In the heart of Madrid is Malasaña, the youngest and most creative part of the city, where tradition and the cutting edge live in perfect harmony. Gastronomy, shopping, art, culture and nightlife: entertainment in Malasaña is guaranteed.

Beyond the typical tourist routes of the city, Malasaña is one of the most rapidly changing areas of the city. More than 200 years old, the ‘barrio’ takes its name from a seamstress murdered during the French occupation during the uprising of 2nd May 1808. In the 1980’s, it became the epicentre of the famous ‘movida madrileña’ and has not stopped evolving since then, so much so that every time you go there you seem to find something new. Nowadays it’s considered the hipster district, with its own way of life and unique atmosphere. Ordinary, everyday bars and traditional shops sit side by side in perfect harmony with the latest trends, fashionable hang-outs and an endless array of alternative cultural offerings. The best way to get to know Malasaña is by wandering through its streets and alleyways, spreading from its main artery, calle Fuencarral, where all the best-known brands are centred. If you’re looking for something a bit different or unique, there are independent design and vintage fashion shops in the calles Espiritu Santo and Conde Duque. Two of the most original are in Plaza del 2 de Mayo - the epicentre of the barrio, full of roof terraces – namely Sin clon ni son and Taller de FEEAS, next to the Conde Duque cultural centre. This area also has two unmissable stops for foodies: a bakery called Panic, which sells the best bread in the city, and La Queseria de Conde Duque, a fascinating cheese shop where producers of artisan cheeses sell directly to the public. To regain your strength and enjoy a good coffee and a piece of homemade cake, the places to be are Toma Café on Calle de la Palma, and Federal on Plaza de las Comendadoras. If the weather’s good, it’s worth making a stop at the idyllic Café del Jardín, a tea room inside the Museo del Romanticismo (the Romanticism Museum), an 18th century palace converted into one of the most charming museums in Madrid. The classic Café de Ruiz, from the turn of the century, is also a perfect place for a date or a gossip. Malasaña also has a wealth of places to eat. From Bodegas La Ardosa - one of the oldest tavernas in Madrid and where you can try a delicious vermouth on tap and one of the best ‘pinchos’ of Spanish tortilla in the city – to Juanjo López’s Tasquita de Enfrente, which was established 50 years ago as a traditional bar and has now been turned into one of the restaurants to go to, where the produce and techniques are of the highest standard, retaining the essence of Spanish cuisine with a touch of innovation. For wines and tapas, Bar Amor and Taberna MUY are two sure bets. The recently opened La Pescadería, with a space divided into various rooms, is perfect for a casual dinner as a couple or in a group. At night, Malasaña shines in all its splendour and its side streets are full of people and bars where you can get a good cocktail, listen to live music or dance until dawn. The liveliest streets are Corredora Alta, Corredora Baja, Palma and Pez. One of the coolest hangouts is there, The Passenger, fitted out like an old train carriage. Also in those streets are Adam & Van Eekelen and 1892, experts in gin and tonic. Kikekeller, a deisgner furniture shop with a hidden cocktail bar in the back is in Corredora Baja. And to listen to live music or dance till the small hours, are Café de La Palma and, two classics on the Malasaña scene, Barco and La Vía Láctea. In terms of cultural and leisure offerings, new kinds of places triumph, such as Microteatro por Dinero, an old brothel transformed into a theatre where five 10-minute pieces are shown each night in tiny bedrooms for a maximum of 15 viewers, for a price of 4 euros. Very nearby is Teatro Lara, one of the oldest in Madrid, which always has an interesting and well-priced programme. In the Conde Duque area is Museo ABC de Dibujo e Ilustración (Drawing and Illustration Museum), the art galleries Blanca Berlín and Mozart, and the Centro Cultural Conde Duque (the Conde Duque Cultural Centre), where you can enjoy concerts and exhibitions. To relax after an unforgettable day in Malasaña, Hotel Boutique 7 Islas is right in the heart of the barrio, but away from the noise, and offers well-kept rooms at a good price. In short, Malasaña is a little corner of inspiration, entertainment and enjoyment. Be sure not to miss it on your next visit to Madrid. PILAR MENDOZA MARÍA VERDE More information at Spn Magazine

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