View from the terrace of the CentroCentro space

Spaces for alternative culture in Madrid


Spaces for alternative culture in Madrid

Contemporary culture, street art, collaborative creativity, spaces for the public to participate in art… These alternative options complement the city's wide range of more traditional cultural activities, and represent some of the most avant-garde and socially oriented facets of Spanish culture.

Alternative spaces

These centres are new, but their activities, exhibitions and public participation have already made them an important part of cultural life in Madrid.

Matadero Madrid

It defines itself as a centre for contemporary creation and a creative laboratory. It hosts concerts, outdoor activities, exhibitions, workshops, foreign-language films, theatre, and more. Notable features include a space dedicated to literature, La Casa del Lector; the theatres in the Naves del Español; and its large plaza where unusual themed markets and festivals are held. There is also a design area, and recording and rehearsal studios. Next door, you can visit the Palacio de Cristal de Arganzuela, a botanical garden and greenhouse.How to get there: it is next to the Legazpi metro station (lines 3 and 6) and about one kilometre from the Embajadores station (metro lines 3 and 5 and the local train network, Cercanías)Fun fact: Did you know that ‘matadero’ is Spanish for slaughterhouse? This complex was originally Madrid's municipal abattoir and livestock market.

Matadero Madrid

La Tabacalera

An example of collaborative culture and intercultural harmony, as one of its two spaces is managed by the community centre of Lavapiés, one of Madrid's most culturally diverse neighbourhoods. This means that the local residents meet and decide on its activities.Its other large space focuses on contemporary art, photography and the visual arts. It has large exhibition galleries which recall its past as a tobacco factory, and areas for artists in residence and studios. Its outer wall is also a gallery of street art.How to get there: it is next to the Embajadores station (metro lines 3 and 5 and the local train network, Cercanías).Fun fact: it was originally a factory making eaux-de-vie and playing cards, and then for nearly two centuries, the Tobacco and Snuff Factory.

Inside room of Tabacalera Madrid and details of the external walls featuring street art.

La Casa Encendida

A social and cultural centre, working mainly with young artists, and focusing on four areas: solidarity, the environment, culture, and education. It is famous for its concerts, especially the ones it organises jointly with Radio Nacional de España, its children's workshops, its contemporary art exhibitions, and its wide-ranging education options. It also includes a radio studio, a photography lab and a multimedia studio. Before you leave, we recommend spending some time relaxing on its roof terrace.How to get there: it is halfway between Atocha station (metro line 1 and the local train network, Cercanías) and Embajadores station (metro lines 3 and 5 and Cercanías). It is also just a few minutes' walk from the Reina Sofía National Art Centre.Fun fact: did you know that La Casa Encendida has a Fair Trade shop? The products on sale come from cooperatives in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

Casa Encendida


Have you got a digital culture project? Would you like to take part in experimental ideas? Come to this centre and talk about it with the cultural mediators. You're almost certain to find what you're looking for. This is a laboratory for production, publication and research on the digital era in culture, based on collaboration and the participation of the public. Its activities include educational and production workshops, seminars, debates, lectures, performance art, and more.How to get there: it is right on the Art Walk, next to CaixaForum Madrid and a short walk from the Reina Sofía National Art Centre and the Prado Museum The closest metro stations are Atocha and Antón Martín (line 1).Fun fact: Could you imagine playing Space Invaders with a building as the screen? Here you can. The façade is digital and displays experimental work by the Medialab-Prado research groups.

Medialab Prado Madrid


In one of the most iconic buildings in Madrid, in recent years this centre has become a public space for culture. It holds prestigious exhibitions and art fairs, and offers spaces for quiet contemplation, reading rooms and areas for working on art. It also contains two outstanding spaces - the lookout point Mirador de Madrid, and the Galería de Cristal. From the Mirador you can see a 360 degree view of the city, including Gran Vía, Paseo de la Castellana and the Retiro Park. The Galería de Cristal is an open space with a striking curved glass roof.How to get there: as its name suggests, it is right in the centre and easy to walk to from any tourist attraction. The nearest metro station is Banco de España (line 2).Fun fact: the building, Cibeles Palace, is also Madrid City Hall, and for most of the 20th century it was known as the “Cathedral of Communications”, as it was the headquarters of the Spanish Post Office.

Cibeles Fountain and the CentroCentro Madrid building

Conde Duque

One of the major cultural centres in Madrid city centre, with Matadero and CentroCentro. It is arranged around two large courtyards or patios. The Patio Norte offers cultural services such as a municipal library, the Contemporary Art Museum and the Madrid Archives; and the Patio Sur focuses on the dissemination of culture, with a theatre, an auditorium, and various rehearsal rooms and gallery spaces.How to get there: it is in the lively Universidad district, and the nearest metro stations are Ventura Rodríguez (line 3), Plaza de España (lines 3 and 10), Noviciados (line 2) and San Bernardo (lines 2 and 4).Fun fact: did you know that the space where you can enjoy dance performances, fashion shows, performance art and theatre was originally stables? In the 18th century, this building was a cavalry barracks. The soldiers slept in the Patio Norte area, and the horses were housed in the Patio Sur.

Central courtyard of Conde Duque and details of its amenities