with an Andalusian touch in the Spanish capital. For 100 euros two people can eat their fill of delicious food. Of Madrid's 3000-some restaurants, 20 are run by Michelin-starred chefs.
Spaniards love to go out and eat well. Because of the economic crisis, they're not spending as liberally as before, so food trucks and food markets have become a new trend. One of the best-known is the Mercado de los Motores (photo). It takes place once a month in the Railway Museum (Museo del Ferrocarril). You can also board the vintage trains and buy art and bric-a-brac.
Palacio de la Bolsa de Madrid
Many companies and institutions have moved from the expensive city center to the suburbs because of the crisis. Madrid's stock exchange now also does its main trading in the north of the city. Since it moved, tourists can take guided tours of the neoclassical building on the Plaza de la Lealtad in the city center. Otherwise the Palacio de la Bolsa, built in 1878, is used for company events.
Madrid from above is dazzling. More and more buildings are renting their unused roof terraces to café owners and restaurateurs, to utilize them to best advantage. On the roof of the building that houses the cultural organization the Círculo de Bellas Artes, locals and tourists can now dine while enjoying a panoramic view of the city.
The old Madrid slaughterhouse had long been out of operation when the city got the idea of turning it into an arts center. In the middle of Legazpi, a working-class quarter, theatre and music are now on offer free of charge. On Sundays if the weather is fine, elderly people couples dance outdoors. There are also markets and festivals, including a monthly food market.
Las 7 tetas de Madrid
Vallecas, in the south of Madrid, was long considered a socially disadvantaged neighborhood. A large number of cultural activities and improvements in its infrastructure have changed that. Tourists can see for themselves in the Parque de las 7 Tetas. Its seven hills offer beautiful views of the skyline.
A drastic budget cut brought the crisis to the Madrid Opera. Despite that, the Teatro Real has managed to maintain its high artistic quality. Audiences are treated to complimentary tickets for dress rehearsals and public broadcasts on the square in front of it - open-air summer entertainment free of charge for tourists and locals alike, in the exciting city of Madrid.