Madrid is a city like no other. Often overshadowed by its northern neighbour Barcelona, there is a sense of cultural richness in the city that is matched by very few destinations. A history of world-famous artists, renowned culinary experiences and a strong relationship to the performing arts make Madrid one of the most interesting places on the planet. Sun Soaked and boasting stunning architecture, the city is an ideal year-round travel destination.
There is also a vibrant LGBT+ community in Madrid. It’s a cosmopolitan city with so much to discover. You can live the good life in Madrid while having access to all the cultural dynamism of a great global city.
Madrid is renowned for its nightlife in general and its gay venues are no different, the city is one of Europe’s gayest capital cities, alongside the likes of Berlin and London. The centre of gay nightlife in the city is Chueca, a lively and bustling neighbourhood that is popular amongst the city’s creatives and trendsetters because of the large number of art galleries and boutique clothes shops. The area has an edgy and quirky atmosphere and it’s here that you’re likely to spot Madrid’s best-dressed residents.
Madrid has a truly diverse range of gay nightlife venues, from traditional bars playing pop anthems to cruising clubs complete with darkrooms. Locals in the city don’t tend to go out until past 10 pm and the larger clubs will only get busy after midnight. Some of the best gay nightlife offerings in Chueca include LaKama, WeParty and Macho, larger clubs that get busier later on and attract young crowds.
The PASO is one of Madrid’s most popular gay bars and draws in the city’s younger gay crowd with its large dancefloor, video screens and attractive bartenders. The club also features a darkroom area – a very popular cruising destination. The PASO is extremely well attended on weekend nights, however, even during the week, the club is a lively and busy venue.
During the 16th century, Spain was a global superpower with a vast empire. Many of the monarchs of this period were keen art collectors and evidence of the Spanish Golden Age can be observed in the Prado’s extensive collection. Thanks to this historic appreciation of art in Madrid, the city now boasts one of the finest and most expansive collections in the world, with multiple globally recognised galleries and museums. The Prado has been open for over 200 years and is known for its extensive collection of European painters.
Although over time Spain lost its political prominence, it continued to shape global culture through the arts. The museum’s permanent collection includes also includes a mass of works from artists across Europe such as Goya, Rembrandt, Bosch and Titian. One of the Prado’s most treasured and popular collections is Goya’s Black Paintings, a series of works that document and reflect the artists troubled mental state and grim outlook on humanity. The images are striking, scary and at times upsetting, and are a true interpretation of the tumultuous times he lived through.
Now Madrid’s most famous street, the Gran Via was a momentous and revolutionary development when it was completed in 1929. The construction of the street involved the demolition of 300 buildings and 50 streets, taking several decades to build. Today the Gran Via is the cosmopolitan heart of Madrid and is known for its bustling nightlife, high-end shops and cafes. The street was built in traditional 20th-century style and the looming Metropolis Building is one of the most recognisable in Madrid’s skyline.
As the city’s epicentre of entertainment and consumerism there is a no shortage of things to do on this iconic avenue. Cinema plays a big role in Spanish art culture and there are numerous venues along the Gran Via showcasing a diverse range of feature films. The area is also a great place to sample the many delicacies that Madrid is so known for. The street is the perfect place to tuck into a late dinner whilst people-watching from one of the many bars that spill onto the Gran Via’s sidewalks.
Mercado de San Miguel
With its huge glass windows and beautiful Art Nouveau architecture, the Mercado de San Miguel is a place you certainly shouldn’t miss. The market is one of the most popular historical landmarks in the city and dates back to 1916 when it was constructed as an indoor market for traders and stallholders.
Today there is less focus on fresh produce and the market now functions as a hub of delicious dining experiences from small plates and tapas, to larger plates and tasting menus.
Mercado de San Miguel is the perfect place if you’re looking for a quick bite to eat from an authentic and established venue. For a larger and more traditional market experience head to Mercado de Maravillas where there are over 200 stalls selling the freshest and most organic produce from the nearby area and Spain more generally.
Whilst flamenco dancing does not originate from Madrid, there is a long and established history of it in the city. Flamenco began as folk music in Southern Spain during the 19th century and it has now grown into a full art form. The best place to catch a Flamenco show is at one of Madrid’s Tablaos, venues designed specifically for hosting these sort of events. Whilst at a tablao you can enjoy fine wine and delicious food to the sound and sight of some of the best-known dancers in the city.
Tablao venues are the perfect places to tick off two experiences from your itinerary, with a range of Spanish delicacies on offer, including suckling pig and deep-fried bread, as well showcasing some of the most passionate and vibrant flamenco in the city.
by George Pizani | On: Gay Madrid